Anime / Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's
The second season of the Nanoha
franchise, set six months after the original series
Nanoha and Fate are working together with the TSAB
to investigate an artifact of incredible power
called the Book of Darkness, which has been linked to a number of attacks on magi that have left the victims drained of mana
Unknown to them, the Book of Darkness has attached itself to an orphaned girl in a wheelchair called Hayate. She just wants to have a family, and she lovingly adopts the sentient defence programs
of the Book - a sympathetic female Power Trio
and their Non-Human Sidekick
- as her own.
But what Hayate is unaware of is that the Book of Darkness is slowly eating away at her life, and only by feeding it the mana
of others can she be saved. Not wishing to lose their kind master, the servants of the Book go behind her back and attempt to satisfy the Book's hunger on their own, leading them to an inevitable confrontation with Team Nanoha.
Even moreso than its predecessor, this is the show that really set the tone and concept of the entire franchise in stone, and made it far bigger than just "magical girls get a little Super Robot
". It's widely considered to be the best season of TV Nanoha
by fans and critics alike, and every Nanoha
product afterwards, not to mention a decent bit of wider anime and other media, owes something to it and tries to emulate what made it successful.
It has a supplementary Slice of Life
manga and Sound Stages
that take place between the episodes. The Bandai Namco Entertainment
games for the Playstation Portable
, The Battle Of Aces
and The Gears of Destiny
, are Alternate Continuity
sequels to A's
, which change the events of the last episode. A movie remake of A's
, known as The Movie 2nd A's
, was released in 2012, following the continuity of The Movie 1st
The anime was licensed and dubbed in North America by Geneon
, but is now out of print. After Geneon USA shut down, Funimation
took over distribution of the original series and A's until the licenses for both series expired in 2011.NOTE:
Only general tropes for the series are listed here. For character-specific ones, check out the character sheets.
MGLN A's provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: Hayate's plight - she has been sick for a long time, and seemingly wonders if she'll die soon, but doesn't fear it because she's always been alone. And Graham believes that sealing her away with the Book of Darkness is regrettable, but it's better that few will miss her.
- The Wolkenritter's perspective is even worse. They have to watch as someone they love is slowly consumed by an incurable illness. There are several scenes in both the series and the movie devoted to them dealing with that fear.
- An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The final battle takes place on Christmas Eve.
- Arc Words: "It was only a small wish." This turns out to refer to the Wolkenritter's desire to live out a peaceful ordinary life with their master Hayate. Unfortunately for them, their very nature prevents them from obtaining their wish and their efforts to maintain the illusion of ordinary life destroys it more and more. Their wish turns out to be not so small, after all. It takes an intervention by the multiverse's most powerful mages, a space battleship, and a miracle to make it reality—if only partly.
- Artifact of Death: The Book of Darkness, because of the malfunction.
- Bittersweet Ending: The threat of the Book of Darkness is over, as is its control over Hayate and the Wolkenritter's lives, but this requires Reinforce's Heroic Sacrifice, preventing her from sharing her mistress and knights' happiness and greatly upsetting Hayate. To make the loss easier to bear, Reinforce suggests Hayate name her new magical device "Reinforce" in her memory. As Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS shows, Hayate did more than that: the remnants of Reinforce are used to create Reinforce Zwei, with hints that at least some of the original personality has been preserved intact.
- Book-Ends: The first and final fights between Team Nanoha and the Wolkenritter both start off with Vita attacking Nanoha on a roof.
- Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: Team Nanoha (the heroes) accidentally meets Team Wolkenritter (the heroic antagonists) in a hospital while visiting the Wolkenritter's master Hayate (who also happens to be a friend of Nanoha's friend Suzuka; they didn't know she was their enemies' master until then, however). This takes place just before the Final Battle, so it doesn't go well at all.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Arc-en-ciel is a Chekhov's Wave Motion Gun. The Arthra is put into maintenance while it's being installed, and it is repeatedly spoken of as a last resort that the protagonists are reluctant to use.
- Chekhov's Skill: Episode 8 introduces the concept of Transformation Magic through a distraught Shamal when, after finding out how close Hayate was to the heroes, she makes an offhand comment of how she should have applied it to the Wolkenritter. When The Reveal came, it turned out that certain other parties didn't forget to apply this useful spell.
- Christmas Episode: The first Megami Sound Stage, set during this season, takes place around Christmas time, and features Nanoha telling Fate about Christmas, among other topics. Nanoha has a belated Christmas celebration on the 26th, as a result of her family restaurant being busy on Christmas Day.
