OP Sequence

OP: 「Angel Blossom」 by Mizuki Nana

「セイクリッド・ハート」 (Seikuriddo Haato)
“Sacred Heart”

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.

Pure Introduction

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

Random thoughts:

  • 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 Sequence

ED: 「Pleasure treasure」 by Tamura Yukari



  1. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I wouldn’t get too many hopes up as far as plot goes. Fights though, oh yes.

    In a lot of ways ViVid is almost more like a sports series focusing on magic martial arts, instead of the character-driven story arcs with actual stakes the past seasons have been. It’s still a blast though, and really feels like Nanoha, unlike the more “proper” manga sequel Nanoha Force.

    1. I agree with you. Vivid feels a lot more Nanoha than Force. For one, it actually has “Mahou Shoujo” in its title, rather than focusing on a brand new male character who has no ties with the original cast.

      Vivid is more character-driven than plot-drive, and I’m totally okay with that. There does not need to be a conflict. Nanoha and the others worked hard to earn their peace, and being able to watch over her daughter is that reward. That is not to say there is no story, as much of the unknown history of ancient Belka is expanded upon in this series.

      If you like magical battles without too much unnecessary baggage or drama, then this series is a good one to pick up.

      1. In fairness to Thoma, personally I didn’t mind the idea of a male main character. Just turns out the one we got and his love interest are horribly dull.

        But yeah, ideally they should have just used Erio or something, and had a more interesting story.

        Thankfully none of that is ViVid though, which is much better and still going strong.

      2. I also think Erio would have been a much better main character than Thoma. For one, he is already established and involved with the original members. We could have seen how he has grown since StrikerS, and perhaps develop him more together with Caro.

    2. Hmmm, interesting. That’s both heartening and not. I do enjoy the battles a lot, but my favorite seasons were (unsurprisingly) the original and A’s, which had actual storylines with good drama and stakes. A sports anime with magical combat doesn’t sound bad, but … well, I guess I’ll see.

      1. You get to meet lots of wonderful people (including someone who has since become my favorite Nanohaverse character), and see how the children from StrikerS have been fairing. Also we get LOTS of history of ancient Belka as it revolved around the Sankt Kaiser, Invalt, and SPOILER.

        Also there’s girls living peaceful lives and making friends, both in Nanoha fashion and more normally. And, of course, the fights folks mentioned earlier.

      2. making friends, both in Nanoha fashion and more normally

        Haha, in Nanoha fashion. AKA friendship through superior firepower.

        But yes, ancient Belka has been teased since the second season, and this is a great opportunity to expand on it more.

  2. I am baffled by some of the comments I have read about the character art, the only time I thought they were off model was the short scene when Vivio first greeted Rio and Corona.

    1. I think the reason people complain about the art is not because the animation is bad, but the original promotional magazine artworks are too good. Take these for example.

      The promotional artwork are quite spectacular, so people end up comparing them. But it is difficult to animate at such a high quality (not every studio can be like Ufotable).

      Personally, I think the animation is fine, all things considered.

  3. From what I remember of the few chapters that I read a few years ago this will be lighter and softer than the other shows. However I’m looking forward to seeing how A1 does the action sequences.
    Also its kind of funny seeing how domesticated they can make Nanoha and Fate and still not reveal the obvious.


        Yeah, they’re totally married. It’s just some weird 90’s recalcitrance that’s preventing them from saying the obvious … which is weird, because the originals all aired in the aughts. Maybe Japan is behind on recognizing non-fetishized gay relationships.

  4. Adult Vivio is best Vivio.

    Anyway, how did Vivio came about? StrikerS was way too horrible to watch and I pretty much dropped it. I did how ever sat thru Nanoha and Nanoha As.

    Anyway, I didn’t know Nove and gang were the Numbers from StrikerS

      1. Well, I did not like StrikerS as much as the original and A’s, but I definitely enjoyed ViVid.

        The original and A’s all had sympathic antagonists, but StrikerS had a generic villain with a generic world domination plot. ViVid is much lighter without many true conflicts, which I enjoyed.

        So it really depends on what you are looking for, and for what reason you disliked StrikerS.

