Fate Testarossa Harlaown is, as anyone will tell you, a very kind girl. You will most certainly hear this from Takamachi Nanoha, Fate’s Best Friend, Girl Friend and most precious partner. What you will not hear anyone say is that Takamachi Nanoha is a kind girl.
Thats not to say she isn’t friendly, or nice. She’s a very pleasant person to be around almost all of the time. You definitely could never say she’s cruel. But still, she’s not “kind”.
Lets have a chat about Nanoha. Spoilers abound, even for Reflection, sorry.
Just in case some of you are staring at this article with no idea what I’m talking about, the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha franchise turned 14 this year, and is perhaps more responsible than any other series for why late-night Magical Girl shows are the way they are. If you want a full rundown, I recommend Andrea Ritsu’s “Lyrical Retrospective” series, which should get you up to speed as to where things stand as of now.
Alright, that taken care of, lets talk about Nanoha herself. She is of course the core of the franchise, her name is in the title of all but one entry after all. But who is she? Well, thats a good question. For a character who’s franchise spans 14 years of real life time and nearly that much in-universe time, plus originating from another series entirely, Nanoha has remained a surprisingly consistent character.
That’s not to say she doesn’t have character development, but throughout all of this, the core concept of what makes Nanoha “Nanoha” has stayed clear and hasn’t been muddled by attempts at refreshing her character. Something a lot of long-running franchises can’t say. The most salient point about her for this discussion is actually her biggest character flaw. She’s got a temper.
Not a “throw a raging tantrum” temper, but slow burning one that builds and builds till she has had Quite Enough. This is usually when things start getting resolved. This goes all the way back to Triangle Hearts, where it was pretty much the core joke of her character. The girls who worked at her family’s bakery would squabble with each other, increasingly irritating Nanoha until she shows up behind them with a wide smile and a clear murderous intent.
Nanoha will endure quite a bit before she’s had enough, but when she’s at her limit, she holds nothing back. Her backstory with her best friends Arisa and Suzuka centers on the exact moment she was tired of putting up with Arisa’s crap and slapped her across the face. Nanoha will give someone the chance to comply with her requests, which generally amounts to “lets sit down and talk this out”, but if the other person doesn’t do this, well. There are consequences for making Nanoha mad.
The most famous Nanoha moment probably remains the “Even if I’m a devil” speech from A’s. Where she has just completely and totally had enough of the Wolkenritter and if they won’t talk this out reasonably, she’ll beat them up enough till they will. A similar moment is in StrikerS, when she’s ten years older and has even less patience for people who won’t listen. When Teana and Subaru violate the rules of the training (which Nanoha put in place for extremely good reasons) she explains how very disappointed in them she is, and then blasts Teana out of the sky with no mercy.
Reflection specifically calls this trait of hers out. Fate has been beaten down by an antagonist, while Nanoha has been struggling to get out of binds. Freeing herself by blowing up part of her barrier jacket, she confronts the girl. “Don’t bully Fate-chan, she’s a kind girl.” Nanoha warns. The unstated follow up, “but I’m not.” Is very clearly conveyed when she wraps the girl up in steel cables, swings her around and slams her across the pavement, using no magic in the process.
At the very end of the movie, Nanoha appears when the villains seem to have the upper hand, and she is to put it mildly, not happy with what is going on. This however, leads one of the characters to comment on what is Nanoha’s greatest personal strength. She’s a mage who will commit her all to save someone who’s crying. Someone who needs help, whether they realize it or not. From Fate to Hayate, Subaru to Vivio, Nanoha will never, ever let someone who needs her down.
Nanoha isn’t a “kind girl”, the way she means Fate is. She probably would never say that she herself is kind, but she does have a kindness to her, the kindness of a parent who knows when their child needs punishment, and when they need a comforting hug. Its no surprise that she took so well to the role of Vivio’s mother.
Sometimes kindness is a Starlight Breaker to the face, after all.