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Old 09-23-2013, 10:13 AM   #5572
Nebby. Back into the bag.
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Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya:

Watched Episodes 09 and 10. Spoiler thoughts first, then non-spoiler thoughts.

Spoiler: show
I enjoyed these two episodes. Like so much of the series before them, Episodes 09 and 10 represented the best marriage of the FSN franchise with the genre of a magical girl anime and delivered fans of both some fun treats.

For instance, in the visual novel, Berserker is never one of the final enemies. In the Fate path, he falls third (only Rider and Archer precede him); in the Unlimited Blade Works path, he falls second (only Rider dies before him), and even in the Heaven's Feel path, where he sticks around the longest, he isn't his normal self and he still dies while Saber (Alter), True Assassin, and Rider are still alive. It is in the Fate path, specifically, where players are told all about the mighty Hercules' stone skin and how he has seven lives and has to be killed seven times in order to stay dead. Sadly, that very same scene ends up explaining that Berserker'd already been killed a multitude of times prior and then has all of his remaining lives consumed in one flash of Saber's attack with Caliburn. What's nice about Prisma Ilya, then, is that here we get to see Berserker at his best. When I first realized that they were saving Berserker for last, I was disappointed. "Great, " I said. "I realize they're saving the Servant with the most special connection to Ilya for last, but boy is this going to be an anticlimactic battle. Especially now that we have Excalibur already under our belt!" But I was delighted to see just how wrong I ended up being. The author of Prisma Ilya did a really nice job of stretching Berserker's seven lives out and making him a truly fearsome opponent. Since none of the girls knew how many times they'd have to kill him before he stayed dead for good, each time he was killed but then came back to life they were like "Fuuuuuuuuuuck. " Since so many of the lethal attacks they threw at him only robbed him of one life at a time, he got to stick around for quite a while and be quite a badass. One thing I especially liked -- and that we never got to see in the FSN visual novel -- was the idea that Berserker could basically employ stall tactics with his stone skin: that by forcing someone to deplete their mana in order to even kill him once, let alone a multitude of times, he could then attack them when they were utterly defenseless. We see this with Miyu when, after a long fight, she loses the last of her mana -- and before she has a chance to ask Sapphire to donate her some, Berserker smartly grabs hold of Sapphire, rendering Miyu little more than a scared, helpless little girl. Basically, this fight ended up becoming some really cool fan creator service for Berserker. He finally got his chance to prove why he's no pushover in the Holy Grail Wars.

Another thing I loved was all of the epilogue stuff. Loved the accidental kiss and Miyu's reactions to it. Loved even stronger the scene at school with Ilya's annoying friend Tatsuko and Miyu's response to all of Ilya's other friends. Dere indeed! Loved the bit with Rin and Luvia at the end with the destroyed helicopter. Was it a slightly contrived way to keep them in Japan a little longer? Sure. But I still enjoyed it.

Bazett showing up is an interesting little surprise. I wonder what role she has in the Prisma Ilya universe. Not going to look it up; will find out when we find out via Season 2. I wonder if this means there's hope of getting Caren ...

TBH though, as much as I did enjoy this first season, I'm not really sure how the author can keep it going without it becoming an artificially prolonged money grab. Like, I feel as though the story as established is pretty much over and done with. Collect all seven cards in Fuyuki City, check. (Established by the fact that the closed space kept shrinking each time they got a Class Card and that, by the time they confronted Berserker, they were down to one skyscraper's worth of fighting space.) Give those cards back to Rin and Luvia, check. Hand them over to Zelretch ... technically not check (since they haven't yet), but pretty much check since they phoned him and he was like "Good work." Ilya and Miyu becoming inseparably best friends, check. All known threats to Fuyuki City's peace eliminated, check. (And I mean, really: the city's never been established to have threats to its peace anyway. All of this fighting has been happening in alternate dimensions.) Really, the only unresolved issue as of the end of Miyu's scene at school is the fate of Ruby and Sapphire: didn't Rin swear she'd drag Ruby back with her to Zelretch once they got the last Class Card? That's the one unresolved issue in my opinion. And it's the sort of thing I could've easily written off given Rin's unexpectedly hasty departure. In fact, that might have been how I would've personally had the girls go back to Japan: they could've handed the cards over to Zelretch at the Clock Tower and he might've been like, "Well done. Go ahead and return my wands to me then, and ..." and then have him reprimand the girls and send them back to Japan to fetch the wands once he discovers that they left them behind with two schoolgirls. Anyway. Not a big deal. All I'm saying is, I felt like "Season 1" was more of a series than a season and gave really satisfactory closure. So while I'm interested to see what Season 2 will bring us, I hope it's not going to feel contrived.

