It’s finally here! The welcome return of Symphogear as our featured anime in this year’s March of the Magical Girls! And this time we have a special guest! Stay Toon’d!
Rila: Hihi, everyone! And welcome back to March of the Magical Girls!
Riley: And, as promised, we’re lookin’ at four straight weeks of Symphogear!
Rori: All about Season 2! Aaand, we even have a special surprise~ A guest! C’mon out Scott~ Introduce yourself!
Scott: Hello everyone! I’m Scott from that one place called Mechanical Anime Reviews and I have been a fan of you guys for a while now.
Rori: Aww! Ain’t he a sweetie?
Riley: Oi. He didn’t mean you. You just got here.
Rori: Aw. That’s my grumpy lil Ry, for you.
Rila: Anyway! Today we’re gonna kick off our month-long Symphogear celebration by talking about one of our favorite characters introduced in the second season!
Rori: Scott, if you’d do the honors?
Scott: Thank you guys. This week, we are discussing the current best girl Maria.
Rori: Ara ara.
Rila: *smile* “Best Girl,” huh? How very in-te-res-ting~
Scott: Uh oh. Ummm….that isn’t Chris?
Scott: Shirabe. That’s who I meant. *Sweats*
Rila: Oh! You too?! I see you’re a man of culture, then!
Riley: Safe. Anyway, let’s get to it. This is Maria Cadenzavana Eve.
Scott: I forgot how hefty of a name she has compared to the others.
Rila: It’s hard to say that Maria doesn’t make an impression, right away. I mean, talk about an entrance.
Riley: And that isn’t all. See, I happen to think Maria represents a much needed upgrade in the character writing over Season 1. Not that Season 1 was bad, but… well…
Scott: It did try to do a little too much. Especially with giving Hibiki too many things to do.
Rori: Ooh, you noticed it too. I did think Hibiki got pulled around a looot, back then. This season felt a looot more focused, no?
Scott: Just a lot. This time, it felt like the writer knew what they wanted to do and Maria really adds a lot. A lot a lot.
Riley: She seriously does. There’s a really sharp edge to how the character is written… mostly.
Rila: Ah. Here it comes.
Scott: That one mostly is granted by a certain Dr. Ver…
Riley: Ohoho, do not get me started.
Rila/Rori: Too late.
Riley: I mean, what the actual hell was that about?! Why?! This season was supposed to be an upgrade to the writing! The characters were so much more robust. The conflict felt genuinely compelling, on some level. The hell was up with the Saturday Morning Cartoon villain?!
Scott: Why do I feel like I entered a minefield?
Rila: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here~
Rori: She gets like this, sometimes.
Scott: So anyway, what about that Maria entrance in episode one?
Rila: Right! Way to make a statement! That’s the moment I knew this season was going to be something different from what we got before!
Rori: Ah. It also set up a pretty nice parallel between her and Tsubasa. One of several more to come over the rest of the season, right?
Scott: Yeah, we could talk about how she is a dark magical girl like Chris from last season or having the same relic as Hibiki, but she is a lot closer to Tsubasa.
Riley: Hm? Oh, yeah. I mean, you could even argue that she’s like a Tsubasa 2.0 in a few ways. There are some things about her that definitely feel like improvements over the way Tsubasa was handled in Season 1.
Scott: Right? She has a bit more of a nuanced approach to her and her backstory if Symphogear knew how to be nuanced. None of which is a bad thing.
Rila: Hmmm. I know what you mean. The easy comparison is Serena and Kanade, right? I can never quite explain it, but something about the whole Kanade situation always felt reeeally “off,” to me. But when we basically had to go through that entire thing again with Maria and Serena, I didn’t get that feeling at all.
Rori: Mmm… part of me wonders if it has anything to do with their character roles. Tsubasa was a protagonist. Maria is an antagonist. So we were naturally going to learn about Maria’s circumstances in a pretty staggered way, no? Subconscious audience expectation, maybe?
Riley: Doubt it. But I can’t really explain it either.
Scott: Maybe it does have something to do with it lasting over a season, but I guess some things are hard to pin down. Dang writers.
Riley: Ah. There’s one other idea that comes to mind. The Kanade situation felt too… simple. To me, anyway. Compared to Serena, the circumstances that even led to Kanade’s incident just didn’t land as well. And as we learned more about both situations, Serena’s feels better because it was a little more intricate. It also kinda builds itself around what happened with Kanade’s to make its own presentation of a similar event stronger.
Rori: Aww, see? When Ry puts her lil noggin to it, she can do anything~
Riley: I didn’t ask for your praise, witch.
Rori: Ara? So very ruuude~
Scott: *Steps slightly backwards in fear*
Rori: See? You’re scaring our guest. You shouldn’t behave so crudely when we have company, Ry.
Riley: Tch. The point is that Maria introduced a pattern to Symphogear that I really dug. A consistent upward trend in the character writing. If we look at her in a vacuum – ignoring that… one infuriating detail-
Rila: Careful, sis. Blood pressure.
