Fate/Zero: The road so far

Carry on my wayward son style.

Hello everyone! Apologies for the delayed post but the Metanorn Anniversary preparationpodcast schedulingE3 2012 graphics, Aniblog Tourney campaigning and lots of randomosity in our IRC channel had my hands full. Though, I always have something to say when it comes to Fate/Zero. For your reading pleasure, I have also prepared a track from Fate Violin Zero album to suit the progress so far. So, let’s catch up and not in summary way!

Play while reading this post.

The Masked-man

In the last few episodes, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about Kiritsugu not showing any reaction in his last meeting with Irisviel. It was because he knew it was the last time meeting his wife. He has been a killing machine throughout his life and even if his mask has cracked in rare occasions, he’s still a ruthless killer with a very solid purpose. Don’t sell his resolve short, when he had finally acquired his old-self back.

Seeing his history of killing his father and foster mother, he is the man who discards everything precious in life. The reason he saved the child soldier and gave her Hisau Maiya name was to make her a tool to achieve his ultimate goal. He did falter in his path while falling in love with Irisviel, but the moments of joyous happiness were short-lived. Knowing what he has overcome, you should understand that his faltering in front of Maiya was one of those rare cracks. He didn’t cry, didn’t scream but his resolve only deepened to finish the war he started since he decided to kill the first of many rogue magi. In a striking contrast with these two ladies, he doesn’t trust Saber at all and if it weren’t for the rule of having a heroic spirit fight for the grail, he would have tried to acquire it with his bare hands.

Connections

An important conversation that ufotable skipped (I’m sure due to time), was the reference of being a mother that Irisviel and Maiya share with each other. Did I just hear some gasps? Well, yes, indeed. Maiya became a mother at a very early age but not on choice. Belonging to a warzone, it’s a hard fact of being raped and used many a times. A boy was the resultant but she never found out he survived the war in her country or not.

Both of them not only share the ‘harem-status’ of Kiritsugu but the decision of giving their life for the man they love and cared about. For Maiya, it was more of worship because he got her out of the hellhole, while for Irisviel, he was the bringer of love that she never even knew existed. The nine years she spent with him were the best and her ‘entire’ happy life. Their conversation was very moving and along with the last few breaths of Maiya, this finally showed her female tenderness, hidden under her serious expression.

Forsaken

Do you hate Kariya? I still can’t. You can see him as a pathetic character, who couldn’t deal with his problems but he is more than just that. Out of the new masters (Ryuunosuke, Waver and Kayneth), he at least knew what he was getting into and why. His reasoning was not entertainment, revenge or higher social status but a measly and almost small hope of saving the girl who was being punished in his stead, while dreaming about becoming a hero in front of his childhood sweetheart.

On paper, his intentions look noble and all but what he did during practice was nothing but appalling. Then again, you can’t really blame him when most of his body has already disintegrated by being food for Crest Worms and the guilt of consuming Sakura’s purity (that Lust Worm scene had me blanching), who he had been trying to save with all his might. This is where you really see the sadism of Urobuchi with Kariya caught in Kirei’s web of deceit—who leisurely waited in shadows like a spider with its many limbs quivering in anticipation of food—of becoming Tokiomi’s killer in front of Aoi. Him losing all reason and going plain mad enough to strangle Aoi was not surprising. How can you hate this guy? I feel only pity whenever I see him writhe like the worms eating his insides just because Berserker’s out on a rampage.

Voyeurism’s New Model

If Kiritsugu’s life was all about repeatedly discarding everything, Kirei’s was filled with nothing but emptiness and purposelessness. Though, it all seems pretence now because since discovering Kariya’s pain and making his life miserable in every aspect, even wine has changed taste for him. People might point fingers at Gilgamesh for making him stray from the right path but seriously, do you think so? Kirei’s not a clueless character. He’s the killing machine, who perfectly knows his strengths and possesses enough brain cells to strategize the demise of many a formidable enemies.

He has been obsessed with Kiritsugu because he saw his own mirror image and thought, if he found out what makes this man tick, maybe he would find his self in the process too. However, after the revealing discussion with Irisviel, he despises Kiritsugu from every pore of his body. For a man like Kirei who continued to be lost, to find even a single piece of such joy and happiness that Kiritsugu’s life experienced is nothing by unforgivable. His insatiable thirst and unrecoverable loss was mocked in a simplistic way ‘of saving the humanity from all evil’ that pushed him over his endurance. Even if he’s purposeless still, his only goal right now is to stop Kiritsugu from his goal and show him nothing but despair.

