Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fate/Zero - 09

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I continue to marvel at the ability of Fate/Zero to make 22 minutes seem like 10.

Betrayal was certainly the theme of the first chapter this week, fittingly as it recalled the mortal life of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. Lancer has been my favorite servant (along with Rider) from the beginning, and while it was nice to see an episode featuring him it was distressingly full of death flags.  Frankly, there isn’t a much more obvious death flag than recalling a character’s actual death, but there you go.  Diarmuid had, of course, betrayed his Lord by stealing his new wife Grainne on the day of their wedding.  While he was under a geis at the time, it was still an act of betrayal the chivalrous Knight could never forgive himself for.  Like Saber, for Lancer honor is everything, and to have died feeling dishonorable (though his master Fionn nominally forgave him, he never forgot – as witness Diarmuid’s death) was a fate worth then death itself.

This time, betrayal comes in the form of Kayneth’s wife Sola.  As we saw briefly earlier she’s been smitten by Lancer’s magic mole, and she harbors a lust for the Grail almost as great as her lust for Lancer.  With Kayneth’s body having been decimated and left bereft of magical power by the juju from Kuritsugu’s bullet, she sees this as the perfect opportunity to take his command seals and step in as Lancer’s master.  Of course these can only be given “voluntarily” but that’s nothing a little torture can’t take care of.  It’s sad to see an honorable soul such as Lancer manipulated into betrayal once again by a despicable woman, but the sad cycle of Diarmuid’s existence is repeating himself.  For him, an oath sworn is holy and irrevocable – and thus, he can’t see how to Sola it’s merely a strategic ploy.  Poor Lancer, who wanted nothing more than to use this second chance at existence to redeem himself, only to have to go through the same again.

This was the most heartbreaking episode of F/Z so far in many ways.  Of course, it’s sad to see chivalrous and honorable souls such as Lancer and Saber used and abused by unscrupulous masters for their own ends, but for them honor is not an option it’s a fundamental requirement of existence.  Seeing those two in this nest of vipers reminds me of Ned Stark in “Game of Thrones”.  For Saber, all that matters now is to try and stop Caster before more children are harmed, and she even sends Iris to beg Kiritsugu’s leave to go and fight him.  But Kiritsugu turns a dear ear, as for him “a few dozen dead children” are nothing next to his larger goal of saving the world – whatever exactly that means to him.  His only thought is to finish off Kayneth before he has a chance to recover, and Caster’s hobbies be damned.

Fortunately Rider and Waver are not idle, though their part of the story is rather moving as well.  In the first place it’s nice to see Waver finally doing something useful (as Rider so tactlessly points out).  It’s been easy to forget that he was clever enough to finagle his way into this game in the first place despite not being either a powerful magus or born from an elite family, and he finally puts that cleverness to use here.  After Waver uses his alchemic skills – and intelligence – to pinpoint the location of Caster’s hideout, he and Rider set off on a harrowing mission.  Despite its odd nature there’s a certain warmth to the preposterous relationship  between this master and servant, and it was plain that Rider expressing real pride in Waver really meant something to the lad.  As well, Rider was both genuinely protective of Waver and understanding of his reaction to what they found at the hideout (alas, neither Caster nor Uryuu).  Both master and servant proved themselves to be honorable here, with a genuine sense of moral outrage at what they saw.  Merely destroying Caster’s workspace isn’t going to stop him, of course, but it might slow him down as Rider suggests, or even better draw him into the open like a rat forced out of its nest.

It’s hard for me to imagine Rider stopping before Caster is eliminated, based on what we saw this week – once he’s set his mind and heart that this is something he must do, I don’t see him being distracted before the deed is done.  He and Waver were rewarded with useful information that none of the other masters yet knows, the truth of Assassin’s nature.  Of course as a trade-off Kirei and Tohsaka now know that Rider’s master isn’t a powerful magus but a green boy, and that’s might dangerous for said boy.  But something tells me that Tohsaka is soon going to have bigger and more immediate concerns, as I get the feeling that Kirei is about to go rogue as a result of Archer’s manipulation. 

