Nanoha the movie 1st impressions

Having told of my disappointment from ten days ago, I guess it might be a good idea to also write about the parts of that week-end I enjoyed tremendously. A Chuugakusei nikki post is certainly in order, in particular, but that will have to wait for a few days. In the meantime, I'd like to share a few very short thoughts about the Nanoha movie. I won't be addressing any specific plot point, so you can consider this post almost spoiler-free.

Note by the way that the theatrical adaptation starts from zero, so I can even recommend it to people who haven't seen any of the TV series before—as confirmed by the friend with whom I watched it, who only had a passing familiarity with the characters through doujinshi. In fact, if you're new to Nanoha, it might be best to start with the movie and watch A's afterwards, skipping the first season of the TV series altogether (which had serious pacing issues). While I'm on the subject, if you're new to Nanoha, you may be confused about an almost completely unrelated anime called StrikerS, which is awful, and just happens to borrow the names of some characters from Nanoha with the apparent purpose of defiling them offensively; this show only has a very superficial connection with Nanoha proper (a series consisting of two TV seasons and this movie): don't be fooled!

Anyway, back to The movie 1st. As you've probably heard elsewhere already, the adaptation does an incredible job at bringing together the emotional story of season 1 (the personal histories of Nanoha and Fate and their ultimate face-off) and spectacular epicness of A's quality. Throughout the film, you could sense an entire room of male otaku in their twenties (clearly a more extreme audience than for the screening of Haruhi) holding their breath here, crying manly tears there, and drooling uncontrolably most of the time.

There are a few elements in the characters' backstories that are fleshed out further in the movie, while various monster-of-the-day happenstances are omitted, but the plot is mostly the same as in the original series. Yet, it feels like a very fresh experience. In terms of visuals and animation, of course, even if it's not kami sakuga all the time, it is miles above the 2005 TV series, especially in action scenes. Waterscapes, character movements and PEW PEW are all pretty awesome. Moreover, screenwriters have been playing with viewer expectations in ways that might seem slightly strange at times if you're unfamiliar with the franchise, but work towards increasing fan pleasure further. I'm thinking in particular of one point when you would expect Nanoha to use her hissatsu waza Starlight Breaker, but she, erm, holds back for a while, and it feels, you know, so much better when she actually releases it afterwards.

It is a bit difficult to put words on why I liked this film so much, probably because, even compared to something like Haruhi, it is to be appreciated with guts rather than intellect. But by and large, I believe this works on two major levels, at least as far as I'm concerned.

The first one, which may not apply to you depending on your particular proclivities, but is difficult to toss away, is voyeurism. You have those cute little girls whose skirts are short enough to give you an occasional peek at their panties, who have naked transformation scenes, who engage in mild bondage play and who fight with long phallic implements shooting bolts of energy, all in complete innocence. A total turn on if you're like me. If you're not, you shouldn't find this particularly obstructive, unless you're striving with your own sexuality, or cannot put aside some sort of irrational moral outrage (which is probably another warped way of striving with your sexuality, just saying).

The second one should be familiar if you were a reader of jpmeyer's former blog. It's about the power of NEKKETSU, LOVE, COURAGE and FRIENDSHIP. Like the original Nanoha and especially A's, the movie borrows a lot from mecha shounen of old (particularly the super-robot variant), in terms of graphics and imagery on the one hand, and themes and narratives on the other. I for one don't usually mind mecha imagery, at least if it's not too rusty, but I find it hard to get into the LOVE and FRIENDSHIP narrative of those older shows and take it seriously. I mean, look at something like Ai oboeteimasu ka. If you can watch through it without constantly grinning at the cheesiness and naïveté of the script, I'm impressed. A love song literally stopping armies on the battlefield is a bit too taxing for my suspension of disbelief.

But Nanoha is different. Nanoha is believable. Because it's little girls talking of the power of friendship, and when they say it, it rings true and heartfelt rather than cheesy and trite. (Also, the homoerotic subtext is lesbian rather than gay). While I can't hold back a sneer or two at your typical robot show, I was weeping sincere tears during the movie's poignant scenes. The difference, perhaps, is that those shounen series were, by definition, targetting kids, possibly young enough to not roll their eyes at grown-up soldiers thinking that friendship overcomes all. But we adults know better. So it takes Nanoha to make the setup credible again, and our hearts pound as they did when we were kids (you may not believe it, but I was a dedicated follower of UFO Robot Grendizer in kindergarten). Of course, if unlike me you're already a fan of those shows, you can probably derive extra enjoyment from the referential fanservice.

All in all, I think the movie is great and has a lot to offer. If you've read this far, you should definitely give it a try when you get a chance, if only as a litmus test of sorts. I know I'll try it on anime club friends back home when it becomes available, and hopefully make converts.

7 comments for ‘Nanoha the movie 1st impressions’.

