Fate/Zero – 03 Review

Reporter: “Why are you wearing guy’s clothes?

Episode 03 – Land of the Winter Trees

Reviews by Saranaufogus and M0rg0th


This series is definitely turning into a quality watch.

The episode mainly focuses on the few main pairs of the series – Waver, Tosaka, Kirei and Kritsugu and although I wish that the episodes were longer and covered all the master-servant pairs, I am more than happy to wait and see what happens since the show seems to know how to pace itself well.


We learn of Gilgamesh’s name, his background as well as the sort of  personality that he has. This scene also shows us that everything between Assassin and Gilgamesh was a mere conspiracy.

We are introduced to the idea of Noble Phatasms. Each servant is only allowed to have one Noble Phatasm, a Noble Phatasm is the physical manifestation of a  hero’s legend or tale. it might be a specific ability or method of attack.
Waver is also getting trained to “man up” and stop being a wimp (which I think is awesome).
The importance of knowing a rival servant’s identity is also stated.

Kirei heads to the church which is neutral territory and he reveals the fact that the Assassins are a brotherhood.

Irisviel and Saber have been placed together to keep up the pretense of Iris being the master of Saber. Meanwhile, Kirei arrives in Japan earlier than the two females by half a day. He picks up some weapons from a mysterious female friend (who kisses him on the lips). Whilst Irisviel and Saber are enjoying their time at the beach, they get an invitation from Lancer.
It was also revealed in this scene that Irisviel was a doll made for the Holy Grail War.

Saranaufogus’ Review

Due to the nature of the war, it seems like the show would mostly stick to the format of moving from one isolated pair to another in order to update us on their “progress” as the only time any other pair would meet would be during a fight. Surprisingly, I find myself perfectly fine with this format due to dynamic relationship and emotion each pair introduces into the show.

Gilgamesh looks cool, in a gay kind of way.

First we have the Tosaka-Gilgamesh pair who obviously would be the ego element of this series. With a character like Gilgamesh was there any other choice? This scene finally introduces us to Gilgamesh’s character and although most of us would probably already be familiar with his personality from watching Fate/Stay Night, those who have not seen the show would get a pretty clear idea of what sort of personality this servant has.

What I found cool was that Kirei and Tosaka had plotted everything together. I mean, I did find it odd when Archer had appeared in the garden despite Assasin’s ability to remain undetected but I brushed it off as Archer having been at the right place at the right time. Apparently I was wrong.

I had also enjoyed the twist with Kirei’s servant. I had originally thought that perhaps the assassin had multiple lives or that was just an illusion but who would have guessed that it was instead a brotherhood of assassins. This scene really showed us Kirei’s cold-hearted nature. Sure, he may have many “backup” assassins in the background but that does not change the fact that he had sacrificed one of his servants in order to gain the advantage in the war by making everyone believe that he was out of the game. I think that this twist would have been more effective if we had not known about it until a crucial moment. If the plot had continued on allowing us to believe that Kirei was out of the game the revelation would have had a bigger impact on us when it did happen.

Then we have the Waver-Rider pair. Due to the nature of Waver, he is used as a tool to convey information to the audience. Whilst I may find Waver to be an annoying brat, his personality and the dynamics of his relation with Rider makes it comical to watch and does not come across as being dry. If we were to compare it to the first episode with Tosaka and Kirei talking (whilst educating us on the war as well), I would pick Waver any day of the week because I was so bored watching that Tosaka-Kirei scene. The information shared with us through their scene in this episode was mainly about the fact that all the Masters have the ability to witness the fight/death of a servant, what a Noble Phantasm is and the fact that knowing the identities of the servant is important. Although Waver may annoy me (as I had mentioned above) Rider’s has a “manly” attitude and approach towards things and it is a refreshing change from the usual whimpy male leads with their mystical female counterparts. Rider’s lack of restraint always proves to be something highly entertaining to watch, especially when he tries to “train” Waver to be a man. However, for some reason, every time I watch this pair I am reminded of a pair of monkeys throwing bananas at one another. =_=”

We have already establish that Waver-Rider is the comedy element of the show, Tosaka-Gilgamesh brings us the egoist/high-and-mighty aspect, Kirei-Assassins contributes to the suspense of the show and Ryounosuke-Caster gives us some much needed sadism. As for Saber, Kiritsugu and Irisviel, they definitely are the sentimental elements of the show. Every scene with them in it is highly emotional and pretty depressing if you were to ask me. The upside of that scene was that Saber looked cool in a suit.

