Title: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS aka Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
Company: Seven Arcs
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 2 Apr 2007 – 24 Sep 2007
Summary: It is ten years after the saga involving The Book of Darkness, and Nanoha, Fate and Hayate have become full time mages with the Time-Space Administration Bureau. Hayate has established a new division within the bureau, Riot Force 6, which handles cases involving Lost Logia, as well as miscellaneous emergencies. Four young new mages have joined Section Six, Subaru Nakajima, Teana Lanster, Caro Ru Lushe and Erio Mondial, who, while being relative novices, have their own sets of skills and talents. Forming the Stars and Lightning teams, while at Section Six they are to be trained by Nanoha, Fate and Vita.
Characters: Far too many; new characters are bland archetypes, while old characters get relegated.
Pacing: Horrid; first half is almost a complete waste of time.
Subplots: Too numerous; some are pointless and clichéd.
Drama: A few dramatic scenes late in the series.
There’s probably not all too much new I can say about Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS that hasn’t been said before, so comprehensively discussed it has been. But there’s a fairly clear consensus about StrikerS, one that is surprisingly shared by some of the most ardent Nanoha fans, and one that I find refreshingly honest and, for that reason, find myself siding with. I’m not going to brandy around remarks like “wasted potential”, because, in all honesty, I didn’t think StrikerS had all that much potential to begin with. But I will say this: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS is one of the most soulless anime I’ve ever seen.
The biggest problem, arguably at the root of most of the other problems in StrikerS, is obvious: too many characters. Returning is the cast from the first two series, already sizable as it was, including Nanoha, Fate, Hayate and her Velka Knights and all of their Intelligent Devices. New to this series are the four forwards, Subaru, Teana, Erio and Caro, who get the focus for much of the series. Along with their Intelligent Devices. And Caro’s dragons. Supporting them are an entire entourage of technical and support staff in Section Six of the Time-Space Administration Bureau. All this without even mentioning the Saint Church, Vivio, Yuno or the Harlaown family. And that’s just the protagonist side; the party of antagonists is almost as numerous. With this many characters, one may only have minimal expectations for the quality and quantity of character development, and “minimal” is just about what we get. The four forwards relegate the much more interesting older characters to the sideline, but offer little more than tediously generic personalities. The most dynamic of these characters is cut straight from the tried-and-true tsundere template, right down to the choice of seiyuu, with virtually no attempt to add individuality to her character. As for the other three, the less said, the better.
The wretched pacing really hurts the plot. The first half of the series is dominated by the classic shounen time-waster: training. The audience is subjected to episode after episode of characters refining their skills, which hardly matters anyway, since all of their powers are artificially limited (by one of the most perplexingly pointless plot devices I’ve encountered). When the plot finally does take off, the copious characters and sub-plots result in a story with no sense of focus. The fights are almost never decisive, and most aren’t even aesthetically appealing. And this is without even mentioning the clichés that riddle the plot. I cringed at the story of the sniper who lost the convictions to pick up his rifle after accidentally shooting an innocent hostage… who was also his relative. But this was nothing compared to the look on my face when two major characters were revealed to be androids!
I was never a fan of the Lyrical Nanoha series, but I can understand the appeal. Both of the first two series had decent storylines with questionable execution. StrikerS has a bland storyline with downright terrible execution. Even as a franchise into its third incarnation, I cannot understand how the producers thought they could make a good action/drama series with a cast numbering (by modest estimations) well into the high forties. I’m not going to say this was an absolute fizzer, since there were some scenes late into the series that were genuinely dramatic. But if this is what we can expect from the future of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, then its best days are well and truly behind it.
The Rating: 4
Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun