I assume that if you are reading this review you have already read the original manga and 3rei. Spoilers for them ahead. Be careful.
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA*ILLYA, or Heaven's Feel 2.0.
Starting as a light-hearted mahou shoujo spinoff of Fate/stay night, over the course of more than 6 years Prisma Illya (Prillya) became a pretty dark and edgy story in the best traditions of the original VN. While some series' authors don't understand what to do with their edginess and try to build a complex plot in which they get confused very fast, Prillya 3rei just uses some already working formulas (if not cliche) to craft an
interesting, engaging and captivating story to make you eager for new chapter every month. And being somewhat unoriginal isn't a bad thing in this case. Not at all.
The story continues right after the ending of 2wei!: after Miyu gets transported into the parallel world, Illya and co. follow her there to save her from her kidnappers. While the story itself isn't that great, it's nonetheless good and provides us a lot of answers for the questions we had since the original. What are the class cards? Who created them? Who the hell is Miyu? Why is Kirei working at a mapo tofu stand? The pacing is neat, the manga uses its 30-page-per-chapter format perfectly to engage the reader. And it succeeds. While the story has a lot of twists, which can be somewhat predictable, it doesn't deny the fact that it is nicely crafted and written.
The characters are mainly from returning cast from 2wei!: Illya, Kuro, Bazett and other pals are here. They are what makes this manga interesting to read. A lot of characters share their personalities with their FSN/FHA counterparts, and it's really cool. The new characters didn't have time to be properly developed yet though.
Art is crisp as ever. The character designs are nice and well-done and the fights are depicted really well. I don't have a lot of things to say about it.
I'm not gonna lie: I am a huge fan of Nasuverse and FSN in particular. And 3rei is one of the best additions to this multiverse. It has its amount of interesting things, yet it lacks in originality.
+very good art
-resembles HF a lot
-lacks in originality
A lot of people have been referring to 3rei!! as the "Heaven's Feel" of this magical girl spin-off. Actually, a lot of people have just been calling it the second-coming of Heaven's Feel, as even the fan translations from Beast Lair have been scribbling out the title card and writing "Fate/stay night Heaven's Feel" over it.
3rei!! is undoubtedly the darkest arc of Fate/Illya, and the further you read into it, the darker it becomes. That said, has it reached the crushing emotional weight of Heaven's Feel? Not really. Will it reach there eventually... that is debatable.
Before I go on... a brief backstory.
started Fate back in late 2014, or maybe even early 2015. But I did not start the way most other people started Fate, actually, when I started Fate, I didn't know what Fate even was. My introduction to Fate was Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei (yes... the second season). Needless to say, I formed kind of an attachment to this spin-off as I eventually got around to watching the first season, then off to Deen/stay night, then off to Fate/Zero, and UBW, as I jokingly referred to it as the best of the Fate/series.
That's probably because I didn't understand what Fate was really about until I read the original visual novel for myself and its sequel Fate/hollow ataraxia, recently, in fact. Awed by Fate/stay night's philosophical and psychological complexity integrated with its equally fantastic magic system and world-building, I started wondering if this magical girl spin-off was really anything great, to begin with. I mean, it would make sense since I had no knowledge of Fate at the time, I was also highly optimistic and also yuri-crazed. So here I am, starting this manga from the beginning... and now I'm even questioning if this is supposed to be a magical spin-off at all?
First of all, Fate/Illya references Fate/hollow ataraxia more than it ever does Fate/stay night. In fact, most if not all the concepts that govern Fate/Illya are concepts that were introduced in Hollow Ataraxia. Not surprising since this manga started publishing back in 2007, which is give or take a year after Hollow Ataraxia came out. Bazzett, Ruby, Luvia, Caren, Lil Gilgamesh, magical girls, and cards in general, are all stuff that Fate/Illya directly references.
Looking at it this way gives me a new perspective on what Fate/Illya was trying to be instead of what many (who haven't played Hollow Ataraxia) perceive.
It's going to take some time before Fate/Illya can stand on the same level as Fate/stay night and other entries into the Nasuverse (I don't know exactly where it stands among all of them as I haven't yet explored all of them) but it is getting darn close, darn fast-- if you ask me.
Each part of this manga is very consistent, and its sense of humor, while arguably a niche taste, has a very good pace to it and works well as both build up and misdirection at times. The first part was definitely the weakest, but it ultimately did nothing wrong and even set up the premise as solid as any premise can be, at least for one that is based on another premise. Too many times can a spin-off rely too much on the lore of the main franchise to distinguish itself, and while it borrows a lot of the same characters, it is immediately distinct and introduces some new ones (namely, Miyu), as well as altering the existing ones to make sense in this world (like Illya is 11... though they haven't explained why yet...). 2wei successfully sets up the themes that will be prevalent as we move forward and also sets up an emotional and philosophical catharsis for which draws direct inspiration from the main franchise and adds to it in interesting ways. 2wei also leaves on a cliffhanger as soon as it looks like it is about to fall into the magical girl mold, the darkest arc begins.