Riley: Zip it. If we look at Maria in a vacuum, she’s just a fantastic character. I love the conflict she has to face throughout the season. The question of what she’s willing to do in order to save lives and create the world her sister envisioned. It made her leave so much of an impact on the season, as a whole.
Scott: I agree. She just connects so many elements together and adds so much weight just by other characters reacting or being next to her. Can we also talk about her character design too? Maria always looks so unique and dignified.
Rila: I LOVE IT!!!
Rori: Ahaha, poor Scott doesn’t know any better~
Scott: I’m not going to survive this, am I?
Rila: HER DESIGN! IT’S SO AMAZING! I LOVE EVERY INCH OF IT! THE GORGEOUS HAIRSTYLE! THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE CASUAL CLOTHES AND THE REGAL LOOK OF HER ARMOR! THE CAPE! IT’S SO PERFECT! COSPLAY! I WANNA COSPLAY! RIGHT NOW! MUST!
Scott: Ooh, I’m sure you would look great. I just wanted to have one final note on how her character design also changes a bit over the show from her dark purple and black to the white in the end. It all looks great with her pink hair. May have dug my own grave with that.
Riley: Oh, no. You’re fine. She’s on a different planet, now.
Rori: Hmm. By the looks of it, this could be a while~ But I agree! I love little design things like that. Actually, her song changed too, did it not?
Riley: Regardless, it was a great way to represent the character’s transformation in the most literal and physical way possible.
Scott: I really like it when some much thought is put into a character from their story to their design that they just click together even if it is simple things.
Riley: Absolutely. Now, with all that praise, there are a few minuses, aside from… the obvious one. I think the biggest one isn’t really a fault of the character and just comes from how the story was structured, but Maria doesn’t get a whole lot of interactions with Hibiki.
Rori: Ah. Right. She only learns her name in the second to last episode, doesn’t she?
Riley: Yeeeah. Which is… weird. Hibiki is a Flat Arc character. Narratively, it’s her job to change the characters around her. So relying on Maria changing based on just one significant interaction really early on is weird. Honestly, she kinda does a lot of that changing almost on her own. At least, certainly not as a result of the character she was built up to be a counterpart to.
Scott: There are some strengths to that like showing how Maria is open to seeing how the world actually is around her and just needs a little push, but yeah. I can’t argue against that too much. Hibiki really did have a more complex relationship with Kirika and Shirabe.
Rori: Honestly, that’s probably for the better, no? It almost feels like the only reason Maria had a black Gungnir was so there could be an excuse for Hibiki to get her gear back, later.
Riley: So… plot convenience, then.
Scott: Yeah, that is one decision where Maria could have had any other relic besides Gungnir if you think about it.
Riley: Still. That’s a minor thing. The bigger issue I have with Maria, though, isn’t her fault. It’s entirely on…
Rori: The individual who shall not be named.
Riley: Thank you.
Scott: Yeah, let’s not talk about…whoever they are… anymore.
Rori: Haha. See? He’s learning~
Scott: I umm….it happens sometimes. At least I hope so.
Rori: *pats* Mhmm. There, there. Good job.
Riley: Fine. But don’t think I won’t be bringing that up again, some other time. Me and this show gotta have some words.
Rori: Hopefully you’ll remember to make at least some of them your big girl words~
Riley: Oi. You wanna fight?
Rori: Ah! Save me, Scott-kun~
Scott: *Steps in between* Hey, can we take a moment to relax a bit?
Riley: …You, woman, are despicable.
Scott: I’ve been used, haven’t I?
Riley: Anyway, the giggly one’s been silent a bit too long, so I think now’s a good time to call it, so I can go get her fixed.
Scott: I was wondering where she was the entire time. It was a bit concerning.
Rori: Oh, this is nothing. Sometimes she gets so excited, she forgets to breathe. We’ll rescue you, Ricchan!
Riley: She’s… not kidding. Anyway, it’s been fun, dude! Thanks for stopping by.
Scott: Thanks for having me on. I had a lot of fun too!
Rori: Oh! You have a special March celebration you’re doing as well, right? Why not tell our wonderful audience about it before you go?
Scott: This month, I am running a little event called Mecha March on my blog. I am covering some of the thoughtful and depressing series to some of the most GAR shows in existence considering that one of them is called GaoGaiGar. It is a fun time if you want to stop by.
Riley: Hmm? Mecha, you say?
Rori: Ah. Ry’s a fan.
Riley: Sounds awesome! Oi! You guys! Go check it out when you’re done, here, got it?
Rori: Motivational as ever, Ry…
Riley: Shut up. Anyway, we’re done here. Thanks, again, to our special guest, Scott from Mechanical Anime Reviews!
Rori: And thank you all for reading~ Keep an eye out for another post, next week! What ever will it be about, I wonder?
Riley: Guess you’ll have to come back to find out. But for now, I’m Riley, signing off.
Riley: Keep up the Awesome and Stay Toon’d!