Symphogear AXZ is the fourth season of the Symphogear television anime. The director for this season was Katsumi Ono, whilst it was written by Akifumi Kaneko. As usual, the studio that produced it was Satelight.
Symphogear AXZ aired during the summer 2017 season of anime.
A review for the second season, Symphogear G, is available here, whilst a review of the third season, Symphogear GX, can be found by clicking here.
So once again, the girls of Symphogear return to protect the world from evil. This time, the enemy they face is the Bavarian Illuminati.
As this is the fourth season of Symphogear, you can pretty much expect the usual fare: awesome music, brilliant fight scenes and close relationships between girls. All that stuff is present and accounted for, though AXZ does eschew a couple of things that you would traditionally expect from Symphogear.
Most notable is a lack of a concert from Tsubasa. However, considering that each of the six characters have their own personal battle songs (Hibiki gets two), there are three duets later on and even the antagonists have their own song, there is plenty of awesome music to go around.
Another thing is something relate to the finale, but going into much more detail would just be spoiling things.
So Symphogear AXZ does bring some familiar elements with it, but lets take a look at something newly introduced for this season: the antagonists.
Much like in GX, S.O.N.G. finds themselves going up against alchemists. This time, however, they are members of the Bavarian Illuminati.
Saint-Germain pretty much takes on the role of leader of those three, and she wants to free humanity from oppression. It sounds like a noble goal, but her methods for achieving it put her and her fellow alchemists at odds with S.O.N.G.
Saint-Germain’s motivations are explored, and it is very easy to sympathise with her. Her past was not an easy one.
An interesting tidbit about Cagliostro and Prelati is that they used to be male before Saint-Germain granted them perfect female bodies. This is only really mentioned in passing during the show, but it is something that is perhaps expanded upon with the key words.
This is a common thing throughout all seasons of Symphogear – each episode is often accompanied by key words, but you need to know where to find them. Whilst they expand upon the story and setting, they aren’t vital to enjoy the show.
Going back to the Bavarian Illuminati, special mention has to go to Cagliostro. Cagliostro’s voice actor is Shouta Aoi, who happens to be a man. He totally nails his performance as Cagliostro, even when singing.
Saint-Germain, Cagliostro and Prelati aren’t the only antagonists that S.O.N.G. has to deal with. The founder of the Bavarian Illuminati itself claims the role as AXZ‘s big bad.
As far as villains go, Adam is about as villainous as they get. He cares little for his followers, as demonstrated during his introduction. He is also powerful, and has one or two secrets of his own.
Adam is a vile creature, and one that you just want to see defeated – preferably whilst suffering a lot of humiliation. Does AXZ deliver that? Well, you’ll have to watch yourself to find out.
Still, it must be doing something right if the feeling that the main villain invokes is “I want to see you defeated”.
Symphogear‘s incredible soundtrack has already been mentioned once before, but there’s a certain group of songs that deserve to be highlighted: the duets.
Throughout this season of Symphogear, the theme of unison is pretty important. Shirabe and Kirika’s bond is as strong as ever, resulting in them being rather powerful – but the enemy prepare for this.
In turn, S.O.N.G. prepare the Attuned by having them train together – and this leads to some development for the characters. Some spectacular duets, and fight scenes, come out of all that.
Whilst the spotlight is on the Attuned most of the time, they wouldn’t be able to fight without the supporting cast… well, supporting them.
Elfnein plays a particularly vital role in ensuring that the Attuned have what they need to fight on an even keel against their foes. Aoi and Sakuya, who are usually stuck at H.Q. even get a mission to perform right at the beginning of the series.
It may only be for training, but Genjuro also gets to remind the audience that he is incredibly proficient in combat in quite a spectacular manner. Ogawa also shows of his ninja moves.
Moving on, there is much less angst in this season than the previous two. A lot of time in G and GX was dedicated to Hibiki just being generally angsty. That impacted on the enjoyment of said seasons somewhat. Hibiki does have some doubts at a couple of points, but it’s nowhere near as bad as previous seasons.
If anyone has a good reason to be angsty, it would be Chris – her past is explored a little during this season, and she makes a decision that changes a boy’s life fairly early on. She doesn’t dwell on it, and overcoming that is part of her development leading up to a duet.
Can’t talk about Symphogear without mentioning the relationships between the girls, and they are just as strong as ever. Miku is still there to support Hibiki however she can, no matter how the situation turns out. Then you have Kirika and Shirabe, who pretty much sing love songs directed at each other as they fight.
Tsubasa and Maria is more subtle, but it is still there.
So Symphogear AXZ is a great addition to the Symphogear franchise, but how does the fourth season compare to the others? With less angst, plenty of amazing songs and just how exhilarating its action scenes are, it is arguably the best. Of course, this is an entirely subjective opinion, as all the seasons of Symphogear are amazing in their own ways.
Symphogear AXZ delivers quality action scenes together with the one of the greatest soundtracks to be found in anime. Less angst means more time to enjoy the characters doing what they do best, whether that’s fighting or just interacting with each other.
Symphogear remains my all-time favourite anime, and AXZ just further cements that.