Fate/Zero – 10

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And so, not even Fate/Zero is immune to the creeping scourge that is moe…

I figured Urobuchi Gen would have found a way to indulge his lolicon fetish at some point during the writing of this story, so It’s just as well we get it out of the way now so we can move on with the story.  Thankfully it was a solidly entertaining episode that, while far from the series’ best, was by no means a derailer.  It plays very much like a side chapter of a manga, contributing a little to the main storyline while mostly acting as a change of pace.  While the star of the episode is Tohsaka Rin (Kana Ueda, sounding way too old) perhaps its lasting contribution is to provide some rare exposition on two Grail War players who’ve been enigmatic and/or largely absent for the most part.

The first, of course, is Tohsaka Tokiomi himself.  While his importance to the story has always been obvious, we’ve been given very little insight as to who the man is and what his goals are (apart from winning, of course).  He’s been the shadowy figure pulling Kirei’s puppet strings and hatching one devious plot after the other.  Well, he’s also Dad to Rin, who’s a budding magus in her own right but still raw and inexperienced.  In his interactions with Rin, Tohsaka is quite different than we’ve seen him – patient, gentle, almost warm.  His tutelage of his daughter is respectful and tolerant and his concern for her seems quite genuine.  In fact, he even sends her and his wife away from Fuyuki under the premise that the city would be generally unsafe once the Grail War started.  Whether he knew what Caster and Uryuu would be up to at the time he sent her away I don’t know, but it certainly looks like a good decision.

Unfortunately for Tokiomi – but happily for a group of children from Fuyuki – Rin is a stereotypical plucky little girl anime heroine, and when she hears word on the news about the child kidnappings and murder she takes in upon herself to go back and save her timid friend Kotone (Seto Asami, pretty big name seiyuu for a small role).  The scenes that play out feel like a totally different series, but they’re quite good nonetheless – full of suspense and implied horror as Rin stumbles upon Uryuu in the act of harvesting little boys (whom Urobuchi seems to hate almost as much as he loves little girls) from the area near Fuyuki station.  Director Aoki-san does a very nice job of creating the scary atmosphere a city at night presents to a child unaccustomed to facing them alone, and it’s quite compelling to see her track Uryuu through the alleys and back streets towards the new lair Caster and he have apparently chosen in an abandoned bowling alley.  I especially enjoyed the device of using the prana compass Tokiomi had given Rin as a kind of bellwether to depict the state of the prana battle between she and Uryuu, as Rin tried to break the bracelet he was using to control the kids’ minds.

In most series you’d have been pretty sure the kids would be saved, but F/Z has thoroughly destroyed that illusion already, so there was genuine suspense about whether Rin would best Uryuu and escape with more than just Kotone in tow.  Uryuu still strikes me as a pathetic weakling, to be honest, but the fear was always that his “servant” (yeah, right) Caster would show up.  And indeed, he did, just as the police were dealing with the missing kids, but fortunately for Rin he wasn’t the only one to show up.  The other Grail warrior who’s been an enigma so far, Kariya, also shows up just in the nick of time to save Rin from Caster’s tentacle monsters (sorry, doujin writers).  As we know from the premiere Kariya has a vested interest in Rin’s welfare and a strong connection to Rin’s mother Aoi (Itou Hasumi), whose other daughter Sakura Kariya entered the war to try and save from his father.  He’s a tragic figure, and it’s plain that he and Aoi are in love.  She sees quite plainly that his intention is to die in the act of winning this war, and is horrified to see what accepting the Matou magic into himself has done to him.  If he’s driven mainly by compassion for Sakura, Kariya seems almost as driven by hatred of Tokiomi for not protecting her himself (and probably for stealing the woman he loves).  In postscript, we’re treated to a brief conversation between Kirei and Assassin which seems to imply that Kirei is already starting to move against his Master – or perhaps, that he’s distraught at knowing that Kariya has become involved.

From the standpoint of execution and production values, Fate/Zero continues to be the best series of the season.  No episode has been a whiff, and each has worked well both as a self-contained narrative and as part of the larger one.  I could see where some feel this adaptation is too much talk, not enough action – but for me, all this exposition and character development is essential.  I certainly think next year’s cour will be far more action-driven, in any case.  While this ep felt the most “superfluous” of any so far, like all the others it did a nice job of building on the story in subtle ways.  I especially enjoy the way each elite magical family is slowly being contrasted, each with their own approach to what it means to be a mage – as witness Tokiomi’s proud speech to his daughter on the subject.

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  1. F


    I'm actually surprised she succeeded in rescuing the Kotone and the others. Rin was never in danger (yay for prequels?) but her getting out with not just her girlfriend, but the others, was a nice surprise.

    Also do note that Rin was more effective in foiling Uryuu and Caster than any of history's greatest heroes.

    Also, I think you are doing both the plot and Gen a disservice here. Rin's a very important part of the Fate universe, and including her is more than just pandering. Its important to know how she became the person she is in Fate/Stay Night.

  2. Plus, she's really moe.

  3. K

    From the standpoint of execution and production values, Fate/Zero continues to be the best series of the season

    But what about Chihayafuru in terms of execution?

    Fate Zero is my second favorite and yes I can't discount the production values.

  4. I think F/Z has been a bit more polished and consistent. I probably love Chihayafuru a bit more, but it's close.

  5. T

    Oh my gah little Rin was adorable. It's funny, though, how different she is here from in F/SN–I suppose her experiences in F/Z and normal growing-up stuff could account for that pretty well. I'm not sure just how necessary I feel she was; her presence almost felt like (non-sexual) fanservice. Not that I'm complaining. She was one of my favorites from that show.

