This is a franchise page for the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha franchise. Please don't link here, unless you're referring to it in general. If the link that brought you here mentioned any particular series - including Nanoha Original - and not the franchise as a whole, please update the link so that it points the applicable series page instead of pointing here.
"Call me a devil... it just means I'll have to use my hellish powers to get you to listen!"
—Nanoha Takamachi, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, episode 9.
It has been noted by TV executives that Magical Girl series usually have Multiple Demographic Appeal -- not only are they popular among 4 to 9-year-old girls, but also among 19 to 30-year-old males. Shows such as Pretty Cure attempt to please both demographics. Nanoha is made exclusively for the second.
The series has a rather unusual production history. Nanoha first started as a Token Loli in a certain H-game named Triangle Heart 3 ～sweet songs forever～, part of a trilogy of such H-games. She was a very minor character, but proved popular enough to eventually get a mini Spin-Off game where she becomes a typical sickeningly sweet Magical Girl. A few years later they decided to make an anime based on that, and so Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was born. Said series proceeded to throw in a bunch of tropes that would be more associated with Humongous Mecha shows for good measure, simply because a production crew member noted that Nanoha's costume design made her look like a Gundam. From there on she went on to become one of the most Badass Magical Girls yet to have existed.
What makes Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha unique is the detail put into the fight scenes, much to the delight of the Seinen market's nostalgia for grand space battles and fist-pumping action. Many people who can't stand typical Magical Girl shows enjoy Nanoha because of this. It is also unusual among Magical Girl series in that Nanoha loves her job, enjoys her powers, and makes responsible decisions regarding them extending into adulthood.
Over the years Lyrical Nanoha has branched off into a multi-media franchise with several separate continuities:
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (2004)
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's (2005)
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS (2007)
- StrikerS Sound Stage X (audio drama, 2008)
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid (manga, 2009-2017)
- Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force (manga, 2009-2013)
The game continuity:
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Battle of Aces - a fighting game for the PSP and an Alternate Timeline sequel to A's; (2010)
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny - a sequel to Battle of Aces; (2011)
The movie continuity, which in the commentary audio tracks on the home releases is revealed to be a TSAB-approved retelling of the primary continuity's events in-universe:
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie First (2010)
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Movie First the Comics - the manga of the movie, which is yet another retelling of Nanoha Original, though significantly different from both sources; (2009-2010)
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie Second As (2012)
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Detonation - two movies telling one story. The story, very loosely based on Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny, is set two years after Movie Second A's. (2017 and 2018, respectively)
- A Light Novel adaptation of the first season. It deviates from the original plot in a way similar to the movie manga and has the same artist. It has never been translated and is mostly dismissed as non-canon as opposed to an Alternate Continuity.
- Three volumes of manga detailing various slice of life moments throughout A's and StrikerS, including six chapters that bridge the ten years between them.
- A set of Audio Dramas for each of the first three seasons and the movie called "Sound Stages", that take place at various points in the series. StrikerS Sound Stage X is an entirely self-contained story.
- A semi-canon (though its status is debatable) anthology manga called Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: Comic à la carte.
- An Yonkoma based of Force of all things, titled Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force Dimension.
- Lyrical Nanoha×Prisma☆Illya - a one-shot non-canon Intercontinuity Crossover manga with Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, which features Nanoha and Fate circa the first season (though looking like they do in the movie) teaming up with Ilya and Miyu after some time/space weirdness traps them in a pocket dimension together.
- Numerous artbooks, guidebooks, character profiles, collectable cards, colored pamphlets and other things of dubious canonicity. Also a truckload Side-Story Bonus Art and other promotional materials from the various magazines publishing the different Nanoha manga.
The entire series is animated by Seven Arcs and written by Masaki Tsuzuki, who has a habit of radically shifting its tone and feel between almost every installment.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
- Air Jousting: Sometimes with rocket-propelled devices for good measure.
- All Planets Are Earthlike
- All There in the Manual: Many things, from details on how spells work to how characters came to certain decisions in the series, to even major parts of characters' backstories, are only discussed in the Sound Stages and manga. Even who some minor characters actually are. Recall the cheerful maid that took care of Fate and her sister in the dream she had towards the end of A's? Without seeing some of the official art, you'd never know she had cat ears and a tail under that outfit. She's Precia's familiar. This was corrected in The Movie.
- Alternate Calendar: Old and New Mid-Childan Calendar.
