Saturday, 8 May 2021

The Harmony Of Hope And The Dirge Of Despair: Epilogue (All Good Things...)


Well, we made it. It's the end. You and I, over God knows how many words, have journeyed through Symphogear over proverbial coffee. Now I have to say goodbye, the only way I know how; through longwinded gonzo and heartfelt writing. Yes, we're going to try to sum up Symphogear and what it meant to me. We're also going to try and deep dive into my interior landscape. A very talented person, someone I feel I can call a peer and a friend, once advised me on this project by asking me to listen to my own emotions, and really ask myself why and how this big dumb show meant so much to me. That's the question I'm going to answer here at the end. I will, of course, frame it in terms I understand but try to make them clear. To my friend and peer, and indeed the rest of you, I hope you approve of my answer.

Friday, 7 May 2021

The Harmony Of Hope And The Dirge Of Despair: Part 5 (Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV) [5.5]

(Just the slightest "NSFW" alert for some screencaps near the end.)


Part 5: Bridge Of Blessing


Things are looking bleak, aren't they? The dark goddess Shem-Ha's truth of the world revealed. No matter which way you look at it, humanity and any chance it has for a utopic ideal are cursed. We are cursed by the prison of Balal preventing us from understanding each other, and should that curse ever be lifted? The curse of Shem-Ha's dark enlightenment shall fall upon us, and we shall all be remade in her image. Shit, I thought thematic flip-flopping was my Houdini trick? How in the fuck are we getting out of this one? I'm confident. I have my out, and it's right there in the show. Ironically, this out would never exist if it weren't for Fudo and his executive meddling as part of his master plan to be the monster protecting Japan. We'll have one last laugh at the nationalist old fuck in a moment, but let's go back to our girl Hibiki, and find the way out.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Harmony Of Hope And The Dirge Of Despair: Part 5 (Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV) [5.4]



Part 4: Mambo Of Monsters


I took this capture for Part 2's labyrinth talk, but see?
The theme was right there all along.
So this one's interesting. Over time, we have been building up the various antagonist forces in this final season. From Noble Red to Fudo Kazanari to now a dark goddess wearing Miku like a designer dress, all of them are intertwined with each other in more ways than one. Fudo was using Noble Red to gain the power of the goddess Shem-Ha to use as Japan's protector, but the connection goes deeper than that. Here's the string connecting all of these antagonistic forces, and so much more of the show. Here, then, is where we confront the monsters at the heart of this story. As everything's tied together it can be hard to find where to start, but I think I'll begin with the return of some old monsters.


Noble Red are certainly the biggest example of the theme of monsters popping up, but I want to save that for a little later. That being said, we do have to focus on their scheme to implant the god-power into Miku. It's a scheme we know succeeds, since I told you about it a second ago, but they also kidnapped Elfnein as you'll recall. The reason for that's simple. We're in the ruins of the Chateau de Tiffauges, Carol's world-ending tuning fork fortress. Elfnein is also technically in Carol's body, as of the complicated and weird alchemical transfer at the end of Symphogear GX. Knowing that, Noble Red want her to activate some shit in the Chateau so their god-power transfer experiment will succeed. Their power generator down here is filled with no less than discarded and ruined Autoscorer bodies. This will become important in just a second. 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

The Harmony Of Hope And The Dirge Of Despair: Part 5 (Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV) [5.3]



Part 3: Progression Of Protection

Finally, we get to put this nationalist old bastard on full blast and tell him to fuck off. Those of you with a keen sense for the history of this project will know that we usually save the toxic male antagonists for last. (See: Dr. Ver, Adam Weishaupt.) Why, then, are we dealing with Fudo in the middle of things? Simple. He's not the true antagonist of the season. Oh, he's a real asshole and a piece of work, and tearing into him will be satisfying... but there are bigger and more terrifying fish to fry on the horizon. Fish this idiot thinks he can keep in his aquarium, but more on that in a bit. There's some real interesting meat to this jerk and his ideology, and how it ties into Tsubasa's season arc. It's time to play jam once again.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The Harmony Of Hope And The Dirge Of Despair: Part 5 (Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV) [5.2]

 