    The best parts of this episode for me were definitely the Tokiomi and Kariya bits. I was pretty surprised to find myself actually LIKING Tokiomi a great deal. And Kariya I want to win almost as much as Waver… which is a pity, because he's even more obviously doomed.

    Also, I agree with you entirely about Uryuu's pathetic-ness. There seemed something subtly different about his portrayal here compared to other characters of the type that I've seen. He seemed… I dunno. Almost a bit more innocent or something? Not sure how to put it.

  6. A

    In the Novel little Rin didn't save her friend :(. They changed it in that regar

  7. S

    Hmm… So Rin was able to track down Uryuu so easily while the more accomplished mages (at least those are looking) have failed to do so. I get that this episode was mostly about moe moe Rin and probably an anime original but still…

  8. 0

    Was I the only one half expecting this to kick of a Rin arc that would end with her watching her dad? This is Gen we're talking about. Then again, maybe I should have expected her to come out relatively unscathed, as she shows little sign of past traumas experiences in F/SN.

    The father/daugther scenes were honestly pretty touching – my impression of him changed in a huge way this episode, as his willingness to pawn off Sakura had me assuming he was a cold-hearted bastard.

  9. A

    It is not an anime original. They just expanded a part of the novel involving Rin

  10. K

    I thought this was another solid episode of the best anime of this season. I think Chihayafuru is a decent anime but at the same time dislike how stupid the card game actually is.

    I watch it for the characters and not the game aspect. Its (the game) about as exciting as watching grass grow.

  11. Interesting that they changed the part about Rin's friend. It's a good thing for the guys that Kotone was there, I guess, otherwise ufotable would have killed them like the others – but I guess they couldn't have Rin save her friend and leave the others to die.

  12. t

    "I figured Urobuchi Gen would have found a way to indulge his lolicon fetish at some point during the writing of this story, so I’m just as well we get it out of the way now so we can move on with the story."

    Oh no, you did not just blame this anime original bullshit on Urobuchi, Enzo!

    Rin's "adventure" as this episode calls it is only 12 pages long in the novel, and contained none of this loli fanservice. In the novels, Rin doesnt even meet Uryu, and shortly after arriving fuyuki ends up passing out in fear when she nearly gets to something powerful and dangerous that could have killed her, and then is rescued/found by Kariya, who has his scene with Aoi. That's it.

    Rin's scene in the novel exists mostly for two reasons:

    1. To show that Rin, while kindhearted and brave, is COMPLETLY out of her depth, was foolish to jump into the war like that, and could easily have gotten herself killed.
    2. Rin experiences true fear of death and as a result is much more prepared for fighting, fear and death in Fate Stay Night, becoming a badass.

    Now, i didn't really mind all the anime original stuff that they added, because as you said, they did a good job humanizing Tokiomi, (except every time he acted like a good Father to Rin all i could think about was how right now, Sakura is probably in that pit being raped and tortured by those worms. Just like she is every single day. Fuck You Tokiomi.) as well as giving Ryunosuke and Rin more screen time, but as a novel reader the ending of this episode felt like something from a different series.
    This Rin doesnt seem to have learned much compared to her novel counterpart, and would probably be right back out there on the streets 2 days later if another of her friends were kidnapped, because hey, it worked once right?

    P.S. also, are we supposed to believe that a serial killer who slaughtered dozens of family's BEFORE he got his magical servant would have trouble catching a little girl because she was throwing stuff at him? That's some strong Plot Armor you got there Rin.

  13. T

    One thing I'll mention is that Tokiomi doesn't seem to know what's happening to Sakura, and judging by her reactions I'm pretty sure Aoi doesn't either. Kariya knows about the Matou family magic because he was raised with them, but it's pretty obvious how incredibly secretive magi are in this series. As for Tokiomi, he sent Rin and Aoi away expecting them to be safe; I don't see why this wouldn't also be the case for Sakura.

  14. N

    Tokiomi can't know what is happening to Sakura so you can't really blame him for that.

    Also, our serial killer here would probably have caught Rin if he didn't depend on that bracelet or got surprised by Rin's magic. His guard was VERY low here. Not to mention that if anything bad happens, Caster will save him so thats another reason to be more laid back (usually he would fear the Police and be more careful but since Caster would just slaughter the police… yeah).

  15. A

    Having watched F/SN I knew Rin would be saved. But, having never read the novel, I was hoping Waver and Rider would show up. Well at lest i was reminded of Kariya, I completely forgot about him

  16. D

    also, are we supposed to believe that a serial killer who slaughtered dozens of family's BEFORE he got his magical servant would have trouble catching a little girl because she was throwing stuff at him?

    She's a kid. She is absolutely 0 threat to him, and her throwing stuff at him is just sorta 'cute' resistance. He's always been rather laid back about things, and seeing him get all aggressive to catch her would have seemed very out of character.

    Plus there's Caster's influence. Aside from having less to fear from the authorities, there's Caster's "moment of hope turning to despair" that he's likely bought into. Let Rin resist; let her fight back as hard as she can; even let her try the little light show on the bracelet (you really expect the little brat to be able to break something made by a magician like Caster?). Once she realizes that there's no escape no matter what she does, when that full realization of what she just got herself into hits her, that's when you strike.

    Essentially, there's nothing inherently unbelievable about the events. It just depends on Rin being incredibly lucky that Caster wasn't there as well, and that Unryuu is the sort of person he is.

    I think that "fear of death" moment happened, though, when the tentacle critter dropped down behind her. At that moment she realized just how thin the line was between safety and death, and that she likely should have died literally right across the street from the police and the children she just saved.

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