Ah, Nanoha, how happy you make me. Seriously, the Nanoha saga just got better with the second season “A’s”. With this new season, Nanoha breaks down the stereotype of what a magical girl show should be like and what a magical girl can be.

A’s is completely about a single story arc: the Book of Darkness. A lost logia, like the items Nanoha was searching for in the first season, the Book of Darkness is an artifact of technology long since wiped from history. It’s purpose is to fill its pages with the power of mages and by doing so, gain nearly unlimited power to be used by its master. Its master in this case is Hayate, a paralyzed girl whom the book chooses and to whom is presented 4 guardians who are supposed to steal magical power to fil the pages. Hayate wants nothing to do with it and instead turns the guardians into her only family. They in turn, seeing how the book is sucking her life out of her, decided to disobey her and fill the pages of the book so as to save her life. Thus the story is about their struggle to complete the book and Nanoha’s (and the Bureau’s) struggle to stop them.

If the first Nanoha redefined what a magical girl anime could be, A’s shattered it. From start to finish, A’s delivers nearly nonstop action and fun. At the beginning, Nanoha is faced with a new adversary who is using a different magical technology, one that boosts her power to incredible levels for short periods of time using condensed magic cartridges. Nanoha is easily defeated and he stick needs rebuilt, this time with the same shotgun-loading style power as her enemy. This new power up is a very good explanation of gaining new power and passes the suspension of belief test as well as being a fairly original idea. Because of this, the fights in A’s are intense and very powerful.

Consider this: remember Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura? Remember their gay attacks and silly “weapons”. Check this out:

The OMG Stick

That is not a toy. That right there delivers serious firepower (while still retaining the girly pink that shoujous have to have). The whole series in fact has basically the same set of attacks as the first season only with the added boost of the cartridge system. The enemies too are not your normal shoujou style enemy. With Sailor Moon you had retarded monsters of the week that were ridiculous looking. With Card Captor Sakura you had.. cards. But with Nanoha, you get this:

Shoujou Enemy

Even though fighting is the main focus of this season, character development is still there. Fate struggles with having real friends and whether or not to allow Lindy to adopt her. She also goes through some pretty cruel stuff at the hands of the Tome as well. Nanoha finally decides what to do with her life. But the most development is with Hayate and her family of once evil warriors who soften due to her kindness. Hayate herself breaks the mold of “that cute girl in pain who always smiles” near the end of the show when she gains the power of the book thus giving her a realistic side.

Something else that I didn’t notice until A’s was that Nanoha breaks the episodic nature of shoujou. Most magical girl anime will be one episode per “quest” or enemy. With the first season, Nanoha was only episodic in that it skipped around a 6-10 week period. A’s on the other hand is a seamless story thats only broken into 13 parts. There is no monster of the week, there is only the story.

Finally, lets put this to bed. Nanoha is NOT loli. I figured that with the little loli I saw in the first season that A’s would have a lot more since it is loved by 4chan. But really, aside from the opener, there is very little loli; just transformation sequences. So unless featureless forms of shiny transforming 8 year olds get you going, there isnt any loli in Nanoha.

So, Nanoha A’s is a really good anime. Plain and simple. It has fighting, story, characters you like and can believe, and it has the power of friendship.. or something. I’m thereby giving Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s a 4 out of 5 stars. Here is looking forward to even more kick ass magical girls in StrikerS.

Rating: ★★★★☆

P.S. A’s also has the one thing no other anime has: the happiest magical tome in the whole wide world.

Happiest tome

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