- Clark Kenting: Averted. The Wolkenritter have to avoid being with Hayate whenever Nanoha and Fate come to visit her lest they figure out that Hayate is the master of the Book of Darkness (Shamal even note that they probably should have used disguise magic). Arisa and Suzuka also recognize Nanoha and Fate instantly when they see them in their Barrier Jackets during the final battle.
- Demoted to Extra: The rest of Nanoha's family suffered a steep decline in importance in A's, and stopped appearing altogether afterwards, barring a couple of Sound Stages. During this season, Yuuno gradually transitions from a major character who fights alongside the protagonists to one who stays behind and helps by researching.
- Distant Finale / "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: A sequence taking place six years after the main story. It's somewhere in between the two, since it's an extended scene with both dialog and on-screen captions.
- Dramatic Irony: In episode six, Nanoha and Yuuno discuss what type of person the Master of the Book of Darkness might be, followed by Nanoha receiving text from Suzuka talking about her new friend... Hayate.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Book of Darkness's defense system after it goes berserk.
- Episode Title Card: In a carryover from the first season, episode titles are presented over a picture Raising Heart's standby mode with a cheerful sound cue and Nanoha reading the title aloud. And then "Christmas Eve" hits with nothing more than white text on a black backgound in complete silence, cluing in the audience that all hell is about to break loose.
- Evil Plan: The knights are not evil but their plan of attacking mages to drain their linker cores and power up an Artifact of Doom is certainly dangerous and it drives the plot.
- Fantastic Nuke: The Arc-en-Ciel, which could have destroyed a fair chunk of Japan's landmass had it been fired at the surface. Firing it even follows the Two-Man Rule and requires authorization by the highest authorities, heightening the similarities.
- Good Versus Good: As early as the second episode the audience it let in on the knights' motivation: save their master. There's a side order of world-killing Eldritch Abomination thrown in at the very end so both sides can really cut loose.
- Great Big Library of Everything: The Infinity Library is stated to hold the history of countless planets and civilizations. One requires good search magic to find anything, since it's mostly uncatalogued.
- Hourglass Plot: Fate rejects Precia in the Book of Darkness' dream world for the exact same reason that Precia rejected her back in the first season... because she isn't real.
- It Only Works Once: The Wolkenritter must seek new targets every episode because the Book of Darkness can only drain an individual's linker core once.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Fate's Heel–Face Turn from last season.
- Lighthearted Rematch: After the incident is over, Signum tells Fate she would like one. The last chapter of the manga involves a 5-on-5 sparring battle in which Nanoha, Fate, Yuuno, Chrono and Arf fight against Hayate and the Wolkenritter.
- Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition: Fate, who has lightning-type Mana Conversion Ability, is repeatedly pitted against Signum, the leader of the season's "villains" who has flame-type MCA. Although their enmity doesn't last the season itself, their friendly rivalry continues far beyond that.
- Living with the Villain: Hayate's place is villain central, although it turns out the problem is on the bookshelf, not with the people. Nanoha's friend Suzuka becomes friends with Hayate, later introducing Nanoha to her, and even meets the Wolkenritter. In the first Sound Stage, Nanoha and Fate go to the public bath at the same time as Hayate and the Wolkenritter, and the two groups barely avoid seeing each other.
- Lock and Load Montage: The show already devotes an inordinate proportion of its Transformation Sequences to shots of the characters' magical armaments, which include a surprisingly large number of moving parts. These evolved into full on Lock And Load Montages in A's, they begin literally loading their weapons with cartridges and magazines.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Fate gets caught in one by the Book of Darkness near the end of A's. Reinforce offers Hayate one, and planned to put the entire Earth into one, but she refuses.
- Made of Indestructium: Technically you can destroy the Book of Darkness, but it just pops back, good as new, somewhere completely different. So the book is functionally indestructible and can only be neutralized by freezing it... which doesn't work. Ultimately they hit it with something capable of taking out a good chunk of a planet and even then it's not completely gone until they seal Reinforce as well.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The corrupted defense program of the Book of Darkness, which seems to be a hybrid of the magical monsters whose linker cores the Wolkenritter absorbed.
- Mood Whiplash:
- The relationship between Hayate and the Wolkenritter is absolutely adorable, until it's revealed that they are only able to serve her since the Book of Darkness is slowly devouring her soul. No one involved is happy about this.
- Episode 9 begins with Nanoha having Fate over for dinner and planning to surprise Hayate in the hospital. The surprise visit causes them to run into the Wolkenritter, who had originally took pains to not be there when Nanoha and the others visited to avoid them finding out about Hayate being their master. Things then get much worse.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Both parties pull this off against the raging Eldritch Abomination.
