Anime Review: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya

fate/kaleid liner prisma illya

With four seasons as well as an upcoming movie, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya is a series that has been long overdue in making its way to YuriReviews. Now that it finally has, was the wait worth it, or does this first installment disappoint? Let’s do this~

Being a fan of magical girl anime, imagine the surprise Illyasviel von Einzbern, an ordinary fifth grader, feels when a magical wand known as a Kaleidostick flies through her window and starts recruiting her to become a magical girl. However, after directly contacting the Kaleidostick, as well as confirmation through blood and using the love power of a young girl as the activation key, Illya doesn’t have a choice and officially becomes the master of this Kaleidostick and a full-fledged Kaleid Liner. As a Kaleid Liner, Illya is tasked with collecting Class Cards, fragments of Heroic Spirits that are powerful enough to destroy entire cities.

Year: 2013
Length: 10 Episodes
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic

Not having watched a second of any previous Fate season, I was worried that I would be out of the loop and would miss important information watching this, which is the major reason it’s taken this long to get to this series. But now having watched the first season, I don’t think it’s a requirement to watch the earlier seasons in order to enjoy and understand this. I’m sure those who have might pick up on some details here and there, but for the most part, this is a perfectly adequate launching point, and I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything critical to the story.

With that out of the way, this very much feels like your standard magical girl anime, albeit one that takes place in an alternate universe of Fate/stay night. Other than the basic story elements—like who these characters are and why they’re doing what they’re doing—there isn’t a ton of worldbuilding, so the story feels very narrow in scope. More backstory on the Mage’s Association or Rin and Luvia would have been nice, but as it stands, the story feels rather simple. I should also mention that we’re talking about 10 episodes here, so in hindsight, that should’ve been an indicator that the plot would be somewhat bare-bones.

When the girls aren’t battling for Class Cards, you have your more mundane slice of life moments, which were a nice change of pace from the handful of battles scattered throughout. These scenes were actually pretty enjoyable, and there’s plenty of humor to keep things light and fun. I hope subsequent seasons have a slightly larger focus on scenes like these, but we’ll have to see about that.

fate/kaleid liner prisma illya

One other issue I had with the story was how predictable it was. You have the power of friendship, quarreling, and all that other stuff you probably come to expect from a show like this. Granted, I don’t really know anything about the story of the Fate franchise, but as a magical girl spin-off, this is a simple story that might seem somewhat familiar, but it’s nevertheless still fairly enjoyable.

So the story is a bit of a letdown, but what about the characters? As the titular character, Illya is the protagonist of the story, and she was definitely my favorite character in the show. As an everygirl, she’s a bit of a scatterbrain, and unlike Miyu, she’s outgoing and gregarious. After seeing some forgettable main characters in other magical girl-themed anime, I don’t think Illya belongs in that category.

After seeing many kissing scenes that have come from this series, my yuri expectations were pretty high. Probably too high. For the record, there’s only one kiss, and it’s not that satisfying, yet there are other yuri moments were far more enjoyable for me. Specifically, I’m talking about when Illya catches sight of Miyu in her maid’s outfit—and her gay switch is then permanently set to on. For me, this was the funniest and best part of the entire season, so I’m disappointed there wasn’t much more. Still, I view this season as sowing the seeds that will result in future yuri moments~

fate/kaleid liner prisma illya maid miyu

Speaking of Miyu, she excels at almost everything she tries, and her serious and aloof demeanor couldn’t be more different than Illya’s. For that reason, I never found her as likable as Illya, though, she was still a nice sidekick character. Miyu was actually taken in by Luvia, so both her and Illya are guided by their magical girl predecessors, Rin and Luvia.

As for the other characters, I had seen a lot of (NSFW) art focusing on Rin over the years, and she turned out to be just as cool a character as I imagined. And like Illya and Miyu, she also has someone that she couldn’t be more different than in Luvia. Arrogant and extremely competitive, Luvia is a fierce rival of Rin, and the two of them are constantly at each other’s throats. Ruby and Sapphire are the Kaleidosticks that belong to Illya and Miyu, respectively. Just like their masters, Ruby is spontaneous and playful (and is also a major source of comic relief), while Sapphire is more mature and serious. Oh, and Illya also has an adopted brother, Shirou, that she may have a thing for, but who cares about that, right? And they don’t get that much screen time, but Illya’s friends from school seem to be a fun group.

All in all, Illya, Miyu, Rin, and Luvia form the foundation for a really nice cast of characters that make an excellent first impression.

