ViVid Strike! Episode 12: Within Clasped Hands [Final Impression]
All’s well that ends well.
A cute and comfy ending. I don’t think there’s actually much for me to say. I probably smiled more throughout that one episode than I did over the rest of the series combined. Fuuka really is amazing, she managed to protect my smile as well! The lewd hand-holding with Fuu-chan and close physical contact were really sweet and yuritastic. It was all I could have asked for, although some nose-bumping as Rinne and Fuuka stared into each other’s eyes would have been nice as well. Surprisingly, Carrie and the rest of Rinne’s victims made an appearance after having been inspired by her bout with Fuuka. I’m not sure exactly how much of the inter-match conversation they heard (to some extent they should already know of her history if Yumina was able to find it) but it’s great that no-one seems to have any hard feelings towards her. Well, no-one except Sara and the other two. Whichever one Sara was. It’s probably for the best that those bullies weren’t featured, assuming they’re not dead or severely handicapped. They’re sort of like the Quattro and Scaglietti of Strike. The cast are willing to let bygones be bygones for most of the Combat Cyborgs, but Scaglietti is a different issue. And Fuuka might have asked what the bullies were called, and all based Rinne could have said was that one of them was Sara but she didn’t know which.
Einhart is really strong. I honestly don’t remember Sieg ever having been shown fighting in the ViVid anime (all she did was jog and eat popcorn cutely) so it was really nice to see her actually do something here, if only for a few seconds. With there being no Hayate in Strike, I’ve also been suffering from a severe lack of comfy Kansai accents this season. I’m just wondering whether Sieg got tired out because Einhart managed to push her that far, or because she had to hold back too much for fear of killing Einhart. As expected, though, the results of the Winter Cup don’t really matter. We came to realise halfway through the series that they never did. Still, I thought it’d be nice to try to figure out who won, but unlike Rinne’s trophies the inscription on the cup just says ‘Winter Cup’ and not the name of the winner. Nove is holding it in their commemoration photo, which further adds to the uncertainty. But given that Fuuka looks a lot more scratched and torn up than Einhart, I think the implication is that the latter won. As expected of Haru-nyan.
So after all those months of silence in the wake of the ViVid anime, the next entry in the Nanoha franchise was Strike. Who’d have guessed? I do think it’s served its purpose of re-igniting interest in all things Nanoha, however. The irony, of course, being that it wasn’t marketed as having anything to do with two particular ‘elite government officials’ at all. Further adding to its unusual nature was the drift away from the traditional focus on magical combat that’s come to be so definitive of Nanoha over the years.
Will the franchise continue developing down this sort of path? I’m not sure. ViVid was only ever a spin-off to begin with. You might argue that the same could be said of the first Nanoha, but the issue with focusing on martial arts as a sport is that there aren’t really any possible plot lines beyond tournament arcs. Strike was pretty innovative in that respect, in that in reality it had its Rinne-centric plot dressed up in the language of the Winter Cup without the tournament itself actually mattering much at all. And I’ll never forget Episode 4. That was, without doubt, the most memorable moment of the entire season to me. But even then, none of its characters had their lives threatened by deadly combat in the same way as Nanoha, Fate or Hayate did as children, even though they have their own very real struggles and issues. It’s a different genre, ultimately. And I don’t know whether I’d like to see the Nanoha franchise expand under this genre after the precedent it has set with the first series, A’s and StrikerS.
In truth, I think I would have been quite happy if StrikerS ended up being the last TV series. There wasn’t much Nanoha-related noise in the years after that ended, and we could all enjoy the two movies and chapters of the ViVid manga whenever those turned up. And Force was also a thing, although as I understand it, the consensus on that is mixed at best. It’s sort of like how I loved Code Geass, and enjoyed its spin-offs, but thought it didn’t really need any sort of sequel (for those who are unaware, a third season has now been announced). That said, I’d be lying if I claimed to not be excited for Reflection, especially since it appears to be a step back in the direction of A’s, which is what I and many others believe to be the pinnacle of the franchise. I’m also glad it’s not dead in the water entirely, which is what literally everyone assumed after it was announced, given a title and then seemingly abandoned. Reflection also means another prominent role for Yukarin, which is good news. I think she’s getting TV anime roles again as well, like Seiren next season, so I hope her wellbeing is improving.
I’ll be back for Reflection. Until then, I would like to reiterate that Rinne is the cutest and the best.