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Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS

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In any case Hayate didn’t do much that I personally consider good. As usual her job is reduce to apply the obvious and most basic sense of tactics, mostly of camera, and call it a day. I just don’t get the sensation of watching a mastermind strategist and for a show which relies so much on spectacle it feels… meh. Again, you need more than just hints of the battle but to show it properly and they got a handful of scenes which didn’t do much and then went back to the duels.

As for Jail and the Numbers… well to be fair I don’t know what is the point of the StrikerS’ storyline. The Relics stopped being important half way to the end, then there is the whole attack which goes down with the good guys being but a footnote to stop it and then a giant banana color space ship appears and at this point they were just throwing stuff at the screen and seeing what work.

I did like Jail’s angle with Fate however. It was by far the funniest, non-intentionally true but funny nonetheless. It was like they expected Fate to join them on the spot and when she says “No thanks” they acted like she was the unreasonable one. And keep in mind is not like they offer anything, a tempting reunion with her sister or mother… something to make change sides, no they just ask her. It just feels like they wanted this to be way more complex and emotional than it ended up and I find it so deliciously tragic.

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Well she was never characterized as any kind of tactical or strategic genius, and this is like her first actual independent command. Hell she has clearly been jumped up a rank past what she should have been (in manga set 4 years before StrikerS Hayate is 1st Captain and Nanoha is 2nd Captain, meaning one rank difference, while in StrikerS Hayate is 2nd Commander while Nanoha is 1st Captain, meaning 2 ranks of difference) so she can serve as a convenient scapegoat if things go south with RF6. So it's hardly suprising she is not some kind of tactical genius given and she herself admits that.
From what little we hasve seen she is mostly a competent first timer if not much more.

But I would agree that we did not see her doing enough commanding especially during the final fight.

The point of the StrikerS story is stopping Jail and his plans for the Cradle, but that story is introduced slowly because the first episodes are devoted to learning about RF6 and their members and fighting Gadgets. Only later does it ramp by first introducing Numbers and then hitting them with the Cradle. Also while I do defend a lot of choices that made the StrikerS, I never really liked the Numbers and their characterization or better yet complete lack of it.
As for the Cradle, I'm totally down with the ultimate threat being a ancient gigantic ass spaceship powered by a kid. That is totally Nanoha, a mix of technological and magical threats.

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Well then, I say we should move on to a more positive tone here. As much as I dislike StrikerS I did like some of its elements and I have often imagine how it could be improve. So maybe we can talk about that now: does StrikerS has any flaws you would like to see corrected? And how would you go about it

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Well as I said before my main beef with the season as it currently is are the antagonists which don't really feel like Nanoha style antagonists of previous seasons. They simply, and Jail in particular don't have redeeming features that would make them understandable or relatable. Even Prescia from first season who is an utter bitch is relatable because we know she is doing all of this for her daughter and her singleminded determination to right her wrongs has driven her into further wrongs. Therefore she is interesting.

Jail meanwhile has no clear goals other than nebulous science one. There are glimmers of complexity, he is vain and wants everyone to recognize how better he is than them. He seems to care more of his science than for his life and such. But those are only hints, the rest of the time he is a boring ranting mad scientist with no redeeming qualities.

As for how to fix it either fix Jail and drop the entire implantation of his daughters with himself and show that he does care about them and the Cradle is his plan how to ensure their safety and freedom from TSAB. And he wants that AT ANY COST, and is fully prepared to watch Mid burn if it is what it takes. That would make it more relatable since he would be doing it for hsi family, but he still would be wrong and an arsehole.

Or have one of the Numbers experience an actual heel-face turn or do something ANYTHING with them.

Or focus things more on TSAB side of things, so that Jail making a break for it with the Cradle is more him taking an opportunity that fell into his lap due to the infighting between the Administration/RF6 and black projects by the Council. This way the Cradle is not a part of some sort of MASTER PLAN by Jail that makes the Council and Regius look like idiots, but an unintended consequence of them messing with powers and Lost Logias they really shouldn't have out of desire to ensure protection of TSA System AT ANY COST.
Hell the lore even supports this interpretation of events up to a point, it's just that Jail completely stole the show to the point where most of the viewers think he is the one who independently made the cyborgs, found the Cradle, made the Gadgets etc. when in fact up untill his attack on the GF HQ he was working for the Council in projects they gave him.

