Senki Zesshou Symphogear is a 13-episode musical action series produced by Satelight. It originally aired in Japan during the 2012 Winter season. The anime is set around a world plagued by attacks by monsters known as the Noise. They are impervious to all conventional weapons, and the only way to defeat them is to utilize weapons called Symphogear, suits of armor that gain power from their user’s songs. A girl named Hibiki is the main focus of the series. Two years ago, a battle between the Noise and Zwei Wing (a musical duo that protected people from the Noise) ended with Kanade, one of the Zwei Wing members, sacrificing herself in order to protect Hibiki. Now, Hibiki has gained the same powers as Kanade and must get along with Tsubasa, the other half of Zwei Wing, in order to defeat the Noise.
Before Senki Zesshou Symphogear had aired, the main selling point was that it was going to be a musical series with real-life singers Nana Mizuki and Minami Takayama voicing some of the characters. After the first episode, it was clear that Minami Takayama would not play a large role in the series since her character (Kanade) was killed off, and Nana Mizuki wouldn’t be presenting as much new music as some fans had hoped; her character, Tsubasa, wasn’t even the main character. The disappointment from the first episode was only a taste of things to come.
While the series had a great setting with the potential to create an exciting story, it was blown on clichés and a disconnected plotline. The series quickly shifts between saving the world and making friends several times, giving the sense that it really couldn’t decide what it wanted to be about. The ways in which saving the world and making friends was done in the series was also questionable. Most battles were won by “not giving up” or having something/someone appear right at the last moment. Making friends usually involved letting them beat you up and making a speech afterwards. The entertainment value really drops when most battles are finished with a single sweep and the tension between characters is resolved with a few sentences.
As you can probably guess from the way differences between characters are resolved, there was very little thought placed into the characters and their personalities. Character histories were shallow and sometimes seemed like they were made up on the spot. The main villain, for example, wants to destroy the moon because she got dumped. Thankfully, the character designs were at least decent, with the Symphogear girls actually sporting some cool-looking equipment. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the Noise, which look like blobs drawn by a 5-year-old.
In terms of animation quality, it was good up until the second episode. While the first episode looked fantastic, every episode after that looked like it was done on a shoestring budget. Scenes were reused and frames were dropped, making everything look clunky and hastily put together. Some of the worst moments were when it looked like someone took a cel and wiggled it around to make it look like the characters were walking.
Perhaps the only redeeming quality in Senki Zesshou Symphogear is the music. Nana Mizuki does present some new songs in the series, which is a plus for fans. All of the Symphogear characters also present small snippets of songs throughout the series as they’re battling. The opening and ending themes are also worth listening to.
Senki Zesshou Symphogear was a huge disappointment as an anime series. A poor script, poor production quality, and poorly designed characters make it almost unbearable to watch. The only thing I can see people enjoying it for are Nana Mizuki’s songs. Other than that, I do not recommend watching this series.