I have seen several variants of the simple joke where a group of Nazis or Star Wars Stormtroopers are overlooking some atrocity and one of them turns to the other and simply asks, “Are we the bad guys?” By the end of the episode, everyone on Illya’s team has to ask themselves that question. As it turns out they might be the greedy bastards who damn millions just for their own selfish desires. Now, in this case, their selfish desires in not seeing their friend ritually sacrificed so it is not the standard villain motivation (unless you are the villains of Magic Knight Rayearth.) They just have to sacrifice a whole world’s worth of people to save her.
Well, this is a magical girl show. They will find another way that requires neither the ritual murder of Miyu nor turning another dimension into the Upside Down. But they don’t KNOW that. They have to make the choice to potentially damn the world and hope MAYBE there is some chance that there is another way. They have to be villains with the desperate hope that eventually their actions will be redeemed. The Trolley problem in anime form.
It seems that Illya is hardly Chucky from Child’s Play in a doll body. Even a poorly controlled Rin and Luvia are giving her a run for her money. When Angelica enters the fray thing go from bad to worse. Even when Illya’s desperate gamble gets her back into her body she finds she is no match for the two mind controlled maids and their overseer. But that is not the killing blow. The real turn in the battle is when Angelica informs Illya of how the Ainsworth family is actually doing this to save the world.
This is essentially two one-legged men in an ass kicking contest. Illya’s doll body has the magical output of all the Dursley family all crammed into one little fluffy body. Her standard attacks bounce off people like Don Kanonji’s Golden Kan’onball and her slashing attack does more than to increase the Luvia fan service than doing any lasting damage. Technically if she could easily land a solid shot she could snap Rin and Luvia out of their brainwashing but her fluffy body hardly makes her the stuffed version of River Tam.
Thankfully for Illya, it seems that the two maids don’t have the best AI in control of their bodies. While they are not fighting like they usually do they mostly just charge ahead with minimal tactics. The more interesting thing is the generic one use noble phantasm cards they have. There are whole decks of unnamed weapons that dissipate after they are used for a single strike. Unlike Darius’ cards that have named powerful effects these seem to be more the faintest figments of the concepts of a weapon. Darius’ cards seem to be the embodiment of powerful concepts not linked to a specific hero. These seem to be extremely water downed shadows of the ideas of weapons. They are mere echoes of the Platonic ideals that Nobel Phantasms usually represent.
While Rin and Luvia are hardly kunoichis in maid outfits they are able to do a great deal of damage. In fact, they throw around their broken phantasms enough to smash through the floor and take the fight to Erika’s room. Her ever-faithful guardian Angelica immediately pops up to protect Erika and confront Illya even if she is hardly in her most dangerous form.
Angelica seems to have a genuine affection for Erika despite the fact that she seems so stoic and detached. When Erika is threatened Angelica is there before you can blink. Darius is not the type of person to appear himself if one of his underlings is nearby and it is almost impossible to imagine the selfish Beatrice to be that dedicated. Angelica also is always indulging the little girl even when it might be against her best interest. Fixing Erika’s dolls when Beatrice terrorizes them is kindly and time-consuming but hardly putting her neck on the line. But her helping Erika kidnap and body swap Illya for the Small Lady could easily make Darius reconsider breathing life into her.
If Illya has had problems with Rin and Luvia than fighting Angelica with the installed powers of Gilgamesh is like a level one Crono jumping ahead to fight Lavos at the start of the game. In fact, she only wins by playing a dangerous sacrifice play. She gambles that even if her doll body is ripped to shreds it will not kill her. This lets her sacrifice her body to get close enough to use a blast that lets her flashback in her body. It seems that you can’t just randomly hit anyplace on the body with Illya’s puny blasts. She needs to aim for the weak point of the spell like her body was a giant enemy crab.
Sadly for Illya, it seems that getting her body back only makes it that she stands a fighting chance against Angelica and her maid back up. Illya is like 10 levels under leveled for this fight. She might be able to do something against Angelica in a straight up fight but Rin and Luvia keep harassing her so she constantly has to be on the defensive. She can’t free Rin and Luvia because of any time she would focus on them Angelica is a threat. The fact that Angelica can use the Flash Air makes everything 10 times worse.