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Since I allready spoke about the limiters and the helicopter that means the military section is over (I probably have more to say, but it would revolve around my interpretations and I don't remember it now) so here is the conclusion:

2.3.6. Conclusion
While the military side was not especially militaristic, considering the spirit of the show it’s militaristic enough to get the idea that the authorities are implementing steps to address the issue. Handling of Hayate is probably one of the biggest failings of the show, but even her handling was competent, when compared to some other shows since her troops do have respect for her. Basically, while I would have liked for them to have done more with this aspect the visual trappings and the idea that the crisis is being handled by the authorities through regular channels is enough to whet my military SF itch.

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I had to give this one a serious consideration, since to me it runs a bit deeper on what I could do to “fix” the season. Or at least what would I change to find it more appealing to my taste.

My first idea would be to grab most of the new arrivals and take them behind a building for summary execution… not really but I would eliminate most of the new faces: the Forwards, the Numbers, among others and focus the tale on Nanoha, Fate and Hayate side of things. Showing them not as veterans, which was silly, but as the young and talented people ready to replace the old guard see them at the start of what will be long and prosperous careers.

I like that because it fleshes out everyone, including Hayate who I always feel kind of flat. And then when Nanoha runs in to Vivio the idea of becoming a mother is not something she just agrees on a whim but an actual consideration she has to make, considering her age and what it could imply. For Fate the idea of her own family is a good one as well and if the villains are change to make them more related to her then it could be interesting. Hayate handling the political side of things and we looking more in to that can help cement her role as the “leader” of the group.

As for the villains I would leave Jail, but either remove the High Council or use them better. The cyborgs can be just mindless drones and the focus could be on trying to replace the mages with the easier to control and powerful combat cyborgs. Jail himself is fine as a mad scientist I just don’t think he fits the bill for main bad guy. Making some of the cyborgs develop consciousness and personalities can add that nice redeemable factor the Numbers lack, since these would have them despite being treat as mind controlled drones and not as default and yet acting as drones.

I can go in to more detail but the core of it is that I would change the story to have a tighter focus on less people and do lots to flesh out the universe they inhabit. From properly explaining how the TSAB works to introducing more necessary background information to give everyone the proper context.

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I would disagree with you on one thing up front. The "Aces" ARE veterans. They are ridiculously young BUT they also started equally ridiculously young and by the time of StrikerS for all intents and purposes they are veterans of 10 years of service. And in cases of Nanoha and Fate active COMBAT service. And in pretty much any military force much MUCH less than that makes you a veteran.

So what I see is that you basically want a story set during the time skip back when they were newcomers to TSAB. Which is fine, I would also like to see that, but a lot of the plots from StrikerS don't really work for them in such a case. For one the whole Vivio and motherhood subplot doesn't work if Nanoha is like 14. And same goes for politics stuff since not one of them would be highly ranked enough there to be able to influence the politics. You can still have politics, but the trio would be reacting and helping not leading.

So while some of the things from StrikerS can be reused, anti-magic technological opponent for one can be used regardless of their age or expirience, others can not and as such such a story would not really be StrikerS but season 2.5. Again fine with the idea of adding a season there, and it would give us a proper viewpoint to introduce us to how TSAB runs, but it would not be StrikerS with some changes.

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No need to make them younger, just give proper context to the entire thing. Or at least explain the circumstances better. We would be able to see more by putting them in protagonist roles and not playing support

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Ehh, kind of unlikely since they had to give them command ranks after all this time, which meant they had to have subordinates. And here they actually cheated to make sure they have an as low as possible number of subordinates by making RF6 an experimental unit at using small units to do big things.

