Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is a redirect for the Lyrical Nanoha franchise page, (or the PSP games page if you use Video Game/Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha) not for The Original Series.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is the first series in the Nanoha franchise.
It starts with a typical cookie-cutter plot: twenty-one dangerous artifacts of incredible power called Jewel Seeds have fallen to Earth following a cross-dimensional accident. A mage named Yuuno is badly injured while attempting to retrieve them, and is discovered half-dead by Nanoha Takamachi, an ordinary 9-year-old elementary schooler.
Just as Nanoha is getting used to her new duties, everything changes when she is confronted by Fate Testarossa, a Dark Magical Girl who is also attempting to capture all the Jewel Seeds. However, Nanoha senses something pained and fragile behind Fate's ice-cold exterior, and resolves to discover the truth even if she has to beat it out of her.
Thus ends the introduction of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, one of the most popular modern Magical Girl anime due to the odd mix of Magical Girl elements with incredibly flashy fight scenes. The premise of "Magical Girl meets Gundam" led to a unique and successful show.
A movie titled Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st was released in 2010 and retold the original plot, but more in the style of the later seasons. It is treated by sort-of canon as an In-Universe biopic, so it is considered its own continuity. A companion manga titled Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Movie 1st The Comics was also released at the same time. Initially it appeared to be a prequel to The Movie, but it was later revealed to be yet another Alternate Continuity. Both the series and the movie have supplementary Slice of Life Drama CDs called Sound Stages. From 2013 to 2016 another manga based on the same season was released, titled Original Chronicle Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The 1st, a more straightforward adaptation with some All There in the Manual material reincorporated.
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 its sequel Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's until the licenses for both expired in 2011.
The original series provides examples of:
- All There in the Manual: As would become tradition for the rest of the franchise, this season has three Sound Stages which go into more detail on the world of Nanoha. While the first, and arguably the third, aren't too important, and don't have many details that you can't figure out yourself, the second Sound Stage is another matter as it deals with Precia's familiar Linith, who was the one that created Bardiche and taught Fate magic. It also explains Fate's relationship with Arf in more detail, so not having that available to anime-only fans is more than a little frustrating.
- Animation Bump: The first episode has an infamous scene in which the animation gets suddenly incredibly detailed and fluid. The strange thing is that the scene really isn't that important, it's just Nanoha and her family having dinner and Nanoha asking if she can keep Yuuno, so the whole shot looks strange despite being well animated.
- By The Power Of Grey Skull: Averted for the most part. In the first episode, Yuno tells Nanoha a password she needs to say to activate Raising Heart but after that she doesn't need it.
- Collapsing Lair: The Garden of Time, as a result of Precia's failed attempt to use the Jewel Seeds.
- Continuity Nod: The scars from Nanoha's father's "old job", Miyuki practicing her sword-fighting technique, and other references to Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever.
- Cool Starship: The TSAB L-class cruise patrol warship "Arthra". The Fan Subs called it "Asura", which many fans prefer over the official spelling.
- Cute Giant: One episode had a kitten come into contact with one of the Jewel Seeds, which granted its wish of wanting to grow up... and grow it did, becoming as tall as the trees. Despite being giant, it still acted like a kitten, not aggressive at all. Provided the page image for Mega Neko.
- Demoted to Extra:
- Before Lyrical Nanoha, there was a Visual Novel called Lyrical Toy Box (which was a Spin-Off of the visual novel Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever). In Lyrical Toy Box, Nanoha's magical companion was Lindy and the villain was Chrono. In this anime, Lindy and Chrono are reduced to side characters as their original roles are respectively replaced by Yuuno and Fate.
- Several characters from Triangle Heart 3, such as Nanoha's family and their supporting casts, are drastically reduced into being bit players here.
- Discovering Your Own Dead Body: In episode 11, Fate sees what appears to be her own body in a jar and finds out that it's actually Alicia, her mother Precia's original daughter whom she was cloned from. Worse, Precia considers Fate to be a failure and willingly dies with the original Alicia's body even when Fate tries to save her.
- Dramatic Wind: Used to great effect during Nanoha and Fate's talk on the bridge.
- Driving Question: Why does Fate have such sad, lonely eyes? This evolved into "Will you be my friend?"
- Dungeon Bypass: Chrono does one in the finale, apparently because he couldn't find the door to Precia's inner sanctum.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- The first few episodes of the original series were a standard Magical Girl show, and it wasn't until A's that it truly became a Gundam-in-a-schoolgirl-skirt show.
- In a similar vein, we have Arf threatening to swallow Nanoha whole if she gets in their way too much. Nothing comes of this, it is promptly forgotten about when Arf next appears, and no mention is ever made of it again.
- A minor example, but Nanoha introduces her Starlight Breaker as a variation on Divine Buster. It's later established that the two attacks are very different and work on completely different mechanisms. Notably, the movie removes this line and instead replaces it with Nanoha explaining how Starlight Breaker works.
- Engrish: Raising Heart and Bardiche's English will sometimes have a bit of this mixed in. While their voice actors were both native speakers, presumably the writers were not.
- Evil Plan: At first, there isn't one; Yuuno just needed help recovering artifacts scattered by an accident. Then Fate shows up, and eventually it's revealed that Precia wanted the jewel seeds to revive her real daughter and go back to the way things used to be.
- Face Fault: Nanoha gets one in the first episode, when her father asks what a ferret is.
- False Camera Effects: Episode 1 includes a brief sequence of Nanoha running that is made to look like it was filmed with a hand-held camera. There's also a scene during the final battle where it gets splashed with water.
- Fatal Fireworks: Inverted in the third sound stage. In celebration of the anniversary of Fate and Arf's familiar contract, Nanoha sets off Starlight Breaker as fireworks.
- Genre Shift: Within the course of the original thirteen episodes, the series shifts from typical Magical Girl fare to something more dramatic as well as becoming more action oriented in the process. By the end of the season the action and drama aspects have become central to the series.
- Heroic BSoD: When Precia tells Fate that Fate really isn't her daughter, that her memories are really those of Precia's real daughter Alicia, and that Precia has always hated her. Fate stands stunned for a while and then collapses into unconsciousness.
- Hot Springs Episode: Episode 5. It's the final time that there would be genuine fanservice outside of Sound Stages and the manga (at least until the ViVid anime).
- Humongous Mecha: Precia deploys a variety of robots that clearly fall into this category to defend her lair in the finale. Nanoha proceeds to smack them down like she was an escaped Super Prototype from a Gundam show.
- Imperfect Ritual: Precia Testarossa needs all 21 Jewel Seeds to open a portal to Al-Hazard, but only ends up in possession of 9, "thanks" to the title character and the Bureau's efforts. At the end of the series, she decides to go through with the incomplete ritual and goes MIA. Her ultimate fate is still a major mystery of the series.
- Innocuously Important Episode: Episode 3 seems like a standard Monster of the Week episode, but it's the first time that Nanoha uses Raising Heart's Shooting Mode and it introduces several plot points that will be important come StrikerS (mainly Nanoha's habit of pushing herself to the point of exhaustion and the Area Search spell).
- Mecha-Mooks: Precia's robotic army.
- Mega Neko: One of the kittens at Suzuka's mansion gets a hold of a Jewel Seed in episode 4 that makes it grow to a massive size. It provides page image.
- Modesty Towel: Present on every character during the Hot Springs Episode, though this is averted during the Furo and Shower Scenes.
- Monster of the Week: In the first four episodes.
- Mood Whiplash: Precia whipping Fate rapidly converts most viewers from enjoying the somewhat humorous tone and subversiveness of the series to "PRECIA TESTAROSSA MUST DIE".
- Mythology Gag: Lindy's fairy wings, Chrono's Spikes of Villainy, and other references to the original Nanoha game.
- Ominous Floating Castle: The Garden of Time, Precia's fortress.
- One True Sequence: After the first 5 or so Jewel Seeds are individually fought over, both the TSAB and Fate focus on getting the closest ones that the other isn't pursuing. The plot jumps ahead to after each side has collected all the ones available.
