OP: 「Angel Blossom」 by Mizuki Nana
「セイクリッド・ハート」 (Seikuriddo Haato)
This is a Nanoha series through and through, with more characters than you can shake an Intelligent Device at. Not much happened in this premiere other than introductions.
Nanoha Is Back!
The more things change, the more they stay the same—and with things like the Nanoha series, I’m okay with that. This is truly a Nanoha series, and for those who don’t know what that means, I’ll tell you.
It’s a magical girl series. It’s in the title, but it’s when you see things like the elaborate transformation sequences and the relentlessly upbeat attitude of the characters that you realize it’s following through on the genre’s tropes. But then again, it’s not—most magical girl shows don’t practice the kind of full-contact, martial-arts-focused magical combat that the Nanoha series does as of late, nor the nuclear bomb-level blasting which the titular Takamachi Nanoha (Tamura Yukari) is known for. It’s magical girl crossed with military, spliced with Negima-style magical combat, and sprinkled with magic wands (Intelligent Devices) that can talk. Though this episode didn’t show it, believe me, that can make for some awesome fights.
There’s also the loli angle, though Nanoha lolis are more about the juxtaposition of their size/cuteness with how much they kick ass and blow shit up, as opposed to fetishizing them. (Well, as opposed to just fetishizing them.) I have no idea if that will remain true for this season. Another quirk is the series’ insistence on hiding their lesbians (trope!), especially in regards to Nanoha and Fate, despite the fact that they’re the freakin’ page image for Has Two Mommies (trope!). I mean, come on! It’s 2015, gay marriage is cool. Let them kiss already!
Like I said, it’s a Nanoha series through and through. That includes a lot of cool stuff, and some definite wonk.
Too Much To Absorb, Too Soon
If I have any qualms about this first episode, it’s that most of the character introductions were too much, too soon. It has been eight years since StrikerS aired, and I didn’t recognize many of these character until I looked them up, especially the Numbers (StrikerS cyborgs), who were never that well characterized in the first place. Nove (Saito Chiwa) was fine, and cameos from previous main characters like Erio and Caro (Inoue Marina & Takahashi Mikako) were harmless fanservice, but past that it forced me to spend more time in a wiki than I want to during a first episode.
Which brings up the other half of the problem: copious introductions of established characters makes the show harder for new viewers to get into. Which I don’t necessarily mind … in my own writing, I’ve decided that I’m not going to write each book so someone can start at any time, because they’re not going to get the full story doing that. Yet ViVid represented an excellent opportunity to draw new viewers in (new main character, new plot, etc), and it’s being squandered. I know, I know, it was like that in the source, but when even viewers of the past three seasons are having trouble remembering all these characters, maybe they went overboard.
Likewise, there were setting elements that were probably confusing for the uninitiated. Vivio turning into an adult? There’s a reason for that, but without it being stated, it’s weird. (Other than Nanoha saying “it’s your [unique] magic.” Was that enough? No idea.) It all adds up to limit the audience, which is a shame since the storytellers could have used this chance to draw more people in.
I realized I haven’t actually talked much about what happened in the episode, and that’s because not much happened. Between character introductions and blunt narration by main character Takamachi Vivio (Mizuhashi Kaori) and others, suddenly the episode was over. The highlights for me were seeing Nanoha be her responsible-yet-childish self, and Fate Testarossa (Mizuki Nana) being adorable, but when nostalgia is driving my main enjoyment, it’s … well, normally I’d say that’s a bad sign, and it’s not a great one, but in this case it’s mostly because so little was happening.
Looking Ahead – Combat Magic
It looks like next time will move ViVid’s actual plot forward, with the proper introduction of Kaiser Arts Master Heidi E.S. Ingvalt, AKA High Queen Ingvalt (Noto Mamiko). The promotional material + pattern recognition have betrayed how her relationship with Vivio is going to develop, but if I can get some Nanoha-style battle magic, I don’t care. Hopefully the plot will start shortly after that.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Mostly character introductions, including a bunch from StrikerS that I don’t even remember. Get to the fighting, I NEEDS IT! #nanohavivid 01
- On the animation and character designs, I oscillate between thinking they’re off (especially the character designs) to noticing how much budget has gone into the animation. And not just the transformation sequence … even scenes like where Fate handed Vivio the box with Chris in it were lavishly animated.
- I’ll never get over all these anime kids thinking school is fun. That seems like the biggest fantasy of them all.
- Am I the only one who heard Sacred Heart and went, “Scrubs, weee!” I know it’s not a reference, but good memories, good memories. Eaaaaaggglee!!
- I forgot how many characters some seiyuu voice in this series. I caught three for Inoue Marina, two for Itou Shizuka, and I know there’s at least two for Saito Chiwa. Busy ladies.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Cut away the boring bits, Sheet music, Wage Slave Rebellion is officially in print, and From LEGO to author.
Full-length images: 34.
ED: 「Pleasure treasure」 by Tamura Yukari