In my last review, I have reviewed the first Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Movie, which is essentially a summary of the first season with more backstory. With this review, I will focus primarily on the television series, which aired in 2004. (Image Source)
For a while now, magical girl shows has always been an enjoyable experience since I liked watching cute girls using magical powers to defeat the monsters and villains. However, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha took a different direction of the genre by catering to another audience who liked moe while making the magical abilities more elaborate. This started with an eroge game called Triangle Heart 3, where Nanoha was a minor character. She was popular that she got a spinoff game where she became a magical girl. This eventually results in the creation of the anime series a few years later. Since then, the Nanoha franchise has grown considerably during the years with two more anime sequels, a movie, several mangas continuations, drama CDs and other forms of media.
At a glance, the story of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha wasn’t too special since it felt similar to Cardcaptor Sakura. Basically, Yuuno is trying to retrieve the Jewel Seeds that scattered around Earth, but becomes too injured while doing so. An ordinary 9-year-old girl named Nanoha Takamachi with her friends eventually finds him as a ferret and leaves him at the vet. Eventually he gives her the “Raising Heart” so she becomes a magical girl to help seal away the Jewel Seeds. This feeling changed when Fate appeared for the first time.
In comparison of the movie, the television series focused more on how Nanoha became a magical girl and the challenges she faces, especially when she met Fate. The slice of life moments shows her experiences as a magical girl while having some time to relax. From this, it does contain some rather pleasing moments where she plays with her friends and the appearance of the giant kitten, which got defeated in seconds. However, this setup wasn’t perfect since it contained a few scenes with gratuitous fanservice that didn’t fit well with the story. For instance, there was a hot spring episode where the girls go bathing with Arisa groping Miyuki’s breasts. This scene distracted from the fight that happened later, which Nanoha actually loses a Jewel Seed to Fate.
On the other hand, Fate who plays a big part in the story doesn’t get much development along with her mother, Precia. No details were ever shown about Fate’s childhood and how she got her magical powers. We only know that Precia is a villainous mother who created and used her in order to revive her dead daughter, Alicia who died from an accident. As a result, the story felt a bit unclear since her mother ultimately plays a big role on her mission, especially in the last few episodes.
Overall, the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was an enjoyable magical girl show that had some flaws. While the animation of the last battle between Nanoha and Fate was decent, it was lackluster since the colors simply looked washed out. This made the show look as if there was not enough money put into the production. Still, the show had many good moments such as the battles and Nanoha’s befriending of Fate. While the television series is not as good compared to the movie, it was still a satisfying and memorable experience.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10, Very Good, B
Also, if you interested in the movie, be sure to check out my review of Nanoha Movie the 1st!