Raised up in the same orphanage, Fuuka and Rinne were once close friends but parted company after a quarrel ended up with Rinne overwhelmed Fuuka with her martial art skills. Fuuka has a life in poverty after leaving the orphanage. An accidental encounter with renowned martial arts champion Einhald Stratos discovered Fuuka's hidden talent in fighting; Einhald offered Fuuka a job and coaching, encouraging her to meet up with Rinne again—in a ring.
Vivid Srike was the latest addition to the Nanoha franchise and can come across as kind of jarring for those viewers coming straight off from Nanoha Vivid expecting a direct continuation of the story as Vivid Strike is a side-story of Vivid's narrative taking place a year after the events of said show. Upon watching this show, it could also be kind of confusing since there was just a general lack of information surrounding this show anyway so trying to piece it together can perhaps be a little distracting upon your first viewing. However, despite being a side-story, the newly introduced characters are decently integrated
into the narrative and fleshed out.
This season has a greater focus on two new characters in the franchise rather than Vivio or Einhald. If you were expecting Nanoha or Fate to make an appearance than you'll be disappointed. While Vivio and Einhald do have moments of development and some time to shine in their own fights and the such the narrative is, at its core, a tale of two orphan children called Fuuka and Rinne. After Fuuka is adopted by a couple she lives out a brief and happy period with her newly found Grandfather but runs into trouble with bullies at school who push her to her limits resulting in a situation in which she misses the passing of her Grandfather. She then beats the ever lasting SHIT out of the bullies and trains vigorously to become stronger and stronger. Her orphan friend, Fuuka, trains with the previously established characters from Vivid in order to defeat her friend and beat some sense into her. The story is a basic fighting tournament with the main focus of training hard to gain new abilities and using your fists in order to communicate with your opponent. While it is basic in plot structure, it's the characters that shine through an otherwise generic story.
There is a decent amount of time invested in both Fuuka and Rinne to make them feel more human and their backstories and motivations are both believable and have enough attachment to the narrative to make the narrative have more stakes and impact. Rinne's backstory was easily the most entertaining part of the anime and is given a decent amount of time to breath and spread its wings. You're able to easily understand why she behaves the way she does which makes her fights feel more real and emotionally heavier too. Fuuka, on the other hand, doesn't feel as fleshed out while still having a decent amount of personal engagement with the narrative. Fuuka doesn't go through the same amount of focus or development in the show aside from her power level increase. However, as a character it is easy to feel the emotional attachment she has with the narrative and thus easier to root for as an audience. It's the effective drama between these characters is the main thing that keeps the show entertaining and helps it to stand on its two feet.
While the plot does a decent job at fleshing out character back-stories and personalities it's still not something you've seen before to some better effect. This doesn't necessarily make Vivid Strike's story bad; just forgettable after you've finished watching it and the plot points are also rather easy to predict while you're watching it and you can pretty much guess which direction the show is going to go in. This can make your viewing experience of this show rather tedious as you already know what is going to happen as it follows a basic formula.
However, one thing the show did pretty well were the fight sequences. There is a lot of emotion poured into each of the fights which makes them feel as if there is more narrative stakes but it also makes them feel more exciting. The animation and fights themselves were pretty solid, my favorite being between Vivio and Rinne which does a decent job at developing both characters throughout the fight. The final fight between Fuuka and Rinne was also pretty good for both thematics and a good end product for a season of tension building between the two. However, there are some secondary fights which are glossed over entirely and the final fight between Rienhald and Fuuka may have left you kind of disappointed if you did want to see it. A first for the Nanoha franchise, I believe, is the inclusion of blood and teeth being knocked out during the fights. This not only makes the fights feel more realistic and gritty but it can perhaps come across as jarring for any veteran fans of the show although this was never a problem for me. It never gets to the point where it becomes stupid shock factor either, which I liked.
As for overall music it was fine. The opening is generic catchy pop that you'll forget after you've heard something similar and the battle OST does a fine job. Overall Vivid Strike is a decent addition to the Nanoha series with some good action, decently fleshed out cast but the series also remains fun. It doesn't take too much to feel the emotional weight of the narrative and the character's involvement in said narrative. This series works because of the boat loads of heart the characters have in the Nanoha franchise. If you're a Nanoha fan you'll get a kick out of it.
