Sunday, 12 December 2010

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st

Right, let's start this out with affirmation that I'm probably not particularly the target market for this movie - I've never watched anything Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha before, meaning that beyond the main character's design I effectively know nothing of this franchise or its previous outings.  I do realise that this is a remake of the first season of the TV anime, but with nothing for comparison all of my thoughts here are of this movie in isolation.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here we go... the movies certainly doesn't waste much time getting into the swing of things, introducing us instantly to a particular magic user who finds himself injured and turned into a ferret (no, I don't know why) whilst trying to defeat and contain some weird, generic creature running rampage on a local lake.  This leads to our protagonist, Nanoha Takamachi, finding this injured ferret - a destined meeting that seems to create a bond between the two, as come that evening Nanoha can hear the voice of Yuuno (the ferret in question) calling for assistance.  Before she knows it, she's been signed up and transformed into a magical girl, tasked with defeating the same monster as it goes on the rampage again; something she proves surprisingly effective at thanks to a tutorial courtesy of her magical staff, and despite being exposed to some danger she seems to have gotten a taste for this whole magical girl business.

So it goes that Nanoha ends up joining and assisting Yuuno on a quest to seal and capture a number of "Jewel Seeds" - dangerous crystals from another world that must be collected before they do some serious damage if left alone or misused.  While this sounds simple enough for someone with Nanoha's talents, she is of course not the only one after the Jewel Seeds, and she soon runs into a fellow magical girl named Fate and her familiar Arf - a less than friendly rival force with literal interest in small talk, let alone sharing their bounty or information on their own cause.  Needless to say, we soon find out what drives Fate for ourselves, as we see her under the thumb of her demanding mother who needs these Jewel Seeds for her own designs.

Throw in the interest of the Time-Space Administration Bureau who also entangle themselves in the scenario, and you have everything set up that the movie needs - a succession of action set-pieces punctuated by moments of plot progression, before turning a hefty chunk of its second half into a swirling cauldron of emotional turmoil largely revolving around Fate, her mother and, of course Nanoha as the true motivations for having Fate capture these Jewel Seeds comes to the fore.

Between its action, emotion and drama, you have all of the ingredients assembled of your typical magical girl outing - unfortunately, that's exactly what this movie gives you; a decidedly typical magical girl outing.  Everything that this first Nanoha movie does is solid in its implementation, and it doesn't do anything wrong per se, but at the same time it doesn't achieve anything that allows it to step out from the shadows of the genre and differentiate itself from the pack.  Almost everything within the movie is predictable while staying well within its comfort zone, and that creates an unhurried and unspectacular film that never holds any genuine feelings of peril, excitement or sadness which also seems to take itself far more seriously than it probably should.  The movie as a whole feels so sterile it's nigh-on impossible to cite exactly where it could be improved, but it's certainly missing something that I can't quite define here.  Maybe long-standing Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha fans will get more mileage from the film than I, but it certainly didn't set my pulse racing enough to find any excitement for the second movie that's in the pipeline.

No comments: