Alrighty. I just had the honor of being one of the first in the world to watch the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 2nd A’s and here are my initial impressions on it.. I’m actually writing this in a Starbucks outlet just next to the movie theater and my thoughts are all over the place. So I apologize for the not-in-order point form writing in the ‘impressions’ part. (Yeah, it took awhile to get this on to the net… internet access here is not that readily available to a foreigner…)
As always, THERE ARE SPOILERS! While the main plot remains practically the same, there were quite significant changes made to the events. So, if you don’t mind spoilers, do feel free to read on. (^.^)
Update 1: Proofread the post and updated some of the points.
Update 2: More fine-tuning, expanded and clarified some points, added a couple of design comparison pictures and everything is now in chronological order.
First off, I have to say that overall, the movie was great. I was honestly fangasming out of my mind with all the brilliant throwbacks (like the familiar dialogue) and the improvements that were made to the fight sequences, animation and designs. The action scenes had, again, a ton of thowbacks to the original series, with the dial just pushed all the way up to 11. The scenes were all dynamic and BIG. With huge sets, dynamic angles and far more violent impacts.
With that said, there were a ton of things that were changed from the original A’s series, possibly because of the time constraints of a movie and to make it more cohesive.
So, here are the changes I noticed and some of the opinions I have on the movie:
- The movie began with Reinforce II reminiscing about the events that occurred two years ago.
- The Book of Darkness’s activation scene was greatly improved. Instead of it activating randomly, it activated to save her life when she was almost hit when crossing the road.
- The beginning scenes with Hayate, showing her getting around via public transport and stuff, were great. It was an accurate portrayal of how it is like to travel when wheel-chair bound in Japan.
- For some reason, Hayate’s wheelchair was changed from a motorized one to a normal one.
- Why did she have the book with her though? No explanation (that I could catch) was given as to how she obtained it.
- The introduction scenes of the movie were a little rushed. For instance, Fate was enrolled into Nanoha’s school right at the beginning of the movie within the first 10-15 minutes(?).
- Fate’s awesome casual clothes from A’s make a comeback! (You know, the outer black jacket, yellow necklace, stripped yellow blouse and white skirt.)
- Fate SCHOOL UNIFORM VERSION = Fanboy squeal~ …wait, let’s call that a roar instead.
- As could be seen from the trailers, Fate did not meet Nanoha in the storm of battle, but before that. She saw the barrier put up by Vita by chance (while taking Arf in her new puppy form for a walk) and rushed in to save Nanoha.
- Raising Heart and Bardiche were both broken in two and did not recover during the first battle.
- Fate and Nanoha’s linker core were both absorbed in the first battle, eliminating the need for the Fate X Signum and Nanoha X Vita battle on the other worlds. That 1-1 fights were merged with the semi-final battle on top of the hospital.
- Their linker cores were both absorbed by Vita and Signum respectively. Arf’s linker core was also absorbed in the first battle by Shamal and Zafira.
- Yuuno didn’t get much screen time at all, kind of like how he gets shafted badly in the Eternal Blaze opening. He didn’t participate in the first battle and was stuck in the Infinite Library for most of the movie, only meeting up with the rest of the main cast at the end of the movie for the final fight.
- Perhaps due to the length of the movie, the emotional home scenes between the Knights and Hayate were a little too rushed for my taste.
- The attachment that Vita felt for her hat and costume wasn’t explained properly. She did blow her top when her hat was damaged (with the crazy eyes and whatnot), but there was hardly any direct follow up. Even the purchasing of the ‘Cursed Rabbit’ plush toy was done without any dialogue.
- Come to think of it, most of the happy family interaction scenes were all lumped together in one flashback montage instead of being spaced throughout the movie. This did not allow me to feel as much sympathy or compassion for the Knights as I should have. Hayate’s interaction with the Knight s within the time frame of the events of the movie were few and far between.
- We get a much better back story regarding Chrono’s Dad. We got to see him sacrifice himself (more heroic as opposed to being shot down by someone else) and Lindy’s tears as she couldn’t save him. Yes, she was actually on the same mission/ship as him.
- Lindy did not get to fight. At all. She just appeared in the barrier, wanting to talk to Signum. She did draw out Durandal, which was implied to be a memento of her late husband, but the fight was interrupted by the arrival of Fate and Nanoha. Misleading trailer.
- As per tradition, Nanoha and Fate had only one transformation scene each in the entire movie – when they first henshined with their new upgraded devices. Unfortunately, I really wished the devices had retained the whole start up sequence with listing all the new parts and features. Instead of appearing on one of the rooftops, they entered from the sky, transforming mid-fall.
- Superbly well done transformation scenes. Pure eye-candy and fanservice (in a good way). Beautifully executed, especially Fate’s. Bardiche’s formation included a wicked-awesome bestial eye that got encased by the yellow jewel. Damn, I love Bardiche. (Don’t want to rub it in, but seeing the transformations on the big screen was just mind-blowingly awesome.)
- Evidently, Nanoha had two new barrier jacket designs. Her new ‘Sacred Form’ barrier jacket, which has hardly any noticeable differences from her previous one, appears when Raising Heart gets upgraded. She has yet another barrier jacket form, ‘Excellion Form’ which does indeed have a proper upgraded feel that she gets when she activates Raising Heart’s Excellion mode. Was there a need for this extra design? Is this a bid to milk the series for all its worth? Who knows.
- The Volken Knights DID NOT get transformation scenes, which was slightly disappointing. Their transformation scene in A’s wasn’t spectacular in any sense of the word, but at least they still got one.
- Their costumes weren’t that drastically re-designed either.
As can be seen, comparing the new designs to the ones from A’s, Hayate’s, Zafira’s and Signum’s costumes remain practically unchanged. Shamal’s front thingy was lengthened and Vita’s skirt was changed slightly. You could say that the designers were lazy. On the other hand, one could also say that the Knight’s armor was already so good that they didn’t need any improvements.
- All the Intelligent Devices, including the Knight’s, were of course re-designed to be sleeker, more mechanical and imposing.
…except Hayate’s. Seriously, Schwertkreuz and the Book of Darkness is EXACTLY the same as in A’s. Even the concept/setting art from the original series was re-used line for line in the Movie Guidebook. Naughty designers. Didn’t think I’d notice huh? Even if the designs were the same, I’d expect at least some new art.
- Bardiche’s Harken Form was renamed to Crescent Form. Zamber Form remains the same. Seriously, I never thought that Bardiche’s Scythe Form could get any sicker. Hats off to the design team.
- The Knights walked in on Nanoha and friends visiting Hayate on Christmas eve in the hospital instead of the other way around.
- One of the biggest changes was the exclusion of the Twins and Graham. I’m not sure if any explanation was given as to how Hayate came to be able to live in such a house. Remember, Graham provided everything for her in the original series. (Update: Evidently, her parents left her the house. But if that’s the case, how does she pay for the water and electricity?) Because of their absence, the things that were done by them before in A’s were all done by the Book of Darkness’s Defense Program and the Knights. They also gave the Defense Program a proper name.
…and, as mentioned previously, if they weren’t there, how did Hayate get ahold of the book?
- However, while I thought it made the show much more compact, I’m still not to clear on the motivations of the end. From what I understand, Hayate saw the Defense Program (instead of the fake Nanoha and Fate) destroy the Knights and she lost her mind to despair. She was then absorbed into the book and the Consciousness of the Book of Darkness wanted to fulfill the last requests of her and her Knights. 1. To ‘destroy’ the harsh reality that took away her Knights and 2. To rid the hindrance of Nanoha and Fate (from allowing the Knights to fill up the pages of the book). But technically speaking, Reinforce, the Knights and Hayate were aware of the Defense Program. Why didn’t the CotBoD take that into consideration before acting out the final two requests or direct that anger and hatred towards the Defense Program? Well, I suppose you could say that the CotBoD was technically a ‘tool’ and only acted upon the final requests of the Knights and Hayate, despite them knowing about the program.
- Speaking of the Knights, they definitely updated the killing scene to make it more heart-wrenching.
- The Fate X Alicia dream scene was gorgeous. Definitely got the tears flowing (figuratively speaking) without feeling overly contrived.
- In the original series, Nanoha’s final attack on the CotBoD matched up perfectly with Fate’s escape from the Book as well as Hayate taking control. Here, Fate escaped prior to that and saved Nanoha as she was about to be struck by a new, devastating attack from the CotBoD. It was then that both Nanoha and Fate dealt the final blow to the CotBoD as Hayate gained control. Not too drastic a change, but I did like the original quite a bit more as it still showed Nanoha and Fate attacking simultaneously, but from both inside and out.
