March 03, 2013

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Movie 1st

I downloaded the Nanoha movie last night. I have been reticent to revisit the story, because it has one scene in it which is horrifying But I figured I could skip over that when it happened.

It's a retelling of the events of the first series, but obviously compressing twelve episodes down into a 130 minute movie, some things would have to be cut or reduced. So I wondered how well it would work. Spoilers below the fold.

Quite well, in fact. First of all, they used the TV series as an outline but didn't feel the need to be slavishly bound by it, and that was a good choice. Most of the cuts happened in the early part of the story. In the TV series there were about 3 episodes which felt like they were straight out of Card Captor Sakura, and that was compressed down completely.

They also made some changes that made the story more coherent, and filled in plot holes. The initial scene where Yuuno fights the monster, he's in his boy form. It's only after he gets hurt that he switches to ferret mode. (Why? That was never answered. My own guess: the ferret form is his true form. His magic allows him to become human, but only as long as he has the minimal strength necessary to maintain it.) And it's clear that he doesn't have enough power to use Raising Heart properly. Nanoha is clearly demonstrated as having vastly more native power than he does, which is why she's the one who ends up doing most of the fighting.

So Nanoha hears his telepathic call for help (though they don't explain that) and her first battle starts at the veterinarian's office. But the monster is animated by three jewel seeds, not one. She captures and seals all of them.

Another thing they filled in was that in the TV series it seemed like Nanoha gained skills almost naturally. In the movie, Raising Heart is a larger role and she teaches Nanoha how to do things. For instance, how did Nanoha become skilled enough to eventally fight Fate? They answered that: Raising Heart had been giving her "Image Training" in aerial combat, and presumably in other ways.

One surprise was the first time Bardiche spoke. It made me hit the credits to see if it was a different voice actor, but it wasn't. Kevin England is Australian, but in the various TV series he tried to speak with an American accent. Not this time; you could tell that he is Australian. And his voice was pitched differently, too.

Donna Burke (Raising Heart) sounded just the same, which is a good thing.

They did enough scrimping on the story so that they could expand some scenes. Most notably, the keynote battle between Nanoha and Fate was longer, more exciting, and better animated. Instead of it being over the waterfront at Nanoha's city, Amy created a virtual space where they could fight without there being any danger to anyone else. The space was a high-rise city which was flooded, and Amy mentioned that they could level it if they wanted without any unfortunate side effects. And it's a good thing, too; Nanoha's Starlight Breaker leveled about half the buildings.

Another pleasant surprise is that Chrono came across as being a more competent and stronger mage than in the TV series. In the TV series it was clearly evident that Fate and Nanoha were stronger than he was, although not as well trained. That isn't at all evident in the movie. In his first appearance, he engaged in a brief exchange of shots with Fate, and Fate had the worst of it.

Precia was, if anything, even more nightmarish. I hate her, and of course I'm supposed to hate her. But as villains go she's a good one; I also understand her motivation. She isn't "evil because we need someone who is evil", which is the usual writer cop-out. The Nanoha franchise has always been pretty good about finding plausible motivations for their villains (except StrikerS, which reverts to "evil because we need someone who is evil").

When Arthra's marines invade the Garden of Time, it's even more scary.

They shortchanged Nanoha's battle in the Garden of Time. In particular, they didn't show her capturing the reactor core, which was actually a major plot element. That last part of the movie makes a lot more sense if you've seen the TV series first; I imagine that it would be a bit incoherent to someone who had not.

Another important scene which was completely omitted was when Suzuka found wounded Arf and took care of her. The first we learn of that is when Suzuka talks about it in school to Arisa and Nanoha. I think it would have been better to have invested about a minute of screen time on that one.

But in general they did create a tight story, and it doesn't feel like the story telling is rushed. It's paced very well.

Generally all through the film, the animation and visuals are excellent. Another way in which they didn't feel the need to slavishly follow the TV series is in the art. When the kitten gets taken over by a jewel seed, the transformed monster doesn't look at all like the one in the TV series, for instance. Raising Heart has some changes, too: when it's in cannon mode, there's a grip and a trigger and that's how Nanoha fires it (rather than with a voice command).

I have to say that they did a very good job. I'm looking forward to the second movie, which retells A's. It's due to be released on March 22, and it will have an English subtitle track. I think I'll probably buy it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 12:22 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 I wrote about the movie a couple of years ago.  I like it a LOT more than I do the first series... it does a better job of storytelling, I think, and of course it looks wonderful doing it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 03, 2013 12:55 PM (8xjaN)


I've long wondered what the actual name was of the organization that owns the Arthra. I've never been able to pick it out of the dialogue.

In the movie there's a picture of the Arthra and it has a caption. Here's what it turns out to be: 時空管理局

Google translate makes it "Time-Space Management Authority" and jikuu kanri kyoku.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 04, 2013 09:46 PM (+rSRq)

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