Anyway:

2.4. Optimism and positivism
It is thankfully still present, although I do not think it was as effectively cut with seams of darkness to provide contrast properly. And the main fault of that are the antagonists especially on the Jail’s part who are either underexplored or mere caricatures. As I said Jail is especially guilty of this because he has no redeeming qualities and is simply a mad scientist with zero ethics and no firm goals other than that one that he wants to be free to pursue lines of research he wants. While that can be fun he and Quattro crossed the line a bit too much to deserve anything but pure hatred and that did not sit well with me since it’s not good when I burn with hatred at some monster in a show. Basically he got old really fast and the only thing I wanted was to see him and Quattro on the receiving end of some terrible punishment followed by death. Obvious death, and not the kind of death that can later be used as an excuse for reviving the character. Such monsters should not get a second chance, just as their victims did not get that. Okay, well no one is beyond redemption, it’s just that in these kinds of cases redemption could easily take the rest of his life and in the end require the sacrifice of his life to hammer in his need to redeem himself. But I can’t see neither Jail nor Quattro doing something like that.
To have proper Nanoha style antagonists would require redesigning Jail (and probably reducing Numbers in number) or focusing more on TSAB side of things where we do have proper antagonists but who are sadly underexplored because space was needed for more Jail monologue or Hayate’s tea parties.
On the other hand, the cast is optimistic despite things facing them which is good, but things are a bit, a tiny bit too bright.
All in all things here are passable if not great.

-------------------

While I have more to say and will probably have a big final conclusion this pretty much rounds out main points on which I like this series and StrikerS. Magitech and lore was still nicely done and mostly details first and rule heavy. Combat is fun and tactical with there being counters to everything, plus it happens in the skies in form of magical dogfights + MASSIVE explosions. Characters are mostly fun on the protagonist side with some failed exceptions, but antagonists are mostly a wash with few potential exceptions that were not done as well as they should have. There is a light sprinkling of military Sci-Fi to strach my itch and promisse big booms. And finally it's not grimdark angsty bull, and protagonists solder on optimistic about the future, but the brightness was not as well cut with darkness here.
So StrikerS hits mostly all the targets if not excellently. And it's basically the only show that I know that properly combines these in the amounts I like. Do I think StrikerS should have been better? HELL YES it had some massive flaws. Am I still entertained by it? Yes.

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Again, not the point, their rank or their standing among the TSAB forces is irrelevant at making them protagonist and have more active “frontline” actions. Considering the heavy focus the previous seasons had on magical duels the inclusion of a poorly constructed military here always comes back to bite the series in the metaphorical ass.

I do agree the shows tone was overall… boring because of the positivism, mostly out of a poor balance of its elements and which we see an increase in ViVid: over-positivism to the point of exhaustion. StrikerS had some element with actual stakes but they came in too later and at times feel so force that they might as well be replace with the “insert sad stuff here” for all the impact it had.

The ideas here are quite nice, but they lack the context to put them to good use. The world feels a bit in the air in many important ways so when a new concept is introduce feels kind of cheap. My favorite example is ViVid, but this applies to StrikerS as well. For example: the Church. With no idea about how religion works in this world here comes a clear rip-off of the Catholic Church that has a vague theology around someone from unknown time ago that has a special standing with the TSAB. Again lacking the necessary context to explain why, how and when all of this happen.

The point is how… gratuitous it feels. Again, since we lack context they can come up with whatever so instead of feeling like a natural development the idea comes out of nowhere. Is just how I feel it honestly, that StrikerS focus more on adding stuff than using anything they had to the fullest potential.

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I was bothered by the Church until I finally figured it out. You know in the fighting movies how often the main character goes to exotic locale to learn to fight from some temple or something? And since it's a western movie it's a pastiche of eastern symbolism with no rhyme or reason and the Temple's only commandment is that peity is equal to how good you are at kicking ass?
Well the Church is that, only reversed. Easterners using the same idea only using Roman Catholic visual template. It's nothing more or less but an excuse to use gothic church architecture and nun outfits and along the way set up the person Vivio was cloned from.

------

As I say I don't find positivism and optimism boring, it's just needs to be contrasted with some darkness so it doesn't get bland. You are right about Vivid. That thing has nothing to offset things and characters have no character.

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But this is not a fighting movie, nor did anyone learn anything of value at the Church. And I say this not just I am atheist (Which I am) but because story wise it really didn't add much. Carim is not just a religious leader but a military one and her contribution is based on said military rank, so... why make her the head of a cult? What important element does the cult bring? Yes the Kaiser’s DNA but that could have been from a museum, archeological dig site/investigation/expedition or… anything for that matter.

Usually when they add these things in fighting movies is because the philosophy of the “temple” and the power whiting it becomes a key element for the main character to solve its personal conflicts or bring a more sinister plot (Like with Doctor Strange) not just to have a 5 minute scene.

