Feb 042012

Taken as a whole, Symphogear is watchable but nothing spectacular. It’s your typical “girl gains magical powers, has to save the world from shit” anime. Same old thing.

But like I talked about in my last post on the series, it gets all of the little things right. Yeah, the animation might be shoddy at times (And seriously, as a kid who grew up on 80s Saturday morning cartoons and reruns of stuff from the 60s and 70s, Symphogear’s animation cuts are nothing. If this show’s cuts turn you off, you have a weak stomach for shitty animation.), but that ain’t the little stuff I’m talking about. It’s all the little background details and incidental, throwaway stuff that’s making it pretty cool.

The thing that really got me about this week’s episode was where the main chick tripped over a pipe. It wasn’t because she was clumsy or anything like that. I assumed that at first, but she turned around and said something about the heels on her boots getting in the way. It was her ridiculous, impractical footwear that tripped her in mid-charge, not her being a clumsy magical girl stereotype. She trained that shit out of her system (for the most part) in the training montages from this episode and last episode.

So what does she do? She breaks those heels off so she can stand sure-footed while she kicks some Noise ass. It’s a throwaway moment that they don’t dwell upon, but it’s a particularly clever moment. The whole “heels make no sense from a realistic perspective” thing is never addressed in these shows where girls run around in skimpy, silly costumes that look good when someone’s drawing them in a flashy pose but shouldn’t allow for the sort of impeccable footwork and leaping you see. It irks some people, but it’s one of those things you shrug off after a while if it isn’t a deal breaker. But Symphogear has its main character realize this truth and has her do something about it. We’ll see if she still has those heels the next time she transforms. Maybe her symphogear thing will feed off of her decisions and do something about that impractical costume change. Or maybe she’ll have to bust off those heels each time she needs to start dragon punching neon slime monsters.

And I’m digging the little nods to the political goings-on behind all of the action. These peeps are government employees. They’re essentially their own branch of the military. They have to deal with political red tape, favors, and the like. While the Noise seem to concentrate in Japan, they’re obviously a world-wide problem. Countries have a vested interest in aiding Japan in this plight. At the same time, you don’t just hand over ancient relics with “weapons of mass destruction” levels of potential without a few diplomatic concessions. Whether real life Japan would have the sort of clout to erase some of the EU’s debts is irrelevant. What matters is that sort of thing gets its own throwaway line. The plausibility isn’t relevant so much as that it’s the sort of thing that “makes sense” given the context of the series. Sure, we wanna save the world, but we gotta rub each others’ backs in the process. And neither side is gonna say no.

And then who the hell knows what’s up with that naked chick from the first scene. She sounded like the glasses chick doing a broken English version of The Baroness from GI Joe. So maybe the glasses chick and the naked chick are the same character. Maybe they’re twins. Or maybe one of them is some sort of alchemistic homunculus, split off from the main creator or some shit. Hey, when glasses chick typed in the password to access that sword she used the name Fulcanelli, so something may be up there. Or maybe that password is just one of those esoteric name drops that makes shit sound cool but doesn’t have any real meaning. But glasses chick sure seemed to get off on seeing the main chick go berserker when she got a hold of that power sword thing. You don’t’ get that sort of smile in that context unless there’s some screw loose.

By the way, that isn’t a Fullmetal Alchemist reference. That’s an alchemy reference. Which isn’t really a reference so much as an explanation.

Yeah. I’m not getting the… not really hate, but general apathy towards this series. It’s doing some genuinely clever things. The school life bits may be kinda sucky, but as the series has progressed that shit’s taken a backseat because the main character has relegated school to a secondary concern. She’s off cosplaying as Makoto from Street Fighter while leveling up with her red-headed trainer buddy. Other than those lame school bits, this has been a pretty cool show. Watch it and stuff.

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