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27 comments:

  1. God. This episode was horrible in the best possible way. More than any other episode so far, there was just a sense of dread hanging over everything that happened here. Even the Waver/Rider scenes lacked their usual humor.

    Probably the most interesting thing about the scene with Sola and Lancer was the feeling that neither of them is really in control of themselves--Lancer's mole, if I recall, is MAGIC, which explains how Sola started going yandere over him, and Lancer's sense of honor is going to let him get manipulated by her up to the bloody end.

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  2. Totally agree with 20 minutes feeling like 10 Enzo! Boy this was a dark & heavy one. This anime is so gripping on so many levels, every week it draws me deeper into the fold while leaving me wanting for more … And this coming from someone who's already read the source material - because I'm a greedy and impatient consumer who can't sit quietly and wait for new episodes like a good fan lol. In retrospect I kind of wish I hadn't though.

    Second mistake would be ATTEMPTING to watch Fate/Stay Night which is by far top three s**ttiest animes I have EVER seen in life. Heinous, boring, shallow and HEINOUS. I'm surprised that a gem like Fate/Zero made it out of that eroge game nonsense, but I'm happy it did.

    Just a word to the wise, if anyone is thinking of peeking at the novel, DON'T DO IT! It will change your ENTIRE viewing experience. I personally wish I'd waited to read it until after the anime. Still I'm able to appreciate the ride thanks to the quality of the show XD

    Lancer officially graduated to my second favourite character with this ep. Something about his deep seated need to fulfill his role to his lord and uphold honour (out of penance?) just resonates way deeper than Saber's ideals, despite them being so similar. I'm not sure why?

    That Sola tho … man, magic mole or not, she just gives me the creeps in a major way!

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  3. Kenosha, read up on Diormuid's story from irish mythology if you haven't already. Really adds poignancy to what's happening here/

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  4. This show gets more epic every week.

    I particularly loved Lancer's flashback even though it was so short it felt more like a movie trailer. I was thinking I wouldn't mind seeing an entire anime centered around him (or some of the other servants for that matter) one bit.

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  5. I posted this elsewhere:

    Kayneth has to shoulder the blame for this clusterfuck of a scenario. Once he decided that his fiancee Sola would participate in the Holy Grail war (extra command seals or something) and he learned the identity of his servant, he should have seen this possibility, that his curse would charm any female, no matter who, and prepared for it (give the fiancee some protection, some trinket that negates the charm spell).
    That he left it to chance, despite the knowledge, despite being a master level mage, is entirely his fault. Yes, Kayneth is arrogant, but this is irrational to a fault.

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  6. This was also my favorite episode for many of the reasons you stated. And coincidentally Rider, Waver, & Lancer are also my 3 favorite characters in the series.

    I wish Lancer & Saber could ditch their masters. Although at least Saber has Irisviel.

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  7. Awet M:
    Not true. Kayneth is not responsible for Sola's choices. Sola is a mage who has been trained at the clock tower. All it takes to resist Lancer's mole is a magic little training. That's why Iri wasnt effected by it when Saber fought Lancer for the first time. Sola is already able to resist the mole's influence. However, in the novel, Kayneth suspects, and i think this episode proves it to be true, that Sola has willingly allowed herself to be affected by the mole. The novel confirms this, she chose to let down her resistance to the mole. This situation is entirely Sola's fault.

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  8. In a season of really good animes Fate/Zero stands at the front of the pack. There are other really good animes I like (Ben-To, Shana, Shinryako, Working, Last Exile, C3, Boku Wa Tomodachi, etc...) but they have flaws in them.

    I can't say that with F/Z. Its intense, funny, scary, and a dozen other feelings you get in a good anime and no deadspots. Its as good as this type of anime can get.

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  9. I forgot to mention Rider is quickly becoming my favorite character after Saber. I think I really like Saber because I did see Fate/Stay Night and loved her character there. So coming into this series I already really had a soft spot foir her.

    When I first saw Rider I thought he was a goof that would go dowen quickly once the fighting started. He turns out to have more layers to his character then I originally thought he would. His charming and outgoing personality is a good match for his quiet and weak willed master.

