A magic circle (魔法陣 mahōjin) is the visual representation of the magical energy being harnessed by a mage to cast a powerful spell. It also accompanies Device activation and similar power-ups. The circle is composed of visible light and usually appears just under the caster's feet (even in flight), centered under his or her center of gravity. Depending on the amount of energy released, the circle may spin faster or slower. The circle is generally white with a glow depending on the caster's magic color, with the exception of certain villain characters whose circles are black with a purplish glow.
According to A's manga, the shape of the magic circle is determined by the particular spell being cast. Because magic in the Nanoha universe is similar to the application of programs, each spell includes complex mathematical calculations, and the magic circles are the visual representation of said calculations.
The form of a mage's magic circle is determined by the magic system he or she practices:
- The Midchildan system (ミッドチルダ式 Middochiruda shiki) uses a proper circle, with more concentric rings and squares inscribed in it. At the corners of each ring are the small Greek letters π (pi), δ (delta), ω (omega) and ν (nu).
- The Belkan systems (ベルカ式 Beruka shiki), both Ancient and Modern, use a triangle, with four circles at its angles and the center. The outer circles contain abstract symbols, while the inner circle is inscribed with a cross.
- The Inherent Skills of Combat Cyborgs use a circular IS Template (ISテンプレート Ai Esu Tenpurēto). Strictly speaking, it is an "energy control formation" (エネルギー制御陣形 enerugī seigyo jinkei) but not a kind of "magic circle" as Inherent Skills are cast with non-magical energy. It is also more technological-looking than the other magic circles, composed of solid blocks of colour and no symbols. In addition, the unique magic system used by Jail Scaglietti in StrikerS also shares the same patterns as its magic circles.
- Practitioners of Formula Eltria use a magic circle known as Formula Plate (フォーミュラプレート Fōmyura Purēto) for their spells. In Reflection, the magic circle is known as Formula Circle (フォーミュラサークル Fōmyura Sākuru).
- Eclipse virus carriers display a circle containing one 8-pointed star and five 10-pointed stars when casting spells/skills with Eclipse power/energy.
Within a same system, there could also be variations of magic circles:
- Summon magic uses a magic square whose design is based on the system's regular magic circle.
- Magic loop (環状魔法陣 kanjō mahōjin, lit. ring-shaped magic circle) appears around the caster's arm, fingers or Device in numerous spells or skills (mainly shooting or bombardment type), for strengthening and accelerating the mana charge. The loop generally has straight sides of same length, like the lateral surface of a cylinder. However in rare cases, the loop is like a circular frame with its sides like two concentric circles and its flat surface perpendicular to the caster's arm, fingers or Device (e.g. Starlight Breaker Multi-Raid, driving of Bible of Silver Cross).
- Magic tape (帯状魔法陣 taijō mahōjin) is the flat and non-lateral version of magic loop, with same design but thick width. It has appeared in transformation scenes and as the "floors" for Wing Road and Air Liner.
- For a specifically powerful Midchildan spell, an extra circular loop is added to the outside of a regular Midchildan Circle, making it a large-sized "double circle".
- The Ancient Belkan Ceremonial Circle/Square also appears in the series a few times alongside the Wolkenritter.
- A sighting ring replaces the magic loop for magic charge in Teana's Phantom Blazer.
Although this is uncommon, an individual who has mastered more than one magic system can manifest magic circles of different form, depending on the currently used system. For example, the summoners apparently only manifest their Squares when summoning extremely powerful creatures, and use regular Circles or Triangles otherwise. When Hayate Yagami casts Hraesvelgr with aiming assistance from Long Arch, it manifests with a Midchildan Circle rather than her usual Belkan Triangle. In the refined DVD version of A's, Hayate also has a Midchildan Circle under her feet and a Belkan Triangle for the muzzle in her Ragnarok spell.
Since the release of The MOVIE 1st in year 2010, certain magic circles have been re-designed, notwithstanding that the old ones may still be used, especially in manga for simplicity. The following summarizes magic circles seen in the Nanoha universe:
|Midchildan Circle||Midchildan Loop/Tape||N/A|
(same as Midchildan)
|Belkan Triangle||Belkan Loop/Tape|
(same as Midchildan)
|Inherent Skills||IS Template||N/A||IS Loop/Tape||IS Frame Loop|
|Eclipse||Eclipse Circle||N/A||Eclipse Loop/Tape||Eclipse Frame Loop|
- ^ Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's manga, chapter 4, page 6.
- ^ a b Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, DVD Vol.5 Booklet (ep.14).
- ^ Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny Sound Stage A.
- ^ Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection, Comic Market 91 promotion website: Formula Circle is
(the magic circle of)the magic system of Amita and Kyrie in Reflection.
- Magic circle in traditional magic