AMEview 2000: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha

A normal, everyday school-girl meeting a mysterious, magical creature that gives her the power to become a magical girl and fight creatures that are causing havoc in her hometown. Quite the standard premise for a Magical Girl anime, and this is practically the case for a certain anime aired during the autumn of 2004. Also clothes transforming into a pretty dress. We can’t leave that one out!

Content warning: fanservice, mild violence

Getting into the topic, this anime, titled Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, follows a third-grader named Nanoha Takamachi. The story itself is quite formulaic; after the premise stated earlier and a few Monster-of-the-Week episode, Nanoha also faces a rival, a certain aloof tragic heroine named Fate Testarossa who has similar powers as she has, and also an ultimate villain (which will not be spoiled) in the final episode. 

There is also the inconsistency in the story direction, as each episode has a different storytelling style without a unifying theme. For example, one episode has Nanoha doing the exposition, while another episode uses subtitles to tell us what is going on. Another episode is fanservice-heavy, but we’ll get to that later on. 

To add to that, the expository storytelling, redundant scriptwriting, and lack of subtlety makes it hard to appreciate this series most of the time. Especially the lack of subtlety. What happened to “show, don’t tell?”

With all things said, it’s not all bad though. The story does offer an interesting twist to the Magical Girl genre, and the plot does thicken and become more engaging in the later episodes. Who thought that mixing Magical Girl with science fiction would make an interesting idea? To add to that is the more combat-esque action that is not really commonly found in anime of this genre. The anime managed to do well in this aspect. 

The series ended abruptly without much resolution, but that’s if we focus on the plot. As for developing the relationship between Nanoha and Fate, it’s all great. Not to mention there’s a sequel to follow, anyway. 

The characters, meanwhile, are practically archetypes. They’re hardly likable at first, but they do become more a bit compelling in later episodes. Nanoha in particular becomes more of a complex character, as compared to the stereotypical, almost Mary Sue-ish portrayal of her in the first half. Fate is also an archetypical kuudere, but she’s well-fleshed out, except for that one time when her character development seemed forced. Yuuno Scrya is likable, but rather bland as a character, while Chrono Harlaown is practically a tsundere. Nanoha’s family and her two friends would have made interesting characters in the story; too bad they weren’t given too much involvement in the story. Meanwhile, the actual villain in the story was a good combination of hate-able and pitiable, but there was not much resolution in her character.

The animation is good. It usually does fluid movements, and coupled with cute (not all of them though!) character designs, pretty light effects, and vibrant colors, it’s wonderful to look at. The only downside is that, like mentioned earlier, the art direction is as inconsistent as it is story-wise.

Also, I still can’t comprehend how Nanoha’s hair works.

As for the character voices, practically everyone’s voice is generic, with Nanoha’s voice in particular that could come off as ear-grating. Nonetheless, they do decent voice acting.

Even so, the sound department does a pretty good job. The background music do their job in setting the mood well, although whether or not orchestral music suits the anime is debatable. Otherwise there was this one time where the walking sound effect was not matching the animated gait timing-wise.

And then there are the theme songs. The opening theme, “Innocent Starter” by Mizuki Nana (Fate’s VA) is a nice song to listen to, and somewhat works for the anime. Meanwhile, the ending theme, “Little Wish” by Yukari Tamura (Nanoha’s VA) can be ear-grating, but is nonetheless catchy pop music. 

Now that we have gotten here, the hot spring episode does not exist. At all. Okay, I generally don’t really mind occasional fanservice, but this one in particular was so out of place. I might have been expecting this anime at first to cater to children, considering the childish plotline, the childish protagonist and the expository style of storytelling, but looks like this is a mistake. The amount of panty shots (that I was trying to ignore) in the first few episodes, and also the fact that its manga adaptation is published in a magazine catering to a mature demographic says it all.


Anyhow, it’s not a bad series per se, but I find this hard to recommend to any people. It just comes off to me as an anime that doesn’t know whose audience to cater. Perhaps those who are into the Magical Girl genre may want to give this a try.

Plot: 7.0

Characters: 7.25

Art and animation: 8.0

Voice acting: 7.0


Music: 8.0

Originally written by: Clarist


(c) Seven Arcs

(c) Seven Arcs

(c) Seven Arcs

(c) Seven Arcs

(c) Seven Arcs

(c) Seven Arcs

(c) Seven Arcs

(c) Seven Arcs

Overall Rating:

Watch the trailer here:

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