    1. You might not recognize all the cameos, so you won’t be astounded by the celebrity fire power. However, the main characters of interest are pretty much all new people except for Vivio herself. It’s not particularly deep, so the answer is pretty easy to get into.

    2. As long as you don’t care that you’re missing out on… well… ALL of the depth, and you just want to watch lolis making friends and having magical/martial-arts battles, you’d be completely fine watching this knowing nothing about previous Nanoha series. However, if you want to understand why any of this stuff is going on, what this “ancient Belka” people keep talking about and flashing-back to is, or even who any of these people are, it might be kind of important to watch the series that came before.

  5. 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.

    Note, this is not a problem I had, nor, I suspect, is it a problem anyone who had been following the Vivid manga for a long time would have had. This is caused by a failure of memory on the part of some of the viewers, yet you are blaming it on the studio, which does not seem at all fair.

    Also, Vivid, in its original form, began barely a year-and-a-half after the end of StrikerS. The 4-year in-universe gap between two two was a time-skip. People weren’t supposed to be going 8-years between the last time they’d encountered a Nanoha series and the time when they started on this, and it is deliberately written with the implication that the people following it have kept up with Nanoha and remember who is who and who did what why when and how.

    And no, the series cannot simply do away with all these character reintroductions. While the Numbers (aside from Nove) and so on are not main characters, they all have moderately important parts to play. They’re here because they have or will have stuff to do. And those of us who haven’t forgotten everyone are delighted to see several of the Numbers rehabilitated and having joined Subaru’s family, and others working at the Saint Church.

      1. Same for me. When I first started reading Vivid, I did not know who Ixy is either. It was not until I listened to the Sound Stages that I found out.

        But it will not be until waaaaay later in the manga before Ixy plays a role, so it’s fine to let her continue sleeping for now.

    1. @ Wanderer

      A good point. I wasn’t suggesting that they don’t (re)introduce all these characters, just that they perhaps stretch it out somewhat, or (now that I think about it more) introduce them in a way that better jogs the memories of old viewers and explains their previous role to new ones. Even a year and a half between StrikerS and the manga is a pretty long time when all their character designs changed.

      It’s a small gripe, though. It mostly gave a discomfiting feeling, and their identities beyond “Nove’s family” aren’t actually that important for now.

  6. Meh pretty weak and different from original
    I kinda got hooked on this from Nanoha and Fate magic fights and progress but now it s all got pretty fist and has no more action with my favorite characters

  7. ViVid try to return Nanoha to their A’s incarnation rather than continue the most adult aspect of the story that appear in StrikerS. Fun fact is that the fandom kinda likes more Force than ViVid…
    As for Vivio, half sugary, half kick ass, but I don’t wanna be the one that make her cry only to be destroyed later by her Gundam-esque powerhouse 1st mommy and her dimentional-wrecker 2nd mommy.

    1. Fun fact is that the fandom kinda likes more Force than ViVid

      Really? It seems to be the other way around for most people I talked to. Vivid is still going strong in the manga, while Force seems to be on indefinite hiatus.

  8. I can’t believe this. How can this be this disappointing? One episode in and I…. can’t even..ugh.

    The animation sucks. I can compare it to the iffy animation of the non-dvd StrikerS but even that had better still shots than this. Is this really a 2015 anime?. The animation are rigid and sometimes feels choppy. And the arts! Those eyes! Those cheap demented eyes! I know it’s nearly impossible to emulate the manga’s art but… what is that?! The only thing that seem to get the animation budget here is the transformation scene. Really A-1 Pictures? Really?

    The voice acting is surprisingly life-less. Remember, this is an anime that involves energetic little girls! Fighting! As Mahou Shoujos! In Nanohaverse! What’s going on? These are establish seiyuus here. The big names! But, I don’t feel the passion at all. Stale and puppet-like. Almost as though they are forced to do this. I know they can act. They can in those Sound Stages but here, what happened?

    Third, did they change up scenes to sometime latter or just cut it off entirely? I mean there’s the Nakajima Family eating scene, short yet charming family bonding scene that I felt emcompassed one of the main theme of the story, family. Damn important for Nove’s characters development too since StrikerS. All the sudden we are in the Sankt Kaiser church. What the hell is up with the pacing here?

    All in all, I am disappointed. I’ll still see the whole series but not with the same interest as before. People often preach that StrikerS is the bane of the franchise, the destroyer of Nanoha. I don’t agree. I just see a franchise that have been in a downward spiral after A’s. The 1st and A’s was good. Strikers was okay. It’s my favourite but I can still see all the flaws. Vivid manga is just a yuri+ecchi fanbase catering moe-fest but it was okay. I’d be lying if I say i didn’t like it especially with that manga art. But to turn that okay into this half-ass anime. Why?

  9. Its been far to long for another Nanoha by my count – and I loved this first episode. Vivio is adorable, Nanoha and Fate yuri is still strong and the transformation sequence was so Nanoha you couldnt wipe the smile off my face.

  10. As someone who absolutely adores everything Nanoha, I couldn’t be happier right now.
    As far as the story goes, it’s true battles and slice of life moments take the center stage, but I think the self-discovery type plot Vivid has isn’t bad. I certainly enjoy it more than the overly grimdark Force

    Flustered Fate and Embarrassed Nove were probably the best in this episode though. And also the Hegemon’s line in the preview: “I need to assault her politely”

    Is it just me, or did Mizuhashi’s voice for child!Vivio sound a bit weird?
    I remember her role as Vivio in StrikerS sounding better to me. Adult!Vivio sounded fine though.

    And I’m probably biased and looking at things with rose-shaded lenses, but I’m just not seeing any of these animation or art problems I see comments about…
    I’m bad at at spotting those in general anyways though.

    1. It did feel like Mizuhashi Kaori was fumbling the role a few times. Her very first line had me thinking it was a miscast (I know, she’s always had the role, but it was strange). I mostly got used to it, though.

      1. Yea, I got used to it pretty quickly too, I mostly noticed it in her introduction monologue.
        She sounded more like her roles in Grisaia no Kajitsu or BakaTest than a child to me though.

        Also, forgot to comment on this earlier:

        I’ll never get over all these anime kids thinking school is fun. That seems like the biggest fantasy of them all.

        If my school had taught magic, I would think it fun too.
        That only excuses about half of the anime kids though.

  11. Each time I look at Vivio, my attention ended up focusing on her green eye instead of the overall scene.

    Is it me or is the size of Nanoha’s eyes somewhat out of proportion at certain scenes (e.g. the part after Fate finds out about Vivio’s adult transformation)?

  12. the nanoha household is probably the most adorable anime family ever. not going to count clannad because tomoya, nagisa and ushio spent very little time on screen together

  13. Well cardcaptor sakura will always be one of the most well written Mahou shoujo stories ever why? Because clamp wasn’t trying to make some weird creepiness to entice men they actually looked at how REAL kids act at elementary school ages instead of WHAT they think kids act like at that age. Masaki Tsuzuki oviously hasn’t even spoken to a real school kid before. This is why I don’t like modern Mahou shoujo creators assume that male fans are stupid and will implode if there is a heterosexual magical girl pairing especially if its little kids.

    1. modern Mahou shoujo creators assume that male fans are stupid and will implode if there is a heterosexual magical girl pairing especially if its little kids


      Erio and Caro would like to object to that. They have been together since they were 10, and are as official a pairing as you can get.

      Also, believe it or not, in the original script for Nanoha, she was supposed to be paired with Chrono, before they rewrote her character to the White Devil we know and love today.

    2. Apples and oranges. CCS was marketed for little girls and just happened to attract male audiences, which is why it follows a more traditional path on the Magical Girl Genre.

      Nanoha was specifically marketed for male otaku which is why there is a lot of emphasis on action as well a significant of references to mecha anime. Kids acting not acting their age are pretty much ubiquitous on these kinds of shows, I can name several anime this season alone where that applies as well.

    1. Yes, although we haven’t met anyone of the people who are obviously named so. I mean, there is a Toyota Corona, but there’s no guarantee that Corona was named after it. Same with Rio and the Kia Rio.

      1. Ahem, I meant to say we haven’t meant the obvious ones yet. Once we learn the mysterious attacker’s real name, however, that will change, and hopefully this series will go long enough for us to meet the many many many others.

    1. That is quite a generalized accusation.

      And you are complaining of this now? In a show with “Mahou Shoujo” in its title? After three season of the same gender ratio? When the titular character Nanoha is in an all-but-confirmed yuri relationship?

      This is like complaining Sakura Trick has too few male characters, or Free having too many male characters. You are more confused about the genre than the gender balance.

  14. So just because it has “Mahou shoujo” in the title doesn’t mean it can’t have good male characters. Syaoran Toya Yuki to eriol, and Fujita ka are few good examples of key male characters that don’t take away the central essence of cardcaptor sakura.

    1. True, but Nanoha does have good male characters.

      Chrono is every bit the equal to Nanoha and Fate. He may have less raw magical power, but he has far greater skill and control. Nanoha and Fate would rarely win against him in sparring matches, even together. He now outranks them as Admiral.

      Yuuno is unmatched when it comes to defensive and support magic. He was Nanoha’s original magical teacher, and now teaches Vivio as well.

      Zafira is an important pillar to Hayate’s group. He now teaches her “successor”, Miura.

      Erio is a young prodigy with a tragic backstory, not unlike Fate’s. He is also one of the few who can catched up to her speed. Moreover, he is one of the rare confirmed couple in the franchise with Caro.

      These are all competent male support characters who serve an important role in the story.

  15. Vivio einhart Corona and rio are all just copy and paste versions of Suzuka Alisa nanoha and fate when they were kids except rio and Corona are in on everything magical. Kuro all I’m saying is I wish a new Mahou shoujo came out that is targeted to girls again that isn’t sailor moon or Precure.

    1. Kuro all I’m saying is I wish a new Mahou shoujo came out that is targeted to girls again that isn’t sailor moon or Precure.

      Okay, that is a fair assessment. There are indeed less traditional magical girl shows lately. Maybe it’s due to the generation shift, just like how traditional princess movies are less common in Disney nowadays.

      But it is kind of pointless to be complaining about target audiences when it has already been set for over 10 years since the original Nanoha. This discussion is best saved for another time when examining the Mahou Shoujo genre as a whole, not as a point for bashing a new series.

      Let’s end this debate now, shall we?

  16. Ok answer me this if someone made a traditional magical girl series where the main character was a 10 year old girl and had a rival who was a boy also ten years old, would anyone enjoy it? Or rage because the girl character is normal and likes boys?

  17. Personally speaking, I really didn’t enjoy StrikerS at all. To me, the Nanoha series is about the characters of Nanoha and Fate (and Hayate). StrikerS did a phenomenal job in relegating them to the sidelines and turned them into office ladies and parents (despite the fact that they’re supposed to be 19) with concepts like Limiters to keep them out of battle. I’m all for maturing the characters and giving them responsibilities, but not at the expense of what made fans attracted to them in the first place. In their place, we are treated to a plethora of characters and settings that I personally couldn’t care about or come to like and plot points and concepts that came out of nowhere.

    With regard to Vivio, I guess those who liked her from StrikerS would like her in this series. However, I think I’m already too damaged by StrikerS to give this series a fair shot if all I’m going to see is Nanoha and Fate play Yuri parents (it’s the parents part that I take issue with, not the Yuri).

  18. Am I the only person who loved StrikerS? And I really didn’t feel Nanoha and Fate were as sidelined as let’s say, Chrono and Yuuno. Not to mention half of the Wolkenritter. Hell, Nanoha and Fate had quite a few action scenes, if not arguably still the same or more as the “main” characters. And they were still key in how the events of StrikerS played out.

    Now, onto Vivid, this is pretty late as I want to marathon the series since I’ve always enjoyed Nanoha and couldn’t bare to wait a week inbetween episodes.

    Animation… was surprisingly better than I though. Characters “do” look off model but I’m just use to the animation in StrikerS and the films. It however grew on me by the end of the first episode. I’m definitely looking forward to the fights at this rate.

    Goodwill Wright

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