After two long years, the follow-up to Symphogear AXZ, Symphogear XV came out and ended the series after 5 seasons. Just like I did with AXZ, I posted reactions to every episode on Qtoid and now I've collected all of them in this blog to make them easier to read. Emotions ran high and shenanigans were had, so I hope you enjoy. It was one hell of a ride. Spoiler warning for the whole show, obviously.
Ok, so the episode starts with someone namedropping Fine and shooting the moon with the Frontier laser thing. It seems like he's an actual Custodian and that the curse they enacted wasn't exactly what they intended. It's so exciting to finally get to know what their deal is!
The actual plot starts with the Geah team hunting an ancient coffin in the Antarctic. That's something to do.
But nevermind that, HIBIKI'S NEW TRANSFORMATION IS SO FUCKING RAD.
And Kirika and Shirabe attack by doing figure skating! What even?!
And then Maria and Hibiki do a handholding fusion drill attack. That's the good stuff.
Even so, this opening scene wasn't as hype as the ones in GX and AXZ. But on the other hand, it's not a filler thing either, since this evil coffin thing is seemingly important to the plot.
Then we cut back to Hibiki singing the Lydian school song while Miku plays the piano. That was pretty great. I'm less a fan of the hamfisted foreshadowing Miku does. It's like she knows that Fudou will kidnap her and make her fight the others.
Then we see anime Trump working together with Japan for a moon rocket project. How the hell he managed that after NUKING JAPAN LAST SEASON is beyond me.
So, they used Tiki's corpse to track down the coffin and we finally see the three new villains properly. A vampire, a wolf girl and a cyborg. Props for the Hammer theming, I guess.
Holy shit, we get a sextet song in the first episode! What the hell are they gonna do for the last episode then!?
Hibiki gets pulled into a lake and engages her frikkin' drill punch for propulsion. That's some good ingenuity.
And then the fight ends with a Gaynado bullet shot by Chris, fueled by everyone's power. Hell yeah!
I'm down with what the season has put up. There's a lot of callbacks and promise of the overarching story ending, which is what I want. And a lot of gay fluff, of course.
The recap leading to the OP was strangely melancholic. Which is fitting, since the OP is pretty laid back. It looks pretty generic for half of it too and I can't say it sticks with me as strongly as Testament did in AXZ. The start is apparently a reference to a Yu-Gi-Oh opening, which I find strange even if I think the shows share a director. The attacks they showcase are cool though, Hibiki gets fist-scarves!
I can't believe that we got agent Maria in the actual show! I guess she thinks she can hide her amazing hair behind a suit and some shades.
Leave it to Kirika to forget her LiNKER after jumping out of a helicopter. Also, her transformation somehow includes even more poledancing than in AXZ. Consider me impressed.
Their mid-battle dance catch was so dumb and cute.
I find it interesting that miss Buttplug Werewolf uses guerilla warfare against DMJii. It's like, she's smart or something. Hell, Symphogear battles are usually set in open spaces, so having a fight in the corridors of a ship was cool. It ending with an ACTUAL FUCKING BEYBLADE ATTACK WAS EVEN COOLER!
So it turns out that the show takes place in 2045, which checks out given the future tech present just about everywhere. Does feel weird to think that Ryoko Sakurai would be a ten-year-old by now though. Man, the march of time is gonna ruin so many near-future settings.
After AXZ not providing, we finally get another concert! It even does the panning shenanigans from season 1. And a Noise attack. Where 100000 people die at the hands of a mad vampire. God damn, Symphogear, I know you haven't been edgy in forever, but do you really have to return to the edge by killing ten times more people?
It's absurdly brutal, capping off with this poor girl becoming a donut and Tsubasa suffering PTSD from season 1. And this is episode 2! Just how dark are we going this season? Why must you hurt me this way, Symphogear?
Since guessing is fun, I'm gonna assume that this will put Tsubasa out of commission and get Fudou to kidnap Miku in order to fuel a super weapon or some shit. The aftermath of this massacre is gonna a hell of a ride.
Surprisingly, we get a phonecall between Hibiki and her father. It shows that the implied fairy tail ending of GX wasn't as happy as it seemed and that Hibiki's parents are still struggling with being together. I'm so glad that they did this. This is something I wanted from AXZ, but I thought they'd just written Akira out of the story completely. Instead, they show that even if his actions have been forgiven, there is still much healing left to be done. Also, Miku dropped another drama flag.
YO, NOISE ON SEGWAYS!
Chris' transformation was this episode, and it was pretty good. It showcased her new revolver (by having her load bullets from her bosom) and even ended with her saying "Bang".
