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Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note Episode #06 Anime Review

4 min read
Look forward to buying all the outfits Gray tried on in the next <i>Fate/GO</i> event.
© Makoto Sanda,TYPE-MOON / LEMPC

Look forward to buying all the outfits Gray tried on in the next Fate/GO event.

What They Say:
“A Girl, a Department Store, and a Gift”

One peaceful day, Gray heads by herself to see Reines. With an unexpected turn of events, the two head out to Carnac, an established department store, to go shopping. Not accustomed to shopping in a department store, Gray continually is at Reines’ mercy. Furthermore, Luvia coincidentally joins the two midway, causing the three girls to start a tea party.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s not all that rare for a series to have an episode in which the protagonist hardly appears, but it’s a bit less common for a series with said protagonist’s name in the title to get to that point after only five episodes. But this episode clearly exists for the express purpose to put the spotlight on the supporting cast, specifically the female cast. Reines and especially Gray have already gotten a lot more screen time than the non-Waver male characters, but they seem like better characters so far, though that could certainly be partly because they’ve had so much more time to shine.

At any rate, this is very much the “girls’ day off” episode, with all the clichés that implies. What do girls do when they’re together with no boys around? They go shopping, try on clothes, and eat sweets, of course! Yeah, it’s trite at best and sexist at worst, but at least when their conversation inevitably turns to our absent protagonist, the focus is on what he experienced in a magical war ten years ago, rather than how much they all love him. Yes, there’s some subtext of that, particularly for Gray, but she does have more serious concerns about him as a human being and a mentor, rather than just being unoriginally smitten.

While playing dress-up with Gray is entertaining if transparent in its aim to sell her moe points, the switch to actual conflict is much more interesting in this situation. Interestingly, I’ve generally found the opposite to be true in previous episodes where character moments – even very simple slice-of-life ones – have won me over compared to the mysteries and Lord El-Melloi II’s deep brooding. In addition to the refreshing aspect of the female characters having to resolve the situation without any help from him – or any other strong men this time – the Haruhi-esque closed space plot is a bit more intriguing than most of what we’ve had in the series thus far.

When it kicks into the action, this episode pales in comparison to the cinematic climaxes of its predecessor, but the smaller scale has its own benefits. I’m particularly fond of Luvia’s wrestling expertise, an unexpected element coming from not only a mage but a seemingly very proper, wealthy young lady. This is clearly the point, and her running gag of “what a young lady should know” is a lot of fun, especially as it starts to rub off on an impressionable, naïve Gray. Trimmau’s sudden commentary is easily the most absurd thing in the episode, but I think its execution just barely works for me within the context. I found the Prisma Illya version of Luvia to be unbearably obnoxious, but this version of her is making a pretty strong showing.

Lord El-Melloi II finally returns in the final scene of the episode, and it’s probably one of the most important scenes since the first episode. After this seemingly mostly frivolous episode, we’re suddenly introduced to what will clearly be the main plot of the series, bringing the relic of Iskandar to the forefront as the “Rail Zeppelin” of the title comes into focus. The idea of getting to a more substantial plot, especially one involving Iskandar, sounds very welcome at this point, because I think the series really needs to do something to keep me invested.

In Summary:
A very different episode offers something of a mixed bag with its focus on the female supporting characters. On one hand, it uses too many tired clichés of what a girls’ day should be like, and that whole sequence drags on for a lot longer than it needs to. On the other hand, they get to deal with a mystery that’s a bit more interesting than some of the ones we’ve gotten before, and Luvia in particular shines. The series still isn’t doing much to impress me, so hopefully the upcoming arc will change that.

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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