Re-rating Senki Zesshou Symphogear
It's taken me a while to finish it, but I can now declare Senki Zesshou Symphogear to be the best show I watched in the Winter 2012 season.
Ever since I started hanging out on Twitter, I've been hearing praise and enthusiasm for Symphogear (and there was also enthusiasm from eg Evirus, who is on Twitter but I read directly). Back in winter 2012 I wound up 'suspending' Symphogear for various reasons, but a couple of weeks ago all of the Symphogear enthusiasm (coupled with a somewhat weak season) talked me into catching up so I could watch the third and current season, Symphogear GX. And the end result is what you see above. Looking back, the original Symphogear beats out even the ultimately somewhat disappointing Moretsu Pirates in terms of my enjoyment.
(I was originally tempted to skip straight to GX, but I'm glad that I didn't. It just wouldn't have been the same to have missed all of the great bits on the way there.)
Looking back, I think that it really helped that I was marathoning Symphogear and that I knew a lot more about what the show was like, including that the show had another two seasons. The first episode of Symphogear is very heavy on the doom and grimness (we open being told that the protagonist is dead, and then a stadium full of people die in a flashback), and the show aired the year after Madoka. Looking back at my notes from the time made it clear that I believed in the doom-laden air it projected and that simply wasn't really attractive. Now, of course, we know better; the show is really all goofy cheese and cheerful endings (even if it does kill a lot of bystanders).
As for how I feel about Symphogear G, it's even better than the first season (partly because the show got rid of pretty much any pretense of doom). It wouldn't rate as high in its season, but that's because it would have had very strong competition. It has an interesting feeling ending that seems like the production team wasn't entirely expecting a third season.
Sidebar: Symphogear and death
Let me try to do a simple take on this: Symphogear is a cheesy show in a decidedly non-cheesy setting. A lot of devastation has happened and does happen over the course of the show and a fair number of bystanders die, often more or less onscreen. Although the show does not show blood all that often, it does show a certain amount of unpleasant deaths that happen to terrified people. I don't think the show particularly dwelled on any of this unpleasantness, but I'm a jaded anime watcher so I'm not sure I'd have noticed short of it being fairly blatant (I have to admit that my standards are not normal).
For some people this will be a strong turnoff to the show and I won't blame them for it.
Written on 31 July 2015.