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ViVid Strike! is a story from the creator of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha that centers on a rivalry between two childhood friends, Fuuka and Rinne. As Fuuka is the series protagonist, Rinne is the initial antagonist. And what an antagonist.

Note: This article contains major spoilers from ViVid Strike!.

When we are initially introduced to Rinne, we are shown that she used to be a bright-eyed, innocent little girl. She lived together with Fuuka and other parentless children in an orphanage. Then, she was adopted by a well-to-do upper class family and something happened to her to drive a rift between her and her former protector, Fuuka.

Modern-day Rinne is a pale shadow of what she once was. She is cool, collected, powerful, and ruthless. As a professional Strike Arts fighter (the competitive sport of the ViVid Strike! world), she regularly demolishes her opponents, leaving them in tears and their spirits crushed. Her track record is a nearly spotless run of victories.

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So, what turned the meek little flower into an iron spike? In episode 4, it’s revealed that after being adopted, Rinne went to school for the first time where she was soon picked on for being popular as the new kid. A trio of girls would tease and brutalize her. Finally, one day, the three girls destroyed a treasured heirloom given to Rinne by her adopted grandfather and knocked her unconscious. As a consequence, she was unable to be with her adopted grandfather at his deathbed.

When Rinne returns to school, the old Rinne–the one who whistles while she works and believes in fairy godmothers–is dead and gone. The new Rinne finds the three girls who wronged her and dispenses a barbaric and violent revenge upon them, savagely maiming all three of them. And from there, the new Rinne never looks back.

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It’s an interesting backstory for the character. Almost a reverse Cinderella story, if you will. Rinne starts out starry-eyed and pure, escapes from her humble beginnings beside the fireplace and enters a life where the world is her oyster, only to be tormented by three girls in a manner akin to Cinderella’s evil stepmother and stepsisters. A kind girl at heart, Rinne is unable to blame others for the cruelty that befalls her. Instead, she directs her rage at herself. He own weakness and meekness are at fault and so she removes them, resulting in the merciless violence-machine that is the antagonist of ViVid Strike!.

One could almost feel empathy for Rinne, but as she lets loose her wrath on her tormentors, we’re shown that while what was done to her was wicked, the Rinne that was born as a result is nothing short of a monster.

The episode drives this point home with the wet crunch of Rinne’s foot against one of her victims’ faces and the spatters of blood left on Rinne’s school uniform. It’s almost something out of the original Grimms’ fairy tales.

ViVid Strike! can be viewed with English subtitles on Amazon Prime Video (UK).

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