Poor Saber. If she were summoned to the world of Prisma Illya she would be on cloud nine in this Fearsome Animal Land theme park. Sadly she can not frolic in the lion themed wonderland. But Illya and the rest of the gang can have a ball there during this filler episode.
If it was not immediately obvious this week’s episodes is almost entirely filler material. Last week was just the adaptation of some omake chapters. Other than a heavily modified cold open everything here is anime only material. So if you thought this season was light on material it is about to get carbon aerogel up in here.
Unless there is actually some hidden depth to this episode.
Stranger things have happened.
After a honest day’s work in the class card mines Luvia rewards the gang with tickets to an amusement park. Escorted by Irisviel the gang have fun in the sun until they meet a certain sadistic nurse and a powerful mascot lion freelancer. Missing stars and a wild hunt show the bonds of true friendship and perhaps even a brewing storm on the horizon.
This scene is actually much different in the manga. It actually takes place in a fully repaired Edelfelt mansion and the fan service is in the way of Rin and Miyu being in their full maid outfits. Here you are only getting fan service if you like anthropomorphic Met doujinshi. The conversation is basically the same but when Luvia call it a day here the manga goes straight into their battle plan for confronting the last and probably most powerful card. The anime instead has them taking a break from their side jobs as miner ’49ers so all the girls can have some fun before the big fight.
Part of this episode seems to be to draw in characters who were involved in the manga at this point but never got that much panel time. As if someone figured that if the voice actresses were going to come down to the booth to be in this season they might as well use them in the filler episodes as well. I’m a little surprised Shiro did not show up but maybe they did not want to disturb the all female crew that had going without Shiro.
Up until this scene I never thought about Tatsuko, Suzuka, and Nanaki having a Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie, and Xuanzang styled relationship. Tatsuko is as wild as the Monkey King, Nanaki can be patient like a virtuous monk despite what is going on around her, and Suzuka’s rotten fujoshi soul is somewhat akin to Xuanzang. After the episode at the beach one has to wonder if the three girls are actually on a spiritual journey towards enlightenment while all of this card capturing nonsense is happening in the background of their epic. I also have to wonder if that is intentional or did the anime staff just realize the parallels that just happens to align that way.
Actually can Tatsuko be involved in anything that leads to enlightenment?
I had to post these pictures most because Miyu has some of the best reaction shots. It is amusing to see the approach thrill rides with such a clinical detachment when they start and then see her go into full terror mode when the excitement actually starts. It is such a difference from her normal Vulcan like demeanor. The fact that it turns out she also loves the rides only adds to the humor.
But it is worth pointing out that Miyu once again hints that she clearly comes from a very strange place as she seems to have no practical knowledge of anything relating to entertainment, leisure, or standard cultural practices. Her upbringing was clearly somewhere with an atmosphere between alien and foreign.
I think it worth noting that Irisviel’s mad driving skills comes up. It is a nice little call back to Fate/Zero. In fact a lot of the “dirty laundry” she shares with everyone over lunch should be familiar to Fate/Zero fans. The details of Irisviel and Kiritsugu’s unusual marriage sure gets put to the children in the most delicate way possible. That is an accomplishment because there are few ways of saying, “I was given to my husband as magical breeding stock which just so happened to turn into a loving relationship entirely by accident.”
Tatsuko truly is the trash girl. That mysterious mascot who no one could ever identify was sure right about her.
Also because it is obviously Bazett.
As a side note: Part of me has to wonder if the whole theme park filled with lions despite a world of animals being available is actually a commentary by the staff on Saber overexposure and fatigue. I mean I don’t have a problem with more Saber but I know some people really do. As much Saber love as I see there are an equal number of people who complain whenever she appears in a new Type-Moon property or she gets a new variant form.
If any episode proves that the apple did not fall that far from the tree when it comes to Caren it would be this one. That said Kirei was never this amusing about being delighted by the cries of children. In fact he always made sure the orphans in his basement that he used as mana batteries could not scream.
That is a joke that is not a joke.
Out of all the side characters in Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA it seems that Caren has always gotten the least amount of screen time and development so even this episode with her acting as the gang’s escort gives her a good deal more depth than she is usually afforded. She is her usual mix of deadpan snarker, sadist, and enigmatic white-haired girl but at least she gets to shine in that role for more than just a one off gag.