We all have dreams. We decide what we want and we take it. But life will always get in the way and make it harder or even deny you your dream. Such is our tale.
The story is about two orphan girls separated by the adoption of one of them. The time spent apart makes them treat each other with coldness and eventually they fight and separate. Our protagonist is determined not to let this be the end of their relationship and trains to get her friend back.
Artwork is a nice splice show of color. A lot of the characters have differently colored eyes which I
personally don't see why the need.. but nevertheless they are pretty to watch. The environment is pretty much in the near future with buildings looking the same plus the holograph video calls and the miraculous medical technology.
I have never been much of a fan of music behind a story however this series plays some nice songs that enhance the suspense of the moments.
Overall if you like some nice kickboxing between chicks with a really touching story behind it all, then this is a series for you.
Vivid Strike has been one of the best shows of the Fall season. The story was extremely well done and kept me engaged. It never once lets up and in fact gets better and better.
One of the problems I have about shows with massive hype battles/fights, is that the last fight isn't as great as one of the previous ones. It leads to a decline in expectations and a sour taste in a "not as great as it could have been" ending. Vivid Strike is the exception to this problem. Not once was I disappointing in the plot, in fact I loved the way
the writers kept the suspense and unpredictability. For a show that deals in pseudo MMA, I was constantly kept on my toes and wishing for more. The way they kept the plot from growing stale or weak was extraordinary, in which it was both stupid yet so brilliantly executed. No time was wasted, the entire story was fast paced, and as someone who wants as much story, it delivered hard.
The real gem of the show is that I've never seen a show tackle and challenge depression and self-worth as well as Vivid Strike has. A lot of shows that aim to include the theme of depression all end up in a shallow implementation, in which the story progresses just barely to make the character "deep" in being able to relate to the viewer. Vivid Strike goes way beyond surface level dialogue on depression and kept the viewer in the reality of things in regards to how the characters were actually feeling. "Humanization" is hard and rarely can a story understand the full requirements needed to utilize the plot to make both the character and theme better and more crisp. The characters were without a doubt the best part of the show, and the incorporation of the themes into them was brilliant.
The other large theme was the idea of "nature v nurture". With characters on both sides of that spectrum. While Vivid Strike doesn't necessarily answer the question of which one is better, the character development and subsequent payoff regarding this theme was something to note. It shows what it means to be successful, despite losing or deposit not actual being successful.
I hope you watch Vivid Strike, as this is one of the shows that doesn't buckle under pressure from itself, and often times surprised me with how good it was.
The Nanoha franchise is one I've talked about a lot. I've reviewed the first series, As, StrikerS, Vivid and even the loosely connected Triangle Heart, which has been the only ungood one thus far. This week I'm going to look at Vivid Strike, which is a side story for Vivid. It was produced by Seven Arcs, the same studio behind everything else I've looked at except, oddly enough, Vivid itself. Let's see if it upholds the franchise's proud traditions of quality and les-yay. That excludes Triangle Heart, obviously.
Fuuka Reventon is an orphan with a propensity for trouble. We open with her getting into
a fight with a bunch of ne'er do wells. When law enforcement arrives on the scene, she's forced to flee. She runs right into Einhald Stratos and manages to throw one punch before collapsing from injuries she sustained in her earlier altercation. Einhald sees potential in her and brings her into the Nakajima Gym, offering to coach her in martial arts. Fuuka eventually accepts, hoping to reconnect with her childhood friend, Rinne Berlinetta.
The only real narrative issue I have with this series is that it may abridge things too much. A lot of the stuff they skip over is totally justifiable. We don't need to see all the tournament fights. Especially when one of our main characters is going against some Rando and they're obviously going to win because it's a main character against someone who we're just now meeting. However, the unfortunate side effect of skipping over all but a few of those is that we don't get a proper arc for Fuuka and her development as a martial artist. We see her train with the other girls a bit and win a single match before we cut to the climactic fight betwixt her and Rinne. Which really isn't enough to give her a plausible chance. Instead, we get to be told how far she's come by other characters. Because that's just as good as seeing it.
