Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha – Series Retrospective

Today is the end of October, and while I’m gonna be busy as usual for watching and blogging anime shows likes Amagi Brilliant Park and Shirobako. I wanna blog something different.

In any case, I made a series retrospective to one of the most famous magical girl shows in recent history: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.

1. Origins

The Lyrical Nanoha series started as a spin-off to Masaki Tsuzuki’s Triangle Heart eroge trilogy, more specifically Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever. Currently, the original eroge trilogy didn’t have any English translation.

Anyway, Nanoha Takamachi made her debut in Triangle Heart 3 as a cute little sister to both Kyouya and Miyuki Takamachi. The staff liked Nanoha so much that they made a fandisc, which contained an extra scenario dedicated to that character. The name of that extra scenario is “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha” and it serves as the prototype to the eventual anime series.

But before that will happen, Masaki Tsuzuki went on to Seven Arc, best known for their Night Shift Nurses hentai OVA series, to work for the OVA adaptation of Triangle Heart 3 together with Akiyuki Shinbo as screenwriter and director, respectively.

2. The beginning of Lyrical Nanoha series

After finishing the Triangle Heart 3 OVA series, Seven Arcs are dead-set on the TV adaptation of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha in time for October 2004. Of course, Masaki Tsuzuki wanted their series different from Toei Animation’s Futari wa Pretty Cure.

So, during production of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha in which they redesigned some elements from the original fandisc, one of the production staff member noticed that Nanoha’s new magical girl design jokingly resembled the RX-78-2 Gundam. Eventually, that joke became an idea for Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha as they incorporate elements from various mecha anime series, including Super Robot Wars where producer Akio Mishima was a fan of that game series.

Other changes include replacing Nanoha’s rival Chrono (who would later become a supporting character in later episode) into a new character named Fate Testarossa. Both Nanoha and Fate will be voiced by Yukari Tamura and Nana Mizuki, respectively. On one note, both voice actresses previously played two supporting characters from Naruto, with Tamura as Tenten while Mizuki played Hinata Hyuuga.

In any case, the series aired from October 1 to December 24, 2004. While it’s moderately-successful due to bringing innovative ideas such as making flashy fight scenes akin to mecha battles, its success led Masaki Tsuzuki and Seven Arcs green-lighting a sequel for Fall 2005.

3. The A’s and the StrikerS

For the second season, now called Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s, Masaki Tsuzuki and the staff from the first season have returned, except for Akiyuki Shinbo who went on to direct most of the anime shows produced by Studio Shaft. In his place was director Keizou Kusakawa who previously worked on the first season, specifically the opening sequence as well as two episodes. The story takes place six months after the first season where Nanoha Takamachi and Fate Testarossa team-up to investigate an ancient relic called the Book of Darkness, all while stopping the Wolkenritter from completing it.

Despite a director change, plus having a slightly-tight budget, it doesn’t deter their commitment on making Nanoha A’s as the best season for the whole series. Airing from from October 1 to December 25, 2004, Seven Arcs moved away from the original Triangle Heart series as they made the action scenes more breath-taking despite their budget woes, all while making the plot more enganging. Characters like the Wolkenritter showed more dimension and sympathy when they’re commited on saving Hayate Yagami, which they end up becoming allies for both Nanoha and Fate. It’s a step-up compared to Precia Testarossa from the first season in which she always beat up her daughter Fate for not bringing enough Jewel Seeds.

After their big success on their second season, it was soon followed by Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS where took place 10 years after Nanoha A’s. Aired from April 1 to September 23, 2007, Nanoha StrikerS is a mixed bag to many fans. First of all, Masaki Tsuzuki and Keizou Kusakawa shifted the third season into a military/science fiction genre. And secondly, most of the major characters from Nanoha A’s took a backseat in favor of new characters like the Riot Force 6 Forward Team which composed of Subaru Nakajima, Teana Lanster, Erio Mondial and Caro Ru Lushe.

While the new characters spend their time training from the likes of Nanoha and Fate during the first half of Nanoha StrikerS, the second half returned with a bang once Jail Scaglietti and his female operatives called Numbers entered the scene. Not only most of the major characters from Nanoha A’s are back in action, but Subaru and her fellow Forward Team members can put up a fight.

Despite its shortcomings, Nanoha StrikerS has some good moments that it has a sequel in the form of StrikerS Sound Stage X drama CD in 2008. Sadly, Nanoha StrikerS would be the last series for the franchise as Seven Arcs made other shows like Sekirei and WHITE ALBUM afterwards.

4. Post-Nanoha StrikerS

Even though Nanoha StrikerS has ended, it doesn’t stop Masaki Tsuzuki from making a sequel as he made two manga series in 2009: Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid. While the former retains the military/sci-fi genre from Nanoha StrikerS with Thoma Avenir taking the role as the protagonist, the latter return to its magical girl roots as Nanoha and Fate’s adopted daughter Vivio becomes the main character. Also, a new spin-off manga was launched in 2012 called Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT, where the main characters battle each other in a card game “Brave Duel”.

Apart from three manga series, two games based on Nanoha A’s storyline were released in PlayStation Portable called Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s Portable: The Battle of Aces and Gears of Destiny. While these two games takes place in an alternate timeline of the second season, it became successful because of the appearance of three evil clones, which are based on Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate.

Finally, Masaki Tsuzuki and Seven Arcs returned to the franchise starting with two films based on the first two seasons: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st and 2nd A’s. These two films not only retells Nanoha’s adventure, but it adds more elements from other media. A third movie called Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 3rd Reflection has been announced after the second film and will be based on an original story.

While the third film is still in production, another announcement was made as Nanoha ViVid will have an anime adapation. However, the adaptation will be handled by A-1 Pictures with a new staff, which puts many of the fans in doubt on whether they could live up to its name or not. Regardless, a new Nanoha series will be aired in the future.

5. Legacy

While the Lyrical Nanoha series wasn’t revolutionary at the time of its premier, it brought back the magical girl genre together with Pretty Cure. It also inspired the creators of Fate/stay night to make a spin-off series based on the character Illyasviel von Einzbern. Titled Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, it serves as a parody to the original Fate/stay night series while poking fun at the genre itself.

For Masaki Tsuzuki and Keizou Kusakawa, they would make a new series that serves as a successor to the Lyrical Nanoha series. Titled DOG DAYS, it is the first original anime series made by Seven Arcs which currently has two season with a third one airing in 2015. While Keizou Kusakawa only worked on the first season of DOG DAYS, he would then work to other shows from Ro-Kyu-Bu! to Kantai Collection.

For Akiyuki Shinbo, his experience from making the first season of Nanoha has led him making a magical girl anime series for Studio Shaft. Together with Gen Urobuchi and Ume Aoki, they made an original anime series entitled Puella Magi Madoka Magica in which it serves as a deconstruction to the magical girl genre.

As for both Yukari Tamura and Nana Mizuki, they would become famous after Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. While Yukari Tamura would then voice other popular characters such as Nui Harime from Kill la Kill and Rika Furide from Higurashi: When they cry, Nana Mizuki’s music career has skyrocked to greater heights, culminating on her debut in the 60th Kohaku Uta Gassen in 2009. Since then, they joined the ranks of famous voice actresses such as Megumi Hayashibara, Aya Hisakawa, and Kikuko Inoue.

Even though Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was superseded by Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya in recent history, the series would live on through references and shout-outs made by both Yukari Tamura and Nana Mizuki. With that said, it will remember for its mecha anime references while bringing the power of friendsip, one Divine Buster at a time.

This entry was posted in Personal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha – Series Retrospective

  1. Kah says:

    Nice writeup!

Comments are closed.