Senki Zesshou Symphogear – 02 Review
That’s what these generic J-Pop-idols always say when they’re in fact just ripping off another person’s songs…
Symphogear 02 – The Fun Of Being A Superhero In Secret
Well, to say that I have a negative opinion of most series’ first episodes in this season would be an understatement, I guess, so I thought that I will also cover the second episodes of those series which actually improve on the things they did wrong in my opinion. There’s also the fact that a second episode helps deciding me as a reviewer what the series actually wants to do. Not every first episode is poignant enough to make that clear. Symphogear 02 definitely was a vast improvement over last week, I mean it was the worst episode I’ve seen and moved into the territory of being so bad that it’s good again. But watching the second episode it’s clear the series regain some of its senses after this sloppy mess which was the first episode.
After grinning demonically at the end of last episode Hibiki starts the episode by saying embarrassed “Huh, what happened?”. She then starts singing suddenly and kills some Noise (not literally because she makes much Noise herself). Before things can get hairy though since she’s a noob and an idiot Tsubasa saves her and kills the rest of the Noise. After that all sorts of security move in and secure the premises. Also the mother of the little girl miraculously appears and they have to sign a paper forcing them to stay silent about the incident. Hibiki is also driven off by security since she’s now also a Robocop and pop-idol.
At the “Where important stuff happens”-HQ (which I call “Totalbirne” and since it’s Nonsense-German, that’s a very cool name) Hibiki is welcomed by a party despite the fact that she was handcuffed before getting there. Everyone has fun behaving like a circus is in town while Hibiki gets introduced to the members of Totalbirne. Oh and Tsubasa has an issue with Hibiki using Kanade’s power.
Back at the dorms Hibiki has a lovey-dovey scene with Miku (no, seriously they stop short of planning to marry each other as cheesy as this dialogue was…) and Tsubasa is getting angry under a shower meanwhile.
At Totalbirne Hibiki gets a quick rundown of this series’ generic explanations for superpowers and some stuff that made her a superhero. She got shot through the heart but some splitters of the relic responsible for the damage got stuck there, it’s just like this one Iron Man-origin-story used in the first movie, only Hibiki won’t die from it and she also gets superpowers because of that – and the power to become a pop-star, a good one, I mean, that’s the miracle-part.
Then Noise appears with good dramatic timing as always and Hibiki and Tsubasa move out to kill the Noise. But after that’s done Tsubasa turns on Hibiki and tries to kill her.
My God, I wish these animes would learn that meta-fictional jokes have to do more than stating the obvious to be funny…!
I have to admit that the soundtrack of this series is surprisingly good. No, I don’t mean the insert-songs of course. I’ve listened to those often enough in only two episodes to reduced my description of it to “People are singing J-Pop-stuff…”. I mean the BGM which is one of those Celtic nostalgia-fares Japanese music occasionally indulges in nowadays. But even before that, even though that I’ve already said it, before that I want to say that this second episode was like a drunken maniac trying to sober up after this weird first episode. But after all I still would say that this series has bad breath.
The first thing I’ve noticed as a sign of this series sobering up was discarding some of the more ridiculous ideas of the first episode. These mahou-shoujo-robocops luckily don’t have to sing during the whole battle anymore, it’s enough for them to hum along while the song plays in the background or simply assume that whatever spectators they have can just imagine what song they’re currently singing. Of course we get to hear it in the background which makes imagining it quite easy. It’s nice of them to remember stuff like common sense and realize after one episode how impractical this part of the setting was. Not that I’m unhappy with the change but the fact remains that the first episode did establish this singing as part of its own set of rules. And now it breaks it. I guess it’s just another sign of how sloppily this anime was made.
The general mood of this episode in the first half came as a surprise to me because I had assumed after the first episode that we were talking about a sort-of apocalyptic setting where the Alien-Goo threatens the whole world and entire towns could disappear by an unfortunate attack. Despite that this episode made actually fun of the fact how security, police and army tried to control the situation. There was also a sentence where it was said that they want to keep it secret what happened in that part of the town where Hibiki was but it sounds silly. Hibiki’s welcome party at the “Important stuff happens here”-Headquarters also was continuing this easy-going atmosphere and also added some drama when this bluehaired one disapproved of Hibiki taking over for the red-haired one.
And it works much better than this frenzy which was the first episode. The characters are established and have the time to act according to them. This series is on much safer ground when it doesn’t try to tackle anything unrelated to showing off fighting-sequences. There’s nothing special about the way character interact in this series but there’s some sense of logic behind it which is hard to fine when it comes to the Noise. This episode also explained some bits of the setting although it’s very basic and the world-building isn’t quite there yet to tell us which world these characters live in. But now there’s actually a basic plot to follow instead of this crazy jumping around in the first episode.
Well, actually looking at the end of the first episode it seemed like Hibiki was becoming some kind of furry which has gone berserk. Seemed like hell of a first time to me…
It’s strange, though, how Hibiki is asked again and again whether she wants to do this mahou-shoujo-robocop-thingy and kill Alien-Goo. I would’ve understood that if she had a relic like the blue-haired one but hers is inside her. I doubt there’s much chance of anyone else but her taking the red-haired one’s place. So there’s not much of a question that she has to do it. Hibiki is your usual optimistic unexperienced hero-type, though and therefore she does it no matter what anyway.
Speaking of characters it’s strange how far this series goes with its girls-being-insufferably-nice-to-each-other-scenes. Hibiki and her partner sleeping together in one bed was a borderline-girls-being-insufferably-nice-to-each-other-scene but the way this episode presented their relationship it definitely crossed over into yuri-territory. I guess it would be nice if this series would take it serious but I doubt this is the kind of series where I should wait for such a thing to happen. It’s probably just trying to exaggerate the usual K-ON! tropes of how friendship of girls are supposed to work in animes.
And one thing I have to applaud this series for is actually inserting the author into this series. Now that’s real art to do something like that. It’s an amazing decision and it’s curious why not more series try to do this. The character which shows off the author in the best way in this series is of course – the Noise. This alien-goo shows an appreciation for drama and timing unrivalled by anything I’ve seen this season. Ambushing a main-character? Well, let’s just wait for the character to finish her dramatic speech. Casual fighting-scene? Let’s see how we, the Noise, can get slaughtered en masse. Important fighting scene? Okay, now we should actually try to do something in this fight. This alien-goo knows every time what is the best thing to do to make the most out of a scene. And that’s admirable, I have to admit. This is a villain who doesn’t need to speak to show his appreciation for the heroes of the story, this alien-goo just acts in the best interests of drama and tragedy.
It’s a pity for me that this episode didn’t offer quite as many laughs as the first episode in terms of sloppiness. But it improved enough with the second episode to not be an abysmal failure anymore although we never know how long it can stay as mediocre as right now. The second episode was definitely an improvement but I don’t think it was good enough to make this series a reliable offering of entertainment.