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Senki Zesshou Symphogear (widely translated as Swansong of the Valkyries - Symphogear and streamed by Niconico Douga and FUNimation as simply Symphogear) is a music-themed sci-fi Magical Girl Warrior series about killing Eldritch Abominations with Power Armors fuelled by song. If the last sentence doesn't make sense, read it again, more slowly.

Developed by Noriyasu Agematsu (composer of music for games and anime including Wild Arms and Girls Bravo), published by Kadokawa Shoten, and animated by Studio Satelight.

Part of the Winter 2012 Anime season.

Currently setting up a Characters page. Help is greatly appreciated!

Available the week after they air on NicoNico Beta (in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and South Africa) and on the FUNimation website (US and Canada only).

For a similar premise with musical play, see Ar tonelico. Compare and contrast Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Lyrical Nanoha. See also Wild Arms and Suite Pretty Cure.


This series contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Kanade. She's not always better than Tsubasa, mind you; but she's upbeat, popular with everyone, cheerful and fun-loving. Parallels to Zack Fair are noted.
  • Action Dress Rip: Gungnir's Combat Stilettos are on the way of Hibiki's new kung-fu moves, so she gets rid of the heels.
  • All Myths Are True: Norse myths (Kanade's relic, Gungnir), Japanese myths (Tsubasa's relic, Ama-no-Habakiri) Hebrew/Sumerian tales (Kadingir, the gateway of the gods, looks like the Tower of Babel, the healing artifact Nehushtan and the demon-binding Staff of Solomon), Roland's sword Durandal, all together.
  • And the Adventure Continues...: At the end of the series there's still Noise in the world to be fought and heroines willing to do it.
  • Anyone Can Die
    • Kanade and the main heroine, Hibiki in the very first episode. That said, it turns out Hibiki wasn't actually dead.
    • Of diplomatic importance, Japanese Defense Minister Hiroki is assassinated in episode 5.
  • Armed Legs: Tsubasa's Symphogear comes with large blades attached to her boots. She has several spinning moves that use them.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Besides the ... American, the beginning phrase of each girl's activation songs is gibberish. Or Norse. Or Ar tonelico's Con Lang
  • Bait and Switch Credits: Subverted. The last thing you will see in the OP is the holding hands of two girls and a starry sky. This is elaborated further in the finale, and it is also the last thing you will in that episode. After Hibiki's return to Earth, she and Miku get to see the meteor shower, holding hands.
  • Bastard Girlfriend: Phine punishes subordinates' mistakes stark naked save for black stockings.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Symphogears, without any visible means of life support, are space-worthy. The part about talking in the vacuum is explained by being telepathy, at least. And it took them quite a while to return to Earth.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Phine claims that she through several reincarnations has been responsible for most of the world's global paradigm shifts.
  • The Berserker: Hibiki becomes visibly bestial (her fangs grow slightly and her figure darkens) when angry caused by being fused to Gungnir's fragments rather than just wielding a relic the usual way. When fully enraged she can't tell friend from foe.
  • BFS
    • Tsubasa. Her Armed Gear is a no-dachi which can transform that into a giant claymore. Her "Heaven's Wrath" Finishing Move causes it to grow many times her size and combine with a flying kick from her Symphogear For Massive Damage.
    • Durandal. Hibiki activates it in episode 5, which she promptly uses to demolish an entire chemical plant in a single attack.
  • Blade on a Stick: Kanade uses the mythical spear of Odin, Gungnir.
  • Blood From the Mouth: Kanade, in a flashback during episode four, lets fly a massive geyser of this, when she injects herself so Gungir will sync with her. This is a set standard when invoking the "Ultimate Song", too.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While there's plenty of High-Pressure Blood instances, Tsubasa is even shedding Tears of Blood at the end of Episode 4.
