「独りの戦い」 (Hitori no Tatakai)
This was one of the best episodes of action I’ve seen since the last season of Prisma Illya.
Stalling For Time, Padding For Time
It was clear that early on, they were stalling for time. The extended recap sequence at the beginning definitely was superfluous – had they just showed Bazett, mentioned who she was, and then showed the building burning down, that would have been enough to remind us of what went on last week. They went through nearly every step, which tells me they had more time than content.
The battle, too, may have been padded out. I don’t know because I haven’t read this far in the source material, but if it was padded, I don’t care! The action was awesome, from animation and flare to the visceral pain whenever Bazett hit someone. Ruby backed up what I’ve been saying – Bazett is a monster, and she showed it this entire fight.
Archer & Lancer
Speaking of Bazett, I never really questioned why they started out with the Archer and Lancer cards already captured, though the obvious assumption was that someone else captured them before Luvia and Rin got the job (or Luvia and Rin beat those two themselves, though they would have probably mentioned that). That Bazett was the one to take them down is no surprise. That her being taken off the job and an ensuing power struggle is why she’s here now feels so…petty. But good petty. Fate magus are notoriously traitorous, so a power struggle escalating this far isn’t unreasonable. Plus whatever justifies the battles we saw here is fine by me!
Side note: I was totally freaking out when Bazett started showing signs that she had fought EMIYA. I couldn’t figure out how she would have fought EMIYA in this timeline when by all rights it doesn’t look like…and then they explained the card thing. D’oh!
What a change Illya has undergone since the first season, when she could amp out more power than she knew what to do with. Without Kuro inside her (hur hur hur) she’s being forced to fight as a technician more than a tactical nuke, and the ways she’s chosen to fight are both interesting, thrilling, and almost worked!
First things first – I do not know why Illya didn’t fly. I know she still can post-Kuro. Perhaps she wanted to keep Bazett engaged, and I bet Bazett has some way to counteract that, but it seems like a good tactic she should have tried out. I would gladly carpet bomb my foes from the air if it meant a win, however cheap.
That aside, turning her barriers into binds was great! And it revealed something about Bazett – she’s blocking the magic (and likely bullets) with her hands and feet, but the rest of her body is likely vulnerable. It was a good attempt, but Illya thinking that Bazett would give her a second chance…hah! How adorable. Bazett is a specialist, and she doesn’t give second chances.
Protecting Her Friends
Kuro’s reasons for fighting so hard are obvious – she needs the Archer card to live (we assume), and she would rather not die. Miyu’s reasons as well are obvious by the time she gets there – Bazett is about to break Illya’s arm, and she quickly learns that Bazett presumably killed Luvia and co. So I can see where they were coming from!
But Illya’s reasons were coached oddly. She kept talking about how they all worked so hard and risked their lives to gather the cards, and fair enough. But what does she gain by keeping them away from Bazett? Her real reason is because Bazett hurt her friends and is threatening to kill Kuro, and she said as much early on – it was little bit pride, a little bit wanting to stick it to someone who was trying to rub away their hard work, but mostly she just wanted to defend her friends. But then she kept talking about the cards, and kept it up even when Bazett had her pinned, completely under her power, and was about to disable her ability to fight. Tensions were high, and Illya didn’t want to fail her friends, but yammering about the cards seemed odd. Yammering about protecting the others? Perfectly understandable. So the right actions, just with the wrong justification.
The Fate series has always been interesting because the fighting styles are so diverse, even between the same members of a class – compare Rider (Fate/stay night) to Rider (Fate/Zero). The fun wrinkle Prisma Illya adds is getting to see one character embody many of those fighting styles. Mostly it’s been Archer, but Miyu has done both Saber and now Rider. And it was awesome! Seeing her one up Bazett after all the pain she had given the others was awe-inspiring. It’s a good thing Miyu wasn’t the Rider from Fate/stay night, because otherwise Shinji may have won.
They foreshadowed the existence of Bazett’s trump card retaliation ability well. I knew about Fragarach going in, but even to Prisma Illya and/or anime-only viewers, they noted that using powerful attacks or trump cards against Bazett was a bad idea…which is why I was screaming inside when I realized that Sapphire probably hadn’t told Miyu that little tidbit. Just spit it out already! (Also, trope!)
Fragarch is one of those bits of misfortune that largely works, as does Miyu’s late arrival itself. To quote Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling:
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
Granted, Miyu showing up late because of Luvia’s pudding was a bit silly, but imagine what would have happened if she had been there like she should have been – she would have been beaten with Luvia so Illya & Kuro could join the battle. Her showing up late gave her the chance for a big damn hero moment (trope!), and gave us Kuro’s line about their scary onee-chan arriving, hng~! And without Sapphire not spitting out the secret of Fragarch, we wouldn’t have gotten all the flash and bang of an angry Miyu. Or in fact, imagine what would have happened if the protagonists were all able to fight together from the beginning? That’s the kind of coincidence/misfortune that enhances the tale.
But, but… I’m torn. I like it when characters act sensibly, and since Sapphire knew, I would have preferred she spit it out. But this cliffhanger was so cool! I think it worked more than not, but tell me what you think in the comments below.
Looking Ahead – Life On The Line
It’s looking like next episode is the finale, which is only part way through the 2wei manga, but damn if this isn’t a pretty thrilling place to stop. I don’t know if we’ll get more Prisma Illya – the short cour for this season would seem to say no, but BD sales aren’t everything, and Type-Moon might be paying to keep the Fate promo train going – but we’ll have at least one more, and it promises to be one hell of a finish.
Note: Next week’s post will likely be delayed. I’m going to be out of the country on a trip for the soul-crushing job, and while I might find some time in between projects, if not the post could appear as late as next Sunday. I apologize, but it looks like it’s going to be the finale, so I want to write about it. I’ll try to get to it if I can. Check in on Twitter for updates.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Action, action, & more action! The main girls each get their chance, but Bazett is still looking unstoppable. C’mon Rin! #prismaillya s2e9
- She hit her with a tree! She missed and knocked over a tree, so she picked it up and hit Kuro with it! Bazett, you’re my (anti)hero *swoons*
- Poor Lancer. Always poor Lancer.
- Rin and Luvia are a good team, surprisingly. When they’re not bickering, that is. That kind of unspoken teamwork is hard to come by. They should just get along…though it’s way funnier this way, so never mind!
- Good, unobtrusive fanservice: that little flash of Luvia’s bra after she got blasted. Unnecessary, but it didn’t intrude. Bad, weird fanservice: Bazett lifting Illya up to take the card. That was just strange. You should never see a magical girl’s pantsu!
- That silence when Bazett told Miyu where Luvia and the others were. Pure silence as they took that in. Eerie.
Full-length images: 17.