When an anime character summons all of their strength to finally defeat the villain, you know that there’s going to be a big swell of music to accompany it. But what if the power source was literally the music itself? In Senki Zesshou Symphogear, a 2012 anime now on its fourth season, a group of girls provide their own soundtrack by singing as they battle. This keeps their Symphogear-powered armor functioning so they can dish out pain to the inhuman Noise... and sometimes even to each other.
But with such a unique premise, is there really anything else like it to watch once you’ve run out of episodes to stream? Luckily, yes! Check out these six anime that capture the same spirit as Senki Zesshou Symphogear.
Similar Anime to Senki Zesshou Symphogear
1. Macross Delta
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2016 to September 2016
For our first recommendation, it only makes sense to go back to Symphogear’s biggest inspiration: the Macross franchise. Its first series aired all the way back in 1982 and was incorporated into the American show Robotech. By combining the mecha genre with idol singers and romance, Macross was a hit with fans of both shounen and shoujo.
Macross Delta (sometimes written as Macross ∆) is the latest incarnation and is set in a sci-fi universe rife with interplanetary war. It focuses on an idol group called Walkure, whose songs can dispel a widespread mysterious illness that causes uncontrollable aggression. They’re supported by Delta Squadron, a combat unit with spaceships and other vehicles that can transform into mecha. This anime is somewhat of a departure from others in its franchise, since it focuses more on amazing spectacle than character moments. But that spectacle sure is eye-catching! Smooth animation with bright, popping colors as well as richly constructed songs make every fight feel like a concert. Do you want more of Symphogear’s heart pounding musical battles? Look no further than Macross Delta.
Macross Delta Trailer
2. Suite Precure♪
- Episodes: 48
- Aired: February 2011 to January 2012
If you love magical girls but haven’t yet given the Pretty Cure franchise a try, you’re missing out on over ten years’ worth of frill-filled, bow-bedecked action. Each series has a different theme, such as fairy tales, princesses, or desserts; so naturally, there would be an incarnation focused on music. Suite Precure is the eighth entry in the franchise and stars two teenagers named Hibiki and Kanade (!!) who must work together, despite their conflicting personalities, to save the world from the Negatones.
Suite Precure is just about as girly as it gets, but its battle scenes feel like something out of Dragon Ball Z (thankfully, though, they never last longer than two episodes). The intense melee combat coupled with its cute musical aesthetic make it a great companion to Symphogear. The main characters butting heads with each other also feels similar to the struggles Hibiki, Tsubasa, and Chris go through to understand one another and become an effective team. If your favorite part of Symphogear was watching cute girls kick ass with the power of love, then give Suite Precure a try.
3. Tales of the Abyss
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2008 to March 2009
Musical scores dictate exactly how a piece should be performed. But what if everything had a written, predetermined outcome? Tales of the Abyss, based on the video game of the same name, tackles this question by creating a world in which everything is destined to follow the Score, a prophecy to which access is heavily controlled. The story follows a ragtag group of swords and sorcerers who learn secrets about both the world and each other as they try to prevent an all out war over the Score.
Tales of the Abyss stands out for its creative use of music as the backbone for its fantasy world, as well as for the tremendous personality growth of its protagonist, Luke fon Fabre. He starts out as an arrogant rich kid who knows next to nothing about the real world, but after screwing up big time and uncovering a terrifying truth about his past, he slowly matures into a hero who lays down his life for his comrades.
This brings to mind Chris’s character evolution over the first season of Symphogear, as well as Hibiki’s survivor complex surrounding the events of the first episode. Both anime tell the story of young people learning who they are while in the midst of a sweeping conflict that they’ve been thrust into. Realistic? Not especially. Compelling? Absolutely.
Any Anime Like Senki Zesshou Symphogear ?
4. Angel Beats!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2010 to June 2010
High schooler Otonashi wakes up one day at a school he doesn’t recognize, remembering nothing but his own last name. Within minutes, a girl wielding a gun tells him that he’s dead and asks him to join Shinda Sekai Sensen, a student group determined to rebel against the god that supposedly rules over this bizarre afterlife he’s found himself in.
Angel Beats! isn’t about warriors who use the power of music to vanquish evil, but it does combine music and action in a unique way. In the very first episode, an intense battle between the SSS and a mysterious girl they call “Tenshi” (Angel) takes place right outside a concert hall where the student band Girls Dead Monster is playing a show. Fans often cite the concert episodes as some of the best this anime has to offer. And, like Symphogear, every character has an intriguing backstory that comes to light over the course of the series. Nothing is ever what it seems here in the afterlife.
This anime is known for combining heart-wrenching drama with wheeze-inducing comedy, often in the same episode. The character TK, who speaks in random and grammatically questionable English phrases (despite having an American voice actor), is especially fun to watch. If you’re a fan of Symphogear’s blend of character development and occasional comedy shenanigans, Angel Beats! is a must-watch.
Angel Beats Trailer
5. Shinkyouku Soukai Polyphonica (Polyphonica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2007 to June 2007
For a more relaxed take on the symphonic superhero shtick, check out Polyphonica! This visual novel adaptation is a slice-of-life romance set in a world where humans and spirits coexist. Protagonist Phoron has a contract with the spirit Corti, who can transform into a much more powerful winged goddess version of herself when Phoron plays a divine song on his organ (which also turns into a motorcycle). Together, they travel far and wide to help the helpless as part of their work for the Tsuge Divine Music Player Office.
This anime’s story is episodic and focuses more on dialogue than action or overarching character development. The charming world that the characters inhabit is sprinkled with bits of fantasy and retro-futurism that help it feel fully fleshed out. It feels a lot like the school and casual segments of Symphogear, with Symphogear’s sci-fi atmosphere switched out for very light fantasy.
But Polyphonica has more underneath the surface. For one, Corti has a dangerous past – she used to be a nigh-invulnerable spirit nicknamed “The Crimson Annihilator” and “The Bloody Duchess”. Is she really as good as she seems? These hints of darkness in an otherwise mellow series will keep you hooked until the final curtain call.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2012 to July 2012
How many idol warriors does Symphogear have? Three – plus a handful of additional girls if you include later seasons. How many does AKB0048 have? More than that. This anime is based on the popular real life idol group AKB48, which famously has so many rotating members that you’d need a custom Pokérap to memorize them all.
It takes place in a dystopian future where entertainment is banned and all concerts are besieged by warplanes and artillery to prevent music from “disturbing the hearts of the people”. AKB0048, successors to the original band from Earth, fearlessly fight back against the onslaught by performing guerrilla concerts and taking out enemy troops with their own combat skills and a dedicated backup group of mecha pilots. Our four young protagonists go on a journey to join their favorite band so they can bring music to the masses once more.
It’s a silly set-up, but AKB0048 embraces it wholeheartedly. The result is a parade of beautiful animation and song that even manages to include character development and some dramatic moments that call back to previous episodes. It may not be as serious as Symphogear, but it still captures the same determination that music and love can conquer even the toughest of challenges.
Symphogear is about how the power of music brings people together. It’s a simple theme, but this anime uses gorgeous animation, complex characters, and meaningful songs to bring its premise to life. So whether you’ve only watched a few episodes or you’re eagerly counting down to Symphogear’s fifth season premiere, these six anime will keep a song in your heart the whole time. And if you know any more anime like Symphogear, feel free to leave them in the comments! We’d love to add them to our playlist.