But what she did during the fight was even better! She used gun kata, shot Elza's teleportation vial out of her hand and EVEN FIRED HER RED HOT BLAZE SNIPER RIFLE AFTER 3 SEASONS OF WAITING!
We then cut to two of the illuminati girls recovering after the battle, which ends with some headpatting. That's cute, and it's good that they show the bonds of the villain team, but these fuckers still killed 70000 people. Ain't no redemption arc big enough for that.
As soon as Tsubasa wakes up from her traumatic coma, Fudou is there to shit on her for not being perfect. I fucking hate that guy.
Shirabe got her transformation this episode too! It's pretty grand, as she skates and does a bunch of yo-yo tricks.
In battle, they totally split a bunch of banana Noise in half. Also, their combo attack this time was a fucking Bat Glider. And I thought the mecha crab in GX was crazy.
To bail Millaarc out, Vanessa finally shows up and fights. She's really stoic, so I'm not sure I like her, but her gynoid attacks are pretty cool. A dick move to launch an EMP above a hospital though.
For the stinger, we find out that FUDOU HIRED THE ILLUMINATI GIRLS AND STAGED THE CONCERT ATTACK SO THAT TSUBASA WOULD BREAK DOWN! If Tsubasa doesn't get the best "Fuck you, dad!" arc of all time that ends with Fudou dead on the ground, I'll riot!
And next time is the fourth episode, which is rumored to be heavy. I think XV has been really heavy already, so I'm both scared and excited to see what'll happen.
Sword Tsubasa really is back in full force. I don't know how the hell they're gonna remedy this, but since her CD is so far away, it's gonna be a while.
Noble Red uses some astronomy bullcrap to activate the gauntlet for Fudou. He then forces them to kill some people from last episode, which is when we see that the gauntlet's power kills the unworthy and that Fudou has super-human strength. This lends creedence to the theory floating around that he's actually a Custodian, or at least descendent from one. No wonder the bastard is so focused on his bloodline.
Things blow up as they are want to do and we get Maria's transformation. It's themed around ballet, as she uses her whip sword as one of those ballet string stick thingies. She also wraps herself in it, further painting herself as a Tsubasa's sub.
I am in no way surprised that Vanessa has boob rockets.
After the fight, Noble Red find themselves without a base, so they huddle together in a car junkyard. It's cute and all, showcasing their bond. Now we know that they just want human bodies. But they still killed 70000 people, anime. I am not letting that go.
Maria was useful her one time per season and slipped a tracker on them. But since Noble Red play smart and dirty, it doesn't really work out for the Gears. As soon as Hibiki's kick-ass transformation ends, she steps on a landmine and the music dies! It was so funny, since the villains aren't usually this smart in the show.
This gives them the opening to do their super move, Daedalus End. Fittingly enough for the illuminati, they encase the Gears in a space-compressed pyramid with no exit. That's rough, but not even their energy wave is enough to win, since the Symphogears are stupidly strong.
But it does make Hibiki pass out, at which point the ghost of Saint Germain appears! She gives her a pep talk, AND BECOMES HER FUCKING STAND AFTER MERGING GUNGNIR WITH HER OLD FAUST ROBE FOR THE GOLDEN FIST SCARF FORM FROM THE OP, WHICH IS COUPLED WITH THE HIBIKI/SG DUET FROM THE 2018 CONCERT!!!
Hibiki then proceeds to stomp the shit out of Noble Red, further showcasing how weak they are. Not even Millaarc's batarang helped!
But we can't have a happy ending, as the government storms SONG and holds everyone on the bridge at gunpoint, and Genjuro has to issue an order to retreat.
So, the Gears are totally going rogue next episode. But I'm not sure how the interaction between the Gears, Fudou and Noble Red will play out. There will definitively be some betrayals and alliances, but I can't guess the order. Is it too much to ask that Fudou and Millaarc fight eachother to the death? Alternatively, Tsubasa offing them both would be rad, assuming her mental state wouldn't degrade even further.
So, the government being what they are in fiction, they use the Amalgam form as an excuse to launch an inspection and take over SONG, essentially putting the Gears on probation. Let a good thing be, dangit! No one went rogue as I thought though.
Vanessa goes into the full tragic backstory of Noble Red, which is dandy and all, but with how horrible they are, it rings a bit hollow.
Fudou gives them the ruins of Château de Tiffauges to hang out in, so Carol's return draws closer. I can smell it!
Everyone staring at Kirika while calling her out on wanting a vacation was great.
Not as great as Miku using water guns on Hibiki though!
