For a long time, I have been a fan of magical girl shows since I enjoy seeing young girls beat up villains with magical powers. Lyrical Nanoha is somewhat different compared to other magical girl shows like Cardcaptor Sakura since it caters the older male demographic while introducing some elements from mecha anime. In fact, some people described Nanoha’s magical girl outfit as a schoolgirl outfit and a Gundam. In other words, there is a lot of action packed battles. Nanoha A’s pretty much improves on the prequel by adding another heroine to the mix and anti-villains.
While it took awhile since the DVDs were out of print due to Geneon going out of business, I finally got the chance to finish it. In addition, I’ll be covering some thoughts on the movie.
The story of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s happens six months later with Nanoha and Fate working with TSAB. Without knowing, the Book of Darkness is currently owned by a young orphaned girl in a wheelchair named Yagami Hayate. She desires a family. One day, she was granted that wish when the book mysteriously unlocks itself, thus summoning three girls and a non-human sidekick referred to as the Wolkenritter, Afterwards, she happily adopted them as part of her family. However, she is unaware that the Book of Darkness is slowly eating away at her. Knowing that they don’t want to lose their master, the Wolkenritter try to save her by collecting mana from others in order to fill the pages in the book. This meant that they would eventually have to deal with Nanoha and Fate.
I have to admit that Nanoha A’s story was more interesting compared to the prequel since Nanoha and Fate is not facing an actual villain nor they are collecting items. They have to face off against the Wolkenritter, which consists of Vita, Signum, Shamal and Zafira, who wanted to save their master from her eventual fate by satisfying the hunger of the book.
By showing how powerful the Wolkenritter are by defeating Nanoha and Fate in their two separate battles, it proves that they are facing an enemy that they never fought before. From this setback, Nanoha and Fate can gain the motivation to become stronger. Eventually, this becomes the case when their intelligent devices wanted a cartridge-loading device, which in turn leveled the playing field.
Aside from the fights, the ethical issues surrounding the actions of the Wolkenritter, Admiral Gil Gram and Reinforce (to a certain extent) is what made the story unique. Basically, nobody is outright evil, except for the corrupted defense program. Even so, the actions they take are not necessarily right. Sure, the Wolkenritter had done some bad things in order to save their Master, but at the same time, Admiral Gram pretty much done illegal things too in order to seal the book with Hayate and prevent the reincarnation. In addition, he had the cat girl familiars, Lisearia and Liselotte to disguise themselves as masked men in order to fill the book themselves and ultimately trick Hayate to make it seem that Nanoha and Fate is betraying them. Top that off with Gram’s attempts to sabotage the investigation in order to carry out his own plan, it just shows that even good guys can do unethical things, even if they are well intentioned.
Aside from that, Hayate did not get much spotlight despite being the central focus of the whole show. It is not until the last few episodes when she and the Wolkenritter joined forces with Nanoha and company to beat and seal the defense program once and for all. Still, it is very easy to feel sympathetic towards her, especially since she does not get nearly as much screen time compared to Nanoha and Fate in StrikerS. Still, I liked Vita and Signum because they are badass and they really know how to fight.
Overall, is Nanoha A’s better than the first season of Nanoha? Of course it is since it bought a unique story that is not another Cardcaptor Sakura-like show with a dark magical girl. The fights were great and the plot touched upon the issues regarding the actions the Wolkenritter and Admiral Gram took. While the animation is not that great, although being a slight improvement over the first season, Nanoha A’s is easily the best show out of the trilogy (excluding Vivid).
However, the same cannot be said about the movie. The movie brought some changes, good and bad. Aside from the improved visuals and fight scenes, the story is not as great compared to the television series. Aside from writing Admiral Gram and the cat girl familiars out of the story and making the defense program the main villain, the character development just felt just felt shallow. This is because Nanoha and Fate gets defeated at the same time by the Wolkenritter rather than on separately, thus giving them less time to try to improve themselves in a meaningful way. Otherwise, the 2nd movie mostly have the same story as the TV series and does not bring anything new to the table compared to the first movie, which touched upon Fate’s mother and her desire to revive Alicia.
Overall, the movie can be considered as a historical revisionist view of the Book of Darkness incident done by the TSAB to cover up Admiral Gram’s wrongdoings. While it is not a terrible movie, it does not quite live up to the awesomeness from the TV series or the first movie. In other words, you are not missing much in the 2nd movie if you already watched Nanoha A’s.
TV Series Overall Rating: 9.0/10, Very Good, A-
Movie Overall Rating: 8.0/10, Good, B- ¶