Senki Zesshou Sympogear – 05

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Symphogear is wild, manic, out of control and I don’t think there’s any denying that sometimes it’s a mess.  But it sure is a hell of a lot of fun.

The low ebb for the episode was dispensed with pretty early – that scene with the nude blonde on the phone did for Engrish what the infamous walking scene in episode 3 did for animation.  Achingly, heart-stoppingly bad – but somehow it sorts of fits with the amateur-hour earnestness of this show.  Sometimes it’s funny unintentionally, but Senshogear is never boring.  We had a little of everything this week – S & M, bondage, gore, bad singing and xenophobia, just for starters.  Put in the blender, and it somehow comes out delicious.

It’s been just about a weekly occurrence to point out some series or another that Senshogear reminds me of if, but it really felt like Gurren Lagann to me this week.  Hell, even the title cards are right out of TTGL – I don’t know how I didn’t catch that before – and the GAR level is rising rapidly with each passing episode.  We kicked right off with a continuation of Hibiki’s training with Genjurou, with paid dividends later in the episode, and built on that.  Senshogear also has that same sense of not being afraid to present extremely dark material cut through with extremely silly comedy, which is hard to pull off but rather intoxicating when it works.

The politics of the situation with the Second Branch seem to be moving into an ever-more prominent role as the show progresses.  In addition to the issues with the nasty old USA being after their relics, we got a nice dig at the EU this week with the revelation that they traded the powerful relic Durandal to Japan in exchange for a promise to forgive certain debts “if the EU defaults”.  Meow!  There’s some very weird stuff going on with that relic, and Ryouko is in the middle of all of it.  In fact she may be in the middle of more than that, as there are very strong hints that she was the sadistic blonde who was happily torturing poor Chris in the nude (the blonde, not Chris).  She’s promised Chris something in return for her cooperation – just what we don’t know yet – but Chris has made the inevitable transition from enemy to victim sooner than I’d expected.

Ryouko is also almost certainly involved in the death of the Defense Minister, apparently one of the few in the government who doesn’t look at Second Branch as a necessary evil at best, and an embarrassment at worst.  She returns from a meeting with him with a bloody attaché case full of top secret government orders to move the relic Durandal to the giant vault underneath parliament (LOL) just as the news breaks that he’s been assassinated (by English-speaking attackers, as it happens) and she’s in the process of moving the relic when she and Hibiki are attacked the Chris and her pet Noise.  Exactly just how much of a traitor Ryouko is isn’t clear yet, but she’s certainly a double-agent at the very least.  It’s also clear that Hibiki is highly compatible with the rare intact relic, going into Black Hibiki mode and kicking some serious Noise ass.

One aspect of Senshogear that I’m immensely enjoying is just how far outside the realms of the normal sci-fi action hero – boy or girl, take your pick – Hibiki is.  I love the fact that she doesn’t sing in a slick and professional voice, and I love the fact that she’s getting stronger realistically – she certainly took something of value away from her training with Genjurou, but she still tripped over her own feet and had to break the heels of her combat boots to be able to fight.  Of all the girl leads elbowing for space in the sci-fi segment this season Hibiki is my favorite, and the best combination of  genki optimism and genuine angst.  In fact, I could make that same statement about my feelings for the show as a whole.

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10 comments

  1. F

    This has been bugging me for a while, but are you calling it Senshogear for a reason? I mean, elsewhere its called Symphogay or Sapphogear, but I'm not sure where you are getting the Sensho.

    Anyway, I was quite surprised at the twist with Ryouko, but it should lead to some interesting stuff.

    And Chris is very much a FEITO~~ now. Looks like Tsubasa will have a chance for redemption…

  2. Sapphogear and Symphogay? Eh – don't like 'em, with respect to whoever thought them up. I'll stick with Senshogear.

  3. F

    So it is intentional? Where'd you get it? I'm not following the connection.

  4. F

    Ah! SenShoGear, I get it now. I wouldn't have thought to abbreviate it that way, since it doesn't hold any advantage over just calling it "Symphogear"

  5. Yeah, just a straight abbreviation that appealed to my ear.

    Dropping a Nanoha bomb on me, eh? As if this show hasn't had enough comparisons thrown at it already!

  6. F

    The Nanoha comparison is interesting because it works on a couple of levels.

    There was, when the first episode aired, a desire to associate Tsubasa with Homura, or even characters like Chikane, when it seems obvious to me that Tsubasa is exactly what Fate would be like if she saw Nanoha die in a way similar to what happened to Kanade.

    Assuming any of the Symphogear survive the series, I think that Chris is actually the one most likely to, though I give her no more than a 50/50 chance.

  7. d

    So like why use the cars to transport when you have a working helicopter?

  8. Helicopter is an easy target for a surface-to-air missile?

  9. S

    I'm slowly warming up to Hibiki, as long as they keep the singing at the minimum. I'm a sucker for the hardworking type and as you pointed out, her genuine angst and genki optimism are huge pluses in my book too.

  10. A

    I came for Yuuki Aoi and TWO-MIX.

    I stayed for the Crazy awesome.

    Man, I'm having a hard time trying to write about this show. One thing I agree with you on Enzo is that it's is without a doubt a mess. The tone is all over the place (along with the animation) but when it hits it right, it really shoots it out of the park. It has style, but sometimes it's distracting, other times it's really stylish. It show cases the relationships in a human manner that makes the characters act like they care and understand each other, but still has over the top reactions and situations.

    This show is of extremes, with little to no middle ground between the more subtle emotional development and the over the top reactions and fights. And I have no clue how it's all working, but here we are …

    ''One aspect of Senshogear that I’m immensely enjoying is just how far outside the realms of the normal sci-fi action hero – boy or girl, take your pick – Hibiki is. I love the fact that she doesn’t sing in a slick and professional voice, and I love the fact that she’s getting stronger realistically – she certainly took something of value away from her training with Genjurou, but she still tripped over her own feet and had to break the heels of her combat boots to be able to fight.''

    I think the fact she doesn't sing in slick and professional voice has more to do with Yuuki Aoi not being that great of a singer (see any of her cover songs) otherwise, I agree fully with you here. Hibiki I really one loveable character, who I like regerdless of her being a boy or girl (so rare nowadays to see a character who's gender isn't their vocal point, but their actual personality traits) and I enjoy her endless drive and energy, as well as improvising during this episode without losing her cool (I really liked that scene when she broke her armours heels).

    I honestly think that this is the first role lead role that Yuuki Aoi had gotten past Victoriqe that really showcases her abilities. People bring up Madoka, but honestly, she had little dialogue to say there that was as impressive in Gosick or here. Makes me wish she gets more non-submissive lead roles. She really is awesome.

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