I am a Cancer as well. Not because I watched this episode. I’m not denying that is also true but what I am talking about is the fact that I was born on July 21st. So like Illya and Miyu my astrological symbol is also Cancer. In fact if I was born one day earlier I would share their birthday. Like Tatsuko I could only lie and say my birthday is the same as theirs. But I am not that sad.
But Tatsuko is the saddest heroine of her own story ever.
(Apparently July 20th has become a cusp day for Cancers so some people don’t consider being born on the 20th being a Cancer anymore. Then again it is ALMOST like Zodiac signs are silly superstitionalist malarkey that makes Neil Degrasse Tyson cry.)
Also you might wonder why Bazett is the top photo of the post when she does not even appear in this episode. One: She does appear. She is briefly in the new opening. Two: This is my blog. I put whatever I want at the top. If I want more Bazett in the posts we get more Bazett. Just be grateful I don’t randomly throw her and/or Saber at the top of all the posts. You know I will do it.
As I stated with the last episode it seems that Illya has restarted the cycle of the Monomyth so her time in the ordinary world was always on a countdown clock. Now she is being targeted by an assassin. This dark Illya has access to the powers of the Archer card and unlike Illya the knowledge to use the card to its fullest. On top of that Illya herself seems massively underpowered.
I have to say that “moving soul” by Minami Kuribayashi leaves much more of an impression as an opening than TWO BY TWO did as and ending. But I suppose you usually want your opening to be the stronger foot forward. That is why you see so many Best Anime Openings panels and never any Best Anime Endings panels.
The opening also pretty much tells Kuro’s whole story but I don’t think anyone is really watching this anime for the nuances of her tale. Maybe the nuances of her tail but that is another (sadder) story. The song is stronger and works well in getting you prepared to watch the show. The visuals are very judicious in balancing the service and cuteness with the action. If anything it is a good indicator of what you’re getting.
The opening has the proper quotient of Bazett so it is approved.
The day starts with the local morning TV news horoscope telling Illya that she has drawn the Hayate Ayasaki +Ataru Moroboshi cards in the deck of fortune. But instead of staying in bed she decides to head to school and Ruby reveals another of her hidden tricks as she is able predict the near future fairly accurately. This leads to a sequence where Ruby will predict a horrible event that will come close to injuring her like an out of control truck or a pack of wild dogs trying to make her a chew toy. At first Illya suspects this is a prank by Ruby. Given Ruby’s Kohaku connection this is not the worst theory ever. As it turns out it is not an evil amber eyed plot (this time) but someone is trying to do in our heroine. Illya manages to get to school and find Miyu but then collapses in her arms due to injury and exhaustion.
As a random note I wonder if Illya and Ruby will ever be able to use that near future prediction to pull off something similar to mantra from One Piece. That would be a nice end game ability.
Of all the major Type-Moon character the one I probably know the least is probably Caren Hortensia. I know her general deal but unlike Bazett she is a bit harder to grasp fully without playing Fate/Hollow Ataraxia. I have seen her in several spin-off but they have all been comedy series so I only know certain parts of her personality played at 300%. At times she just seems like girl type Kotomine but the Type-Moon wiki makes her seem like a virtuous person with a bit of a sadistic streak. Who actually is the real Caren has yet to be seen by me.
But in this case it is definitely the more comedic version of Caren. She is the school nurse but she only wants to treat children who are gravely injured. Illya’s minor wounds are nothing more than a drag to the sullen nurse. Illya and Miyu then start to exposit who is trying to off such a lovable heroine once they are alone. They don’t know exactly who is behind the assassination attempt but it surely has something to do with Illya’s unusual doppelganger. Just then a rogue soccer ball nearly makes the conversation a moot point.
Miyu being the more practical of the duo decides that they should both go home as they have a greater safety in numbers but Kuro is not intimated by numbers. She throws off the facade that these incidents are any sort of accident (plus the joke was going to get old soon) and outright tries to make an Illya-Kebab with projected swords. It quickly is shown that Kuro can use her powers like she was the Wrought Iron Hero himself. She knows how to use all of his weapons to their maximum effect in the way that Illya only did when she was in a trance. The only thing Kero does not whip out is Unlimited Blade Works. In fact she is also extremely aware of the powers, ranges, and limitations of being a magical girl as well. Even though Illya and Miyu are fighting all out their enemy is on the top of her game while knowing how to run rings around them.