- The CotBoD never used Starlight Breaker. A missed opportunity for some dramatic moments, if you ask me. I mean, what’s more dramatic that Nanoha’s ultimate attack being used against her? Instead, the Consciousness of the Book of Darkness used Arf’s magic quite a bit in the final battle. Binding magic is great, but how about some more powerful and offensive attacks? Whatever the case, we did at least get to see all her signature moves like Bloody Dagger and Diabolic Emission.
- For a better tie-in to Strikers (I assume), Fate’s cloak turned white after she activated Bardiche’s Zamber Form and escaped from the Book of Darkness. Was this really necessary? I don’t know… She looks so much better when her color scheme consisted of mainly black, red and yellow/gold. White is just not her color (in my opinion). She also gets her skirt-within-a-skirt.
Update: Looking at the Movie Guide, her white-cloaked Barrier Jacket is called ‘Blaze Form’ whilst her regular one is called ‘Lightning Form’. Under its description, it says, “Living with the memories of the past in her heart, (her cloak/Barrier Jacket is her) snow-white wings for protecting her loved ones. It can be said that it is Fate’s will to embrace the future given form.”
…or something along those lines.
- Reinforce II and the idea of Unision-ing was
shoehorned added into the movie, to better connect it to StrikerS, when it wasn’t mentioned in the original series at all. Hayate’s fighting was cut together with Reinforce moving in unison with Hayate. That, I really liked.
- Unlike A’s, it seems that the plan to defeat the Defense Program was pretty easily figured out. No thinking, no wavering, they find out a solution way too quickly and easily.
- Nanoha’s friends weren’t in the barrier at the end. It is implied that Nanoha told them about her magic at the end of the movie.
- No shitty grown up time skip scenes.
FUCK YES. The ending was similar to A’s (“Set Up!!!”), save the fact that they were all still in their ‘loli’ forms (albeit two years older). So many of my fears were quelled. Yeah, they did connect this movie more to StrikerS, but at least they didn’t ruin the ending with admin work, training or limiters.
- Update: …and finally, unlike the original series, there wasn’t much focus placed on the adoption of Fate into the Harlaown family. From what I got when I saw the movie (twice in cinemas), Lindy was only there acting as her ‘guardian’ and not a word of family or adoption was brought up. In fact, she did mention that she was taking a break from work to look after Fate on Earth. Later on in the movie, she apologizes to Fate and asks if she could take leave from her leave to work on the Book of Darkness case.
Taking the final grave visiting scene (Fate, Amy, Chrono and Lindy visit Chrono’s Dad’s grave together) and the events of the original series into consideration, it is indeed safe to assume that Fate was adopted into the Harlaown family. However, I do stand by my initial observation in that it wasn’t as big a fuss as it was in the original series. Perhaps the movie expects the viewer to have already seen the previous series and that any talk of adoption was dropped to save time. The writers could also be saving any further exploration and elaboration for the next movie. (^.^)
So, overall, I really enjoyed the movie and will say that it was a very decent adaptation of A’s. However, as much as it pains me to say this, I think I prefer the first movie. I am well aware that things needed to be moved around and cut due to time restrictions. However, I felt that they did a much better job in the first movie than the second. Of course, the first series had far less ‘relevant plot’ than A’s. Thus, A’s had much more to lose in the process what with most of the show time being about character interactions, emotional buildup and story development. Perhaps my expectations were far, far too high when I went in and at the end, I can only say that they were barely met.
Still, the movie did have a ton of awesome moments and it was truly a blast being there in the theater to watch it first hand. (^.^) Thanks to the repeat viewership campaign that they have going on, it’s more or less decided that I’ll be seeing the movie another one or two times.
So, that’s pretty much all that can come to my mind at this point in time. Regarding the seiyuu talkshow at the end, I felt that it was painfully short. They had to accommodate the next showing and a press conference, so I could understand. Not sure whether they filmed the audience of the 7:30 showing so I don’t know if it will be put into the disc media or not. Perhaps they would put more focus into the 11:30 one.
With that I’ll end this post and save talking about the event itself and the mountain of loot that I got for a later date.