Scoreboard:

Scoreboard

a-
Story
93%
Characters
88%
Art
75%
Animation
70%
Sound
80%
Overall
80%
ProsCons
Strong story arc, consistent tone, some good action, dangerous antagonists, mini-GilgameshSome shaky animation, somewhat hurried story, some loss of comedic tone

Review:

Going into this year there weren’t many shows I was anticipating more than Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei!! To say I enjoyed the manga version of this arc would be putting it lightly and I was excited about what Silver Link might be able to do with it. Of course I honestly expected something closer to the previous seasons of Illya. I expected another 10 episode season that would make a good dent in the material but that would leave a few more seasons before it caught up with the manga. This season didn’t quite play out as I expected. I think this season would rank higher for the anime-only crowd. I will try to be balanced in the review, but I think it was a bit of a disappointment for me personally. I will say that as a whole I still consider it a really good season of the series.

Setting/Story

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The setting shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has been following Prisma Illya to this point. This is a spinoff of the original Fate/Stay Night story. Instead of the story being about Shirou taking part in a Holy Grail War, it is about Illyasviel von Einzbern who ended up becoming a magical girl. This season more than the previous ones really channel the Fate routes of this series. I’d consider this arc and story to be just as serious and having greater consequence than the regular Fate universe. There is a lot at stake in this series and Illya is going up against threats that makes her previous adventures seem like tame little quarrels by comparison.

The main focus of this arc is Illya and her friends being dragged into a parallel world after Miyu is kidnapped. This situation does force Miyu into being a kind of princess in a tower, but it does have logic behind why Miyu can’t/won’t get herself out of that situation. This does make the fight a lot more personal for Illya. The Ainsworth family has taken her friend and if she isn’t willing to fight then she won’t be able to get her back. And being willing to fight is only part of the equation since the enemy is incredibly powerful.

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This season covered a lot more ground than I expected. It is almost the reverse of the usual Illya adaptation. Normally the series almost has too little material and Silver Link can take its time with adapting the story and padding it out as necessary. This season had an incredible amount of story and to reach the stopping point Silver Link wanted…pushing the pace was necessary. There was a lot more cuts to the dialogue than we’ve seen in previous seasons. A lot of the cutting came to the comedic side of things. Maybe they wanted to make this a much more serious arc than even the manga and remove those moments of levity. Or maybe they felt those were the lines most easily removed in order to move the story as quickly as they wanted.

The positive side is that I don’t think it felt so hurried that those who are anime-only viewers noticed. At least most of the time I don’t think it was that rushed. They did get through a rather large chunk of story in only 12 episodes. Honestly, I think 13 episodes would have been a better idea to pace out the story. But, I do see that Silver Link wanted to get far enough that they could do the next part of the story in movie format. That part of the story almost being better suited to a cinematic experience. The cost was that perhaps Silver Link bit off more than it could chew and that did hurt some of the episodes. Although I would say the visual side of things was hurt more than the story.

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I would say the story as a whole for 3rei was an interesting one. This season really forces Illya to grow and face much more difficult problems. The stakes are higher and also are the potential consequences. Whether Illya’s side wins in their fight or loses the consequences could be extreme for different parties. The group is in a difficult position after entering a parallel world. In the previous seasons they could get into dangerous fights, but going home afterwards was a possibility. There is no turning around or backing out of the fight they’ve gotten into.

The whole situation and setting feels heavier. This world looks bleaker and the optimism from previous seasons is muted. The cast understand the level of difficulty they are facing and there isn’t as many breaks. The slice of life aspect of the show is mostly lost outside of the first episode. Honestly I do like where the story went in 3rei, but it is a different feel. It just feels much more like a real war between two sides that want different things. The Ainsworths are an organized threat and one that is far more intelligent than the mindless cards of season 1.

Characters

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It is interesting to see where Illya’s character goes this season. A common occurrence for Illya is to struggle and fall, but in the end stands up stronger than before. That isn’t lost in this season though I can understand people sometimes getting frustrated with the falling part. Illya is a kid and such extreme situations beyond her experience will throw her off. Her frailty at times does allow others to step up and help give her the push she needs. And in the end no one in that group would regret having Illya on their side. When Illya stands up she does so with conviction.

I feel Kuro gets a lot to do this season. She continues to gain confidence and doesn’t mind bossing around some pretty influential characters. If nothing else Kuro has the kind of decisiveness that makes things happen. If Illya needs a kick in the rear then Kuro will be the one to give that to her. If there is a question posed to her then she will make a quick and determined response. Kuro may not reach the answers that Illya does, but she does get there faster. I think the greatest strength for Kuro is that she will push others and make them form up their stance on issues. Plus she does get some nice action moments.