Maybe I am meant to be blind.

One thing that I really love about this series is their choice of music. Instead of using some dodgy pop backing track, the studio actually pumped out a nice orchestra track that really helped with building up the atmosphere of the show and the “epicness” of the impending fight. However, I still find the blank look in the eyes of some of the characters to be kinda annoying as it makes me feel like they are blind.

Overall, this was another awesome episode of Fate/Zero with the end of the episode inviting the very first battle between servants of the series. I would have liked to see Ryounosuke-Caster pair but oh well, I can wait. =) Hopefully the rest of the season will continue on this way.

Its time to fight.

Episode Rating: 7.5/10 Was not as great as the previous episode but it was still a very good watch. I just hope that they decide to dial back on the sentimental factor between Saber and Irisviel. I can appreciate the fact that this is probably an important factor but it does slow the show down a tad bit. Then again, I just want be able to finally witness a fight between servants.


M0rg0th’s Review:

I have to admit that sometimes Urobuchi’s writing was really weird with the way he built in these references to his political and economic point of view. The Light Novels also contained passages which criticized the Japanese economy for example.

The third episode of Fate/Zero continues its dialogue-heavy quiet build-up but it will be the last episode of this kind as the closing scene made it clear that next week starts the action. Since I’ve read the Light Novels I won’t talk about surprises and expectations as rather purely how well I liked the parts of the story considering the whole picture. I will try to avert spoiling anything of what is about to happen but naturally to me the relevance and importance of certain matters will seem different already knowing the whole story.
The first thing that gets revealed is Tokiomi’s ploy of trying to make everyone believe that Assassin is dead and that he’s not working with Kirei. Also, it’s part of the plan to get Kirei into the safety of the neutral zone of the church so that he can continue working unseen from now on. What one will notice about the way this is set up with the ending of last episode and the way it gets resolved is that Fate/Zero doesn’t want to be secretive. One can even say that with all the exposition going on and the way we get to see each point of view it’s quite the opposite from secretive. The reason why this way of storytelling is chosen because it’s assumed that the audience knows Fate/Stay Night and because of that already knows vaguely what happens in this series. The story instead makes an effort to keep the audience in the loop with everything that’s happening. What makes this interesting is the decision to not only use of these storytelling-devices where the point-of-view is very dynamic and changes quite often but also to give each character a goal or a plan. This story takes its multiple points of views seriously in the way the plot is also set up as multiple acting according to their own goals. Sure, there are some characters that are more important than others but overall this story doesn’t try to make anything anyone does insignificant but instead something that character would do in this situation. This makes the storytelling less linear as the development depends on so many factors that it’s hard to predict what may happen next. And that’s one aspect I really like about Fate/Zero is that you not only have the villain with his ‘Big Evil Plan’ and the hero who wants to stop them but really a dozen characters who all have a plan. When you see someone trying to think about what to do next you know that the story isn’t just a continuous change between acting and reacting but dynamic in the way so many characters contribute to it with their own character-driven sub-plots.