- Alternate Continuity:
- Nanoha and family are an Alternate Universe version of the one from the H-game and OVA series Triangle Heart 3 ～sweet songs forever～ where her brother, sister, and father were ninja-like bodyguards. The first season makes numerous references to this. Her father, killed in Triangle Heart, is alive in this universe, although covered with scars from "his old job". In addition Nanoha enjoys watching her brother and sister spar, using the same fighting style from the original series.
- It's also an alternate continuity to the Lyrical Toy Box mini-game Spin-Off, which was the spiritual pilot for Nanoha, very little of which was kept in the final incarnation.
- Within the franchise itself we have The Movies, which are considered an alternate retelling of the first season, even though it only makes minor changes (justified In-Universe as semi-biographical film, produced on Mid-childa). The second movie did the same with A's, following the same continuity as the first. The third movie mentions the first movie in passing, and the fourth movie is a direct sequel to the third movie.
- The movie's supplementary manga diverges further into its own continuity, shifting the order of major events and changing the characters' personalities somewhat. Presumably when the second movie is released, this continuity will be extended further with another manga.
- The PSP games Battle of Aces and Gears of Destiny are also an alternate continuity diverging from the main series shortly before the end of A's.
- Lyrical Nanoha×Prisma☆Illya is some kind Alternate Continuity singularity, considering it crosses over two Alternate Universe spinoffs of two unrelated franchises, while not being in continuity with any of them. It's still official, but it was done more or less for the sake of crackpotitude.
- Amplifier Artifact: All devices, as they don't really enable people to cast magic, as much as they automate the process, control the flow of mana and in the case of the cartridge system enable short bursts of power.
- Anti-Villain: Common to have antagonist that aren't evil.
- Apocalypse How: Lost Logia in sufficient amount is capable of X-2 and beyond class as the Al-Hazred disaster showed.
- Armed with Canon: The Megami Sound Stages were written by Yuunoha supporters, while ViVid gives a slightly different look. For instance mention is made that Vivio's relationship with Fate is like that of an aunt -- with the implication that Nanoha and Fate are Like Sister and Sister -- but in ViVid she's back to calling her "Fate-mama".
- Artificial Human: Many of the characters, both heroic and villainous, are lab experiments.
- Ascended Extra: In Triangle Heart 3 ～sweet songs forever～, Nanoha is just a side character who doesn't get much development outside of Kuon's route. Then the fan box came out and gave her a small game. Then, that inspired this show.
- Audio Adaptation: The Sound Stages. Most are manuals, but Sound Stage X is a self contained story and even has lasting consequences in the series canon.
- Author Appeal: No matter what direction the series goes in, you can always count on having cute girls blowing stuff up mecha style.
- Badass Adorable: Anyone with magical powers between the ages of 9 and 12 easily qualifies.
- Badass Family: Several.
- The Harlaowns. Admiral Lindy, Admiral Chrono, and Fate Testarossa-Harlaown. Probably also the late Clyde Harlaown. Any of them can and will befriend you into outer space if you make them mad. Erio and Caro probably count as members as well. And Arf's the family pet.
- The Yagami family. Not actually blood-related, but a family nevertheless. Hayate, Signum, Vita, Shamal, Zafira, Reinforce/Reinforce Zwei, and Agito.
- The Takamachi family. The White Devil herself, Fate, and Vivio. And if you go with the Triangle Heart backstory, also Nanoha's siblings, Kyoya and Miyuki Takamachi and their father, all of whom are superb swordsmen and able to defeat legions of gunmen in mere seconds. Not to mention the fact the entire family is descended from samurai.
- The Nakajimas. With the exception of Non Action Dad Genya, all of the members of the family are formidable fighters. Quint, Ginga, Subaru, Cinque, Dieci, Nove and Wendi. Tohma Avenir will likely be joining them in the near future.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Used extensively in transformation sequences and in all other cases for the lolis in the manga and the anime series. The adults in ViVid and Force or anyone in the movie, not so much.
- Battle Ballgown: Nanoha and Vita's Barrier Jackets are in this style throughout the franchise.
- Beam-O-War: Subverted for the most part. In any Beam-O-War situation, nobody ever really has to work at it. Any time it happens, one of the people attempting it will lose almost instantly, because true Beam-O-War requires standing still, and anyone engaged in Full-Contact Magic loses when they do that.
- The Bechdel Test: Passes, in large part because of the Fundamentally Female Cast.
