Today is Wednesday and you know what that means – a special guest review treat! Richard B. has been a commenter here several times and, as I will not get to see this BD until the new year, I thought I’d let him give us his two Canadian cents before I have a go at it. Take it away, Miwa!
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie 1st is a retelling of the events of the first Nanoha TV series. While this may not seem like a good thing, it does pay to remember that back in 2004 the first Nanoha TV season was a scattered mess. As a spinoff from the Triangle Hearts adult game series the first few episodes were nothing more than a bad Card Captor Sakura clone. With a few unsavoury elements left over from its source material.
It wasn’t until later on in the series when Fate was introduced, that the things became interesting. She was a dark, mysterious magical girl with a troubled past, fighting our main character. So the first thing fandom did was pair them together as a couple. Add in the fact the battles in the final few episodes were done in more of a shounen giant robot style (complete with giant beam attacks) and the series took a complete 180-degree turn.
With all that and seeing how the later series were more popular and sold better in Japan, you could see why the makers wanted to redo the original material. And, for the most part, Nanoha the Movie is a superior retelling of the 1st chapter in the Nanoha universe.
The movie creators know what the fans in the series want – action and Nanoha/Fate. Luckily we get both fairly quickly into the movie. Fate is introduced much sooner in this version, and set up as the central conflict of the movie (with the Jewel seeds relegated to being a plot McGuffin). The movie handles the two becoming friends through fighting better than the TV series, both with better action scenes and better introspection. The pacing is tighter than original season, which dragged on at the beginning until pace picked up in the last 4 episodes.
The action is more like the later episode of the series, and here is where the movie shows off its big animation budget. The final battle between Fate and Nanoha in particular is well done and I had a big smile on my face while watching it.
There are some new original scenes, including some nice bits showing Fate’s past and training. But the character most benefiting from the new material is Precia, whose motivations are given more detail as is the accident she had her in past. It fleshes her out greatly and makes for a much better character over all.
Most of the more unsavoury stuff from the original is gone, too. Except for the transformation scenes which were pretty ick. Thankfully, they only appear once for each of the leads.
The Blu-Ray version of the movie comes with an English subtitle track that is fairly well done. Except for a few nits (Arf is called Alf and the TSAB is called the DAB) it’s well written and easy to understand. The subtitle font is middle of the road, readable but I would have rather had either a bigger black outline or a non-white font color. The picture and sound quality is amazing though, as colors stand out and the animation quality never dips for the battle scenes, showing what BluRay can do for animation.
Nanoha the Movie fixes a lot of the problems I had with the first season, keeps the elements I liked and adds even more of what I wanted. It reminded me why Nanoha/Fate became the first Yuri couple I really liked. I hope we see the same budget and care given to StrikerS when it gets a movie. Highly recommended to Nanoha fans.
Art – 8
Story – 7 (Better than the TV but still the weaker of the 3 series)
Characters – 8
Yuri – 7 (Alot more than the first TV series)
Service – 8 –
Overall – 8
I’m told that the 2nd movie has been greenlit (presumably because this movie is doing well in DVD/BD sales, so good!) Next up is As, where we’ll be treated to the reimagined Knights and Hayate. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it’s as good a reboot as this appears to be!