Review • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Detonation

Original Recording Script:

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Detonation is a direct sequel to last year’s movie, Nanoha Reflection. Together they make up one singular story that serves as an adaptation of the PSP game, The Gears of Destiny, and take place between the second and third seasons of the TV anime.

The movie released in Japanese theaters for a limited roadshow run in October and will have its western premiere in France tomorrow. I saw the movie during my trip to Japan this fall and figured now was the perfect time to tell you what I thought about it. This review is spoiler free and will only outline my general thoughts.

While Nanoha Reflection was a fun and exciting movie, its abrupt cliffhanger ending meant that it hinged a lot on the follow-up being just as good if not better. Thankfully, Nanoha Detonation delivers on that promise.

The set-up follows our main trio of magical girls, Nanoha, Fate and Hayate, as they’re faced with a new incident on Earth. A mysterious artificial intelligence named Iris is leading a girl from a different planet, Kyrie, to a mineral known as the Eternal Crystal, promising the power within it will be able to save Kyrie’s home planet from dying.

The last movie ended with Kyrie being betrayed by Iris, revealing that the search for the Eternal Crystal was actually a revenge plot against a living weapon, Yuri. Iris have also successfully copies the main trio’s bodies, supplying each with a trapped soul from Hayate’s tome to help her fight.

While Nanoha Reflection mainly based its events on the aforementioned PSP game, Nanoha Detonation adds a lot more original content to the existing story. The three clones are given a more fleshed out backstory and the events involving Kyrie and Amitie’s home planet are given more focus.

The movie features a lot of flashbacks, more so than any prior Nanoha movie by far. Thankfully, these flashbacks are woven into the main story well enough to not feel distracting, though there are moments where you can’t help but wonder if maybe the story would have fit better in a TV anime where things could be explored in more detail than in a movie.

Nanoha Detonation is slightly longer than Nanoha Reflection, clocking in at two hours. However, as it’s clearly meant to be watched back to back with the former movie, you can basically view them as one two-hundred and twenty minute long sitting. I expect this is the best way to watch the two movies, but it requires more free time that I expect most are willing to sacrifice.

While the movie itself doesn’t directly lead into the third season of the anime, you can tell that the characters are in the middle of developing into their older selves as seen in said season. Though despite being a “midquel” unable to alter the course of events, Nanoha Detonation manages to utilize its expanded cast and focus on character specific developments and conflicts to still involve quite a number of twists that even the biggest Nanoha fan will be surprised by.

With gorgeous animation, easy-to-follow action sequences and some truly spectacular performances by Tamura Yukari, Mizuki Nana and Ueda Kana who all three voice multiple characters. Nanoha Detonation is easily my favourite Nanoha movie to date and one of my favourite Nanoha stories to ever have been released.

If you’re a fan of Nanoha, I don’t have to tell you to go see the movie. But if you’re on the fence for any reason, I insist that you go see it once you have the chance. For newcomers to the series, you’d be expected to at least see Nanoha Reflection first, but I believe it can still be a very enjoyable movie without too much series knowledge.

I’m very excited to see what Seven Arcs has in store for the series moving forward, hopefully we’ll get something involving adult Nanoha next.

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