A young girl talks about a fallen friend, then we go back some time as that young girl Kohinata Miku was unable to attend a concert she was going to go to with her best friend Tachibana Hibiki. The concert is of their favourite idols the duo Zwei Wing. However as they are performing horrible strange beings called Noise attack killing everything they touch, as they and the target turn to dust. Zwei Wing transform gaining strange powers. But even then Kazanari Tsubasa and Amō Kanade are unable to stop the sheer numbers of them. Seeing Hibiki trapped, Kanade uses a strange song that overwhelms everything and the jewel she had round her neck shatters, some of the shards hitting Hibiki.
What that was was the opening to Senki Zesshou Symphogear, a science fiction magical girl series with a musical (as in music not Sound of Music) element to it. While most people when they think of magical girls will think of the likes of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors, around the 2000s the formula started to get a bit more experimental as it felt a bit dried out. A famous one of these was Nanoha which gave it a more science fiction feeling and the other Madoka which is incredibly depressing as it’s more a deconstruction.
Symphogear is, as mentioned, a science fiction magical girl esc series as there isn’t really any magic… or what is more of a super reality warping science… think Thor. The show stars Hibiki who 2 years later has moved to a music school with her friend Miku mainly because it’s the same school Tsubasa goes to and wants to meet her to find out what happened at that concert and thank her. While saving a small child when the Noise suddenly show up again Hibiki finds out that those shards imbedded in her allow her to transform too, though more into a berserker brawler look than Kanade had.
So it turns out there are these relics that allow the wearers to invoke Symphogear armour by singing. These armours are the only way to fight these strange aliens called the Noise which as mentioned kill anything they come in contact with.
Music is a very large theme in the show as the name should give away. Not only is at least one of the main characters an idol but whenever the Symphogear armour is used the wearer is constantly singing. This means that each of the Symphogear users have their own sets of songs that are used in combat usually relating to who they are in somewhat, so anyone that’s a fan of anime opening songs is in for a treat with this show.
The roster also includes the Special Disaster Response Team Section Two featuring Kazanari Genjūrō who takes up the mentor and martial arts teacher for Hibiki (since she doesn’t have a weapon just her fists). Their head scientist Sakurai Ryōko as well as other characters such as Yukine Chris who seems to be commanding the Noise as is wearing a relic that was stolen the day of the concert.
The series is not some cute little show as well, while Hibiki is a lovely caring girl, I do need to remind you this show has a body count, and there is a decent amount of blood, especially when a swan song is used. As the show goes on a larger plot begins to emerge as well as Hibiki having to get stronger while also reaching out to Chris eventually leading to a very potentially apocalyptic finally, remember the show started with Miku referring to Hibiki as being deceased.
The series proved successful enough to get a sequel and currently the 5th Symphogear series has just finished with it being touted as the final series. The use of the musical nature of the show combined with the science fiction magical girl action makes it a very unique show and easy to see how it got 5 series so I can indeed recommend it. I’ve only really given info about the first 2 episodes so trust me it’s worth seeing all 13 of the first series, maybe if you like that you will move onto the second one. Note I saw this subbed I don’t think it has a dub and is unlikely to get one given all the songs are in Japanese.