Like its brethren, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya definitely isn’t a slouch in the visuals department. Even though it’s from a different studio (Silver Link.), and even though it can’t quite compare to the eye candy of the more serious installments in the franchise, the battles here still fall in line with expectations.

Something that surprised me a bit was how ecchi this anime was. I don’t want to make it seem like this is on par with Valkyrie Drive or anything—because it certainly isn’t—but Illya and Miyu are still in elementary school, so I could’ve used less of that. Other than that gripe, this is a very nice-looking magical girl anime, so there isn’t much else to complain about.

I wouldn’t say that there are any tracks that are especially memorable, but during the action set pieces, you have consistently good music that always serves to add to the intense atmosphere. The OP and ED seem fine, but after hearing them a couple of times, I’d usually skip them both, so I guess I don’t love them that much. Overall, I don’t view the audio quite as fondly as the visuals, but what we have here seems to be more than adequate.

At the end of the day, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya is a straightforward magical girl anime that doesn’t bring anything new to the table, yet it’s still a decent addition to the ever-popular genre. If you like kickass lolis (and who doesn’t?!) and are a fan of the Fate franchise, there’s a strong chance you’ll like this, and it stands as a solid first-entry in the series~

Story: 5.5
Characters: 8
Animation: 8
Sound: 7.5
Yuri: 5
Total Enjoyment: 7.5

fate/kaleid liner prisma illya

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10 thoughts on “Anime Review: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya

  1. As I was watching this show, I couldn’t help but notice how totally cliched this story was. When I compared it to my own magical girl story that I wrote, a story that intentionally follows the cliches of a magical girl show until they’re subverted by the villain, I was surprised at how similar they actually were.

    The girl is forced to become a magical girl by a magical being who literally crashes into their life; They have to collect magic/enchanted objects which will grant them more power; A rival girl that will push her to their limit, and vice versa; It’s just a very average story.

    And normally, I’d forgive an average story if the characters were strong, but unfortunately, the cast just doesn’t hold up for me. A few cute/yuri moments doesn’t make up for what I think are only two-dimensional characters at best (Characters with established personalities, but not much substance or growth, if that makes sense).

    Not to mention that any hint of incest, even between step-siblings, automatically turns me off to a show. And an ecchi show with eleven(?) year olds? No thank you.

    What kept me watching (at least for season one) were the action scenes, which differ a bit than your average magical girl anime, being involved, intelligent, and actually quite fierce. It’s far better than jumping around, pointing a stick, and going through a long attack animation that your foe could easily dodge.

    All in all,the first season to me was overall average. Here’s hoping for season 2 to be better.

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    • The story seems pretty by the books—at least so far—but I’m holding out hope that things’ll improve in later seasons.

      As for the characters, I’m hopeful that once Kuro arrives, she’ll make everything and everyone a little better~

      I had thought about mentioning Shirou, but for me, the less he’s mentioned, the better. 😛

      Yup. Time for season two!

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  2. This is the kind of show that you can’t judge by the first season alone, definitely. The story gets a LOT more complicated compared to the first season, and there’s a sizable amount of character development. As someone who’s watched the entire show, I can safely say that it’s worth watching all the way through, that is, unless you’re one of those weirdos who doesn’t like lolis. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I very much agree.
      I did start watching season one, expecting the typical magical girl anime – and by the end of the season, I already felt there was much more to the story for all the little hints and underlying tension and purposefully unanswered questions. It gradually strays further and further away from the supposedly initial premise with each season; the stakes getting higher and the mysteries leading the plot and characters into a very much different territory…
      Later on, the Fate references start building up. I tried to enjoy without any Type-Moon background knowledge – and you *can* do so – but I kept having the nagging feeling of missing out on easter-eggs, so I watched all the anime material I could find, and with all that in mind LP*Ilya gains even more depth and mythos, although it seems to be set in a sorta parallel universe.
      But instead of “oh, they did start making a fun spin-off and then got lost in it becoming its own thing and just kept adding more and more lore” it actually feels intented, a sly play or a long-con by the creators, that IMO pays off well.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I am of the same sentiment too.
      The first season feels to me like a Meet-n-Greet. We get to know all the characters, their temperaments, their powers, how the world works, etc.
      It’s like the creators knew they were going to get multiple seasons, and laid a very simple but stable foundation to build upon.

      And now Kuro enters stage left…

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  3. Even though I don’t like the theme of Friendship in most anime. Fairy Tail made it c***er to me.
    But it was one of my favourite aspects of this show. It’s something you expect from 2 ten year olds to go through. I even get all teary eyed when Illya comes back to help Miyu even after she tells her to go away.

    Like

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