Anime Movie Review – Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Reflection

magical girl lyrical nanoha reflection

After the mediocre Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, we finally return to the main Nanoha series with Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Reflection, so NanoFate fans rejoice! But should they rejoice? Hmm…

Year: 2017
Length: 1 hr. 47 min.
Genre: Action, Drama, Magic, Super Power
Studio: Seven Arcs Pictures

Synopsis: Amitie and Kyrie are sisters living on the dying planet Eltria; a harsh world that their scientist parents have been working for years trying to save. But the poisonous environment is slowly killing their father, and his dream of restoring the planet is dying with him. Kyrie runs away and travels to Earth to steal the power she believes will save her family and her home: Hayate’s Book of Darkness! Amitie follows in hot pursuit, knowing her desperate sister is willing to go to dangerous lengths to accomplish her goal. Can Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate defend Earth from this new threat?

First off, this movie is a direct sequel to Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: The Movie 2nd A’s, so unlike the previous two Nanoha movies, this isn’t a compilation film. It’s the first of a two-part story set between the events of A’s and StrikerS, and Reflection takes us back to a simpler time. A time when Nanoha and Fate were still high school students, yet various nefarious individuals were still up to no good.

At this point, you kind of know what to expect from the plot of a Nanoha anime, and more or less, this movie falls in line with those expectations. This time, one of those “nefarious” individuals is Kyrie—one of the new additions to the cast—who initially has good intentions, but as so typically happens in fiction, things escalate, and she quickly gets in over her head.

As integral to the story as Nanoha and Fate have been up until this point, Kyrie, her AI sidekick Iris, and her older sister Amita play equally important (if not more important) roles in this film, so much so that I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to call Kyrie the main character. At the same time, she’s also the main antagonist, since she quickly finds herself at odds with Nanoha, Fate, and the rest of the TSAB.

I’m sure there will be some people who are disappointed that the more familar characters (i.e. Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate) once again have to step aside and share the spotlight with others, but truth be told, this isn’t that much different than when the Wolkenritter were introduced in A’s. Don’t fret, as this is no ViVid, and all of the characters you know and love still play major roles in the story~

Okay, I’m just going to go ahead and say it, NanoFate fans, you’re kind of hung out to dry.

This wouldn’t be Nanoha without action, and oh is there a lot of it, since there’s simply no time to have drawn out story arches. Because of this, Kyrie, Amita, and Iris seem like fairly shallow characters, and any character development that occurs usually happens during or after battle. Like the olden days, these girls aim to settle their disagreements with their weapons and magic, and since most action anime aren’t known for having particularly well-developed stories anyway, I’m perfectly fine with the focus being on the action.

After a plot twist that you should be able to see coming from a mile away, the movie ends on a cliffhanger, so we gotta wait for the second part of the story, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Detonation, to see what happens after this. That sucks, but I think most people expected the story to play out this way, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

All in all, the story in Reflection isn’t its strong suit, but you can say that about the entire series. More than anything, it’s simply a vehicle for some magical girl on magical girl violence, and I think that’s enough for most people, including me.

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To make up for the so-so story, Nanoha has always had some quality characters, and that doesn’t change all of a sudden with this movie.

Kyrie and Amita are no Nanoha and Fate, but I think they’re pretty comparable to Teana and Subaru from StrikerS, and I definitely liked them much more than Caro and Erio, also from StrikerS. That said, one of things that really grinds my gears are villains who aren’t inherently evil, and Kyrie falls into that category. She’s obviously misguided and lets her emotions drive her to do some questionable things, but she isn’t doing all of this out of a lust for power or anything, she’s doing it to save her planet and her father. How am I supposed to come to root against someone who has such a strong sense of family and a love of nature?

