Anime Picks: Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXS: By Shedding Many Tears, the Reality You Face is...
Sometime last year, there was a random post on Reddit that mentioned Symphogear was home to some of the most ludicrous things they'd ever seen in an anime series. I read a few spoilers, and that was that--the series jumped from "Eh, I'll watch it one day" to "It won't hurt to check out the first episode now, will it?" I binged the whole thirteen episode thing in a week, and like that I was converted to the glorious excellence of Symphogear.
Before I get into discussing AXZ (pronounced Axis, because...Japan), I want to talk about the nature of stories for a moment, because I feel like we've gotten away from what the purpose of these things are. Stories are what the caveman told around the fire to keep the fear of the dark away. They're what the poor and enslaved made up heroes for to give themselves hope. They're how we explained natural disasters and miracles alike through the gods. Stories have had countless purposes across the ages, though at the center of it all they exist to entertain, and communicate part of the human experience to one another. I say all that to say: no, Symphogear doesn't have to make sense, it just has to bring the fucking hype.
AXZ stars out with Hibiki, Series Lead and Mistress of the Impossible, complaining about summer homework...but two minutes later the team is back together and throwing down against the army of a foreign dictator who's mysteriously gained possession of some of the Alca-Noise. If you've ever wondered how a group of magical girls would fare against traditional weaponry, AXZ episode one has a solid six minutes of Hibiki punching tank shells, Chris using her missile hell techniques on a missile barrage, and Tsubasa summoning a sword large enough to split an aircraft carrier in half. And that's only a third of the episode! Every season Symphogear comes up with a new way to top the hype it brought in the previous season's first episode, and AXZ continues that trend--the only disappointing thing about this season so far is there's no concert! One of the series creators said they pulled back on the concert aspect because so many other series were doing it, but Symphogear GX boasted not only a beautiful set design but was excellently choreographed. Easily rivaling the heights of Macross Frontier, there's something to be said for continuing to do something long after it's become popular simply because you're the best at it.
Aside from that, AXZ looks to be wrapping up a long-hinted at plot involving exactly who has been finding all this ancient tech and putting it in the hands of all these megalomaniacs. Called the "Pavarian Illuminati", they were known for helping the lead villain of last season build her massive doomsday device. Currently the frontmen of the organization are a trio of alchemists; as if the single one we dealt with last season didn't nearly destroy the Earth and cause our heroes to nearly kill themselves trying to keep up with her, there's three now! I can only imagine the stuff the group will have to do to keep up with them, and I'm thinking there's a reason they greenlit two seasons in a row this time. It also looks like they're dealing a lot more with the war-torn past that left Chris an orphan, which makes sense since season three was all about the daddy issues of Tsubasa and Hibiki.
As I expected from the moment I finished GX, AXZ is shaping up to be my favorite series of the season. I can't wait to get to know these three new antagonists, and I'm already wondering how you top what's been done the last three seasons, but judging from the first episode they've got a good idea on what they're doing.