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Thursday, 30 December 2010

Movie Review: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st

Finally got around to watching the Nanoha 1st movie that’s been hiding around somewhere amongst the other things I’ve got to get around to watching and I have to say I didn’t feel like I wasted two hours and ten minutes on this remake. I considered the first season of the Nanoha series to be its weakest but this retelling has me putting it on par with the second. By that I mean I thought the movie was pretty big improvement from the first season much like A’s was.

The movie recaps the events of the first season and chronicles the very beginning of Takamachi Nanoha’s life as a magical girl and her relationship with Fate Testarossa. Some sources like this one say that the movie itself is not only an alternate retelling but also exists in the franchise’s universe as well as a semi-biographical “based on a true story” movie, one that apparently that had consultation from the main characters as well so any changes anyone feels they’d like to complain about should voice them out to the in-universe production staff as well as Nanoha and Fate themselves but I think they’d find that the metaphorical meta wall is going to make that very difficult.

This actually is official promo art.

So what are these changes they made to the movie exactly and what do I think of them? The biggest one much to amusement is the fact that they downplayed Yuuno’s importance in the movie. Even after Nanoha found out that Yuuno was actually a boy and not a ferret she still let him sleep in the same room with her as a ferret and we get no mention of what happens to him after the incident is over. He basically demoted from an actual person to a magical pet. Make that of what you will but I’m taking that as further proof that Nanoha and Fate are two loving mamas happily raising their daughter with little to nil involvement from Yuuno. They obviously had a reason to increase the subtext behind their first meeting cause I definitely don’t remember Fate saying Nanoha’s name over and over again with increasing joy or their farewell hug being quite so intimate and long. You’d have to be blind not to see it by that point cause well… You know what, let me just show you:

I present the evidence right here

Ahem! Well, my yuri fanboy tendencies aside they really did make quite a number a good changes to the movie. They cut out pretty much every bit of padding the first season had and replaced it with much better flowing scenes and great new action sequences and added in new scenes to show Nanoha’s development better as well as more backstory on Precia and Fate that really made the story even more tragic than it was before. The animation’s obviously improved by leaps and bounds compared to the original series but it’s not quite at the standard you’d come to expect from anime movies nowadays but more like a high quality OVA. That however does not apply to the battle scenes which are as I have said before are quite good. My favorite one was where Nanoha shot out a Starlight Breaker at Fate and leveled an entire city in the process proving that nine year old girls are a force to be reckoned with and possibly feared, especially with magical girls like Nanoha. There are many reasons why Nanoha is often compared to a Gundam and that right there is one of them – not very many Gundams are capable of demolishing an entire city in one blast. I think she probably still had it on stun too when she shot that cause there’s no way Fate could have survived it otherwise.

Just imagine what she really could do with this

All in all it was pretty good remake of the original season. They really improved on a lot with this one. Music, animation, emotional depth, logistics – everything really. They even paced the whole thing nicely enough that you’ll feel that two hours and ten minutes was just right for the movie. While I’d like to see a fourth season animated with the quality they put into the movie I’m pleased to know that the 2nd movie, the remake of the second season, is already in the works and is set to premiere in 2012. I’m really looking forward to that one since A’s was the best season of the series and am hoping that they somehow improve Nanoha’s Divine Buster sniping scene since that was the best part of the series. Here’s to even better Nanoha movies. Let’s hope that the Mayans aren’t right and we’ll get to live long enough to see the StrikerS remake.

My favorite frame of the movie


  1. Good review, just one thing I disagree with.

    Nanoha's development - I felt it was pretty severely lacking. It seemed like Nanoha's purpose in the movie was to chase around Fate and eventually 'befriend' her. But beyond that, if I didn't watch the series, there wouldn't be much more to say about Nanoha's characterization. On a plus side, they did make her attacks more badass.

    Fate's story was still nice, and liked the added back story.

  2. Thanks. Didn't really notice that for obvious reasons but the movie is generally aimed towards the already established fanbase so I don't see it as really noticeable flaw. On the other hand, if I had watched it without prior knowledge of the series then I would have just assumed Nanoha was following up on the whole magical girls like being lesbians thing to its logical extreme.


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