- Mythology Gag: When the group talks about parallel universes in the Guidebook comic, one of them suggests that they could have been ordinary middle schoolers with mundane lives, and Nanoha laughs about the idea. This is exactly what they were in Triangle Heart 3, where Nanoha originated from.
- No Ontological Inertia: Averted - Nanoha is able to finish firing off her Starlight Breaker after her Linker Core gets damaged.
- Number of the Beast: The Book of Darkness has 666 pages to fill.
- Opposing Combat Philosophies: Present in the later seasons as well, but best showcased here. In general, Midchildian Mages use a mixture of defensive barriers, support magic and ranged attacks designed to support any situation or tactic. Belkan Knights specialize entirely in combat magic, using punishing melee attacks and cartridge-enhanced weaponry to make themselves unrivaled in one-on-one fights. Of course, there are exceptions to both rules like Fate and Hayate.
- Out of the Inferno: Nanoha pulls this off in episode 9 after Vita attacks her. This scene is one of the reasons fans call her "The White Devil".
- Pre-Insanity Reveal: The Evil Matriarch Precia Testarossa we get to see in the original Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was driven psychotically (and abusively) insane by the death of her daughter Alicia, which also served as her Start of Darkness. In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, as well as The MOVIE 1st, we are then shown flashbacks of Precia from before that, when she had been an all-round nice and hard-working single mom who doted over her daughter like no tomorrow.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: About halfway through the season it's revealed that the Wolkenritter are actually semi-autonomous programs. Fate (who was in the middle of her "am I even human?" phase) compares them to herself, which Chrono and Lindy are very quick to deny. As we find out later on in the episode, that is probably the most accurate comparison that could possibly be made since they're almost identical to her back in the first season (completely human despite their artificial nature, driven to help a dying mother figure, and suffering to the point that you just want to give them a hug).
- Rousseau Was Right: Nobody is outright evil in this story: the heroes are trying to stop the Book of Darkness as it could destroy the Earth, the Wolkenritter, although doing evil acts, are trying to save the life of their innocent master and don't want to kill people, Admiral Gil Graham is trying to save the world even though it would require using Hayate as a sacrifice, and even Reinforce wants to "save" the world by imposing a Lotus-Eater Machine on it. The closest thing to "evil" is the corrupted defense program of the Book of Darkness, which is really more of a mindless machine than anything else.
- Sacrificial Planet: The Book of Darkness is said to have destroyed countless planets before finding its way to Earth, and so Team Nanoha embarks on a quest to locate and stop it.
- Shout-Out: To Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War. A's had its own Belkan War that caused the downfall of a mighty empire.
- So Last Season: Nanoha and Fate are easily beaten the first time they go against the Wolkenritter with their cartridge-loaded Devices. It's not until they copy the system for their own Devices that they can fight them on an equal footing.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The TSAB ship's name - Arthra (official) vs Asura (Fan Sub). This one is so widespread that most of the fandom seems to think that Asura is the official name.
- Also, while the credits and whatnot consistently spell it MGLN A's, the script and a lot of the supplementary material makes it pretty clear that the "season name" is probably meant to be Ace.note
- Start X to Stop X: Gil Graham wants to seal the Book of Darkness to prevent another disaster from happening. In order to do so without activating the said book's reincarnation capability, the plan was to let the Wolkenritter complete the book and activate it, then freeze it along with its master before it goes out of control.
- Sucking-In Lines: Starlight Breaker, some of Hayate's and Reinforce's spells, and the Arc-En-Ciel.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted twice. Chrono gets the drop on Shamal as she's telepathically talking to Zafira, but is himself ambushed as he reads her the TSAB's equivalent of Miranda Rights.
- Tempting Fate
- In Vita's second fight with the title character, Nanoha fires a cartridge-boosted Projectile Spell spread of twelve, when in the first fight, she used twos or fours at most. Vita responds by deploying Panzer Hidernis to protect herself while saying: "Are you stupid?! There's no way you control all these bullets!" A moment later, the bullets start speeding up, and Vita's Panzer Hidernis begins cracking.
- In her third encounter with Nanoha, Vita used Eisen Geheul ("Iron Howl", kind of a flashbang/flare) to distract Nanoha while the knight escaped. After flying quite a distance (though still in sight), Vita muses, "OK, this is far enough..." Cue Nanoha charging up Divine Buster. "Is she seriously going to shoot anyway? At this range?!" Yes, Nanoha was and did.
