Fate/Zero – 04 Review
Episode 04 – The Demon Spear
Reviews by M0rg0th and Saranaufogus:
Although this episode is dedicated to the fight between Saber and Lancer, but the highlight of the episode for me has still got to be the interaction between Waver and Rider.
You gotta love that pair of fools. =P
The question that I have is whether this long awaited fight scene lived up to your expectations?
The biggest issue about this episode for me was the amount of dialogue and the way it had broken up the fighting sequence between Saber and Lancer and how that had made the episode feel slower with those long moments of pauses.
The episode was definitely more intricate and more focused on being insightful and informative as oppose to placing a bigger focus on action. This style really suit the series since the show is more than a mere straightforward action show.
I am fine with the way the episode was structured with their flashes between the different Masters and what they are currently doing. However, I did not like how Saber and Lancer’s fight always comes to a total standstill whenever they are having an internal monologue about each other. Be it whether it is Irisviel that is analysing the situation or Saber that is trying to measure Lancer’s strength, I felt like some moments of pauses where the two of them were standing around were not really called for and did not add to the intensity of the atmosphere for me (then again, it is my personal preference that they should speed up their talking and think when they are fighting instead of stopping to think).
However, it is not like I am saying that this was totally unnecessary. I do understand the fact that one should stand their ground when they are trying to analyse their opponent, and I appreciate the insight that we were given to the situation and the characters in that fight, but boy was that a lot of dialogue. =P (I know that I am sounding indecisive with being unable to decide if all the dialogue was good or bad)
I did like that the writers had integrated the “explanation of the fight” and more “tips about the war” into the fight. Some things that we had picked up from this episode were the fact that Masters could heal their Servants, and one other fact that had been constantly ingrained into the audiences mind is that knowledge is gold when it comes to the Holy Grail War. This episode had made that fact very apparent, and the personality of Rider also shines through when he simply did not give a damn about it and waltz in like the king of the world. =D That was hilarious. I just love that pair of fools.
What I thought was shocking was the explanation of what Irisviel had said previously about her existing for the Holy Grail War. The fact that she is a Homunculus that is an artificial master created for the war makes Kiritsugu’s strategy, of giving the other masters the wrong impression that she is the master of Saber, logical. And was I the only one who felt that Kiritsugu gave off a more “evil/menacing” vibe in this episode? I guess makes sense since he is a man of war and a killer, but I am sure I felt his excitement level rise in this episode. Then again, with the blank look in his eyes, one can’t really tell. =P
Oh, and what I found funny was how Tokiomi had come to the conclusion that Irisviel was a Homunculus based on her appearance of having Silver Hair and Red Eyes. He had said that it did not seem human. How harsh! What about all the Albinos who have white hair (that’s close enough to silver since it is so dark and once can’t really tell anyway) and red eyes due to their lack of pigmentation? That’s just mean Tokiomi. Tsk tsk. =P
Lancer’s master is still shrouded in mystery but we all know who he is from what Tokiomi had said in episode 1 through connecting the dots.
What I had liked about this episode was the montage of scenes with all the other players hiding their presence and scouting out one another. It made the whole secrecy theme a lot more intriguing to watch and it is nice to see the players in action in a not so obvious manner.
I really liked Lancer’s character and his Noble Phantasm.
Another nice thing was the action scenes of this episode. When we finally got to see Saber fight Lancer, the flashes and sparks got me so excited =D It was pretty cool and a hell lot of fun to watch. Of course they had to stop their fight every now and then to bring back the dialogue/insight. But I guess it was worth waiting and listening to their talk since it did bring more depth to their actions as oppose to them being two characters that are merely slashing one another.
At one point of the show I had thought that we would not see any sign of Waver and Rider’s nonsense, but thank god they appeared as they bring the much needed “light” to the dark and heavy atmosphere of the show.
Episode Rating: 7.5/10
Overall it was a good episode, it had a lot more depth to it than I had expected out of an action scene, and the battle scene got dragged on to last the whole episode instead of a few minutes. The few drops of information were nice and I can’t wait to learn more about the Holy Grail War through this series. Also, I am hoping that we will finally get to see all the masters reveal themselves and Caster will finally make a reappearance.
Well, technically, Lancer is in the presence of two kings… But I guess the whole question of who’s a king and who’s not will be an issue for another episode.