- Become Your Weapon: The Unison Devices (or "Unison Knights" in the movies) are tiny sentient humanoids who exist specifically to physically merge with their masters and give them enormous power boosts. The only downside is that very few mages can handle Unison.
- BFG: Intelligent Devices are basically the magical equivalent. To push the analogy further, the second season introduces cartridges, which might as well be magically charged shotgun shells or even rifle casings from their appearance, and Bardiche loads them from a swing-out revolver cylinder, while Raising Heart does so from a detachable box magazine. Raising Heart's cannon mode in The Movie even has a sliding trigger grip.
- Blank White Eyes
- Bleached Underpants: In addition to the series' roots in Eroge, the animation studio Seven Arcs made nothing but porn before they made Nanoha.
- Blue with Shock
- Boxed Crook: One of the bureau's favorite ways to recruit new mages is to give defeated villains job offers. Contrary to most examples of this trope, the work involved is more akin to community service than anything else, and it's shown to be temporary. As of StrikerS, Fate and Hayate have both graduated from this program and gone on to become high-ranking officers and widely-recognized heroes of the bureau, and the Numbers seem to be on their way to similar status in ViVid.
- By the Power of Greyskull:
- "Set up." Amusingly in very beginning, Nanoha had to recite a ridiculous chant in order to activate Raising Heart. She developed the reroute/short-cut on her own, much to Yuuno's shock and amazement.
- Durandel's "Start up."
- The one-time-only German commands used to initiate the Wolkenritter's Devices.
- Calling Your Attacks: And when the characters don't, their devices do it for them. Or the character and device call the attack in unison, or one starts the call and the other completes it.
- Cannot Spit It Out: The more sympathetic villains regarding their true objectives.
- Casual Interplanetary Travel: The cosmology is a bit vague, but it seems that "dimension", "world", and "planet" mean the same thing in the setting. Spells like Dimensional Transfer are readily available to Magitek mages, and in Nanoha Vivid, the heroes take a shuttle to another planet like one would take a bus to another town.
- Competence Zone: Averted with a vengeance. Where most magical girls lose their powers as they grow older, Nanoha and company get that much more badass as they go from their pre-teens to their early 20s.
- Cool Starship: StrikerS has the Cradle. And Force adds the "Wolfram" and "Esquad Hückebein".
- Cross-Dressing Voices: All young males in both the Japanese and English versions.
- Darker and Edgier: The series is gradually slipping into this as the franchise wears on.
- Defeat Means Friendship: To the point where, among the fandom, "befriend" has come to be synonymous with "beat the crap out of".
befriend (v.): to use mecha-class beam weaponry to inflict grievous bodily harm on a target in the process of proving the validity of your belief system.
—From a post on rpg.net
- Demoted to Extra: Frequently happens to character that carry over from previous seasons, even the main ones after the third series.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Empathic Weapons: All the intelligent devices. This leads to somewhat comical moments where they will compliment one another. The unison devices take it a step further by being completely self aware.
- Fan Service
- Fashionable Asymmetry: There's a single unruly tuft of hair growing out of the head of almost everyone, particularly prominent on the members of the Testarossa family.
- The Federation: The TSAB.
- Flash Step: Various spells allow this, but Fate is a regular practitioner who doesn't need special assistance from her Intelligent Device, Bardiche, to do so.
- Genre Shift: Each installment seems to move further away from the stereotypical Magical Girl setting, and closer to Nanoha's destiny of being an RX-78-2 in a schoolgirl outfit.
- Gratuitous English: The more the devices talk, the less cool they get. In The Original Series, they only call out attack names. In A's, they occasionally speak in full sentences. By the time of Striker S, they even have actual conversations with their masters with painfully bad grammar. They seem to have caught on and finally fixed the grammar problems for the movie. And a couple of the new Devices in Force speak Japanese.
- Most of the English in StrikerS falls under Surprisingly Good English. The sentence structures and the grammar are correct majority of the time. It still sounds stilted, but that was most likely intended, to keep in line with the fabricated nature of the Devices.
- Great Offscreen War: The Ancient/Old Belkan War.
- Hit So Hard the Calendar Felt It: The Mid-Childan calendar begins after the end of the Belkan War.
- Holographic Terminal: Magical ones, but holographic nonetheless.
- Human Aliens: Most of the human cast isn't from Earth.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: To quote Raising Heart: "Barrier Jacket". Furthermore, it's freely customisable by the user.
- Fundamentally Female Cast: In both population and screen time.
