Sunday, February 19, 2012

Senki Zesshou Symphogear - 07

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The title of this episode was “Towards the Fate That Never Stops Assailing Us”, and it would be hard to do a better job of summing up the overall feel of this series than that.

What a fascinating contrast we have in our two Saturday Sci-fi series, Senshogear and Mouretsu Pirates.  While MP takes an almost purely abstract view of events, putting full trust in the fact that impassionately observing them will be interesting for it’s own sake, Symphogear take a completely opposite approach.  Everything that happens in this series is framed through the emotions of the characters, especially Hibiki but pretty much all of the sympogear girls.  The result is sloppy and sometimes exhausting, but for me at least it’s hard not to be swept up in the pure depth of feeling this series depicts, whatever its flaws in doing so.

We’ve already seen what happens to one symphogear user when the most important relationship in her life is taken from her. In Tsubasa’s case, of course, Kanade was taken from her by death, and the result was two years lost in the wilderness, culminating in what was effectively a suicide attempt.  She seems to have turned a corner (perhaps a bit too neatly, truth be told) now that she’s hit rock-bottom, but it looks as if the series is about to put the two other remaining symphogear girls through the same sort of trial.  It seems that loss and dealing with it is a big part of what this series is about – that should have been obvious from the prologue of the first episode – but it’s clear that none of these girls can escape the fate that’s assailing them.

It’s too early to guess how Hibiki and Chris (now fully named as 16 year-old Yukine Kurisu) will deal with their respective low ebbs.  In Kurisu’s case, anyone who’s seen the likes of Gurren-Laggan and Nanoha would have known she was obviously going over to the good guys’ side at some point, but she’s pretty much seeing her world torn apart in the process.  It’s hard to see any affection between her and “Fine’”, but certainly Chris depended on her – and it’s obvious that Fine’ was manipulating her with promises about how her symphogear was going to bring peace to the world.  Obviously more of Kurisu’s backstory is going to come out, but it looks to be a pretty sad tale – war orphan, taken in by Fine’s initial kindness, used up and thrown away.  Hibiki is probably the only person who’s shown her any kindness in a very long time, and it only served to make her more pissed off – her “You made me sing and I hate to sing!” was her signature line so far – though she seemed to reflect a little of it back on the two lost kids she met in the park.  Her initial instinct to beat up the brother for perceived bullying is no doubt another clue to her zeitgeist.

As for Hibiki, she (and Aoi Yuuki) continue to be real heartbreakers.  There’s sure to be controversy over Miku’s behavior in this episode, and if Tsubasa found the light a little too quickly, perhaps Miku turned on her friend a little too dramatically in order to serve the plot.  Still, I can understand where Miku is coming from here – Hibiki has already almost died once, and here she is doing something incredibly dangerous in secret after promising to tell Miku “everything”.  Miku has been nothing but trusting and supportive, even as she saw Hibiki slipping away from her – and she feels betrayed.  This is one of those instances where I don’t think early party is “wrong”.  Hibiki was put in an impossible situation, and I think she was right not to say anything to Miku – she was working for a top-secret government agency after all.  But in Miku’s eyes it’s still betrayal, and the wedge between them looks pretty deep.  The notion of studying the impact being a superpowered teen has on the personal side of their life is hardly a new one in anime, but I’ve rarely seen the pain of it expressed so purely as it is here – Hibiki’s agony at sacrificing what’s dear to her for the sake of humanity is the most compelling part of Senshogear, for me.   If you felt nothing when she sobbed “I don’t want this” after Miku told her they were no longer friends, this series just might not be your cup of tea.

There was a whole lot of plot development in this ep too, and I don’t want to totally gloss over it, but the emotional side of things is really what sells this show for me.  Miku reads “Cats magazine” (Vol. 10 – Siamese Kitten Issue) and Bikkie’s ramen gets cold.  We still have the issue of Ryoko/Fine’ to deal with – are they indeed they same person, or perhaps twins or clones or such?  Ryoko pretty much makes it clear why “Bikkie” is special, as the only human who can use the symphogear without the ravaging effect on the body – the question is, why?  Meanwhile Fine’ – same person or different – has her naked hands on a new relic, one which appears to put even Kurisu’s powerful one to shame, and she’s ready to throw the girl out like yesterday’s trash.  Things are looking grim for the Second Branch and pretty much everyone working for them, with the ironic exception of Tsubasa, who appears to be on the upswing at last as everyone else is on the down.  They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, but with the way Senshogear is going, I’m not at all sure dawn is ever going to come – but even if it is, I expect it to get a whole lot darker before we see it.

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9 comments:

  1. Its a shame Madoka came out first before this series. They seemed to have followed an errily similar path in some aspects.