Luckily, Kyrie also happens to be stubborn and selfish, so she kind of shoots herself in the foot in that regard. On the other side of the spectrum, we have Amita, who’s almost like the Thor to Kyrie’s Loki, if you will. As the older sister, she says and does all the right things and follows Kyrie to Earth in order to stop her. If Kyrie can be classified as a villain, then Amita is a hero, and it’s very easy to root for her, especially when her and her sister are engaged in fisticuffs. Their sibling rivalry takes center stage, but they’re not alone. Iris accompanies Kyrie on her mission, acts as her guide, and was responsible for Kyrie leaving her homeworld. Without her, Kyrie probably wouldn’t have gotten very far on her quest, so they’re basically partners in crime. And no, there aren’t really any hints of them being like that. Sorry to burst your bubble. 😛

Of course, Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate all still play major roles in the story, and they act as the main obstacle standing in the way of Kyrie and her goals. Okay, I’m just going to go ahead and say it, NanoFate fans, you’re kind of hung out to dry. Compared to what the fandom has created, the anime will always pale in comparison. It’s a sad truth, but with Kyrie and Amita playing such pivotal roles, there simply isn’t much room for meaningful interactions between the two. It’s not like the first season and A’s were incredibly rich in NanoFate moments—StrikerS is a different story, since it features a more grown-up and maternal Nanoha and Fate—but they still had more to offer NanoFate fans than this movie does.

magical girl lyrical nanoha reflection

They do fight alongside one another (unlike StrikerS), yet I doubt that that’s enough to satiate the legions of NanoFate fans. Since this takes place before StrikerS, that means there’s no Teana and Subaru, and I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d be clamoring to see them again. However, there was one moment that was kind of amusing. During her battle with Fate, Levi defends Dearche and mentions how well she treats her, and she also let it slip that they “slept together”. That could just be some wonky subs… or it could be some insight into their relationship. For the sake of yuri, I’m gonna assume it’s the latter. 😛

Since I’ve already mentioned Dearche and Levi, I might as well mention them some more. Later in the movie, three new characters are introduced, Dearche, Levi, and Stern. I say new, but all three have previously made appearances in other Nanoha media such as the two PSP games and some spin-off manga. They eventually join the fight and face-off with the main trio of Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate. To me, they aren’t as memorable as the Wolkenritter were, but Levi was easily my favorite of the three, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in Detonation.

Speaking of the Wolkenritter—in case you might have forgotten—they are Shamal, Signum, Vita, and Zafira, and all three get in on the action in this movie. One of the nice things about this movie is how most of the important characters prior to StrikerS make an appearance, as do Nanoha and Fate’s friends. I should also mention that there’s even a new character named Yuri, but don’t get too excited, since she doesn’t live up to that name. 😛

In short, NanoFate moments are as rare as ever in this movie, but some returning favorites and several interesting new additions help ease the pain and keep this a compelling cast of characters for us to enjoy~

Moving on to the production values, I’m torn. One one hand, this is undoubtedly the best-looking Nanoha anime to date, with a TON of action and some moments where the fight cinematography is especially nice. There were a few very brief first-person sequences that I always love to see in anime, and even though the action isn’t as over-the-top and gaudy as Symphogear, it’s still very good for a magical girl anime.

On the flip side, this isn’t your standard TV anime. This is an anime movie, so expectations should be a little higher than they’d normally be. It’s been five years since The Movie 2nd A’s was released, and I don’t think that the animation in Reflection is that much better than its predecessor. This is from a different studio—Seven Arcs Pictures, as compared to Seven Arcs—but that familiar Nanoha art style is still present, and the visuals haven’t changed very much. That’s still not enough to dissuade me from liking all of the great action that this movie had to offer~

And what’s a magical girl anime without some fanservice? For the most part, Reflection plays it rather safe in this regard, except for the transformation scenes involving Kyrie, Nanoha, and Fate, which feature some brief nudity that’ll seem familar to fans of Titans and Barbie dolls. No nipples or anything like that, so it’s nothing too ecchi. Dearche, Levi, and Stern also have a brief nude scene that’s similar in nature, but with so many more scandalous shows out there, I don’t think that the fanservice in this movie is that big a deal.

I highly doubt I’ll remember much about the music a week or two from now, and even though I don’t feel driven to go out and buy the OST, I can’t deny that the many battles in Reflection were made more epic thanks to the music. As the series has gone on, I think I’ve started to take more and more notice of the music, so it’s nice that there were a lot of opportunities this time around.

For those who are lamenting that this is a movie and that there isn’t an OP, the credits do include an ending song from Nana Mizuki. Another insert song from Nana is also there to enjoy, but this isn’t Symphogear, so Fate doesn’t sing along. Such a pity. At the end of the day, it’s hard to level complaints at this movie regarding the music, so when things get dicey on-screen, just sit back and enjoy all the fight music.

