by Theron Martin,

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei Herz!

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei Herz!
While Rin and Luvia ponder the existence of the eighth card, located deep underground, and devise a way to get to it, Illya, Kuro, Miyu, and friends frivolously blow their summer on assorted typical activities, such as beach time, amusement park trips, a summer festival, and of course dealing with one of their friends evolving towards being a fujoshi. Eventually, though, the magical girls, with the temporary alliance of Bazett, have to get down to the business of the eighth card. When it proves to be even more than their carefully-laid plans were prepared to handle, the focus quickly shifts to survival. Despite insistences that the cards had nothing to do with the Holy Grail War of ten years past, both the eighth card and Miyu's own secrets seem to be tied up with it, and that means trouble for everyone.

So is there some contest going on in Japan to see who can come up with the most awkward way to name a sequel series? Really, simply putting a 3 after the title, when it is the third series in this branch of the Fate/ franchise, is just fine.

That aside, the third 10-episode season is a classic example of what happens when a series tries to be something it isn't, and thus for more than half of its run basically ignores what is actually the strength of this branch of the franchise. It gives the impression that the plotting only actually had about five episodes' worth of content to work with and so had to kill lots of time in order to make a full-season series out of it, which results in the entire first half of the series being filler – and in this case I mean filler in the “we have to have something to plug in this storytelling hole” sense rather than an “adding in content that goes beyond the source material and does not affect the main plot” sense. Other than an occasional snippet here and there, the core part of the story does not start until episode 6, and the action component does not come into play until episode 7. When it does finally start, though, it elevates the series so abruptly that it feels like a switch was flipped on. Even though all ten episodes have definite story continuity, the contrast between the first six and last four episodes is so great that these two parts of the series almost need to be evaluated and scored separately.

So what is the series doing in its first half? Trying to be a “cute girls do cute things” series, essentially. Those five episodes, plus big chunks of episode 6, simply detail what the magical girl group and friends do to while away their time while Illya, Kuro, and Miyu are waiting for access to the eighth card to be arranged. The big problem is that the personalities and interactions within that circle of friends are not dynamic or cloying enough for the series to be carried just on that. To be sure, the writing does try; the storyline about the one girl being a fledgling fujoshi is a little amusing, and Tatsuko is the kind of character that everyone should be dearly glad does not have a super-power, as her unrestrained hyperactivity would then make her existence a threat to the whole world. These parts also do toss in a bit of drama about how Miyu still seems very inhibited, as if she is still keeping her distance because of whatever dark secret she harbors, and the end of the season suggests that perhaps the whole point of those first five episodes was to indoctrinate Miyu into a normal life. Certainly the change and growth in Miyu by the end of the last episode is distinct, and seeing how Luvia genuinely grows to regard and treat her as a true younger sister, rather than just as someone she is sponsoring, over the course of the season is gratifying. However, too much of that part of the series is ultimately dull and tedious, no matter how much it tries to spice things up with continuing implications of loli lesbian antics.

The last four episodes are another matter, however. They once again find the spirit of intense, dynamic magical battles that have always been the franchise's greatest strength, making episode 7 a satisfying thrill after six episodes of drudgery. The throttle does not pull back much until the immediate concerns are resolved in episode 10, either. These episodes pack a few surprises, too, such as who Miyu actually is, how Illya is able to step up her power level at a crucial moment, and one particular weird occurrence amidst the battles against the spirit associated with the eighth card. Who and what that spirit actually is should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the core series of the franchise, though the characterization is a bit different here.

Technical merits for the series remain largely unchanged from past seasons. This still is not the prettiest or most refined-looking series, and it still strives a little too much for underaged fan service, but it is still able to maintain at least some genuine cute factor. The appearance of the spirit of the eighth card is a little disappointing, but the magical effects being thrown around during the battle scenes, and the animation of such scenes, are not.

The musical front continues to be a strength, whether in fully dramatic battle mode, sympathetic mode, or fun-loving mode. New opener “moving soul” is a typical anime theme song whose visuals perhaps goes too heavy on the spoilers, while closer “Two by Two” is a pleasant, melodic adult contemporary-styled piece.

Ultimately the second half, and especially the last four episodes, rescue the series from both its doldrums and complete mediocrity, but having such a high percentage of the series underperforming definitely drags down its overall evaluation. That leaves Hertz as the weakest of the three series in this branch to date. Despite resolving a couple of major matters, the story is far from complete at the end, but a fourth season has been confirmed and will presumably air sometime in 2016. That will give the franchise a chance to redeem itself.

Production Info:
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C+
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : B

+ The action doesn't disappoint when the series finally gets to it, more character development for Miyu.
More than half of the series is inane drivel, still plays around too much with loli undertones.

Chief Director: Shin Oonuma
Director: Masato Jinbo
Series Composition: Kenji Inoue
Screenplay: Hazuki Minase
Original creator: Hiroshi Hiroyama
Character Design: Nozomi Ushijima
Animation Director:
Kaori Sato
Kazuyuki Yamayoshi

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