Lyrical Retrospective, Part 3: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS

lyrical-retrospective-part-3I wanna talk about expectations and how they can affect far more than we want to let it. Don’t worry, I will be getting to the series at hand in just a short bit, but bear with me for a second here. Expectations of quality is the obvious example, going into something expecting it to be of a particular high quality means you open up a wider field for it to disappoint you. Oddly enough, low expectations is not a direct contrast of this, because while the field to impress you is wider the negative connotations of your expectations will often lend themselves to search for flaws you might otherwise look past in order to match said expectations.

This is why people try to go into things with no expectations whatsoever, but I tend to find that’s also not perfect since it requires a level of disinterest that might just mean you might not enjoy it to the fullest anyway. What I’m saying is, there’s no perfect way to go into a piece of medium when it comes to expectations of quality, because no matter what you do you have different ways for it to bite back at you. Why am I bringing this up? Well, because while expectations of quality is something we tend to think and talk about, it’s not the only form of expectations we put on something.

There’s also thematic expectations, where you go into something expecting it to stick to a style or presentation that might have come before it or been indicated through promo material. And unlike quality expectations, there’s no way to actually gauge in what way this can affect your enjoyment of something, good or bad. Having watched through all of Nanoha StrikerS following the original two series and listening to people’s feedback, positive and negative, I’ve concluded that a large part of the reception for this series was due to thematic expectations like this. So without further ado, let’s talk about the final anime series in the original Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha run.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac02%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e6%a9%9fI’ve started off these retrospectives by describing the theme of the series in one word. The original 2004 series I labeled as deceptive and Nanoha A’s I called shocking. So what word would I use to describe Nanoha StrikerS? After thinking back on all twenty-six episodes, I feel the word that best describes it all is expansive. Nanoha StrikerS is a very expansive series. Compared to its older siblings, it’s a far less ambitious series in terms of narrative or subversion and merging of genres. Instead it focuses its strength on building on everything established before it, fleshing out what was once a vague setting into a detailed universe.

The cast is the first obvious example. We have four new lead characters, starting with Subaru Nakajima and Teana “Tea” Lanster, played by Saito Chiwa and Nakahara Mai respectively. The two are mages in training at the Time-Space Administrative Bureau (TSAB) and soon find themselves in the care of Takamachi Nanoha, Fate Testarossa-Harlaown and Yagami Hayate. We also meet two young children, Erio Mondial and Caro Ru Lushe, played by Inoue Marina and Takahashi Mikako. These are also recruits in training as well as children that Fate took in under her care and acted as legal guardian for.

With an immediate expansion to the main cast of this size, with everyone from the end of Nanoha A’s still being present, it’s only a given that the series would need more time to give characters introductions and flavour if they are to match our already strong cast. Thankfully, Nanoha StrikerS is twice the length of previous series and has a set-up that’s quite different from before. With the new characters all being in training, most of the first half of the series is devoted to seeing them taught by the original cast into being stronger mages ready to help out in major incidents.

This is also where the first clash of thematic expectations might occur. The Nanoha series up to this point has never really been much for stopping in its track to have a character train or even explain things in detail, more often than not backstory is given through flashbacks and any growth of strength just sort-of happens as it’s needed. In StrikerS, it’s the core of the first half to show the world Nanoha and Fate now live in, the life they’ve chosen and how those wishing to reach their level must fight to get there. We get lectures from Vita of the Wolkenritter, now a vice-captain under Nanoha, on how various types of magic works while Nanoha spends long scenes talking about the tactical stances required by a ranged mage as herself.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac06%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e9%80%b2It’s obvious that this won’t be something everyone enjoys. It’s so different from what we’ve come to expect and considering how fast the ball got rolling in terms of the overarching plot in the first two series, the fact that it takes almost the length of the original series to get rolling now can make it seem like the series is just wasting your time. At least that’s how many whom I spoke with felt, but it was certainly not how I felt while watching the series. On the contrary, the slower approach and dedication to expanding on lore and world details is something that made me appreciate everything about the series even more.

The character development in particular is what’s really special. From minor conversations to big encounters, there’s so much that the new characters go through in just the first couple of episodes that give them some impressive depth. The original cast gets further developed too, with Fate taking her own horrific past and turning it into her key mission to provide care for neglected children. In the ten years between Nanoha A’s and Nanoha StrikerS, a lot have happened, but all of it to give us stronger and better characters as a result.

