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Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note Episode #04 Anime Review

5 min read
What lovely weather we’re having.
© Makoto Sanda,TYPE-MOON / LEMPC

What lovely weather we’re having.

What They Say:
“A Workshop, a Grave, and a Necromancer”

Primary Lecturer Wills is an authority in the Spiritual Evocation division. His father, Sir Trevor, owned the Marburry Workshop that utilizes an entire wasteland to operate as a Magical Workshop. However, the Workshop went out of control, causing many casualties including that of Sir Trevor himself. Lord El-Melloi II, seeking assistance from Spiritual Evocation in order to participate in the Holy Grail War, begrudgingly accepts the request to solve this case. However, what awaited the entourage who arrived at the mansion was Hishiri Adashino, a member of the Policies Department that investigates and enforces rules within the Clock Tower.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
We appear to more or less have a formula established at this point. This episode returns to the pattern of Lord El-Melloi II going on-site to investigate a magical murder, with the main difference so far being that there was enough setup to stretch this story across at least two episodes. At times like this, the series feels more like Detective Conan than Fate/Zero, which I can’t pretend is my favorite usage of Waver’s character, but I suppose I should just be thankful that he gets his own series taking place around the time of Fate/stay night.

Lord El-Melloi II himself seems somewhat disappointed by his fate, for lack of a better word. This episode’s obligatory Holy Grail War namedrop has our protagonist staring lackadaisically at the reflection of classic Waver stating that he’d do anything to be in another Holy Grail War. Although this is a sequel, it is also just barely a prequel to the original story that spawned this franchise, so much like many of the key plot points of Fate/Zero, those even slightly familiar with Fate/stay night know that this future is not to be, so some of the interest comes from seeing how the events of this series will lead to him not achieving this goal, rather than the more expected reverse. Of course, that’s assuming this particular adaptation gives us more than these slight teases once an episode and ties back into the main story at some point, which I’m not counting on.

While this takes place in roughly the “main” or “canon” universe of the Fate franchise, it may have more character overlap with the likes of Fate/Apocrypha than anything else, and this episode introduces another major example of that. Some references to other characters are also made, notably a character that, like Luvia, is from Fate/hollow ataraxia but more familiar to anime viewers from Prisma Illya, as well as a relatively minor character from Unlimited Blade Works. I would hope this indicates that these characters will be appearing in the story proper before too long, but the chances of characters from throughout the franchise contributing in a way that makes their other appearances relevant don’t seem very high at this point.

While those characters have mostly been thrown in to seemingly serve as fanservice, only a few of the main characters of this series actually appear in this episode, much like the very similar episode 2. This leaves members of the main cast still virtually unknown in the series proper, but Reines in particular is given more time to shine than she has up to this point. While she has mostly been seen giving orders from on high, she is at times a more central character than even Lord El-Melloi II in parts of this episode. The early scenes of her scheming are especially interesting, and later she and Gray do their own investigative work within the primary crime scene. This seemed like a great opportunity for the female cast to accomplish something independent from Lord El-Melloi II… but they ultimately just get saved by the manliest man in the end. At least Reines gets to do a bit of fun teasing at Waver’s expense.

The mysteries are invariably the least interesting parts of this show, which is unfortunate for a series ostensibly centered on them, but I can still find bits to grab onto here and there. Like episode 2, we don’t get much of silly Waver, but in addition to the aforementioned reflection scene, small references to how out of shape he is, even as the cool Lord, are appreciated. The music also continues to be a highlight; the lack of vocals in the OP is unusual, but usage of its leitmotif in the episode makes it feel important.

In Summary:
This episode feels a great deal like episode 2 in a number of ways, though there are several other elements thrown in, to the point that we’ll have to wait for the next episode before getting a resolution. While the mystery isn’t especially compelling and the similar format is already tiring, some of those other touches keep the series feeling somewhat worthwhile. We get a small moment of Waver’s self-reflection, depicted so literally it may be a little too on the nose, and the character of Reines shows a decent amount of potential, even at the cost of other seemingly main characters being relevant.

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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