Thursday, February 16, 2012

Catchup post #1: Senki Zesshou Symphogear 1-4.

Put simply, Symphogear is what you end up with when you throw Macross, Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica, and Xenosaga in a blender.  Girls in music-activated armor fighting monsters that kill humans by turning them into carbon dust.  And you know what?  It works.

Episode 1:
Present day:
It's a dark and rainy day, but Miku makes her way through the ruins of a destroyed city to her best friend's grave...
Pretty gutsy to kill of your main character in the intro.
Two years ago:
Back when Hibiki was still alive, she and Miku went to see a live concert by the (in-universe) group Zwei Wing, made up of the singers Tsubasa (Mizuki Nana) and Kanade (Takayama Minami/vocalist for Two Mix), except due to other circumstances, Hibiki was the only one able to make it.
Unbeknownst to the crowd, the concert itself was a front for a different experiment, attempting to activate an ancient relic.  An unexpected issue with the experiment, however, results in a horde of Noise (the Gnosis equivalent in this storyline) appearing and attacking the crowd.  As casualties mount, Kanade and Tsubasa activate their respective armors and rush in to fight.
As the battle rages on, Hibiki is swept up in the fighting, and despite Kanade trying to protect her, is struck through the heart by some debris.  By this point in the battle, Kanade is also injured, and her armor is likewise badly damaged, and she decides to sing her "zesshou" (lit: spectacular song), which allows her to wipe out all the remaining Noise with a single attack, in exchange for her life. Hibiki, meanwhile, is just barely saved with emergency treatment.
RIP Kanade. At least you lasted half an episode.
Back to the (almost) present:
It's been almost two years since the Noise attack on Zwei Wing's concert, and Hibiki is now enrolled at the same school as Tsubasa, trying to meet her to see whether she had actually been saved by Zwei Wing, or if the entire thing was a result of her imagination, since the only news reports wrote off all the casualties as being caused by the Noise.  Tsubasa, meanwhile, is continuing her career as a solitary idol and an icy anti-Noise weapon.
The next day, while going into town to buy Tsubasa's newest CD (I want one too!) Hibiki enters a part of town that had just been subject to a Noise attack.  She rescues a child from being attacked, and takes off running.  When the two are eventually cornered, she suddenly begins to sing Kanade's Symphogear activation song, and activates the Symphogear Gungnir.
Nightmares. That is all.
Episode 2:
Somewhat disappointingly, we don't get a berserk mode Hibiki, but it's pretty close, as she has all the power from the Gungnir Symphogear, but no idea how to use any of it.  Fortunately, after a few minutes of her sending herself flying, Tsubasa arrives and quickly dispatches all of the Noise.
Someone get the high level player out of the n00b zone.
While the Disaster Relief Squad takes care of cleaning up the battle site, Hibiki is detained for questioning about the use of Gungnir.  The base for the Symphogear-related staff is, of course, located in a bunker deep under the school... but it's apparently not a happy place.

...Or maybe it is?
Meet Genjuro, the guy in charge.

Turns out that the rest of the people in the organization are considerably more relaxed than Tsubasa, and she's quickly brought in, uncuffed, fed, recruited... and then taken to a body scanner.
I get the feeling she's the most dangerous one in the show...
The next day, Tsubasa brings Hibiki back down to the bunker so she can be briefed on the organization and get the result of her scans.  It turns out that two years back, the debris that almost killed her included parts of Kanade's Symphogear, which were embedded in her body and retained enough power for Hibiki to summon and use the full gear.  As for the Symphogear itself...
Aimo...aimo.... oops, wrong show.

Tsubasa takes the news rather hard, as, in her mind, Kanada was her only partner and the only one worthy of using Gungnir.  Hibiki's quick decision to jump into the fight despite having no training puts more stress on her, and before they can really talk, more Noise appear, and Tsubasa rushes off to fight.  Hibiki decides that she wants to help out as well and follows her out.  Hibiki ends up not being able to do much in the fight, but again declares her desire to fight with Tsubasa, and the latter agrees... just not in the same way.
Now you've done it, Hibiki
 Episode 3
The battle itself is rather short-lived, as Genjuro arrives within minutes, and simply punches Tsubasa's weapon out of existence.
Cut to a month later. Hibiki is fighting, but Tsubasa hasn't accepted her existence yet.  However, the constant Noise outbreaks is taking a toll on her, academically, mentally, and her relationship with Miku.  Another relic is introduced, Durandal, which the American government is pressuring Japan to hand over.  During a small lull in attacks, Hibiki and Miku make plans to watch a meteor shower, but at the last minute, Hibiki is called away to deal with another outbreak.  While fighting this time, however, she snaps, and goes on a rampage against the Noise.
Normal mode. >.< PUNCH!
Don't make her angry. You won't like her when she's angry.
A single Noise manages to escape, but Tsubasa arrives in time and takes it out in one shot, preventing its escape... and the two are then approached by an unknown person equipped with the Nehushtan Symphogear, the same relic that went out of control two years previous.
Episode 4:
Five years ago:
As the survivor of a Noise attack and potentially compatible with a relic (Gungnir), Kanade was brought into the Disaster Relief Squad.  At that point in time, she was also like a berserker, desperate for a chance to get revenge on the monsters that killed her family.
Unfortunately, she proved to be insufficiently compatible with the relic, and needed to go through a great deal of experimentation and testing to raise her compatability levels to a point where she could properly use it and fight.

Now there's dedication and a fantastic drive for revenge.
However, as she fought, and realized that she could use her power to protect and save people, she gradually mellowed out and learned to love to sing, which allowed the two to debut as Zwei Wing.
Present day:
The unknown person (her name is Chris, so I'll just skip ahead and call her that) eggs Kanade on, and the two begin to fight.  However, because the Nehushtan relic was intact, as opposed to Tsubasa's fragment of Heavenrend, there is an inherent massive difference in power between the two.  Chris also summons a number of Noise to restrain and capture Hibiki, noting that she was the actual objective.
In the end, however, the difference in combat experience is enough to give Tsubasa a tiny edge, and she uses her Kageshibari (shadow weave/shadow bind) technique to stop Chris' movement.  She then tells Hibiki to witness her resolve and begins to sing her zesshou.  The resulting blast blows Chris away, badly damaging her Symphogear, but does not stop her from escaping.  Tsubasa, however, is just barely left standing, and collapses moments later.
Fortunately, Genjuro arrives on the scene and is able to get her stabilized before she dies, but Tsubasa is left comatose in the hospital as a result.
In the aftermath of this, Hibiki, finally finds her resolve, and goes to Genjuro for training.  Some of it is real, other parts are just plain hysterical.
Training by mimicking Bruce Lee movies
Akuma and Makoto... Hadouken?

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