Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files is a canon part of the Fate/ universe which is set ten years after the events of Fate/Zero and two months before the events of Fate/stay night. As such, a familiarity with at least the former title is expected, and the more broadly familiar you are with the franchise, the more you’ll get some of the obscure references which are tossed out. Total newcomers might be able to make enough sense out of it as a standalone tale about intrigue among mages, but I don’t recommend that.
An episode 0 for this series debuted several months ago, but that was an in media res story. This episode actually sets the foundation for the story, as it explains how Waver Velvet winds up at Lord El-Melloi II a decade after the Holy Grail War, why Reines El-Melloi calls him “big brother,” what she meant in that episode about his debt, and how he is associated with Melvin. It does not explain how Waver came to be associated with his assistant Gray, but since this episode needs all of its time to explain Waver’s own situation, that will presumably be coming in the next couple of episodes.
Episode 0 intrigued me with the way it successfully mixed elements of mystery, drama, ruminations on the philosophies behind magic, and bits of action with a more light-hearted spirit than is seen anywhere else in the franchise outside of Prisma Illya, and the first episode suggests that such a mix will be the norm for the series. Waver may look the part of an imperious mage but he doesn’t have the twisted soul of one and isn’t as competent as he looks like he is. However, that also makes him more appreciable; his younger self was easily the most relatable character in Fate/Zero, after all. Seeing that he has taken the lessons and directive given to him by Iskander and Gilgamesh in Fate/Zero to heart is also heartening, and how that has guided him down his current path is clear. It can be seen in his actions to thwart the efforts of a former classmate to exploit Iksander’s tomb and in the responsibilities he takes on here from Reines, who we see here as a wicked little girl wise beyond her years. (She is a teenager in episode 0 and this series’ main timeline.) But Waver’s devotion is just a framing device. The real appeal of the series is going to be the individual cases he deals with involving magic and the interesting characters who both oppose and support him.
On the technical side, the series is animated by TROYCA, the studio that Fate/Zero director Ei Aoki founded to animate Aldnoah.Zero. Directing duties have been passed on to Makoto Katō, who scored a big success with last year’s Bloom Into You, though Ei Aoki did work some on episode 0. Perhaps partly because of that, the series retains much of the visual look and feel of its predecessor. The big production win here is that Yuki Kajiura is back doing the musical score, so it definitely sounds great. Between these solid production merits, a likable cast, and good blend of elements, I am optimistic about this series. You can also free Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note anime watch online and free anime download.
Like the sands of an hourglass, the Fate franchise almost seems to be timeless since it started. It’s 2019 and we now live in an age where another one of its light novel series gets an anime adaptation from the Nasuverse. Taking place years after the events of Fate/Zero, you have to wonder how the show will be able to keep up its hype. This is especially true with a protagonist like Waver Velvet, a professor from the Mage’s Association. But with a sigh of regret, I am rather flabbergasted at how this Nasuverse anime ended up being no more than mediocrity.
Watching Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo Rail Zepplin Grace Note feels like you are thrown into a world where you need at least some prior experience with Nasuverse. If you have no experience with Fate/Zero, then I would highly suggest at least reading some insight about that series. Before getting to the juicy part of Lord El-Melloi, I should also mention the series is seemingly divided by two arcs. The light novels is still ongoing in Japan with 10 volumes running so common sense logic designates this show as an incomplete adaptation. That’s not a main problem but it doesn’t stray from the fact that the anime feels like an advertisement. My impression from the first few episodes is based on the introduction of the characters, in particular members of the Mage’s Association. Waver Velvet feels like a character who practically lives with his job. As a lecturer of the Clock Tower, the man has a reputation and is well-known for his knowledge of magic. Rarely showing emotions and devoted to his work, Lord El-Melloi may be a character that the audience won’t be easily accept or relate to. On the other hand, I do appreciate a protagonist who is has a strong head with knowledge. Lord El-Melloi II may not be an easy person to make friends with but he is an extremely valuable asset to the Mage’s Association.
Nasuverse contains an expanding lore that can be rather complex if you’re unfamiliar with its franchises. This anime won’t be too easy to understand at first based on its magic system. Some episodes uses a method of ‘show and tell’ while others vaguely touches upon its branches of magic. However, I do feel that the anime contains a feeling of mystique at times. It seems the anime wants the audience to figure out how things work before certain concepts are explained. In fact, the first half of the show has weekly mysteries that connects to the series’ overall themes. It isn’t until the second half where we get an ongoing plot, known as the Rail Zepplin arc.