Following that, we actually get some SoL fluff, as Hibiki, Miku and Tsubasa take Elfnein shopping and to karaoke. Elfnein even sings!
But then drama happens. Miku calls out Hibiki for not considering Tsubasa's feelings, which is a bit warranted. But she also goes into what people theorized her deal was about. She's feeling guilty about being technically responsible for Hibiki becoming a Symphogear wielder and all the suffering that has entailed. It's an understandable position, but I think she's better off for it. The world at large is at least.
But then Noise attack and Tsubasa gets her transformation. It's pretty decent, especially all the flames.
Both her and Hibiki get a new cool attack, but the mindflay thing Millaarc put on Tsubasa makes her go kinda nuts, seing the vampire everywhere as she fights the Noise. She is totally gonna stab someone on accident later.
Then the episode ends strangely. Millaarc corners Miku and Elfnein, but then the government guy from before appears. And in the series grand tradition of villains and their weird sex stuff, he gets seemingly horny at the thought of Miku getting slashed into ribbons by Millaarc so they can get Elfnein. It then cuts to a ridiculous blood geyser, which is obviously the government guy and not Miku. Are you even trying, Symphogear? Miku would never die like that.
Tsubasa is still suffering alone (she even cries for Kanade) and Fudou tries even more to make her join him. It's downright uncomfortable at this point. Give the girl her resolution already!
And the bullying doesn't end there! Miku and Elfnein are obviously still alive, and Noble Red forces Elfnein to activate something in the castle. Millaarc now needs to double die!
They namedropped Carol and even the Nephilim arm Ver had. That better be all we hear of him, he's overplayed at his point. But please, bring back Carol as soon as possible. There's even an autoscorer machine in the castle, why not make some more dolls too?
We then cut to Maria training while she angsts about Tsubasa. This makes fit Maria properly canon, so that's nice, but the two should really talk things out. I know that won't happen until they get into a fight, but I can hope.
There's also a cute flashback between Maria and Serena. I'm still wondering if Serena will get some more significance. They're both featured in the OP, so it could be possible. There's also the matter of the Apple song becoming relevant. Not sure what the payoff to that will actually be.
Ogawa gets into a car chase with Vaness and to escape, he uses CAR CLONE JUTSU. Eat shit, Naruto!
During a nice fight full of mecha references, Vanessa drops hints about Airgetlam being an unknown relic, which we knew from the website. Gonna be fun to se if it's actually Excalibur.
The episode then ends with the weird song and another god cocoon appearing, probably containing Miku. I doubt we'll get a kaiju fight like last season, but it's interesting that Vanessa said it's being activated too early. At this point I'm just waiting for all of this build-up to pay off with some cool shit. Tsubasa is gonna switch sides, Maria is gonna be useful, Miku is gonna suffer and Noble Red is gonna eat shit. That's what I imagine is going down, but you never know with this show.
We cut back to the castle before the lightshow begins, showing that Noble Red mind-controlled Elfnein in order to activate the generator thing. But when Millaarc tries to destroy her mind afterwards, Carol's voice appears and chases her off! All that teasing with the AXZ OVA and her missing inclusion in XDU are paying off!
Vanessa is full of references, but I sure as shit didn't expect her to act like Bugs Bunny and shove her finger into Chris' gun to blow it up. What even?
Hibiki gets to style on the god cocoon for all of six seconds before getting smoked and hospitalized. Not a surprising outcome, since she can win so easily otherwise, but this is the second time they've cut her music short and have her fall on her face.
Tsubasa is acting really weird now. She seems happy to an unnatural degree and namedropped Kanade again. If I had to guess, I'd say she has regressed her character development even more and is acting like she did in that S1 flashback. What are the writers planning to do to her?
We get more confirmation on the importance of Apple and Maria seems to insinuate that Apple is why the miracle stuff in G happened. It's like half a retcon, so it's not a difficult thing to accept. Again, I'm wondering where this all will go? Will she fight Tsubasa maybe?
Back in the castle, Vanessa decides to just kill Elfnein. Or she would have, IF THE FUCKING AUTOSCORERS DIDN'T JUMP OUT OF THE MACHINE TO SAVE HER IN THE RADDEST WAY POSSIBLE!!!
It's ever so slightly bullshit that these dolls are prototypes of the ones from GX that just happened to lay around, but I don't care. Shit's dope and this episode is in my like top 3 now.
Elfnein manages to radio back (while Micha does her dumb pose for absolutely no reason) and tell everyone what's going on (while scaring the shit out of Fujitaka. Dude has had it rough this season. He deserves a normal desk job.). I really like that they focus on Chris being relieved over Miku being safe. Their friendship has been ignored too much in the series, so it's nice to see that the writers remember.
