Fate/Zero – 12

[Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_06.27_[2011.12.17_17.28.47] [Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_08.12_[2011.12.17_18.41.03] [Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_20.23_[2011.12.17_17.42.58]

No current series can make a simple conversation into high art  like this one can.  But I’ve never felt frustrated by the lack of foreknowledge of the mythos more acutely than this week.

So here’s what the episode boiled down to – and kudos to ufotable for correctly thinking they could get away with it – two conversations.  Mostly, it was a conversation between Gilgamesh and Kirei in the basement of the sanctuary church, but there was also a parallel conversation between Iris and Saber, with only a very brief appearance by Maiya and a short scene of a pensive-looking Kiritsugu banging back a burger and chain-smoking while looking at his maps and trying to figure out why everything isn’t behaving exactly according to his predictions.  Coming on the heels of last week’s near-total focus on the conference of kings, that’s two eps on a row almost entirely dedicated to people sitting and talking to each other.  That’s damn ballsy, and if you’re going to take that approach those conversations better be packing some serious weight.

Thankfully, the guy drafting the dialogue is Urobuchi Gen, so we have that covered.  But while last week’s conversation was utterly fascinating and focused on larger philosophical issues, this episode felt a lot more like an inside job to me – it seemed as if there was an awful lot of stuff in there that a F/SN veteran would know immediately that I’m left to try and puzzle out.  Perhaps I’m wrong and I’m simply surprised that any anime would demand so much of it’s audience, but I felt like my brain had to be working 100% just to keep up with the permutations of both threads, especially the one featuring Archer and Kirei.

It occurred to me weeks ago that if I were Tohsaka, I wouldn’t want Archer spending so much time with Kirei.  Gilgamesh is, for me, the most dangerous entity in this series.  Not just because of his “beyond category” noble phantasm (which may or may not be more powerful than Iskandar’s) but because he seems to take great delight in manipulating others for his own gratification.  Combined with his staggering ego this makes him a live wire to say the least, and the seeds he planted a few eps back seem to be bearing fruit, if I’m reading things correctly.  Thanks to a too-convenient lecture by Kirei I now know the rules of the Grail War include the possibility of a master who’s lost his servant being awarded additional command seals, and even contracting with an “orphaned” servant to get back in the game.  That’s why if you’re a master, killing a rival is much better than disabling them – as I suspect Tohsaka is about to find out.  Assassin’s death was confirmed by the absence of command seals on Kirei’s hand, but he’s awarded another one – indicating that the Grail still has a use for him.

I can only conclude from Archer’s words and the imagery of the chess board that he’s proposing that Kirei kill Tohsaka and form a contract with him.  I knew Gilgamesh was somewhat derisive towards Tohsaka but I wasn’t certain whether that was his general arrogance or specifically pointed at his master.  The ethics of the game obviously wouldn’t matter to him, but I’m still surprised Archer is apparently so direct about his intentions.  I’ve known he was manipulating Kirei for a while, but this was still pretty bold stuff, and his appeal to the dark side of Kirei’s nature seems to have struck a nerve.  Kirei seems more than anything to lack any strong sense of self, any will or direction – and I think Archer sees that and is inserting his own will into the vacuum.  I still don’t quite get what the purpose of his pushing Kirei on his interest in Kariya is, or even exactly why that interest exists, but it’s obviously something in Kirei that’s deeply rooted and Archer has just as obviously spotted it as something he can exploit.

As for Kiritsugu, he, like Tohsaka, seems to be totally dismissing Kariya as a real threat in the Grail War.  I think they’re both wrong, because a half-mad master and a chaotic evil berserker servant are just about the ultimate wild card.  And Kiritsugu has more than his share of problems.  In addition to generally losing control of the war, he’s not nearly as strongly in control of his own servant as he should be.  Saber will follow her honor, no doubt, but her true loyalty obviously lies with Iris.  And Iris is in trouble, though she dismissed it as being “ill”.  Ill to a homunculus means something different than it would to a human, and she’s disabled her sense of touch because she was in so much discomfort that she couldn’t continue to function in the Grail War otherwise.  I suspect larger issues there, and I’m also suspicious of why Kiritsugu chose the old Bukeyashiki for their new base. Iris suggests it’s because Iris once said something about wanting to see an old mansion, but all through the scenes there I could sense there was something more to the place.  The lingering close-up of the key to the old kura Iris chooses as her magical HQ implies there’s something special about that place, specifically.  My guess is that Kiritsugu knows about it and neither Iris nor Saber does. 

