I'm up to episode 13- Vivio just got introduced. Overall, I'd rate StrikerS as mixed, but definitely not as good as A's. All my favorite characters are still around (mostly. Chrono hasn't done much other than stand around and talk- and when he does, it's Kyon's voice! Tomokazu Sugita FTW!- and Zafira and Arf are pretty much nowhere to be seen, but meh. It's Nanoha.) and I really like most of the new ones- as in, the main force of Section 6. Surprisingly, the only character I'm a little sour on is Nanoha herself. I thought her actions with regards to Tea were out of line (Tea herself was as well, but Nanoha's in charge.) More than that, though, she's really kind of boring. She's this perfect, happy mage training new recruits and watching them take form. That's fine, but that type of character isn't really good to focus on. To the writers' credit, she hasn't been the focus as much before very recently, but in the past couple episodes the focus has shifted to her and I hope it moves away soon. I feel slightly hypocritical about this, because I still absolutely adore Fate. And really, now that she's moved away from her "I'm not technically a human" angst*, she's not too much different from Nanoha. She's certainly a lot more motherly (which is odd considering she's 19- my age!) but really not that much different. Maybe it's because she genuinely seems nicer in a lot of places than Nanoha. Maybe it's because Bardiche is cooler than Raising Heart. Maybe it's the long blonde hair. Not sure.
Vita and Signum are still great- Vita had a great Big Damn Heroes moment, and Signum's still as solid as a rock in the group, always there when you need her and still looking as badass as ever. But, they haven't had much focus or a great deal of time for action, as the limelight's been on the newcomers. Hayate and Reinforce Zwei, who I'm fully convinced is not created out of magical energies or anything but instead pure cuteness have much the same deal, except with more Out of Combat focus on running and dealing with Section 6.
The newbies- Subaru, Teana, Caro, and Erio- Let's take 'em from the top. The internet gives Subaru the nickname of GaoGaiGar-tan, as she is apparently one big shout out to that series (just as Signum's an expy of Lamia Loveless from Super Robot wars and such) and tells us that rainbows are straighter than she is. Which is very true. She and Tea seem to be even more of a couple than Nanoha and Fate, and the latter two share a bed. And she fights on rollerblades by punching shit really really hard. Vita has been giving her lessons on how to tank. So in combat, she's just awesome. Strong, straightforward, and excited, she's basically a typical shonen hero. You could make her a dude and it wouldn't change a thing. So Subaru? Is awesome.
Teana Lannster is a dual-wielding mage who comes into the situation with not a great deal of special skills and connections like the others do. She thinks this means she's got to make up for it with Hard Work (TM) and nearly snaps as a result after she almost injures Subaru and overworks herself trying to make up for it, culminating with attacking Nanoha very seriously in a fight. Now, I'm a shonen junkie. Perhaps I've watched too much of it and it's coloring my perceptions. But in many training fights I've seen- Kakashi's Bell Test in the opening of Naruto, many of Evangeline's sessions with Negi- hell, even his battle with Rakan probably counts, a few of Ichigo's more intense sparring sessions- the rookie is expected to be aiming to kill and not hold back in the slightest. Tea's moves fall under that if you ask me, and Nanoha called her out on it. Now, if that wasn't the scenario, fine. And in either case Tea's subsequent attempts to attack Nanoha were out of line. But Nanoha blasting her not once, but twice? Overkill and uncalled for. Bad form, even if it did work out. Tea got over her issues and is developing into a solid team leader.
Erio and Caro pretty much come as a matched set. Caro's a buffer with summoning abilites who was cast out from her tribe for being too strong and got picked up by the TSAB. She's cute, meek, and shy. Think Asahina Mikuru without the chest and the rape. Erio's a quick spear wielder who apparently had some nasty stuff done to him as a kid. He's polite and attentive, and generally a good guy. I like him largely bceause one his weapon's cool and two I would like to see more males in the Nanohaverse and I have to stick up for 'em whenever I can.
It's funny, the four Strikers in Section 6 can be easily characterized combat-wise as the classic D&D party. Subaru's the fighter, focusing on taking and dishing out big hits, but she's got good mobility to back that up. Tea's the wizard, blasting things from a distance with skills in illusions and a focus on making the shot and countering enemy attacks rather than dodging. Caro, is, clearly, the cleric, being taught how to dodge since she doesn't wear heavy armor, and packing a goodly number of buff spells that help out a lot in combat, plus her dragons for heavy fire support. Erio's the rogue/ranger, using his ridiculous speed to flank the target and hit heavily, but he's not able to take blows like Subaru. I think I may have to use this at some point.
My main complaint about StrikerS so far is that after the action-packed adventures of A's, there hasn't been much action at all. Most of the fights have been against robot drones (I was going to say robots until I remembered that all the cyborgs who would make for interesting fights are technically robots, too) or training, and they haven't been very long or good. The sewer fight was very nice, so I hope we'll get more of that.
* One of the things I do really like about MSLN is that for the most part, clones and the like are treated as being perfectly human. Fate's a clone? Heck, who cares? The Wolkenritter are programs? What's your point? They're all integrated in with no problems whatsoever. I'm still a bit fuzzy on Erio's backstory, but I'm pretty sure he is, too. I like that quite a bit.