To anyone who knows Type-Moon, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya might seem strange – a happy, super-moe magical girl show with a young Ilya von Einzbern as the center. It’s a total AU, where the Holy Grail Wars don’t exist and the servants we’re all familiar with exist as cards. All in all, it’s much more Cardcaptor Sakura than Fate/Stay Night, because we’ve all thought “why can’t everyone in this series just be happy and have a good end? WHY CAN’T THEY ALL BE MAGICAL GIRLS?”
It’s fun seeing characters we already know with different backstories – Shirou is Ilya’s older brother here, with Kiritsugu and Iri still alive, with Rin and Luvia as the previous magical girls – now mentors to Ilya and Miyu. Other characters make cameo or important appearances, so there’s a lot to look forward to.
As an AU of something like Fate, it’s clear the writers had a lot of fun with it. There’s jokes about Shirou walking in on perverted situations and being called an H-game protagonist for it as well as nosebleed jokes right alongside the trope of using a young girl’s “love power” as a source of magical power. The magical sticks, Kaleid Ruby and Kaleid Sapphire, are both sentient and sassy, teasing their Masters and generally being strange and sometimes creepy (characters call them out on this. The transformation sequence is at once classic and poking fun at itself (comments about the angles Ilya gets into are just one aspect of this).
We’ve yet to see the reason behind collecting the Class Cards or the larger goal of the series, but with the episode ending on the ominous “You cannot refuse” and “It appears I’ve been dragged into a lot of trouble,” and the series coming from the Fate-verse, who knows what will happen?