When Noble Red show up again (after getting baseballed through the wall by Micha earlier), the Wild Bunch starts playing and each doll stays behind in succession to protect Elfnein. Hearing Elfnein praise and acknowledge them as she runs away was like the sweetest thing ever. Your hands are the coolest, Micha.
But even Noble Red can defeat weakened autoscorers, so Elfnein doesn't get far. Vanessa loads up another Diebuster reference...and Elfnein parries it with alchemy after realizing the weight of the dolls' sacrifice.
Now, that's rad enough to end on. But fuck you, this is Sympogear. SO SHE PULLS OUT THE DUR DA BLÀ FROM HAMMER SPACE AND USES IT TO TRANSFORM INTO CAROL, ENDING THE EPISODE ON HER NEW SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I basically knew this was gonna happen, but fuck me if they didn't sucker punch me with this awesomeness. We barely saw the gears for the second half of the episode, instead focusing on GX fanservice and making Elfnein stand up for herself after a pep talk from Garie. It's so good to see her do that, capping off with Carol appearing and taking shit from no one. I love this anime. And this is somehow only episode 7!
Instead of a "GUNGNIR DATTO!?" this season, we are instead treated to a "DUR DA BLÀ DATTO?!", which is just as fine, because jesus christ, did Carol wipe the floor of her castle with Noble Red. She stood still and pretended to conduct and Noble Red just couldn't touch her, it was awesome! They're jobbing harder than the Autoscorers in GX, and that was on purpose! Her new song is also aces, which she uses to break out of the Daedalus End maze in just a few seconds.
There's also some fun Yu-Gi-Oh-esque interactions between Carol and Elfnein, showing Carol's tsundere tendencies, which are really cute for a genocidal loli.
Fudou betrays Noble Red as expected, so they are totally helping the Gears getting to the moon as revenge later. Using poisoned blood was a low blow though. Also, why does he have red eyes!?
Carol thinks up a plan to destroy the god baby and the Gears sing their swan songs in order to activate the castle. It's not enough power however, so Carol uses up all her power IN ORDER TO GRANT THE GEARS XDRIVE IN EPISODE 8!!!
Not only that, but Maria and Chris engage in "symmetrical docking" in order to do a combined super rail cannon. Of all the callbacks to make...
But then Hibiki comes flying out of a missile in order to strike the baby with her god-slaying fist! Everyone covers her (Chris even lets her ride in her gunship thing), but she still sustains enough damage to trigger the "Condition Red" display foreshadowed in all the transformations.
MIKU GEAR IS BACK LOOKING LIKE THE CUSTODIANS ADAM TEASED AND SUFFERING IS INBOUND!!! I CAN'T TAKE THIS, SOMEONE GIVE ME THE NEXT EPISODE, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
And just to twist the knife further, the credits are a Hibiki & Miku clip show. I swear if they actually dare to end this shit with a tragic ending. Also, I was told that Miku's name in japanese, "Miku-san", can be read as "mi-kyu-san", or 393. 3 + 9 + 3 = 15, which is XV in roman numerals. And just to rub it in, the XV in the logo is purple...
Just to twist the knife further, the episode opens with a montage of Hibiki and Miku moments from the show set to the tune of their incredibly gay bonus song. Then it cuts to Hibiki in the present falling down next to the Shem-ha possessed Miku. Wretched fucking anime.
After that, we're in the apartment of Hibiki's dad. I was quite surprised to see him return, as I thought the phone call from earlier would be all they dared to use him for. It makes sense Hibiki would go there, since she is incredibly forgiving. But, they don't really paint him as being redeemed, so that's good. He's remorseful, but still tries to act like a dad. Fitting for the name of the episode: "I Am a Father"
Cutting back to the Shem-ha encounter, we see that Fudou installed a control device on Shem-ha in order to make her subservient. He then orders Tsubasa through the mind control to take her and abandon the others. I expected as much, but I didn't see a combination of Thousand Tears and Shadow Weave in order to incapacitate all the Gears at once.
With everything sorted, S.O.N.G prepares to raid the Kazanari mansion and capture Fudou. And predictably, they only want to send Maria. The justification is a bit weak, but she has to fight Tsubasa, so whatever.
Also, they totally forgot to draw Maria's underwear. "Let's Get Naked", indeed.
Hibiki drops her "I think I'm cursed" catchphrase from season 1 also. I thought they had abandoned that.