Holy Grail’s Descent  

Before getting into what happened to Iri, let me remind you of the conversation between Kirei and Zouken. Not sure if this was covered in episode 22 or not but after tromping on his excuse of helping Kariya just because he thought Tohsaka killed his father and sadistically laughing on his own son’s pain. He clearly commented on something odd about the current grail, the signs of which had started from the third war. He can actually tell because he’s the old relic, who has been around since the first war. Calling forth an evil spirit like Caster rather than a Heroic Spirit was a big giveaway for something foul afoot.

Now, let’s remember the many failed homunculi during the afterlife that Iri witnessed. Why do they all resemble? Because they are fashioned in the image of Justizia Einzbern who crafted the first Grail with Zouken and Tohsaka Nagato. Iri has fused with the conscience of Grail; though, she’s just a speck in its vast being. Even if she tries, she can’t hand the grail over to Kiritsugu because she was just a container and now a simple consciousness that is not necessarily needed. Those snatches of memories that she saw along with Illya were heartbreaking. The Iri we knew is gone and something new and almost alien has invaded her mind and body. Treat her as the dark version of Iri.

Alexander’s Trailblazer

I highly enjoyed the many conversations between Rider and Waver. In truth, Alexander made a man out of Waver and I’m saying this without any sexual connotation. Waver started out with a childish idea of proving his point to his teacher who looked down upon him. But soon realized, he was just a short end of the stick in the overall things when it came to the fourth grail war. But, Rider never complained and used his own storage of mana rather than depending on Waver’s slim supply. Alexander’s values rubbed off on him so much that by the end, he even accepted to take part in the fight against Gilgamesh.

This progress was glorious and even if he was labeled moe throughout the running of this series, he did become an inspiring character in realizing his own misgiving and dealing with them however possible rather than continuous denial. Becoming disciple of Alexander and deciding to spread his word of greatness will be done amazingly by Waver, who would become a teacher in future. Don’t look down on this dude as he had balls to stand up to Gilgamesh and deserves more than a pat on his back for shedding tears like a man than boy in the end.

Gilgamesh’s Precedence  

This is indeed how kings fight and I have no words but awe for this sequence. Much love to ufotable for animating Ea, Sword of Rupture (the primordial sword present at the creation of the world in the Age of Gods as per mythology), so marvelously. I had heard of its amazing ability from hollow ataraxia but damn, seeing it manifest along with Enkidu (the chains that stopped Rider’s final blow), in one scene left me gasping for air; well, almost. Unlike Saber’s Excalibur that literally blows out high-pressured air, Ea the anti-world noble phantasm ends every material in its path. These are the two most trusted weapons of Gilgamesh that are actually named rather than the rest of his weapons from Babylon, which are unnamed and simply thrown without much care.

Alexander showed his true heroic spirit on not losing hope till the last slash even knowing full well that he was running towards his own death. Sure, his wish of becoming human was not granted but hats off King of Conquerors, who fought amazingly till the end. Bravo!

Berserker’s Reveal 

I’m kinda sad to see Saber’s motorbike getting destroyed by Berserker (was always fond of bike adventures), but finally the identity of Berserker is revealed! Everyone should realize why he went crazy every time he faced Saber. I wish, they would show some of their flashback in the next episode, which is essential in understanding the hatred Lancelot feels for his King. He was the most prized Knight of her round table but of course, his doom occurred when he fell in love. The fact of Arturia being a girl in Fate franchise is a pain too because nobody expects a teenage girl to be the legendary King of Britain. Add another girl into the mix and otakus will foam at mouth just thinking about yuri vibes… Let’s not pain Lancelot anymore because I’m really looking forward to their continued fight, which would touch upon her way of Kingship that Alexander scoffed upon. Yes, you have to lead people, not baby them as their saviour.