It does not help that Illya is only outputting her attacks at third her normal power. Clearly the creation of Kuro has weakened her but for some reason the cast seems not to realize the connection. But that is me getting a bit of nit picky over analysis. You can clearly just chalk it up to them being complacent due to their being in the calm of the eye of the storm too long.
Overall the fight is fairly cool bringing back the best part of the series. It is not the heights of the first of the first series but this is just the first real confrontation with Kuro. You don’t want to pull our your best moves when you first meet the antagonist. Still it reminds you of the best parts of the Illya vs. Saber Alter fight only now the shoe is on the other foot. That said Illya even gets in a clever shot with her thin blade like blasts.
Then it comes. Look, I know you want to make synchronization reference while throwing in some yuri fan service but have some restraint animators. You know you are doing something terrible when I have to give credit to the manga for have some restraint and self-respect. The part where Kuro kisses Miyu to steal some of her energy goes on forever in the anime. It is a quick gag in the manga but here there it is a whole thing with lots of tongue and porno saliva string that is just straddling the line between regular service and sort core hentai. I know what happens later in the series. This could even get worse if they wanted it to.
Eww. Of course you know people loved that scene. I merely shock my head.
Since Illya’s little gambit works well enough to drive off Kuro for a time she gathers the fallen & violated Miyu and heads to Luvia’s mansion to have a bit of a strategy meeting. The Cards they fought before were overpowered but they essentially only had animal intelligence. Kuro is clever and well versed in her powers. If fighting the cards was taking on an overpowered computer controlled NPC then Kuro is more like fighting a player controlled opponent. You can’t rely on the same cheap tricks against someone who can out think you. The fact that Illya is fighting at reduced strength does not help.
Of course Rin and Luvia being friendly monsters in this iteration come up with a most un-Illya friendly stratagem.
As a side note, the music playing in this scene is a remix of Quiet Voice from Fate/Stay Night.
The trap here is super obvious. The leave out Illya as bait. The idea is it does not matter if Kuro knows it is a trap. She is going to come either way. At least this time they will be prepared when she strikes.
Although the banquet of food is quite ridiculous. It was like they were not 100% sure Illya alone was good enough a prize. I find that an amusing thought.
While it seems at first when Kuro strikes (knowing from the start that it was a trap) that Rin and Luvia are just morons that is not entirely the case. But as the fight goes on they actually turn out to be quiet prepared for Kuro. In fact most of their tomfoolery is there to make Kuro assume they are not even worth strategizing against. The two magi actually can plan a nice ambush when they try. Illya’s restraints being a binding trap for Kuro was quite clever.
In the end Kuro is a bit too smart for them. With a little struggle she is able to get past the traps set for her and even winds up turning the tide on Rin and Luvia. Miyu goes down when Kuro unexpectedly goes in for close combat and is able to bat Sapphire out of the park thereby depowering her opponent. Soon all that is left is poor Illya.
It seems that Illya quickly turns back into Usagi Tsukino crybaby mode after all of her attacks are easily parried or counter measured by her dark opponent. But when all seems lost Illya shows that she was merely pretending to give up. She really just positioned herself so that Kuro would walk into the mana draining sink hole that took out her mentors the episode before. Pretty clever Illya. You might just be getting better at this.
Like I said before it turns out that Rin and Luvia are friendly monsters. Even though they were in the same situation not that long ago they find a bit too much pleasure seeing Kuro slowly drowning. I’m PRETTY sure they would not let her die but they sure don’t mind watching her suffer.
I’m also only pretty sure about that.
But Kuro’s capture is only the second most important part of the episode. The most important thing is that mama Einzbern is aware through superior okaasan powers that her daughter is in a bit of a fix. Woe be to those who stand in Irisviel’s path.
I feel like this episode has all the best and the worst of the series in one episode. It has some fun comedy, great reaction shots, cool fighting, and even some clever ideas. It also has come creepy creepy nonconsensual underaged make out scenes. EWWW. Really that kiss seem to go on for forever and a day. If I were not committed to this show it might easily be where I had to check out.
If you had to bow out because of this episode, I’m a little surprised you made it this far, but I understand. I’m assuming you skipped the first special. If you really loved the series after this episode I’m not sure we can be friends.
Also: Double EWW.