The Maria and Tsubasa fight begins by mirroring some shots from G, but with Tsubasa being the evil one now, which is a nice touch. The fight itself is pretty low-energy all things considered. I guess this is what counts as a breather episode. The fight ends with Maria giving Tsubasa a good slap and calling out how dumb she is acting, which breaks the mind control.
Then we get another thing many have wanted, a Fudou versus Genjuro fight. We've known that Fudou was secretly ripped, so I suppose this matchup was inevitable. Still, the fight is fucking insane. Fudou really knows how to handle a sword. But forget about that. FUDOU ENDS THE FIGHT BY IZUNA DROPPING GENJURO INTO A ROCK LIKE HE IS A MEMBER OF THE HAYABUSA NINJA CLAN!!!
Noble Red sneaks in to steal the divine power of Shem-ha, but she just...cuts them into bloody chunks. I knew they were gonna die, but to make it that sudden was really unexpected. So much for my theory of them making a bridge to the moon. While Millaarc lost an arm and her lower body (fitting punishment for what she did, really), the other two might have survived in some capacity. Vanessa has a robot body, so she should be able to talk for a few minutes next episode at least.
I get having Fudou punch Maria, but does it has to be so clown-shoes silly?
Fudou pulling a fucking gun reminds me of the Glock Saint from Sekiro. First Team Ninja, now From Software. Were you in an action game mood for this episode, Kaneko?
He uses said gun to shoot Tsubasa, but Yatsuhiro takes the shot instead and dies. The last two episodes were really exciting, but this one is just draining. This is the first meaningful death we've had in a while. I also wrote "Fudou you fucking asshole", because he's just such a bastard towards his children. He basically disowned them all on the spot and tried to kill most of them for even attempting to hold a different perspective than him. It's frankly comical.
Sans brainwashing and with motivation in hand, Tsubasa quotes Synchrogazer and gets into a cool sword fight with Fudou, which is another thing I wanted. She also activates Amalgam. You'll note the lack of exclamation points in the last sentence. I don't know why, but I just wasn't feeling it. Maybe it was the death of Yatsuhiro, or the fear of Amalgam aping after Ignite to pad out the season, but this episode didn't get my blood pumping. Which is extra strange, since Fudou is such a scumbag in need of a beatdown.
Before Tsubasa can kill him, Genjuro steps in to stop her from turning into a murderer, which is understandable. But if they don't kill him now, how are they gonna stop him from getting up to shenanigans again? I mean, look at this physique, you can't just throw him in a cell!
To cap the episode off, we go back to Hibiki and her dad, where we get to see a super cute picture of Hibiki.
Akira then talks about how the "Heiki hecchara" saying turned into a curse for him, but a blessing for Hibiki. I think what he's putting forth is the notion that something terrible can also be something good to different people, or that bad things can be used for good. I think this is gonna tie into Shem-ha and the curse, so maybe he was worth something as a character after all. Maybe.
Maria opens up the episode by fighting Shem-ha and in a surprising twist, doesn't eat shit in 5 seconds. She has come so far.
Shem-ha then talks about the tower thing she raised (named Yggdrasil, because Japan) and confirming Airgetlam's connction to Enki even more. I'm just waiting for the flashback explaining all the Custodian stuff.
And then Noble Red just casually appear and almost break Maria's neck, despite dying last episode. Divine power is some bullshit, I tell ya.
It seems Fudou gave up, since he's actually in jail and presumably out of the story. I question the logistics here, since he should be able to just flex to get out of his handcuffs. Maybe he wants to see how S.O.N.G handles this situation.
Tsubasa was in custody during her father's funeral, but Hibiki and the others console her into the smile we have been waiting for so long. The question is, could they possibly have made this even gayer?
We get to see that Shem-ha looked like a Yu-Gi-Oh villain in the past, which really isn't surprising knowing the director. She explains that she exposed Noble Red to her power and turned them into complete monsters, explaining their new power. Not able to regain their humanity now, they join up with Shem-ha to do...whatever eliminating the loneliness of the world means. Destroy the world? Probably.
In response to Shem-ha running away, S.O.N.G decides to investigate the activity on the moon. And wouldn't you know it, the US and Japan just so happened to have prepared a moon expedition a few episodes back. A bit ludicrous that anime Trump thinks this makes them even after NUKING JAPAN LAST SEASON!
I shouldn't be surprised that Shirabe has secretly been wanting to go to the moon, being rabbit-themed and all that.
Noble Red of course attacks the rocket, showing of their upgraded forms. Vanessa is stronger (and crazier) and Millaarc can use all her beefed up limbs at once. But Elsa, she gets to do some cool shit. After inserting all of her (butt) plugs, she transforms her spinning ball and claws into a fucking robot wolf mecha suit! She uses it to destroy the rocket, which prompts DMJii's duet and some dumb and cool yoyo moves that I can't even begin to describe. We do get what is essentially a quick Beyblade battle between Kirika and Elsa, which was fun.