I went into Prisma Ilya with a pretty negative attitude. "This looks like a show meant 100% for lolikons. The animation looks like shit. The trailer is boring. The premise sounds dumb. FSN reimagined as a magical girl series? Seriously? " I ended up checking it out only because I enjoy the Nasuverse as much as I do and because UTW declared they were subbing it come Hell or high water. What I ended up discovering ... was what in a weaker season could've easily been my pick for the best series of the season. It's impossible for Prisma Ilya to compete with Rozen Maiden or Genshiken, but it still managed to work its way into my heart with alarming ease and speed. By the end of the first episode, I was already having doubts about my initial condemnations. By the end of the second, I was ready to give the series a 7/10. By the end of the third or fourth, I think it was, I was ready to upgrade it to an 8/10. It didn't manage to bubble up beyond that, and in fact by the end I found myself grappling with whether I should give it a 7 or an 8 -- but the fact that a series like this could make me choose between two such relatively high numbers is already an impressive feat. I went into Prisma Ilya pretty much hating it on sight alone and I've come out the other end quite happy I chose to watch it.

Was the series as good as Carnival Phantasm? Well, no. ^^; Carnival Phantasm remains the single greatest parody series I think I've ever seen. But then again, Prisma Ilya and Carnival Phantasm are two very different beasts. While Carnival Phantasm is sort of like a Saturday Night Live or MAD TV with Nasuverse characters, Prisma Ilya is more concerned with answering the question "What would happen if we took Fate/stay night and, while keeping a lot of elements the same, changed it to a completely different genre?" While I still prefer Nasu Kinoko's original universe to the one Prisma Ilya affords us, I'm still impressed at how well the Servants from the Holy Grail Wars work when reimagined as Cardcaptor Sakura-style cards which imbue the magical girl and/or her magic baton with special powers.

Would I recommend Prisma Ilya to your average anime fan? No, not before recommending other Nasuverse offerings to them first. The series is, I fear, too plain or too dull if you're not already invested in the characters it's recycling. For example (Episode 09 spoiler) ...

Spoiler: show
Seeing Irisviel come home and be with Ilya in Prisma Ilya is pleasant fan service if you're a fan of Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero and you fully appreciate just how much, in the original series, this mother loved her daughter and how they were separated when the girl was still so very young. But if you're not already a fan of these series and these characters, then Iri simply becomes just some boring mom character who stereotypically gives her daughter advice while being semi-ignorant and semi-cognizant of what her daughter is getting herself into. (Think of Madoka's mom from Puella Magi Madoka Magica.)

But would I recommend Prisma Ilya to the fan who has already played Fate/stay night? Who has already read the Fate/Zero books? Who hungers for a full English-language translation of Fate/Hollow Ataraxia? Yes, yes I would. If you're a fan of any of Nasu's Fate universe works, then you owe it to yourself to check this one out. I can't promise you'll give it anything more than a 5 out of 10, but I'm confident you won't give it anything less than that. After all, if it was able to make me warm up to it, I imagine you'd have to be even more against lolikon anime than I am to go into this one and still end up hating it.

Plot: 6/10 without appreciation of the fan service, 7/10 with it. The plot is fine. It's a pretty standard "normal girl becomes a magical girl, grapples with the various aspects of what being a magical girl entails" story. But the thing is, it's meant to be. It's meant to be this really familiar (even stereotypical) tale because that way you ensure the audience fully appreciates what you've done in taking a story that wasn't at all a magical girl anime and then somehow turning it into one.

Characters: 6/10 without appreciation for the fan service, 10/10 with it. Ilya's always been a personal favorite in Fate/stay night, and I enjoyed her here just fine (even if Kadowaki Mai's voice could get a little annoying at times. ^^; I love you, Mai! ). But who really stole the show for me were (minorly) Luvia and (majorly) Miyu. Luvia because I find characters like her fun and because I've been interested in her ever since seeing artwork of her years and years ago when F/HA first came out. Miyu because ... well, because she's Miyu. If you don't find yourself loving this girl by the end of this series, you have no soul I dunno what to tell you.

Animation: 7/10 overall, with 6/10 for humans and 8/10 or 9/10 for combat mana, fire, explosions, etc. There were times in some of these battles where I felt like I was watching ufotable-quality animation, which really, really shocked me. There were other times (sadly far more frequent) where I'd see the characters' faces and feel like this was some low-budget anime from 2006. That doesn't mean the characters' faces were always poorly animated though. Sometimes (especially with Luvia and Miyu; coincidence? ;o) the faces were really beautifully drawn and felt like 2013 mid-high quality stuff. But yeah, the point is, you won't be sticking around for the animation ... unless it's the combat animation in which case bon appetit!

Music: 6/10 I guess. I never really noticed it aside from the OP and ED. That means it was doing its job and wasn't bad or annoying. Might have to go back and make a conscious effort to relisten to some of the tracks.

Replay Value: not sure, but I imagine it'd be mid-high to high. I could easily see myself rewatching Season 1 before Season 2 comes out if Season 2 won't be out for another two years.

Overall: 7.5/10 if we were allowed to award half-points. I feel like it's not as good of a series as most of my other 8/10-rated series, but I also know I enjoyed it more than many 7/10s.
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