Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I originally wanted to wait until finishing StrikerS to post any Nanoha reviews, but I changed my mind and decided to do a belated season 1 review.
It's impressive that Nanoha is as popular as it is in Japan, because the first few episodes of the first season are terrible- not funny-terrible, but boring. Almost as boring as Kokoro Library. I pushed through them because I heard that the series would become significantly better. (And of course, StrikerS. Kept my eye on the prize.)
The series begins with Takamachi Nanoha, a typical third grader who meets a ferret named Yuuno. Yuuno is a mage who took the form of a ferret because...I don't remember or care. The show needs a cute talking animal mascot, so.... He needs Nanoha to transform into a magical girl and help him collect twenty one ancient magical artifacts called Jewel Seeds, all located in Nanoha's area.
The show becomes slightly more interesting when another magical girl named Fate Testarossa appears with her familiar, a dog named Arf (who can change into a woman and acts as a protective surrogate-parent to Fate), and tries to harvest the Jewel Seeds for her own reasons. Fate's mother Precia once lost a daughter named Alicia, causing her to go insane and leave her job as a researcher to find a way to resurrect her daughter. She created Fate as a clone of her daughter and ordered her to gather the Jewel Seeds, which would allow Precia to enter Al Hazard, another dimension rumored to have "lost technology" that Precia hopes would help her revive Alicia.
Around halfway through the series, it sloughs off the boring, rote jewel-seed-of-the-day crap and becomes a surprisingly involving, tightly paced sci-fi action-adventure. After being recruited to help the Time Space Administration Bureau arrest Fate and Precia, Nanoha tries to reach out to Fate as a friend and Fate begins to struggle between Nanoha's friendly overtures and her desire to make her nasty, miserable, abusive mother happy. Even though Precia's back story and motivation paint her in some shades of gray, it was easy to cheer when she met her final...uhh...fate. Despite some genuinely heartwrenching moments in the later half, the series does have a happy, and really pretty sweet, end.
As for yuri- while watching this season I knew that Fate and Nanoha would, as adults in StrikerS, move in together and raise a kid who would call them both "mama." There is some cute Nanoha/Fate subtext at the end of this season, though- particularly on Fate's side.
Story: B- (A good grade for a show with such dull opening episodes.)
Art: C+ (Nanoha isn't renowned for its art. The special effects used in the spellcasting sequences were well-done, though.)