Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music… is the kinds of show that I giggle about long after finishing. It’s 90’s Terribad that was made in the wrong era. There’s an infectious earnestness that I find utterly disarming, for all of the objectively bad turns that the plot takes. The writing is ambitious in scope, but it’s routinely let down by the show’s unabated hatred for the moon, and its habit of juggling several important character arcs, without actually taking the effort to flesh them out. It’s either one of the most wonderfully po-faced exercises in irreverent plotting imaginable, or a sincere effort that tries to have its “girls singing ‘GO TO HELL’ at monsters” cake, and eat it too. Either way, it’s entertaining as fuck.
Picking one moment from Senki Zesshou Symphogear G is a difficult task when compared to its predecessor. When your point of comparison is “Tower of Babel built underground as a laser cannon to blow a hole through the moon because the spirit of an ancient priestess residing in the body of a scientist wants revenge against God”, it’s hard to find something that can hold up. Even “Man uses plasma arm that he obtains from a sunken ancient temple to pull moon closer into Earth’s orbit” doesn’t quite hit the mark.
In part, this is because the sequel is much more calculated in its approach. There’s actual effort to maintain pacing, and the visual design is much improved, both of which nix what made the first season a gem. Instead, Symphogear G becomes solid gold by providing two unnecessarily meticulous/inexplicable moments in the same episode—messy spaghetti eating, and training montage music sung by Hibiki. If it somehow wasn’t self aware before, it certainly is now.
The first moment, Kurisu’s messy spaghetti eating, is probably one of the most pointlessly detailed acts of eating in the entirety of anime. Usually if a show has some focus on food, it’s because that food factors into the plot in some way, or because the character’s talking about it. Here though, it’s just Kurisu eating spaghetti nonchalantly, with sauce and noodles strewn everywhere, like she set off a pasta IED. And the way it ends, with her lifting a coffee cup that has a stray bit of noodle clinging for dear life, is perfect.
It’s not a bad moment by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s damn near perfect at establishing Kurisu as an unrefined character who’s still adapting to normal people manners. If Symphogear focused more on Kurisu, it would be an unexpectedly great way of fleshing out her character outside of fights. As it is, it’s just an unnecessary detail, sandwiched between two important moments, that doesn’t add anything to the scene other than bewilderment.
But Symphogear isn’t done fleshing out bizarrely inconsequential scenes when it still has a training montage to pull out of nowhere. What sells it is how it’s a stereotypical Rocky training montage, down to punching carcasses in a freezer and drinking raw eggs, set to awful synth music that Hibiki and Genjurou sing atonal, pseudo-inspirational lyrics over. Words don’t do this thing justice, with it somehow having less value than Kurisu’s spaghetti eating. If you have to watch anything out of context this year, I urge it to be Senki Zesshou Symphogear G, Episode 9.
This is the kind of beast that Symphogear is; if it can’t outdo itself, it’ll just be equally as dumb in entirely different ways. It’s actually kind of a brilliant philosophy to base one’s show around, and makes the series self aware in ways that don’t induce eyerolls. Only one show can surpass this level of perfection, and it’s this year’s best dystopian police thriller.