So basically it is Rebuild of Evangelion but with Nantoka and with less ambition and talent. Seems sweet enough. As everything post-A's is pure crap a continuity reboot is probably the best that can happen to the Nanoha franchise.
Are there clue for a the movie 2nd present ?

>I mean, look at something like Ai oboeteimasu ka. If you can watch through it without
>constantly grinning at the cheesiness and naïveté of the script, I'm impressed. A love
>song literally stopping armies on the battlefield is a bit too taxing for my suspension of disbelief.
That's why I think the Macross movie is one of the greatest animation move ever created : it makes the story of a idol singing an pop love song to stop a galactic war that raged for millenniums between the male and female of an alien race credible. That's quite a feat.

While I'm on the subject, if you're new to Nanoha, you may be confused about an almost completely unrelated anime called StrikerS, which is awful, and just happens to borrow the names of some characters from Nanoha with the apparent purpose of defiling them offensively; this show only has a very superficial connection with Nanoha proper (a series consisting of two TV seasons and this movie): don't be fooled!
>> You. are. my. hero.

Now I want to see the movie even more, even if I have some doubts about my own ability not to grin at the script and at the power of friendship... I mean, even the trailers had stuff like "I want to become your friend... STARLIGHT BREAKER !"

"...this show only has a very superficial connection with Nanoha proper (a series consisting of one TV season and this movie): don't be fooled!"

(Fixed that for you)

"The first one, which may not apply to you depending on your particular proclivities, but is difficult to toss away, is voyeurism. You have those cute little girls whose skirts are short enough to give you an occasional peek at their panties, who have naked transformation scenes, who engage in mild bondage play and who fight with long phallic implements shooting bolts of energy, all in complete innocence. A total turn on if you're like me. If you're not, you shouldn't find this particularly obstructive, unless you're striving with your own sexuality, or cannot put aside some sort of irrational moral outrage (which is probably another warped way of striving with your sexuality, just saying)."

1) One thing that made me laugh SO HARD in A's was when they applied the same kind of shots that were used for nekkid little girls to Raising Heart and Bardiche.

2) I also laughed SO HARD in that ANN thread when someone, in what did not appear to be a trolling moment, why Nanoha had to be so pervy like that because things were never that pervy in Card Captor Sakura.

3) I also laughed when it finally hit me that despite all the perversity in the show, Nanoha wears a hell of a lot more clothing than most magical girls.

Man, this had better still be playing (and I had better get the chance to see it) during my vacation next month.

"Throughout the film, you could sense an entire room of male otaku in their twenties (clearly a more extreme audience than for the screening of Haruhi) holding their breath here, crying manly tears there, and drooling uncontrolably most of the time."

Your words reminded me of this comic strip: http://blog-imgs-35.fc2.com/y/u/n/yunakiti/20mai00131914.jpg

Man, it would be more interesting if you were allow to do that in theater. I'd like to watch the film with fellow otakus and hear them scream. It would be just like Nico Nico Douga.

Interesting. I didn't catch this because I've never seen the show, but the next trip I take to a major city will have this on the itinerary. Thanks for the review.

Ah, question: How is it for somebody whose Japanese isn't so great?

Tetho: it certainly has less ambition than Rebuild of Evangelion, since, as I understand, Anno basically claims to bring the only novelty to anime since The End of Evangelion (how ironic). Less talent, however, isn't so clear to me. I haven't seen Ha yet, however, so ymmv. No news of a Nanoha the movie 2nd that I've heard of, by the way, other than fan-made trailer look-alikes.

FFenril: that's because Starlight Break is launched by the power of friendship!

jpmeyer: Fond memories of Raising Heart getting a spot in Saimoe 2006. I guess the framing of panty shots and other pervy cues is more important than the actual amount of clothing the girls have on; even though, by and large, otaku-targeted manga and anime are a lot tamer than most shoujo manga (the description of romantic relationships in CCS in that Nanoha ANN thread was pretty rotfl-worthy).

Cardcaptor: That link is 404, but I'm assuming you mean this strip? That's exactly what was happening, except subliminally ;-). Actually, organizing movie screenings where the audience can type in real-time comments nico-style sounds like an artistically dubious idea which would be tremendously successful. (Otaku-ish NHK show The Net Star had something of the sort: people in the studio could do that on a large screen above the set; their occasional danmaku were pretty funny).

2DT: Thanks for your interest. As far as the Japanese goes, I think it's quite easy to grasp (and yuribou agrees), except perhaps the minutiae about military trials and such, which are a rather minor plot point.

I think Nanoha is fine as long as you don't look around in the movie theatre and spot the fat otaku types fapping to the specially extended transformation sequences...And the only thing StrikerS has done is made giving Nanoha unrealistically huge breasts acceptable.

I'm not sure but I think I'm the only one who watches it primarily for the fighting scenes... -_-

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