Perhaps it was a bit of a shock to some to watch the first episode of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS only to learn that their favorite lolicon fodder were now adults. Ten years had magically passed in the real-world year or so between the second season and the third. During those ten years, Nanoha had grown up not only to become the incredibly powerful mage we all knew she would be but also, along with Hayate and Fate, had moved rather quickly up the ranks of the Time Space Administration Bureau.
What happened in those ten years? A lot, obviously, duh. A few key items were mentioned during the StrikerS anime. Things like, Hayate and her knights’ punishment for the crimes they committed during the Book of Darkness episode, or Fate and Naoha both having serious self-preservation issues when they completely release their limiters and, of course, the infamous moment when Nanoha was severely injured. Also Fate suddenly developing an adoptive brother she takes care of and adopting a daughter of her own came as a bit of a surprise, I have to say. Most 19-year olds are still working out car payments. But there were Erio and Caro, and so we accepted them. Now that I think about it – we were told quite a lot about those ten years.
But let’s face it, there’s a lot more that must have happened. What Fate wore for her sixtenth birthday party, for instance? Fanboys want to know! And they want to see Nanoha and Hayate and the Knights in maid uniforms serving her cake!
Sorry, sorry, I have trouble taking the fandom of Nanoha seriously. But that’s okay – they take themselves WAY seriously enough that they don’t need me.
Some of the events that lead up to StrikerS are detailed in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS The Comics, Volume 1. This volume includes the transitional A’s to StrikerS chapters. Nanoha, Fate and Hayate have moved up the TSAB chain of command and are looking to develop a new team. This first volume is an early look at the new characters that will inhabit the StrikerS universe: Subaru, Teana, Erio and Caro.
Because the manga focuses on the new characters, with mostly expository discussion between the older ones, Fate gets a few moments here and there fussing over Nanoha, but not much more. Much like the anime – if you took out the big pluffy bed – there’s plenty of plausible deniability. OTOH, you can also easily look at them and see a well-established couple. The lack of PDAs is pretty normal for couples no longer attached at the hip. And the affection between them is obvious.
Erio and Caro are both so nice and cute and earnest that they bore me a bit. Everyone in the Nanoha world seems to come with a tragic backstory, and theirs were, yes, tragic. It’s believable that Fate would be moved to take care of them both. They are introduced a little in this volume. But most of our time is spent with Subaru and Teana.
We establish early on that they are suited to work with each other and that Subaru drives Teana crazy but she can’t get her out of her mind, which sets up Teana as the ever-popular passive-agressive tsundere. Whee. Teana’s redeeming factor is her genuine desire to excel, her competence, and her ability to think creatively. She has some serious leadership potential, as well. Subaru is the kind of character that in any other series would excel on guts alone, but we know that she’ll be practicing until she drops, too.
The level of fanservice for both Subaru and Teana is high, assumably because at 19, Fate, Hayate and Nanoha are too old for the average fanboy. It also gives us the opportunity to see them set up in a variety of completely non-lesbian Yuri situations; since Teana’s obssessive and they touch, that’s enough for most fans to consider it a done deal. I have no opinion either way. If it’s important to you to see them as a couple, go for it. I weigh in on the “not really” side. In fact, if you pressed me hard, I’d tell you that, at the end of StrikerS all of the characters look married to their careers more than anything else.
The story, as I mentioned, has lots of exposition, setting up the development of Section Six and following the future forwards initial training. The next volume will begin StrikerS proper.
I hadn’t ever been moved to follow the Nanoha series’ manga. Now that I’m getting more adult women in uniform, it somehow became far more interesting to me. Amazing, isn’t it? (I also learned that my brain goes absolutely white-noise at three or more panels of military terminology. Like, you can *hear* the flatline, “beeeeeeeeeeep.”) I do enjoy the 4-panels that go along with the manga, that put a lighter spin on, particularly, Nanoha. We spend a little more time that I’d like with Rein. There’s only so much “awww” I have in me every day and my wife takes up most of that in the morning before I go to work. ^_^
Art – 8
Story – 7 (there really wasn’t one, yet, but the exposition was fine.)
Characters – 9 (I would like to have more Signum and Shamal, please….)
Yuri – 1
Service – 4
Overall – 7
If you are a Nanoha completist, obsessive and/or fanatic, you absolutely need this manga. If you liked StrikerS alot, you would do well to take a look at this. I enjoyed it. But then, the greatest strength of Nanoha has always been the characters, and this gives them some extra depth and breadth. So there you go.