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Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya Season 1 Collection Anime DVD Review

7 min read

Fate Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya HuluCan’t say this was great, but I appreciate it when creators try to do something different with an existing property.

What They Say:
Illyasviel von Einzbern’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.

Meanwhile, a girl named Miyu has been chosen by the Kaleidostick Sapphire as HER new master, much to the irritation of Sapphire’s previous master, Rin’s arch rival Luviagelita Edelfelt! Exactly what kind of plan are the wands conjuring up? Find out as the Fate/stay night universe “kaleids” with a healthy dose of magical girl mayhem!

The Review:
Audio:
For this viewing, I listened to the English dub, which is offered in 2.0. The Japanese track is also in 2.0. The mix is fine, if basic. There’s some directionality in the sound effects, but most things—including dialogue—stay centered. As with anything that has a decent amount of action, I wish it had a 5.1 mix, but it’s otherwise fine.

Video:
The video for this release is mostly clean. Character designs are nice and there are some really good effects in the battle scenes with the various attacks of the spirits. Technically, the transfer is nice, though there are a few instances of pixelization in the darker scenes. That is nothing serious, though, and the series is clean otherwise.

Packaging:
The two discs for this release come in a single amaray case with center insert. In what I assume was an “it’s what we had on hand” decision, the center insert is double-sided, so there are actually three slots for discs inside the case. It’s not a big deal, but every time I open it up, I feel like I’m missing a disc. Since it’s just two discs, I’m a bit surprised they didn’t just have a case with clips on each side and no insert, but it’s not that big a deal. The front cover has the four main characters in various action poses with the logo to the bottom left. The back has a picture of Rin and Luvia quarrelling with some screen shots, the series summary, and technical details. It’s a fine set, but it won’t stand out.

Menu:
The menus for this release have a nice design, but again are nothing particularly special. Each disc has a picture of a girl to the left (Illya on disc one and Miyu on disc two) with the selections laid out along the right. Like all Sentai releases, there is no “Play All” button, but selecting an episode will work in the same way. The cursor shows up well on the menu, so there are no problems with discerning what is being selected. Perfectly fine menu.

Extras:
All that is available on this release are clean versions of the OP/ED.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A couple years ago, I had an opportunity to check out Fate/Stay Night, a series that had some amount of critical acclaim. I enjoyed the series to an extent, though felt the finished product didn’t quite live up to the promise, so I never followed up with any of its sequels. But when Fate/Kaleid Liner – Prism Illya arrived to review, I was semi-interested to revisit the Fate world and see what Saber and everybody else were up to, but I was roughly 30 seconds in before I realized that this series was very different from what I had already seen.

See, Fate/Kaleid Liner – Prism Illya is an alternate universe reimagining of the conflict in the Fate/Stay Night series. Rather than focusing on a War among Magi and their protective spirit servants, Kaleid Liner takes its cue from the magical girl genre and all that entails. In this series, Shiro Emiya only has a small part, this time the adoptive older brother of Illya, who is living in Japan with her guardian. Illya is a regular, middle school girl who love magical girl anime and dreams of bigger things. One night, while relaxing in a bath, she is suddenly beset by a anthropomorphic magic wand named Ruby who has chosen Illya to be her new master.

Using Ruby’s power, Illya can turn into the magical girl she has always dreamed to be, and is tasked with defeating demonic spirits and sealing their powers in magical cards. Luckily, Illya won’t be alone, as she is guided by Rin Tohsaka, Ruby’s previous master. Rin was stripped of her power by Ruby for her constant feud with Luvia, who had her own want, Sapphire. Also disgusted by Luvia and Rin’s constant bickering, Sapphire has also found a new master named Miyu. With Rin and Luvia the brains of the operation, Miyu and Illya set out to complete the task laid at the feet of their predecessors. The only question is if the four of them can get along long enough to survive.

I always enjoy when a content creator decides to try and take his/her own properties and give it a new spin. That’s certainly happening with Fate/Kaleid-Liner – Prism Illya. Fate/Stay Night was a relatively fun (albeit fairly generic) supernatural action series with some interesting ideas and some fun, harem-ish comedy on the side. As noted above, Prism Illya goes the magical girl route, which turns the comedy up quite a bit, but adds a healthy dose of adorable to it all. While there are some serious moments, particularly late in the game, it never hits the serious heights Stay Night does. That’s just not its thing.

Prism Illya is helped by the fact that we already know the cast; even if they now have different roles, their base personalities are generally the same. Illya is still the generally innocent and friendly person she is after her defeat in Stay Night, Rin is still strong-willed but ultimately helpful, and Luvia is still a spoiled brat. Miyu is the only character we are really introduced to in this series, but it works because learning her idiosyncrasies is a major part of the plot in this. The four of them ultimately work well together as a team, and can be quite fun.

But like Stay Night, Prism Illya never really fully comes together. All-in-all, the plot is rather shallow. They have to defeat spirits and collect their cards. It never really gets any deeper than that. On the one hand, it’s nice that it never got too complicated; on the other, it means that it wasn’t particularly compelling either. Ultimately, it came of as just basic fan-service. They are just giving us an opportunity to see everybody else again, and they add nothing really to the experience. Even the demonic spirits were just the same spirits as the servants in Stay Night. It was fun to see the characters again (particularly Rin), and I had a lot of fun when Saber showed up to fight the group, but ultimately, it was a fairly shallow experience.

In Summary:
Fate/Kaleid Liner – Prism Illya is a neat attempt at revisiting the world of Fate/Stay Night. It was fun to see all the characters again in a different context to the earlier series, and there were a lot of light hearted moments. But there was little depth to it all, so the whole experience comes off nothing more than a little fan-servicey. Fun fan-service, but fan-service nonetheless. Prism Illya is so different from Stay Night that it is hard to recommend to Fate fans just because liking Stay Night is no guarantee to liking Prism Illya, but if you go into it understanding this, it can be enjoyable. Mildly recommended.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

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