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I am religious, even if I'm not the part of the particular denomination whoose looks Saint's Church is exploiting, and it still set my teeth on edge each time we got a glimpse into anyone's thoughts that is from the Church.
Especially in Vivid with the stupid Chantez. My mind kept going "It's not how it works. It's fiction dude! It's not how it works.." etc.

But I'm now at peace knowing it's simply a way for them to play with the nun outfits and church arhitecture and on the whole none of it means anything. Hell the biggest point to that is the description from one of the dictionaries that goes into a great detail about how churches are nice and scenic. Which should never be a high point of a religion.

But yeah, while I'm fine now with it existing, and I think it fits the militaristic Belkan society, especially after they lost their home world/dimension, I would not miss them at all if they were gone.

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But that is the point. Are they Belkan descendants? I want to say no since Chantez and the Numbers were clearly inducted in to the cult so over the years many people would have converted. And besides is not like they gives us a luck in to the Belkan way of life so… I do not like.

I do find disturbing the fact that Sein likes to "tickle" little girls and the Church is somewhat Catholic… I mean this is why editors are so important, ones that know about the subject matter, because I would recommend toning that down. Which honestly they did but still

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Sansker wrote:
But that is the point. Are they Belkan descendants? I want to say no since Chantez and the Numbers were clearly inducted in to the cult so over the years many people would have converted. And besides is not like they gives us a luck in to the Belkan way of life so… I do not like.

I do find disturbing the fact that Sein likes to "tickle" little girls and the Church is somewhat Catholic… I mean this is why editors are so important, ones that know about the subject matter, because I would recommend toning that down. Which honestly they did but still


Given the supplemental material that tells us how after the fall of Belka the Belkans scattered all over the universe, and that Sound Stage (SSX I think) showing Schaht and Sein I think escorting pilgrims, and that the temple is in Belkan DMZ, I would wager that the main body of worshipers are the Belkans and the Church with it's veneration of the Kaiser Olivie is there to keep the memory of what they did and the old Belka and it's positive ideas. But they also are accepting of the outsiders if they want to adopt more "honorable" Belkan ways.
But then we got Chantez... ughhh...

But meta vise it's there simply because the writers wanted to use the gothic church architecture more (the dictionary entry for the church is the most telling where it spends most time talking about how scenic the churches are and how common are they a spot for marriage and such) and the whole knight/nun/monk visual angle. Basically that joke that Hayate and Carim are buddies through their shared love of cosplay is hitting real close to the truth. They are nuns because somebody wanted them dressed and playing nuns.

Ohhhh, don't get me started on the GOD DAMNED Vivid and it's creepy skeezy Hot Springs episode and Sein's bullshit.
But honestly that entire angle probably never occurred them, and if it did, knowing how often they pander to the lolicons, they might feel fine with it.

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And yet we go back to wonder what the intent is since the author seems focus on adding stuff that sounds cool and then working out an excuse to explain it. Sometimes not even that, they just put stuff there give a half ass explanation and call it a day.

In the Church case I have yet to see someone state any sort of belief about… anything really. Or see them having any sort of cultural difference with the rest of the world beyond their outfits. To me the idea seems to be that they are religious but said believe does not comes to play at any moment of their public or private life.

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Sansker wrote:
In the Church case I have yet to see someone state any sort of belief about… anything really. Or see them having any sort of cultural difference with the rest of the world beyond their outfits. To me the idea seems to be that they are religious but said believe does not comes to play at any moment of their public or private life.

I don't know if the word religion has been used in reference to their church. In practical terms they don't appear to practice any religion, they instead study the old Belkan history with the intend that people remember it through generations, other than hosting (mostly gay) weddings and having the general architecture of churches, they aren't really much like the churches of our world.

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Well is just that "church" and "religion" go hand in hand. So why use one without the other? I just assume they are religious because they act like an order and live in a place call the "Saint Church" I do not think is streaching it.

But then again you are right, they seem to not be practicing... well anything

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Oh on this I'm in full agreement with you Sansker. I know what they are supposed to be, a group dedicated to maintaining ancient Belkan customs, traditions and skills. That is why Karim is a Knight and not a Mage for example. They are also supposed to revere the actions of the greatest of the Belkans Sankt Kaiser Olivie, and probably of some other figures.