If nothing else this provides a little fan service for anyone who wanted some Irisviel is a wedding dress. It seems that the girls all are invested in seeing this for one reason or another. Some for more salacious reasons than others.
The real question is who would win in a right: Saber Bride or Iri Bride?
With Irisviel conveniently out of the picture this lets Caren and MYSTERIOUS POWERFUL MASCOT X travel with the gang for awhile. I think that it is proof that Bazett makes everything 100% better. While she is initially reluctant to join she really adds some fun to the scenes she is in. Also she seems to be able to keep Tatsuko in line. I think that is a feat that qualifies you for sainthood.
At this point the actually plot of the episode kicks in. I assumed there was going to be some greater plot other than pure slice of life comedy of them going to the amusement park. It did seem like with how much they kept bringing up the lion mascots maybe there was some low level conspiracy going on with them the gang would have to break up. It turns out that the actually plot is a much smaller story about Illya losing the charm on her birthday present. It creates a small personal story about the bonds between these characters.
Since it is very obvious to everyone that her brother’s gift is incredibly important to Illya. Therefore the group sets off top try and find the missing star from her bracelet. It proves that as much as they might be goof-a-doofs normally the gang is devoted if nothing else. Oath of the Peach Garden levels of devotion. It even prompts Miyu to transform in hopes that Magical Sapphire could use her magic to find the charm. Lucky everyone else just assumes that any magic occurring in front of them is part of the show at the park. Although they really should have thrown on some lion ears or something to fit in with the them of the Fearsome Animal Land. I doubt the fans would object to Illya and Miyu in cat ears.
In the end with some surprisingly helpful advice from Caren they are able to focus their search area and find out where Illya lost her star.
See. Those mascot parades are nothing but trouble.
This leads to a tender scene between Miyu and Illya that has a decent amount of depth. While it is clear that Miyu is carrying some Class S crushing on Illya it can’t be ignored that she also understands how painful it is to lose a point of connection to Shiro and to desperately want it back. In a way you can’t help but feel that Miyu was searching for the charm particularly so she could believe that she could reconnect with what she lost as much as her wanting to help Illya who she greatly cares for.
The fact that it gives the yuri fans some deep staring into each others eyes while holding hands does not hurt the tone of the show either.
The episode ends with a little face off between Irisviel and Caren. Irisviel as a former part of the magical world and Caren is still an agent of the church so they immediately are on edge around each other. Considering that the Holy Grail is involved it should be no surprised that Irisviel is on high alert when she sees that a high ranking member of the supernatural branch of the church is around her daughter.
The fact that she is Kirei Kotomine’s daughter does little to put Irisviel at ease. One does have to wonder how much of Kiritsugu and Kotomine’s interactions still happened in this alternate time line. It seems some things like Waver Velvet becoming Lord El-Melloi II and Shiro needing to be adopted still happened. (One also wonders if anyone has really sat down and thought about the altered time line in any more detailed manner than was casually necessary.)
I was amused that Chloe constantly noticed all the little moments of tension between people but just chooses to say nothing once she realizes it is not going to get to the point where it would actively blow up. She really is one of the most astute characters in the end. She is not only observant but has the prudence to know when to act and when to just let things happen.
I was wondering if they were ever going to show Bazett without the lion head on. This did not seem like the type of show to not make that clear even if it was obvious. Part of me wondered if they really wanted her in the episode but her voice actress could not show up in time for the episode. But at the end we see her and Caren have a casual conversation. The best part is probably Caren’s non-reaction to Bazett’s proud declaration of using her mascot outfit as a sleeping bag while living on the streets. There is just a brief pause without any reaction or musical cues and then the scene just proceeds on.
Sometimes the lack of a comedic beat is even more effective than anything else.
Did not expect to see Magical Bushido Musashi again. The preview makes you wonder what other call backs are going to pop up in the next episode.
I was really surprised at the fact that I liked this episode as much as I did. For something that was almost all new material they showed an amazing amount of restraint by not turning this into a fan service extravaganza. In fact this actually has less fan service that a lot of plot relevant episodes. Instead they focused on the comedy inherent in the group, bonds between characters, and quite moments of reflection. That was more shocking than anything else.
I really hope they can keep that up for next week’s filler at the festival as well.