And then there’s the expanded lore that I briefly mentioned. With the series almost exclusively taking place on Midchilda, the home world for most of the series cast, we get a lot more insight into how magic works, how the TSAB operates and even more serious matters like interdimensional politics and the social structure of the world. We get more details on how devices are calibrated and upgraded, what historical events and people helped shape the present and so much more. None of which would have been able to fit in naturally in any of the original two series, but becomes a norm as a result of the new setting and pacing.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac01%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e7%a9%baWhich leads me to the second issue that people told me they had with Nanoha StrikerS, and one that I remember echoing myself many years ago, the pacing. Nanoha StrikerS benefits from not being confined to a weekly release of episodes, because I feel that’s where the actual problem of its pacing is. Watching one episode per week for twenty-six weeks will leave a lot of episodes to end in the middle of an event or without getting to an event, more so than previous series. However, since it’s not 2007 any more and we’re able to watch the episodes at whatever rate we please, I feel this issue has vanished.

I don’t expect people to watch the way I did, in a total of three sittings over three days that took up far more of my final days of the year than I anticipated, but I feel that essentially any rate that’s faster than one episode every seven days will make someone who initially may have had issues with the pacing find that it has a very nice flow to it. If you have the ability to do so, I would suggest watching two or three episodes per sitting, as it takes off any exhaustion that might be felt from spreading it out too thin. Maybe I’m defending poor scheduling from nine years ago, but considering how incredible the final result becomes, I feel it’s a fair defense.

Moving away from the topic of expectations and the differences in presentation from previous Nanoha series, let’s talk about the deeper parts of Nanoha StrikerS and why it’s my favourite series of the original Nanoha trilogy. Now, this might get a little dense with all the topics that Nanoha StrikerS decide to tackle, but I will try to make sense.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac02%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e6%a9%9fStarting with the political angle and the look into TSAB’s most inner sanctums, even though it’s probably the less interesting part of everything I need to cover. At the start of the series Hayate tells Fate and Nanoha that she wants to form an independent TSAB branch that she’d be the commander of. This branch, named Riot Force 6, is formed to deal with further Lost Logia cases and feature hand-picked staff by Hayate herself. Riot Force 6 itself is achieved through the blessing of higher ranked TSAB members, such as Chrono and Lindy Harlaown, as well as Carim Gracia of the Sankt Kaizer Church, one of the key pillars of Midchilda, the new home for our cast.

As Riot Force 6 forms it also recruits Subaru, Teana, Erio and Caro as part of their strike squad. Erio and Caro serving under their legal guardian Fate, now given the rank of captain, and Signum, Fate’s vice-captain. Subaru and Teana serve under Nanoha, who have also been given the rank of captain, and her vice-captain Vita. The other Wolkenritter, Shamal and Zafira, are also part of Riot Force 6 and so is Reinforce II (pronounced Zwei), Hayate’s latest family member, who serve as second-in-command for all of Riot Force 6.

That’s all well and good on its own, but not everyone at TSAB is happy with Riot Force 6 existing. Lt. General Regius Gais have taken a strong disliking to both the TSAB’s uneven balance of strength in its ground forces versus its interdimensional and aerial forces. An understandable grievance, considering a strong defense is required on home base as well, but with Riot Force 6 being an independent branch consisting of only highly ranked powerful mages, it’s a strong example of that imbalance, even if Riot Force 6 acts on ground level missions as well.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac11%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e6%a9%9fBut more importantly he hates the fact that Hayate, who’s a former convicted criminal due to her involvement with the Book of Darkness, is in charge of this branch. He even goes as far as to state that serving your sentence for a crime shouldn’t mean it’s formally erased. Keep in mind that Hayate’s crimes were all deemed as involuntary, just like Fate’s before her, and yet Gais have this intense dislike for her now saving lives as commander of Riot Force 6. More importantly, he’s not the only one who argues this. Auris, Gais’ secretary and daughter, brings it up straight to Hayate’s face at one point.

Considering that nobody questioned Fate’s innocence throughout Nanoha A’s, nor Nanoha StrikerS for that matter, this was quite an interesting development to me. Even more so when you realize the hypocrisy of Gais’ words. Gais was directly involved with the Combat Cyborg Incident that killed several TSAB ground force members, including his friend Zest Grangaitz and Subaru’s mother, Quint. Not content with that, he’s still involved with the perpetrators of said incident in present day, funding series villain Jail Scaglietti’s research into the combat cyborgs. Gais of course realizes this hypocrisy as well and the more we learn the more we realize that the blood on his hands haunt him more than he lets on.