- Panty Shot: Several in the first episode, courtesy of Nanoha.
- People Jars: Precia had a few. One contains the body of her dead daughter, Alicia, whom Fate was cloned from; the rest contain failed clones.
- Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: The photograph of Fate and her mother in episode four. Interesting because the secret isn't what Precia looks like — she's shown in episode seven — but that she's smiling: the photo was taken before she went insane. Also, it's not really Fate in the photo, but her sister/original, although Fate has no clue.
- Power Levels: Nanoha's average magical power is given to be 1.27 million, while Fate's is 1.43 million. All other mentions use letter rankings.
- The Power of Friendship: Saved Fate's life arguably. Of course, given the definition of "befriend" in use by the Nanoha fandom, it can also be employed to blow you up.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning
- In the first episode, Nanoha is attacked by a large evil cloud-like monster with red eyes.
- Subverted with Fate. The red-eyed Fate Testarossa is introduced as an adversary and an apparent villain, but it quickly becomes apparent that she's the enemy more by circumstance than choice, and she undergoes a HeelFace Turn near the end.
- Say My Name: According to Nanoha, the first step to becoming friends (apart from firing massive lasers) is to simply say the other person's name.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: After Fate forcibly activates the remaining Jewel Seeds, rather than wait for Fate to exhaust herself and potentially get hurt for biting more than she could chew, Nanoha defies orders to help Fate.
- Series Fauxnale: This was the very first TV anime of Seven Arcs and was The Anime of the Game to boot, so it ends in a rather final way with the Big Bad dead, the MacGuffins safely secured, Fate having a tearful farewell with Nanoha, the last scenes showing everything going back to the way they were, and... whoops, looks like Seven Arcs' first attempt at a series was successful enough to kickstart a franchise! Contrast the finales of the subsequent seasons, whose Where Are They Now Epilogues are unambiguous in its intent of setting things up for the next season.
- Shoulder Cannon: When Nanoha and Fate team up inside Precia's castle, they are attacked by a Mecha Mook robot with two energy cannons on its shoulders.
- Spoiler Opening: Fate and Arf are shown in the intro right off the bat, despite not appearing until Episode 4, and changing the tone of the series dramatically once they do.
- Stock Footage: Compared to later seasons, the usage of stock footage Transformation Sequences is egregiously high.
- Storming the Castle: The season's climax is the storming the Garden of Time.
- Theme Music Power-Up: "Take A Shot" for both Fate and Nanoha.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Used as Nanoha's cellphone ringtone.
- The Thing That Goes "Doink": Lindy's Japanese-style receiving room has one. Said room also happens to be on a spaceship.
- Transformation Is a Free Action: Double Subverted. Early on a monster tries to attack Nanoha while she's transforming, only to be flung back by a barrier.
- Wham Episode: Mostly related to Fate.
- Episode 4 - Fate's introduction. Prior to this, the series followed a fairly standard Monster of the Week formula. Then Fate shows up, curb-stomps the Monster of the Week and Nanoha in short order, and takes the Jewel Seed for herself. From this point onwards, Nanoha starts struggling and the story shifts to focus more on her relationship with Fate.
- Episode 7 - Nanoha and Fate's last battle attracts the attention of the Time-Space Administration Bureau, introducing us to the larger setting and more "Magical Girl meets Gundam" elements. However, the real wham is when Fate reports back to her mother only to be whipped for not bringing enough Jewel Seeds.
- Episode 11 - Nanoha "befriends" Fate with her first use of the Starlight Breaker. However, Precia decides to go through with her plan anyway, with the TSAB tracking her down to her doorstep. However, the TSAB squadron finds a girl in stasis that looks exactly like Fate. This girl is Alicia, Precia's real daughter. Fate is actually a clone made to replace her. Precia never saw Fate as a human let alone as a daughter. The last revelation breaks Fate.
- Withholding the Big Good: Lindy Harlaown doesn't show up until episode 7. Until then, the story had been a simple Magical Girl vs Dark Magical Girl tale, so her introduction (and by extension, the introduction of the TSAB) gives the audience the idea of a much larger setting.
