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.
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.
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.
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.