Playing Sherlock 

No, Saber does not qualify to be Watson, because he’s too cool for her. If you were confused about what Kiritsugu has been up to in the last few episodes, let me elaborate. At first, he was searching for Irisviel of course but soon he realized that it was showing his own weakness. He wore the magus hat and spent hours in zeroing down, which magical leyline would be chosen for Grail’s descent so that he could at least reach the Grail. Even if he wasted time in all the other places, like going after Tohsaka’s killer as Kirei and/or Kariya, he did figure it out in the end.

Originally there were three leylines: Mount Enzou (Kiritsugu was keeping a lookout in the familiar premise of Ryuudouji temple when he talked to Saber), where the first Holy Grail was crafted by the three ancient families, Tohsaka residence (this was Kiritsugu’s second stop after finding the church empty) and former residence of Matous’, the current Fuyuki Church. With time and first two Grail descents, an anomaly occurred in the city, creating another leyline in the third Holy Grail war, which is the least potent but still a leyline candidate site. That is where Kirei decided to setup his shop for a showdown. The recently built Community Hall of Fuyuki at the center of Shinto’s residential area. Kiritsugu is of course on his way and very pissed.

Overall, these episodes have been the highlight of Fate/Zero franchise, not only because of progress but amount of thrill and excitement that kept the audience at the edge of their seat. All our live-watch sessions have been rife with discussions of WTF happened, WHAAA, SHITT, NUOOOOO, etc. With the high quality eye-boggling action in the recent episode, ufotable has proven they are doing this right with every episode leaving us wanting for so much more. Case in point, the almost poetic delivery of 23rd Psalm by Nakata Jouji as Kirei literally sent shivers down my spine. All of this is to prepare us for the final stretch of tragedies. The stage is set and time has come for the last few epic faceoffs. The upcoming two episodes will definitely be a feast for your eyes. Stay tuned till next time, ja ne~

Let’s always remember everyone’s best bro: Broskander!

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17 Responses to “Fate/Zero: The road so far”

  1. Tofu says:

    Although in history Lancelot fell in love with Arthur’s woman, I think in Fate/Zero’s understanding. Lancelot was actually gay and fell in love with the man Saber loved but could not approach as she was concealing her gender :P

    Of course, I’m just joking around~

    When Rider vanished, I felt like a part of me died D: He was literally one of coolest amongst all heroic spirits we all loved till the end <3 I actually thought Gilgamesh would just send his swords flying at the warriors in the reality marble but I'm just as happy with him using enima… ELISH!! In Fate Stay Night, I only considered it to be some powerful weapon that matched against Saber's excalibur so I'm glad that they've shined some light on this amazing weapon ;D

    I really feel sorry for Kariya with what he's been put through and how he's been tricked by Kirei who has taken advantage of his desperate goal to save Sakura; ruining himself and those he loved but now knowing that it was nearly all in vain… sadly we all know that it will be all in vain and that's even saddening.

    One of the downfalls for me is that I truly believe I'm not enjoying Fate/Zero as much as I should be simply because I'm watching it weekly. It really feels like a series you need to marathon to fully enjoy it all… :\

    PS: Thanks Kyo, now I'm tearing up more because of that damn music LOLS RIDER!!!! T____T

    • Kyokai says:

      Lol, Tofu! If only that was possible! :3

      Rider was amazing and goddamn, Gilgamesh. He’s just too overpowering for his own good. This episode was pure win and I was just in awe throughout the action scenes.

      Kirei is a character you can actually hate, rather than others in this story but what makes it so great that you can’t fully hate anyone and end up empathizing with them instead.

      About Fate/Zero’s enjoyment. Dude, do you think you will just watch it once? This is a series to rewatch many times and it will be epic while marathoning.

      And I added the music for a reason. *pats* It fits well with my writing and I listening to only this track while writing this post. :3

  2. Rakkyo says:

    First of all, good choice for the track. I preferred “to the beginning Piano+Violin ver.” myself, but considering these last few episodes, this track is much more fitting. Show ▼

    If this was a shounen anime made by a Jump author or something, Kariya would’ve been the main protagonist. His wish is the most pure and innocent of all the other characters IMO. Sadly, this is Gen Urobuchi and thus you know how this will end. When I started reading the novels, I only felt disgust towards Kariya, but after I read how he died, all of those feelings turned to pity.

