After how much I enjoyed the first season of Nanoha, I immediately set to watching this sequel. And I will tell you something that rarely happens for me, I don’t think I got up from my sofa from episode 1 until the end. In many ways, A's outshines the original as a lot of the peeves I had from that show are non-existent now. I really loved this series a lot, it just had a few warts that prevent me from giving it a perfect grade.
The story in the original was really good, A's takes it all to a different level and there is almost no comparison. The action picks up from basically the first minute of the show and doesn’t let up. No fillers, no trips to the hot springs, I think this might be the first time I have watched a series and could say that. The plot though is outstanding. A wonderful world of magic is further expanded is a story that puts you through all the emotions and has a number of shocking surprises that you won’t see coming. It’s so delightful to watch such a mature and complex storyline in a genre that is usually silly and plots written more to appeal to youngsters and pervs. There is also a very nice mix of drama and action. The action is more intense than the first season by a lot. Almost every episode it’s full of explosive magical combat but it does a wonderful job of giving great drama and comedic moments.
Nanoha and Fate return to be the same wonderful characters I loved so much from the first series. They get new powers and spells and it’s wonderful to see them in action again. There role with the Space-Time Administration Bureau expands more and we get to know better Lindy, Amy, and Chrono better as well as some new characters within the agency. It was disappointing though that several characters from the original series were left out a bit as we see very little of Yuuno, Arf, Arisa, and Suzuka. There is however a plethora of new characters and my opinion of them is mixed. They are interesting, have complex motivations for why they do what they do. A lot of them made me mad, wanting to throw my remote through the TV screen and scream "I won’t forgive you!". But I guess that is the sign of a well made character huh? The main problem is that now there are so many new characters that the cast just becomes so large that it’s impossible to really get to know any of them that well.
Visually, A's is stunning. The characters are beautifully drawn and animated. They have some great costumes and weapons (especially the new knights). Were it really is spectacular is the action scenes. The fights are exciting, explosive, and on a much grander scale than anything from the first series. It was also a nice surprise at the end of the series to see Nanoha and her friends grown up. I was pleasantly surprised that the transformation scenes were toned down and reduced a lot. This was a complaint of my from the first season, not that they existed, but that we had to watch them in full every time Nanoha transformed.
The music is where this show really fails. While a lot of the background music is the same, I was not a big fan of the EN theme in particular and the OP was not really that much better. I found myself several times just fast forwarding through them which is something I almost never do. The voice acting is still great, but my overall disappointment with the music drives my score down.
In the end this show is really outstanding, my dissatisfaction with the musical score and some of the characters prevents me from giving it a '10' though. This show transcends the magic girl genre and I don’t think should be thought of as such. So if you are resisting watching this series because you don’t like magic girls, don’t! You will not regret it!