You know how with anime-adaptations the fans of the source-material always start this debate over what should be done how and why the source-material does something better and at what point the adapatation should’ve been faithful to its source-material, well, stuff like that. But what I’ve noticed while watching this series is that I have less patience with it than I usually have for a series. When you know the source-material, you already have the whole picture of what’s going on and like that the adaptation doesn’t hold any surprises for you (as long as it’s really faithful of course). And since you have this image of what’s going you look at it differently. Right now for example with this fight, for me it’s too slow. I feel sort of distressed by the pacing. It’s like a play shown in a theatre and you as part of the audience already know the text. So the drama has already this structure of acts and chapters and what happens now very surprisingly is that in the shown play there’s a break in the middle of a chapter. What makes that distressing for this person is how it destroys his expectations and his image of the story. You get this image of the play, not only in terms of story but also in terms of structure. And like that I know that now starts the finale of Volume 1 and this one big fight is for me one chapter. Therefore seeing it stop like that at the end of the episode is of course normal because of the time-constraints but to me as someone who already knows what’s to come, it’s too slow.
Or you can blame the guy who cursed him in the first place! Actually, who the hell would curse a mole? What about his nose? I would say that’s the far more obvious place for a charm-enchantment, who the hell would pay attention to someone else’s mole?
But back to what happens in this episode it’s the fight between Lancer and Saber which is important. Of course there are some set-ups that now are only minor. Kiritsugu and Maiya hide in the shadows to overlook the fight and strike when a chance presents itself. There’s also the Servant Assassin whose presence leads to the indirect involvement of Tokiomi also. In terms of plot-development it’s Lancer and Saber who are important right now, though. First of all, the fight was well-animated and you could see in that fight one strength of Urobuchi’s writing but also one of his biggest flaw in this series. On one hand you can see how thorough this fight was written, on the other hand it really slows down the pacing to have all this exposition needed to explain what’s going on. And I think it’s kind of mind-boggling to think about how the whole series only stops in moments to have exposition needed for a scene so that you can understand what’s going on. It also makes naturally the whole story very interesting in the way each element contributes to the storyline in its own way without being just an iffy name for a generic supernatural plot-device.
In terms of characterization the whole thing is a bit exaggerated in this episode. Since Lancer and Saber are these honourable, I mean, very honourable characters. Now, you wouldn’t usually expect exaggeration in anything else besides comedy to create funny characters. But looking at Lancer and Saber, I guess, everyone can agree that the term ‘honour’ is really exaggerated with the way they fight and talk. This isn’t bad automatically but what it does is making it less charming. Since honour is exaggerated like that their behaviour is more something depending on the ideal than their personality. So when you happen to not like the concept of characters taking honour seriously you will like it even less when this attitude is exaggerated like that. That is of course not the most charming way of characterization which is why you usually have a character who counter-balances this exaggeration (with comedy it’s usually a ‘straight guy’ whose down-to-earth opinion contradicts the exaggerated humour). And the problem in this series is that there’s simply no such character. This series is serious business full of tragedy, heroism, honour, valor and other neat things.
And I don’t think Rider and Waver are this counter-balance. They are more charming in the way they are characterized. What makes them so funny and charming is the complex contradiction of their relationship. Waver is just an average guy with no talent whatsoever but who has great aspirations for becoming someone great. And now he meets Rider who’s great (literally great, also) strong and charismatic but funnily Rider is nothing like the image of a great person Waver had in his mind. And Waver is just this confused guy who has no idea how a person like Rider could be considered a great person while Rider drags him around trying to show him what he really should aspire to be like.
If you think about it, Irisviel’s role in this episode was so minor that it was easy to forget that she was even there…
Like I said in the beginning I’m a little impatient with this show to move on instead of remaining in one place exchanging their lengthy dialogue. It’s only because of how well-written the dialogue is (even if it lacks in content to talk about) that the slow pacing becomes somewhat bearable and on my second watching the episode was far more entertaining since I knew now what to expect of the episode in terms of plot-development.
The fourth episode (finally) starts the action and the flaws and strengths of Urobuchi’s writing remain in this faithful adaptation. While it bugs me a bit how all the exposition and dialogue slows the plot down it’s also apparent that it makes good use of it in creating plot-twists and a nice atmosphere.