Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace note
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace note ?
There's been a discussion in the forum response thread about how Gray has a notorious “Saberface” – i.e., her character design greatly resembles that of Arturia, who's arguably the face of Fate as a franchise. This episode further cements two more connections to King Arthur; not only is Gray's scythe actually be a disguised form of Rhongomyniad, the legendary lance of King Arthur, but she is supposedly a living “portrait” of King Arthur. (I assume this is meant in a figurative sense, meaning she is some sort of homunculus crafted to look like Arturia, though the why has remained unanswered.) This explains her appearance, and the impressive display of her second-stage release only further adds to her appeal.
That's just one of many things I like about this episode. I like how King Arthur actually turning out to be a girl in the Grail Wars comes up, and how Waver painfully admits that he was only an observer in the last Grail War. (Even if it's mostly true, Waver might be a little too harsh on himself in that regard.) Wills distinguishing himself as unexpectedly powerful when the battle got hairy was also a pleasant surprise, and the animation was able to at least somewhat capture the grace of his double-dagger fighting technique. I was also impressed by this depiction of the Black Dog, a type of spirit creature that's sometimes associated with thunder and lightning and often seen as a harbinger of death. That makes it perfectly suited to a situation where a lightning storm is being used to kill people, but its striking visual design also achieves a certain visual flair. Seeing a bad guy attempt to disrupt a complicated power-up by the heroine was also a welcome touch, necessitating a more realistic defense effort by her allies.
Just as in previous cases, the solution also comes down to an intricate application of this setting's rules for magic. Some have complained that the logic these mysteries rely on is so arcane and steeped in precise gimmicks of Fate's magic system that even someone deeply immersed in franchise lore and mechanics would have a difficult time solving them, and that argument is definitely not without merit. However, whether that's an actual problem for you depends on what you want from the series; if you're looking for a mystery that you can solve yourself, then you will be disappointed, since the series is more interested in setting up and executing creative applications of its magical mechanics, which makes it more geared to viewers like me who are interested in novel and intricate uses of magic in fantasy settings.
The climactic battle was staged well enough, even if some of the CG is rough, and the solution is ultimately fitting, if perhaps too easy. Still, the powerhouse musical score smooths over the rough spots, and we also finally get some hint of what the “Rail Zeppelin” in the title has to do with anything. All in all, another solid episode.
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