ViVid Strike! Episode 1 [First Impression]

Thou shalt not be afraid, I am with you.

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Impression

strike-1-img006I want to start off by saying that watching this definitely wasn’t on my plans for today. It wasn’t even on my plans for yesterday! I’ve actually been struggling to catch up with the remainder of the last season, let alone contend with a whole new one. So I hadn’t even taken a good look at the airing schedule for the season until literally just now, where I learned that there was a disgustingly disproportionate number of shows that were to air on Saturdays. I then saw that ViVid Strike was out, and my next thought was that there was no way that this would be subbed any time soon. The original ViVid indicates just as much, right? Because obviously it wouldn’t be given a second glance by the modern oversized distribution machine that is Crunchyroll (ft. Funimation) as they most likely think it would be underappreciated by the majority of its patrons, despite the fact that it’s technically (loosely, maybe even formerly) supposed to be about magical girls and lolis. Which should be right in the strike zone for lots of people, right? At least, it is for me anyway. Imagine my surprise when I learned it was subbed almost instantly after airing. Good thing I won’t have much to do on Saturdays this season.

strike-1-img003Anyway. I’m quite excited about this. More than I thought I would be, actually. It did feel pretty unsettling until about halfway through the episode, because I don’t think I fully appreciated exactly what the implications of a Nanoha without Nanoha would be. Even calling it that is slightly wrong. It’s more like a ViVid without Nanoha, the result being that it’s more ViVid-like than ViVid itself ever was. I hope that makes sense – anyone expecting the traditional magical combat featured in the original season, A’s and StrikerS is going to get even less of that than what they got in ViVid. Strike Arts is the new black now, and they’ve probably already done us a favour by having mana-infused punches and kicks added to the mix. As I mentioned in another post’s comment not too long ago, I think it’s really odd that they’re attempting to re-ignite interest in the franchise through straying away from an aspect that so heavily defined it and contributed to its success. Not that there’s anything wrong with ViVid, but you have to remember that that originated as a spin-off manga. ViVid Strike is therefore a spin-off of a spin-off. Or is it better to describe it as being set in an alternate universe? I’m not sure whether the events of the ViVid manga are reconcilable with the events of this original anime, but I like the idea watching a spin-off of a spin-off of a spin-off, as Nanoha was of course born from Triangle Heart all those years ago.

What exactly was unsettling, I hear you ask? I’m not too sure myself. Part of it was the setting, I guess – I wasn’t confident that we were still on Mid-Childa at first, with biker gangs and impoverished areas and shipping yards definitely not being sights I expected to see in such an advanced magical and technological society. Then there’s Fuuka herself, who I keep overlapping with Nanoha’s image in my head because their hairstyle and hair colour are somewhat similar even though they’re not very much alike at all, in either personality or combat style. And there’s also that feeling of having missed a huge chunk of the story, because ViVid left us hanging halfway through the Inter-Middle, and Strike is clearly set after the end of that tournament. My memory of events is even fuzzier than it was during ViVid, but I’m pretty sure there was no Nakajima Gym during the Inter-Middle.

At the same time, there are lots of good things. Seven Arcs returning is a definite blessing, you can’t call yourself a Nanoha fan if you think A-1 does a better job with Nanoha than Seven Arcs. I also really, really dig Nove’s new hairstyle. Now that she’s grown out her hair she can make people think she’s a harmless, kind onee-san even though she’s anything but. And Einhart also seems more mature and collected than she was before. For some reason Harunyan also has a waifu named Yumina, which makes me wonder what’s happened to poor Vivio.

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strike-1-img010I do like Fuuka, and I think that’s important. The biggest challenge this anime faces is to make its viewers like Fuuka, because Nanoha was a very well-liked protagonist – and switching to Vivio for ViVid wasn’t the end of the world because (i) Nanoha was still a character; (ii) Vivio is related to Nanoha and isn’t unlike her in personality; and (iii) Vivio was a character from StrikerS. Filling that protagonist role with someone completely different is a pretty bold move, all things considered. It’s going to take some getting used to her either way, but I’ve accepted her and that’s going to go a long way in terms of how much I’ll enjoy this. I’m sure part of it is the Minase Inori effect. Once again she displays her surprising versatility, and it’s good to hear her Carol voice reappearing at times, just like when she played Rem. It was Carol who made me her fan after all, not Chino.