- Nanoha notes it would be funny if the master of the Book of Darkness happened to be a girl her age. Moments later, she gets an email from Suzuka telling her about Hayate.
- Amy, having taken charge in Lindy and Chrono's absence, tells Nanoha and Fate that she doesn't expect anything to happen, and is cut off in mid-sentence by the alarm going off as the Wolkenritter are detected.
- Theme Music Power-Up: "BRAVE PHOENIX" for pretty much everyone in the final fight.
- Time Skip:
- Tragic Dream: The Wolkenritter only ever had a small wish: to complete the Book of Darkness, cure Hayate, and live out the rest of their time in peace with her. Unknown to them, Hayate was doomed to die (or trapped in ice for eternity), regardless of how hard they struggled to achieve that dream. Their salvation ultimately lay with two particular persons of mass destruction they believed were their enemies.
- Tragically Misguided Favor: Subverted. The Wolkenritter's plan to save Hayate's life by filling the Book of Darkness would have backfired horribly, killing not only her but the entire planet. It's only thanks to Nanoha and Fate's intervention that tragedy is ultimately averted (for the most part).
- Treachery Cover Up: Admiral Graham's plan to seal the Book of Darkness away with Hayate is largely overlooked outside of the upper echelons of the TSAB, and he merely resigns, only being officially accused of breaking into Bureau systems and interfering with the investigation.
- Twisted Christmas: Because nothing says Christmas cheer like a little girl watching her entire adoptive family get murdered.
- Umbrella of Togetherness: Nanoha and Yuuno share an umbrella when it's snowing. It marked the end of Yuuno's story importance.
- Villain Opening Scene: In the absolute loosest sense of the term "villain", the season opens with the Book of Darkness activating on Hayate's birthday.
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The Book of Darkness activated at midnight on Hayate's 9th birthday.
- White and Grey Morality: In contrast to the Black and White Morality of the first season; the antagonists in A's are either Anti-Villains or Well-Intentioned Extremists.
- The Worf Effect: Nanoha loses to Vita, and Fate is losing against Signum for most of their first fight, to show the power of the new antagonists.
The movie and its supplementaries additionally/alternatively provide examples of:
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the series, Chrono's staff Durandal was created by Gil Graham to fight the Book of Darkness. Due to Graham being Adapted Out, the movie changed it to originally belonging to Clyde. All well and good, were it not for the fact that Clyde died via exploding spaceship while on duty (meaning he would have had his weapon with him), which makes you wonder how in the hell Lindy got a hold of it.
- Alternate Continuity: Different from the TV series. Also changes a lot more than The Movie 1st did.
- Big Damn Reunion: Unlike in the show, Nanoha and Fate have a proper reunion before Vita attacks Nanoha, and it's overflowing with romantic undertones.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Raising Heart and Bardiche borrow each others' catchphrases when preparing to delete Reinforce.
- Calling Your Attacks: Like the previous commentary cast, this cast really loves calling attacks. There is also the rare opportunity to hear adult!Chrono shouting "Eternal Coffin".
- Compressed Adaptation: A's had much more to lose than the first season.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Nanoha, Fate and Arf got defeated by Vita, Signum and Shamal and Zafira, respectively.
- Nachtwal vs Vita and Zafira, respectively.
- Death by Adaptation: Not death, but Arf's Linker Core is drained by the Book of Darkness, too, despite her never being a victim in the TV series.
- Demoted to Extra: Yuuno, Chrono, Arf and Amy are demoted to extra even more than in The Movie 1st. Yuuno appears only in six scenes, in one of them we see only his back for a few seconds, and one of them was in the epilogue's ending song, but he gets no action until the final battle. Arf's battles against Zafira are extremely shortened. Chrono gets no action until the final battle because Graham and the Liese Twins don't appear in the movie. And Amy is sometimes replaced by Mariel.
- Yuuno' "extra status" has big impact in the first battle against the Wolkenritter. Without his teleportation spell, neither he nor Fate can save Nanoha from Vita. The result: Vita, not Shamal, drains Nanoha's Linker Core; and Fate and Arf's Linker Core as well, despite Fate's Linker Core being drained much later in the TV series, and Arf never became a victim.
- Even Signum gets less action than in the TV series. Her battle with Fate in the desert is cut out because Fate's Linker Core has already been drained by the Book of Darkness, so it is mixed within the second battle. Their third movie battle is barely shown, because Nanoha vs Vita gets the entire focus during this time, then Nachtwal shows up and kills the Wolkenritter.
