From what I figure, I’ve watched a lot of anime. More than probably anybody should. Yet when someone asks me favorites, of everything I have seen in almost every genre type, a handful stands out in my mind as being the best to me. Magical Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha is one of them.
Oh, and in before third-grade.
I believe I have described before how this series starts out trying to fit the magical girl mold, and breaks away from it pretty much after the first 10 minutes into the first episode of A’s. Usually second seasons or sequels always fall short of their originals, but A’s to me shined much brighter than the first season. Perhaps it was here when they decided that they could take the concept that much further.
Nanoha plays out sort of like magical girl meets science fiction, it’s this reason why /m/ cannot properly classify if it is /m/ or /a/ and there have been wars over it, in fact, I was tempbanned for starting a Nanoha thread after my first run of the series last summer. While certainly most of the elements of the series stay safely in /a/ land, the ships, space, the devices, and tech, make it much like watching Nadesico or Stellvia.
The basic premise isn’t terribly complicated, a girl inexplicably becomes a mage when she helps a kid from another world collect jewels that hold magical power. The story unfolds when another mage girl steps in trying to collect them for her abusive mother to use in some sort of attempt to gain access to a forbidden place. The story starts out rather slow in the first series due to having to introduce you to everyone. Some may also note that this was a spinoff of an H-game series called Triangle Hearts where Nanoha was a completely minor character, and in fact, without her father seen in the series. How they took this and spun a whole new world off of it is beyond me, but stranger things have happened.
Nanoha A’s continues the story but adds a handful of new characters, mainly Hayate and her German-speaking knights, The Wolkenritter. Throughout A’s Nanoha and Fate battle the knights while the knights try to collect magic to help cure Hayate of the very curse they exist by from killing her. This series doesn’t even bother trying to set up the characters before the fight, from the very first episode you get the fucking awesome Vita smashing into Nanoha. There are some periods of peace and downtime but this season was really the best of the three for having something to watch in every episode, especially when you consider how even though StrikerS got a full 26 episodes, you could have condensed down to maybe 20 in some places.
Finally, StrikerS, unlike Nanoha and Nanoha A’s, runs for 26 episodes, and timeskips forward to where the trio are 19 and instructors on Mid-Childa, the originating world of the series. Together with the previous series cast including the knights, and Chrono, they introduce new characters that are students of training instructors Nanoha and Fate. While some of the previous two series characters like Aruf, Yuuno, and company show up, they got backseat roles compared to A’s. StrikerS was an excellent series, but suffered from somewhat slow pacing and a huge introduction of new characters, many with little or minimal roles and served as nothing but cannon fodder. The Numbers and Jail were fine, but the half-dead dude, the other girl, many of those characters could have either been written out or consolidated into something else and the rest of the story wouldn’t have missed it, really. I think the purpose was to give either carry-over character something to do, except Shamal who… well… didn’t do much in A’s anyway besides support. Given all that however, by the end of the series, one thing is for certain. You do NOT fuck with a girl with more magical power than the universe and the means to use it and expect not to get the shit creamed out of you. It wasn’t nearly enough Nanoha RAGE that I wanted, but it was certainly satisfying given her target.
Long story short, if you’re expecting the magical girl stereotype out of this series, you’re going to get a whole different game, especially in StrikerS. Personally I sort of wish after the Nanoha the 1st Movie reboot that occured recently, that this puts somemore interest in the franchise and we’ll either see another series, or a sidestory of StrikerS or so on. Actually, I’d like to see the battle they reference in StrikerS where Nanoha got hurt in, there has to be plenty of story to tell between A’s and StrikerS.
tl;dr: “White Devil Takamachi” Why? “So I’ll be… a demon. (activates Raising Heart) Maybe I am a little demonic. But you’re going to listen whether you like it or not!” That is all.
Title: Magical Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, Magical Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s, Magical Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
Sub Group I Watched: Exiled-Destiny (Nanoha, Nanoha A’s), Coldlight (StrikerS)
Episodes: 13, 13, 26
Rating (1-10): 9, 10, 8.5