Now I know that magical girl anime becoming dark is nothing new since Madoka Magica made its claim to fame. That said, however, no matter how much you look for evidence of the claim that Fate/Illya is copying the dark magical girl trend, it is essential to establish that this was clearly the direction the series intended on going from the beginning. Though I'm sure there were still a few like it, back in its first part and second parts, Fate/Illya was already including subjects like, well, sexual implications, graphic violence and sacrificing for the sake of maintaining balance before these things are commonly "explored" in dark magical girls series today. That is, if you weren't ignoring the fact that it was connected to the Fate/series already, which has these themes littered all over its lore. Granted, it's not as explicit as 3rei is, which just so happened to start publishing after the Madoka Magica trend started to take off.
The pieces for this arc were there from the beginning, as there many hints and plenty of build up to the reveal of this arc, which I believe was pretty genius in its execution. I would even go so far as to say that it stands up there with another certain reveal in Unlimited Blade Works. This author definitely has a skill for handling escalation and constantly throwing twists without them feeling tiring, something he shows off to full effect in this arc of the manga.
Back to the subject of the Heaven's Feel comparisons. While this arc of the manga definitely goes out of its way to reference that route of the original VN (and those references are of those horrible things), I still think it has ways to go until it becomes as cruel as that route truly is. So far, the action has been the main focal point of this arc, and while that is well and good, anyone who has read the original visual novel would know that Heaven's Feel rarely relied on action to drive home the existential horror of its narrative. Instead, it relied on careful characterization, unsettling build-up and knowledge of the other two routes of the visual novel to make you question what you would do in Shirou's situation (luckily, its a game, so it was able to play on that very conflict to warrant an emotional response). It's a route that flips everything that is ideal about the Holy Grail War and flips it on its head, exposing the true darkness just underneath the surface. While this arc has a lot of twists, since this takes place in a setting we had no prior knowledge of before the reveal in the previous arc, it still has a lot of ground to cover before we can even comprehend what it is we are flipping.
That's not to say that there haven't been many huge, game-changing twists, but so far it has been much more Unlimted Blade Works than it has been Heaven's Feel. Like I said, however, it is getting there, and fast. With every other chapter, I get the feeling again and again that something to the level of Made in Abyss' Bondrewd arc is around the corner, and it almost came unsettlingly close in a single instance. We are also at the stage in every Fate iteration where the bad guys start getting some backstory to them and we see that they aren't mindless villains out for world destruction... or twisted good guys out for world salvation for that matter.
Almost as if painfully aware that there would be Madoka Magica fakers that Fate/Illya would be directly compared to, the author seems to have taken precaution and implemented more of what is typical of Fate, rather than that of magical girl series. There is much more use of servant abilities, servants, an entire arc dedicated to this series' form of the Holy Grail War and other mysteries that have yet to be uncovered. This is why I sometimes question whether this is a magical girl spin-off or not, what you expect is certainly not what you get.
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 3rei!! may cement this series as one of, if not the best Fate spin-off in the Nasuverse... though that remains to be confirmed. I can't really say this confidently as we need to wait until the end of the arc to see for ourselves just how much thought was put behind it. The way things are now, I don't know how deep I should expect this arc to get or how long it should be going for. I definitely don't think this will be the last arc in this series, mainly because we have more issues to wrap up in the previous setting, but at the same time, I don't think wrapping this arc up quickly would do it justice. For all I know, this arc can go on for another 50 chapters and be a masterpiece or wrap up in 10 and be a disappointment, and both seem equally plausible as possibilities.
That said, from what I do know now is that this manga is distinct enough, bringing new concepts to the table, while also being undeniably Fate.
Story: 8.3 (Not quite comfortable giving it a 9, yet.)
Art: 9 (So good in fact that animators on a film budget can't replicate its epic composition)
Music: 10 (Better than the anime.)
Characters: 8 (...why onii-chan?)
Sentence: The jail is over there, Onii-chan.
Overall: 8.5 (I'm marking this as an 8 for now, but hopefully I could rate it a 9 by the end of this arc.)
The Fate series has come a long way over the last decade in anime, creating an expansive universe that can bewilder newcomers. So, in this analysis, we’ll take a comprehensive look into all the anime related to it and trace the threads of Fate.