- Framing Device: The majority of the movie is Reinforce Zwei reminiscing about the events that let to her creation, as recounted to her by Hayate and the Wolkenritter.
- In-Character Commentary: Like the previous movie, there is a commentary which lasts until the credits. This time, the commentary cast is three times bigger than the previous one, having 21 members.
- In Spite of a Nail: Even without Admiral Gil Graham, events still play out in a very similar manner to the anime.
- Inconsistent Dub: During the final battle scene of the commentary, the cast (including Fate herself) mistakenly call Fate's Plasma Zanber Breaker "Jet Zanber", which is a completely different attack.
- Kung-Fu Sonic Boom: The movie uses this to show off the power of the new Catridge System, with the shock wave from the clash between Fate's Bardiche Assault and Signum's Laevatein shattering all the windows of the buildings around them.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: The DVD Commentary totally spoils that Lutecia Alpine and Agito are going to be good girls, despite them being villains in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Nanoha Super Special Box. Animate and Gamer's version taken up to eleven for 15,750 yen. And they are English subbed too.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The commentary cast is with 21 members almost as big the movie cast, in contrast to the commentary cast of The Movie 1st which had only seven members. The cast includes the three Acesnote , the Yagami familynote , the Forwardsnote , Team Nakajimanote , Miura, Lutecia, and even Chrono and Yuuno. It's taken Up to 11 when all 21 members comment about the final battle scene.
- Luminescent Blush: Vita in reaction to Nanoha's glomp.
- Mythology Gag: Many of them are references to StrikerS, some of them are adapted from the A's supplementary manga.
- Fate's changes her black cape with a white cape during the Grand Finale (Blaze Form), a nod to her mantle which she wears StrikerS onwards (Impulse Form).
- Vita uses Kometfliegen against Nanoha, despite she demonstrates it in StrikerS for the first time. Though, she does have this attack in the A's' Portable games.
- When Nanoha and Fate attacks Reinforce from both sides, Fate doesn't use Plasma Smasher, but Trident Smasher, a spell which is introduced in StrikerS. In that season, she and Nanoha attacks Quattro and Dieci from both sides with Trident Smasher and Exelion Buster; so it could be a nod to that scene. But it's not clear whether Nanoha uses Divine Buster Extension (like in A's) or Exelion Buster (like in StrikerS) in the movie, because neither Fate nor Nanoha call their attacks. It's probably the former, because Exelion Buster can only be fired in Exelion Mode or Exceed Mode.
- When Nanoha activates Raising Heart's Exelion Mode, her Barrier Jacket changes, too, from Sacred Mode to Exelion Mode. This is a nod to her and Raising Heart's Exceed Mode, as her Barrier Jacket changes from Aggressor Mode to Exceed Mode.
- Nanoha and Fate's Blast Calamity is a combination spell which was only seen in the A's supplementary manga before.
- The scene where Hayate breaks into tears in Nanoha and Fate's arms didn't appear in the TV series, but in the supplementary manga.
- Nanoha, Fate and Hayate Are About To Triple Breaker You: The Animate version.◊
- Never Trust a Trailer: Lindy vs Signum... yay! Not. Vita interfered. Well, it was seen in the trailer, too, but most assumed Lindy would do something else after that.
- Retcon: In-universe example - Graham's involvement in the incident is completely cut out from the movie by the TSAB. See Treachery Cover Up from the series above as for why.
- Taking You with Me: As opposed to getting shot down by somebody, Chrono's father blew up the ship with the Book of Darkness.
- Theme Music Power-Up: "Sacred Force -Extended Mix-" replaces "BRAVE PHOENIX".
- This Is a Drill: Book of Darkness brings up one. Fate cuts it in half. In the commentary Hayate mentions she hasn't found any opportunity to use it in battle yet and (hopefully) jokingly offers to let Einhart try and take one, after she expresses her amazement for it.
- Up to 11: Cartridges + higher budget for movie = bigger battles and bigger explosions. Also the Automatic Defense Program actually fights back this time, which was probably the one change from the TV version nobody complained about.
- Villain Over for Dinner: Inverted when Fate and Nanoha accidentally stumble upon the Wolkenritter in the hospital, while visiting Hayate, and thus discover she's their master that they've been looking for. Since they had their oblivious friends with them as well, the conversation was a little awkward.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: This one is only two years later, shortly after the creation of Reinforce Zwei, likely because they intend for the next movie to be an interquel between A's and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: NachtWal appeared after Vita got bound and hit with a Divine Buster, before taking their Linker Cores.