Really, with Gilgamesh this makes two where being a hero also means being a hedonistic bastard…

That said it’s of course things like the scenes of Irisviel and Saber that show just how character-driven the story of Fate/Zero is. Even though it’s the third episode there’s still a quiet laid-back atmosphere that uses its time to deepen the characterization of Irisviel and Saber. Now one may see these scenes for the first time and regard them as time-wasting but at such a point I can see these scenes as how much sense they make when you look at them retrospectively. And although I have to agree that the story certainly is dragged out at this point, it isn’t pointless. The scenes of Saber and Irisviel explore new aspects of their characters. Some moments of the talk did seem weird to me as compared to the time when I read them in the Light Novel. There the reader had Irisviel as third-person intimate narrator and it seems baffling to me why one would want to adapt the Light Novels so faithfully as to show moments that actually only work because in the Light Novels you also hear Irisviel’s thoughts. It isn’t a flaw per se but I have to admit that this approach leads to an even quieter atmosphere than what you had in the Light Novel. Personally I have to say that I have nothing against these kinds of moments that don’t push the plot forward but instead are introspective moments of characterization. I’d rather have deep characters than a fast-paced story, I think.
The third part of it was Waver and Rider which I think was mainly concerned again more with characterization than plot-development. In this regard it’s actually Rider that has the spotlight in this partnership and while Waver does have his ‘shining moments’ it’s Rider with his philosophy of thinking that matters story-wise. I hope I don’t spoil anything when I say that an important part of the story is Rider’s view on what constitutes to be a good king. Rider, as the king of barbarians, Gilgamesh, as the king of heroes, and Saber, as the king of knights all have their own theory about being a king and when these three characters talk most of the times it alludes to this topic. What I want to say with that is that the characterization although not plot-developing is still a sort of build-up-device but its significance is only revealed later.

Well, looking at his eyes it’s easy to believe that.

Fate/Zero’s third episode continues to be a full-time-job of delivering expositions and deepening the characterizations. As a Light Novel reader I see the relevance of these quiet moments but judging the anime based on what has been shown until now, it’s clear that it’s difficult to get excited about the series at this point. But since next week the fighting starts, I’m sure that this will change.

Episode-Rating: 7,5/10

Some extra comments regarding what the Light Novel did in terms of explanation but the anime-series didn’t:
– The revelation that Kirei’s servant Assassin isn’t just one person but a whole group of them is something with a lot more significance than some may realize. One thing about Fate/Zero that always bugged me was its treatment of rules and this is the first hint of the story saying ‘Rules exist to be broken’. The Assassin-servant being multiple persons is practically cheating (well, not directly but it’s not the way how servants usually work). You can compare it to starting a chess match with two kings while the opponent has only one king as the rules say. But I guess this doesn’t matter this much as most of the servants in this series will reveal themselves to be exceptions of the norm in terms of power and so on.
– The reason why Saber accompanies Irisviel dressed in male clothes is mainly that Saber in contrast to the other Servants can’t de-materialize and has to remain in her physical form.


About Saranaufogus

An Anime fan who can't seem to keep her thoughts to herself. Find me on: Instagram | Twitter

Posted on October 16, 2011, in Anime, Fate/Zero, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. It was a decent episode but like you said it wasn’t as good as the last. The problem I had with it was it didn’t seem to bring many new things to the table besides the new female companion of Kiritsugu and the revelation of the brotherhood of assassins. (Revelation? Brotherhood? Assassins? Is this the anime version of Assassin’s Creed?)

    While I guess it’s important to establish background information like the importance of knowing people’s identities, Noble Phantasms, and Gilgamesh’s character for new viewers, to those who played/watched Fate/Stay Night, this is all old stuff and boring. It would be like watching a second season of Sherlock Holmes and having them reestablish the character dynamic between Watson and Holmes before getting on with the mystery.

    The interactions between Waver and Rider, Irisviel and Saber were essentially the same as the last episode but in a different setting so I feel like they blew an opportunity to reveal more intriguing information about the story such as why Kiritsugu is such a paradox of emotion or about Rider’s motivations or past. This show is very character driven so we need to see character’s fleshed out to keep it interesting. A character I would like to see more of is Kariya Matou (the poor bastard). He seems much more personally motivated than the other masters who are more interested in the battles and politics between each other than the Holy Grail itself.

