Fate/Zero – 04

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With almost as much style as Guilty Crown and a lot more substance, Fate/Zero is certainly the frontrunner for blockbuster of the season.

ufotable has certainly stepped up to the plate with this LN adaptation.  I can’t put anything on an equal footing with GC strictly in terms of visual prowess, but there’s no question that Fate/Zero is a very lavish and lovely series to look at.  And while this episode was much more straightforward and simple than the first two, on balance it’s clear that we’re dealing with a very sophisticated and layered script by Urobuchi Gen.  Taken mostly with the duel between Saber and Lancer, this episode was a showcase for some of the most well-animated action sequences in many a season.  There wasn’t a whole lot of CG either – most of the fight appeared to be hand-drawn, reminiscent of the spear vs. sword scenes between Balsa and the Hunters in Seirei no Moribito, though a notch below and with a few more camera tricks.

The aforementioned battle was certainly a duel in more than name, as chivalrous as you can get.  We already knew Saber to be Arthur, but Lancer is revealed to be Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, a famed Knight of Irish Mythology.  Possessed of not one but two magic spears, plus a mole under his right eye that can make any woman (almost, not Saber) fall in love with him, he’s quite a formidable chap.  There’s clearly a mutual respect between these two servants, a willingness to play by the rules, even as they strive to keep their identities secret from the other.  They appear pretty much evenly matched, with Lancer getting the upper hand due to Saber’s tardiness in guessing the nature of his magical weapons.

Watching all this take place, as we know, is Rider.  He too proves himself to be a chivalrous sort, thirsting for combat against great opponents but proclaiming his ideal to defeat without destroying or humiliating.  That’s a pretty huge liberty taken with the actual Alexander the Great but it does make him an interesting character, and he drags hapless Waver onto the battlefield on his magic chariot, determined not to let one of the two great warriors die before he has a chance to fight them himself.  With Gilgamesh likely also believing in chivalry I wonder if we’re looking at an eventual split of the servants into two different axes – it seems obvious that Assassin and Caster have no scruples, and it’s hard to imagine Berserker will either.

Of course it’s not just Rider witnessing events.  Iris is standing by Saber’s side, healing her – and for that matter, Lancer’s master heals him as well.  Is this an ability all masters have?  Though Iris is only pretending to be a master, actually being a homunculus – but perhaps also a mage?  Speaking of Lancer’s master, we finally get a look at Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi (Yamazaki Takumi), who besides having a name like an accounting firm is also the pompous teacher of Waver’s that we met in the first episode.  Kiritsugu and Maiya are present as well.  And they’re living up to Kiritsugu’s reputation as a “magus killer” with no battle ethics, as their goal appears to be to take out a few Masters with high-powered rifles.  And the scope of Tohsaka and Kirei’s plan is becoming clear, as Kirei is using Assassin to spy on events.  Pretend the servant is dead and the master is out of the game, and to use them as an extra pair of eyes to help Tohsaka and Gilgamesh?  Very clever indeed.

So much has happened in three episodes that I’m hard-pressed to imagine what’s going to happen in two cours (with the second coming next year).  This episode felt like it lasted about 10 minutes, it was so action-packed and fast-paced.  It doesn’t feel in any way as if this story is just beginning – rather, it’s as if we’re fully immersed in a saga that could end next week without feeling rushed.  Even with the premiere being 45 minutes that’s quite an accomplishment, and I’m getting the idea that Urobuchi has really created something of grand scale here. 

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  1. F

    This is a Light Novel adaption, not a Visual Novel. Minor quibble, but there you go.

    Also this one fight was better animated than every fight in the entirety of the Fate/Stay Night anime put together.

  2. True – actually F/SN is the VN, of course.

  3. b

    Yes Iri is a magus even if she's a homunculus. She
    still has Magic Circuits in her.
    In fact she's much better than Kiritsugu at magecraft.

    And no, healing isnt exclusive to Masters. It's a type of magecraft that can be learned by anyone. It just happens that the Masters here know how to use it. Most certainly Ryuunosuke doesnt know it or for that matter anything about magecraft.

    And we're only at Vol1 of 4. More things are in store, especially next week. :)

  4. T

    Fate/Zero so far is my definite choice as top anime from the Fall season; it just does so many things right. It maintains a great pacing, fleshes out it's characters well, has good action, and an ever-evolving plot.

    Of course, I guess a big reason why I like this show would be my enjoyment of Type-moon stuff in general. I can't say I'm not biased at all, though Fate/zero is much better than the other works in the Fate franchise so far.

    As for the episode, I find it interesting that Kiritsugu and Saber are acting almost completely independent from each other. I guess that's the best way to avoid tensions between the two. Oh, and Rider deserves a better master. Waver is pretty much a hindrance at this point.

  5. I didn't even like F/SN, really, and I think this is excellent. Not my #1 of the season, really, but probably the "best" series from an objective view.

  6. T

    To a certain degree all the talking in this episode worried me–the previous talky episodes I've loved because of their talkiness, but with this one I was afraid that it was starting to fall into the Bleach trap of 10-episode-long battles that mainly consist of characters standing around and bragging about their special powers.

    Then I decided that what happens here actually shows us who the characters are; even when she's chatting it up with Lancer, Saber is being herself. And I expect there's a limit to the secret powers the Servants can show off. And hey, if I'm fine with three episodes of exposition in stand-around-and-talk format, why would I be mad about using fight scenes for the same purpose?

    The best moment in the episode for me, though, was still Rider's scene at the end. I've got a feeling he's going to steal every single scene he appears in.

  7. b

    So what is your #1 for this season?
    Mine is of course this :)

  8. Tough. Honestly, the series I look forward to most right now is Chihayafuru. This series is the best combination of writing, production values and pure entertainment. And Mira Nikki is the most fun.

  9. S

    Wow, only four episodes in and we're treated with such an epic battle. I wonder why Kiritsugu doesn't just take out Kayneth with his sniper when he still has the upper hand. I know he's worried about the lurking Assassin but since a servant wouldn’t be able to function without his master, that seems like a quick way to end the fight between Saber and Lancer. I’m guessing Kayneth’s not going to be happy to see Waver with Rider next week and Waver’s probably gonna get his ass whipped ;P

  10. A

    @Guardian Enzo

    Studio DEEN didn't do justice to the VN. You'll miss out alot of story points by just watching the F/SN anime and UBW movie.

  11. L


    Servants can survive for a little while after losing their master and can form a pact with another person to stay in the war. Though Assassin is not obliged to kill Kiritsugu, it's still a risk.


    After I marathoned F/SN last week, I supplemented it with a lot of Type-Moon wiki reading. That should be enough (though it spoiled a lot about the other scenarios).


    I kinda liked F/SN, but maybe because it's still fresh on my mind. And maybe I like the depressing feeling that Urobuchi's writing has. :p

  12. b

    Assassin will notice him if Kiritsugu takes out Kayneth. And he cant defeat a Servant even if it's Assassin. And even if you say Saber will save him, that leaves Iri exposed to Lancer since even if the Master is gone, the Servant can still remain in this world for a short time.
    Plus Saber doesnt know Kiritsugu is watching them so she cant save him from Assassin and she's busy enough from battling Lancer. So Kiritsugu just deemed this battle as a wasted chance and decided to just observe. Also he didnt want his participation in the war to be revealed just.yet :)

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