But we don't see much of that anywhere. Part of that is that they were pretty in the background in StrikerS due to previosly mantioned pacing and time constraint issues, and Vivid simply never had the heart to do anything more complicated with them.

The closest they came to feeling like a religion or believers, is that we are shown Schaht and Sein shepherding some PILGRIMS on a pilgrimage in SSX I think. So apparently that is also the think.

@A what do you mean "general architecture of churches they aren't really much like the churches of our world" their entire thing is taking the already present Gothic influences in Hayate's and Wolkie design from A's and running from them. They live or are based around a gigantic GOTHIC cathedral that would not be out of place anywhere in Germany/Central Europe.

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4th Dimension wrote:
@A what do you mean "general architecture of churches they aren't really much like the churches of our world" their entire thing is taking the already present Gothic influences in Hayate's and Wolkie design from A's and running from them. They live or are based around a gigantic GOTHIC cathedral that would not be out of place anywhere in Germany/Central Europe.

Sorry, I forgot a comma there that I just edited in my post. I agree with you, I meant that the church of Belka isn't very similar to the churches from the most common religions in our world, except for the fact that both celebrate weddings and both have similar architecture.

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Ahh, you mean they simply dressed up something of their own into the skin of the Catholic Church and Gothic architecture. Got it.

Trouble still is like S says that apart from the visual parts, there isn't much to this religion/belief system that is shown in shows. As I say closes to an actual religion they got was the whole veneration of the Shroud of Sankt Kaiser and Sein and MissWTFIsWrongWithYourNameSchast guarding some pilgrims in SSX.

These next parts aren't totally complete, and in some cases my opinion has changed somewhat, but this is what I thought back in December:

3. The Setting
The thing I liked and the thing that disappoints me about StrikerS is that it tried so hard to flesh out it’s setting. It tried so hard to show us how TSAB and administered worlds work and some other things that can be done with magic like summoning and cyborgs. This worldbuilding is probably also responsible for the Belkans (more on that in its own section), since they wanted to introduce more Belkan style users.
Unfortunately, despite its efforts on one hand it did not do enough world building and it did too much by taking up time that could have been spent developing the antagonists.
For example, despite all the in Bureau politics shown we still don’t know the political system of TSA worlds. That is, I hope there is some civilian body over TSAB because the only other alternative would not fit the setting. That is that TSAB is basically a militaristic society a la the one in Starship Troopers where the only ones that get to decide on policy are the members of the military/police. That is unfortunately the vibe I got from that part where they showed Regius speaking to the council deciding on TAXATION with no civilian in sight.
It could be that until the shadow council was killed it was a sort of benevolent dictatorship with the shadow council in the role of shadow dictators ruthlessly deciding on the basis what is best for the majority of the society and using the three admirals and that meeting in GF HQ as cover.
While we are on the topic of TSAB, it’s a REALLY young organization with being like less than a century old (the calendar starts from the time they ended the wars, so they existed in one form or another before) and that doesn’t strike me as a necessarily stabile thing, especially since the heroes that founded it are still alive. Once they are gone…. The idea I got from A’s that they were quite a bit older, and more experienced and set in ways.
How do dimensions and space mesh when it comes to travel? Basically is each world in its own dimension or (more likely) are there multiple worlds in the same dimension, so you might travel between some of them using normal FTL? Did humanity start in one dimension and then spread to other worlds dimension, or are humans from those other worlds native to them? Why are they running into only human populated dimensions? Is it some sort of a limitation placed upon the teleportation mechanics?
These are some of the nitty gritty things basic I like to know about my SF settings. But I never got them and that saddens me.
Still I admire it’s attempt to paint a picture of how the system of TSAB works, it’s politics, it’s branches of service, how TSAB functions from the PoV fs someone inside the system, introduce new ways of using magic, introduce cyborgs etc. etc. Unfortunately, in their attempt to introduce all these concepts, which needed addition of new characters to show these points, they lost they the sight of the story making the development of antagonists almost nonexistent. And the story suffered for it.