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  10. First of all, I am really surprise that Game of Thrones has actually left a mark in pop culture, and only one 10-episode season has been aired.

    Now, back to business (and trying to keep it spoiler free), Ned Stark was too honorable even when he knew that he was dealing with snakes, and that was his doom.

    Even if Saber/Arturia want to do the honorable choice, Kiritsuji knows that Saber can`t solo any servant until they kill Lancer, so his priority are set.

    If you want to talk about a real Ned Stark, try Tokiomi. He hasn`t done anything outright horrible or bad (make peace with Matou clan giving them Sakura, got the Church Support, hasn`t attack anyone); yet he has Kariya/Berseker against him, his servant dislike/hate him, and Kirei is starting to have doubts about the alliance.

    Finally, about Kayneth, I should be feeling bad for him...but I can`t. XD

    He just marched to the Arena thinking it was going to be a magical tournament filled with duelist that he could easily defeat just because he was the best in his school and by bending a few rules here and there. And now he just crashlanded, and went directly to hell.

    Which reminds me and needs to be point out, even if Caster and Rider has the weakest Masters, they are by far the smartest servants (run when things are bad, don`t rush to duels with even conditions, and make your homework first).

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  11. GoT has been in popular culture a lot longer than the TV series - there were 5 NYT bestsellers before the TV even aired...

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  12. @Maverick
    First of all, I am really surprise that Game of Thrones has actually left a mark in pop culture, and only one 10-episode season has been aired.

    ...but...but...

    *gathers himself together*

    I'm not going to be that guy. I can resist...

    @ELX
    Second mistake would be ATTEMPTING to watch Fate/Stay Night which is by far top three s**ttiest animes I have EVER seen in life. Heinous, boring, shallow and HEINOUS

    Oh please. The Fate/Stay Night anime has tons of flaws, but I can name half a dozen worse shows just from this year, and its been half a decade since F/SN aired. The show was thoroughly average, but lets not blow it out of proportion, ok? Claiming its the WORST ANIME EVAAAAA!!!111!!1 is just pointless hyperbole.

    @Enzo
    What, no comments about the goddess who arrives next episode?

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  13. Rin? We've seen her for what, 5 minutes? Pretty thin info for me to confer Godhood on her.

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  14. Everyone knows that Rin is a goddess!

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  15. @Guardian Enzo

    I know. In fact, A Song of Ice and Fire is older than Harry Potter. Yet if a year ago you asked John Smith if he had heard about Ned/Arya Stark or Tyrion Lannister, what would he have reply?

    Game of Thrones/ASoIaF is a great saga of books, but they had the misfortune to appear during the HP mania.

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  16. A Game of Thrones and Harry Potter really aren't in competition with each other...

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  17. @Fencedude

    "Oh please. The Fate/Stay Night anime has tons of flaws, but I can name half a dozen worse shows just from this year, and its been half a decade since F/SN aired. The show was thoroughly average, but lets not blow it out of proportion, ok? Claiming its the WORST ANIME EVAAAAA!!!111!!1 is just pointless hyperbole."

    I actually didn't say it was the worst EVAAA lol, I said it's top three worst and I stand by that, 'tons of flaws' is putting it mildly. Stylistically comparing it to anything current is unfair considering how old it is, but I think my biggest dislike was more in terms of content/characters/story. To a certain extent some faults can be blamed on the fact that it was an eroge adaptation, so yeah the legs it was standing on were pretty flimsy to start off with. But conversely I've seen similar content adapted with quality results.

    IDK, I just found it horribly boring among other things, and Saber - who I quite like in Fate/Zero - was done NO justice. It's hard to believe F/Sn was even created by the same person as F/Z, they're like night & day!

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  18. I actually didn't say it was the worst EVAAA lol, I said it's top three worst and I stand by that, 'tons of flaws' is putting it mildly. Stylistically comparing it to anything current is unfair considering how old it is, but I think my biggest dislike was more in terms of content/characters/story.

    Its not one of the top three worst shows of 2006.

    Seriously. Either you have absolutely no sense of perspective or have watched very few anime.

