And so we have reached the last part of Nanoha Month as we take a look at the controversial third animated series entry in the Nanoha franchise, Nanoha StrikerS.
I highly recommend newcomers check out the previous three parts in the series as there will be spoilers in this review:
Genres: Action, Sci-fi, Drama
Themes: Mahou Shoujo
Number of episodes: 26
Plot Summary: Taking place ten years after the events of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s, Nanoha, Fate and Hayate have joined the Time-Space Administration Bureau and form the Lost Property Riot Force 6. Joining them are four new magical recruits, Subaru Nakajima, Teana Lanster, Erio Mondial and Caro. Together, they face up against Dr Jail Scaglietti, a dangerous criminal after the Lost Logia.
From the get-go the first important fact newcomers need to understand is that StrikerS has a different narrative structure than its predecessors. Yes, it is still Nanoha but how the story is told and paced are different. It is a similar structure to one of my favorite anime of all time Mouretsu Pirates. Like MP its first batch of episodes are dedicated to training regimens with a second purpose. Basically it’s a “meet and greet”/combat training regimen for the four newcomers. Viewers get to know the newbies, Subaru, Teana, Erio and Caro as they are taught by their instructors (most of the major players from the previous seasons), get to see some neat character interactions and development between both groups, slowly build up the main plot with some serious missions while also explaining the world setting and of course the vintage Nanoha series fight scenes it is well known for. So yes a long training segment with some spices thrown here and there but thankfully almost none of it feels like filler. Almost everything that happened from beginning to end felt like it had purpose.
Most but not the entire cast.
Next up let’s talk about the cast. As the above picture shows it’s huge, again like MP. Also like in MP I said in that review something along the lines of large casts can work as long as they all get to do something meaningful no matter how big or small their parts are, otherwise why add them at all. For the most part everyone in StrikerS got to do something and some even got flashbacks which are always nice for developmental purposes…however, there were some veterans whose roles were sadly lowered to cameos like Arf and Lindy and a few that felt pointless but we’ll get to those in a bit. The one flaw I could think of in the cast is that some viewers may not like everyone nor care and I do not blame viewers if they do not like some of the good guys.
As mentioned above most of the characters got something to do. This also means that there is no definitive main character. The rookies and veterans in this picture all feel like main characters because not only does this group get the most screen time but they are also part of the show’s most important scenes. I mention this because I initially thought coming into StrikerS that it was primarily going to be about the rookies but no, the veterans get equal amounts of screen and each have their own separate boss fights during the huge final assault against the villain team.
Yes, for the first time in the series there are villains who are evil for the sake of being evil, or have twisted intentions that seem good to them but means lots of pain and suffering for everyone else. This means that at the time the threat here was Team Nanoha’s greatest challenge. The Book of Darkness was also a big deal but the repercussions during this time were of a grander scale and more menacing.
Having said that about the villains this brings me to my biggest gripe with StrikerS. Season 1 had the despicably awesome and somewhat sympathetic Precia. A’s had the best adversaries in the Book of Darkness and its guardian knights. What did we get in StrikerS. Dr Jail Scaglietti and his Combat Cyborgs or as I like to call them,
Poor man’s dolls.
The problem with the cyborgs is not that they suck (frankly the fights against them are cool) but that they are lame. First of all their generic combat gear. kung-fu stewardesses or Organization XIII these ladies are not. Most of them are so forgettable that the ONLY two I can remember for years to come are #3 and #4. #3 is because she’s the tallest and has a sweet derriere even though her bland uniform makes it look like a shriveled prune at times, still mesmerizing. #4 is memorable for the wrong reasons. She’s a “blabbering weenie” type villain who like others of the same type has only one purpose, to get the viewer wanting to see them get crippled. Honestly I think “blabbering weenies” are the most difficult villains to make watchable. I was not asking for great depth from these baddies. I have mentioned once before that one-dimensional can work as long as they are either amusing, despicable, charismatic or badasses in combat. The cyborgs are kinda badass in combat…and that is it. Oh and I got to meet the mentor of Symphogear’s Dr Ver in Dr Scaglietti. In this case I think the student surpassed the teacher as Ver’s madness is far more glorious than Scaglietti’s. Oh well, as a typical mad scientist he was alright.
This guy is not Zest.
Next are the secondary villains who are more like classic Nanoha adversaries in Lutecia, Zest and Agito. These three are alright. Lutecia I like a little more because she is like a hybrid of Arietta the Wild and Fate/Stay Night’s Rider. Zest is like Largo the Black Lion and Agito’s a shrimpy Etna. Basically they remind me of cooler characters.
Then there’s one of the lamer villains of a sort in Regius Gaiz. He can be best described as a hybrid of J Jonah Jameson, Colonel Thaddeus Ross and Mayor Choo Choo. Basically an “I hate mages” and “my way is best for the world” type old fart who means well but is stubborn.
Lastly is the tertiary villain group whose revelation had me asking “What was the point of adding these mooks?”. They also reminded me that Futurama did it better. So stupid.
I haven’t mentioned the plot as a whole, animation and sound quality or action scenes because by this point it had become a given that all of these are good. The main plot is interesting and is connected to past events in prior seasons. The major characters who get flashbacks and character development are pretty good. The secondary characters’ development (The ones who get enough anyway) are acceptable. The fight scenes are vintage Nanoha goodness. The animation and sound quality still stand up without seeming dated or at the very least are solid.
Also vintage Nanoha is its occasional fanservice henshin sequences and nude instances catering to both lolicons and people who appreciate young adult bodies. Thankfully there are more of the latter. I also found it funny that during Erio’s henshin sequence he still has clothes on. Guess unlike the ladies his crotch could not be erased during the sequence. Also several lovely butt shots sprinkled throughout the show. Glorious because most of the young adults are hot. As for favorite newcomer it has to be Subaru. Besides being the sexiest to me between her and Teana she reminded me of Sakura Kasugano in her idolization of a badass senior and borrowing/modifying one of their signature movies, Ryu’s Hadoken and Nanoha’s Divine Buster. I would not be surprised if some viewers would pick one of the secondary characters as their favs. Some of them are pretty cool.
Can’t end a Nanoha review here before reporting the progress of the legendary couple. I will put it this way. All that was missing was Fate asking Nanoha to make her a sandwich. As for Vivio…I wanted a plushie of her. Her cuteness is lethal…that is if viewers are not annoyed by a child like. She reminds me of my niece.
Overall StrikerS, despite its controversial is a pretty good installment in the franchise. Not the best but certainly not bad. The characters who get the spotlight shine bright, the show still feels like a season of Nanoha despite its hiccups and Vivio rocks. As always I recommend it to both old and new Nanoha fans and mahou shoujo enthusiasts.
So that’s it. I thank everyone who joined me this month in watching or rewatching the Nanoha series in preparation for Vivid. I can now confirm both the series’ fame and the NanoFate hype are legit. Alright then, BRING ON THE VIVID!
Can’t believe I both fulfilled a promise I made AND finished it before the due date. Something must be wrong with me.