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Fate Kaleid Liner – Prisma Illiya Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Fate Kaleid SEason 1 UK BDAn interesting spin-off from the Fate universe, it puts one character at the forefront, reduces the roles to everyone else, turns it into a magical girl show, hijinks ensue…but yet there is still something about it which makes it better than it sounds…

What They Say:
Sometimes a different decision has an entirely different outcome. From normal school girl to magical girl, Illyasviel von Einzbern’s normal night has taken a turn for the unexpected. A magical wand called Kaleidoscope Ruby has rejected her old master and has instead set her sights on Illya to become the next great magical girl. Tasked with the duty of collecting the seven legendary Class Cards, Illya at least has the guidance of Rin Tohsaka, Ruby’s previous owner, to help her. Except she isn’t the only one to fall prey to magic, with classmate Miyu the new owner of Kalediostick Sapphire, Ruby’s younger half. As the pair is forced into battle, just what do these opinionated wands have installed for the unlikely group?
Watch the madness unfold as the Fate/stay night universe meets the madness of the magi-cal girl.

The Review:
Set up in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0, which can be switched from the pop-up menu in show as well as the regular menu, both languages were set up at an acceptable level on my standard settings though I didn’t see much difference between the English and the Japanese in sound quality – Blu Ray releases always feel crisper so no problems or slowdown in either language, audio continues even when the popup menu is up, and no problems synching with the subtitles – a standard good quality Blu-ray release. One mention though is because the release was done by Sentai originally, the English dub is not the same who produced either the original Fate/Stay Night series or Fate/Zero. I mention this because the change of dub voices is very noticeable (and a lot of the actresses for the lead roles do sadly sound too old for their roles with the exception of Miyu, though Cynthia Martinez as Illiya did grow on me) so if you enjoyed the original dub, then this won’t be it.

Standard settings on a full screen format at 16:9 – 1.77:1 ratio, the transfer for this TV series is gorgeous – high definition with the amount of colour combined with integrating CGI effects, the show is amazing to look at. I had no issues with syncing in with the sound or with the video quality, again with hi-definition release the flow is always smooth and no transition issues between audio and visual with no pause back or slowdown – the colour really comes through and the fact during the heavy action scenes (the Saber vs. Illiya fight in particular as well as Miyu vs. Berzerker) are integrated so well this is a top quality release for your viewing pleasure.

Spread over 2 discs, the menu is very straight forward. Both discs have an image of Magical Girl forms of Miyu and Illiya in a blue and flowery background, in the bottom right the menu selections are quick as per standard on a Blu-Ray release – Play All, scene selections, audio and on the 2nd disc extras. Also these selections can be done in show via a pop-up menu if you need to switch anything quickly (which I actually did – mainly because I really wasn’t a fan of the English dub which is rare for me to say this as usually a fan of dubs) but everything is easily accessible and selectable, with no real thrills but does its job.

We have the clean openings and endings of the series on Disc 2, and some trailers for Majestic Prince, Patema Inverted and Problem Children Are Coming From Another World Aren’t They?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I have been a fan of the Fate series for quite a while. Whilst it was originally based on an H-game, the universe has been expanded into other games, manga and, of course, anime. The original series tried to combine elements from all the routes in the original game which whilst wasn’t fully successful was still a decent enough series. Its popularity later made a film of the most popular route – Unlimited Blade Works – and even a later TV series as well. It also made a prequel to Fate/Stay Night known as Fate/Zero, learning the origins of certain characters which puts Stay/Night into better perspective, and is my favourite of all the series so far. So with a lot of dark bloody battles in all the releases, what does the next instalment showcase?

A magical girl series featuring one of the antagonists just not quite the loli-psycho she was in the original series. Yep, this is a tad different. It is set in a different universe, albeit ones still with the element of heroic spirits, but now they are Class Cards, and they have been unleashed and have to be recovered. It is basically 10 episodes of Fate/Stay Night meet Cardcaptor Sakura. But does it actually work?

It starts very standard, we are introduced to our main character Illiya (who was the master of Berserker in the original series) who now have Shirou (master of Saber in the original series) as an older brother, a strange family, and goes to school like any young girl does, have friends, etc. Nothing unusual bar her being a fan of magical girl anime – however, we get introduced to a familiar fan-favourite of the franchise, Rin Toshaka (original master of Archer) who has been sent to Japan to get the Class Cards to make her successfully join an organisation for mages. She is accompanied by her magical girl stick named Ruby, who is very goofy and not exactly what you’d expect in a Fate universe series…and a rich girl Rival named Luvia (who was in the game Unlimited/Codes and has a brief appearance at the end of the recent Fate/Unlimited Blade Works TV series, though that was aired after this series) who also has a magic stick named Sapphire. However, the two are eternal rivals, cat fighting every chance they get, to the point the sticks can’t handle it, and actually desert their masters when they get into a magical girl battle in the sky (and yes, the idea of Rin as a magical girl is hilarious) and Ruby basically finds Illiya and pretty much tricks her into becoming a magical girl.

Hilarity ensues.