To turn the tide, they pop into their Amalgam forms, which are pretty rad. Shirabe's discus/yoyo/mecha in particular. But the way they beat Elsa is so damn dorky. Through their usualy combiner bulshit they turn their gears into a GIANT ROTATING BEAR TRAP!
The defeat causes Noble Red to try to retreat, but Tsubasa won't have it. She cuts the teleportation crystal out of their hand, which triggers the spell and begins to take her to their base. But thankfully, the others catch up and everyone gets teleported. To where, you may ask? TO THE MOOOOOOOOOON!!!
I've been waiting for this bullshit since AXZ, let's go punch the hell out of the rest of the moon!
We finally got the Custodian flashback I wanted, and it's a fucking Dragonball Z battle between Enki and Shem-ha! It ends with Enki cutting off his arm, which Shem-ha is turning to silver, which is probably the most blatant Wild Arms reference we've seen. The dude even has blue hair! But now we have the origin of Airgetlam at least, it's not Enki's gauntlet, but his actual arm! Or maybe ARM is more appropriate.
Kudos to the show for explaining that the Moon has Earth-like gravity and atmosphere in the moon ruins. But forget that, Maria goes for the kill afterwards!
After the security system pops, we get another Hibiki fight scene, which is always welcome. The fire tornado was rad.
Miku finally struggles her way into some screentime from inside Shem-ha and it's not looking good for her. It is however looking very kinky, what with the bondage and the (symbolic) ear licking. I think that means every main villain in the show has a creepy sex thing to their name.
Maria and Tsubasa run into control device of the facility, which naturally delivers exposition in the form of Enki. It explains that humanity was developed as a way to link minds a lá the original plot of the Matrix. But their "Modification Surgeon" Shem-ha wanted Earth for her own, so she TURNED HERSELF INTO A LANGUAGE AND EMBEDDED HERSELF INTO ALL OF HUMANITY!
So the actual bombshell here is that the "curse" was in fact a blessing (thanks for the foreshadowing, Topdad) as it sealed away Shem-ha at the cost of the unified language humanity had. So that means that Finé was wrong, god didn't abandon her and set up the curse to get away from her, he protected everyone before dying and couldn't tell her in time. So that means that the lack of mutual understanding was the setup of the whole show. I'm glad they managed to make something sensible and thematically appropriate out of this backstory.
But fuck that, time for Millaarc's true monster form! Which is her using the FUCKING DOPPELGANGER STYLE TO THROW MARIA AND TSUBASA USING HER CROTCH AND THEN PANCAKING THEM BETWEEN ROCKS!!!
But just to make this even more ridiculous, Maria mentions their first song together and then she and Tsubasa start singing Fushichō no Flamme from G! And after Millaarc engages in a Kinnikuman double spin explosion, they pop their Amalgam forms! Maria has a dragon arm (that can morph into fly swatter for some reason) in her Amalgam for, which lets them beat the stuffing out of Millaarc. The mouth cannon and sword combo makes me think of Omnimon from Digimon, which is also a plus. But I was also told that a phoenix and dragon symbolizes the marriage of two things, which in this context is hella gay.
Millaarc escapes as a tiny bat and the plot moves back to Earth, where Symphogear showcases its subtlety as the Yggdrasil system encases the Earth.
The stage is set, and I expect some very pretty explosions and loads of gayness. Don't disapoint me now, anime. We've come too far for that.
As per tradition, we don't get the opening this time and are instead treated to a little recap to the tune of the ED from the perspective of the members of S.O.N.G on Earth.
The episode starts proper with Elfnein next to Shem-ha ready to fight. It's nice to see her stand up for herself, even if she leans onto Carol again. Which is ok, since Carol is so much fun. The fight itself is decent, even if there is no way that she can win. But hey, she does buy some time and manages to trap Shem-ha in bondage. Never underestimate the collective hornyness of two Symphogear villains fighting eachother.
Back on the moon, we get our prophesized Vanessa battle, which sadly doesn't involve a Hibiki & Chris duet. But it's still a good fight, as usual. Her final mecha reference is to...lemme see if I got this right... "Gundam 0083 Stardust Memories, the Mobile Armor Neue Ziel"...whatever that means. Chris pops her Amalgam, which is a dope giant bow with barrier-infused arrows. Her fancy new attack is named De Le Metalica, which is both a music reference and a Wild Arms reference, so good job on that I guess. Anyway, it's rad and she uses it to save Noble Red from the vacuum of space.