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The most enjoyable new addition to the main cast is Gilgamesh. He is a kind of wild card and isn’t strictly an ally for Illya. But Gilgamesh does allow the main crew to have access to a relatively powerful individual who can help them out a little. He may have his own objectives and will do whatever he wants…but he’s a valuable asset. Some of the best moments in the season are involving Gil and his antics. He also gets enough action to be worth looking forward to.

Miyu is a central figure to the season, but she is a prisoner for a time. There are reasons Miyu can’t take action. As we find out more about what is going on those reasons become more apparent. I do appreciate the difficulty of Miyu’s situation and I think it is fine for a character to be a prisoner if the story makes that happen for good reason. By the end of the season I think Miyu does get some interesting moments and has a lot of room to grow going forward.

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The Ainsworths are the new main threat for the series. That family has some very dangerous individuals within it. Beatrice and Angelica are some of the heavy hitters who stand out as the biggest threats early on. These two send the message that the level of the fights has dramatically changed. The cards are no longer being used on a rare occasion, but rather are the main tools of combat in the series. The Ainsworths (Darius, Erica, Beatrice, and Angelica) are willing to do pretty horrible things for their goals. They are a group that has conviction about what they are trying to accomplish. They are a mage family that shows how dark and twisted mages in the Fate-verse can be.

The other big new character is Tanaka. She doesn’t get a lot of moments to shine, but is easily one of the most important going forward in the 3rei storyline. Tanaka is a bit of an odd character, but one that from the early going feels important. It’s safe to say that things wouldn’t turn out like they did by the end of the series if she wasn’t willing to lend her hand to Illya. A lot of the levity and silliness in this season is surrounding Tanaka who has no common sense.

Visuals

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This is a mixed bag for the season. As a whole I wouldn’t say the season looked bad. There is a lot of action in this season and mostly the show makes it look good. The amount of CG is higher than previous seasons and that is mostly surrounding Gil and some of the weapons that come out of his gate. This season has a new art style that in part may be because the story has gotten more serious. The style suits the more serious tone and almost bleak nature of the world that Illya and her friends have entered. There is a lot going on and Silver Link does a fair job for most of the show in keeping up.

However there is definitely one episode where they utterly fell short. Silver Link has been pretty reliable during the climaxes of the previous seasons. The showdowns against the various big threats that Illya has faced have looked good and honestly flowed pretty well. However, episode 11 was a big issue in this season. It is perhaps fitting that the first episode past their usual 10 episode per season pattern looked so sloppy. There was a lot of issues in that one episode. The art could be pretty inconsistent, characters didn’t look as sharp as they should have, and the action was poorly drawn at times. Even if you aren’t comparing it to the source material Silver Link noticeably was below their own standard in that episode. Maybe they can clean it up on the BDs, but I’m not reviewing those. It really hurt the episode.

Audio

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The music in this season does use familiar tracks, but it does change them. There is a distinct and less positive feel to the music in 3rei. It does feel like the cast are in a less bright and more serious situation than previous seasons. I do actually like the idea of using a lot of new tracks for 3rei and changing the familiar songs to just feel less optimistic than they used to. Nothing is particularly cheerful in this season minus scenes closer to the end.

I wouldn’t say the OP/ED songs were better than previous seasons and overall I’d consider them forgettable ones. It is too bad since this is one of the better stories of the series. The exception would be the special ED that came later in the series, though they did only use that for one episode so the impact was lacking. I actually would have been fine using that one for the rest of the show, but that’s just me.

Conclusion

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I really did want to go into this season and be able to say it is easily the best Illya season to this point. And I can at least say that in terms of the story it is. They hit a darker story this season and a much bigger one than the previous seasons. There is a lot more at stake and Illya has to grow much more as a character in order to survive and surpass the danger. It is definitely the season that comes closest to being like another Fate-route and I honestly appreciated all of that.

The downside was that they did cover a lot in a short amount of time. The movie does make me think it was a good decision overall, but I would have been fine with a slower pace that required more seasons of anime. And it did lead to episode 11 being one of the worst looking episodes of the series. However, I still consider this a good season despite the flaws. The story was good, the action in a lot of parts was still good and there is still so much more to come. If they can clean things up on the BD then that would boost this season in my personal rankings.

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3rei isn’t as good a season as it could have been, but it is still a good season. I enjoyed a lot of the episodes and thought the impact was still there. Big moments remained big and I was smiling seeing a lot of my favorite scenes animated. I think the impact for those who are just watching the anime should be a big higher since they shouldn’t notice a lot of what was missing. While this didn’t live up to my hopes, I can still say it is worth watching if you have come this far with the franchise.

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An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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