Moving back to the supporters of Riot Force 6, we find the Sankt Kaizer Church. I already mentioned how they’re a key pillar to Midchildan society, but it can easily be understated how important their role is. Worshipping an ancient Belkan king, known as Sankt Kaizer, the Sankt Kaizer Church are essentially the one and only religion on Midchilda. Real world parallels are a big thing in Nanoha StrikerS and when it comes to the Sankt Kaizer Church they’re very much meant to represent the catholic church, going as far as having their own schools and traditional catholic garb.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac20%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e7%84%a1Of course, this is still Nanoha, so it’s a catholic church parallel that happens to feature women in every leading position of power as well as combat nuns, really awesome combat nuns. The aforementioned Sankt Kaizer is himself a parallel to Jesus Christ, with the Sankt Kaizer Church even having their own version of the Shroud of Turin, a shroud said to contain the blood of Sankt Kaizer himself. This becomes a key plot point later on as well, as the shroud turns out to be the real deal. But what’s more important for now is how the Sankt Kaizer Church has a finger in both world politics on Midchilda as well as military operations through TSAB.

Lastly, we need to talk about the high council. The high council consost of the three founders of TSAB, kept alive as brains in tubes (no, really) and controlling the bureau from the shadows in secret. Much like Gais, they’re hypocritical as hell, being the minds behind the creation of the Artificial Mage program, the Combat Cyborg program and the Unlimited Desire program, all of which ultimately led to their own undoing and the events that would be known as the Jail Scaglietti Incident.

Basically, Midchildan politics are completely fucked up from the very core. This is something which only become more apparent the more you look into the Nanoha series and no doubt something I’ll be bringing up in later posts as well. But Nanoha StrikerS is where we first truly get to see just how twisted and complex these things get. And considering how much of the series is set around continuous terrorist attacks that could only happen due to wrongful actions of the people in power giving other dangerous people their own power, I think it’s fair to say that Nanoha StrikerS aren’t just showing us this side of Michilda for lore expansion, it’s making even more real world parallels.

In fact, if I may be so blunt, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the night where Nanoha and her subordinates leave to secure the location of an important TSAB press conference, just before all hell breaks loose as Jail Scaglietti and his combat cyborgs attack multiple parts of the city, just so happens to be specified as September 11th. Yes, the attack itself takes place on September 12th, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was changed to avoid upsetting people, as the series hasn’t focused on giving us specific dates until the start of episode 17 declaring September 11th and moving onto the terrorist attack that kicks off the final act. Maybe I’m reading into nothing, but I wanted to have it said at least.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac02%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e6%a9%9fLet’s move on to another aspect of Midchildan politics, mainly adoption and same-gender relationships. So by now it’s not exactly a secret that the Nanoha series treats Nanoha and Fate as more than the “best friends” they carry labels as. While it would still be a few years until we started getting a ton of wedding-themed official art for the two, Nanoha StrikerS lets us see just how far they’ve come with the two openly flirting and sleeping in the same bed. In fact, when joining Riot Force 6, Hayate says she’ll make sure they get their own rooms, and yet we only ever see them share one bed and one room together, from the start to the end of the series.

This makes even more sense once the character of Vivio enters the picture and you can start seeing what Nanoha StrikerS actually tries to convey. Vivio is a child who is brought into the Sankt Kaizer Church after she’s found hurt and unconscious in an alley by Erio and Caro. After waking up, she calls for her mother, frightened and confused about where she is. The truth behind Vivio is that she’s an artificial mage, cloned from the DNA found on Sankt Kaizer’s shroud. She’s a reincarnation of the Nanoha series concept of Jesus Christ, vaguely retaining memories from the era Sankt Kaizer lived in.

As such, Vivio doesn’t have a mother but needs someone to take her in. After she takes a liking to Nanoha, she offers to be her legal guardian temporarily. This eventually becomes permanent as the series moves on, but for now let’s focus on how this is handled. Adoption is quite common in the Nanoha series, starting with Fate’s adoption into the Harlaown family and an additional handful of characters within StrikerS. It’s such a strong theme that the latest Nanoha anime, ViVid Strike!, is centered around one of the main characters being an orphan who was adopted.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac14%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8cmotherscBut when Nanoha adopts Vivio, she doesn’t do it on her own. Instead, Fate is assigned as Vivio’s godmother, with the two of them being her legal guardians together. When explaining the situation to Vivio, Nanoha and Fate tells her that both of them will be her mother from now on, with Vivio beginning to call them Nanoha-mama and Fate-mama, which sticks with her going forward. This scene is one of the most important scenes in the entire series for me as it directly references an actual well-documented struggle that same-gender relationships face.

In various places of the world, including Japan, it’s near-impossible or outright illegal for a same-gender couple to adopt a child. As such, various couples have found ways to go around these laws in order to be able to raise a child. There are two ways in which this is commonly done, the first of which is more consistent. Basically, a same-gender couple of women and a same-gender couple of men marry each other as two couples of husband and wife, the two couples can then adopt as a “normal” married couple and can name their real partner as the godfather or godmother to give them some legal guardian status.

This is explored, though without the adoption angle, in the 2001 manga and 2006 movie Love My Life, if you’re interested in seeing something directly referencing the struggles of gay parents in Japan. As for the other work-around, it’s exactly what Nanoha and Fate does. Only one parent adopts, Nanoha, and names her partner, Fate, the god-mother. It’s harder to do in real life because single-parent adoption is yet another example of a hoop that’s really tricky to jump through due to conservative legal systems and mindsets.

But while Midchilda doesn’t seem to mind single-parents adopting, with Lindy being able to adopt Fate without issue, it seems the concept of same-gender parenting is still a little foreign to that world. This is shown in another example when Shario Finieno, Riot Force 6’s lead engineer, expresses some shock over learning that Nanoha and Fate are mothers. Albeit this seems partially due to her thinking Vivio was their biological child, but it’s still a scene that exemplifies that Vivio’s parents are out of the norm. I appreciate this a lot, to be honest, as it shows a self-aware side to the Nanoha series regarding the topics it brings up.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac14%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8cmotherscOf course, Nanoha StrikerS is not the first or last magical girl anime to feature ladies raising a child together. I’m sure at least someone working on the series thought of Vivio’s adoption as a nod to the Sailor Moon manga, in which Tomoe Hotaru, aka. Sailor Saturn, is adopted and raised by Tenoh Haruka, Kaioh Michiru and Meioh Setsuna. Haruka and Michiru of course being Sailor Uranus and Sailor Nepture, one of the most famous same-gender couples in manga and anime. Considering Hotaru and Vivio both have some of the strongest magic powers in their respective franchises, the comparison has some solid ground to me at least.

When it comes to character development for our previous cast there’s quite a lot to unpack too. Briefly into the series we learn of an incident that occurred shortly after Nanoha A’s, when Nanoha had just joined the TSAB. Because of the high strain put on her body for constantly going all-out with her magic in the original two series, she ends up overexerting herself and nearly dying on a mission as a result. Saved by Vita, she eventually wakes up and start rehabilitation, but it takes a long time and she’s not even sure she’ll make a recovery. As the series itself already confirmed, she did recover, but the experience changed her.

Nanoha is now very cautious in regards to high level magic use, and while she knows there’ll be situations where there’s no other option, she trains her recruits in ways that mean they won’t have to go that extra mile and risk ruining their life. Because of this, Nanoha holds back a lot during mock battles and training. Both her and the viewer know full well that if she wanted to she could defeat any of the recruits in an instant, but that would miss the point of training them. When the training of Subaru and Teana goes out of her control and both show disregard to her teachings, she demonstrates this by instantly shooting down Teana with a safe, but highly powerful blast, knocking her out for several hours.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac09%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e3%81%9fIt’s an interesting decision to let Nanoha be the voice of restraint, and a good one too as it makes the moments where she does need to push past her limitations all the stronger for it. They toyed with this in Nanoha A’s when she received Raising Heart Excellion and was told to not use it as it was still experimental and Raising Heart hadn’t been reinforced properly, but in Nanoha StrikerS they take it to another level by restraining every single character using limiters on their devices, and in Nanoha, Fate and Hayate’s cases, their bodies as well. Once again it shows a neat bit of additional lore by demonstrating the effects of magical exhaustion.