    Undoubtedly, the highlight of these last few episodes is the battle between Rider and Archer. Ufotable exceeds my expectations on all counts once again. Rider’s charge was superb, though it could’ve been stretched out a bit more for effect.
    Since Kyokai didn’t mention this, I’ll try to resolve some misunderstanding about Gilgamesh, specifically his NPs.
    1. The vault inside the Gate of Babylon is NOT Gil’s noble phantasm. It is the key-like sword that he uses before he pulls out Ea, The King’s Treasure. The sword creates portals from which Gil can throw out or retrieve weapons freely. I forgot about this myself until I saw the sword.
    2. Props to ufotable for properly animating Enuma Elish. Unlike what some people may think, Enuma Elish is not a beam attack like Excalibur. For full explanation, look here http://tatari.byethost33.com/fuyuki/artifact.htm#General.

    Great post, Kyokai!

    • Kyokai says:

      I have preference for ‘to the beginning’ track as well but you know why I chose it for the ‘development’. You are right about Kariya and the reason I could not hate him till the end. There’s something very sad about him giving his all and yet unable to achieve his goal. Not to mention having an S father who cackles at almost everything. -___-

      Good pointers about Enuma Elish (that link is pretty useful); ufotable sure did it perfectly and beyond my expectation.

      And thanks for the comment. :3

  3. Gecko says:

    I marathoned most of the episodes of Fate/Zero season two after working through season 1 in May. I have to say, I was stunning by the wonderful animation and the serious three-dimensionality of the characters. But this isn’t really a top-ten show for me. It’s missing something, but I’m not sure what.
    Waver quickly became my favorite character. I’m not really sure why exactly. And I think Rider was the perfect Servant for Waver, because the two became BFFs and Rider was really helpful to Waver. When Rider disappeared, I was scared that Waver was going to get himself killed, but I smiled when Waver said he had to survive. Even though I don’t agree with Rider’s idea of a king (since I’m an introvert and Rider is a total extrovert. ugh.) I do think that Waver needed him.
    Saber is my second favorite character. During the banquet (although I don’t see how that was a banquet, more like a drinking party) I was more on her side of what a king is, although I know that she probably should have helped out her men a bit more. One thing I do have to say, is that if she just went off and fought the enemies alone, her men probably should have trained a bit more. She does need to lead them, but for knights, I think it’s okay to “divide-and-conquer.” Being a savoir isn’t all bad, as long as everyone comes out stronger. Rider is the type of person who just runs at his enemy with everyone behind him. And, Rider’s men are all well-trained, making them reliable. Berserker, in contrast, just runs around like a crazy dude.
    I don’t think I can hate Kariya, because of all the terrible stuff he’s gone through (ugh! I hate worms! I hate them so much!) but I do think he probably could have came up with a better plan to help Sakura rather than what he’s done.
    Kirei, though, I can hate. He’s too empty. Not to mention, when I started, I figured he looked like Suzaku… and then his voice was rather deep. A bit too deep for me. Gilgamesh seems to like him, though, which is better than Gil being Mr Pissed Off with Tohsaka.
    Kiritsugu has been rather empty this entire time, and when his past was revealed, I could only think “Yeah, duh. Of course that would happen.” It wasn’t surprising at all. But his wish for the Grail seems kind of pathetic- it really won’t do anything in the end. Human nature can’t get changed like that. Fate/Zero is not Madoka. Madoka pulled it off, but the magical girls still existed. If anything, I would expect that if Kiritsugu wins, he will win at a cost- probably something like wars will only be slightly diminished or less blood will be shed. If Kirei wins, well… that’s too bad. But it’s Gen Urobuchi, so anything is possible.

    • Kyokai says:

      This has becomes a very strong series indeed and being a Type-Moon fan, I’m just elated to have a proper adaptation like Kara no Kyoukai rather than FSN and Tsukihime (I don’t acknowledge their existence).

      The thing that I like about this series is that I only truly hated maybe Ryuu and Caster and mostly went with the flow for rest. Every character’s personality is so well explained that even I began by hating a character, I came to mildly like them by the end (Gilgamesh for example).

      Waver is one of my favourites and whatever Rider taught him will shape his future. I’m not sure if they’ll cover this in Epilogue or not but he ends up being a renowned teacher at the Clock Tower later. xD

      About the theory of rule, I don’t agree with any of the King’s actually. All three theories have its flaws but as they are idealistic, it’s alright.

