Action, close calls, superlative animation, and a twist you may not have seen coming. The missteps have been repaid in full.
No Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy
I know we all had the same reaction whenever Rin first introduced her plan: It’ll never work. Not because it wasn’t a good plan, because it was. And holy hell, that animation! (Be prepared for me to say that several times in this post.) Luvia’s dodging was great, they held the baddie still, Rin amped up Illya’s and Miyu’s magic, and then Kuro shot for the kill. That’s a damn lot of power, they covered the bases, and they did it all well. (Also, dat animation.) But the problem remained, as one of my favorite quotes illustrates:
“There’s always a level of force against which no tactics can succeed.” -Xykon, Order of the Stick
Like those who go up against Koro-sensei, just because you’re strong and your plan goes off without a hitch doesn’t mean you get to win.
Bazett’s Death-defying Charge
Did you think the card was Avenger? Because I maaaay have been dropping hints to that effect for a while now. That was my original assumption back when the 8th card first appeared last season, but alas, someone spoiled it for me a while back (only one commenter, to be fair, most of you are great about tagging your spoilers—but it only takes one). I figured I should stick with my original guess though, because nothing in particular was pointing toward Gil, whereas the appearance of Fate/ataraxia characters like Bazett and Caren pointed at Avenger. Which was a good bit of misdirection. So if you fell for the trick, surprise and congratulations! Seemed like a humdinger without the spoilage, since it was pretty badass even with it.
But Bazett’s charge though, am I right? They did two things well: Building up Bazett as a legitimate monster (both before this episode and during it), and making me think, even for a second, that she might have bit the dirt. Which is perfect, because tension! Stakes! Real uncertainty for how this was going to go! It seems like it would have flown in the face of Prisma Illya’s tone (as a series) to have someone actually die, but there’s enough Fate DNA to make me worry. Then she resuscitated herself, and it just emphasized how much of a monster she is. Which went on to underscore the underlying theme of this episode.
No Matter What You Do, Card|Gil Wins
If Bazett is a Berserker-level monster in mortal form, then Card|Gil is something else entirely. He has none of the personality problems that held the real Gilgamesh back, both in Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night. He’s just power and rage, and it shows. Illya and Kuro had their Big Damn Heroes (trope!) moment when they saved Bazett, which just screamed, “Here comes the reversal!” … and then that didn’t happen. They found out he was a second Archer, and then barely managed to escape. When Bazett says they have no chance of beating Card|Gil, I believe her. Usually I wouldn’t, but I believe her 1000%. He’s fuckin’ nuts.
New ED For A New Tone
I have opined at some length about OPs and EDs. One of my favored tactics: Multiple EDs for different tones. Can you imagine what it would have been like if we ended with the revelation that Card|Gil is after the Holy Grail … and then the fuwa-fuwa ED1 came on? The tone would have been destroyed. And I like that ED! There’s nothing wrong with it. It just would have poisoned the mood here, rather than extending that feeling on to the post-ED scenes. Kudos to the Prisma Illya crew at Silver Link for not only spending what looked like the entire GDP of Gambia on this episode, but for observing the little storytelling details that make for a great anime experience.
Looking Ahead – Caren’s Reveal
I think I can safely say that this season’s missteps have been repaid in full. The first half of Zwei Herz! was too fluffy for too long, but honestly? It was probably only one episode too long. (Episode four in particular, though YMMV.) Another Holy Grail War? You have my attention!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The fuwa-fuwa is gone, & the throat-tightening action is back. With gusto. Bazett & the card are MONSTERS #prismaillya s3e7
- I liked Ruby and Sapphire’s discussion of love how Kuro butted into the transformation sequence. Insult your onee-san more Sapphire, hng~!
- On why Kuro has left the curse alone: I wonder if it’s because she doesn’t want to lose that link with Illya. Kuro might be surprisingly sentimental about her onee-chan.
- I like how Luvia’s dress (and arms) looked all cape-like when she was running, when they were trailing behind her. It’s nice when Luvia acts badass. I really like—wait a second, is she dodging in heels? *head explodes*
- Now Bazett can resuscitate herself too? Man, I wish we could have seen her fight against Berserker in Fate/stay night. If she hadn’t gotten knocked out of the Holy Grail War early, it would have gone a looooot differently. Imagine her & Lancer bearing down on Shirou early on. He’d be fucked.
- I loved Bazett’s thinking when the others escaped. It’s the old Cortez trick: Burn the ships on the shore of Mexico, and you’ll have no way to escape but through victory. Good thing Illya and Kuro came back though, because sometimes when you burn you ships, you just die.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Rejection, the secret place, & fundamentals, What are your two skills?, Passing the Bechdel Test, and Absence (from work) makes the heart grow fonder.
ED3: 「Wishing diary」 by Kouda Yumeha