Senhime Zesshou Symphogear 1-3

Melodious magical maidens maul myriad masses of multicolored monsters.

While I had not been expecting to see a magical girl mecha series, I was even more surprised when I found a magical girl musical. But while the writers certainly got the ‘magical girl’ and ‘musical’ parts down, they really mailed in the setting.

Good things first; the action scenes are well animated, all of the many songs are pretty good, the show isn’t just vapid magical girl fluffiness, and the main character and her roommate are adorable.

Unfortunately, for all that the show does well, its downsides are much more numerous. While the fights are flashy, some of the other scenes were so bad that I had to laugh at the fact that they were actually willing to put it in the episode. At one point the characters literally looked like they were paper cutouts on sticks, bobbing up and down as they went down a hallway. The majority of the show falls somewhere in between, with a scattering of transformation sequences and attack animations to spice things up. On the whole, the visuals are about average, and the same can be said for the music. There is a lot of it, and my only complaint about the individual songs is the ever present Engrish, but without a greater understanding of Japanese the sheer amount of singing all runs together. The music provides a nice background for all the combat, but that’s the problem; it starts to feel like background music, belying its importance to the setting and plot.

And the setting and plot don’t need any help being bad, as they are by far the series’ biggest weaknesses. The heroines fight off invasions of technicolor beings called “Noise,” but the show is very inconsistent about how the rest of humanity is dealing with the situation. The UN has been talking publicly about Noise for over a decade but not actually done anything, while schools teach their students everything there is to know about these creatures that are immune to conventional weapons and turn humans into graphite with a single touch. The general populace is familiar enough with these creatures to know them on sight and the government has constructed emergency shelters in case the Noise appear, and yet the military…

doesn’t know what the hell is going on. Foreign governments have extensive knowledge of the Noise and are, for inadequately explained reasons, attempting to strip Japan of its anti-Noise weapons (i.e.: the magical girls), and yet telling a foreign agent about the magical girls is an act of treason. The magic music crystals that the protagonists use for their transformations were created using long-lost and irretrievable ancient technology, yet these guys:

managed to create their own magically reinforced Geofront under the local music high school.

And that’s just the setting. The plot, such as there is thus far, seems to revolve around the protagonist not being told anything about what’s going on, even after fighting the Noise for over a month. Someone who looked to be an antagonist appeared at the end of the third episode, but I’m mostly expecting more of the same. If I keep watching, that is; in addition to the show’s aforementioned shortcomings, the ending visuals are rather disturbing. Seriously, dolls are way too creepy.

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