I am running out of ways to introduce this series so I will keep it brief. This is my review of Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ, aka Symphogear 4.
Reviews of seasons 1-3:
Full Title: Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ: By shedding many tears, the reality you face is…
Genres: Action, Magic, Science-Fiction
Themes: Ecchi, Fighting, Music, Mecha Musume, Yuri
Number of episodes: 13
Plot Summary: This time Team Symphogear must contend with members of the P/Bavarian Illuminati, who are secretly the higher ups that supplied several of the show’s antagonists with the weapons needed to fulfill their plans while unknowingly fulfilling the Illuminati’s own goals. Think of it as Symphogear vs Marvel’s H.Y.D.R.A.
The short answer of what people can expect from Symphogear 4 is the following: Not only is it my favorite season of the series by far but it solidified Senki Zesshou Symphogear as one of my favorite anime of all time.
Now for the long answer. Symphogear 4 is more of the same, meaning epic logic defying fights, an awesome soundtrack, nice character development that, while dramatic, does not go overboard and of course yuri couples whose love is so obvious that fans are just biding their time waiting for them to kiss on screen. What made it stand out however is how much there was featured in it. So much happens this season and not once did it feel crammed. Also the first and last episodes had different flows to them. What I mean is that there is a tradition when it comes to how each season of Symphogear starts and ends. Each first episode up to season 4 featured a Tsubasa concert and each finale had a final boss fight that had a similar climax. Not this time. There was no Tsubasa concert and the finale went in a different direction than anticipated. What we did get in the start and finish was still awesome though. Now as far as the tradition of referencing two particular characters at least once, that one remains intact. Longtime fans will know exactly which two ladies I am referring to.
Continuing the topic of traditions we go to the drama portion of the show, specifically something I like to call “The Chronicles of Chris’ Eternal Torture”. Yes doods and peeps, once again Chris had to face her past demons and, while sad that she STILL had not found inner peace, it was interesting to see how she approached it this time around. Another group who had to face their past once more was Maria’s Squad (Maria, Kirika and Shirabe). Like Chris it was interesting to learn a bit more about the squad’s past despite already knowing the gist of it. Think of it as “extra DLC that filled in some gaps and revealed a bit more about the trio”. Hibiki and Tsubasa already faced most of their past demons in season 3 so they focused more on facing present and future intrapersonal challenges. Basically the series’ drama was still there and it was balanced, meaning viewers could feel the girls’ struggles and cheer them on to overcome it and the show did not go overboard with it.
The antagonists this time are a trio of Alchemists I referred to as the “Agents of Illuminati” led by Saint-Germain. The other two are the voluptuous Cagliostro and the petite Prelati. Like past antagonists they are not truly evil and have noble goals but the methods used to achieve said goals are what makes them not very nice for the most part. That of course does not stop our heroines from trying, as usual, to reason with them. Now what makes Saint-Germain’s partners interesting is who they used to be. However, who they used to be is subtly referenced every now and then from what they say and some key words in the episode title or phrases. Simply put, unless the viewer looked up Cagliostro and Prelati’s profiles online they would not really know who they used to be. Thing is, who they used to be is not that important to the main plot or their own subplots. What matters to them is who they are in the present and helping Saint-Germain achieve her goals. I imagine some might be disappointed that part of their characters is not deeply explored but I personally am cool with it because it is not a made a huge deal of. They are happy and proud of who they are in present time and that is the message they want to convey to viewers who paid attention and/or read their profiles.
There are two other antagonists but unlike the agents they are irredeemable douches who need not be elaborated upon. There are a few interesting aspects about the two but it is best for viewers to see for themselves. Moving on.
The side-characters also got their time in the spotlight. Next to Elfnein who played a big role helping out our heroines characters who did not get to do much in season 3, such as Chief Akuma (Genjuro) and Ninja Guy were given a chance to remind viewers why they are badasses and the only reason they cannot be of more help to the Symphogear Warriors on the battlefield is because they are not equipped to fight the Noise. When it comes to non-Noise or magically enhanced enemies however…
I would also like to give a small nod to how this season connected past events, especially from seasons 2 and 3, to what was happening at this point of the story. Very cool, especially for fans who have paid attention or marathoned the first seasons in preparation for this one.
On to the animation and soundtrack. The animation has not changed very much because it is already excellent. The action scenes are par for the course as they remain some of the most gloriously over the top showcases of unadulterated awesomeness in all anime. Four seasons in and this show STILL FINDS WAYS of making my jaw drop. The show knows it is over the top, ridiculous and is not at all ashamed to push the boundaries of “screwing over realism” while staying true to the rules set in their world. The music, as always, is magnificent. The insert songs are still some of the best tunes in anime and the lyrics are still powerful.
The yuri is as strong as ever giving fans numerous “JUST KISS ALREADY!” moments between the two most prominent couples so far in HibiMiku and ShiraKiri. Unlike last season where Miku did not get to do much, this time she had various moments to show why she is STILL the Ultimate Waifu and one of the strongest members of Team Symphogear despite not being a Symphogear Warrior most of the time. Shirabe and Kirika are still doing what they do best, being an incredible tag team and singing songs about how much they love each other while fighting the Noise and anything else that gets in their way. The third couple, TsubaMari took a backseat this time around but they still reference their strong bond every now and then. As for Chris…viewers will have to see for themselves if she found a lucky lady.
Overall Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ/4 is my favorite season of the show thus far and it solidified Symphogear as one of my favorite anime of all time. It is more of the same but like Hyperdimension Neptunia (the main series to be exact) it keeps getting better and better with each new entry. Symphogear is not the most psychological or thought provoking but what it does it excels at like few can, being a Summer Blockbuster quality series on a consistent basis. Every member of the cast got their time to shine, the character development from small to big were all well done, the action scenes and soundtrack still delivered and the yuri was as strong as ever…possibly having become even stronger this season. Again, like its (I am positive about this!) inspiration, the Nanoha franchise, the couples are obviously canon and all fans are doing is waiting for them to “ascend to heaven”. Highly recommended to longtime fans of the series and mecha musume enthusiasts. People who did not like either of the previous seasons however…do not expect this one to change your minds…
PS: Tsubasa is still my #1. So hot, so badass.