      For Kariya, he was played around by Zouken but he was the one to decide in taking the saviour’s emblem himself and the reason he suffered so much. He really didn’t have any other option than diving deeply as he did.

      Hopefully, the current episode has shown you some of Kiritsugu’s resolve and his utter sacrifice (like Emiya Shirou, I would call him a hero as well), but compared to him, Kirei is definitely a clueless and stupid man who would never get his ideology.

      • Gecko says:

        Yay for Waver, then. That’s great for him.

        I hated Ryuu and Caster (don’t kill the kids!!), but I do have to give props to Caster’s VA for doing such a great job. I realized in episode 14 that Caster’s voice must have been very hard to do.

        This last episode (24) has shown me the resolve and made me feel sad for what he has to do. I think Kirei is clueless as well, because he has nothing to fight for and no reason to live, really. Episode 1 told us that he almost reached mastery in many areas, but would drop them before finishing. Clearly, his resolve is weak, and anything the Grail would have done for him would have stopped halfway through or something.

  4. Yippy says:

    Kiritsugu’s been low-key these few episodes so I’m really looking forward to the final showdown with Kirei. He may be a cold-blooded jerk (for good reasons), but I’m loving his calmn and methodical approach to things, not to mention his badass combat skills.

    I don’t think Urobochi’s a black hole of neverending sadism because I think he wants us to search for hope among the (forgive my French) shitpile of despair. I’ve forgotten most of what he wrote but that was the impression I got from his prologue to the Fate/Zero novel. Things may be going downhill in Fate/Zero but there’s hope to be found in Kiritsugu’s vision, Team Waver’s camaraderie along with Maiya and Iri’s selflessness. The motives, means and results may not be all noble, but isn’t that the nature of the flawed human? Man, watching this show has been sheer catharsis…

    Next, Kirei’s antics look like mere jealously amplified to me. Yeah, he feels “offended” and “angered” by Kiritsgu’s (very practical) idealism, but there’s no reason to hate the guy’s guts! Kiritsugu has never met or even talked to him in a decent conversation too, what gives?

    And finally, Gilgamesh’s “effort” was stunning to watch but also sort of sad. R.I.P. Berserker, may the rhythms of Okeanos live on in Waver.

    To the End!

    • Kyokai says:

      The reason I explained his playing detective because you really do miss it in the anime. He has been around and strategizing of course. The culmination of which, we have finally witnessed in episode 24.

      Urobuchi is a sadist but if you talk about Fate/Zero as work for him, it was indeed his salvation as a writer because he was in a bad place of writer’s block before and this was that piece that ignited the flame of writing again. So, does this has hope? Of course, it does and FSN proves it.

      Kirei is just clueless and empty and I almost had pity over him being all ‘don’t kill it’ in the recent episode. He makes me sad.

      Hahaa, I’m sure you meant RIP Rider. xD

  5. D-LaN says:

    I was LOL-ling hard when I saw “Chitanda” at the pic LOL!!!

    Will update when I finaaaaally catch up this ep.

  6. BlackBriar says:

    This anime certainly is epic going toward the end. There is so much tragedy going on. What interested me most were the deep conversations between the characters explaining the reasons for doing what they are doing. They were compelling. I feel sorry for Kiritsugu. He’s always losing a good girl who’s close to him. The guy just can’t catch a break.

    Saber pimping out her motorcycle!! I’ve gotta find a wallpaper of that!! Talk about a maintenance upgrade. That’s gotta be the happiest motorcycle ever. That scene was visually breathtaking. The best scene since Saber’s Excalibur attack on Caster. I imagine ufotable and Type Moon put in extra money in the budget for that.

    I’m pissed at what Kirei has become, especially after killing Iri. What a bastard.

  7. Reaper says:

    Beautiful. Just simply beautiful, both in your review Kyokai, and the way Fate/Zero has been coming along ever since the end of the drought. All the little arcs throughout the anime, like the individual characters’ stories, motivations and struggles are all accumulating to this point, some already fallen (Tokiomi thought Kirei had his back…well, he did I guess :D ), others pushing with unwavering resolve (I’m looking at you Kiritsugu! :D ), whilst others stumble along, trying to find the path they want to walk (Saber and Lancelet; OTP haha, jk).