- Xanatos Gambit: Nanoha and Fate's final battle is one for the Time and Space Administration: Nanoha's victory or defeat is irrelevant. They would prefer she won (and thereby arrest Fate and recover the jewel seeds) but if she doesn't Chrono will step in and finish off the worn-out Fate. If nothing else, the battle will allow them to track Precia's location.
The movie provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: It fixes many of the pacing and writing problems of the first season, and in general alters things to be more consistent with later seasons. It also animates some of the All There in the Manual material, largely about Precia, painting a clearer picture overall.
- Adult Fear: The people in charge cared more about conserving time and money than making sure that the power plants they built were safe, to the point of ignoring concerns raised by their own engineers. One of said engineers being the still-sane Precia Testarossa. In a case of Harsher in Hindsight, these fears turned into reality one year after the movie was released, when the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster happened and investigations showed that it could have been avoided had officials taken the safety concerns raised by its own experts more seriously.
- Ascended Meme: The Movie Sound Stage Side F gives the popular meme known as "Befriending" amongst English-speakers a nod, as Arf jokingly explains to an increasingly worried Erio and Caro that the only way to make life-long friends is to blow them up first.
- Demoted to Extra
- Group Picture Ending: The very last shot before the credits roll is a photo sitting on Nanoha's desk of her and Fate right after they exchanged their hair ribbons.
- Last Episode Theme Reprise: Nanoha and Fate saying goodbye at the end of the movie features a cover of the season's ending theme, "Little Wish, Lyrical Step".
- Orchestral Bombing: The movie version of Starlight Breaker's Leitmotif, which is prefaced by a passage which sounds very much like it was inspired by Gustav Holst's Mars, The Bringer Of War.
- "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The movie manages to do this twice. Once for the end of the movie proper, and again at the end of the epilogue (with a Group Picture Ending thrown in for good measure).
- Panthera Awesome: The little kitten that encounters a Jewel Seed in the movie, instead of a Mega Neko, turns into a giant, demonic, black panther, which sprouts large bat wings.
- Product Placement: Pizza Hut supports the befriending!
- Raised by the Community: Yuuno mentions in the first season that he was raised communally by the Scrya clan.
- Recursive Canon: Though in classic Nanoha style you won't know it unless you listened to the sound stages.
- Stun Guns: Nanoha explicitly sets Raising Heart to stun. Presumably, RH's default setting is "befriend".
- Surprisingly Good English: The movie has the best English so far with the devices finally having learned proper grammar.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Starlight Breaker is enhanced Up to Eleven, which is also an understatement. This is probably one of the reasons why only three of Fate's limbs are locked instead of four, giving her a chance to cast shields to defend herself (the other reason is that Fate has no other option than to block Nanoha's Divine Buster).
- Theme Music Power-Up: "Don't Be Long", replacing "Take A Shot" in the same scene from the original.
- Voodoo Shark: The first season had a few minor plot points that were later Ret-Conned. For example, in the original series Nanoha was the one who thought up Raising Heart's staff and cannon modes herself, but after season one all new devices have predetermined forms and require hardware upgrades for new ones. Naturally, when they remade the first season for the movie, they made sure it was consistent with the later seasons. However, this opened up a new Plot Hole. While Raising Heart having its staff and cannon modes pre-loaded makes sense, it's never explained why Yuuno didn't try using either mode before handing the device over to Nanoha.
The movie manga provides examples of:
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: As a result, this version of Nanoha acquired the Fan Nickname "Emoha".
- Take My Hand: After their final fight, Nanoha falls off a rooftop and Fate catches her. First she grabs her by the hand and then holds her with both arms Superman style. They were both too tired and beaten up to fly so they had an emergency water landing shortly after. Still a great rescue, especially since Fate jumped after her so fast the stretcher she was on disintegrated.
- Wham Episode: The fifth chapter of is especially shocking, when you consider the first four chapters were a manual. It summarizes the entire movie in 21 pages. Minus Fate's and Nanoha's final big fight, which here takes place after the main conflict and is a lot more prolonged, continuing through the entire second volume.