With Noble Red basically broken in half, they finally realize that what they've been doing is dumb. It is wholesome (and just a bit pathetic) to see them hug eachother, but with how adamant they've been in supporting Fudou and Shem-ha, I can't fully accept the redemption put forth by the show. I'd have wanted a few more lines of doubt between them.
But nevermind that, Shem-ha takes control of Vanessa, which forces Hibiki into another of her awesome transformation punches. But it's for naught and Shem-ha takes control of the moon outpost and sets it to self-destruct. We also get the bombshell that Maria singing Apple in G set Shem-ha on the path to revival somehow. Not sure how that works exactly, but good job Maria.
Just as people guessed, Noble Red uses their maze to create a path between the Earth and the moon for the Gears. But I thought they'd help them get to the moon, not get away from it, so I guess they managed to make it a bit of a surprise. In a bit of a retread from AXZ, Noble Red turn into pixie dust as they sacrifice themselves so the Gears can fight the final boss. It's an ok thing to do, but it sure doesn't help Noble Red's image as remakes of the AXZ alchemists.
On the approach to Earth, we get to see humanity fighting back against Shem-ha using the internet. They were this close to spamming her with email to slow her down, I just know it. Not Trump is there, a bunch of indian programmers are there, hell, even Ogawa's brothers show up out of nowhere! This makes Tsubasa realize why people are worth protecting, thus completing her arc for the season. It's because they can be brave and awesome. You'd think she'd have figured that out earlier, but whatever.
As they begin their descent, Hibiki says that they should X-Drive, which Chris shoots down immediately, since they don't have any extra phonic gain to use. But then Hibiki counters and says that they should just believe in the song of their hearts. I think this is the first time the show has actually leaned hard on "You gotta believe!" stuff. It's a bit shaky to break the rules, but now is the time to do it. The girls are at the peak of their power and the stakes haven't been higher, so it's not impossible to imagine that they can X-Drive on their own. There's also Finé's talk in season 1 about how ending the curse would alllow someone to fully utilize relics and the swan song, so I can't say it wasn't foreshadowed.
The song leads to a parallel to the season's key art, with the Gears burning through the atmosphere. Shem-ha then quotes the tagline of season 1, but leaves out the final part, implying that they're dying. But then Hibiki shouts out the last part as they shift to their colours and appear in new and presumably final super forms, ending the episode as METANOIA kicks in. Gotta give props to Chris for raising the horns before fighting god.
Going into this episode, I was hoping for it to be even more hype than the 12th episode of the first season, but that wasn't the case. Hell, I don't even feel like screaming about it. I think that has less to to with the actual episode and more about my fear for the final episode. There has been a lot of talk going around about how it's going to suck. I don't think it'll be that bad, since the last episode of AXZ was so good in spite of its episode 12.
But at the very least, I don't see how there's enough time to resolve everything. A fine balance must be struck between the narrative stuff that needs to be cleaned up and the awesomeness of the final fight. Some new songs would be nice, for a start, since we didn't get the Chris & Hibiki duet. Not to mention that all the Gears should help in the final battle properly, without leaving everything to Hibiki.
Hibiki and Miku also need to have a good heart-to-heart talk as well, which will hopefully end with a kiss. There's just so much riding on this next episode, as it'll colour my perception of the whole show. I just want to believe that they can make some anime history here and not screw things up. But it feels like a real 50/50 shot at greatness that is just as likely to fail. This show means a lot to me and I want to see it shine brighter and be louder than ever before. Go on you dumb hamster, show the world what peak anime is like!
Of course the episode just launches into a new group song between the Gears and Carol! The actual fighting is exactly what one would expect, but that doesn't make it any less exciting! But the excitement only cranks up when Shem-ha enters her true final boss form, which forces everyone to do a super attack. Hibiki does her tornado again, which is pretty boring all things considered, but the others are really cool! Tsubasa turns her hair into fire, Team Neapolitan combine their weapons into a mech and Chris summons a fucking Shaider reference!
Then they all rush Shem-ha together, which leads to her using the same fakeout trick as Finé by using Miku's voice. Finé and Shem-ha have two things that connect them now (the other being their revival trick). I wonder if this is to bookend things even harder.
After flying into a wall, Hibiki gets a pep talk by Carol where she says that Hibiki needs to focus on what she wants, which is to free Miku. Shem-ha then moves the fucking planet so she can get a lunar eclipse and activate her human network, which freezes up everyone. Everyone except Hibiki, of course! She takes to the skies and begins a nice back-and-forth battle with Shem-ha, where the goddess questions how she intends to free Miku with such a destructive god-killing fist.
