Originally posted: Monday, May 26, 2008 on Blogger

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: Episodes 1 ~ 5

The title screen. Looks exactly like a shoujo magical girl show.

At first glance, Nanoha looks like a typical magical girl anime and it follows the formula quite well in its first four episodes, expect in one respect; unlike the typical magical girl shows, Nanoha is not from the shoujo genre.  It is strangely enough a shounen magical girl show yet at the same time, the fan service is pretty minimal (except for episode 5) and the girls are actually likeable. It’s those few shots of fan service that provide the only evidence that this was made with males in mind, but the story and characters are pretty typical shoujo stuff and as such, it can be enjoyed by these fans as well.

The basic story of Nonaha is certainly filled with typical magical girl stuff. And if I could be so bold as to say that it seems almost as if the story writers and concept designers for Nanoha read and copied Cardcaptor Sakura. I am being dead serious here, the similarities between Nanoha and Sakura are far greater then those between Nanoha and other magical girl series. Firstly there is the popular find and seal said magical item in both shows. In CCS, it’s the clow cards that need to be sealed and in Nanoha it’s the Jewel Seeds. Next both characters have wands that they use to seal the said magical items and these wands are granted to them by their mascot companions. In CCS, this is Kero-chan and in Nanoha its Yuuno-kun. It is also worth pointing out that both mascots are male. And the similarities don’t stop there, both Sakura and Nanoha are exceptionally gifted with magic that they seem to have no connection to. Both characters also use magic to jump far distances and this magic manifests itself as a pair of wings at their feet in both shows. Finally, both have a rival that strives to collect the said magical item against the main heroine; in CCS its Syoaran, while in Nanoha its a mysterious blond haired girl named Fate. The change in the gender of the rival can be attributed to the genre of each show, CCS being shoujo needs a main male lead to not only be the rival, but later to become the love interest. Echii shows don’t have such a need and bringing in another magic wielding loli is in their interest.
Now, the basic story of Nanoha is as follows; Nanoha a third grader has a strange dream, in which a young boy uses magicThe final pose at the end of the transformation scene to fight off a black ball with red eyes. The boy is unable to seal the beast with his strongest attack and faints from exhaustion. Once the boy fall to the ground, he is transformed into a ferret and asks for help. After this, Nanoha awakes from the dream by the music of the alarm on her phone. She gets dressed, introduces the viewers to her family and goes to school. After school, one of her friends suggests they go down a short cut to get to their cram school. This shortcut turns out to be the forest from Nanoha’s dreams and she once again hears a voice pleading for her help. Deciding to check it out, she runs into the ferret and her friends suggest taking it to the vet. The vet assures the girls that the ferret is alright and promises to watch over it until tomorrow. The girls thank her and go to their cram school. During their lesson, Nanoha asks her friends if they can take care of the ferret, both of her friends are unable to do so and Nanoha decides she will take care of it for the time being. In the meantime, the ferret is resting soundly when the black ball monster appears before it. It attacks the ferret who manges to escape, but it causes a lot of damage to the animal clinic. The ferret realizes that it cannot defeat the monster on its own and calls the one who heard it before to come help it again. Nanoha hears its cries and decides to go to the animal hospital. She arrives just as the monster is preparing to attack the ferret again. The ferret dodges the monster’s blow and jumps into her arms. Afterwards it explains that he needs her help and allows Nanoha to wield his magic device, the Raging Heart. Nanoha is then able to, with the ferrets assistance, transform and seal the monster into a Jewel Seed. After the conflict, the ferret introduces himself as Yuuno and explains to Nanoha that he is sealing the Jewel Seeds that he had discovered on his home planet because they somehow winded up on earth and in her city. Nanoha agrees to help Yuuno seal the jewel seeds and the two of them go about doing so until another mysterious mage shows up and gets in their way. Her name is Fate, and she appears to be after the jewel seeds by the request of her mother.

As I’ve stated before, at the surface level, Nanoha is very much a typical shoujo and magical girl anime, and it will probably appeal to fans of these genres. The only distinction between Nanoha and a shoujo magical girl anime is the fan

Fan service seen in the transformation sequence

service. This fan service for the most part is not noticable, if you exclude episode five, where a noticeable portion of the anime is dedicated to booby and panty shots. Other then episode five, the most noticeable fan service appears in Nanoha’s transformation sequence (see right) and in a few dressing shots, which can be tolerated. So although, it has an echii slant, its not full of nude and crude screen shots, and it can be enjoyed even by those who do not particularly like echii anime. As for myself, I’m not too fond of echii, but if it can entertain me then I’ll give it a try.

The animation is great, and I love the designs. My only complaint is that the minor characters seem kind of plain, but its alright because the main character’s designs are well thought up. Music is also up to par, the background music fits the mood and I really love the opening theme; I wouldn’t mind listening to it over and over again.

Overall, Nanoha has captured my interest and I will definitely continue watching it. So far the episodes have been hinting at more plot to come so I am definitely looking forward to the coming episodes. Not to mention that I just love the magical girl genre, and although Nanoha is slightly deviating in that it is not a shoujo but a shounen magical girl show, it has still kept true to the magical girl formula. Maybe a little too well; so much so that sometimes I feel as if I am watching CCS not Nanoha.

–SW

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