As it turns out, I won’t be doing a full review of Magical Lyrical Nanoha ViVid ; it relies way too much on prior knowledge of what happened in StrikerS (the third anime season in the franchise). Gods know what a newcomer would make of our kid heroine’s Vivio ability to transform into an adult body, or of the Numbers in general. Or the whole “your majesty” thing. Quite frankly, I’m tempted to go and rewatch StrikerS myself. (After all, it’s a perfectly okay show only let down by being a sequel to the notably superior A’s second season.)
So, let’s take the point of view of someone who’s watched all three prior anime seasons, but hasn’t bothered reading the ViVid spin-off/follow-up manga. Is this worth watching ?
The good news is that it’s surprisingly relatively light on loli fanservice. Oh, it’s there ; we get a few gratuitous shots of Vivio’s underwear, and a lingering transformation sequence that takes the time of having her every garment explode. But I was expecting much, much worse from this manga’s reputation. As it is, it’s a bit of an annoying distraction but still tolerable. First season level, basically.
The show itself manages to be just entertaining enough for me to keep watching. Vivid is cute, and her interactions with her two moms is heartwarming. (Lol on the writers still being coy about the Nanoha/Fate relationship, but then the series is from the point of view of a 4th-grader.) It even makes a game attempt at giving the Numbers distinct personalities, helped a bit by half of them being in jail at this point. (But I hope not in Jail, that would just be gross.)
What really makes the show interesting to me, though, is reading between the lines of Vivio’s narration and dialogue, in the light of the context provided by StrikerS. That gives a completely different dimension to Fate’s freaking out over Vivio’s adult form, for example. The constant tight rope act of doublethink between Vivio’s innocence and the viewer’s foreknowledge is quite stimulating indeed.
There’s not much of a plot yet, aside from a crazy girl randomly assaulting people as a background thread. But that’s good enough as a starting thread, and leaves plenty of room to reintroduce the rather complex premise and the tons of characters ; which is what this opening episode really needed to do. (StrikerS was 8 years ago, after all.)
So far, so good.