If you’re watching this for the action, I don’t have much doubt that you’re gonna like this. This is an action-packed Nanoha installment like I’m sure everyone was hoping for, so no complaints about that. If you’re watching this for a NanoFate fix, however, you’re probably not going to be all that pleased. With so much emphasis on action and new characters, it almost feels like the pairings best days are behind them, but it’s a good thing that there are other avenues for fans to explore.

Overall, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Reflection is still an entertaining Nanoha experience that all but the most ardent NanoFate fanatics should enjoy, and even they might enjoy it~

Story: 7
Characters: 8
Animation: 8
Sound: 7.5
Yuri: 3
Total Enjoyment: 7.5

magical girl lyrical nanoha reflection


12 thoughts on “Anime Movie Review – Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Reflection

  1. I really enjoyed the movie, but it’s true that… it doesn’t really stand in isolation, and there’s a lot of weight put onto the next movie. Not just to conclude the story, but to give it some levity. The pieces have sort of been put in place, but they don’t particularly feel deep.

    The good news is that there’s a ton of action and the action looks great! I see where you’re coming from – this isn’t Your Name/Silent Voice, but it’s at least up to snuff with the movies from a few years ago.

    The movie was basically nonstop action, so things like NanoFate didn’t really have much time to shine sadly (hell, the plot barely had time to shine). The characters from the PSP game that were introduced were so… uninspired, that was the low point of the film IMO – they got almost 0 time before being defeated. Even if the battles were hype.

    It was an enjoyable popcorn flick, but as I said before… there’s just so much riding on Detonation as this movie doesn’t stand in isolation. I wish they weren’t further and didn’t end it on a MID BATTLE cliffhanger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Part of me would’ve preferred another anime season instead… but it is a lot easier to watch/review a movie, so I can’t be too disappointed. 😀

      Yeah, as long as the action remains as good as it’s historically been, I think most people can forgive a lot of the other shortcomings~

      I haven’t played any of those games myself, but just from seeing them in this movie, they aren’t my favorite villains in the series’ history, to put it kindly…

      And given how many months it took Reflection to get some subs, the super long wait for the next movie should be fun, right? 😛

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The Nanoha franchise has never made storytelling its strong suite and Reflections isn’t a exception from the formula. I personally believe that the series thrives on great characters and world-building. I still loved the movie to death, regardless of its flaws. After all these years it was great to see some original Nanoha content. The lack of NanoFate moments will always leave me sad, but I will always remember NanoFate as the couple who live together, sleep together, bath together, work together and raise children together. Thanks for the insightful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, but at least it has all the action to try and make up for the story~

      I think after years of seeing all the fanfics, doujinshi, and artwork that go far beyond what we get to see on the anime side of things, it’s always gonna feel underwhelming going back to only having a NanoFate moment here or there…. 😦

      And thanks for the nice comment~

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well I do like that the massive character (re)introductions are out of the way.
    And story-wise we do get some insight into Lindy being Fate’s mom. So far they kind of glossed over it, but at least it gave some depth to the film (even if only momentarily).
    So while it was pretty much an action-fest of a movie, I think they made something that would appeal to a larger audience since it’s pretty much a restart of the franchise.

    I enjoyed the heck out of it (well except for that cliff hanger), and am hoping for more NanoFate moments in the next one! After all, it’s called Detonation, doesn’t that sound cuddly? 😛


    • That Fate and Lindy moment was nice~

      And I’m 100% positive that the title is referring to what will undoubtedly happen to the minds of all of the NanoFate fans when they realize just how gay that movie is. Totally… 😛

      Liked by 2 people

    • Because of the emphasis on the brand-new characters, I think it’s possible for someone who’s new to the franchise to jump straight into this, but this movie doesn’t really try to explain who these returning characters are and what’s happened up until this point.

      You’d be missing out on a lot of context that would probably affect how much you would enjoy it, so… in short, I’d say it’s possible but not ideal, and if you could, I’d advise to go back and watch the previous two movies first.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually like villains who are not really evil, and Kyrie was my favorite new character from this movie. Even with the criminal lack of NanoFate I really enjoyed the movie, as long as there is no ship denial I can let my imagination and the doujins take care of things. But Im crossing my fingers for the next one.


    • I like ’em evil. Like really evil. 😀

      Not reading those doujins has left my Nanoha imagination lacking, so I need it in a more direct form. *crosses fingers for the next movie, but sets expectations low in order to not be too disappointed*


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