Monday, December 27, 2010
The Nanoha movie is a re-boot of the first season of a franchise that has been pumping out hits in Japan since the first TV series premiered in 2004. The first season is the only one that I would balk at re-watching in its entirety because the early episodes were mind-numbingly dull.
Nanoha the Movie 1st largely remedies the problems that the first season has- the slow bits are necessarily cut out and the production values are much, much better- but exacerbates the most problematic aspect of the Nanoha franchise. The utterly icky early transformation sequences for Nanoha and Fate instantly put me in a dark mood. There were other unwanted bits of service during the movie, along with some unsettling artwork in the ending credits. I never want to meet or speak to anyone who liked any of these things. (Quite the contrary, such a person would incite my desire to punch him in the face repeatedly- among other unsavory things.) It's a shame, because there is a good story to tell here. This obvious fact being established, I will discuss everything else about the movie.
The best part of the movie was definitely the development of Fate's mother Precia. The movie closely follows the events of the series- Nanoha learns about magic from Yuno, she starts collecting Jewel Seeds, and she meets Fate, who is also collecting Jewel Seeds for Precia, who wants them as part of a convoluted plan to revive her dead daughter Alicia, who Fate is unknowingly a clone of. Nanoha meeting the folks aboard the Asura, her being alienated from her friend Suzuka, the fight over the ocean, etc, etc, everything is present. However, we get a much better explanation of Precia's back story than what we've gotten before. Instead of only hearing about how much she loved Alicia and how hard she worked to revive her, how she lost her mind grasping at invisible straws, we actually see it. We also see more of Precia's old familiar Lynith, who tried to reason with Precia when she was starting to think of Fate as nothing but a tool. Even Precia's death produces some bittersweet character development. (Don't want to spoil it.) She was an abusive scumbag to Fate, but she was the most interesting thing about this movie.
The ending is still cute, with Nanoha and Fate exchanging ribbons and Fate promising to save Nanoha when she needs help. More than in the TV series, the movie pushes this scene as as puppy love.
The subtitles are good. They "sound" natural and, as far as I could tell, they're accurate. There are a few things translated differently from what the English fandom is used to (Arf is "Alf", the Time Space Admininstration Bureau is the "Dimension Administration Bureau") and the honorifics weren't left intact, but it's still a good, smooth translation. The subtitles are also white with black borders, which I prefer over yellow subs.
As a Blu Ray movie, it looks great- bright, vibrant, and crisp. The fight sequences and special effects are a treat. Nanoha has made a lot of money, and it shows here.
The LE version comes with two booklets featuring staff and seiyuu interviews and greetings, character sketches, and other little extras. (And ads for more Nanoha products.) There's an extra disc featuring trailers, the movie being promoted at the 2009 Tokyo Anime Fair, the seiyuu greeting fans on the day of the movie's premiere, a look at the recording of the movie's soundtrack, the movie's screening at Japan Expo 2010, and a Q & A with several of the seiyuu. There's so much Tamura Yukari here that even "Yukarin" fans who don't like Nanoha would probably want this. The bonus disc does not come with subtitles.
Story: Several good things, one hateful thing, not the best Nanoha storyline regardless. Take away what I don't like and it could be a B all around.
Overall: C+ (To the production committee for this movie and the upcoming A's movie: You have a good story to tell. Stop throwing bones to the creepy bastards in the fandom.)
I really want a StrikerS movie.