Normally in any show you watch, its main characters, and even side characters, advance, grow, and develop the longer the show goes on. Even the longest-running American cartoon The Simpsons whose characters technically do not age (but the set time around them does) have had significant character development over twenty-five years.
So why are the writers for Senki Zesshou Symphogear really trying to put the screws to Kazanari Tsubasa?
So the context of this post comes from Symphogear XV episode two, where in the course of putting on an idol performance, one of the new villains attacks the venue with Alca-Noise and kills much of the fans in attendance, but especially puts a little girl in front of Tsubasa’s blade, and then kills her with her claw-arm. The whole scene was especially disturbing, and kind of harked back to the first season where Kanade fell, Hibiki was impacted by her gear, and Tsubasa almost swan-songed herself to death fighting. Symphogear has never been shy about killing people throughout its run, but it was usually random people getting poofed by (Alca)Noise. Only major or specific characters got more bloodied scenes and faces of horror. This scene of mercilessly killing a little girl just to trigger Tsubasa’s multi-season PTSD about being strong enough to save people and “be the blade” was definitely overkill.
As you can see, a cursory search of the tags on Twitter yields a pretty universal opinion on this scene as being particularly gruesome, even for them to depict. “Despair” was probably the best way to put it, and I have to wonder if that is intentional on the part of the producers to remind the audience that humanity was never out of the clear from Noise attacks, and that our dear sweet gear users cannot rest so long as they continue to run amok.
But where most of the gear users faced their darkest days and came out the other side, Tsubasa keeps going into that hole and never coming out of it. Consider this; In season one, she lost Kanade, her partner and friend. She did not trust Hibiki, and in turn, she did not trust herself. There was some dream sequences of Kanade trying to encourage Tsubasa to move on as she laid in the hospital, but she never really broached the subject fully during recovery or after Fine’s fall. Tsubasa’s PTSD and uncontrolled obsession with “being the blade” would soldier on into the next season.
Season two didn’t really do much for Tsubasa, other than she tried really hard to take Chris under her wing as a sort of senpai-kouhai relationship. It was cute, but it only served to frame the end where Chris pretends to be a villain again in order to dupe Dr. Ver. Otherwise, she simply goes through the motions of wielding her gear as Hibiki’s dilemma was more center-stage until the end when she fully attunes to Gungnir and becomes One-Punch Hibiki. But even in her struggle with Chris, you can tell that Tsubasa still hasn’t found the will to really go all-out with her power the way Hibiki or Chris have.
Season three didn’t do much for her either besides us learning a little more about her heritage, and how the Kazanari family holds so much government and military power. But in solving her “I’m a tool” problem, not a lot of screentime is devoted to that dilemma as everyone struggles to adapt to the changes in their gears to defeat Carol.
Season four also didn’t do Tsubasa any favors of opening up her story, only in tidbits related to her father and grandfather, but at least unlike previous seasons, she wasn’t beaten down by the villains and discarded only for Hibiki to save the day, she just sort of was there, or something.
All of this culminates to the current season, and it seems in order to now properly address The Tsubasa Paradox we have to go back to the beginning. She likes to sing, and singing to her is a fight in itself. But bad things always happen when singing, and indeed, her chickens came home to roost once more.
The main problem I have with revisiting Tsubasa’s story is that the Kazanari Family, the true masterminds, haven’t really been touched in four previous seasons, and thus we’re going to be doing a lot of shoving a lot of shit into the final season of the series. To me, that is just sloppy, and it highlights the thing about this show I dislike, and that is how sloppily-executed each season has been. I think the goal from the start was always to deal with The Custodians, and by virtue, the Kazanari Family because they have a hand in seeking that power. But in introducing all of the players and powers, they let GX happen. Frankly, GX wasn’t necessary other than to upgrade their gears. The concept of alchemy and alchemist powers could have easily been folded into AXZ and we could have spent a season four building the backstory behind The Custodians and everything to make it so the final season won’t feel as rushed. Because after this season, it’s over, for now at least. Unless they decide to make more under a different name or moniker. Almost everyone has gotten their share of episodes and development, except poor Tsubasa.
But here is the thing, as I suggested in the tweet, if they actually allow Tsubasa closure in this season, then great. I will rest my case. But if they yank it out from under her again as they always seem to do in favor of Hibiki, Chris, Maria, or DJii, I’m going to be disappointed. She may not be my favorite girl in this show, but she’s the second-oldest gear user and far superior to Maria. Give her the sentinel.