    About your point of whether the reveal behind Kirei’s plot should have been saved for later, I have to disagree. Assassin getting killed so easily at the end of the 2nd episode was just begging to be explained and having the reveal later would have just seemed like an ass pull. Besides, in term’s of the narrative, they already established a sort of rivalry between Kiritsugu and Kirei so it would be weird to have Kirei seemingly eliminated after making a stupid decision (he is supposed to be smart).

    Also, Waver and the new girl are actually the same person, spread the word! 😛


  2. I thought it was as good as the previous ones.

    I absolutely adore the Waver/Iskander duo. I love the mentor/father and son/reluctant student dynamic they have going on there. I hope they get more involved in the plot later on. I imagine they will be heavily involved with battles against Kayneth/Lancer, with Waver having to prove himself to his former mentor. However, I do find it quite odd that Iskander is portrayed as a brute, where he usually is shown as the romantic conqueror instead.

    By the way, I did a small write up about the Assassin here http://littlelucette.com/2011/10/16/fatezero-assassin/

    The Assassin is actually based on the Hashashin, a persian/arabic cult during the crusades.


  3. actually, the “blank look” of his eyes are to resemble the lack of emotion, commonly used in alot of mangas as well.


    • “actually, the “blank look” of his eyes are to resemble the lack of emotion, commonly used in alot of mangas as well.”

      I know, but the fact that his eyes are blank 24/7 made it annoying. lol. usually it is used just to convey that effect but it is never really permanent unless that person is possessed or something. =P


      • Does Kiritsugu seem kind of… bipolar? Sometimes he’s as emotive as the protagonist of Persona but other times he is more human. Like the dialogue could go:
        “Kiritsugu, our preparations for the war are ready.”
        “Yea, whatever.”
        “Anything else on your mind?”
        “My daughter is already 8 years old…. SADFACE!”

        Being happy causes him pain and he is cold towards Saber because he feels sorry for her. These actions sound kind of contradictory…


      • I think he is just a very *cough* complex *cough* person. =P


  4. Actually, I wouldn’t even have bothered with this anime if the music wasn’t done by Yuki Kajiura. I’m glad I did because not only is the music as awesome and fitting as I thought but the anime itself is great.

    Back to the story, I’m more and more interested by Kiritsugu. He seems like a sneaky bastard but at the same time he has such high ideals, the two just don’t match very much, it’s interesting. And he’s smart.
    And I loved Iris and Saber’s interaction.

    While it’s true it could have been a wonderful plottwist to reveal that Assassin was in fact Assassins I’m pretty sure they’re planning something else. I believe there’sa reason for everything.

    And yeah, I too, wanted to see Caster and Ryuunosuke very much


    • “He seems like a sneaky bastard but at the same time he has such high ideals, the two just don’t match very much, it’s interesting. And he’s smart.”

      I think he seems hot. lol. like a anti-hero character. nice. =P We just have to cover his eyes and it would all seem good.

      “And yeah, I too, wanted to see Caster and Ryuunosuke very much”

      I really love the last scene with them in it and I can’t wait to see if the next scene with them in it would be just as good.


  5. I find myself enjoying this series now that they’ve gotten most of the exposition out of the way, and are really moving into the actions of each character, although this episode was light on the action, it cleared some things up and added some new questions. I also thought of Assassins Creed Brotherhood (great game btw) when they all gathered in the church. I was waiting for a TL note to pop up saying “nothing is true, everything is permitted.”

    That’s about all I have to add lol, this series is interesting but a bit more mentally taxing because there is so much to keep track of, which was expected when having essentially 7 pairs of main characters. Also, when Rider was watching TV, did anyone else notice Bill? I’m pretty sure that it was a poke at the fact that he’s been in the news lately for his 65th birthday party.


    • Actually, viishous, it’s because the series take place during the time which Bill Clinton was still the president of the USA.


      • I was aware of that, but there really didn’t seem to be much of a reason for a cameo appearance in the first place, there was any other number of things they could have referenced to make that connection more apparent. But I’ll concede that I may be over analyzing.


