Tuesday, 17 March 2009 22:08

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (TV,2004)

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Overview

Been awhile since I've been able to do something like this. May as well make the most of it. Imagine if you will a guy with one of the worst voices you could possibly imagine getting all genki and hyped up in a little moe girl context. Alternately, if the first cannot be conjured into your psyche, imagine it's Frank Welker's rendition of Megatron or Peter Cullen's rendition of Venger, just for the right amount of mental scarring. Possibly Darth Vader, but I'm not sure he can handle much more wusification after what Lucas pulled on him.

Now...let us begin.

Meet Nanoha Takamachi, your typical 3rd grade elementary school girl! She lives with her parents who run a coffee shop, her older sister who's in high school, and her older brother who goes to college! She's has two friends, Alisa Bannings and Suzuka Tsukimura, who are her bestest friends in the whole wide world. Don't tell anyone, but her brother and Suzka's older sister...they're all lovey dovey and all over each other (probably because Shinobu Tsukimura is the default girl in the H game, Triangle Heart 3, that Lyrical Nanoha is spun off from)! But one day, Nanoha's unremarkable life changes when she hears a voice calling for help on the way home and she winds up rescuing an injured ferret who is actually a boy called Yuuno, an archaeologist from another dimension! Turns out, he was wounded in battle against a monster generated by the lost Lokia or Jewel Seeds; powerful crystals that can bequeath immense power to their user, but can be quite dangerous if misused or even uncontrolled. Though it was no fault of his own that the Jewel Seeds were scattered over our world, Yuuno, being the one who discovered them, takes it upon himself to locate and contain them. However, no longer being in any condition to do so, he bequeaths the power of the Raging Heart to Nanoha...a powerful Jewel that will enable her to find and capture the gems! Problem is, they quickly learn they're not the only ones who are aware of the Seeds' power; and so so Nanoha meets Fate...a girl with such beautiful, but such sad eyes....

Review

Should anyone actually come across the original quote, do let me know, and I'll be sure to post it in its entirety. To paraphrase, however, in reply to a question concerning the relationship that Nanoha and Fate had with each other, the creator responded with either an explicit or implicit denial/evasion of their widely speculated on homosexuality.

Dude, fucking pull the other one...it fires the Death Star's primary weapons. And pulling the one by that'll jerk you off while you're blowing shit...up. You have to be transdimensionally off your goddamn rocker to even begin to think you can pull THAT one over on...oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let me back up a bit.

In case you've not figured it out, this review is for Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha season one. Seeing as how I'm guessing everyone who's got to this point can read, I'm also guessing that the odds of you not having figured this out is up there with the odds of my continued survival after taking an ever loving piss on Galvatron's Electron Laser. Therefore, I'll quit being as much of a pretentious jerk and get down to it...well, not really, but I hope that at least sounded plausible.

No I didn't.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is an extremely stereotypically starting magical girl anime brought to us by the Seven Arcs studio, who until Nanoha, specialized in hentai animation. You may have heard of a couple like Night Shift Nurses and the Triangle Hearts OVA. I suppose that may be where they got the idea to spin off a series about Nanoha, since most of the backstory and many of the characters were originally from the Triangle Hearts H games. I'm curious to see if any of the VAs for Nanoha were in the Triangle Hearts OVA...I may just go look that up after I'm done here. Would make for some very interesting VA continuity, I'd have to admit.

The main protagonist is a young middle school girl, Nanoha Takamachi, who outside of being a near clone of Misaki Suzuhara from Angelic layer and Hikaru Shidou from Magical Knight Rayearth...ironically both CLAMP titles, is pretty much deliberately unremarkable. Seriously though, if there's a trope about someone massively optimistic, seeing the good in everything, and generally overall winning people over with the power of her pure and good heart...she would embody it.  Oh wait, THERE IS ONE!  She is also the progenitor of another trope/internet meme, but we'll get to that one in a bit as it deals with her...unusual abilities, and I don't mean magical ones.

As stated in the synopsis, one day Nanoha comes upon a hurt little ferret, who turns out to be a transdimensional archaeologist by the name of Yuuno. He's here because the Jewel Seeds he discovered had become lost in transit and were scattered all over the anime equivalent of our world. Feeling responsible for their loss and wanting their recovery he starts the lengthy process of hunting them down before they bind with a life form and mutate in the monster of the week. Problem is, he...just...doesn't...have...it. And like Yoda in the 'Revenge of the Sith' novel...gets his ass stomped. Fortunately our dear little Polyanna and her friends take him to the vet to get patched up. Unfortunately the Jewel Seed comes looking for him. Long story short, Nanoha winds up acquiring the focus of his magical power, the jewel called the Raging Heart. It acts more technological than magical, though the stronger the person that uses it, the stronger it becomes. You can probably guess how the rest of it goes...and so it goes for an episode or two more...at least until Nanoha runs into a young girl that has most of the internet basking the the glory of her moe and wanting to hug her 'til everything's alright for her again. The girl in question is Fate-chan...err...Fate Testerosa, a dark magical girl, sent to retrieve the Jewel Seeds for her mother, Precia Testerosa, a woman I want to drop a Star Destroyer on.

Nanoha sees Fate's sad and tortured eyes, and acts just as anyone who had fallen in love at first sight with someone concerning Fate. Even and especially when Fate is trying to kill her. Much like Fate-chan's fans I expect, she wants to hug her, hold her, save her from whatever is hurting her...be her friend...oh Jesus Christ, people!

