Thursday, March 7, 2013

Putting a rumor to rest

For a long time there has been a rumor among the English-speaking Symphogear fandom that the show was originally planned as a 2 cour (26 episode) series, and the reason why the plot was so "rushed" in places was because they had to cut down the script in order to make it 1 cour (13 episodes). Today I'd like to take a moment and explain why this was never true and how it's been misinterpreted.

Now I've always thought this rumor was completely untrue because not only was there never a source for this information, but to me the plot has always held together rather well. It's true that there are plot points and scenes that were never fully explained in the anime, but this is filled in with supplemental information provided on the official Japanese website (it was also included in the booklets that came with the blu-rays). I can certainly see how people might think the show was originally planned to be longer, but the script always seemed consistent enough to have been planned as 1 cour from the start. And, this turns out to be the case.

Firstly, I own a copy of the business proposal for Symphogear. I haven't had time to scan it yet, but you can see a picture of it above. This particular version is dated in August of 2011, a good half a year before Symphogear even started airing. In this proposal the number of episodes is 12-13 and it specifically lists it as being "1 cour." So all indications show that it was never planned to be anything longer.

Secondly, the official Design Works book contains an interview with the Symphogear script writer and co-creator: Akifumi Kaneko. Thanks to an Anon on 4chan, a translation has been provided that explains how the series was originally created (I've edited this a bit for better grammar):

I've read almost all of Symphogear's staff interviews and they never mentioned anything about the script being halved. This all started because Agematsu wrote too many ideas into his notes, so much that it was impossible to put into a 1 cour anime. When they started, King Records and Bushiroad couldn't and wouldn't give them enough budget to make an 2-cour anime because Agematsu (a composer) and Kaneko (a game designer) didn't know about what recent anime are like at all. You see? THEY KNEW NOTHING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE AN ANIME. 5 years ago there was a producer who asked Agematsu a question: "You make so many great anime songs! But are you able to write an anime story?" After that question, Agematsu started to think about how to write a story for an anime and wrote all of the ideas into his notes. (According to the interview and Agematsu's twitter, there were originally 5 heroines, 4 main enemies, one pet, a book of the prophets and a final boss who wanted to control the moon to make an infinite phenomenon of a solar eclipse.) 
In 2009, at a party of game developers, Agematsu met his friend Kaneko and asked him how to write a story. Kaneko didn't know how to teach Agematsu to write a story, so instead he took Agematsu's notes back home and spent one week to complete a plot, which almost fulfilled all of Agematsu's desires. In reality all Kaneko wanted was to give Agematsu a sample of how to write a plot, but because the plot that Kaneko wrote had fulfilled Agematsu's wishes, Agematsu started to write the proposal for Symphogear to King Record's producer and tried to persuade Kaneko to join him. But Kaneko didn't want to join the project at first, and said if he's the producer he won't let the proposal pass. But Mishima, the producer of King Records, let it pass just for one reason: He and Kaneko had worked together a few years ago and Mishima felt it must be fate that they get another chance to co-work again this time.

So in the end, the rumor was born from the fact that Agematsu had drafted enough content for more than 1 cour of anime, but never in the proposal process for Symphogear was it ever planned to be longer because they didn't have the budget from the sponsors. Honestly, reading through this story it seems like a miracle that Symphogear even got funded in the first place! But it also explains why Symphogear's plot seems different from other anime - it was written by a person who's experience was mainly in JRPGs.

This is the part of the interview where Kaneko talks about Agematsu's original story ideas

Hopefully this will finally put an end to this rumor. You can read the original 4chan posts here and here.

If you have a copy of the Design Works book you should definitely check out the interview! I'd like to provide my own translation someday, but it's a pretty big undertaking and I'm busy working on the second volume of the manga! Look forward to chapter 1 soon!


  1. So it was you. I'm not surprised since there is just one fan of Symphogear I know who can read Japanese and share informations(like Thomas' leak of S2) to western fans in the west.
    Well in fact there are some mistakes I had made in those post because I don't know how to explain in English.For example,
    read that pic of note. You can see Kaneko said the note that Agematsu gave him was a 1 cour 13 episodes anime.
    But after Kaneko read the note he realized it's impossible so even though he felt sorry to Agematsu he still started to remove some Agematsu's ideas.
    The Voice book's staff interview explained lots of things that not mentioned in Design Work book. Also you have the copies of proposal of Symphogear. I think those will help you for your understand about the making of Symphogear.Wish you can let western fans know more about Symphogear.(well we all know we are a small fanbase no matter in west or east.) Good luck.

    1. Oh! I'm always surprised that Symphogear fans actually read this blog, haha. Thanks so much for your posts on 4chan, I try to keep track of the threads there but I don't actually post much myself.

      I do want to read through the Voice book and Design book interviews, but I haven't found the time. I know there must be a lot of interesting things in them!

      Anyway, thanks for your comment! I'll keep trying to make sure that Western fans are kept informed of all the news. ( ´ ▽ ` )ノ

  2. A Symphogear PSP RPG ACTION Game? I Like it!!!!!!!!!!!!!