After thirteen episodes of build-up and thirteen weeks of waiting, Fate/Zero kicked off its second half with a barrage of violent confrontations. The episode featured not one, but two CG, Servant slugfests, and two Master versus Master faceoffs.
Alright, hit it!
Caster battle first, since it was the least fun by far. It wasn’t bad or anything, but not much happened and it wasn’t well-choreographed–guess you don’t need strategy when you’re the King of England, blessed by the Lady of the Lake. Or the King of Conquerers or the world’s first known serial killer for that matter. The fight should ramp up beyond flashy CG lights and tentacles next week, though if the preview is any indication, Saber will end the fight with her hax0r move.
But you can throw all the flashy CG lights you want if that means a UFO on jet plane smack down. I thought most of the CG was ugly this episode–and not just in a “Caster’s monster is supposed to be ugly” sort of way–but it really captured the scope and speed of Berserker and Archer’s aerial dogfight. They’re among the strongest, if not the strongest, players in this game, and watching them clash was as much a thrill for me as it was for Gilgamesh.
And on the less stylish but more substantial side: two conflicts between Masters. I’m in the unpopular minority of preferring Masters to Servants. Sure, their personalities aren’t larger-than-life like their flasher counterparts, and their scenes are deplorably directed–too much technical chatter, too many long-shots. But, on average, I empathize more with the Masters. There’s more at stake for them.
All that said, the Kariya-Tokiomi conversation was a missed opportunity. Sure, it was funny: every word they said, every gesture they made, was interpreted as a dig by the other. And they didn’t consider anything they said offensive. But there was a chance for common ground. Kariya should have told Tokiomi that Matou magic means rape by insect. And if that didn’t work, Kariya should have informed Tokiomi that the Matou had long since abandoned the search for the Root, and Sakura was mere fuel for Zouken’s ambitions. Of course, if that conversation had happened, we wouldn’t have a prequel that leads to the events of Fate/stay night.
But if we’re just judging their philosophies, Tokiomi is in the wrong. Yeah, he loves his daughters, but by doing what he thinks is best for them, he ignores their humanity in the process. He’s not a bad person, but he’s a terribly misguided one. To this, he would say he’s a magus, and mere mortals will never understand his lifestyle, but as Fate/Zero, and most of the TYPE-MOON universe, has made clear, that lifestyle is outdated.
Not that Kariya helped himself in that debate. Why didn’t he send Berserker after Caster to get another Command Seal? Why is he debating Tokiomi at all when he’s dying and should be in hiding? Doesn’t he want to win the Grail and save Sakura? Kariya would still be my pick to win the war, but the Kariya we met in the premiere is long gone. Can’t blame the dude for going insane–he’s being eaten alive by bugs, after all–but any dignity of his goal has been consumed by his old grudges and old regrets.
The other Master-Master conflict was much more one-sided: Kiritsugu snipes Ryuunosuke in a moment of badass minimalism, and we’ve got our first Master down. I’m glad Ryuunosuke was the first to go. Not just because I couldn’t stand the ethics of our wide-eyed, ginger-hared, purple-clothed people
eater killer, but because his gimmick was up. He worked as a wildcard plot device, but of the seven masters, his personality was the most one-dimensional.
That said, I’m torn on his death. It was a pretty well-directed scene; for once, Ufotable took a risk and embellished the source material (his death was quicker in the novels). And it highlights the quirks of Urobuchi Gen’s writing: a refusal to enact justice. But that last part is both good and bad. It would’ve been nice to have Ryuunosuke a suffer a painful death as his victims had. Instead, he rejoices at the color of his own blood, and wishes he had discovered it sooner. Don’t we all, dude–had you suffered a paper-cut as a child, we would’ve been spared the silly censorship of the show’s first half.
Finally: new opening and ending. I like the songs more, but the sequences less. The newfound, aggressive Kiritsugu focus is funny in a meta-way. Apparently, Ufotable just remembered Fate/Zero has a protagonist, and they realized he’s been overshadowed by much more interesting members of the cast. Better get tugging on those heartstrings now, team.
But overall, this was everything I wanted out of the second half’s premiere. It’s chatty as ever, but thirteen episodes of build-up has exploded in emotional confrontations, glorious fight scenes, and the start of the inevitable death toll. After all, only one team can win the Grail.
But what did you think of the episode? Which confrontation was your favorite? What did you think of new the OP/ED?
Thanks for reading! See you next week!
Note: Yes, I’ve decided to blog Fate/Zero. Episode 15’s summary should be up in a more timely manner. Yes, I’ve read the novels. I’ll try not to be too much of a “the novels did it this way” prick, but no promises, or I already broke it with this post. Also credit for images goes to Random Curiosity; I plan to take my own caps in the future, but it’s been a rushed week. Finally, considering my record with episodics, we’ll see how long this lasts.