Dudes, I'm not Chris Davies looking for lesbians in every nook and cranny (and making them up if I can't find them), but if they would just stop with the long forlorn looks, the romantic music, the shoujo sparklies...they might...MIGHT have been able to pull this one over on us. As it is even the goddamn Emperor would be screaming, "For the love of the Sith, JUST KISS HER ALREADY!" there at the final battle...where by then Nanoha should have taken Fate into her arms and passionately kissed that girl as the music reaches crescendo and then...

What was I talking about again?

Anyway, as far as the rest of the story goes, it's also a bit of a coming of age story for Nanoha and several of the new friends she acquires over the course of this small war she gets involved in. Make no mistake, this is a war, and though the players are few...they are powerful. They even have power levels, though from what I've seen their a million five is nowhere near the planet destroying capability of a fifteen to twenty thousand level personage from the DBZ universe. Still, they do rate as nukes at the very least as many of the battles in this war do massive damage to the city that Nanoha happens to be living in. Also this is where the statement to Befriend comes from since Nanoha tends to befriend people by beating the living shit out of them with her overwhelming firepower. I suppose this would be considered a magical talent now that I think about it.

As I was saying, it is a coming of age story in many ways. A girl growing up, taking responsibility, and going off to do what needs to be done...and having the courage and commitment to do just that. Her parents are...well, if they weren't who they were, I'd have a hard time believing they'd allow her to run off for days on end like they did. I have a sneaking suspicion they know exactly what she's gotten involved in, and due to their unique circumstances, are willing to back her in doing what only she can at present. It does however worry the two friends she leaves behind, Alisa Bannings and Suzuka Tsukimura, to no end...and it should. It causes them to grow up a bit too since they realize they can't always be there to make things better, though they want and need to so badly...which is ironic since it's Fate that is protecting them. Honestly, I'm hoping in the next two seasons that I know are out that they have a far greater role...though I suspect I'll be disappointed in that regard since that almost never happens to 'the friends' in such stories. Naru, we missed you in the anime, but you kicked ass in the live action version.

There's a sort of transition in the story too. It goes from being a quasi mystical sci fi to full blown sci fi with the introduction of the Time-Space authority. I'm a little conflicted about this one. The problem is that this organization claims lawful authority over the policing of the dimensions in their purvue. However, all they really have is a civilization that hasn't run into anything stronger than them when they flex their muscle. IE, I'd really love to see them try their shit on Apokalypse or similar. This is not to say they're villains; they actually serve a function in that they really don't want their civilization to be blown to pieces by someone misusing things like the Jewel Seeds, but claiming any authority outside of overwhelming force in a place that does not recognize or had any part of the creation of said authority is as pretentious as saying God Wills It. It's a lot more honest to say, "I belong to an organization that considers you guys trying to blow up my dimension to be a bad thing." They can claim all the authority and rank they like in their own house.

It's not all roses and questions either. This story takes some seriously dark turns, especially with Fate and her...mother...Precia Testerosa. Precia has actually done something quite hard to do, since I always know in the back of my mind, that what I'm watching is fantasy. I actually hate this character on very personal level for what she did to Fate through this series. This makes this series not something that anyone who can't hack physical torture, especially that of young children...even in a fantasy setting, should watch. Though after all this it comes to the only real black eye this series has.

Fate recovers, in the end, far too quickly and far too completely from her BSOD. I'm sorry, that's just not possible...not with the depth of love we've seen Fate capable of and not with the depth of betrayal that Precia imparted to her towards the end, even in addition to the straight out abuse she was inflicting on the girl. Seriously, we needed at least one ep of epiphany therapy...SOMETHING, but certainly not that little bit of...well, it just wasn't enough in my opinion.

Not everyone is going to like this one. I know people for whom the Pollyanna type person just makes them want to on a killing spree to get the bad taste of just associating time with such an individual out of their mouths, so this show I know will piss them off to no end. On the other hand, it's pretty solid all around, and is not afraid to go to some very dark places, despite the upbeat nature of one of the characters which does tend to color everything she gets involved in. Maybe that's also part of Nanoha's appeal, that even in the darkest of places, there can be a light shining brighter than the sun...if one chooses to be such.

Just remember to hug the nearest Fate-chan. They need all the hugs they can get. Then again...maybe we all do...right after getting befriended through superior firepower.

Characters Japanese Voice Actors/Actresses US Voice Actors/Actresses
Nanoha Takamachi Yukari Tamura Cristina Valenzuela
Fate Testarossa Nana Mizuki Jennifer Alyx
Yuno Scrya Kaori Mizuhashi Marianne Miller
Aruf Natsuko Kuwatani Lauren Landa
Chrono Harlaown Mikako Takahashi Lauren Landa
Lindy Harlaown Aya Hisakawa ?
Precia Testarossa Rei Igarashi Julie Rei Goldstein
Alisa Bannings Rie Kugimiya ?
Suzuka Tsukimura Ai Shimizu Xanthe Huynh
Kyoya Takamachi Hikaru Midorikawa Roy Pitt
Miyuki Takamachi Ryoko Shiraishi ?
Shiro Takamachi Kazuya Ichijou Kaiji Tang
Momoko Takamachi Erika Amano Michelle Ann Dunphy

Additional Info

  • Title: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, 魔法少女リリカルなのは, Mahō Shōjo Ririkaru Nanoha
  • Genre: Adventure, Magical Girl, Sci Fi
  • Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
  • Studio: Seven Arcs
  • Licensed: Geneon
  • Network: Gifu Broadcasting System, TVS, Mie TV, TVO, CTC, TVK
  • Format: Television
  • Episodes: 13
  • Animation: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Writing: Very Good (+3)
  • Pacing: Very Good (+3)
  • Voice Acting: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Soundtrack: Good (+2)
Last modified on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 15:24

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