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Each use of magic requires complex energy computations to achieve the desired effects. The purpose of the spells is to simplify casting magic by preparing and storing common formulas beforehand, so they can be used on short notice, e.g. in combat. The spells can be both stored and calculated either within a mage's brain or in their Device.
A major advantage of using spells is the possibility to teach them to others (although some abilities, known as Rare Skills, are notoriously difficult to obtain). When a mage teaches a spell to another, the latter will often adapt it to their existing methods instead of copying them verbatim. For instance, Nanoha's Starlight Breaker is based on Divine Buster, but Teana Lanster's version of the same spell is a derivative of her own Phantom Blazer. A more extreme example is Subaru Nakajima's Divine Buster, which was merely named after Nanoha's spell and has nothing in common with it apart from being a bombardment-type spell.
- For the complete list of known spells and their classification, see Special:BrowseData/Spells or the semantic list.
The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Visual Fanbook, a Nanoha universe guide book supplementary to Nanoha and A's, provided the first system of classification for the various spells seen in the anime series. Other classifications (not limited to categories, types or subtypes) have appeared in the manga series or DVD booklets subsequent to A's, describing each spell in details as they are cast.
|Category||Type||Description (Subtypes formatted in bold)||Examples|
| Firing bullets processed from mana is the basic attack of Midchildan mages. Mana can also be turned into firable "spheres" for consecutive or controlled shooting. For Belkan system practitioners, the finishing may instead be enchanting mana into physical bolts to boost their speed and power. In many cases, Belkan shooting spells have worse speed and range but better destructive power than Midchildan ones. |
There is a big difference between aimed (直射型 chokusha gata) shooting (resources allocated for speed, penetration and hit power, e.g. Photon Lancer) and guided/guided-control (誘導/誘導操作型 yūdō/yūdō sōsa gata) shooting (resources allocated for variable mobility or homing ability, e.g. Axel Shooter). In rare cases, there are also material accelerating (物質加速型 busshitsu kasoku gata) spells.
|Quadruple Burst Barret, Rumble Detonator, Bible of Silver Cross (spell) (see all)|
|Bombardments are simple and strong attacks by unleashing mana directly. They are generally aimed attacks without additional effects (e.g. binding) or finishing variations (e.g. cone instead of stream) in order to enhance power and speed. However, excellent bombardment mages can cast guided bombardments (e.g. Exelion Buster) or enchant additional effects to the spells.||Cross Smasher, Volcanic Blaze, Geo Erga (see all)|
| Melee type refers to direct strikes by using Device or one's body as weapon. At the early stage of the canon, Midchildan mages mainly use melee spells for restraining, or in combination with supportive spells (e.g. speed battles). After Strike Arts and striker championship become popular, more melee spells are seen casting by Midchildan strikers. |
Belkan attack spells are normally not classified as melee type, since direct strikes by Belkan mages/knights are generally mana-enchanted (magic-enhanced) attacks.
|Break Liner, Geist Dive, Accel Smash (see all)|
| Energy blade|
lit. Mana slash)
|Energy blade type refers to attacks aiming at slashing opponents with blades compressed from mana, or with uncompressed mana in rare cases (e.g. Splash Edge). Comparatively, weapon enchantment is used by a small number of Midchildan mages. After the generation of mana blades, certain mages may even fire them as shooting spells (e.g. Arc Saber).||A.C.S Driver, Scythe Slash, Jet Zanber (see all)|
lit. Wide area attack)
|This type includes all attacks that cover certain effective area from the centre of occurence or impact.||God Thunder, Diabolic Emission, Blast Calamity (see all)|
| Magic-enhanced attack|
Maryoku fuyo kōgeki,
lit. Mana-enchanted attack)
|Like its literal meaning, power is boosted explosively by enchanting mana into one's weapon or body before attacking. It is the basic as well as the heart of Belkan knights' attack techniques.||Army-breaking Slash Annihilation, Purple Lightning Flash, Tiger Heart Palm (see all)|
|These spells erect defensive barriers such as Protection, usually in spherical or hemispherical shape. They can defend in all directions, but are relatively easy to break. They work by absorbing the power of an attack in order to reduce damage.||Panzerhindernis, Oval Protection, Protection (see all)|
|This type describes spells that generate powerful shields. In contrast to barrier type spells, shield type spells can only guard in one direction, but are much more difficult to penetrate. Also unlike a barrier type defense, these spells defend by repelling the energy driven against them.||Wind Shield, Tri Shield, Multi-Defenser (see all)|