- Instant Armor: The Barrier Jackets are skimpier than most example, but they still appear outta nowhere, and seem to outstrip a Main Battle Tank in terms of defensive potential. They appear to be created by the user's mana and according to the movie manga can even be regenerated mid-battle. Then again that is an Alternate Continuity.
- Instant Runes: Endemic to high-powered magic.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Averted mostly, since the TSAB imposes heavy restrictions on the use of mass-based weapons, because unlike magic devices you can't set them to stun.
- Les Yay: Enough to get its own page.
- Life Energy
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Manageable in the first two series. Becomes quite unwieldy in StrikerS, to the point that many of the antagonists receive almost no characterization at all outside of the supplementary material. ViVid and Force also keep piling on the new faces while keeping many of the old ones and well, there's a reason the character sheet is split in six.
- Lost Technology: Lost Logia.
- Magical Girl Warrior: With the exception of a couple of the early episodes they are called "mages" or "knights", which isn't strictly limited to females, though the ratio is quite heavily slanted in their favour.
- Magic Knight: Almost everyone, with Belkan Knight (except for Hayate and Shamal) and Fate being particularly reliant on close combat.
- Magitek: While using combat magic still requires some genetic predisposition, everyday technology on Mid-Childa is all magic based. The Ancient Belkans had an even more advanced fusion of magic and technology, to the point that even TSAB scientists don't know how most of their Lost Logia operate.
- Magic Missile
- Mildly Military: The Time/Space Administrative Bureau, which also acts as both The Federation and The Magocracy.
- Mini-Dress of Power
- Moe Couplet: Fuels nearly every standard fanship, to the point it replaces the otherwise vanilla Erio/Caro ship vaguely implied in the show.
- Mood Whiplash: Most of Nanoha tends to alternate between adorably sweet and terribly depressing.
- Muggles Do It Better: Thoroughly averted. Except for pesky Mage Killers, magic is superior in both strategic and tactical aspects. Until Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Detonation, when technology manages to do better than magic... until Nanoha gets serious.
- Non-Indicative Name:
- Raising Heart doesn't have any hearts. The name is an artifact from the Lyrical Toy Box, where it actually was a puny heart-shaped wand.
- The TSAB doesn't do anything in the Time department. TSAB should in fact be translated as "Dimension Administrative Bureau", and going by the English subs of the first movie, this is the official English translation as used by Seven Arcs. (However, Reflection and Detonation use "Time-Space Administration Bureau" in their subtitles.) It could also be more accurately translated as Space-Time Administration Bureau to correspond with the "Spacetime" concept that pops up whenever the Universe is discussed in Physics, but, uhh... the problems with that acronym should be pretty obvious.
- Opposing Combat Philosophies: The Midchildian mages focus on defensive barriers and Wave Motion Gun tactics, while the Belkan Knights swarm up close with punishing melee attacks and cartridge-enhanced weaponry. There are exceptions to both rules like Fate, a melee-oriented Mid-childa style, and Hayate, a long-range Squishy Wizard Belkan-user, and things get more complicated as the series goes on with mixed types, defense and support specialists, exotics like summon magic, and various forms of magical kung-fu.
- Panty Shot: Mandatory during transformation sequences. Otherwise almost non-existent, save for roughly one single inexplicable shot in each season.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Nanoha is a rare series where there's a good portion of individuals who treat theirs well. The ones who don't... well, they get befriended, in some cases fatally.
- Pink Means Feminine: Played with in many ways.
- Powers as Programs: Yuuno explains right at the start of the first season that this is how the Intelligent Devices work.
- Psychic Link: Belkan users can do this by themselves, while Mid-Childa mages need to use their Intelligent Devices.
- Random Power Ranking: The Mage Ranks. Various characters have been ranked as C, B, A, AA, AAA, S, S+, and SS. Hayate's SS rank is slightly different from the others in that it's a Composite Rank, as opposed to a Combative Rank, which is believed to be only based upon magical capacity, and not much else. She even went as far to say that Caro, without the aid of her Dragons, could kick her ass at this point.
- Reference Overdosed: Mostly to mecha shows and cars.
- Rousseau Was Right: Mostly. Any given antagonist a has at least a 50% chance of joining the good guys in the next season. Well, the Huckebein will probably break the trend considering how they're all Omnicidal Maniacs and all.