Actually, there is a lot more to that – despite the goofiness of Ruby, there is a lot more going for this than I expected. Rin finds them, but can’t convince Ruby to switch back, so she becomes a sort of mentor to Illiya and explains what she has, her powers and the Class Card she already has, which, of course, is the Archer card. However, she is thrown straight into danger as the Rider card is found in a closed space when they can travel between dimensions to discover these anomalies. However, with Illiya in trouble, a new challenger appears who has been discovered by Sapphire, with Luvia as the ‘mentor’ for her. This is Miyu, a young girl who seems much more adept to this than Miyu, and at first, it seems like the two won’t get along, as Illiya seems to treat it more as a game or a dream come true, whilst Miyu takes it very seriously – it doesn’t help that Miyu is incredibly skilled in most things, however in classic formula Illiya does want to work together with her, and after a difficult battle with Caster, they do learn teamwork to defeat it. However, almost immediately after beating Caster, the Saber card appears and…well, things get real.

The Saber fight is one of the best things I’ve seen animated. Combined CGI with traditional animation and taking it very seriously, Illiya realises that this is no game, and panics a lot. Miyu actually learned from Illiya who knows how to fly (it is amusing why Illiya can fly and Miyu can’t) and Miyu does seem more caring to Illiya, but then Illiya out of nowhere is able to fully utilise the Archer card, very similar to how Archer is portrayed in the original series – almost in a trance, she becomes a total badass and able to utilise the cards powers to its full potential. However Illiya doesn’t remember how they beat it and only Miyu knows – but just as the two are becoming friends, Illiya has another trance during their battle with Assassin, and nearly kills Miyu, Rin and Luvia, leading to Miyu practically disowning her. Later, we discover it is because she wanted to protect Illiya away from this fighting, but it seemed to be quite a whiplash from friends to outcasts in one episode.

The last few episodes combine Illiya wanting to resign as a magical girl, an actually touching reunion and conversation with her mother Irisviel (from Fate/Zero), Miyu trying to fight Berserker on her own, and the inevitable reunion between the two girls. The friendly rivals has been done a lot in shows like this (Sakura/Syaoran, Fate/Nanoha, etc) but it is still quite touching as Miyu is a character who is very quiet, unaffectionate, but she does open up to Illiya throughout (with a few silly moments, and the fact she only seems to want Illiya as a friend considering Illiya has quite a few friends) and it does set up for a sequel as well.

This is definitely a strange take on the Fate universe. The good thing is that you don’t need to know about the original series to watch this. The characters are introduced well and explored as best as they can in the 10 episodes they have (there is an OVA, but that is basically a filler comedy episode about the girls at an athletic meet trying to win it thinking their teacher Taiga (also from F/SN) will be a ‘slave’ to someone) – the fact that the servant classes are reduced to the cards, and Shirou has a minor role isn’t really an issue to non-fans of the original series (though fans of F/SN will probably be disappointed that Saber is basically a villain for Illiya and not really relevant as a character) – so the character of Illiya in the original when she was a rather psychotic little girl is not needed to be known considering here she is just a normal girl for the most part (except for a seemingly out of the blue maid fetish – trust me, it’s hilarious but yeah, where did that come from outside of potentially shoujo-ai fandom?) – the character of Miyu as the rival is original to this series as well and she is your typical antagonistic rival who gradually opens up to the antagonist and the two become friends. The show does use the magical girl tropes quite a lot and whilst predictable doesn’t make the show any less enjoyable.

It is definitely on the guilty pleasure side, though – it helps that I am a fan of the Fate universe so knowing what the characters were like beforehand, and how they’ve changed is amusing. I’m sad that Rin, probably my favourite character alongside Rider from Fate/Zero in the Fate universe, is reduced to more of a mentor role, but she does get her moments in the spotlight – albeit more of a comedy role to play off Luvia, who is your typical ojou-sama character, and always reminds Rin of how poor she is in comparison to her. It does highlight a lot of the comedy though they are very capable. Also of mention are Illiya’s friends and family, who had a lot more to the humour as well.

That I think is both the best and worst thing about the series – it combines both comedy and serious quite well, to the point it is unsure what series it is trying to be. Is it something to be rated in the Fate universe, or its own thing. Magical girl parodies with seriousness have been done before and done well (Akazukin Chacha, Pretty Sammy TV) but who is this to recommend to? Fate fans or magical girl fans? Fate fans may not enjoy the reduced roles most of the cast have whilst magical girls fans may wonder how the established canon beforehand. That said, there is a lot to enjoy here. It is nothing groundbreaking, but the characters are likeable, the comedy is good and the battle sequences are gorgeous. It is a spectacle to watch and there wasn’t any real point I was hurrying the episodes along, so, as a form of entertainment, it is more than acceptable.

Fate/Kaleid Liner is a weird spin-off focusing on one of their characters who changes from antagonist little brat to adorable magical girl – it works in not needing to know who the characters are beforehand though so can work for fans of the genre though fans of the Fate universe might wonder what happened with everyone. However, the characters are fun, the battles are a joy to watch, it sets up nicely for a sequel, and is just pure turn your brain off fun. Heck, it even has some good serious moments as well. Nothing groundbreaking and is quite predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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

Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: November 2nd, 2015
MSRP: £39.99
Running Time: 275 minutes

Review Equipment: Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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