That aspect aside, I do have a lot of praise for the story. The conflict between Fuuka and Rinne is really well handled. It acknowledges the mistakes that are made while also showing us the reasons behind them. The scenes showing Rinne's back story are actually highly poignant. The narrative being about these old friends and their trying to reconnect also provides a compelling tension to the narrative that was absent from the regular Vivid anime and using martial arts as a vehicle that could potentially make that happen really works to tie it in with the framework we've already got. I also do appreciate that the tournament doesn't go the way you would normally expect from this kind of series. The pacing is fairly well done, in spite of the aforementioned abridging issue. It has rising action, an intense climax and then adequate time to wrap things up from there.
The character element has always been a strong suit for this franchise. This instalment is no exception. Fuuka has a strong student-master relationship with Einhald. There are a lot of nive little touches that give us insight into her character. The way she talks to the other girls, frequently using nicknames is one. The way she responds to Rinne when Rinne is talking about the lack of understanding other people have towards her is a big one. The dynamic of her and Rinne is the core of the series and it is actually superb. The flashbacks of them together show us very clearly why they mean a lot to each other and add weight to the reconnection plot. Their early interactions also illustrate both the difficulties of rekindling their connection and the yearning to rekindle it from both of them. Which makes things really interesting. I also do like the way it further develops the Vivid cast.
the only real art issue I have with this one is that the transformation sequences remain rather sleazy in their usage of fan-service. It does, however, improve on a lot of my issues with Vivid. There's a lot less general fan-service. There aren't any overly fan-servicey outfits on display. We don't see Sister Chantez's stripper nun outfit, for instance. They manage to fight in their matches and keep their clothing intact because, I guess, Seven Arcs is better about that than A-1. I do generally like the character designs. Although, Fuuka looks a lot like IF from Neptunia. Did IF and Compa have a science baby? Come to think of it, Rinne looks a bit like Lady Blackheart but with Neptune's eyes. Did Noire and Neptune also have a science baby? Did the infants get left alone with Neptune and accidentally sent to another dimension? She probably responded to the justifiable anger by breaking the fourth wall and joking too. Joking tangents aside, the designs are striking and I do like that Fuuka bases her transformation off of her mentor. It's another of those little touches that tells us about her. The action sequences are really good. You can really see the force of the impacts and the animation is just highly polished. And all without having anyone's clothes torn apart. Almost like that was completely unnecessary, A-1.
The performances in this are all great. The strongest come from our main duo voiced by Ogura Yui & Minase Inori. Sakura Ayane, Noto Mamiko & Mizuhashi Kaori also do particularly well. This series probably has the best soundtrack I've heard from Yoshikawa Youichirou. You may remember him as the composer for Iria & Green Legend Ran. Iria had good music as well, this just has really good music.
As this is the Nanoha franchise, there's a lot of les-yay. The vast bulk of it in this series is between Fuuka and Rinne. We don't see much of Vivio and Einhald's sapphic tension in this one and a lot of our previous couples (Nanoha & Fate, Subaru & Teana, etc.) don't show up. It's also heavily implied that Victoria has a thing for Rinne. Harry and Els allude to it during a conversation and Victoria just responds like it's completely natural. As she should. There's no shame in her having a crush on Rinne. I don't think she's going to win out over Fuuka in that regard, but I'm sure she'll get over it and find a nice girlfriend of her own eventually. After all, the population in this franchise seems to be ninety percent lesbians. No lack of selection there.
Vivid Strike isn't just a marked improvement over Vivid. It's a really great series in its own right. The narrative of old friends trying to connect again after falling out really resonates. The action sequences are awesome. The acting is skilful. The relationship dynamic between our leads is amazing. It is, however, not a perfect series by any means. The transformation sequences are overly focused on titillation and Fuuka's coming into her own as a martial artist could have been much better handled. Still, I do recommend it for any fans of the franchise. Even those of you who were a bit disappointed with Vivid. Especially since I was as well. My final rating is still going to stand at a very solid 9/10. Next week I'll take a look at Bishoujo Yuugekitai Battle Skipper.