|Not to be confused with force field spells below, field type spells directly affect an area around the user to nullify a specific energy type, thermal or electrical for example. They mostly take form of protective clothing or auras.||Saint's Armor, Fang Mountain, Blade Bite (see all)|
|Other defense||In rare cases, defensive spells can hardly fit into any of the three canonical types above. For simplicity and browsing purpose, these spells are sub-categorized as "other defensive" spells.||Spinning Break, Distortion Shield, Iron Wrists (see all)|
Hokaku kei mahō)
|Bind type spells directly inhibit a target's freedom of movement and the use of action triggers by attaching themselves to them. Bind type spells may prevent movement outright, as in Restrict Lock, or contain the target's mobility, as in Chain Bind.||Chain Bind, Briar Rose, Long Range Bind (see all)|
|Cage type spells surround the target in an immobile prison.||Thread Cage, Crystal Cage, Caging Spears (see all)|
| Force field|
|These force fields originate from a magic circle, which can be placed by the caster at any location. An example is Yuuno Scrya's Round Guarder Extend.||Floater Field, Round Guarder Extend (see all)|
|Area type force fields affect a large region, and generally are much more powerful than circle type fields. In contrast to defensive spells, force field spells apparently have more varied roles, from protecting property and civilians from collateral damage, to confining enemy magic users to a predetermined area. The imprisoning field used by the TSAB Armed Forces in A's episodes 04 and 05 is one such type of field.||Temporal Force Field, Gefängnis der Magie, Prisoner Box (see all)|
|Directly heals or replenishes the target.||Calming Heal, Thunder God Coat, Enchant (see all)|
|Presumably, spells of this type lower the target's defenses. However, the known spells of this type directly target other magic spells and attempt to deactivate them. An example is Bind Break.||Communication Jamming, Shield Break, Bind Break (see all)|
Idō kei mahō)
|Spells of this type include flying spells, movement enhancement spells (e.g. Flier Fin), teleportation spells etc.||Flash Move, Mirror of Travels, Ride Impulse (see all)|
|Other support||There are a large number of supportive spells not sub-categorized, whose effects range from communication (e.g. telepathy), investigation, rescuing (e.g Holding Net), sealing and shapeshifting etc. For simplicity and browsing purpose, these spells are sub-categorized as "other supportive" spells.||Weichstütze, Holding Net, Mirror of Prospection (see all)|
|Although illusion magic is not recognized as a distinct spell category by early canon sources, it appears to be one, in which Teana Lanster specializes. Spells of this category create visual and audible illusions, that either make the caster harder to be located or distract the opponent.||Fake Silhouette, Environmental Camouflage, Dream of the Book of Darkness (see all)|
|The summoning magic, officially introduced in StrikerS, specializes in conjuring living creatures to serve the mage. It is so uncommon, however, that is considered a Rare Skill on Midchilda.||Ultimate Summon, Repatriation, Insektzug (see all)|
Sōsa kei mahō)
|Officially introduced in ViVid, manipulation magic can be used to control the body parts of oneself or others (e.g. golems) with the mind of the caster.||Stehlenkönigin, Hair Possession, Grand Gazer (see all)|
Other notable classifications not mutually exclusive with the above categories and types include:
Nanoha Takamachi's Starlight Breaker (probably the etymology of this class) is referred to as a "collection bombardment" (集束砲 shūsoku hō), and her Restrict Lock is a high-rank collection-type spell. Surprisingly, in ViVid, Breaker can also be a cross-range attack (e.g. Sword-drawing).
Eraser (イレイザー Ireizā), introduced in ViVid without much explanation, apparently refers to spells which can easily dispel/erase the magical effects they hit, such as Barrier Jackets, force fields and capturing spells, without much effort (c/w decline-type spells).
Isolated (遠隔発生 enkaku hasei, lit. remote occurence) attack is a technique or an ability to make the spells occur at somewhere far from the caster but close to the opponents, to avoid weakening of power due to range reaching and make opponents difficult to dodge.
Fate Testarossa manages to isolate her Photon Lancer in Nanoha episode 11. Hayate Yagami possesses the talent of casting spells in isolated ways (e.g. Diabolic Emission). Other examples of isolated spells include Hallie Tribeca's Volcanic Blaze.
A Rare Skill (
- ^ The original Japanese seems to make no difference between the terms for magic as a discipline and for individual spells.
- ^ Shamal says that the field can only be broken by Vita's Gigantform or Signum's Sturm Falken, but Signum manages to break through with her Schwertform.
- ^ Presumably, this type is indicated in the manga.
- ^ Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, DVD Vol.3 Booklet (translation).
- ^ This classification is originally positioned between energy blade and area-of-effect (under Midchildan attack spell types) in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Visual Fanbook.