Fate goes through her own bit of development. I mentioned earlier how she became the legal guardian for two of the new main characters, Erio and Caro, which comes from a direct need to prevent children from suffering in their childhood the way she did. It’s a very realistic development which obviously becomes one of the reasons she becomes Vivio’s second mother. We also see her having made peace with her past, as she shows Vivio photos of Alicia and Precia Testarossa, explaining that Alicia is her sister and that both Lindy and Precia are her mothers. Fate tells Vivio that they’re the same, girls with two mothers, which makes Vivio very happy as a result.

We also meet the other person who had a hand in Fate’s creation, though she refuse to call him father despite him insisting on it. That person is the aforementioned Jail Scaglietti, an interdimensional terrorist who have performed countless illegal and unethical experiments, including the project that gave life to Fate herself. Fate chases after Scaglietti for most of the series, having sworn to be the one who captures him and brings him to justice, which she ultimately does. Overall, Fate has grown from already being a very impressive character in the original Nanoha series to a strong compassionate mother that everyone should look up to.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac05%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e6%98%9fThe Wolkenritter and Hayate have mainly grown in the same way. They want to make up for the losses they caused and live out their lives as peacefully as possible. Hayate going so far as stating that she won’t rest until no innocent person has to know pain and suffering, with the Wolkenritter following her wherever she chooses. But it’d be wrong to not talk about Reinforce II, who is quite a major character this series. Named after the consciousness of the Tome of the Night Sky who gave her life to save Hayate and put an end to the Book of Darkness Incident, Reinforce II is a small fairy-like girl known as a unison device.

A unison device is a conscious living being who can fuse with a mage to give them more power. In Nanoha StrikerS, Reinforce II is one of two unison devices we meet, the second being Agito, one of the antagonists. Reinforce II also does a lot of the legwork for Riot Force 6, arranging the official recruitment tests and more often than not taking command in Hayate’s absence. She’s a fun and awesome character who also brings an unhealthy level of cuteness to the show, only outdone by Vivio in later episodes. Funnily enough, I think Reinforce II being a fairy-like character dressed in formal office attire is a direct reference to Lindy from the Lyrical Toy Box short that I spoke about in part 0 of this retrospective.

As for our new main characters, they’re all very enjoyable. We first meet Subaru as a young child in danger during a massive fire outbreak at an airport, after being saved by Nanoha, she vows to become as strong and heroic as she is. As such, she trains to be a strong mage and eventually joins Riot Force 6 along with her best friend and possible lover Teana. Teana also have a role model within Riot Force 6, though she wants to be an enforcer like Fate. Both characters manage to stand on their own rather than become secondary attempts at making Nanoha and Fate, which leads to them being a duo that, when at their best, almost gets as good as Nanoha and Fate does.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac23%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8cstars-strSubaru has a fairly interesting past directly tied to the narrative of the series. She was adopted alongside her sister, Ginga, at a young age after their mother found them during a mission. This mission was during the initial Combat Cyborg Incident, with both Subaru and Ginga being Type-0 combat cyborgs themselves. As such, Subaru feel a clear connection between herself and the combat cyborgs she’s fighting as part of Riot Force 6, which makes for a great inner conflict for her character. I would love to see more of Subaru in the future, as she’s a very entertaining and strong character on all fronts.

But Teana is quite the character herself. Unlike Subaru, she doesn’t have the strength or potential of a combat cyborg and she’s not that strong in regards to her magic prowess either. This leads to her feeling insignificant, even more so as she joins Riot Force 6 with all these amazing highly ranked mages all around her. This becomes a source for her own anxiety, which eventually gnaws at her deeply enough to affect her performance in combat. It’s hard to not relate to her thoughts of insignificance and it’s not a subject Nanoha has been shy of exploring prior to Teana as well, with it being a key factor in Nanoha A’s overall theme.

Teana eventually finds herself and realizes that her role in combat is not to be the most powerful or impressive mage, it’s to be the tactical center of her group so that others can rely on her and she can trust in others. It’s a great character arc which at first seem to conclude rather early, only for it to come back towards the end as things comes tumbling down fast. Her final battle of the series is all about how she needs to trust in her role even when she’s on her own in order to defeat the three combat cyborgs coming after her. Much like Subaru, I really hope we see more of her one day.