  • Boobs of Steel: The bustiest girl is the Big Bad Phine, who can easily take on several other Symphogears at once. On the heroic side, it's played with. The one who's a brawler (Hibiki) doesn't have the biggest bust.
  • Book Ends: Just as Hibiki did in the first episode, in the last episode Miku rescues a girl under Noise attack, they run, she falls, a heartbeat is heard...
  • Body Horror: Noises' mere touch turns people into ashes quickly, but not quick enough for the victims not to feel it.
  • Break the Cutie
  • Breather Episode: A well-deserved one, at that. Episode 9 is a "girl's day out", and Nana Mizuki performs karaoke on an Enka song.
  • Broken Bird: Tsubasa and Chris. Tsubasa by experiencing the death of a partner and Chris after undergoing child slavery made one to become a cold and obssessive death-seeker and the other a violent, mistrusting terrorist.
  • Calling Your Attacks: All Symphogear users showcase their special attacks and defenses with cuts to a Pastel-Chalked Freeze-Frame with a title card.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Chris comes around in episode eight with the typical "bolt upright" move.
  • Catch Phrase: Hibiki's "I think I'm cursed..."
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The first episode is very dark. The second episode is far brighter, focusing on Hibiki's induction as a Symphogear candidate; then episodes three and four go back to being serious... until the very last minutes of episode four suddenly turn into a goofy Shonen Training Montage. Overall the tone of the series gets Lighter and Softer as the series progresses (Episode 8 even relies on The Power of Love and The Power of Friendship as a plot point) with the international conspiracy subplot and Chris' Dark and Troubled Past being the only "edgy" elements left by the finale.
  • Chainmail Bikini: The Nehushtan armour when worn by Phine doesn't do much to cover her user below the shoulders. But it makes the exposed skin as bullet-proof as the rest of the armour, as seen in episode 11.
  • Character Focus: After Chris' introduction, the show takes some time off from its heroines and devotes it to her. Half of Episode 7 was dedicated to her Character Development, alongside Episode 5. Being one of the antagonists, this foreshadows her Heel Face Turn.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The little girl Hibiki saved during episode 1 plays a role in the finale.
  • Chilly Reception: Averted when Hibiki gets a welcome party that a new employee/recruit/etc in Japan can expect from the old-timers... but played straight by Tsubasa, who gives her the cold shoulder.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: Tsubasa and Hibiki's fight never happens: old man Genjuro comes out of nowhere and stops Tsubasa with his BURNING FIST.
  • Cooldown Hug: Tsubasa gives one to an out-of-control Hibiki in episode 12.
  • Creepy Doll: The ending features a lot of "gutted" mannequins, for no discernible reason. It somehow got past the radar with it's explicit pictures.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The fate of those attacked by Noise: they get reduced to Carbon compounds over the span of a few seconds.
  • Cute Bruiser: Hibiki's inability to summon Gungnir's armed gear forces her to fight empty-handed, clumsily brutal at first and later with flashy kung-fu moves..
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Ultimate Song releases energy beyond what the Symphogear can safely handle.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Chris wasn't even on-screen for five minutes before talking about Hibiki being the "lead protagonist."
  • The Dark Arts: That's exactly what the Big Bad calls her forbidden powers.
  • Dead Partner: Kanade, to Tsubasa.
  • Dead Star Walking: Kanade.
  • Death By Origin Story: Tsubasa wasn't always the hostile cold fish; Kanade's death turned her so.
  • Decon Recon Switch: At first it seems the series is going to play the Magical Girl Warrior as strategical weapons, villains being honestly deadly, heroines never getting a break and lacking Plot Immunity. By the final three episodes, the Power of Friendship and the Power of Rock trumps all. It's quite epic.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The promotional videos show the four girls have a prominent role in the series. At the end of the first episode however, it shows that Kanade died halfway through the episode.
  • Description Cut