But then as METANOIA kicks in properly, she counters that her father said that curses can become blessings. She also argues that 2000 years of cursed belief regarding Gungnir's god-killling power is nothing compared to her feelings for Miku. With that, she unites mankinds will to save the future with her desire to save Miku, which works because Miku's name can be read as future in Japanese.
SO THE WHOLE PLANET WANTS HER TO SAVE HER WIFE, WHICH SHE DOES BY SUMMONING HER ARMED GEAR, AN OPEN HAND REACHING OUT FOR A CONNECTION, WHICH NEGATES SHEM-HA'S POWER AND LET'S HER HUG MIKU HARD ENOUGH TO EXORCISE THE FUCKER, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
Suffice to say, that's the gayest shit I've ever seen. The other final attacks were cool, but this? This is exactly how you finish the climax of all of Symphogear!
We then cut to Elfnein and Miku in a medical tent, with Carol saying her goodbyes to Elfnein, as she burned all her memories just so Elfnein would be able to remember her. It's very sweet and sorta reminds me of the end of the first Yu-Gi-Oh series.
Then Yggdrasil goes crazy without it's master, so the Gears rush to the bottom of the main shaft in order to destroy it. But just as some defense mechanisms appear, MIKU SINGS HER TRANSFORMATION CHANT AND APPEARS OF HER OWN FREE WILL IN THE FAUST ROBE AND DELETES ALL THE SENTRIES!!! AND IT EVEN LOOKS LIKE A WEDDING GOWN!!!
Elfnein then drops some bullshit about how they can overturn the power of the gods through seven songs, which is how they could fight Shem-ha beforehand. In alchemy, there are seven planets of importance, there are seven Symphogears capable of seven songs. But that's not all. The series has existed for seven years. And what is seven in Japanese? Nana.
NANA MIZUKI GAVE THE SHOW LIFE, AND NOW, SHE IS THE KEY TO ENDING IT! FUCK YOU AND YOUR DAMN PUNS KANEKO, BUT I STILL LOVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU'VE DONE!
The girls then begin ANOTHER song, making it like the fourth new one they put in this episode. As they sing and overload the core, a bunch of of ghosts or memories of previous characters appear. It's nice to see Enki and Finé together, but I'm pretty sure her soul turned into dust in G, so that shouldn't be possible. And of fucking course they had to include Dr. Ver smirking in the background. They just couldn't resist.
When they try to escape the exploding core, they get caught by the remnant of Shem-ha who questions how they'll live without her unification. Hibiki and Miku answer that the love that can form between people is worth moments of suffering. With that, Shem-ha gives up and leaves the future to them as the Gears are rescued and Nijiiro no Flügel plays over the credits.
We then get one last scene of everyone at the grave of Tsubasa's dad, where Miku calls back to season one and muses over the miracles they've experienced. Then it cuts to Hibiki and Miku at the site of the season's key art where they both mention that they have something to say to eachother before they get to finally watch falling stars together. The show then ends.
I...need to collect my thoughts before saying anything conclusive, but good god was this a ride. You really did it, XV. You gave me just about everything I needed from a final season, even managing to make me cry during this episode. If that ain't what anime is about, then I won't hear it! Shine on, you dumb fucking anime, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
All right, it's been a few months since the season aired and I've rewatched it twice, so it's about time I write some final thoughts. On the whole, I think I put it on shared first place with season 1. They both have their strengths and faults that sort of even out.
XV goes all in on animation quality and fanservice (actual fanservice, not cheesecake), resulting in a season that just doesn't stop being engaging. I take issue with the plot in parts (especially the treatment of Noble Red), but the series trademark pacing makes it difficult to linger on while watching.
But beyond that, what I think this season did best was cement why Symphogear is my favorite anime. Ignoring the characters, action and music, what really sets the show apart is the love and care put into it. For this season, they really went out of their way to make it as fun as possible for long-time fans of the show.
Stuff from the AXZ concert and the radio shows got made into proper scenes or jokes, each transformation sequence got months of prep-time, every previous season got call-backs, Genjuro got a proper fight, it solidified the major ships and ended on TWO songs sung by 7 singers. You get this sense that the show was made by people who wanted to make it, not just had to. It being a hype 65-episode anime-original show probably helped matters. It's just so common for studios to be stuck with adaptations instead of doing what they want.
That's about everything I had to say about XV and Symphogear as a whole. If any of part of my ramblings caught your interest, then I have only one last thing to say: