「フーカ・レヴェントン」 (Fuuka Reventon)
It’s like Nanoha ViVid, but . . . it’s basically just like ViVid.
What a strange series. I still find it odd to greenlight a spin-off of a spin-off when the original spin-off is only half-done at best in anime form, especially when this series seems happy to spoil things anime-only viewers never saw. So, spoilers maybe? Or did that battle against Corona make Einhard the Under 15 champion she’s referred to in this episode? Even though Rinne (Ogura Yui) is referred to as the world Under 15 champion. I am confused.
I’m going to beat up on this series a bit, though it’s not bad. It’s just, from where I stand as an anime-only viewer, we exchanged the middle of an exciting tournament for a new batch of training episodes. Training episodes are fine, but we hardly got our payoff for all the training last time! For manga readers, I expect this isn’t such a problem, since they’ll have already read the rest of that content, making this a net addition to their ViVid world. I get it, that’s just not where I am.
I have two main criticisms, before I get back to what’s good. First: I don’t care about these two main characters. Of course I didn’t care about them going in; that’s not the point I’m making. I mean that the first episode did a lousy job of drawing me in and making me care about them. The reason, I think, is that the writers didn’t do anything to make me drop my guard. They started off with trauma, went straight into drama (and lens flare!), continued with more drama, and by that time my shields were thoroughly up. We humans don’t like to be sent through the emotional ringer, even if it is cathartic; we defend against it. That’s why good stories get us to drop our guard, though humor or relatability or sheer throat-tightening horror. ViVid Strike caused my shields to go up before I came to like the new girls, which makes their job going forward harder.
Second: Fuuka should have completely lost to Vivio. I’m sorry, but I want my protagonists to earn their victories, and do you think that Vivio doesn’t know how to defend against Einhard’s attacks when they’re thrown by Einhard herself, much less a neophyte like Fuuka Reventon (Minase Inori) who learned Einhard’s techniques way too fast. I feel like her getting a solid hit off on Vivio would have been enough of a victory, even if Vivio then knocked her the hell out. Now it feels like Vivio is too close in power to Fuuka, which means she has less hill to climb to reach Rinne. If we’re going to do training again, make it a hard climb!
Okay, bonus third criticism: this episode was laid out in a goofy manner. I feel like it’s banking on Nanoha fans watching it, which means it doesn’t have to do the hard work of making sure this story is as well-told as possible—it can lean on all that prior work. Which will probably work out! There are a lot of Nanoha fans by this point. It’s just . . . not ideal. Put in the work, instead of front-loading the trauma, using blunt exposition to explain the conflict, and giving the new protagonist a cheap (imo) win.
The upside is that this is still ViVid’s full-frontal, melee-focused spin on Nanoha-style magical combat, and I love dat shit. It also promises to return to the martial arts tournaments that were working so well in the main ViVid story. I also really like that, the final clash with Vivio aside, Fuuka is shown as wildly outmatched by all the other girls, because that gives more reason for the rapid improvement she’s probably about to have than any talent. (Trust me, if you want to get better at a sport, make sure you’re the worst person at it in the room. Even if you spend your whole time getting thrashed, your level will rise fast.) If only it all wasn’t in service of a conflict that’s almost certainly a misunderstanding which could be cleared up with a 10-minute conversation over tea. I’m sure there’s a trope for that. Guh.
Coverage note: It’s unlikely that I’ll continue blogging ViVid Strike. Not because the first episode was bad or anything—I expect it to pick up a lot once the introductions are over, just as the original ViVid did—but because it’s likely I won’t cover anything this season. I’ve got four jobs right now, and I would desperately like that to be three, until such time as I can ditch one of the other ones and pick this fun one back up. We’ll see, I’m notoriously stupid about such things, but it’s probably not likely. Sorry.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – New protagonists means new training arcs—now with more trauma! #vividstrike 01
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OP: 「Future Strike」 by Ogura Yui
ED: 「Starry Wish」 by Minase Inori