「嘘と強がりの向こう側」 (Uso to Tsuyo Gari no Mukou-gawa)
“On the Other Side of Lies and Façade”
The climax of the Kuro arc is here, as Iri-mama arrives to clear everything up.
Kuro vs Miyu
Kuro versus Miyu was more of that Prisma Illya (and Fate in general)-style battle porn. I would call it sakuga, but the production quality has always been a bit high, and their use of CG was more pronounced this episode since they were pulling off so many crazy action moves that it became needed. The state of anime CG is getting so much better that I really didn’t mind. Mostly I just leaned back and let the action flow over me.
Here’s the funny part: I was rooting for Kuro. Not because I wanted her to win (don’t hurt Miyu!), but because I love a clever cheater like Kuro, and because Miyu cheesed me off with her “Saber has better stats” comment. Stats aren’t everything, Miyu! You should know that a weaker fighter can win if they’re more clever. Aren’t you watching ALDNOAH.ZERO? Erh, wait.
Mostly though, the early part was fun for the action lover. (Also, this.) The only thing that (further) hinted at Kuro’s whole deal was an interesting one. Kuro described herself as a cheater who could realize her victory without knowing how – in effect, instead of going from A through B to get to C, she could go from A to C without even knowing what B was. Miyu’s attempt to circumvent this by constantly changing what A was clever, but I found myself thinking of another Illya-associated magical thing that would allow one to defy rules like that. Though actually, I remember reading somewhere that the grail actually needs to know the method by which the wish is to be fulfilled; for example, a “save the entire world” wish made by Kiritsugu, who (in the Fate/stay night & Fate/Zero timeline) believed in sacrificing the few for the benefit of the many, would be granted through sacrifice. (Or maybe that was just the tainted grail. Correct me if I’m wrong on that, sports fans.) So maybe that was off, but it certainly gave the “wish” feeling, and that was what we needed to see.
Iri-mama is a Mage!
Spin-offs can come in many flavors, but two of the main ones are: 1) Take the same characters in the same general world/setting and change what happens, and 2) Take the same characters and put them in a completely different setting and see what happens. When I first came across the Prisma Illya manga, it felt like it was more the latter. Not in the magic system – even Ruby existed in the original timeline, in Fate/hollow ataraxia – but in the tone. Prisma Illya seemed far more focused on flashy Nanoha-style magical explosions and light adventure, less on soul-rending evil and crushing despair. And Iskander. (More Iskander would be fine though.) So I was never quite sure whether things like the Holy Grail even existed in this reality.
Then Iri-mama whipped out the magic and clobbered Kuro. And then Illya, because fair is fair. Scary! (In a good way.) Also, that answers that. Not that it hadn’t been hinted at – not just with Kuro’s existence, but going back to Illya’s huge mana reserves and how Ruby picked her in the first place – but that was the moment that it became conclusive. Shelve this under many worlds theory people. We’re playing with the Second True Magic, diving into Zelretch’s realms, etc. etc. Sorry, I got lost on the Type-Moon wiki a few times. I don’t suggest it, your productivity will disappear for days. You’ve been warned.
The Holy Grail War & the Einzbern Family
In this week’s gratuitous bath scene, we learn about the Holy Grail War all over again. For those that missed it: It was still happening, but the Einzberns opted out, first of the Mage Association many years ago, and then out of existence, probably with Kiritsugu’s help. That’s not confirmed yet, but come on, it’s his style. Plus Iri said he gave her the choice? Probably with his quasi-reality marble and his trusty Thompson Contender. Damn you Type-Moon wiki! I’m not supposed to remember these things!
Which is heartening, to be honest. I understand the power of grand dreams, but any dream that requires the sacrifice of innocent lives isn’t a dream worth having. So many people in the Fate worlds are twisted by the search for the Root, I like that someone finally kept their head on straight and said no! A child’s life should not be sacrificed for such nonsense!
So Kuro was the Holy Grail. The question remains: Why did Iri seal her? Why did she not let Kuro remain herself (instead of giving the body over to Illya) and let her live her life as a normal girl? My guess is A) she couldn’t, and B) she wanted to give Illya a choice. On the former, recall that Illya was actually as older than Shirou in Fate/stay night, as shown by her existing at all in Fate/Zero. Would she have been able to have a normal life if she was aging noticeably slower than her peers? To say nothing of the otherworldly knowledge she (well, Kuro) would have had.
But I think it was the choice that Iri wanted to give her daughter, of whether to accept the grail – or more precisely, the part of the grail that was her – or to reject it. And Illya made her choice – the grail be damned, she decided to save Kuro.
Much as been said about who was in the right, Kuro of Illya. The answer is “Both, and neither”, and I’m not getting into it further because the whole relationship is complex. What I loved was the end, where Kuro, as she was disappearing, finally revealed her wish:
“I want family. I want friends. I want to live a normal, everyday life. But…more than that…more than anything…I don’t want to disappear! I just…I want to live!”
In the end, their wishes were the same, and Illya gave her just the push she needed to realize that she could make her wish come true. I don’t have a point or a theme to draw on. It was really just a touching moment. I watched it like three times. Good on you, Kuro.
Looking Ahead – Sister Fun
My question remains the same: where will this cour end? With a ton of manga yet to go and no rush evident in the pacing (thankfully), the 2wei manga won’t be finished. And with a silly episode in the plans for next week, it’s hard to know what kind of ending we’ll get if this ends at ten episodes like many are expecting. (Manga readers, watch the spoilers. By which I mean don’t say them. We’ll find out together dammit.) Silver Link isn’t usually an anime-original-ending kind of studio, so I feel like four more episodes of fluff or a cliffhanger are in the works. And somehow, I’m not sure we’ll get lucky enough and get a season three. We can hope.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The Kuro saga comes to an end as Iri-mama steps back onto the stage. It’s a Fate world after all #prismaillya 06
- Miyu just realized that Kuro is their first enemy who can think. Uh, duh? Most people have to deal with enemies who can think. Don’t get tripped up by that.
- If Kuro was the one born to be the grail, where did Illya come from? Wait, dumb question – Kuro is just the sealed memories that developed into a different personality by divergent experiences. They’re both Illya. That’s why Iri-mama calls them both Illya-chan.
- “Is she actually an illegitima–” Sharp guess, Shirou. Good punch, Sella!
- Speaking of, if there wasn’t a Fuyuki City fire in this world, how did Kiritsugu pick up Shirou? Stop kidnapping children, Kiri!
- The episode ends with Illya going all brocon over Shirou, wanting Kuro to back off…and then that first preview pic. Request denied. LET THE SHIROU GAMES BEGIN ANEW!
Full-length images: 39.