    • @viishous:

      Also, when Rider was watching TV, did anyone else notice Bill? I’m pretty sure that it was a poke at the fact that he’s been in the news lately for his 65th birthday party.

      Nope, has nothing to do with that. The reference was already in the original 😉 (don’t ask me why, Urobuchi made all kinds of weird references during the novel). But my reaction was pretty much the same like yours when I read it in the Light Novel.
      Well, if you want to give your readers a compilation of info about the servants, you might as well direct them to the Type-Moon-Wiki (naturally it’s full of spoilers so use it only at your own discretion if you don’t want to be spoiled): http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Assassin_%28Fate/Zero%29


  6. Since I have only read FSN and not FZ, I am confused why can’t Saber turn into a invisible spirit during Fate Zero as well? I thought it caused by Emiya Shirou lack of ability as a magus, or either because she was summoned in an usual way. But Kiritsugu summoned her in a perfectly done ceremony… right?


    • Okay, this contains some spoilers from FSN, that’s why I didn’t mention the reason in my review but here’s the explanation for it quoted from the Type-Moon-Wiki:

      Saber made a pact with the World as she was dying; she would be allowed to try and obtain the Holy Grail to grant her wish. In exchange, if she succeeds, she will finish her life and become a Counter Guardian after her death, a sub-category of a Heroic Spirit at the service of the World. Because of this pact, she is in fact still alive and “frozen” in her dying state when she travels through time to obtain the Grail, and is summoned as a Servant in the Grail War. After each Holy Grail War, she goes back into her dying body, unless she wins or gives up, ready for the next Holy Grail War. Since Saber is not dead, she cannot dematerialize herself. This is also the reason she is able to retain her memories of the events of Fate/Zero, something a Servant should not be able to do.

      If you ask me it’s one hell of a bad idea to make it that complicated but well, that’s how it is, nothing we can do about it now, I guess…


  7. I had originally thought that she was in her human form cos they wanted to give everyone the idea that saber was irisviel’s servant not kiritsugu’s. But that is odd since most of then already know who the main masters are. =\


  8. @Ren:

    Being happy causes him pain and he is cold towards Saber because he feels sorry for her. These actions sound kind of contradictory…

    It is and it’s basically why he’s a conflicted character. In the Light Novel the reader gets a whole prologue that describes his character and what drives him and makes him so conflicted. To summarize his character: On one hand he wants to save the world and end all suffering, therefore he’s driven by a very idealistic point of view but on the other hand in his time as soldier and magus-killer he has realized that the only way to achieve that is not being a hero but instead doing what’s necessary instead of what’s good. You know, he’s like one of those guys who regarded WWI as the “war to end all wars”: although it’s the wrong thing to do it’s done for the greater good.


    • I can see that in his character but the way they are portraying him now is superficially complex. If a deep/complex character can be defined as having conflicting emotions and behaviors, then even Utao could be considered complex. Aki is an example of a superficially complex character. He is portrayed as very mysterious, just like Kiritsugu, but in the end his conflicting behaviors (thinking of Kyouhei as a friend but also antagonizing him) don’t add up. So far Kiritsugu has both respect for Saber, at the same time thinking of her as only a tool to win the war. Fate/Zero gives the characterization that he has high ideals but Kirei and Saber in FSN both comment that they thought he was a cold-blooded killer.

      I have faith in the show so I’ll without judgement until I’ve watched the last episode but the way you describe it, it sounds like you need to read the original material to correctly understand his character (something I’m sure you would be critical of considering your opinion on Persona 4).


      • I can see that in his character but the way they are portraying him now is superficially complex.

        So, what makes an inner conflict “superficial” in your eyes?

        I have faith in the show so I’ll without judgement until I’ve watched the last episode but the way you describe it, it sounds like you need to read the original material to correctly understand his character

        Hmm, no, it’s just that the story makes it clearer as it goes on what drives Kiritsugu and in which way he’s conflicted and to where it leads in the end. Therefore I have a clearer picture of him than you at this point but naturally I can’t tell you of the character-defining moments that are yet to come. What makes it a good characterization is that as I look back I can see that the characterization was consistent and always showed the conflict that his character is based on.