- Sequel Escalation: Between the three anime series, the stage just gets bigger and bigger. However, Striker S and later series consciously averted the Dragon Ball method of power-level inflation; in StrikerS and Force, the Riot Force 6 elites (Nanoha, Fate, Hayate and Signum) are the strongest mages in the universe, and their opponents are dangerous because of new capabilities and tactics rather than greater raw power.
- Ship Sinking: Triangle Heart 3 ～sweet songs forever～ had Nanoha/Chrono as canon, with none of the major alternative partners for Nanoha or Chrono available. Naturally, in this universe, it's the one suggested Nanoha pairing that we're explicitly told doesn't happen, as Chrono marries Amy between As and Strikers.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: STARLIGHT BREAKER! It fixes everything!
- And if it doesn't, Nanoha upgrades it so it does anyway!
- Smoke Shield: At least once each season, if not more.
- Spell My Name with an "S":
- Regarding the use of fan spellings of certain names as opposed to the official ones: examples include "Raising Heart"/"Raging Heart" and "Harlaown"/"Haraoun."
- Geneon's subtitle tracks say Fate's familiar is named "Arf". The subtitle tracks in all four movies say her name is "Alph".
- The Stinger: At the end of the Kaleid Liner crossover special when everyone goes back to their home dimensions, Ilya thinks of the pair of wonderful friends she made... then suddenly realizes she's holding Raising Heart, and Ruby is nowhere to be seen.
- Stock Footage: Surprisingly little, but there.
- Stun Guns: Devices can't kill, except by whacking someone to death with them. Even when your opponent is slammed into a wall, buried in rubble or engulfed in flames, it somehow never causes lasting damage.
- Uh, that's because of the Barrier Jackets -- it is magical body armor, after all.
- Case and point, within the first two episodes of A's Nanoha's barrier jacket is destroyed, and suddenly she and all her contacts are treating the battle like a whole different situation; specifically, a brief moment of Darker and Edgier.
- In the first battle in Reflection, Nanoha specifically and verbally sets her Divine Buster to stun.
- Uh, that's because of the Barrier Jackets -- it is magical body armor, after all.
- Surprisingly Good English: Mostly spoken by the computers, but also by one of Nanoha's friends at school. They're correctly accented, and make sense in context although the grammar leaves something to be desired. The movie has the best English so far. They actually have native English-speaking voice actors for the computers -- Australian-born Donna Burke for Raising Heart and an unknown named Kevin J. England for Bardiche.
- Technology Porn: With the exception of ViVid, the Transformation Sequences focus just as much time on the individual components of the Devices snapping together in place as it does on the characters themselves. Every time a Device switches forms, it will dominate the screen while it goes through the process. Force takes this further by having a mini feature devoted entirely to new weapons and armor designs.
- Theme Naming: As in Magic Knight Rayearth, characters from the magical worlds are named for cars -- (Ferrari) Testarossa, Scaglietti, (Opel) Zafira, Signum, Vita, (Maserati) Shamal, (Nissan) Teana, Subaru, etc. In total, there are around forty characters/devices that share names with cars.
- Time Skip: Between each installment.
- Training from Hell: One particular subversion aside, most of the mage training in the series is shown to be very grueling.
- Translation Convention: Messages displayed and spoken by Mid-Childa's Magitek devices are usually in English or German, but all non-device characters exclusively speak Japanese. Since no explanation is ever provided, and it's possible that Mid-Childa could have picked up any or all of these languages through dimension-hopping shenanigans, it's unclear where the Translation Convention is being applied, or whether it is being applied at all.
- Transformation Sequence: Present, but unusually for a Magical Girl series, not used as time-wasting Stock Footage. In fact, each main character gets at most two of these per season and only the first few times they transform.
- Transformation Is a Free Action: While the aforementioned full sequences are pretty long, whenever we see a transformation happen "from the outside", it takes less than two seconds.
- Unskilled but Strong: Each of the main girls started out this way to some extent. Hayate's the only one who remains so even into adulthood, needing Rein just so she can properly aim her attacks.
- Wave Motion Gun:
- The Arc-En-Ciel is a good example of a traditional one.
- The others are all powered by a Person of Mass Destruction. In the first movie, Nanoha's Starlight Breaker levels an entire city.
- Wizards from Outer Space
- World of Action Girls
- World of Badass
- Fate calls a particular location "nostalgic" -- it looks remarkably like the location where she and Nanoha had their final fight in the first movie, that does not appear in the TV series.
- Exceptions being humanoid Unison Devices such as Reinforce Zwei and Agito, Tohma's device Steed and Isis' device from Force