The anime industry is in a sad state of affairs. There is nothing but incest and idols shows being made. There has not been a major shonen success in years. Shinichiro Watanabe has been banned from making any anime. There is no hope.
But a single light can save anime. It is the light of a young lady. A magical girl. Not Sailor Moon (I mean Sailor Moon could have saved anime but they will never be able to re-release that show because of Stars). Not Cardcaptor Sakura. No one likes CLAMP anymore. Yes it is Illyasviel von Einzbern and Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 2wei! They will save anime. Forever.
OK. Other than picking Akikan! or Yosuga no Sora I don’t think I could have picked a worse title to “save anime.” So we can now officially put the “this is the title that will save anime” meme/joke/platitude to rest.
So instead lets talk about the new season of the Illya as a magical girl anime.
Illya seems to have found that ordinary world that Duran Duran was talking about as she settles back into a more standard routine. Several months have passed rather uneventfully after Miyu and her have collected all the class cards. While Ruby and Sapphire are still around they are more like magical pets than magical taskmasters. Miyu still hangs on Illya’s coattails but she is even slowly beginning to open up to other people in the class. Even Rin and Luvia seem to be able to take their war down to a mere DEFCON 3. But the illusion of tranquility is soon shattered.
The first half of the episode’s main point is to stress the mundane. They want to show very clearly that they have returned to the beginning of the circle in the Hero’s Journey. We even see that red headed kid no one likes (but me) as the clearest sign we are back in a peaceful universe. It might first seem a bit anti-climactic. After all the hard battles of the first season this more slice of life feeling can seem a bit banal. But there is a reason for all of this. It is one thing to have Illya tell you that things have returned to normal but seeing it for the first half makes you realize what she is losing when things get crazy in the second half.
The episode starts much how the last season ends. Miyu coming over to walk with Illya to school is a how just routine to the point where Miyu entering the Einzbern residence is just par the course. In a way the big lmost accidentally kiss seemed much more grandiose in the last season. (Or as grandiose as you can make two girls almost kissing.) I guess they really wanted to sell people on a second season back then but figured all the yuri fans were already hooked fish at this point. Not that the Miyu and Illya shipping is not going on. I swear they play up Miyu’s crush on Illya even more than they do in the manga. It is just in this singular instance they don’t push it up to the hilt. It is mostly a moment of restraint they never show again.
I will say that the scenes at home make me realize that it is a real shame that Sella and Leysritt never got more prominence in the original Fate/Stay Night. Apparently we would have seen more of them if they every made that Illya path. It does beg the question if the new Fate/Stay Night is going to be based on the unused parts of the Illya path and in turn will that mean more Sella and Leysritt.
(I totally admit the reason I care about that is because I realize more and more that Leysritt is totally hot.)
Even more than Shiro the clearest sign that everyone has become placid is the extended appearance of the Gang of Four. I have to say that whenever they appear Tatsuko always steals the scene from everyone else. She is always bouncing off the walls to the point where even Miyu and Illya have to play off of her and not vice versa. You can feel the staff letting her steal scenes that she is in. In fact the show usually has to distract her so they story can move forward. If nothing else she does help to spice up what would otherwise just scenes of girls being nice to each other. She is the Tomo Takino of Prisma Illya.
It is clear from this scene that Miyu is closer to everyone but she is still a bit of a distant princess. She now talks to people but it is more that she talks to the Gang of Four through Illya than directly talking to them. But I suppose that is better than ignoring/dismissing them like she used to.
Overall plans to go to the beach are discussed. It is simple to tell that while they do not get to the beach this episode (SPOILERS) they will eventually get there (ALSO SPOILERS). This will eventually lead to Tatsuko in a string bikini (SPOILERS YOU NEED TO KNOW. AS A WARNING).
Illya also feels a slight disturbance in the force and we get some flash backs to the first season. This is largely ignored.
