Reviews: Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha FORCE

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Uwe Boll Does Nanoha (Badly)
You could almost see where the author was going with this. It was meant to be a Deconstruction of many of the themes present in previous works featuring Nanoha. However a tone-deaf author and focus on a thoroughly despicable set of villains robs this work of the very soul of the Nanoha franchise. At its heart, previous works were highly optimistic while also preaching responsibility with power. A beloved facet of the franchise was that villains were generally sympathetic or at least have standards and loved ones. This is true even for characters that were stated to be outright insane such as Precia Testarosta and Jail Scarletti. It also had a bit of tongue in cheek humor inherent in having the "White Devil" as the protagonist.

This series? It not only has none of that but tries to enforce a vision that is counter-conceptual of the franchise, thus the comparison to the works of the inestimable Mr Boll.

Gone is any attempt at interesting or nuanced characters. Thoma is very much a Marty Stu protagonist with extra angst and very little ability to discern between good and evil. Just about all our beloved characters suffer from the Worf Effect, making them ultimately irrelevant to the greater scheme of things. The true nail in the coffin of course is the Huckebein, our antagonists. They perpetuate atrocities and yet claim the moral high ground. They can defeat the protagonists essentially through Ass Pull Superpower Lottery abilities that make the protagonists' collective abilities ineffective. There is no true weight or menace to them, they are victorious simply because they possess the means to nullify everyone else's powers. That does not make them memorable antagonists, it makes them villain sues.

That is perhaps the whole rub with this series. It reads like a badly done self-insert fanfic with a new main character that suddenly knows everyone and is perhaps their only true hope of victory. The villains simply outmatch the heroes because the plot says they do. There is no drama or skill involved, the Huckebein might as well have "god mode" on. The old cast are rendered powerless in their own series in favour of the new protagonist. All of these are hallmarks of bad fanfics let alone official works.
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Almost Insulting
Nanoha has always been an odd franchise, but people adored it for this very reason. Essentially, it was a magical girl show as filtered through Super Robot Wars, and everyone laughed at and loved the message of friendship and family.

The later seasons, however, seem to have focused to much on the mecha part of the franchise, sending most of the extras to the trash and concentrating on the darker sci-fi. Striker(s) suffered from this, but overall remained true to the franchise.

And then we have Force.

It's full of wasted potential: Exploring the implications of the Anti-Magic we saw in S, what would happen if MORE Anti-Magic came into play?

The problem is that, you guessed it, the good concept executed badly. Even more characters are gone (Zafira? Arf? Who're those?), focusing on even more new characters. And most of them suck. Our PROTAGONIST had great potential, again, but the fact that he suddenly knows everybody and is generally useless in combat unless he's causing TROUBLE for the other heroes makes him unlikable. The new villains, unlike the previous ones, are wholly unlikable hypocrites who claim the moral high ground with their completely despicable actions while acting like complete jackasses. And we're supposed to sympathize with them.

But perhaps the worst part is that the series seems to have forgotten its roots. Magic is pretty much useless now, and the substitutes aren't 100% reliable either. Defeat Means Friendship is deconstructed, but it almost seems mean-spirited. And the new unlikable villains trounce the old heroes far too much, and it especially annoys how much these new villains often aim for the very sympathetic Wolkenritter, and they do it not out of skill, but because they're Anti-Magic.

So to conclude: We exchanged a lot of the franchise's themes and characters for a new unlikable cast and big guns. Beautiful.

Big guns does not a story make. Awesome battles are diluted if the people in them aren't worth caring about. With the series on hiatus just a a hint of improvement showed, we wonder how the franchise will continue.
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