 Tsubasa: Smiles have no meaning where we're going.

Beat

Cue the next scene having the bureau celebrating Hibiki getting there.

  • Disco Tech: Symphogears and relics are activated and run on "phonic energy", that comes from singing.
  • Doomed Protagonist/Foregone Conclusion: Hibiki is shown to have expired some time before the end of the story and what we're seeing are the events leading to her death. Ultimately subverted in the end.
  • Downer Beginning: It was rather shocking to watch Episode 1 where a main character dies and another is seemingly handed a death sentence (not to mention the villains slaughtering a whole concert hall).
  • Eagle Land: Extremely obvious by the phone call and the assassination of Hiroki by an Ahnuld look-alike. -- In-universe, Japan and America relations are tense due to sheer competition and its authority present around the world. At least until it is revealed that America and Japan were working together to get information about Ryoko.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Forget about the Downer Beginning. Hibiki is alive. She and Miku eventually get to see the shooting stars together.
    • Bittersweet Ending: Although she came to terms with the loss of Kanade, her singing career and eventually is still alive, Tsubasa will have to give up her overseas singing career and dedicate her life to fighting Noises 'from the shadows', since she, Hibiki and Chris were officially listed as KIA.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: Kadingir was designed for blowing up the Moon. And it has some success at that.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Genjurou teaches Hibiki his unnamed, super-powered Secret Art after she proves unable to bring out her Armed Gear in episode four. Part of the training involves watching action movies and doing forms in Cosplay.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Noise.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Symphogears are powered armors that run on their users' singing skill and emotional state. They also take more or less Stripperiffic forms on specific users (compare Chris in her Nehushtan armour to Phine's).
  • Evil Gloating: The Big Bad keeps on harping about how she's going to rule the Earth while beating a downed Hibiki.
  • Evolving Credits: Chris is added to the final group shot in the OP in episode 11.
  • Executive Meddling/Compressed Adaptation: The show was originally planned for a 2 cour (26 episodes) run, before being switched to 1 cour (13 episodes) midway. This forced the writers to rewrite the script in a week.
  • Expy
    • The Noise; they're the Gnosis in all but name.
    • Tsubasa in her fighting gear looks like KOS-MOS.
    • Phine is pretty much Miang
    • Kanade's weapon resembles and makes the same sound effects as Erio's.
    • Genjuro is, appearance wise, a dead ringer for Ali-Al Saachez.
    • The fact that Tsubasa is a highly-skilled, blue-haired stoic cool songstress may remind fans of The Idolmaster of Chihaya Kisaragi.
    • ZweiWing? Well, if you put the wings on their backs, then they look like another duet during transformation.
  • Faux Fluency: The beginning of episode 5 has a conversation over the phone done in full English. And it's very obvious the voice actors aren't very fluent in the language. Watch it here. Invoked on the Japanese side of the conversation: she was performing that gratuitousness as an insult to her American interlocutors.
  • Fiery Redhead: Kanade.
  • Fighting Your Friend: For one reason or another, Tsubasa won't accept that Hibiki has some fragments of Kanade's power. This caused her to throw the gauntlet at poor Hibiki.
  • Final Speech: Kanade's last words are revealed in episode three. She opens with a variation on "Everything's going dark".
  • First Episode Spoiler: We see the tombstone of a main character a minute into the first episode. Midways through that episode another main character is dead, becoming a Posthumous Character.
  • Flash Back : The first episode has an extended flashback to Kanade's death.
  • Flash Step: When the Nehushtan Armor tries to slow a Ultimate Song singing Tsubasa down with some Mooks, Tsubasa instantly appears in front of her.
  • Fun with Subtitles + Blind Idiot Translation = Zero Wingrish: Invoked. During the English portion of Episode 5. When the Eagle Land person is speaking, it is actually in Surprisingly Good English. When the woman is speaking, she is talking in Blind Idiot. This demonstrates the way she thinks of America: a bigoted country who needs to know their place.
  • The Future: Not terribly far into the future, but more than Twenty Minutes Into the Future.
  • Genetic Memory: The Big Bad is a scientifically reincarnated Sumerian priestess who stored her personality and memories in her descendants' DNA.
  • Genre Busting: The above description is correct: a music-themed Science Fantasy Magical Girl series.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Hibiki, when she gets massively P.O.ed at the Noise in episode 3 and activates Durandal in Episode 5.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Some users get most of the Nehushtan armour healing ability than others.
  • Gratuitous English: The subtitle for the logo is "Meteroid-falling, burning, and disappear, then..." This is supposed to reference shooting stars, which show up in Episode 3 as a YouTube video.
  • Hair Contrast Duo: Kanade (orange) and Hibiki (creme) are cheerful, Tsubasa (dark blue) and Miku (black) are calm.
  • Heroic BSOD: Episode 7 is a good contender for the most BSODs in one episode.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: How Kanade saving Hibiki from the Noise and potentially anyone who uses the Ultimate Song.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!/Names to Know In Anime: These are some very big names.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Any meaningful impact will release a humongous burst of blood, as seen for example when Hibiki gets hit in the first episode.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kanade, Genjurou and his alumn Hibiki. Watch a man teach martial arts to a girl with lines like "Your fists ought to fly like hammers that hit the thunder of the bolt that strucks you!" and the girl respond "I didn't understand a word of that, but I'll try!". Same gal who yells battlecries while playing an arcade crane game.

 The Big Bad in episode 12: What are you using? What?

Hibiki: SYYYYMMPHOOOGEEAARRRRRRR!

 Yumi in episode 11: How could the school be under attack? Is not like this is an Anime or anything!