    I don’t feel any disgust for any of the characters because they have their own separate arc, their own separate struggle, and their own separate reasons for their fight for the Holy Grail. From Kariya’s despair to Kiritsugu’s cold-hearted mask he needs to wear to achieve his goals, each character has participated, with no room for hate since they’ve played their part so well.

    I think it would be safe to say that Fate/Zero has been one of the highest quality animes to be released in a very long time, both from the animation perspective, to the music department (oh, I want the next soundtrack already! Loved the song during Gilgamesh’s soliloquy), and to the entire story itself.

    Each part of this anime has been executed, dare I say it, perfectly, especially with the concurrently little arcs within the overarching goal of the Holy Grail; reminded me of the first time I red Three Kingdoms with the struggling towards a futile ending(?) by the original triumvirate. Having said all of this, there are only a few episodes left, which will be bittersweet because they will just blow us away, but will also be the last true quality anime for a long time (unless they decided to animate Mahoutsukai no Yoru. Oh boy…oh, and Persona 3 (Yay for the movie! :D )); in fact, anything with an overtone of tragedy and a damn good story like Fate/Zero will get my approval.

  8. Skyrae says:

    Okay, before reading, I apologize for the length and don’t read if its too excruciating xD

    This is a brilliant review of the Fate/Zero’s journey so far. The music fits perfectly. May I know where is it from?
    It still pains me that there is only the last episode left.. Each episode was a helluva ride (a ride I wouldn’t mind having if it were on Saber’s bike or Rider’s carriage haha pardon my lameness)

    I love the way you wrote of each characters’ depictions.. Every one of them has their own story and I enjoyed reading your tell on them. In all honesty, I don’t hate any of the characters, I just can’t bring myself to detest them. Rather, majority of what I feel for them is pity..which is quite sad in its own way because I believe they wouldn’t to be sympathized..even Gilgamesh, especially when he told Rider that he only has one true friend..though it was just a short moment..more of admiration and infatuation on his part.

    However, in the beginning of the series, I actually disliked Kiritsugu for wee bit because he’s having an affair (well, I don’t think that’s a suitable term for it but I can’t think of other words which fit) with Maiya. I’m the sort that doesn’t fancy disloyalty and dishonesty, especially when you have a wonderful wife like Irisviel although soon later I saw more of Kiritsugu’s past and after some explanation from my friend whom said that Kiritsugu is the sort that can’t comprehend love or fears love in some way or another, which made me sympathize him..especially after seeing all his harem loved ones dying one after another.. The thing I’m quite upset is that he didn’t have a mutual understanding with Saber, nor tried to. At that time, when he realized that Saber has been there all the while, I was thinking “Yeah she has been but you weren’t really there for her, were you?” I can’t blame him though, he doesn’t trust Saber, which results in similar treatment from her..

    The few Master-Servant pairings that I feel most sad for due to their failure in understanding each other and working together would be Kayneth & Lancer and Kiritsugu & Saber. Lancer’s reason is the most obvious and even his death was most definitely saddening.. Others might pity Kariya & Berserker or Tohsaka & Gilgamesh but I believe that Berserkers were never easy to control in the first place and Kariya was weak to begin with so it couldn’t be helped. Kariya was a tragedy from the beginning.. As for Tohsaka, I don’t know, I didn’t really feel much for him until his death..I was too fixated at Kirei and Gilgamesh’s relationship that I overlooked Tohsaka.. However, I believe the best pair would be Waver & Rider and I doubt anyone would disagree on that. They understood each other, learnt so much from each other and changed..Iskander never regretted it once and that’s what makes him so great. The Great Alexander..

    Okay, before I end this comment, I just gotta say I love this series! The animation agakjnbaibne ENUMA ELISH, the OST, the characters, the plot.. Ah I await the day it all ends… :’D

    Lastly, thanks for reading this till the end. You are truly amazing.

  9. [...] I’ve prepared myself to say goodbye to this brilliant franchise that has kept me on my toes and delighted till the end. I have double excuse for the late thoughts: Tourney II had me busy like a bee but in [...]

  10. Anthony Bellasario says:

    I have never been fan of animation but the series and frachise is quite entertaining and imaginative. I am sorry to see it end.

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