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Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note Episode #03 Anime Review

5 min read
Any lady should know about wrestling.
© Makoto Sanda,TYPE-MOON / LEMPC

Any lady should know about wrestling.

What They Say:
“Thunder and the Underground Labyrinth”

The rowdiness of the classroom seems like how it usually is in Modern Magecraft Theories, but there is something wrong with Lord El-Melloi II’s behavior. Luvia, who had come to visit and attend one of his lectures, asks Gray the reason why, and it turns out it’s because his favorite tearoom has basically closed shop. Lord El-Melloi II heads to the tearoom to inquire on their circumstances as he realizes work just can’t progress at this rate, but when he goes down into the sewer system to investigate, an ominous shadow attacks him. Gray, worried that he hasn’t shown any signs of returning from the investigation, seeks help from Flat and Svin.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Lord El-Melloi II seems to be making a point of throwing Fate fans a bone once an episode or so. Even if it won’t, and in some cases can’t, amount to much in the end, it makes sense to keep that rapid a fan base engaged, considering they’re obviously the target audience, even though it could be possible to step into this series mostly uninitiated and still get most of what’s going on. As such, the episode opens with a discussion about the Holy Grail War, an event that will be returning in Fuyuki very soon at the current point in this story. From these brief mentions at the beginning and end of the episode, there’s not much of great value to grab onto, but there is some comfort in being reminded of where this story came from and will always be adjacent to.

Speaking of the greater franchise, we get another potentially familiar face this episode in Luvia. For anime appearances, she appears alongside Lord El-Melloi II in the epilogue of the Unlimited Blade Works series and as a main character in Prisma Illya, in which she also answers to Lord El-Melloi II, who has a much lesser role in that series. She remains one of the most consistent characters throughout her anime appearances, as she has generally been seen in a comedic light thus far, fitting the ojou-sama archetype to such a T that she functions as a bit of a parody. Considering her connection to Lord El-Melloi II in other works, it makes sense that we’d get to see her first interactions with the main in his own series. Although presented humorously thus far, her disappointment with his behavior shows a serious desire for learning proper Magecraft, so, depending on how much she appears in the series going forward, she could become a more interesting character than we’ve seen of her before.

Lord El-Melloi II himself gets a bit sillier in this episode than in the previous one, unable to focus on his duties because of problems at his favorite teahouse. While the last episode felt like it would be a likely template for future installments, this keeps the mystery confined to the Clock Tower, letting us spend more time with its characters while the stakes are reduced and don’t require any big action pieces from Gray. This has its pros and cons, but it is somewhat reassuring to know that the series has a few ideas up its sleeve and will likely continue to mix different types of stories up as it goes on.

In addition to significant mentions of major Fate lore, there seems to be a quota to acknowledge Rider once an episode. Early on, it seemed that he may be particularly relevant to the core of the series, but since then, we pretty much just get Waver (because he’s very much Waver at these moments) reminiscing to himself about vomiting out of disgust at the victim-filled den of a pair of especially heinous serial killers. Okay, so he may neglect to remember the context of the location he’s recalling, but these scenes tend to function primarily as the series trying to remind us of why we loved Waver, and that no amount of age or prestige can truly erase that side of him. It’s a nice sentiment, but even with a softer and slightly more comical look at Lord El-Melloi II in this episode, we have a long way to go before his dynamics with any of these characters feel a fraction as endearing.

In Summary:
Lord El-Melloi II brings the spotlight back to the Clock Tower for some smaller-scale sleuthing, giving some time to other main characters of the series and introducing one many of us know from other Fate properties. Its nods to the greater franchise have to potential to make the series feel like more of a true entry into that universe, but so far they’re too superficial to feel like much more than fanservice. Still, while there’s not as much climactic action as last time, a Lord El-Melloi II with little awkward moments like these goes a long way to making it feel like this could be Waver’s adult life after all.

Grade: B-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
LG Electronics OLED65C7P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

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