I am a little amused that they say that Flash Air is considered a low-level magic that hardly anyone learns. I’m fairly certain combat teleport, high-level soul swapping spirit magic, and general transmutation of properties are all considered fairly useful abilities. No one says that Tracer or Popinjay are low-level or underpowered characters. Also, those other skills are tapping into Master level magics in Mage: The Ascension. No one considers Fire magic weak because low levels of its application only let you create a match’s worth if fire. It seems odd that Flash Air would be in a magical ghetto just because it is not world shattering at lower levels. Maybe it is one of those cases where it is supposed to be an odd prejudice rather than a logical argument.
The end of the episode drops a bomb more powerful that anything Flash Air could do. Both sides of Team Illya get a shocking revelation. One side gets it from a stone-faced but self-righteous Angelica and the other from a rather amused Gilgamesh who seems to be enjoying a slice of schadenfreude. The Ainsworth family’s goal is not world domination, seeking the root, or a lust for power. This world and its strange weather are due to a massive loss of mana. They plan to summon the Holy Grail within Miyu to hopefully restore the natural magical energy of the planet before everything dies out cut off from the natural flow of mana. While it means that Miyu must die it will save the remaining billions of people who are in danger. Illya will damn all of them if she goes against Darius. Quite an awful trolley problem.
It is worth noting that much of what is happening here is also the backstory of the world in the Fate/Extra games. It too is a reality where the mana was running dry. It also had a huge number of deaths due to climate change. Eventually, the world stabilized in Fate/Extra and while everyone did not die magic is generally considered either dead or at least in hibernation. The little magic that is left can only be accessed via magical hacking which is powerful in the virtual world is barely able to do anything directly in the physical world.
It has never been revealed (as far as I know anyway) what caused the mana loss or what stabilized it after that. It very well could be that Primsa Illya is secretly going to reveal that is it the back story to the Fate/Extra universe. This Illya could be the creator of the Moon Cell. If my theory about Tanaka is correct is also might explain why Tamamo-no-Mae was a servant in the first Moon Cell Holy Grail War. I’m curious to see how much of this theory plays out.
This revelation is the next logical step in Illya’s progress. Before this point, her enemies were external threats. At first, it was increasing powerful monsters. They were mindless enemies so there was no moral dimension to defeating them. It was just a matter of Illya getting the self-confidence to stand up to what initially seemed to be a more powerful but evil threat. Then came Chloe. While she is a dark reflection of Illya who started within her she became an external threat. Since Chloe was the aggressor with far less of the moral high ground she starts to touch upon the idea of ethics but still lets Illya have the righteous position in the conflict. It is worth noting that fighting in the end did little to solve the problem. It was conversation and Illya confronting her inner demons that was the ultimate solution.
Gilgamesh and Bazett were more of the first group of threats. A more powerful outside threat that tests Illya’s determination. This time, they were intelligent foes who had their own moral reasons for doing what they did. In the case of Bazett, it was a battle of one set of ethics and goals vs. another. Since Illya had no real moral conflict her will was far more easily found than in previous crises of faith. The fights might have been harder on a physical level but easier on a moral one.
At this point, any foe that comes out her with a purely physical or magical attack can eventually be beaten with no real effort. She will eventually find the power within herself in if she believes. The real crisis is now it seems Illya is on the wrong side of the moral argument from a purely utilitarian standpoint. At this point, she has to stand up for her beliefs when the rest of the world might tell her that she is not only wrong but a demon. Holding on to self-confidence when the world is against you is the ultimate test of her beliefs.
The next few episodes shall be her real crucible. Her final confrontation with Darius will have a magical element to it but when the series end next season it will be Illya clinging to her beliefs that defeats Darius. Anything else that happens is just window dressing.
My reviews of previous episodes:
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! #01: Tanaka-kun is Always Clueless
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! #02: Tactical Espionage Action
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! #03: The Bay of Pigs Invasion
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! #04: Shonen Friendship and Softcore Porn
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! #05: Dumb and Dumber
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! #06: Attack of the Designer Knockoff Noble Phantasms
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! #07: Illya Does a Fairly Good Beatrix Kiddo Impersonation