  • Mistaken for Cheating: In what might be considered a Contrived Coincidence, Miku caught Hibiki visiting the just-recently-waking-up-from-comatose Tsubasa, when Hibiki said that she needs to go somewhere else and can't go shopping with Miku. Then things get worse.
  • Monumental Battle: The fight in episode 10 takes place around the Tokyo Tower.
  • Mood Whiplash: It's extremely hard to keep a straight face when transitioning from an Idol concert to a Bloodier and Gorier battle in under 12 minutes and then to high school Slice of Life.
  • More Dakka: MEGA DETH PARTY! Chris in her Symphogear, Ichii-Bal dual-wields Gatling guns, a multi-rocket launcher, and a crossbow that can shoot multitudes of exploding light arrows. Did we mention the crossbow is a Bifurcated Weapon? And it upgrades it later, even, to MEGADETH QUARTET.
  • Music for Courage: In the Darkest Hour, the school's anthem rallies the forces of good.
  • Naive Newcomer: Hibiki -- we see through her eyes what is like the situation from the point of a civilian and then from the organization that fights the bad guys.
  • Name's the Same: Hibiki and Kanade are also the names of the first two heroines of Suite Precure, another music themed magical girl anime.
  • Never Found the Body: Space is vast. Or maybe they burned in the atmospheric reentry.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While protecting Hibiki from the Noise, some fragments from Kanade's Gungnir breaks off and accidentally sends a sharp chunk straight at her, spearing her through the chest, nearly killing her.
  • Normally I Would Be Dead Now: Tsubasa and Chris somehow survive episode eleven after singing their Ultimate Songs and being caught in a Wave Motion Gun blast and a humongous explosion respectively.
  • Not Quite Dead: The girls do survive the destruction of the Moon fragment and return without a scratch. They are declared officially dead in a cover-up for political reasons.
  • Not So Stoic: Tsubasa isn't terribly consistent with the whole "A sword should have no emotions" thing.
  • Off-Model: Episode 3 has a walk scene that looks animated in Adobe Flash. The animation studio working on Bodacious Space Pirates in the same season (especially when Mouretsu Pirates has so much CG scenes in them), plus having the OP single delivered post-haste and a budget slash might explain these animation issues.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Reportedly, it's actually (supposed to be?) Old Norse, which fits with the Symphogears' naming theme.
  • One-Winged Angel: Phine's Apocalypsis Dragon form is her last trump against the Symphogears.
  • Orange-Blue Contrast: Kanade/Hibiki's uniform next to Tsubasa's.
  • Painful Transformation: Hibiki at the end of the first episode.
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze-Frame
    • Kanade has a hardened American style, complete with Gratuitous English and very strong strokes similar to The Eighties Comics.
    • Tsubasa has an Oriental style like those from the Feudal Japan. The kanji are showcased in very deep and complex strokes, and makes Shout Outs to famous paintings.
    • Chris has a Wild West-esque theme, complete with a brown overlay you often see in said genre.
  • Perspective Flip: Episode 5 focuses on Chris. She's a normal Valkyrie who has to endure sadistic torture by her boss. Failing the last mission resulted in her being electrified for a very long time. The subsequent episode reveals she has a Dark and Troubled Past and is a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Power Limiter: There are several factors that limit a Symphogear's power. Like the Big Bad being in charge of their tuning for a long time. Nothing that the right song can't release.
  • The Power of Friendship: It can release the ultimate power of Symphogears and fuels the Heroic Willpower to overcome a Super-Powered Evil Side.
  • Posthumous Character: Kanade keeps appearing all through the series in flashbacks and Talking in Your Dreams.
  • The Power of Rock: This is a series about fighting evil Noise with power armours running on singing.
  • Psycho Serum: How they develop Gungnir inside Kanade. It didn't work on the first attempt, so Kanade forced the transformation by injecting herself with the rest of it.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Subverted. Initially, it seems like Phine tries to destroy the moon using the Kadingir because God destroyed the tower she built to reach Him. It turns out she's trying to destroy the moon because it will make everyone speak the same language as God again, allowing her to confess her love for Him.
  • Rape as Backstory:Captured by one group in a civil war torn country after losing her parents, who were peace activists from Japan, Chris was raped as a child sex slave until she was rescued by a UN Peacekeeping Force. The pain of being forced by adults despite her pleas to stop resulted to her general distrust of adults.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Genjuro wears a pink tie.
  • Red Herring: The introduction with Hibiki dead was actually a cover-up by Genjurou. The animators left out the few minutes after, showcasing Hibiki, Kanade, and Chris well alive and ready to fight.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Kanade holds enthusiastic view toward battle, while Tsubasa is more reserved (and in the Flash Back, was actually quivering in fear). Hibiki, while not quite enthusiastic, is always in high spirits.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: Episode 11, complete with a Weird Moon.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Hibiki for Kanade after.
  • The Reveal: An In-Universe example: Miku sees Hibiki in Symphogear fighting off against Chris in Episode 6. This easily changes her perspective on how Hibiki has been acting.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Why Kanade took up the Gungnir Symphogear; her family was carbonized by the Noise. As a result, she initially would go utterly crazy while fighting them. She started to tone it down, however, after people began thanking her for saving their lives.
    • Tsubasa does the same thing when fighting against Chris as a way to make up for the loss of Kanade.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Hibiki and Miku behave more like a couple than as friends. For starters, they sleep together.