Part 2: Amplification Of Amalgam


That was all just a bit shocking and terrifying. Let's calm down a bit, and talk about the people who did that terrible thing to the concert. It's difficult to know where to begin, considering how this trio of antagonists practically mirrors everyone in the show and warrants discussion in at least three different ways. Luckily, one of those ways is by contrast with our protagonists, and can lead us down some interesting discussion. It also has led me into a bind of flip-flopping reversed themes from the last season, so you get to witness the textual equivalent of me doing my best Harry Houdini and trying to escape my own personal Water Torture Cell in real time before the contradictions drown me. (The previous sentence may or may not be one of the best analogies I have made to date. You're welcome.) With that in mind, let's have a chat about Noble Red.

Monday, 3 May 2021

The Harmony Of Hope And The Dirge Of Despair: Part 5 (Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV) [5.1]

(TW: blood, descriptions of violence)

(For John S., whose journey through life ended as this text journey was ending.)


So. It's the last one, isn't it? It's hard to believe, but it's true. As I'm writing this right now, February the 23rd of 2021, I have watched the entirety of Symphogear. Twice, 'cause I always rewatch them for note taking. Writing the end of a thing is a very different feeling from writing the beginning or middle, there's that sense of finality in your words as you put them down. Maybe you get it. Either way, here we both are, you and I, one last cup in our metaphorical little coffee shop as I tell you about Symphogear. Let's get to the point and try to sum this up, I guess.


Symphogear XV, the very last season, does not have that Sailor Stars feeling the previous season did where it threw old plot elements into the kitchen sink to mix it up and be nostalgic. Plot-wise, it definitely has the feel of a culmination, building on a bunch of elements the previous seasons put into play. Tonally, however, it feels like a back to basics approach. I'll be delving into that for the next God knows how many words, but XV steps back a little from the weird super-alchemy show Symphogear became in its middle seasons. In its place is the show it was at the very beginning. One other advantage of being all caught up with the show is that I can actually Wiki dive now! I can tell you, for instance, that the XV stands for... XV. As in the Roman numeral 15. As in the Major Arcana number for the devil in a tarot card deck. Spooky, I know. We'll get to where the devil is in this show, but let's begin. Take a nice warm sip of that coffee, insulated from the late winter air, and let me tell you about Symphogear... one last time.


"You wait a moment, Doctor. Let's get it right. I've got a few things to say to you. Basic stuff first. Never be cruel, never be cowardly. Remember, hate is always foolish. and love is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. Laugh hard, run fast, be kind. Doctor... I let you go."

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

I Didn't Like Ghosts n Goblins Resurrection And Here's Why

So a new Ghosts n Goblins game came out last week, and I spent that week playing through it to completion. I don't like it. Let me tell you why, in my usual rambling verbose long-winded way.


A month shy of ten years ago, a funny thing happened. I was on a drive to my usual vacation getaway spot, and on the way we drove by a mountain. I had been listening to a gaming podcast that mentioned how hard a game Super Ghouls n Ghosts was, and for some reason a thought hit me as we drove by that mountain. I wanted to beat that game. I wrote about April 2011 in this post from April 2016, and marvel at the horror of time: the post about this event that happened is as old as the gap between the event and the first post. Anyway, over the next ten years, I delved into hard game monsterism. Many accomplishments, many a hard game toppled... but for the purposes of this writeup, that includes all the mainline Ghosts n Goblins games. I beat them all, and God help me I kind of like them in their own special way. 


So it was that, when Ghosts n Goblins Resurrection was announced a few months back via a Nintendo Direct, my notifications absolutely blew up. @FREZNO HEY LOOK IT'S A NEW GHOULS GAME, HARD GAME HARD GAME HARD GAME! I just found it funny that I got a brand such that I could get tagged like five times by different friend groups about a new GnG game. Regardless, I knew about it! It looked good! Unique art style but also it looked to play like the old games. I like GnG games, I should like this! So it was that I pre-ordered the damn thing, preloaded the download, and on Feb. 25th I was ready and willing to play some new old horror-themed hard game! What follows is not a review in the typical sense. More of a trip report/ranting into the void about hard game expectations. Buckle in.