Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha

Magical Girl Lyrical NanohaType: TV Series
Episode Count: 13
Genre: Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Vintage: 2004

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 25 Feb 2009

Grade: B

A reinvention of the Magical Girl genre with a somewhat darker edge.

Plot Summary
Nanoha Takamachi is a normal third grader. One day on her way home from school, she finds an injured ferret. It turns out that this ferret is an archaeologist named Yuuno who has been sent to earth from another world to find something called Jewel Seeds, which have gone missing. When she finds Yuuno, Nanoha also finds a gem called Raging Heart which allows her to communicate with Yuuno, but also grants her magical powers which help her to defeat the monsters created by the Jewel Seeds. Nanoha and Yuuno’s efforts are complicated by the appearance of another magical girl who is also after the Jewel Seeds. Will they work together, or be forced to be enemies?

The Review
This is another of those shows that has an intense, yet somewhat underground fan following. I found out about it, and given that I like magical girl shows (and their permutations), I decided that it would be worth checking out. The magical girl genre seems to have somewhat fallen out of favor recently, but Nanoha takes its basic premise and twists it around a bit, resulting in a series that even those who have not had any previous interest in the genre can probably enjoy.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha starts off like any good magical girl series does: cute, energetic schoolgirl finds herself with magical powers, an animal familiar, and a mission to find something. This is how most of the beginning of the series plays out, but then it begins to take on a life of its own. A rival magical girl and some decidedly sci-fi elements start to creep into the story as it veers further and further away from any traditional magical girl expectations. You could say that it changes from one series to another over the course of the 13 episodes, and that would be a fairly accurate conclusion. The story is also on the dark side, so even while Nanoha may be a cute protagonist, this series isn’t all sunshine and butterflies.

That’s about it, really. This isn’t a complicated series that requires a lot of thought. It’s a good reinvention of the magical girl genre with some good characters, and the ending leaves the story open for more, which of course the series does get in the form of two sequels. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha may owe a lot to magical girl shows of yore, yet unlike those which are mostly shoujo, Nanoha has a distinct shonen feel to it, so if you like action oriented shows, this is one that should be on your radar.

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