Archive Post:Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya (11/1114)

Hello and welcome to another Anime Chop Block

Today, after some self-motivation, I decided to watch and review the light-hearted spin off of the rather depressing Fate universe: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya.

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Originally a manga that ran in 2007 to 2008 with it’s sequels, 2wei and 3rei coming out shortly after, it got adapted into an anime in July of 2013 and it’s sequel, also named 2wei, in July of 2014. The manga was essentially an alt universe spinoff diverging at the start of the Fourth Holy Grail war where it never happened and it’s pretty much just continuity gags along with the usual Maho Shoujo tropes.

Seeing the amount of continuity that has to be crammed into this and the rather opposite tone, lets see how this holds up.

Story/Writing

For the sake of not spoiling Fate/Zero or Fate/Stay Night, I will try to limit their mentions but given the nature of the show, beware of spoilers.

So Illyasviel “Illya” von Einzbern is a 10 year old girl living in Fuyuki City along with her brother, Emiya Shirou, and two maids, Sella and Leysritt. At the same time, two mages from London, Tohsaka Rin and Luviageltia “Luvia” Edefelt, are sent to Fuyuki to inspect disturbances in the city revolving around class cards-items holding the souls of heroic spirits. They are accompanied by two talking magic sticks, Magical Ruby and Magical Sapphire, who give Rin and Luvia “magical girl” like powers and are quick to point out that Rin and Luvia don’t get along. After a fight between Rin and Luvia goes too far, Ruby and Sapphire disown their former masters. Ruby winds up in the possession of Illya who, by Ruby’s tricks, is forced to become a magical girl and deal with the class cards with Rin teaching her the ropes.

Right off the bat, this show pretty much dunks you into the Fate canon. With references to Fate/Zero, Fate/Stay Night and even Fate/Hollow Atarxia (a Sequel to Fate/Stay Night), if you are not a big Type-Moon guy I would suggest using the wiki to help you because a lot of the interactions and characterization kind of rely on knowledge of the three main VNs I mentioned. This is a double edged sword writing wise. On the one hand, it means that it does not waste time setting up the situations and the jokes so we get a good amount of fights and jokes every episode to keep us sated. On the other hand, if you have no knowledge of Fate, you will be scratching your head the entire time because the show really doesn’t explain the connections to the mainline canon nor does it explain the surrounding information regarding the set-ups for the jokes.

Outside of the Fate related stuff, the pacing is decent with time given to character development, humor, and action in well spaced out portions without any drag or speed up. The jokes that don’t rely on Fate knowledge and instead on Illya, her group of friends and the magical girl stuff have good punchlines and while I don’t laugh uproariously at all the jokes, I get a good laugh once in a while. However, it’s not that unique. It follows basically the same format as other shows of its type and while it works, it didn’t leave as much of an impression as I would have wanted.

While I said that this was a light-hearted adaptation of Fate, there are still some darker scenes and they have a good amount of gravatas to them with deep repercussions. The dark scenes though fit well between the more humor based segments and I never really got tonal whiplash.

Characters

I will talk about the six(I will explain why six later) on the poster but again, this is connected to a large canon so spoilers beware again.

Illyasviel von Einzbern or Illya is our titular lead and she’s an interesting one. Based on comparisons to the main Fate canon, she is a completely different and rather refreshing character. From a non fan perspective, she is just your basic 10 year old who gets forced into a situation beyond her comprehension. A good chunk of the jokes come from her and the fact that she loves Maho Shoujo anime so she knows the tropes so she deadpans a lot of what is going on and overly react to anything that happens. She’s cheery, happy, friendly, a bit naive and wants to be a magical girl because she sees it as fun. As the series progresses however, odd terrifying powers start emerging out of her and her writing actually adjusts appropriately.She talks and behaves in a manner similar to someone who has their life shattered. In the end though, she recovers and becomes more resolute in her tasks. Dramatically, she is compelling with a solid internal conflict and reasonable behavior for it. Comediclly, she is a laugh as she tries to understand her situation and ultimately gets overwhelmed. She is worth following.

