I agree completely with Owen S’s observation that the 1 vs 2 cour comparison to explain why StrikerS has been off to a slow start is deeply flawed. In the first season, Fate didn’t even show up until the middle of the fourth episode while we had a relatively slow buildup about ‘Hi, I’m Nanoha Takamachi, this is my family etc etc.’ and then gradually levelling up under Ferret Yuuno’s instruction.
There appears to be a similar structure in StrikerS. The main new character Subaru has her back history and connection to Nanoha built up and, with the other three newbies, are being levelled up. Although we do know the members of the original cast, there is also considerable ground to cover, given that ten years have passed since the end of A’s (not counting the last few minutes of the last episode), such as the setting up of Hayate’s new unit – which isn’t covered in the A’s to StrikerS transition manga.
It’s quite hard to do the ‘start in the middle’ narrative IMHO because although that was used in A’s, we have the same knowledge about the new characters as Nanoha. That’s not the case in StrikerS where the studio has decided that we, the audience, should be levelled up in our knowledge of the new characters to what the original cast members know. In any case, I have this sneaky suspicion that it’s a no win situation either way. Instead of complaints about slow pacing, the ‘start in the middle’ alternative would probably provoke complaints of ‘Who are these people!?’, ‘What’s going on?’, ‘needs MOAR background’ etc.
The first four episodes have been a bit of a yo-yo for me. I was pretty alarmed by how the first episode totally had no Nanoha x Fate love-love at all. Felt ecstatic at the end of the third episode with the Big Bed scene. But this episode seems to further affirm Stripey’s sense that:
Nanoha doesn’t seem to have the hots for Fate anymore and Fate carries this resigned-ness that Nanoha is never ever gonna to reciprocate her love…
Either that or their relationship is so established that everyone seems to take it for granted. *Fingers crossed*
Nanoha seems to be most herself when she’s in the air strutting her combat instructor stuff, an odd mix of delight at how her trainees are pushing themselves and innovating on the go while looking quite fearsome when confronting any of their direct challenges. The scene when she looks up at Frederick’s fireball attacks reminded me sooo much of the GOUFs coming under attack from above by ORB Murasames for some reason. But the unwelcome Gundam SEED Destiny reminder was how her ‘look up’ faces were recycled within a minute of each other. Doesn’t bode well for animation quality… but then again, the pre-DVD release version of A’s wasn’t that good either (outside of the Fate vs Signum battles). Remember the horrible defence program monster? orz
If there’s another dimension to the Nanoha x Fate relationship that I’m looking out for is how Nanoha relates to Fate’s two adopted children and how they relate to their ‘other’ mom (though I think Erio addresses Fate as ‘oneesan’). LOL
Our last main character, Carim, head of the Saint Church and Hayate’s mentor in Belka magic as well as the most important sponsor of the new unit is finally introduced. Nanoha to complete the newbies’ training, Shari to have their new devices ready just in time before a major attack by 30 Gadgets, possible Type-2 as well on a transport train (Spider Man 2 anyone?). Next week’s episode should have more action: Thunder of the Stars.
Needs MOAR Nanoha x Fate love-love!