Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha – The Mamas…

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve recently watched Magical Lyrical Girl Nanoha. Ok, it’s been more than a while, and I’ve then watched A’s, but still have the last three episodes to watch… I’ve been occupied lately, and the show is not entirely engrossing.

The show is somewhat anachronistic; the art style is more reminiscent of early 90s anime. Alternately, it kinda looks like Digimon in a way, it feels like something rushed out to make money, or shoved into its slot to fill it after something else got cancelled. The models, that is, the characters are not very well drawn, but are cute. I nearly had an aneurysm in the beginning when each character has like a mad mad hair at the front, with a bunch sticking out, and it’s “Aligned” to the side, and the moment they shift their head slightly the hair really jumps a bunch to the other side.

The graphics of backgrounds, the city-scape, it’s very blocky, the number of different characters in most scenes is exceedingly small (1-2 in a lot, 4 is like “Whoa!“). The characters are often static and talk to themselves, or we have Nanoha’s waking up sequence, which while cute repeats itself. It really feels like on the production front, this show is exceedingly flat, and didn’t have a lot poured into it.
Not to mention, some of the seiyuu, like Arf‘s seiyuu, Natsuko Kuwatani, just sounds so annoying. “Fate-o Chan!” Blergh.

(This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such covers more my thoughts, and is less focused as an actual bona fide review. There will be a medium amount of spoilers in this post.)

Well, it’d be remiss of me to judge a series only based on its superficial values, but it’s also important to note them, because they affect your overall impression and enjoyment of a series. Moreover, as in this case, it had lead me to believe certain things regarding the amount of effort and time given to this series, which in turn are also reflected in what I will address next, the story.

The characters are not that fleshed out, and as had been pointed out quite hilariously in Ore no Imouto, Nanoha fulfills the saying “Shooting and crying”, all that good jazz of shooting her friends, for their own benefit!
The world feels empty, due to the backgrounds and such; the world does not feel lived in. There are barely any passersby, so most scenes are empty, and the collateral damage  lacks people and thus also a lot of impact; we’ve got big explosions and the only thing we see as a reaction are the sounds of sirens closing in and Nanoha running away…

Of course, remember what I said about number of characters in a scene? There are very few characters, and very few in a scene, much of the characterization of characters is not shown, but told. And a good advice in stories is “Show, don’t tell”. We have characters sitting in a room and talking to themselves, or us hearing their thoughts, so we know they think/feel a certain way due to being told, rather than coming to a conclusion about it on our own, as a result of the characters’ actions.
We also get some note regarding Nanoha’s father, but it doesn’t get more than touched upon.

And of course, the “Big Mama”. Fate’s “mother”. The evil witch. This is handled sort of like a Disney film (BTW, watched Tangled last weekend, and it was good!) . She is crazy, she has motivations which need to get us to sympathize her, but in the end, she’s inhuman and alien to us. Not because we can’t understand her motivations, not because we can’t get the tired trope of “The end justifies all means! All of them!” but because she’s as mad as a hatter, and that she does many things that help her cause not one iota, and only serve to alienate us. And then she dies, like most evil (step-)mothers in Disney movies.
And Fate, fulfilling her trope of obediency and mother-love just becomes as alien as the mother to us, or nearly.

The show has some good moments, the show has some charm. But you mainly keep watching the show because it’s “light”, though the art-direction in the end is not just not very well executed, but “Heavy”, and so are the plot-lines. Somehow, I kept watching it, and I didn’t suffer, but I also didn’t enjoy it that much. The second season was much better.

Score: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha gets 5.5/10 butchered English phrases. You can watch it, but you probably have better things to do with your time. I’ll try to watch the movie soon and see if it’s better. Also, 5.5 is not an F, it’s “Average”.

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12 comments on “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha – The Mamas…

  1. Poet says:

    5.5 is an “F” if I haven’t watched any of the 7.5s-10s yet ;)

    • Guy says:

      By that logic 9-9.5 is also an F if you hadn’t watched all 9.6+ shows yet ;)

      Yeah, it might mean you shouldn’t search the show out, but if you watched it, it is not a complete failure.
      You might also want to watch it for the next seasons. Season 2 is much better.

  2. phossil says:

    I like it more because of the art and character design. Also I found funny the English phrases ;)

    • Guy says:

      Even the first series? The art was so low key, no backgrounds, the style and especially the technique isn’t that well-done. It’s like what people do when they just have to get series out.

      A lot more common in older shows, from the 90s, think Ran-ma 1/2, where they had to draw all the backgrounds and you could tell when a background piece would be interacted with due to having a different shade, since the rest is actually a set background and not hand-drawn each time :D

  3. Zextrace says:

    Fate is a wonderfully fleshed out and dynamic character. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

  4. Yi says:

    I thought Nanoha is the worst of the three Nanoha series. The franchise got significantly better with A’s and Strikers.

    • Guy says:

      Yeah, I need to finish it. Stopping a series of 12 episodes at episode 9-10 is so horrible, because several years later you’ve got to watch it all from the beginning, which isn’t as awesome when you half-remember half of it, and it’s not that great of a show to begin with :D

      But yeah, I’ll get to it at some point.

  5. Fight scenes are almost mecha-ish compare to regular magical girl series

  6. lovelyduckie says:

    Hey! I didn’t realize you were back to blogging! WB! I’ve never considered watching Nanoha and after reading your post I’m really glad I didn’t give it the time of day. One of the things about anime that pulls me in and makes me consider watching it is when I see a character design that interests me…and none of the Nanoha really spark much intertest in me.

    • Guy says:

      I suspect the movies or just starting from the 3rd season would be better. I’ll let you know if I ever get there…

  7. Bonnie says:

    nanoha to me never felt like a lead character in any of the series, fate felt like more of the main character in the first series, hayate felt like the main character in the second series, and subaru felt like the main character in the third series. my question is why establish nanoha as the main character when the series didn’t focus on her throughout.

    • Guy says:

      I’m actually going to touch on it in the Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere post that will go live in the next couple of months.

      Just because you’re the titular character and get the most screen time doesn’t really make you the lead character, I agree.

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