As for Erio and Caro, the two come as a pair with them both working the best when they’re together. Erio was torn away from his parents because of him being an artificial mage and Caro were sent away by her parents for possessing too dangerous of a power. After being taken in by Fate, they both start to find their place in the world. They share the same general character arc throughout the series, which revolves around them accepting themselves and that there are people who love and care for them despite their past. I don’t have too much to say on either character, but it’d be wrong to leave them out. They’re both very enjoyable and sweet characters on their own and together.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac10%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e6%a9%9fFinally, I want to talk about the villains of Nanoha StikerS. While I’ve given a few details on Scaglietti, I’ve not really dug beneath the surface on him yet. He’s an artificial mage, much like Fate and Vivio, created by the High Council and implanted with the dream to obtain the deepest of Belkan secrets. They were hoping that creating a brilliant scientist who was genetically coded for this purpose would help them obtain Lost Logia weaponry to use for TSAB, but the plan backfired as Scaglietti no doubt found what he was looking for, but did it for himself and not for his employees.

To his disposal, Scaglietti have twelve combat cyborgs known as the Numbers. The Numbers do Scaglietti’s dirty work for him, searching for the Lost Logia known as relics, a crystal containing ancient Belkan magic. However, Scaglietti also have the help of two artificial mages, the late Zest who was Gais’ friend and Lutecia, a powerful summoner following the doctor’s orders in hopes of awakening her mother, who was captured alongside the initial killing of Zest. Lutecia and Zest save the life of the aforementioned unison device Agito, joining the two in their search for the relics.

Though the Numbers have been programmed to simply fight and do as told, they all have distinct personalities. Because of this, some of them do start to question Scaglietti’s actions, especially when he begins torturing young Vivio, because it’s not a Nanoha anime without child torture. Others see no problem with Scaglietti’s actions, some even finding them utterly delightful, such as Quattro, the hacker of the group. If you thought performing unethical experiments, terrorism and torturing children hadn’t made Scaglietti a bad enough person however, let me talk about his backup plan.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac21%e8%a9%b1%e3%80%8c%e6%b1%baWithin each of the twelve combat cyborgs’ wombs he’s also implanted himself as an artificial mage intact with his memory and dream, so that if he were to fail, only one combat cyborg need to survive to give birth to his second coming. Considering he also created the combat cyborgs, this raises an already uncomfortable subject to a whole other level. Suffice to say, Nanoha StrikerS wanted to create a villain you could hate more than Precia Testarossa, and they succeeded. Scaglietti is such a vile disgusting person, but what’s brilliant about him is that his initial reveal is as mundane as it gets. At the start he’s just a tired use of the evil scientist trope, slowly leading up to his actual personality and role.

After Scaglietti is defeated, each combat cyborg supposedly have an abortion, which in itself is an odd course for a magical girl anime to take. I have to assume this was forced upon the Numbers whether they wanted it or not since Scaglietti’s implantation of himself is illegal to begin with, though I doubt any of them would have protested except for Quattro. I’m not even sure they all knew about it to be honest, it’s a pretty awkward reveal that comes very late in the series when the Numbers are already starting to get defeated. If I were to change anything about Nanoha StrikerS, the Scaglietti womb implant subplot would probably be what I edited out, it’s just creepy beyond what was necessary.

But I do like the final development for the Numbers, those who decided to help with the investigation of the incident and vowed to go through reformative therapy are eventually adopted into the Nakajima family, as sisters to Subaru and Ginga. This eventually leads one of them, Nove, to become a major character in later series which I enjoyed greatly. Those who refused got sent to different interdimensional prison planets instead, which is one of those great sentences you can say when you talk about Nanoha.

%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-bd-%e9%ad%94%e6%b3%95%e5%b0%91%e5%a5%b3%e3%83%aa%e3%83%aa%e3%82%ab%e3%83%ab%e3%81%aa%e3%81%ae%e3%81%afstrikers%e7%ac%ac3%e6%9c%9f-%e7%ac%ac26%e8%a9%b1%e7%b5%82I remember being so worried when I started my rewatch of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. After hearing so many negative things I was certain that this would be the point in the retrospective where I had to admit the series took a bad turn. Instead I came out of this experience more certain than ever that I adore this series and the franchise as a whole. I love how much it expands the lore, I love how much it develops its characters, I love how much it connects every little plot thread to something bigger and I love the story told.

I’m sure we’ll eventually reach a negative write-up in this series, but until that happens I’ll gladly state once again that the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha franchise is a true masterpiece. Next up will be the first Nanoha content that I haven’t seen before, the two movies that retell the original two series from a new perspective. I personally have no idea what to expect, so please look forward to it.


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