With that being said, there’s one main character I’m sure fans have taken notice from the start. Gray, the hooded girl with “Saber-face”, is the apprentice of Lord El-Melloi II. Coming from the countryside, there’s a certain level of mystique about her character that will get the audience curious. The relationship she shares with Lord El-Melloi II is that of a master-apprentice. It’s straightforward with the two collaborating on missions although sometimes, it’s shown that Gray can let emotions get the best of her. This is noticeable in some episodes when Gray is anxious about Lord El-Melloi II’s safety. Their relationship is not fully developed in this anime and stands out best at mediocrity. This is in similar stance to Reines, the bloodline successor of the El-Melloi household. Throughout the show, she has a brother-like relationship with Lord El-Melloi II but the anime doesn’t make the pair significant enough to appreciate. In fact, I think this is one of the main weakness of the series. It lacks character relationships that are meaningful to talk about. From start to finish, I can’t recall any character pair that makes the show worthwhile to watch. This is a bit ironic considering some of the previous Fate series usually has character pairs in the form of servants/masters. Even Fate/Apocrypha has character relationships elements that are worth talking about. In this show? Not a chance.
In addition, it’s worth noting the anime reintroduces some of the previous characters Fate fans may be familiar with. Characters such as Luvia and Kairi makes appearances with various roles that sometimes feel like they can overshadow the protagonists. New characters such as Flat Escardos and Olga also has more personality than the main leads. It’s a sad state of affairs when the main characters can’t carry an anime together. Perhaps the better question to ask yourself in this case is how much we should appreciate the plot. An important arc known as the “Rail Zepplin” takes place in the second half of the series with high stakes and mystery. It also takes place on a unique train that gets darker and darker with each progressing episode. Hell, the arc even adds elements of murder suspense that turns the show into more of a thriller. However, the overall execution turns peculiar turns with introductions of characters such as Hephaestion. The mystery involves with a murder case and the Mystic Eyes that fans may draw references from the Garden of Sinner franchise. But with all due respect, putting Lord El-Melloi on the sidelines weakens his character importance even more. Instead, the anime decided to gives more role to Luvia and Kairi during their investigations. Gray herself deals with Hephaestion who develops a sort of rivalry between the duo. The overall Rail Zepplin arc really depends on how you’d appreciate it but at the end of the day, mixing different kinds of genres together without character development is no good.
Even as the show retains a rather serious mood, there are occasionally tongue and cheek humor. The anime plays around with some character gags such as Gray’s unfamiliarity with being normal. There’s even one particular episode where she goes shopping with her female friends. Other times, we get characters acting like goofballs such as Flat at the academy. Ironically, the Mage Association hardly feels like a school and more about preparing students for mages. Outside of Lord El-Melloi II’s class, you don’t get to see other professors or classes being taught. This isn’t Hogwarts, folks.
Studio Troyca helms this show and visually, it retains a familiar look with its other previous projects. As the director, Makoto Katou designs the characters with similar style but also visually enough to make each unique. Lord El-Melloi II is perhaps most noticeable as someone who looks like an older adult and genuinely gives the impression of a professor. Plus, let’s not forget about the technical quality. If there’s something to brag about the show, this is it. The production quality looks like poetry in motion. The battle cinematics looks like watching a film on occasions especially in the second arc. Each fight is impactful and draws out the abilities of the characters. If that wasn’t enough, we do get to see flashy weapons used such as Gray’s signature scythe. Fan service does exist although minimal and isn’t distracting. The show relies much more on its visual dynamics than showing skin. And to top it off, we also get a stylish OP song without lyrics but with a mesmerizing tune.
As a fan of the Nasuverse and some of its previous Fate franchises, Lord El-Melloi felt like watching a long movie as part of an major saga. With 13 episodes, the anime didn’t have enough time to develop its cast or craft storytelling that is worth remembering. However, I do have to give credit about the show’s technical elements thanks to the work of the director and studio. With all that being said, this anime is probably worth watching if you’re instinctively curious about the expanding Nausverse. But if you’re someone expanding a lot from this show, you should turn back now.