It’s no secret that I didn’t much care for Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. </understatement> I infamously wrote a very negative review of the series, in which I neglected to mention that I’d watched two episodes at 1.5X speed, and then another two or three with a reduced window (streaming) while chatting on AIM and blasting Dragonforce over the show. By all means, I should’ve just dropped Nanoha like I would any other series that failed to engage me on such a level, but I didn’t because it was popular, had been recommended to me a number of times, was done by my favorite director (Shinbo Akiyuki), and was about gay lolis. All in all, the experience got chalked up to a mistake of my youth; but it was worth all that trouble for the diamond in the rough: Nanoha A’s.
Nanoha A’s is spectacular. It’s rife with lovable characters and some of the most compelling emotional dialog I’ve seen in anime. The experience was like taking the last scene from the first Nanoha anime (which even I admitted was brilliant) and stretching it out into an entire 12-episode show. I love Nanoha A’s to death and wish I could make everyone watch it; the problem is that in order to appreciate the relationship between Nanoha and Fate in A’s, which is a big part of the show, one must have seen the original Nanoha, which A’s is a direct continuation of. (I also wrote a review of A’s, for those interested.)
This poses a problem. I know that I can’t ask people to watch Nanoha, especially if I’m not willing to watch it with them. Even No Name hated Nanoha so much that he still hasn’t been willing to watch any more of the series (his grudges die hard). But that’s where the 1st Movie comes in and makes all of my dreams come true.
The 1st Movie, for all intents and purposes, is the same thing as the first season of the show. The difference is that whereas the original show was terrible, the movie is amazing. Everything has been improved. The pointless opening episodes and meaningless scenes have been cut and the writing is wrung taut. Nanoha and Fate’s dialog and expressions have all of the depth and splendor that they have in A’s, and both are able to be far more interesting characters when allowed to shine on the wonderful canvas of this production.
The animation is top-quality, and the film features one of my favorite fights this year (the ‘aerial dogfight’ between Nanoha and Fate). Tamura Yukari, who was a newbie seiyuu back when she played Nanoha in the original series, is now one of the best in the business—she delivered some of my favorite performances in anime this year, and her Nanoha is strong as hell compared to the original.
My experience with the film was the exact opposite of the original series. This time, I was enthralled from start to finish, deeply moved, teared up a few times, and was given possibly my favorite anime of 2010.
The best part is that now I can recommend this masterpiece of lesbian loli love to all of my friends, and then subsequently force them to watch A’s, and the world will be a better place. Incidentally, a Nanoha A’s movie is scheduled to come out in 2012. While I think A’s is already great, the one thing it doesn’t excel in is high-budget animation (though it’s still pretty nice-looking), so if the movie manages to capture all the brilliance of the series’ story and dialog, then it will be well worth the animation revamp.
Bonus: Nanoha’s transformation sequence from the TV show set to FINAL FUSION!