A spell (魔法 mahō) is a pre-defined magical program, i.e. a list of instructions that, when implemented by a mage (or knight), will perform the automatic task of shaping of mana into specific forms and generating an associated magical effect.
A spell is a program, i.e. a list of instructions that will perform the automatic shaping of mana into a specific form when implemented by a mage. Resulting in the production of a magical effect in response to the form of mana taken, spells are written using complex energy computations and their purpose is to simplify the process of casting magic by preparing and storing formulas beforehand. This is so they can be used on short notice, such as during combat.
Spells can be calculated (written) with and stored in either the brain of the mage creating it or the Device used by the mage to construct it. Because spells are programs, their major advantage is the ability to share their instructions with others, with the intent of helping them create their own spells that produce similar, if not the same effects. The exact methods of developing and/or using spells however, are impossible to share between mages, so a mage who received instructions from another will often, if not always, have to use their own spell crafting methods to create a spell that utilizes the instructions shared.
For instance, Nanoha's Starlight Breaker spell is based on the Divine Buster spell, but Teana Lanster's version of the same spell is a derivative of her own Phantom Blazer spell. A more extreme example is Subaru Nakajima's Divine Buster spell, which has no connection to Nanoha's spell, other than sharing the same name as hers and also being a bombardment-type spell.
The instructions of some spells, which are known as Rare Skills, are known for being notoriously difficult to obtain. Whatever the reason for this, because they are difficult to obtain, the number of mages known to use such spells is incredibly low.
- 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.
|Variable Barret, Photon Lancer Multishot, Aerial Shot (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.||Eraser Burst, Strike Stars, Phantom Blazer (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.
|Plasma Arm, Stun Knuckle, Revolver Spike (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).||Twin Blades (spell), Jet Zanber, Dagger Blade (see all)|
lit. Wide area attack)
|This type includes all attacks that cover certain effective area from the centre of occurence or impact.||Thunder Rage, Divide Zero "Eclipse", Thunder Fall (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.||Setting Sun, Smashing Fang, Surging Storm (see all)|
|These spells erect defensive barriers (e.g. Protection), usually in spherical or hemispherical shape, to absorb the power of an incoming attack in order to reduce damage. They can defend in all directions, but are relatively easy to break.||Hard Shell, Panzerhindernis, Barrier Burst (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. Instead of absorbing, they defend by repelling the energy driven against them.||Wind Shield, Tri Shield, Holding Shield (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.||Armour Jacket, Gunshot Defense, Barrier Jacket (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-categorised as "other defensive" spells.||Iron Wrists, Spinning Break, Active Guard (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 (e.g. Restrict Lock) or contain the target's mobility (e.g. Chain Bind).||Lightning Bind, Ring Bind, Commandment Chain (see all)|
|Cage type spells surround the target in an immobile prison.||Scorching Cage, Steel Yoke, Frierenfesseln (see all)|
| Force field|
|These force fields usually originate from a magic circle, which can be placed by the caster at any location (e.g. Round Guarder Extend).||Caging Circle, Floater Field, Install & Exhaust (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.||Gefängnis der Magie, Temporal Force Field, Overpressure Force Field (see all)|
|Directly heals, replenishes or buffs the target.||Divide Energy, Thunder God Coat, Healing Wind (see all)|
|Either debuffs the target, or targets other spells and attempts to deactivate/dispel them (e.g. Bind Break).||Extermination Fang, Flame Erase, Communication Jamming (see all)|
Idō kei mahō)
|Spells of this type include flying spells, movement enhancement spells (e.g. Flier Fin), teleportation spells etc.||Dimensional Transfer, Deep Diver, Pferde (see all)|
|Other support||There are a large number of supportive spells not sub-categorised, 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-categorised as "other supportive" spells.||Starengeheul, Powered-System, Transformation Mastery (see all)|
|Although illusion magic is not recognised as a distinct spell category by early canon sources, it appears to be one, in which Teana Lanster specialises. Spells of this category create visual and audible illusions, that either make the caster harder to be located or distract the opponent.||Optic Hide, Silver Curtain, Dream of the Book of Darkness (see all)|
|The summoning magic, officially introduced in StrikerS, specialises in conjuring living creatures to serve the mage. It is so uncommon, however, that is considered a Rare Skill on Midchilda.||Stehlenkönigin, Dragon Mount Summon, Wrought Iron Summon (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.||Meist Arm, Rocket Punch, 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.
- ^ 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.