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strike-1-img005I’m not so sure about Rinne, on the other hand. She’s super cute, for one. She’s also more my type than Fuuka ever will be. But Fuuka makes your blood boil, you know? Kaiser Arts was also always the cooler one. Being Fuuka is suffering, and that’s why she’d be by far the better protagonist. It’s sort like how Hibiki gets me pumped up every time even though I’m more of a DMJii person. I have no idea whether Rinne will be the Fate-chan to Fuuka’s Nanoha, but I’m sure she’s a good girl at heart. One thing I’m confused about is how she’s ranked #1 by the DSAA despite Einhart being the current world champion, and despite her having lost to Vivio. Maybe rankings aren’t determined by single wins or losses? Or even single tournaments? And what happened to Sieg? Either way, Rinne is now the ideal befriending target, except here people are befriended via fists instead of oversized laser beams. I’m just waiting for Fuuka to do a Touma and punch Rinne in the face while telling her that she’s not living her life correctly.

Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: High

Vantage

I love cute things.

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5 Responses

  1. Wanderer says:

    Einhart is the current World champion in the under-15 age group. This is (based on some material people poorly translated from the official site and such) decided in a specific tournament that is not the Inter-middle (the Inter-middle accepted up to age 19). Sieg is probably still the interdimensional champion as decided through the Inter-middle, since I very much doubt she lost to anyone. Vivid Strike is set roughly a year after the end of Vivid, and Vivid hasn’t actually ended yet, so we don’t really know how far in the future this is.

    Basically, Einhart won the previous tournament for the under-15 age group, and became the world champion. Rinne is the new favorite, looking to dethrone Einhart and claim the championship.

    All this was determined after some notable amount of confusion on some forums I frequent, and some nice people who can understand Japanese going to the site to try to make sense of it all, so you’re not the only one who found the situation confusing, don’t worry.

    ANYway. Other points… Nakajima Gym is new. I’m surprised Nove was able to get such a big place and such large membership in such a relatively small amount of time. I’m kind of curious as to how that happened, but that’s probably not going to be a point of significant note in this series. Next: Yumina Enclave is Einhart’s classmate from school. She debuts in the Nanoha Vivid manga, chapter 64. She’s a martial arts fan, so she was watching the Inter-middle, and the fact that her classmate Einhart put up such a good showing turned her into an Einhart fan as well. The fact that she’s in Einhart’s class means she has more chances to be close to Einhart than Vivio does. However, given that Vivio was the one who finally managed to break Einhart out of her shell (by doing something incredibly dangerous, which makes it all the more touching), I don’t think Einhart’s going to forget about her any time soon.

    So… this is a good start. Fuka is an appealing lead character, and even if we hadn’t gotten that glimpse of RInne after the OP played, long-term fans of the franchise could have been certain that Rinne hasn’t really become as heartless as she acted in her last conversation with Fuka. I would like to know what Rinne thought she was doing, though, because whatever it was I’m pretty sure it was on its way towards backfiring horribly. Until Einhart stumbled across her, Fuka was in a downwards spiral, having lost the only thing that really gave her life meaning. She may not have realized where she was headed yet, but if Einhart hadn’t rescued her, sooner or later she was going to get herself killed.

    • Vantage says:

      Yeah, I can’t imagine Sieg losing either. That makes sense, thanks! As they all still look like lolis, I can’t imagine it being set more than 2 years after the ViVid manga. Is Strike intended to be canon in that case? Because if ViVid is set 4 years after StrikerS, and Strike is after ViVid, where does that place Strike in relation to Force, which is 6 years after StrikerS?

      As for the Nakajima Gym, I have a feeling that Hayate had something to do with it. Miura is now training there, and she used to be with Zafira so the Yagamis may have been involved somehow. I kind of want to see Hayate return to give Fuuka her device. I don’t know how much effort they’re putting with not involving the previous generation (they could cop out and just say Hayate gave it to Nove off-screen or something) but Kaiser Arts implies she would need a Belkan one and so it would be nice to see the Yagamis.

