I imagine this spinoff exists to see whether there is still interest in the Nanoha Vivid series. That or serve as an appetizer for the second season of NV, should there ever be one. Whatever the case let us see whether this appetizer is worth ordering or it is best to stick with waiting for the main course as we take a look at Vivid Strike!
Check out my reviews of the Nanoha franchise HERE, though I have yet to review Nanoha Vivid.
Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Magical Girl, Sports, Tournament
Themes: Martial Arts, Mixed Martial Arts
Number of episodes: 12+1 OVA and two specials.
Before reviewing the show there is a warning for fans devotedly following the Nanoha Vivid manga. As I mentioned above this show is a spinoff of Nanoha Vivid where, for the most part, it can be viewed as its own show that just so happens to take place in the Vivid series of the Nanoha timeline. However, the show does contain spoilers for viewers who have not yet seen the first season of Nanoha Vivid and more than likely the Vivid manga, especially in regards to the loli-fu tournament. Vivd’s other story events are vaguely hinted at apart from one plot point that should be more than obvious for any Nanoha franchise fan. Whether the results are canon or exclusive to this story remains to be seen. Basically devoted fans should keep this in mind before deciding whether to check out the show or not. For everyone else who does not mind potentially having the end results of the loli-fu tournament being given away read on to see whether the show overall is worth it or not.
Plot Summary: Raised up in the same orphanage, Fuuka and Rinne were once close friends but parted company after a quarrel ended up with Rinne overwhelmed Fuuka with her martial art skills. Fuuka has a life in poverty after leaving the orphanage. An accidental encounter with renowned martial arts champion Einhard/t Stratos discovered Fuuka’s hidden talent in fighting; Einhard offered Fuuka a job and coaching, encouraging her to meet up with Rinne again — in a ring.
At first I thought this show would be “The Fuuka Show, Featuring Team Vivid”. In actuality it is “The Fuuka and Rinne Show, Featuring Team Vivid”. The plot summary pretty much gave away what the main story will be about but really, for readers who are either longtime Nanoha fans or have seen all four seasons and movies…the fact this show is leading up to a potential fight between Fuuka and Rinne should not be surprising in the slightest. Simply put knowing where the plot is going is the least important part. What matters is how the show gets there and what will happen when the time comes. This is where the show shines as we see the very different paths Fuuka and Rinne took to become professional mixed martial artists and their motivations for doing so. As one can imagine from looking at the above poster for the anime one’s path was hard but full of fun experiences while the other one…oooooooffffff.
As far as Team Vivid goes (Vivio, Coach Nove, Einhard/t, Lio, Corona and Miura) their contributions to the show ranges from supporting characters to secondary protagonists depending on which ones got to fight. Obviously Vivio and Einhard/t got more to do because they are the top dogs of the team but the others also contributed in their own ways so it is not like they were “just there”. Other characters who appeared in the first season of Nanoha Vivid also appear. Now some of these do feel like “just there” characters but it is cool seeing them again regardless.
Now this show taking place in the Vivid series of the Nanoha timeline there is a strong emphasis on loli-fu (my nickname for the MMA league where cute girls and yoing women compete). Like the Vivid anime the combat is intense but this time there is less emphasis on magic attacks and beam specials and the like and a stronger focus on pure unadulterated, hard hitting fist and shoe to face combat…and when I say hard hitting I MEAN HARD HITTING! Think of movies like Fight Club and Bloodsport but with cute girls. These girls may not use beam attacks but their special strikes are still infused with magic so…uncensored broken bones, blood spewing and vomiting for days. These girls hit each other with enough force to make DBZ characters proud. I am not joking. Several of the fights are quick one-sided bouts like ones found in UFC or Bellator but the ones that are longer than a minute…HOOOOOO DOGGY! Readers would not want to get into a fight with any of these girls, especially when they are enraged.
The animation quality is similar to that of Vivid’s but slightly less ecchi. The fight scenes use a mix of old-school and new school shounen styles. What I mean is there is a mix of still images showcasing the ferocity of the fighters’ strikes, there are few moments where the spectators are shown in small images as battles ensue and for there is of course mid-fight inner monologues of the combatants studying their opponents’ moves during fights and trying to come up with counterattacks on the fly. The fights are the second major highlight of the show. The soundtrack is also good with upbeat tunes for fights. The OP and ED are good listens as well.
When it comes to yuri Fuuka and Rinne is definitely where it is at. As for how strong their yuri vibes are…this is a story set in the Nanoha universe. There is a certain ritual future friends, lovers and even family with very strong bonds must undertake. Readers can guess what this means for Fuuka and Rinne.
Overall Vivid Strike! is an appetizer worth consuming before the main course…should it ever be served or not. Devoted Vivid manga readers may want to wait a bit before picking this up. The show can be enjoyed on its own but it is recommended to at least check out the first season of Nanoha Vivid before doing so…provided the viewer is okay with having thee loli-fu tournament end result potentially spoiled. Whether the outcomes mentioned here are true remains to be seen but keep this in mind should viewers choose to check this show out. Still worth it I feel. The fights are INTENSE, especially the long ones, seeing Team Vivid and the gang from the first season pop up is very nice, Fuuka and Rinne’s story is worth watching and the two are worthy candidates to undergo the Nanoha universe ritual.