Symphogear’s outfits are certainly unique as a whole, but I think props have to be given to the new best character, Mantis Girl, and her entourage of cosplaying anisong peeps. Only they can find a way to outdo the sheer dorkiness of the costumes by showing just how depressingly obsessed with anisongs they are. Even Hibiki has to laugh at how pathetic their performance was.
Oh, and crazy ancient spirit Fine is back, because she’s apparently all about possessing the bodies of impressionable girls with an interest in… well okay, there’s no real similarity between the hosts, aside from the fact that they’re all women with ambiguous motives, but it is actually a neat touch of continuity between seasons, stressing the supernatural element of the nymphogears. While far from stellar, it does show that Symphogear’s learning from its meteoroid falling phase in order to better present the possibility of a star becoming music. Fine wasn’t exactly the apex of villainy with an impactful personality, but it’s still nice that she’s not down and out just because of a change in obnoxiously long subtitle.
This episode is actually fairly good in the foreshadowing department, with plot points staying grounded in the universe that it’s set up—this isn’t Laser Cannon of Babel bullshit (yet). Granted, competence costs Symphogear some of its inept charm, but that’s not a wholly bad thing, provided the 90s OVA charm isn’t lost in the process.
Thankfully, the show does provide moments of goofy goodness to sink my teeth into. The highlight, aside from the gloriously cheesy score playing in the first several minutes, is an inexplicable anisong performance by three girls dressed in what I assume to be cosplay from their favorite anime. The standout among them is praying mantis girl, who plays her role with all the uncertainty of a normal person thrust into the Symphogear clusterfuck. If there was ever an unintentional audience surrogate, Mantis Girl is definitely it. I’m hoping that she stays dressed as a mantis for the rest of the show and becomes a permanent fixture of the cast. In any other show, I’d feel that this is just wishful thinking on my part. Since this is Symphogear though, which thought it was a good idea to make a girl whose sole purpose is to say “this isn’t an anime!”, I’m holding out hope.
Finally, there’s the Finegear infiltration of the school toward the end of the episode, where the series thinks it best to have them challenge Chris to a duel of song. I’m hoping that next episode is nothing but the two of them shouting at Chris in song form, with Chris doing the same in return.
I feel betrayed that Symphogear is giving in to the dark impulses of putting actual thought into its story, but it still flirts enough with ridiculousness (both unintentional and intentional) that I can forgive these periodic lapses into being generally alright. Just as long as we get more anisongs sung by Mantis Girl, preferably at the least appropriate times, and next episode turns into a Skirmish of the Singers between Chris and the Finegears, I’ll be happy.