 Miku in the first episode: I miss you! I cannot bear not being able to see you anymore, Hibiki!

  • Rule of Cool: Singing while fighting energy creatures in your mystical power armour.
  • Scenery Porn and Scenery Gorn: On both sides of the spectrum, and can change at any moment. Transitioning from a vibrant laser-show concert that ended with a sunset to a battle-stricken concert under that same sun is animated very beautifully.
  • Secret Identity: The Symphogear are kept out of the public eye, and thus Kanade, Tsubasa and Hibiki have to keep their side job secret, even from best friends.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Tsubasa and Chris' Symphogear armor has this.
  • She Fu: Tsubasa is keen on flying kicks and cartwheels.
  • Ship Tease: Miku and Hibiki are roommates and classmates, but they are also close friends, often share the same bed, have at least one moment together, and they comfort each other. Not only that, but they also want to go out and see shooting stars. Everyone can see it, until Miku decides to break ties after Hibiki hides her new heroic job. It's okay, they get better.
  • Shout-Out
  • Shower of Angst: In the second episode, Tsubasa has one to show how distressed she is by Gungnir's reappearance.
  • Shut Up, Kirk: Chris cuts off Hibiki when the latter is trying to talk her around during the battle.
  • Shy Blue-Haired Girl: Little Tsubasa was initially this.
  • Slasher Smile: Phine is prone to this humourless grin.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Chris' Iron Maiden attack summons a pair of Guns Akimbo twin-linked Gatling guns.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: The first few minutes of the first episode reveals under Grave Clouds that Hibiki is already dead and buried. The series then flashbacks to two years ago and then forward two years again (though some time before the initial scene, since Hibiki's still alive) to show it got to that point. Also doubles as a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Start X to Stop X: Chris wants to stop all wars and fighting... by viciously beating anyone with a weapon using her Symphogear.
  • Stripperiffic: The Nehushtan armour when worn by Phine makes its user sport Underboobs, Bare Your Midriff and comes with absurdly tall platform boots.
  • Super-Powered Evil Side: Hibiki shows one first in episode 3. She really wanted to go see the stars with Miku. Later revealed to be a side effect of an experiment by Phine to fuse relics with humans.
  • Taking You with Me
    • How Kanade died.
    • Subverted with Tsubasa taking down Chris -- they both survive
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Tsubasa has a Dead Person Conversation with Kanade when she is in a coma.
  • Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: Tsubasa, after Kanade's death.
  • Tears of Blood: Tsubasa after her Ultimate Song.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: How the titular "Symphogear" activates. Having Orchestral Bombing and dramatic music in the background is entirely optional, but it makes fights that much more awesome.
  • There Are No Therapists: Especially for poor Tsubasa.
  • Those Three Girls: Besides Miku, Hibiki has another three friends, one of which oddly enough plays the role of a Meta Guy.
  • Tempting Fate: Pretty much all of the first half of episode 10. "Boy do I like my school! I sure hope nothing happens to it!" Well guess what?
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Genjurou doesn't usually fight women, but he'll do an exception if said woman wants to hurt someone under his protection.
  • Title Drop: The collective name of the anti-Noise armor is the name of the show. Also, the name of the opening theme, "Synchrogazer", is the name of the final attack that defeats Phine, the only attack Hibiki uses that actually merited displaying a name on the screen.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Japan as a whole consists of the Research Facility underneath the school, at least three Valkyries in two locations, and (potentially) two weapons, one of them being BFS Durandal. Doesn't look like Japan will hand over Durandal to the EU, what with Episode 5's revelation that Hibiki can use it as part of her song.
  • Took a Level In Badass: She may activate her Symphogear fine, but Hibiki has the fighting skills of the average middle schooler until she gets training from Genjurou.

 Chris in episode five: She learned how to fight?

Notes

  1. One of them is part of it, the other one...
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