The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s

Title: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s aka Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Seven Arcs
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 2 Oct 2005 – 30 Dec 2005

Synopsis: It’s been several months since the saga surrounding Fate Testarossa’s mother has come to an end. Takamachi Nanoha has parted ways with Fate and Yuuno Scrya, who are still aboard the Asura making preparations for their impending day in the Space/Time tribunal. The day of their reunion quickly approaches and Nanoha is joyfully anticipating seeing her friends once again. However, the night before Fate and Yuuno’s return to Earth, Nanoha is attacked by an aggressive girl who possesses strange powers unlike any Nanoha has seen before.

The Highlights
Plot: Better paced and more cohesive than the first series.
Characters: Well developed, with thoroughly explored motivations.
Action: Generic shounen action fare; lots of beam-spam.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was a somewhat unique take on the mahou shoujo genre. And while the first series merely borrowed from the sci-fi and action genres, its sequel, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s, firmly roots itself as the shounen action series that just happens to be fought between magical girls. Looking at it from this aspect (ie, as a shounen action series), Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s doesn’t offer a great deal that is novel or distinctive in its plot, but it is a lot of fun.

The main difference between Nanoha and Nanoha A’s is that there’s no filler in the sequel. As opposed to the first series, the antagonists are introduced from the first episode and the story is well told and allowed to flow at a brisk, yet constant pace. The plot contains a fair number of well executed plot twists and time is devoted to fleshing out all characters to the point that none of the choices made are difficult to swallow.

However, things degenerate towards the end of the series. As is typical in many sci-fi series, the drama is manufactured by artificial devices that are described to the audience through convoluted techno jargon. Solutions are offered to the audience the only way they can be, via spoon feeding, and generally can be decoded to: “let your powers combine to blow the crap out of a generic monster”. The final conflict is especially guilty of this and failed to generate any drama; rather, it was the epitome of low-brow action.

The animation is a step down from the first series, and the cinematography contained so many strange, distracting effects – such as fish-eye at the most awkward of times – that one may easily suspect they were used as budget saving techniques. Most of the action sequences throughout the entire series are pretty much beam-spam session, the type one would find in the intermediate stages of shounen action evolution between Dragonball Z and Naruto. I also found it jarring and slightly unnatural that the fight scenes would generally contain the same match-ups, particularly considering that none of these conflicts carried the tension and noticeable chemistry of Fate and Nanoha’s rivalry in the first series.

There’s no denying that Nanoha A’s is a fun action series, but it struggles to find a way to properly combine its drama and action. The story is well told and some of the plot twists are very impressive, though the action sequences become repetitive and don’t carry as much weight as the character drama, which unfortunately becomes less prominent (and powerful) towards the end of the series. I realize I’m in a minority, but I actually think the first Nanoha series is better than the sequel.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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