Nothing lyrical about it, but it was a nice ride.
Starring some characters from the Triangle Heart game and OVA, this anime series focuses on Nanoha, a normal girl who has some extraordinary magic. By virtue of chance a guy from another dimension named Yuuno has ventured into her world (but for the meantime he is a ferret), and needed her help in gathering Jewel Seeds, some kind of magical items that may bring danger into their worlds. Eventually she will meet up with another magical girl, Fate, who is also after the Jewel Seeds for some unknown reason. As rivals, they will clash and fight together, but Nanoha (being the good girl she is) would try to open this girl’s heart, and try to be friends with her.
Many have compared Nanoha to Cardcaptor Sakura, but I won’t make that comparison here. After all, this is technically not a full-fledged mahou shoujo (magical girl) anime series. First of all, this series is a spinoff from an existing ‘bishoujo game’, which for the most part is aimed at guys, rather than shoujo anime which is aimed at girls. I therefore regarded Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha as a “bishoujo-mahou-shoujo” series, a magical girl series aimed for guys.
Most of the time, anime stuff aimed for guys usually have the dreaded disease known as fanservice. And worse, considering its bishoujo gaming origins, it’s expected that the anime might have lots of them. Yup, Nanoha may have those (err it’s hard to type these) nekkid transformation sequences, onsen episodes, and under-the-skirt shots, but those immediately took a backseat after a few episodes, as the plot focuses on the two magical girl rivals.
Nanoha is very determined to know why Fate is collecting the Jewel Seeds, and when we would finally know that Fate is not all that bad, Nanoha tries to protect Fate and be her friend. The characterization of these two girls are very detailed. What’s more, even the minor characters are very likeable. I liked it when one of Nanoha’s friends gave her the cold shoulder at some point, because Nanoha is not telling her troubles to them (she can’t tell them she’s a magical girl). The friend only did it because she likes Nanoha very much, and she’s frustrated because she can’t do anything for her, since Nanoha won’t tell her problems to her friend. It was very well presented, and was one of the most heartwarming stories of friendship I have ever seen in an anime. Another one I liked was about Arf. Being Fate’s sidekick in collecting the Jewel Seeds, she likes Fate very much, and always wants to protect her against all odds. Because Fate’s reasons for collecting the Jewel Seeds were so shallow and useless, and is only hurting herself in the process, Arf thinks of Fate selflessly, and tries to put sense into Fate’s life, and make her smile somewhat.
For a 13-episode series, this is a very admirable work. Great characterization and plot, coupled with absolutely amazing animation and battle sequences (to see is to believe), Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha has something special going for it. The OP/ED and music were also great. It’s really full of emotion, and I almost shed a tear in this one (rare for something like a bishoujo series). It actually transcends its own typical genre cliches, and has me screaming ‘sequel!’ at the end. Cheers for more Nanoha!