Have you ever seen a series just doing a victory lap? Symphogear’s finale felt like that in a lot of ways. With the existential threat of Shem-ha being dealt with in the episode’s first half and Miku rescued from her control, The series conflicts were all basicly resolved. So it kept going. Shem-ha came back, and everyone, including a newly reempowered Miku got to team up one last time to take her down for good. It didn’t really need to happen, things were resolved satisfyingly enough, but Symphogear isn’t the kind of anime to have ever let a little thing like a neat resolution stop it (the supposedly defeated final boss making one last surprise attempt to drag the heroes down with them is very much in the spirit of Wild Arms as well), it’s a cool sequence and a great way to go out. Naturally it keeps going again. Rather than being satisfied with letting all the living heroes show off there’s naturally a chance for all the dead characters to make one last appearance, showing up as spirits to say their last goodbyes and let all the viewers win Symphogear bingo. It’s very cathartic for all involved.
It’s all very excessive and all very Symphogear, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Symphogear is a franchise which holds a special place in my heart, it’s sort of a crystalisation of what I love about anime in general. Symphogear is, quite frankly, stupid. It’s sincerely stupid and that’s what makes it so great. I originally watched the first series because it had a bit of a reputation for being one of those “so bad its good” type series, but I came away enamoured because for all its faults the first season (and the show in general) is just relentlessly sincere in its commitment to its own conceit. There’s no irony here. It’d be very easy to lean into it and just play off how janky things are, and you can make a great series by doing that (anyone who tells you Mayoiga isn’t overwhelmingly self aware did not watch past episode 1) but Symphogear is commited to just doing stuff that’s cool as heck or incredibly goofy with a straight face. There’s something joyous about just doing stuff for the sake of telling a cool story and who cares if it’s ridiculous.
A lot of my favourite anime are in a similar vein, shows that aren’t afraid to just be absurd, and Symphogear epitomises that approach. I first watched season fairly early after I started getting into anime, so the series has kind of been a constant reminder of why I love certain types of anime, so it’s nice that it went out with a characteristic bang. The finale wasn’t perfect but I still loved it. If any series deserves to pull that level of self indulgence it’s Symphogear.
Tomorrow we’ll be looking at a series with somewhat different priorities but which is still every bit as sincere.