*Updated last 04/22/2017*
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya is a spin-off of the Fate/Stay night series in which it borrows some elements from the original story to create an all new material. For those who are unfamiliar with the world of Fate/Stay night, here is a brief summary: A battle called the Holy Grail war took place and the competitors involved will need to summon their heroes that will represent them in the fight and whoever wins this grizzly death match will receive the Holy Grail which can grant any wish.
Set in an alternate universe of the Fate, the main heroine of the show is Illyasviel von Einzbern (Illya), an ordinary elementary girl who is a fan of magical girls and dreams of becoming one. Her wish of becoming a magical girl actually becomes a reality after she was tricked by the crafty Magical Ruby (a talking, magical wand with an attitude). Because of this she is now thrust into the world of magic and chaos with the dangerous task of collecting the Class Cards, a sort of corrupted version of the heroes summoned in the original Fate/Stay night.
The plot revolves around Illya together with Miyu with missions of collecting the cards with Rin and Luvia being their mentors. I was skeptical at watching this show at first because the original Fate/stay night is serious in tone and it feels like they recycled the Fate characters in an all new setting with Illya as the main heroine in magical girl anime which also made me awkward to watch it. I mean, is it something even worthy of a contender compared to the original? After watching a few episodes, I got hooked on Prisma Illya since it has a good balance of comedy, action, and a little bit of drama. I realize It’s not a show trying to compete, but a show trying to tell a tale on its own without bothering the existing material people are already accustomed to.
Of course, no show will be complete without its cast of lovable characters. Luvia and Rin are here to guide our heroines but they are quite different compared to their roles in Fate and their constant bickering are hilarious to watch especially when they are trying to out smart each other.
We also have Ruby and Sapphire which are magical wands that transform Illya and Miyu into magical girls and grant them specific powers. Ruby has the most personality between the two and also provides comic relief unlike the polite and reserved Sapphire.
And lastly we have Miyu, the stereotypical cold, reserved, and calculating character w/c is a foil to Illya. The two of them soon got along quite well after working together during their missions but after a near catastrophic event, her relationship with Illya becomes distant once again just like when they first met. I actually like that part where Miyu is putting a facade in order to protect Illya and does not want to expose her to any further harm since she is the first friend she ever had, w/c gives us a classic theme (importance of friendship) that most magical girl shows convey.
For the Class cards themselves, our magical girls needs to fight the corrupted heroic spirits before they can retrieve it, and the only way to collect them is to KILL the heroic spirits the old fashioned way. What I have noticed about this show is that Illya does not use any sort of incantation or magic word whenever she uses her wand to fight enemies since she uses it more of a ranged weapon that bursts out infinite amount of ammo, err… mana. As I have watched it further, the fight scenes are getting more intense w/c is on par with the battles found in the original Fate/stay night series. The one that I also like about Prisma Illya is that the girls can change into the heroic spirit the card houses w/c gives them the exact powers and abilities.
The art style is wonderful and the animation is top notch from the special effects to the CGI. I think in my humblest opinion, that this is the best art style used for the Fate characters courtesy of Silver Link.
The other thing that I liked about this series is the comedy both inside and outside of battles w/c ranges from slapstick humor to yuri fanservice. Of course, I’m not saying Prisma Illya is not without flaws. Retrieving the class cards are dangerous and Illya could have opted on bailing out after her first battle if she really valued her life but she still carried on with the whole ordeal nonetheless.
Another thing I have noticed is that Rin does not show much concern when it comes to Illya whenever she is fighting the heroic spirits and even if she does show it, it’s not really portrayed in a very good manner although I was hoping she would at display some sort of guilt or conscience on forcing a huge task to a little girl. Also, if Rin was firmer with Ruby, she could have avoided on having Ilya be a Magical Girl and just went about on collecting the cards, but Ruby’s stubbornness still prevailed many times on insisting to be Illya’s master.
The other thing I want to complain is the actual length of the series. I understand a show cannot be judged on how many episodes it has and the things that should count the story, art, and all of the other aspects present in the show but 10 episodes just feel so lacking and short… Another thing I have noticed is that they are trying to cater to a younger demographic with Prisma Illya. It might be a strategy for the company to have a lot of viewers be familiarized with the series so that people will get curious and interested in the world of Fate/Stay night in hopes of buying their products to increase sales, which makes this series the perfect vehicle to attain their objectives.
Overall, this is a very good show. You don’t need to watch the previous anime adaptations of Fate/Stay night or play the video games/visual novels just to enjoy Prisma Illya since this is a stand-alone series although checking out the original content is recommended so that you will be familiarized with some of the elements and characters in the story . Older fans of Type-Moon, give this a chance since the elements of Fate is still here, although toned down a bit unlike the original material.