Ending B

I fight for my friends!

Review: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha

by Eric Kociecki

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm gonna give a quick summary and opinion on Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha since I finished watching all three seasons recently. First of all, I was rather surprised by its blandness. Nanoha and the antagonist Fate are two of the most popular anime characters around. To me it seemed like a very typical magical girl anime. It starts off with a young girl, Nanoha, who lives a very ordinary life going to school, hanging out with friends, and helping her parents around their shop. Then one day she sees a small injured rodent who she nurses back to health. Apparently the rodent is a transformed mage who was beaten in a fight. This mage helps Nanoha to learn that with the right trigger (a small magic orb and the word "Lyrical") she's actually a very powerful mage. Yuno (the rodent) is trying to collect some ancient magic artifacts called jewel shards, before other mages, like Fate Testarossa, can get to them. Nanoha then stumbles through the next twelve episodes slowly learning about her magic, fighting for some jewel shards, and trying to make friends out of everyone. Thats pretty much the first season. Sure some of the fights are pretty, but it really bugged me that Nanoha was amazingly powerful right from the start, while Yuno seems to get weaker the less he's needed. I also don't find magical girl transformation sequences involving 9 year old girls to be very appealing. Fortunately the anime somewhat realizes this and usually skips the transformations and starts right in with the befriending ... I mean fighting.

Nanoha forgetting her lines

She gets better at this, I promise

Season two, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, ups the ante a bit by taking the original two teammates (Nanoha and Yuno) and throwing in two more. I hate spoilers (even when its somewhat obvious) so I'll not say who the two new teammates are. The plot is more interesting and has them fighting a team of four Knights who are out doing nefarious deeds for their master. Nanoha falls into her usual habit now, of shooting people with magic while spouting some nonsense about being friends, and that's season two.

Nanoha standing in front of fire

Vita: You devil... Nanoha: It's okay if I'm a devil... I'll just use my hellish tools to get you to listen!

Season three, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, mixes it up by jumping forward in time a decade. This season is twice as long as the previous showings and therefore has time for a more intricate plot. Nanoha and friends are now various ranks in the Time Space Administration Bureau, and they have underlings (the four new characters). All together, this larger group makes up the newly commissioned Mobile Section Six. There are a couple small twists in the plot, but mostly the extra episodes are spent showing the day to day activities of Section Six. They train by fighting robots and each other for most of the day, then kick back and talk backstory. During these backstory scenes you learn that Nanoha and the other higher ups in this squad all have limiters on. These limiters prevent them from using their maximum magical power. This is designed to put most of the focus on the new characters and their growth. What this boils down to though is an anime that kinda feels like you're watching a 20 episode practice session for a Super Bowl team. You know that once the real game starts, it'll be awesome, but for most of the show everyone is holding back. Once the big fights start happening late in the season, it gets much more interesting. The veteran mages start to shine and Nanoha gets to show her love for a friend/enemy by shooting them with magic.

Nanoha in battle with Tea and Subaru

Yes, she is stopping a magical energy blade with her bare hand.

Overall, I don't recommend this anime. It's way too hyped up for what it is, which is a very standard magical girl anime with a some great fights. If you do end up watching it, I don't think you'll dislike it. It just isn't worth the time spent on it.