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.
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.
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~
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~