      • I describe inner conflict as “superficial” when the qualities that make the conflict don’t result in rational behavior. To reference my Aki example earlier, Aki was conflicted in that he thought of Kyouhei as someone important to him and yet constantly attacked him and his loved ones. Attacking someone you care about for no apparent reason isn’t complex, it’s irrational. So far that’s what I see in Kiritsugu. Usually he is a cold-hearted pragmatist sporting the dull eyes of emotionless-ness and but then he breaks down about the tragedy of his family. Why is there no mid-ground between zero emotion and overwhelming emotion?

        The largest conflict I see with his characterization is his treatment of Saber. As far as I can tell, removing her person-hood and thinking of her only as a tool is unnecessary for his agenda and doesn’t fit with Irisviel’s comments that he respects Saber. The rift between Kiritsugu and Saber is significant considering, with few exceptions, almost all servants have a strong bond with their masters.

        To make another comparison with Kamisama Dolls, imagine how fast that story would have ended if Hibino just asked Kyouhei for the entire story behind him and Aki instead of settling for “Well, it’s a long story”. Irisviel obviously knows all about Kiritsugu but she only vaguely describes him to Saber. “He feels pain when he feels happiness” It’s not complex, it’s irrational. Why doesn’t she just tell Saber what Kiritsugu’s deal is instead of providing tidbits of information that demand more information for it to make sense? I like mysterious characters as well as the next person but it’s not good writing to withhold information from the viewer what is already known by the characters you are watching. This was a major failing of the storytelling in Tales of the Abyss in that all the other characters had important information to the story but didn’t feel like telling the protagonist (and by proxy the viewer) about it until it became a source of drama.


  9. Yes, I remembered it not long after writing the previous post. It was already explained at least once, in the original “Fate” route, Saber confessed the real reason why she’s an incomplete Servant. It’s not because Shirou sucks, but she hasn’t died!!
    I forgot since it’s been years ago.


  10. @Ren:

    Why doesn’t she just tell Saber what Kiritsugu’s deal is instead of providing tidbits of information that demand more information for it to make sense?

    Well, I think, she did say what there was needed to say… Let me just quote the important part relating to your problem from the Light Novel (the dialogue is the same in the 2nd episode of the anime, what the LN just adds are Irisviel’s thoughts):

    “Do you mean I made Kiritsugu angry? I cannot understand that. I still haven’t spoken to him even once.”, said Saber turning to look at Irisviel.
    “Then it could be something unrelated to you. What he is angry at must be the legend of the
    King Arthur that was transmitted to us.”
    If the Heroic Spirit Kiritsugu summoned had been the “grown man” King Arthur that the
    legend told of, then he probably wouldn’t have rejected his Servant so much. Simply, for him
    who kept his feelings from mixing up, discussions were best kept at the required minimum.
    Then, in the end, his daring “disregard” was the direct result of a highly emotional response.
    The one who pulled the sword stuck in the stone was a young girl; that truth Kiritsugu had
    just learned was the source of his open indignation at the legend of the King Arthur.
    “He must be angry at the people who surrounded you in your era. At the cruelty of those who forced the duty of a king on a small girl.”
    “That wasn’t the case. I was prepared ever since I pulled the sword from the stone.”
    Saber said so without reserve, her expression still cool and clear. Troubled, Irisviel gave a
    short nod.
    “… The fact that you accepted that fate like that is all the more provoking. Perhaps it is on that point he is angry at you, the girl named Arturia.”

    The dialogue of Fate/Zero is quite good, I think and far more informative than in the examples you mention. Also, the characterization is good but it takes some time to click with the reader/viewer how exactly Urobuchi’s characters think.


    • I guess it will be a wait an see thing. If he is pissed off at Saber for accepting the fate of being a king, I think I know where Shiro got his Fate/Stay in the Kitchen attitude 😛


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