Takamachi Nanoha, a third grader, is just a little girl with two close friends…until Yuuno arrives. A boy from another world with a heavy responsibility, he doesn’t like to get anyone else involved in what he sees as a problem he has to solve himself. But his magical skills are relatively slight, and when he is wounded, he has no choice but to send a call to whomever in the vicinity has the magical power to hear him. Nanoha hears him. All in rush, she is the possessor of a magical computer orb called Raging Heart, she is attacked by a fierce creature that becomes a small gem when sealed, and she has been introduced to Yuuno, the shape-shifting ferret. An honest, empathetic girl, she quickly adopts the cause, determined to seal them all before they cause more trouble…and the entrance of Fate only encourages her. A powerful mage, long haired and beautiful, and Nanoha’s own age, despite fighting her again and again, Nanoha can’t help but notice the girls eyes: the most beautifully sad, tragic eyes she has ever seen. She isn’t just doing it for the town anymore. There’s a story behind those eyes, and Nanoha wants to know it-and comfort the one she knows, whatever she might say, is suffering.
Tamura Yukari as Takamachi Nanoha
Mizuki Nana as Fate Testarossa
Mizuhashi Kaori as Yuuno Scrya
Kuwatani Natsuko as Arf
Donna Burke as Raging Heart
Kevin J. England as Bardiche
Magical Girl, Fantasy, Action, Sci-fi, Drama
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha aired from October 01, 2004 till December 29, 2004
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has thirteen episodes, with two sequels to date.
Magical girl type animes, mostly thanks to Sailor Moon, have a reputation for over-cutesifying, improbable attacks, and earnestly shouted simplistic ideals that are just constantly recycled truisms. I’m glad to say I’m reviewing no such anime: that would indicate I’d watched one. Nanoha actually does come close to OD-ing me in terms of cutesy-ness(ironically, when describing too much cute, you invent words a lot by adding suffixes, which is also associated with too-cute children). BUT-it really does tell a true and sweet story, even a deep one, and the characters are very enjoyable. Without ever being heavy, the plot line is strong and touching, and even though the first time I watched it was in my early years of anime watching, when I re-watched it recently, I found my opinion had only slightly changed. I, a twenty-one year old male, do recommend this series, recommend the sequel, Nanoha A’s, even higher, and rate it a four, my ‘very good’ number.
Nanoha, the lead, is not what I’d call unique-but she is endearing. So very normal, and so very determined. Adoring and adored by her family, she still feels some distance, which makes her all the more determined to reach Fate. Her way of being a ‘do your best’ sort works well-it’s made by showing, not shouting. By and large, the series succeeds by simplifying. The emotions, of her and most of the other characters, are true and uncluttered by complicated inter-relationships or sub-plots, and so they come across well no matter who it is. Fate is your quiet-through tragedy type, and shares a deep bond with her familiar, Arf. You can tell from the beginning that she herself isn’t evil, and it isn’t hard to feel as Nanoha does-especially since the show doesn’t restrict you to what she knows. We do see her life, and get a clear sight of who she is, who her familiar is, and why. It doesn’t take much from there to praying for her to find release. Arf, her familiar, is very protective of Fate, and will do anything for her, gladly. Someone who is clearly inclined to be ‘dog happy’, as her familiar form makes appropriate, seeing her pain on Fate’s behalf becomes no slight presence in the story. Chrono, a talented mage on board the patrol ship Asura, is conscious of his dignity, or tries to be, but his mother, the captain, and Amy, the navigator(I think, hard to tell what her official role is) make this very difficult for him. The captain, Lindy Harlaown, seems a bit of a lightweight, but she knows her duty and she knows command. Amy is similar, but younger and more energetic. As for the antagonists-yes, it’s very good. Evil and pitiable at the same time, you pray for her redemption almost as much as you pray for her demise. I’m not telling which it is. Just watch it.
Plot flow is slow, subtle, but always enjoyable. While the nature of the search means that at first each episode is a stand alone, it becomes one piece as the characters are built though them, and we come to see the bigger picture, and how much more is really at stake. The climax is meant to be a climax of emotion, and climax it is: perhaps not the ideal ending, but a good one all the same. Fate does find peace, I’ll promise you that. That’s not spoiling, that’s assuring against a nasty surprise. Oh, and it’s not just emotions that shine: the magical battles are excellent. The attacks, defense, and how they’re done, all of them are great. Proper spell casting battles are very cool, and Nanoha does it well-there is some very serious paranormal pounding here too.
An anime that dodges all the worst things attributed to ‘mahou shoujo’ titles, the only thing that could have made this better was a series of equally good sequels-which we have. Good strong characters, equally strong plot lines involving them, and quite excellent magical action make this a success that bears continuing-here’s to the Lyrical Nanoha family: this is just the first one. Thumbs up!
Final Rating: 4/5
This review was brought to you by Z.N. Singer
Info such as cast and airtime are taken from ANN’s encyclopedia listing. All else is and always will be the origination of the author.
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