Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya Extra Route 2 – Time to Collect the Clo-, I mean Class Cards!

Better Than Expected, Still Not Great

For this huge undertaking that has been the Fate franchise retrospective, I’ll admit that Illya was added to the review roster mostly for myself. I don’t actually expect anyone to rush out and see this, regardless of what I have to say, but there was some fun to be had in this Cardcaptor Sakura clone spun Fate. That’s actually a bit reductive. Illya manages to settle into its own thing by the end of the first 10 episodes, but if you aren’t already a Fate fan, there’s not much here for you that other (better) shows of the magical girl genre can offer. Even still, I’m hopeful for what’s yet to come with this one. Want to know more? You’ll just have to read on to find out!

First impressions are important, and I’ll be honest here, they are terrible when it comes to Illya. The first episode is insufferable to watch, but not for the reasons you might think. It’s easy to glance at this and think it will be a lot of loli fanservice while being a watered down magical girl romp, but nope, it actually has to do with the characters. Namely anyone who isn’t Illya or Miyu.

To contextualize and tie this to the Fate franchise, Rin and Luvia start out as our focal characters. There’s no grail war this time either, so Illya isn’t serving her original purpose there. Instead Rin and Luvia are magical girls who must collect the Class Cards with the aid of their magic sticks, Ruby and Sapphire. Given the catty nature of Rin and Luvia, the sticks get fed up and leave, seeking out Illya (and later Miyu) to take up the task of collecting the Class Cards instead. Oh, did I mention the sticks are sentient characters? Well they are.

Herein lies the problem. Outside of a single episode where Rin and Luvia are actually kind of awesome, they are the worst characters in the show. Ruby, the magic stick, is horny for magical girls and just super annoying. So when episode one is almost entirely a one-sided affair with the worst characters, you can see why my first impression isn’t exactly strong.

There’s some fanservice in episode one as well, the “sexy” kind, but I have to state again that this wasn’t really an issue. Normally I find that kind of “humor” to be a real miss, but it works here as it plays with Illya’s feelings for Shirou. Other than a few suggestive shots, this aspect of the show is rather tame. Episode one and the maid episode (the second worst episode, and the only time the fanservice was egregious) are really the only times the show engages with this sort of thing. Otherwise, it is a pretty standard magical girl show… until it isn’t… kind of.

It’s hard to explain, but for the first three episodes it very much is Cardcaptor Sakura. Illya is incompetent (not her fault, Ruby doesn’t tell her anything), only coming to life with Miyu’s introduction in episode two. Safe is the word I’d use to describe the first few episodes. Nothing special. This is your typical “monster of the week” kind of a show with the occasional two-part episode.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 3rei!! – 10 – Random Curiosity

Miyu (left) and Illya (right)

Although, since I mentioned Miyu, she quickly became my favorite character. She’s serious and a bit dry, ultimately the character I liked the most. Yes, even over Illya herself. The two aren’t like Rin and Luvia but they are similar in that they seemingly don’t get along initially.

I digress though, once Illya and Miyu fight Caster the show begins to open up. The teamwork is in place, there’s some narrative tension too. All the good stuff. Just when you think they’ve won though, the other shoe drops and we get a peek into what the show kind of wanted to be but never fully committed to:  one of those darker magical girl shows. Hey, I’m all for that! Not to mention that’s when Evil Saber appeared!

I call her “Evil Saber”, but I don’t know what the actual Fate term for her is. If you’ve seen Heaven’s Feel then you know what I’m talking about because it’s that Saber. I need more of that. That’s what I mean that Fate fans have something here, that fanservice is an absolute homerun when it comes to this series. It is a devastating fight, the characters hit rock bottom, and it isn’t even clear that they will all make it out alive. Saber goes hard, to the point where I didn’t know how Illya and Miyu could possibly win. That’s when it happened.

Illya broke, did something unexpected, and then turned into Archer! Can you believe that? She’s the best version of Shirou yet! No joke, this is a 10/10 moment in a 6/10 show. There’s exactly two moments that are this hype, but for me, that’s what made the show worthwhile. That and the tease for next season where the show can escape the shackles of the premise here, as that’s what held Illya season one back the most.

That last part is important. While Illya hits a certain stride, even getting slightly dark at times, all the non-combat stuff is a super big miss. On the one hand, this is unavoidable due to the nature of the premise and what the show ultimately is. On the other though? It felt like an obligation as opposed to something you might actually want to watch most of the time. That’s just not great. Thankfully, when the show hits, it hits, but I do wish it were more consistent.

The result is that even when the show reaches its conclusion with the obvious Berserker fight, it still has to kind of do that “friendship is magic” ending. So Illya and Miyu win kind of easily as the point was their reconciliation and mutual understanding after the incident with Assassin. Still has another 10/10 moment, but that’s what I mean when I say the show holds itself back in this regard.

Some of this is due to the fact that Illya only has 10 episodes. It isn’t a lot of time to flesh everything out and deliver a robust story. At the same time though, there’s no way the initial premise of getting seven Class Cards in like a week was going to be able to handle more than that. Now that the series can move away from that, I think it’ll be a lot better with seasons two and three (plus a movie).

So is Illya worth watching? For most people, probably not. If you are a big Fate fan, then there’s going to be something here for you. Those cool moments, along with the little ones between, absolutely land. Some of the humor is actually kind of good too, like the mansion gag in episode 3. As a standalone or as a non-Fate fan? Not so much. This is just average at best. Still, I can’t deny my interest in what’s to come so you’ll hear more from me when it comes to those.

That’s it for this one folks. Not too much to say I’m afraid. If you have seen Illya let me know your thoughts. If not, let me know if you’ll be giving it a shot (not really expecting that). As always, thank you for reading and if you like my stuff be sure to tell me. Consider a donation while you are down there too as I really appreciate those. Until next time!

Image result for patreon button


One thought on “Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya Extra Route 2 – Time to Collect the Clo-, I mean Class Cards!

What'd you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s