「イリヤの選択」 (Iriya no Sentaku)
There’s another way.
The Strength of Empathy
Compare the steely-eyed logic of Angelica to the instinctive decisions of Kuro to wishy-washy Illya, and you can be forgiven for thinking better of the former two. Or of Kuro, at any rate. Illya doesn’t end up looking so good when she freezes in the middle of a battle to internally debate morality, and yes, she should have kept fighting at least enough to survive. No arguments there. (Though she is a kid, not a hardened warrior, etc . . . though that second argument is weaker than it used to be, what with the amount of magical combat she’s seen.) Yet don’t look down upon Illya, because she’s the most admirable of them all.
Empathy is not a weakness. Empathy is a strength. It doesn’t look like it when Kuro—who dismisses those she doesn’t know in favor of those precious to her—is able to act whereas Illya cannot, but is it always wise to act with gusto when you might be doing the wrong thing? I’m not saying Kuro is wrong. It’s complicated. I will just never accept that empathy is a weakness. Empathy is what stops us from turning into Erica, or her monstrous father. Empathy is what keeps us from being cruel. Kuro isn’t devoid of it, she cares for the people she cares about deeply, but I prefer Illya’s empathy. It’s the kind that makes the world a better place, rather than just defending her own little corner of it.
Never Like That
Speaking or Erica and her father, I was again struck by the roller coaster Erica sends me on. First was when she expressed complete confusion as to how death could be considered a bad thing. Putting aside death as an inevitable construct, untimely death certainly isn’t ideal, and she didn’t have a clue. Behind that innocent smile is a soul so thoroughly warped that it’s going to take a lot of therapy for her to come out the other side all right. In some ways, she might be the one that scares me the most.
But then her father wails on her with an evil look and a voice shuddering with rage, and I’m back to feeling sympathy for her. She might be the scariest, but she’s not the most evil, and spanking . . . look. There’s an argument that can be made for spanking, we’re not going to get into that here, but it should certainly never be done like that. Never in anger. You shouldn’t strike anyone in anger, honestly, but especially not a kid, you fuckin’ monster.
Taking a Third Option
It’s an oft-used trope, the page for which I just spent 45 minutes reading (and so can you!). It’s not unexpected, and sometimes it feels like a cop out. But here? I don’t think so.
All things must be supported by character, and preferably, theme as well. This is supported by both. While Kuro has the makings of a dirty adult who will make hard decisions and live with the regret—which is why she deserves to claim the onee-chan mantle, if you ask me—that ain’t Illya’s bag, baby. She’s an innocent girl, and a bit dense, and above all else, a magical girl. She’s the magical girl who learned to fly because magical girls are supposed to fly, and who figured out how to walk and talk as a stuffed animal because she believed she could—she, more than anything else, embodies the unique magic of Prisma Illya, which is why her name is in the title after all. Not only is refusing to sacrifice anybody in keeping with Illya’s character, leaning on bullshit wish-fulfillment magical girl magic is entirely in keeping with the ethos of Prisma Illya, which is why this works. As one commenter last time said, that’s the essential struggle in Prisma Illya generally, and 3rei in particular—between Fate-style grimdark and magical girl optimism. Illya embodies the latter, so her pushing back against a bad choice is exactly in line with the series and herself.
Plus, come on, no one wants to see Miyu or the world die, right? (Don’t say you do; don’t be that guy.) Miyu wouldn’t be able to countenance being saved if it costs millions of lives. It’s not the third option—it’s really the only option Illya’s side has, if they want Miyu to come out the other side still able to smile.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Illya’s empathy almost costs her, but it leads her to the right answer. The only way to save Miyu is to save everybody #prisma_illya s4e9
- Nice to see Kiritsugu-papa getting a cameo. Hopefully they’ll eventually be able to get back to their world, and maybe have him actually appear and say a word or two. I’d like to see him actually enjoying his hard-fought happiness. We can hope, right?
- That ED was a love song. A love song between friends closer than any the rest of us are liable to have. Fortunately—I don’t want to go through what they’re going through just for a deeper friendship. Seems dicey at best.
- Author note: I won’t be introing the Nanatsu no Taizai mini-series. I wanted to, but subs came out late and I’m beyond swamped with RL stuff right now. I’ll try to watch it and do a finale post if I enjoy it, though.
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for a FREE prequel short story. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Freelance Heroics in print, and other matters, Freelance Heroics is available NOW!, I love sales jobs, and Good realism is character realism.
ED2: 「cuddle」 by ChouCho