Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya is a spin-off title to the awesome Fate series from Type-Moon, based upon a manga of the same name by Hiroshi Hiroyama, using characters and mythology from the series and combining it into a magical girl parody. Brought to the UK via All The Anime, there are two versions available, Standard Edition DVD and the Limited Edition Blu-ray that comes with a 48-page booklet and 4 Tarot cards.
“Illya’s normal life is suddenly halted by the Kaleidostick Ruby, a magical wand on the run from her former master who instantly decides that little Illya has all the right stuff to become the next great magical girl. However, Ruby’s previous owner Rin Tohsaka isn’t exactly thrilled to be de-wanded, especially since she’s just accepted an assignment to collect the seven legendary Class Cards. It seems the only solution is for Illya to take up the task and learn the ropes under Rin’s supervision.” – All The Anime
As a big fan of the Fate series and Type-Moon’s work in general, I was hesitant about Prisma Illya, avoiding the series and its sequels altogether as they were airing and simulcast via Crunchyroll. The idea of a parody type series using Fate characters and turning them into magical girls was not something that I had any interest in. Having spawned another two sequels after the initial series, Prisma Illya was no doubt popular but I was still dubious – until now when I can honestly say that my expectations were completely shattered. The series really hit me by surprise. I expected ‘filler’ quality writing and animation, but what I got was a visually stunning piece of animation with a story that could have easily become a series separate from Fate. As it stands Prisma Illya is an interesting spin-off to the main Fate series, one that fans of both Fate and magical girl anime should check out, it should also be said that prior knowledge of the Fate series is not required but does give a better insight into the mythology.
The similarities to a certain magical girl anime Cardcaptor Sakura cannot be denied but the way the Fate mythology has been combined with a classic magical girl format is brilliant. Prisma Illya retains a dark tone throughout the series utilising characters from the Fate series in roles we’re familiar with and some in completely different roles. Saber for one is more akin to the other heroic spirits in the Fate series with one goal, to defeat there opponent. The magical girl aspect is certainly not forgotten, not content to simply parody the genre. The series employs some of the best magical girl transformations to date.
When it comes to spin-off titles, it’s easy to expect a second class effort in terms of artwork, design and animation quality. However, Prisma Illya really knocks that thought process far from your mind within the first few seconds. Surprisingly the series is not animated by Type-Moon regulars, Ufotable, however, the animations still wows with Silver Link who did a fantastic job on the series, possibly in an attempt not to be outdone by its parent series.
The series comes with both English and Japanese language audio tracks, in DTS-HD Master Audio, accompanied by white subtitles. The Japanese voice actors for characters such as Illyasviel von Einzbern, Rin Tohsaka and Shirou Emiya reprise their roles. Unfortunately, however, the same cannot be said for the English voice cast which has seen a constant change in voice actors for Fate localisations. The opening song “starlog” by ChouCho and two closing songs “Prism Sympathy”, “Tsunagu Kizuna Tsutsumu Kodoku“ by StylipS are solid efforts on their part but not amazing by any stretch.
Extras on disc include clean opening and closing animations, as well as trailers for Majestic Prince, Patema Inverted and Problem Children Are Coming From Another World, Arent They? The set also includes the OVA “Sports Day” which appears as episode 11. Physical extras for the Limited Edition include a 48-page booklet and 4 Tarot cards. It’s a shame that the Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya Specials are not included in this release as they were part of the Japanese Blu-ray and DVD releases, yet it’s not a deal-breaker.
Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya is certainly a surprise, I’m sure many fans were turned off by the concept of the series as I was, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Silver Link has done a fantastic job with the animation. Even being a couple of years old, it puts a lot of recent series to shame with its visual quality. It does a very successful job of blending the Fate series with a magical girl formula and I’m actually looking forward to seeing more of it.