If you don’t believe me about the kerfuffle, check out places like MAL and AF – the fans have been raging about Miku’s “betrayal” of Hibiki in a big way. I think this is a classic case of over-analysis, myself – especially given the relative lack of subtlety in Symphogear. If the emotions of this show were a painting, they would be all primary colors – but while I love emotionally subtle series, I can appreciate how straightforward this one is when it comes to feelings. One of the things I love about the show is that the character don’t act like exceptional people – they act like normal people in exceptional situations. Hibiki isn’t an especially complicated girl, but the depth of feeling there is undeniable. As I said last week, I don’t think anybody was “wrong” – these were just two 15 year-old overwrought girls who got in over their heads emotionally. Miku was hurt, she overreacted – and Hibiki went to pieces about it. Given time, they would surely sort it out – and that’s exactly what happened.
The fundamental difference between Hibiki and the other tragic heroines of this show (and I’m not saying Hibki isn’t – or won’t soon be – one) is that she has a soulmate who’s still alive and able to be her salvation. Tsubasa has lost Kanade and while she’s clearly making a journey towards acceptance, she’ll never have her back. Kurisu appears to have never had anyone at all, having lost her parents as a small child and been cruelly mistreated by all the adults in her life, most obviously Fine’. She has no friends at all – at least before this week. Hibiki and Miku may not have a perfectly equal friendship, but they do have each other, the other person they care most about it in the world. As Miku herself said, it wasn’t the keeping of secrets that bothered her – it was the worry that Hibiki was trying to shoulder everything herself and might get hurt (or worse) again. We should all be so lucky as to have a friend like that.
Especially Kurisu, of course – and that’s where things start to get really interesting. Kurisu ends up sleeping off her injuries in the little rooms above Flower, wearing one of Miku’s gym shirts (and nothing else). It could be argued that she was effectively a stray puppy Miku picked up, desperate for someone to take care of and look after with Hibiki temporarily not filling that role. I don’t think it’s that simple, though Miku certainly does have the protector/nurturer gene in overdrive – I think it’s more that when she sees someone in trouble (or a lost soul) she can’t help herself. We’re seeing the slow repatriation of Kurisu into the human race, starting with the two lost siblings, then Miku, and finally Genjurou – but she’s filling her role as the self-loathing anti-hero admirably, pushing those people away from her even as they try to get closer to her.
There’s no question Kurisu’s role is the great variable of the series at this point. Both Miku and Hibiki worry about her and neither knows the other is involved – though the fact that Genjurou knows the connection now should speed things along. No question Kurisu’s swan song and relic Ishi-Bal are the coolest in the series – she’s a blast to watch fight, with her neo-Gainax Gatling Guns and Takagaki Ayahi’s engaging warble. Hibiki worries she doesn’t have a home, Miku worries period, and Genjurou has seen her fight at full strength now. He’ll certainly see the possibilities in bringing her into the Second Branch, and she certainly seems fully on board with redeeming herself for all the death and destruction she’s been a party to. But can there really be more than one at the center of Hibiki’s heart? As with the romance pairings in Ano Natsu, the numbers here don’t seem to me to add up – I think there’s more tragedy to come.
While Senshogear has been very successful at portraying the emotional drama driving the main characters, I think it’s been less successful at laying out the overall plot. While we know the basics of the situation, for me the whole conflict with the Noise is more of an abstraction than anything else at this stage. Genjurou could be a key here – he’s a sort of unsung hero in the cast. He’s beastly strong, seems to genuinely care for the girls in his care, and has his hands in that larger plot as well. If any character can help that overarching story gain some of the traction the relationship drama has, maybe he can do it – but I worry for Genjurou. Lots of death flags there, and for all his bravery and intelligence he strikes me as a somewhat naïve chap, especially compared to the devious Ryoko/Fine’. I see “bad end” in his future, but I hope I’m wrong.