The series is a spin-off of the Triangle Heart series of games and OVAs. Nanoha, the magical girl and younger sister of Kyōya and Miyuki, takes precedence here while her sword-wielding siblings are reduced to minor characters. Nanoha is also clearly set in an alternate universe; the late Shirō Fuwa was always named Takamachi and survived his originally fatal injury, new characters such as Fate Testarossa are added, and others, such as Fiasse Crystela, are removed.
A sequel, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, aired between October and December 2005. A third series, titled Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS began airing on April 1 2007, and finished airing September 23, 2007. There have also been corresponding manga series bridging the story and adding new elements to it, as well as CD dramas. It has also been announced that a movie base on the retelling of the first story of Nanoha Takamachi is set to open in Japan on Winter. It will be titled, "Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st". The movie will retell the first story of Nanoha Takamachi, an ordinary third-grade girl who becomes a magical girl in search of Jewel Seeds from another world, and Fate Testarossa, another magical girl competing for the Jewel Seeds. However, it is emphasized that the movie is not necessarily the "true history" of the story, but a "new parallel history.
It was announced at AnimeExpo 2007 that Lyrical Nanoha and its sequel, Lyrical Nanoha A's, have been licensed by Geneon for English language distribution; however, Geneon has since ceased distribution of DVDs in North America, and the title's English release remained uncertain for a period of time.. On July 3, 2008, Geneon Entertainment and Funimation Entertainment announced an agreement to distribute select titles in North America. While Geneon Entertainment will still retain the license, Funimation Entertainment will assume exclusive rights to the manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of select titles. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was one of several titles involved in the deal.
Nanoha Takamachi is a 3rd grade elementary school girl. She lives with her parents who run a coffee shop, and her older sister and brother who are in high school and university respectively. Nanoha's regular life changes when she hears a voice calling to her on the way home and ends up rescuing an injured ferret (who is actually a transformed boy called Yūno, an archaeologist from a distant world). She obtains a magical crystal called , and gains magical powers.
After their encounter, Nanoha and Yūno have to collect the twenty-one , powerful lost crystals from Yūno's world that grant wishes and are very dangerous when misused. However, Nanoha and Yūno are not the only ones after the Jewel Seeds. So is Fate Testarossa, a foreign girl with sad eyes...
Whatever it was because of a flaw in the genetic manipulation and in vitro fertilization processes or as a by-product of the severe tests placed upon them, most artificial mages presented cognitive and language abilities far too underdeveloped to meet with the project's expectations. It was possibly while researching for a way to avoid such shortcomings that the scientist Jail Scaglietti came up with the basis which would later be the foundation of the Project Fate. The concept behind the Project was to "transplant" the memories and knowledges of the base-individual into the artificial mage.
Because of its possible approach as a way of resurrection of the dead, Project Fate caught the attention of many both inside and outside the magical-scientific community. One of such people was Precia Testarossa. Using her expertise in the field of the creation of familiars, another kind of artificial beings, Precia was able to complete Scaglietti's work and produce her own artificial human.
Both the creation of artificial mages and the reproduction of individuals through the Project Fate are illegal practices by the Time-Space Administration Bureau's laws
Precia was eventually successful in creating a perfect clone of her daughter. However, the mad-woman was unable to accept her manufactured copy as a replacement for her daughter. Precia eventually came to hate Alicia's clone, going as far as regarding her like a thing instead of a person. To differentiate the clone from her real daughter, Precia named her after the same project that brought the girl to life: Fate Testarossa.
During the events of the first season, Precia manipulated Fate to do her biddings and used the girl to complete her new plan to revive Alicia: open a pathway to Al Hazard, a place where many forgotten and forsaken magics and technologies are supposedly sealed away.
Another character, Vivio, was created under the project as a resurrected Saint King of Belkan lore. One of the first, if not the first, total success of Project FATE in completely resurrecting someone from the grave (At least according to Jail).
Using the completed Project Fate Jail managed to create a dozen perfect clones of him that were to activate should he be killed and restart everything.