Then they eat ice cream in the park. This is not in the manga. It mostly is just an excuse for Illya X Miyu ship teasing as they feed each other ice cream while the Gang of Four can cat call them for being IN LOVE. Which seems more like the audience speaking through the characters but that is neither here nor there. I think at this point most people not in it for the Tatsuko bikini or dreams of a Illya and Miyu wedding are getting a little bored. We were hoping that we finally get to see what is going on in Fuyuki City and not these YuruYuri antics. I feel like when they expanded on Miyu in the first series it was to give her character more depth so certain revelations were a little less severe later on. It does not feel like that in this season so far.
I mean I get it. They really rush to the plot in the manga and this is supposed to be more of a grounding of Illya in the normal before returning to the fantastical. I think they just needed a little less oohing and awing over indirect kisses.
Eventually in the middle of more swimsuit discussion Rin and Luvia arrive to save us from the mundane a get back to the actual plot. Sure they do it in a way that looks like Liam Neeson is going to have to recuse Illya and Miyu but desperate times call for desperate measures. Rin and Luvia need magical girl power again.
It seems that Rin and Luvia can’t come home to the Clock Tower until they learn to work together. This might mean they will live the rest of their lives in Japan. But on top of that they were also supposed to wait until the mana levels in Fuyuki City calmed down after the previous card related incidents. But the problem is that despite the time that passed nothing in the city has returned to normal. In fact it seems that the disturbance in the area is still progressing at the same rate. So Lord El-Melloi II and Zelretch the Wizard Marshall tell them to get their butts back in gear and perform a ritual to see where the real problem in the area is.
As is stands Rin and Luvia just don’t have the magical juice to pull this off so they need the superior MP of their two magical girl wards. So off they go into the woods.
It starts off well enough. It seems where they need to go has some magical barriers which Rin easily disposes of. They activates a trap card which has Rin and Luvia drowning in a pit of mud they cannot extract themselves from. Illya and Miyu have to transform to get enough strength to save them. This does lead to a bit of great comedy as Rin and Luvia try to climb over each other in the background during the otherwise standard transformation scene.
I will say this should have been sign #1 for everyone involved that there was something going on. It someone goes through the effort of having magical barriers, illusions spells, and hidden traps they are most probably hiding something they don’t want you to see and are fairly serious about that wish.
But in the end this is a comedy series more than a DRAMA so it can be forgiven if the character act a bit like knuckleheads.
The idea of the ritual is to have the near infinite powerhouses that are Illya and Miyu pump mana into a dowsing rod to flow through the local ley lines in the hidden caves they have uncovered. Hopefully after a few tests they can see where the mana is getting blocked up at hopefully have some sort of clue of who or what is still causing the disturbance in the city. At first the ritual seem to work fine. They pump in a good deal of magic and it starts to flow out. There is some decent CG around a rather cool Yggdrasil looking dosing rod. But as all the wards in the area should have told them they should not have assumed this would go off without a hitch. Soon it seems they set off another trap and the cave they are in starts to collapse.
In their escape Illya instinctually activates the Archer card to save her friends from being crushed. Rho Aias is able to save them but when the dust clears it seems that there are two Illyas. One light and one dark.
So the real story has finally started up again.
While the new opening has not debuted we did get to see the new ending. It is fairly serviceable. I can’t say that I loved it or hated it either way. The tune is upbeat and cute. I guess I just can’t really dig Yumeha Kouda’s vocals. The ending mostly focuses on Illya, Miyu, & Chloe. That does make sense. There is also a bit of fan service of the rest of the main cast. The more Leysritt sexy times the better. Hey, they even have Shiro. I was a little surprised that Bazett and Caren where nowhere to be found but I guess they are being saved for the opening.
I will say the little touch of having Illya, Miyu, & Chloe have a very different way of running during the ending. It is a minor detail. Having the characters run at the ending is a bog standard way to do an ending. But having each of their ways of moving being very telling of their characters is a nice way to make something very familiar seem a little warmer.
I hope they really got their yuri tease fan service out of their system. I don’t mind a little of it. It can be rather cute. But they need to get the show back on track where it is about magical fights, Nasuverse references, and no one liking Tatsuko. The sooner it gets back to that the better. Also that means we get to Bazett sooner. And that is the real prize. Seeing Chloe be an a-hole is just a nice bonus.