Miyu Eldfeldt (the girl in the purple maho shoujo outfit) is a foil to Illya. While Illya is the sweet naive but passionate Maho Shoujo, Miyu is much colder and much less imaginative. Despite taking up the role of magical girl at the same time as Illya, she is much more skilled at it and carries herself with an air of overly emotionless stoicism. This emotionless is tied to a lack of friends and she grows close to Illya through the fires of battle. It’s compelling to see Miyu, the stoic one, interact with Illya, the emotional one, as they bounce off each other in ways that make me laugh but also carry a bit of heartwarming drama. Her stoicism also makes a good straightman to the entire cast who are more wacky; seeing her rather logical responses to the complete absurdity is amusing.

Next is Rin Tohsaka (twin pigtalls). For those who are Fate fan, she is pretty much the same Tohsaka that we all know. To summarize for those who aren’t Fate fans, she is an ojou-sama with refined speech and mannerisms but also contains a very angry, very violent side that can be set off somewhat quickly. I really can’t say much about her since she doesn’t go through the same development like in Fate/Stay Night but she is Illya’s mentor and is fairly supportive even if she tries to get Magical Ruby back by inflicting pain on the stick. She also has a running gag with Luvia but I will get to that when I talk about her.

Luviagelita Eldfeldt(tube curls) is a mage from London, Miyu’s mentor and Tohsaka’s rival; she is mainly comedy material due to her relation to Tohsaka. Luvia constantly chastises Rin due to her standing (Japan, Tohsaka’s birth place is considered a backwater by mages), the lack of money (Rin uses jewels so she runs out of cash quickly) and sees her as an ape. Rin in turn sees Luvia as a overly stuck-up aristocrat with too much wealth,not enough dignity and ugly hair. The interactions between Rin and Luvia are hilarious with a lot of yelling, attempts to backstab each other and general bickering. Besides that, Luvia is mainly comedic material with no real development other than becoming more caring about Miyu.

Lastly, the two Sticks. Magical Ruby is a overly hyperactive magical item who teases Illya and Rin while trying to spur Illya on as a magical girl. Ruby is annoying for good and ill. She can be very funny at times with her teasing her masters and the subsequent reactions are fun. However, she also keeps blabbering on about what it means to be a magical girl and she can get irritating. Magical Sapphire however is much calmer almost to the point of emotionless and is well mannered. Again, there is some humor from seeing her bounce off Ruby but there is not much else to talk about.

I won’t spoil anything but a special notice goes to a character who appears in the second season. Voiced by Saito Chiwa, she is the funniest of the entire cast due to her attitude and personality while maintaining a good internal conflict.

Art/Animation

From a stylistic prospective, its softer than the more hard color contrast in the new Fate/Stay Night and it complements the more comedic tone. In terms of design and animation however, the non action scenes are really standard, with the motions and designs being standard for the genre with nothing special. During action scenes though, the designs have sharper edges, it’s much flasher, the movements are more crisp and the CG used is actually well implemented with me not really noticing.

Sound/Music

The BGM for this anime is really good, complementing the action and comedy of the series to a perfect note. It all tonally fits and helps deliver the impacts and punchlines

I can’t be that charitable with the openings and endings. There are well sung and the scenes during them are colorful but the songs are not that spectacular especially compared to the grandeur of the mainline Fate shows.

Advisory

As expected of the show’s type, there is a fair bit of loli fanservice with shots of panties and chest at times. It’s not overly sexual but this may make some people uncomfortable so a notice has been made.

Conclusion

A fairly serviceable magical girl comedy, it serves it’s purpose as a fun reinterpretation of the Fate franchise with nice humor and action to be had. If you are a Fate fan, give this show a fair shot but non-Fate fans will be confused.

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