3.1. Fate’s explanation of mass vs magic tech, and the implications
Her explanation that magic is more difficult to abuse than the mass weapons I found as laughable. Consider the fact that normal tech requires entire worlds of industry and support to make effective and not to mention that they will break down rather quickly without competent maintenance. So to have a mass based weapon you need an educational and industry (of VARIOUS types) base to make it function properly. Meanwhile any kid with minimal training and an intelligent device (and sometimes even without that) can wreak destruction on a MUCH grander scale. Mages don’t really need a supply line or ammunition to do their thing. Which is why the ground forces distrust of navy is understandable (if a bit shortsighted) since the Navy is drawing away the best, while they are stuck trying to police a population of which a significant percentage are Mages of all types. It is understandable if a bit shortsighted. The ground forces are dealing to threats at local level, while the Navy is handling Lost Logia cases which are threats at dimensional level. If Ground Forces fail a neighborhood is destroyed. If Navy fails worlds are destroyed.

3.2. The Belkan Church
The part that did feel out of place was the whole thing with the Belkan Church. Firstly, when I first saw it, as a Christian (although not of the denomination that was used as a template), it rubbed me wrong constantly when they would call them nuns and such. That is until I figured out that they are not supposed to be in any way an allusion to Christianity but are basically just another of those monk orders (usually of Buddhist variety stuck somewhere on Tibet) whose idea of enlightenment and spirituality is being able to punch somebody’s face in the best. Only instead of abusing the Buddhist aesthetics they use Gothic ones which fits considering whose aesthetics Belkans use. When I think back about it, considering how much Western entertainment abuses eastern aesthetics and marries them to things that have nothing to do with the visuals, it’s kind of refreshing to be a subject to the reverse.
The second issue with the Belkan Church, is that it kind of flies contrary to what was said in A’s, where Belkan magic was considered something mythical and rarely seen. And yet here is this entire region of inhabited by Belkans right on the bloody capitol world of Midchilda. Theoretically it might be argued that the reason they know to use Belkan style magic, presumably they used Mid before, was because of the Wolkenritter who helped them rediscover it, but that seems unlikely considering that their figure of veneration is a notable Belkan mage AND they do value combat abilities a LOT. Given that it’s kind of unlikely that they managed to forget Belkan magic.
But eh fine, I didn’t mind them too much once I figured out their trick.

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I can see you are able to witness the flaws I see in the setting. Sadly I do not handle participation awards and so the attempt does feel weak and lazy. I just don’t think they put in the effort to deserve a kind look, they just seem to have been cutting corners and going along.

The main issue with magic is that, unlike mass bass weapons, it can break the fabric of reality itself. Which not even our nuclear arsenal can do… so no, magic is way worse than mass base weapons. Funny thing is that the entire “many powerful mages can’t act in a small area” is throw out the window and never brought back again.

As for the Church… is silly, nothing else to add there. I doubt there is a “trick” there in all honesty. They just wanted to add the Catholic aesthetics and names, vaguely hint to their religion and call it a day. Since, as far as we know, their faith has nothing to do with their combat abilities, since we neither have a picture of what exactly is a Belkan Training nor what the Church believes.

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I would not agree about the magitech.

All technology is dangerous if you don't treat it right to a bigger or smaller degree. But if you understand it you should be able to know pretty much what will happen if you do something with it. In Nanoha verse the magic works in exact same way, it has rules that are defined and studied by in scientific way and making something work with magic is an engineering challenge.
So unless you are fucking with some sort of ridiculously advanced macguffin you don't understand, but seriosu shit can also happen if you try to do that with sufficiently advanced technology. And they understand that in universe which is why they are wary of Lost Logias and the first instinct of TSAB is nearly always to detain everybody involved in them no matter where they are and take their toys into their safe keeping.
The advantage of magic is the fact that it can be used in a more environmentally friendly (clean energy) and humane way (attacks can be made nonlethal). Which is HUGE. And it can also do a variety of other things that would simply be impossible to physics as we know it. And again all of this runs on rules. This is not the stupid bat wings and chants magic which might or might not work.

Of course I can see the weaknesses. I can see weaknesses in pretty much any setting (maybe not in Brandon Sanderson's setting since he is the master world builder) but given what they set out to do which was mostly make a series about cute younger sister Nanoha and add bunch of tech porn on top of it, it's surprisingly tight. Well it was, baring a small minority of errors, until Vivid and especially Strike started doing nasty things to it.