Woah, it’s been a while since the last entry, hasn’t it? I decided to take a break from our retrospective to focus on the recent anime premieres, but with that mostly over it’s time to get back into the Lyrical Nanoha universe and look at the second theatrical feature film in the series. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 2nd A’s, which is a mouthful, was released in 2012. Much like the film that preceded it, it’s a retelling of the second season of the TV anime, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s, but with a lot of changes and added scenes.
I already talked about this in the last post, but the two film retellings are not retcons to the original series but rather films that exists within the universe if Lyrical Nanoha as dramatization of “real events”. Because of this, any changes made to the story are seen as creative liberties or censorship from the Time-Space Administrative Bureau (TSAB). I genuinely love this concept and while it led to a lot of changes I disliked in the previous film it manages to make this film really good as a result.
In The MOVIE 2nd A’s we actually start with a brand new scene set several years after the events of the story. Reinforce II, Yagami Hayate’s second unison device, serves as our narrator. She have been told the story of her predecessor and the events that led to her own birth and name. As such she begins to tell the story itself, starting with the activation of the Tome of the Night Sky, known as the Book of Darkness.
The story itself remains mostly unchanged apart from two major details. First off, Takamachi Nanoha and Fate Testarossa reunite and start attending school together before the Wolkenritter attack Nanoha. This change was seemingly done to give the two more time together and the end result is great. If there was a downside to the original Lyrical Nanoha A’s, it was that Nanoha and Fate did not get enough time to be around each other outside of combat. But The MOVIE 2nd A’s dives deep into NanoFate fan-service from the start, making sure that there’s a much larger focus on how their relationship have developed since the first story.
The second change is the villain of the story. In Lyrical Nanoha A’s it was Gil Graham from the TSAB that actually pulled the strings and managed to activate the Tome of the Night Sky’s defense program. However, in the retelling of the story this aspect is cut out entirely (see what I mentioned about TSAB censorship) in favour of the villain being the defense program itself, now given a name; NachtWall.
While this change means we lose the twist of a TSAB member working against the heroes, it gives us a very good substitute. With a more defined villain in NachtWall and the introduction of Reinforce II as our narrator, we’re shown the story of the first Reinforce from the very start. We get to know her, as the Tome of the Night Sky, long before her late reveal in the original TV anime. As such she’s given more character and the burden of the defective defense program, NachtWall, is also expanded upon in greater detail.
There’s a lot of new scenes as well, most of which are adapted from the tie-in manga series Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s THE COMICS from when the TV anime was airing. We see the Tome of the Night Sky move on its own and interact with Hayate as one of her family members long before Hayate learns about her true form. There’s also a scene of the Wolkenritter during their earlier service, before they received a master as kind as Hayate.
The most important scene that was adapted from the tie-in manga however, in my opinion, comes right at the end of the story. After Reinforce have sacrificed her life to ensure the final destruction of NachtWall, Nanoha and Fate visits Hayate in her home. The Wolkenritter are still detained with the TSAB, so it’s just the three of them alone. This is where we see Hayate break down again from the loss of Reinforce, with Nanoha and Fate embracing her to tell her that it’s okay to cry and to let others be strong for her. It’s a great scene, made even better thanks to the added development of the Tome of the Night Sky before she’s named and characterized as Reinforce.
When the story ends we return to Reinforce II who is reflecting on the story on her own. The epilogue from the TV anime have been removed entirely in favour of this scene, where Hayate, Nanoha and Fate meet up with Reinforce II. We learn that Reinforce II was born in the spring of the Midchildan calendar year 0067, which is where the intro and outro takes place. It’s a nice ending, which would fittingly be leading right into the next film in the series.
I would argue that The MOVIE 2nd A’s is probably the best film retelling of a TV anime I’ve seen. It understood what parts of the original story had to be kept and what could be changed or toyed with to make it more fitting of a film. Unlike The MOVIE 1st, it’s not an uneven mess that can’t decide what it wants to be. Sure, both films slow down substantially in the final hour, with over a third of The MOVIE 2nd A’s taking place on December 24th, the climactic battle of the story. But it never feels slow, it feels just right.
But I would not say that The MOVIE 2nd A’s is better than the original, despite enjoying a lot of the additions and changes. The fights are one big reason why. In the TV anime, the fights had far more impact and would last several episodes. When we saw Nanoha lose to Vita it was a big deal and the fight took its time to reach its end. But in the retelling, even though it’s animated with more style and action, it’s much shorter and less impactful. I understand that they can’t have a 30 minute fight scene in the first act of a two and a half hour-long film if they want to keep the story moving, but that’s just why the story itself is better fit for something longer.
Though it’s funny I should say that since I ended up watching this two and a half hour-long film for five and a half hours. This is what happens when something is this good and I decide to livetweet it on my first watch I guess. Considering the TV anime is only a few minutes longer than the time I spent watching the film, I’m surprised that I didn’t find it slow-paced. There’s no point to this paragraph, I just thought it was a fun thing to mention.
Another issue I have with the film is NachtWall. The concept is great and the writing surrounding NachtWall is superb, but for some reason they decided to animate NachtWall almost entirely using 3D graphics and it frankly looks terrible. There are a few scenes, I think I counted three, where NachtWall is traditionally animated in 2D like everything else in the film, but apart from those scenes it’s always 3D and it always looks out-of-place.
And yes, I’m someone who rags on 3D animation in 2D anime a lot, but when I say something looks completely out-of-place I mean it. I was seriously taken out of the film for almost the entirety of the fight against NachtWall and I can’t for the life of me understand how it was approved. Especially since it’s barely animated anyway, mostly serving as a static enemy. In the TV anime the defense program was just as static once the final fight started, but it at least looked like it was part of the same anime.
Thematically The MOVIE 2nd A’s doesn’t really do anything new for the story, but I feel it understood the themes that were already there. It’s less impactful on the action, but it nails the emotional impact of the story. The scene of Reinforce’s naming is somehow made even better, despite being almost identical to the original, and Reinforce’s sacrifice is still strong enough to make me cry even thought I watched this mere days after rewatching the original scene.
This post is shorter than previous entries, mainly because there’s not much that can be said about the film that wasn’t already said in my Lyrical Nanoha A’s post. Still, if someone asked me if they should watch The MOVIE 2nd A’s or the TV anime, I’d recommend the TV anime first but would no doubt mention that the film is a solid option if you don’t have six hours to spare. Unless you’re like me and take just as long to watch the film.
Next up we’ll be looking at both a manga and an anime, as we dive into the second generation of Lyrical Nanoha. I’m of course talking about the 2009 manga and 2015 anime series, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, which gives us Nanoha and Fate’s adoptive daughter, Vivio, as our protagonist. Please look forward to that!
- Part 0: Triangle Heart and Lyrical Toy Box
- Part 1: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
- Part 2: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s
- Part 3: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
- Part 4: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st
- Part 5: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 2nd A’s
- Part 6: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid (Coming Soon)