Dissecting an Opening: INNOCENT STARTER

Greetings. This is a new blog where I’ll be talking about things in much greater detail than Twitter can provide. Over the course of this past week, I rediscovered an anime I once left aside, sort of abandoned for years. The show in question? Nanoha.

I’ll admit, the first time I watched Nanoha, it was around 6 years ago on gogoanime or something, recently coming off the Madoka hype/suffering train. It was strange, the pacing was slow, and it felt like a cheap Cardcaptor Sakura clone. But on a whim I got past the first three episodes and as soon as I got to episode 4, it hooked me in. But before I talk about the show itself, I want to take a look at it’s opening. To me, an opening is not just for show but a set-piece for the tone of a show. It also tells us certain things about the characters, setting, and in this case, the actual conflict.

In these two frames, we see our titular main character Nanoha sitting with her knees up in what looks like an open field. Nanoha herself is outgoing and cheerful, yet the lyrics here suggest something about her that is fearful, a fear she secretly harbors. Her ferret companion, Yuuno climbs up on top of her shoulder, perhaps as an act of support.

01 Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha [720p Hi10p AAC BD][kuchikirukia]V5.mkv_snapshot_01.12_[2017.04.29_14.09.58]01 Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha [720p Hi10p AAC BD][kuchikirukia]V5.mkv_snapshot_01.18_[2017.04.29_13.24.35]

Then we cut to a different scene inside a city, where we see this long-haired girl sitting on her couch, brushing her hair aside with a melancholic look on her face. Her name is Fate, and without giving too much away, her clashes with Nanoha are one of the main driving forces in the story. Now as to what these words in the song mean, first let’s break it down bit by bit.

“I found my own place within a kind lie” Is she fighting for something that turns out to be fake? Or perhaps she is distraught, concerned with an issue not yet known?

“And I fled inside my dreams” To put things in context, Fate is living inside a tall building with no one but her and her canine companion, Arf. They’re both isolated from everyone else in the city.  Isolation is an important topic which I’ll write about in a later post.

Now we are back to Nanoha, juxtaposed in an extreme long shot in some sort of abandoned forest ruins. And here the lyrics talk of a “sea of loneliness that nobody knows”. But here’s the odd part, are these lyrics talking about Nanoha, or Fate? Yes we do see Nanoha primarily in this sequence, but upon closer inspection of the words, I believe it’s referring to the both of them.

“An intense feeling to hide the loneliness is continually injuring your heart” Nanoha is a person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She can’t stand to see others sad, or in pain. Fate on the other hand, hides away her emotions and acts aloof, especially in battle.

Nanoha and Fate fight, flying in the sky across the cityscape. There’s a lot of attention to detail here, like Nanoha superimposed inside Fate’s eye, to even the lyrics which let’s be honest, scream Yuri subtext all over. I’d like to mention that Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha came out in 2004, the same year one of my favorite magical girl franchises ever, Precure began. This was also a great shift for the magical girl genre as a whole, where cool action sequences began to emerge. Oh and I love the last line “I will deliver a love so soft”. This is kinda funny because it’s an oxymoron, these two 9-year old are battling to the death while Nana Mizuki sings the opening. I’m not complaining about this by the way, I think it’s great.

The end of the OP gives us an image of a Jewel Seed, this show’s collectible object for some ill-defined purpose maybe, a sequence showing shots of Nanoha’s friends and family, and two other scenes where Nanoha hovers above water, with the sky in the background, and then we see her standing above a reflection of Raising Heart, her weapon/accessory. “A warmth that might break” may represent either Nanoha’s or Fate’s feelings, while “parts itself from the past and overflows” suggest those feelings will reach their destination, unbroken. Symbolic like a laser beam, of which there are many in this show. “Do not be lured into the somber shadows” is merely a reminder that Nanoha, our protagonist mustn’t  stray from her path, her journey.

So that’s Innocent Starter. It’s a well crafted opening, and while it’s not super deep or anything, it does have a purpose in setting up the show, which is what I explained earlier. This has been Ragnarock, and those familiar with me on Twitter let’s just say I’m not taking a break from Kamen Rider and Sentai, but I just wanted to express something different in words today. Soon I’ll speak about this show proper.

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