A review of the second Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya anime series
Sooner or later I’m going to have to make a decision as to what constitutes a series, and thus allow me to write a review about it. How do I even describe Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei now that more episodes have been announced - with the suffix “Herz”? Is it the first season of the second series? Just the second series and Herz is the third? Even with its 10 episode runtime that is as petite as its protagonist, there is a familiar self-contained arc to the story with spin up, climax and wind down that matches a typical series. Even the last episode has a sense of finality to it.
As much finality as a show about a white haired magical girl in a luminous pink frock can muster at least. Almost none of the (spoiler filled) portents that the end of the last series held have to come to pass, despite a deceptive amount happening. So Illya and Miyu are still magical girls, Rin and Luvia are still bickering over the cards and Ruby and Sapphire are still malleable floating rings that somehow manage to avoid being seen by any of Illya’s classmates.
A review of the first Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya anime series
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya. Fate: okay, keeping with the Type-Moon Fate/* series naming scheme. Kaleid: kaleidoscope? Liner: hang on, what am I lining? Prisma: prism? plasma? Illya: of the von Einzberns, right.
I’d like to say that the individual words make sense on their own but “kaleid” and “prisma” only sound like they should be words; so all together the series title is just nonsense. It joins legions of other magical girl series (I’m looking at you here Nanoha) with silly titles though and may as well be called Fate/something or other: we got bored of the Holy Grail war. With all of the remakes and prequels and other Fate/* paraphernalia rolling around, turning the tragicly precocious child Illya von Einzbern into a magical girl certainly wasn’t the most obvious of routes to take.
the old standbys of friendship, teamwork and questioning why you fight
It’s within Type-Moon’s remit though when you consider the very silly Carnival Phantasm OVAs, but as to whether Prisma Illya contains the same amount of in-jokes and sight gags - I’m not really the right person to ask. I’m also not the foremost expert on magical girl shows in general (despite early and prolonged exposure to Sailor Moon, Utena et. al.) so like with Sakura Trick, I can’t authoritatively proclaim its effect on its genre. Regardless, Illya’s transformation into a magical girl is at least unique and pleasantly expedited, with her partner in cosplay joining her within a few episodes.
The recent airing of the second series of Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls poses the question of why the stylish but lacklustre first season was deemed worthy of a sequel, but also conjures up the spirit of genre stalwarts such as the long running Sekirei and Ikkitousen franchises - each series with a more ridiculous alliterative subtitle than the last - as well as one-offs such as Tenjho Tenge. The specific taxonomy of these series is usually spread between "fantasy", "martial arts" and the all-encompassing "fan service" categories, but works equally well as just "fighting fanservice" (FF).
smutty, double-X chromosome fighting still sells
With a few exceptions, the entire point of these series is to group voluptuous girls together so they can beat seven shades of tar out of one another, usually with disastrous consequences for their clothing and decency. Twice tickling the lizard brain for those who are titillated by such things then: violence and sex. Tweak the variables from breasts to blood though and you have horror (see Blood-C, Elfen Lied, Ga-Rei Zero etc.). Catering to base desires though doesn't leave a lot of room for story or character development with many of the plot lines and episodic stories simplistic even if they were in a children's Saturday morning cartoon and utterly worthless for anything other than hurtling the cast from one arena to the next.
It's hard to be serious with a name like ZETMAN but the first three episodes give it a good stab regardless. The story of a boy born to to science and raised by a homeless Santa Claus tries its best to be affecting early on, but with no context to the death of a loved one, who could for all we know be the head of a child prostitution ring and prolific giraffe smuggler, it's hard to feel anything but mildly perplexed.
character motivations are handled with all the subtlety of a howitzer
Voiced admirably by Edward Elric, the tribulation and tears of a young orphan has a genuine emotional core to it. Then tongue demons and an alternate reality Charizard are wheeled out and it all falls apart. The most cringeworthy of these is the rich best friend who does his darndest to emulate Batman with gadgets and chutzpah but, miraculously, comes off as more annoying than his demure sister who may as well wear a t-shirt emblazoned with "Monster Bait!" on it.
Ben-to is completely crackers. And, for a while, you can believe it knows how crackers it is. Then it runs out of steam and its concept can no longer sustain what is already pretty flimsy.
why the twins are fighting for discount food given their nouveau-rich status?
It's in good company with the likes of Tenjou Tenge and Ikkitousen which take a similarly flippant view to the high-school brawler genre, populating their casts with impossibly buxom ladies. Here proportions are fast and loose with one recurring character - charmingly known only as "Brunette" - only ever shown from the neck down and waist up.
Obnoxious, but typifies the opening episodes which trudge through the regular tropes of harem building and "must get stronger" mentality from the protagonist. The story of bored students fighting over discount bento boxes is completely absurd, likely borne from a creatively blocked writer witnessing a minor scuffle one evening in a convenience store and spinning it out. From there it's only a short mental hop to the grandiosely titled "wolves" who value guts and glory over smart thinking, through to the lesser dogs or the belligerent boars.