But then, I had that same sense that there was more than meets the eye through most of the episode, which was a tad frustrating.  It seems very likely that we’re not going to see any more major shake-ups or a real “ending” to the first season, as we’re down to the final episode.  With only Assassin eliminated and his master still in the game, I’d be surprised if we didn’t go into the break with all of the main players still in the game, leaving the Spring cour to thoroughly shake out the winners from the losers.  I would assume that season is going to be much more action-driven than this one was, as the focus shifts from foreshadowing and setup to all-out conflict and resolution.  As to whether I’ll end up liking that more or less, I’m not confident in predicting either way – this season has been very distinct and I can only guess the second will be more conventional.

[Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_12.13_[2011.12.17_17.34.32] [Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_12.32_[2011.12.17_17.34.52] [Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_17.08_[2011.12.17_17.39.27]
[Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_18.03_[2011.12.17_18.40.56] [Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_18.26_[2011.12.17_17.40.45] [Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_19.51_[2011.12.17_17.42.26]
[Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_21.21_[2011.12.17_17.43.57] [Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_21.43_[2011.12.17_18.43.16] [Commie] Fate ⁄ Zero - 12 [9A8A06EE].mkv_snapshot_21.47_[2011.12.17_17.44.35]


  1. F

    I would agree that this episode basically assumes that you have seen/played Fate/Stay Night. Kirei and Gilgamesh's conversation, while cryptic in somewhat convoluted, makes perfect sense in the context of the later series. Similarly, while Iri and Saber's conversation doesn't have any major relevance, the location most certainly does.

    For this show, the vast majority of the audience knows the end (in fact, the end of this story was at the very beginning of the Fate/Stay Night anime), but doesn't know how they are going to get there.

  2. A

    There is a single defining word about this episode.


    And yeah, some things were meant to be recognizable to original VN readers, as it was the same in the light novel.

    In the visual novel there is a entire route about "what REALLY is the Holy Grail War", for example…

  3. T

    As for foreshadowing, I'll just say that Iris and Saber walking through their new home made me kind of curious, but it wasn't until they went into the storehouse that the F/SN nostalgia REALLY hit me. Of course, seeing Iris start to sort-of break down just erased that nostalgia with dread and sadness, but that's pretty much par for the course for this series by now.

    And if I may speculate on Kirei's fascination with Kariya: He probably knows that Waver and Archibald both want, more or less, to prove themselves, that Tohsaka's goal is a matter of pride for his family, and that Uryuu is more or less insane. And he seems to think that Kiristugu has simply been paid by the Einzbern family to win them the grail for reasons similar to Tohsaka's. Kariya's motivations, on the other hand, are pretty close to selfless, and Kirei as seems to think of joy as being a purely selfish thing (see: his hatred of the emotion as well as his seeming agreement with Gil's association of joy with 'entertainment'), the idea that Kariya would willingly bear such suffering for another's sake might trouble him a bit.

  4. H

    "As for Kiritsugu, he, like Tohsaka, seems to be totally dismissing Kariya as a real threat in the Grail War. I think they’re both wrong, because a half-mad master and a chaotic evil berserker servant are just about the ultimate wild card."
    THANK YOU. Seriously, I don't understand why so many of the characters think that they can dismiss such an erractic character, I'd certainly be worried every time he showed up to a fight.
    @Kensosha: I like your speculation on Kirei's fascination with Kariya, it makes a lot of sense and more sense than whatever Archer was getting at.

