Alrighty then. Nanoha Month is underway with the first review in the lineup, Nanoha The Movie 1st.
Genres: Action, Sci-fi, Drama
Themes: Mahou Shoujo
Running Time: 130 minutes
Plot Summary: Takamachi Nanoha is a normal fourth-grader who feels a little useless and out-of-place with no purpose. Then one day, she saves a ferret, who turns out to be a mage from another planet who came to this planet to search for the jewl seeds. Nanoha agrees to help, but this task gets complicated when another girl arrives to steal them.
I have to get this out of the way immediately. This movie kicked serious ass. It initially felt familiar with the magical girl fighting monsters and collecting sacred items (crystals) setup. Even when the rival was introduced it was still familiar. Then when the true purpose of the crystals along with the plot’s biggest secrets were revealed, then I started getting why this series is as beloved as it is and why fans tell newcomers who pick up the TV show to be patient with the first couple of episodes because it is worth the wait. The waiting’s scrapped here and the good stuff happened quickly and kept on rolling from the quarter point to the end. The one minor hiccup is that it becomes noticeable that some characters who may have had more development on the TV show either did not get to do much or were hardly featured at all. This is minor though as it mainly encourages viewers go watch the show and see what more these side characters did while the movie focused on the major players. There are also some events that took place off screen (the scar for example) but again nothing that ruined the overall pace. Maybe it’s just that I’m a sucker for stories that contain “magitechonological” (combination of magic and technology) elements like this one. Then again the movie’s running time covers at least a half season’s worth of content…which is A LOT! I’m saying a lot of stuff happens in this movie.
Apart from the serious moments and plot development points, all noteworthy, (and some painful) the movie’s major highlight is its fight scenes between Nanoha and the monsters and of course the numerous battles against her rival Fate.
This is no spoiler because the first thing people notice who look up this movie is several posters of these two engaging in battle and with good reason. Pretty much every interaction between Nanoha and Fate, combat or otherwise, are the best parts of the movie.
Not to count out the other major cast members who were also awesome in their own way. I warmed up to two in particular.
Nanoha’s English (for some reason) speaking weapon Raising Heart/Rising Heart. Hard to explain why I liked this character. I think it’s the appeal of listening to a multi-form staff with an Englishwoman computer voice. Not to say Barchide’s uncool but I liked RH more.
Second is the literal sexy beast Arf. Two reasons. 1: whenever she leaped into action I got raging otaku boners. 2: Her relationship with her master. I daresay some might even ship Arf X Master. I would have but after the movie ended I stuck with the legendary couple.
Then there’s the big bad of the story. Without spoiling I will say this. First of all I was reminded of a certain game featuring a nobleman and mentor. Second…so you went from your previous profession to building a stronghold that screamed “I am evil” when you aren’t exactly…I guess it’s because of your secret fetishes. Interesting villain. Oh and believe or not this villain’s story has some simple yet overlooked life lessons.
I have not talked about the animation quality much but there is little to say because good gollyness molly the movie is gorgeous! The soundtrack’s pretty epic too but it’s the animation that left me in awe.
Now for one of the main reasons I started Nanoha Month, to better understand NanoFate. The first thing I noticed is that they followed the “shounen friendship developing principle”, meaning the best way to make a lifelong friend (or in this series’ case life partner) is by beating the crap out of each other. Up till this point I had only followed the hype surrounding this pairing and acknowledged its legendary status. After watching this movie I became a firm believer. The hype is real. It was a really good start. I’ll leave it at that. I could only imagine how much stronger their bond would become after “that scene”.
Lastly keep in mind this movie is a retelling of the 1st season and some tidbits were left out. However, this is considered a pretty good retelling for viewers who mainly want to know the gist of what happened when Nanoha and Fate first met and all the important events that transpired inbetween. It’s like playing Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 instead of Hyperdimension Neptunia. Although there are differences the core plot and events are similar.
Overall Nanoha The Movie 1st is a really good, action packed movie. What was cut from the TV show was nothing game breaking and could easily be checked out by viewers who are interested in seeing said show. The fight scenes were epic, the animation was top notch, the music felt grandiose, the plot was definitely interesting and as far as I’m concerned if I had seen the TV show back when it first aired I would have jumped on the NanoFate if their first truly emotional moment was as powerful as the one in the movie. Definitely worth checking out for action fans and Mahou Shoujo enthusiasts who want something less formulaic.
Nanoha Month will continue with a review of the second season, Nanoha As.
PS: Why was a certain henshin sequence uncensored?