    I'm sure Miku will come to realize she was wrong in what she said. Hibiki is working her ass off at both ends of the candle trying to save the world and go to school at the same time. People say things in the heat of the moment when they feel they have been used or betrayed and once she calms down and thinks about it she will come around.

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    1. Considering this project started its production just before madoka ended I doubt that's much of a coincidence.

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  2. I think the need to frame things as "friendship" is confusing the point of what happened this episode. Miku wasn't saying she couldn't be "friends" with Hibiki anymore, she was saying she couldn't be in a relationship with her anymore. These aren't the same thing, and while the first seems a tad strange and slightly abstract, the second makes perfect sense.

    Hell, isn't this one of the things that every "superhero" with a secret identity has to deal with? The fear that the revelation will destroy their personal relationships? And in fact its incredibly common for things like this to happen when a hero's significant other (Husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend) finds out, emotions flare, feelings of distrust and betrayal, its really classic.

    Now, hopefully Hibiki and Miku will reconcile, but the first scene of the series doesn't seem very hopeful on that point.

    On another issue, Kurisu's Ichii-Bal armor is fantastic, and I can't wait to see her in action some more. I hope she can get a good end...

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  3. kiero deskargarlo como lo ago ?

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  4. Miku is not such a nice friend. If man in black were to take you away to some secret location after you saw some crazy stuff and make you sign non disclosure papers... Seriously, you think your friend would tell you something like that is happened?
    Ampunt of crazies in this show just upped.

    I am guessing, Chris would somehow survive Fine. Even though that seems totally unlikely

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  5. Kurisu is definitely surviving. She has her role to play, still.

    As I said, I don't think either Miku or Hibiki is "wrong". Emotions are what they are, and they're two kids in an impossible emotional situation.

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    1. I guess you are right. Miku is lashing out cause she realizes Hibiki is in a world she can't enter.
      She just lost her Yuri End. The true meaning behind the word "relationship"

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  6. Out of the three sci-fi anime (Lagrange, Pirates, and Symphogear)This is actually the least interesting in my opinion (which is not to say I don't enjoy, because I do). The problem I see with Symphogear is that it is just so messy. Too emotional and too fast. I'm bombarded by people suffering all the time and I can't really follow along with them as it happens because it's so fast. Tsubasa went from shy introvert to solo "only count on myself" to best friends too soon. I can't see where sh'es going to go now because she reached the point that she should have reached 3 or 4 episodes from now. Chris is playing out too much like a typical anti-hero. faceheelturn, helps children, hidden past. Too old and not fresh enough. Hibiki is FINALLY seeing some significant character development, but I'm tired of seeing her either sad or happy/excited and always willing to help anyone. She should take a stand, she should voice herself more. WE know she's sad about whats happening with her and Miku, but the cast doesn't. And they won't unless Hibiki actually speaks out and shares her problems too instead of keeping it inside and only focusing on others.

    In contrast, Lagranges Madoka has multiple levels of personality. We've seen her happy and helpful, whether to one alien or another. But we've also seen her sad and conflicted, even lacking confidence. And, even better, we've seen her get pissed. Madoka wants to help out as much as she can but if there's bullshit, she'll call it out. And if she's the cause of some of that bull, the other characters are there to make her realize that. Madoka is probably the strongest lead of the three to be honest. She's very well balanced and multi faceted.
    As for Marika, she's different in that she's relatable. I CAN'T relate to Hibiki very much, I see where's she's coming from, but I can't put myself in her place. Marika, however, is easy to relate to. It's most likely thanks to the slow pace that Pirates is taking but I'm liking her slow transformation from student to pirate, and I like how's she's unwilling to fully commit to just one and will try her hardest to make both work. True, the stakes are not as high on the Bettenmaru as it is over at the Symphogear HQ but it's a little more sobering and easy to absorb small nuances with a show like Pirates than it is with Symphogear.

    Despite all the criticisms I aam enjoying symphogear. I do legitimately like the characters, even Hibiki, and I want to see what will hapen to them. Other than the obvious three way team up between Chris, Tsubasa and Hibiki. What will happen about the noise, about the second branch, or the world wide conflict based around the relics? Where will these characters end up in the end. We've already got an idea from the beginning of Episode one, but the trip there is the better part of the journey.

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    1. I think all of your points about Symphogear are valid, Airon. It is sloppy. And messy, and histrionic. But while I also like all three shows, this is the only one of the three I find emotionally involving. My views on Mouretsu are in my posts and I won't restate them, but I find it's unwillingness to make any emotional commitment to the characters more off-putting than the pacing. As for Rinne, it's definitely my least favorite of the three. It's slick and well-made, and cheerful - but a little too obsessed with how cute it is. Of the three series it feels the most contrived and least authentic for me.

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