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  19. Waiting for the first true death of the series.
    @Enzo: Lancer never learns.
    1. Buy a plaster
    2. Take said plaster
    3. Apply plaster on top of mole

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  20. @Fen: take note that Enzo is not with FSN. Rin is not in his vocab.
    And even though FSN was hugely popular there are always people who would not like it.

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  21. seriously dv, a bandaid just wouldn't work...

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  22. I think Waver's the only one who actaully thought Assassin was already out of the game. The others, even Rider were suspicious from day one.
    It's great to see Waver finally making himself useful and Rider's so GARRRRR that everyone would be lining up to have his babies
    Lancer probably needs a mask like Tobi's to hide his pretty face that magic mole
    http://naruto.wikia.com/wiki/Tobi

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  23. @Fencedude

    "Its not one of the top three worst shows of 2006.

    Seriously. Either you have absolutely no sense of perspective or have watched very few anime."


    I've watched myself plenty of anime thanks.The fact that I dislike something which (obviously) you blindly love, has nothing to do with my 'sense of perspective' ... Is the concept of personal preference so foreign to you? F/sn has been filed away as super lame in MY brain - rightfully so - and I will very happily continue to keep it that way!

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  24. Fate/Stay Night is on many top 10 anime lists of best series ever made. I liked that series alot. For me that was my golden age of anime. For the time it was made it had a great storyline and was fun to watch. The graphics could have been better but for the time it was made it was still colorful and exciting.

    Younger modern anime viewers that go back and see it now would consider it kinda lame because they are jaded by the modern looks and feel of anime.

    That was when I first started watching animes and was amazed at Wolf's Rain, Escaflowne, Fate/Stay, Chrono Crusade, Witchhunter Robin, Ergo Proxy and many others.

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  25. Ignore him. The fact that he called FSN an eroge and blaming the anime adaptation on the source material, saying that it was flimsy from the start, makes it certain he doesn't know what he's talking about.
    I don't want to discuss this any further, seeing as this is Enzo's blog and this isn't the right place to discuss it.

    Anyways, I thought for sure that Rin's part will get included in this episode. Guess I still can't grasp how much material they will place in one episode.
    But if it ends up with some new scenes like Kiritsugu's part and the explanation of the Origin Bullet last week(at least the knowledge that someone helped Kiritsugu make it was new to me), then I'm glad.
    Besides, this episode was still amazing.
    Can't wait for the next 2 episodes as it's one of the highlights of Vol2.

    People in forums feeling sorry for Kayneth and Lancer and getting angry at Sola makes me happy coz I know Urobuchi really succeeded at changing the sympathy of the audience for the characters.

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  26. You know, if I'm remembering right, Nasu (the original writer) was actually heavily influenced by Dungeons and Dragons, and led up to the original FSN. Of course, Urobuchi is the one who wrote Fate/Zero, but the original influence was D&D, not GoT.

    But yea, aside from that, I am curious as to how Rin will play into this series. My suspicions are that Rin's reckless actions leads up to more involvement from Tokiomi's wife, Aoi.

    And we all know how Kariya had a rather disgruntled chat with Aoi over Sakura early on in the series, so this will probably be our chance to see development for Kariya.

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  27. For those interested, what Waver and Rider saw was furniture and clothes made of children... and some children were even kept alive due to Caster's magic. Cute, isn't it?
    Damn, when do they intend to kill those two bastards?

    ELX:
    Yes, the FSN Anime was not the best (I myself wouldn't recommend it to anyone tbh). But you are damn ignorant to insult the Visual Novel (the eroge content is tiny in comparison to serious content (FSN is ~72 hours long) and some versions have 0 eroge scenes so calling it Eroge game is kinda wrong) which is one of best thing's you can read in Japanese Entertainment Industry (and possibly the best VN). If FSN wasn't good, FZ would have never been born in first place.
    And that goes for all VN's. There is nothing harder than adapting a complex, branched story (that uses multiple paths the story from different angles) into a linear anime plot. Some Manga and LN can be judged by watching Anime (tough great many still can't) but VN's can never be judged with Anime... unless they are linear instead of branched.

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