  5. A

    I think that the real point of Kotomine and Gilgamesh's conversation regarding Kariya isn't so much about Kariya's abilities as a Master but about his own personal circumstances. All this talk that they had about "what would happen if Kariya did win" seems to point out that Kotomine might be actually interested in that outcome.

    Kariya himself probably won't have a very happy ending regardless of whether he wins or not. If he does, then he'll end up killing the husband of the woman that he cares about (regardless of how she might personally feel) and that he might not survive for long afterwards. Gilgamesh seems to be pointing out to Kotomine that he might actually derive some pleasure from such a scenario, which explains why Kotomine responds as aggressively as he does.

  6. Sorry Anon, but that was a bit too much info for unspoiled readers (certainly it was too much for me). If Blogger one day has a decent option for spoiler tags in comments, I'll start using it yesterday. Until then, I have to ask you to refrain. Thanks.

  7. S

    Well, this isn't much of a spoiler. but here goes:

    The house saber is in now is where the protagonist of Fate/Stay Night grows up. Specifically, he slept next to the stairs in the old stone house

    I suppose that what was they were going for with their nostalgia clues. I havent watched the entire Fate/stay night, though

  8. b

    Wow you people are good. You nailed it on why Kirei is interested in Kariya.
    All I have to add is about Gil.
    He's just doing this because he enjoys it. He likes interesting people and Kirei is one walking contradiction that interests him.
    It's how he is as a king.

    Also, aside from the nostalgia factor for fans and Kiritsugu being a romantic for remembering that Iri wants to see a Japanese house, it's also close to the Tohsaka and Mato. The most dangerous place is also the safest.

  9. T

    I'm a little puzzled on Gil's philosophy myself. One theory I have is that it's a twisted "be yourself" kind of thing. He hates Tohsaka for just hiding himself away and respects Saber for following her own ideals. His manipulation of Kirei isn't JUST about trying to turn him evil; he's showing Kirei who he really is. And of course, Gil is himself in that he's just better than everyone else, and knows it. The jerk.

    Not sure, though. I've always had trouble with his character.

  10. b

    That's his way of entertainment and pleasure that he got as a king. If you're familiar with his legend you can see where he got his arrogance from. He took on every challenge the gods threw at him and beat it, even making an enemy as a friend. He developed his philosophy, attitude and entertainment from his exploits. And that's why he is like that. He doesnt have the title of King of Heroes for nothing.
    That's why I like him even if he's played as the antagonist.

  11. T

    Oh yeah, whatever his philosophy, I definitely like him. Sorta. Love to hate him, more like; he's an awful person who's going to cause much suffering for everyone I love in this show, and yet every second he spends onscreen…

  12. What I love is how both Iskandar and Gil are indescribably GAR, yet totally opposite in almost every way.

  13. A

    The whole compound is where Fate Stay Night revolves around. That room that needed a key was where Saber is summoned in that series as well.

  14. K

    Why don't they just GANK Rider's wimpy master and take him? If they are talking about killing masters and forming contracts with an orphan servant then why not kill that worthless master and get Rider? Or Lancer or even Saber?

    Of course Caster is too much of a monster, I notice the other masters/Servants stopped trying to kill Caster and his child killing Master.

  15. I don't think Rider would allow that. He's going to honor his end of the deal and protect Waver as long as he can.

  16. b

    Waver's proven himself one time by finding Caster's lair.
    And he's also part of the comedic duo with Rider.

    And it's only been 2 days since the Caster hunt was ordered. That was in the morning of episode 7. Caster attacked the Einzbern forest that same night. And it was only yesterday when Rider destroyed his lair. Rider then proceeded with the drinkfest after that.
    The countdown at the end of each episode should tell you how much time has passed between each episode.
    And besides, Caster will make an appearance next episode. Look forward to it.

  17. T

    I kinda suspect from the next-episode preview that next episode will have a fight of some sort, and judging from the length of this series's other battles… I also expect to be cliffhung for a couple months. Ah well.

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