      I still need to continue reading the ViVid manga, I had no idea Yumina had already been introduced. I guess Vivio not being the protagonist could also explain why she hasn’t had much interaction with Einhart. The season has only just begun too, so they’ll probably get scenes together later.

      I’m also confused about Rinne. Presumably it’s reasoning along the lines of doing it for Fuuka’s sake, but as you say it wasn’t working at all. I would actually have preferred that they didn’t show those few seconds of Rinne after the OP. Few people would have doubted that she was still a good girl even without it, and it’s nice to have that suspense and uncertainty.

      • Wanderer says:

        I can’t say for sure about the timing of Vivid Strike vs Nanoha Force, but I suspect Strike is still set earlier than Force. Even if there’s overlap, I don’t think the events of Force (in as much as I know them) would significantly impact any of the characters in Strike: the events of Force were mostly confined to other worlds, or kept to those within a certain top-level military clearance. No one wanted the Eclipse virus, or the tools that were being used to FIGHT the Eclipse virus, to become common knowledge.

        Hayate could well be involved in helping set up Nakajima Gym, or any of the other families. As Fuka pointed out, these girls are not exactly lacking in resources, and she doesn’t know the half of it. There are enough friends and families with influence and such to have made it a trivial matter to help Nove get a business like this set up, assuming she wanted their help.

        Chapter 64 of the manga, the one with Yumina’s intro, is the most recently translated chapter of Vivid. Of course, the translations are at least 20 chapters behind the actual releases, if not much more by now, so there’s undoubtedly a lot more about her and other things that those of us who don’t read Japanese can’t figure out yet. But we can only do the best we can.

  2. flareknight says:

    I have to agree with Fuuka. The big challenge was making her likable and they managed it. In a sense, I’m happier going with her as the protagonist than Vivio. Either go with Nanoha or go completely different. Personally I’m happy they seem to be going ahead with the next Nanoha movie so we kind of get both of those things in different formats. Nanoha gets her movie, Fuuka helms the new series.

    It’s just good to have a main character who is different, but likable. Nanoha and Vivio were both very bright and cheerful people who (mostly) were raised in loving homes. Fuuka is an orphan who had her best friend adopted and has had to put up with bullies who like to look down on the poor. Heck just a protagonist who touches on social issues in that society is interesting. Most of the Nanoha cast are well off and well connected. Until this point Fuuka had neither connections, family or money. She was more likely to get killed by a gang at some point than become a great magic user.

    Fuuka has that fire that makes for a good protagonist. She has a temper, but will apologize when she’s screwed up. The kind of lead who takes a beating (literally, almost everyone beats her up) but she’ll get up.

    I mostly have the rankings figured out…I think. Einhart won the last major tournament. So she’s the “world champion.” Rinne has the most points accumulated over various tournaments. So she’s #1 in points. Kind of like how in tennis you can have a champion from a tournament, but that person may not be ranked #1 in the world overall. Probably in that last big tournament Vivio beat Rinne which took her out of it. And after that Einhart beat Vivio to become the champion.

    • Vantage says:

      REFLECTION IS HAPPENING?! OH GOD IT IS, IT LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL AHHHHHHHH

      Thank you for that, I had no idea! I’m so excited, I hope it’s about the accident and its aftermath. That also assuages my fears about Seven Arcs developing the franchise by abandoning the original formula entirely and moving to tournament-style stories revolving around martial arts, so it’s good to know.

      It was surprisingly brutal to have Fuuka become a punching bag, it kind of felt like Nove was trying to test her skills instead of it being any real sparring practice for the ViVid girls. I’m sure she’ll lose many more times before the series ends, but that’s a quick way to get better.

      Points are cumulative, that would make sense. I always look at the words ‘world champion’ and think that’s a really impressive thing, and then I remember there’s an inter-dimensional tournament as well and lament about how their universe is a really big place. Although Mid-Childa is an extremely major world, and so coming out on top amidst so many other talents there is definitely worth kudos.

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