For everyone who assumed this episodes would be non stop fighting you should have known that while Gen Urobuchi wrote the original light novels you should also always remember that Kinoko Nasu’s powers of infinite exposition are invincible. The episode is even called False Start as to warn you that there is going to be some action but not the full throw down you are hoping for. So while I will patently wait for everything to be set up I know a few people are going to hit the ejector seat after the continuing amount setup in this episode. There is some great payoff coming but not everyone can wait that long. But trust me it is coming.
It takes 7 summoned servants to start the war for the Holy Grail but only 6 have been summoned so far. Caster is summoned by an unusual and rather detestable master. At the same time Rider and Saber get to see who they are working with, what their goals are, and what their strategy shall be in the upcoming battles. And lastly Kotomine shows us a bit of the Kotomine we truly know him to be.
If the last episode spent most of its time introducing us to the Masters than this episode is where we begin to learn about the servants. The first Servant we see is Rider a.k.a. Iskander a.k.a. Alexander the Great a.k.a. the Bear in slash fiction. Rider and Waver Velvet have an odd couple relationship. Rider is gregarious, confident, and ready to literally take on the world. Waver is sullen and just wants to win the Grail War to settle petty grudges. But by the end of their first major conversation two things have happened. First of all Waver is impressed by Rider’s powers and sweet ride. Secondly you are not quite sure who is the master and who is the servant despite what goes on in the conversation.
Huzzah! Finally the servant I have been waiting for. But before we get to her we find Kiritsugu and Illyasviel happily playing outside. Sadly this is just setup for disaster as the better they get along as father and daughter here the more twisted things become in Fate/Stay Night. After the events of Fate/Zero the Einzbern family makes sure that Kiritsugu can never see Ilya for a variety of spiteful reasons. In fact they go out of their way to poison her against her father and convince her that his casual abandonment is the root of all of her misfortune. This explains most of her bizarre love/hate relationship with Shirou. Shirou is the son that Kiritsugu properly raised instead of her. This gives Ilya her distinct hatred for Kiritsugu’s adopted son. At the same time Shirou is her connection to the father she loved at the same time.
Irisviel von Einzbern sums it up nicely with, “Emiya Kiritsugu and the hero Arturia will never see eye to eye.” As it naturally turns out Kiritsugu and Irisviel are shocked by King Arthur actually being a woman. But then Kiritsugu hands off Saber to his wife and barely says a word. In Fate/Stay Night Saber mentions to Shirou that his father only spoke to her three times during the 4th Holy Grail War. We now see that was because Irisviel was her proxy master which makes much more sense.
A common theme in the Fate universe is that you summon a Heroic Spirit that suits your nature even if you don’t realize it. Saber and Kiritsugu are both people who wish to be heroes in hopes that their actions will alleviate some of the regret they have of their past sins both real and imagined. They are both stoic people who can simultaneous put people off while inspiring them to do more. And so Irisviel must act as a bridge between two people who are far too similar to get along.
So far everyone in Fate/Zero has been fairly gray in their morality. No one participating in this conflict is an angel (expect maybe Irisviel) but no one is outright just plain wicked. That is until we meet the serial killer, Uryuu Ryuunosuke. Happily murdering a family in an attempt to summon a demon he accidentally summons Caster instead. Uryuu kept the family’s son alive to sacrifice to the demon he called. At first it seems like Caster will let the boy go but we all know it is just to set him up for a more gruesome demise for this unfortunate boy. Caster then identifies himself as Bluebeard. Bluebeard is a fictional character who was based on Gille de Rais. While Gille de Rais would have been most famous for fighting alongside Joan of Arc he goes down in infamy for a spree of kidnapping, raping, and murdering children. While clearly this Caster is a prefect match for this Master, there would be few better combinations given the nature of Uryuu, I know there was a lot of hate for these two online. And I perfectly understand this. These two really stick out in what is otherwise a more delicate moral portrayal. But I suppose Gen Urobuchi wanted someone for the audience to easily root against.
Kotomine wastes no time in betraying his partner by having Assassin go and try to kill Tokiomi Tohsaka. We get a cool infiltration scene as Assassin shows that no impressive magical security system can stop him. But what can stop him is the King of Heroes with all his Gate of Babylon showmanship. And so it seems that Assassin has died Kotomine and Tohsaka are now at each other throats. But it is far to early in the game for a servant to be killed. There is clearly more to Assassin than meets the eye and this was all just for show so that people do not know that Kotomine and Tohsaka are secretly working together. But the seeds of betrayal has been planted whether anyone knows it or not.
We finally get to see the ending in the second episode that we were only teased during the previews. I am a far bigger fan of “MEMORIA” by Aoi Eir than “oath sign” by LiSA as it seems to better match in tone with the show . We get some quick views of Noble Phantasms and then a look at each of the servants in their own times while they were alive. Some major hints to the identity of Berserker are there if one is well versed in their mythology. Other than that there is some shirtless Gilgamesh which I am sure is the only part of the series that Narutaki wants to see.
While there have been more introductions there are still several unexamined pieces on the table. There was a single shot of Berserker and while it has been mentioned that Lancer has been summoned we have seen more of him in the ending song than in the show proper. I know that Lancers get no respect in the Nasuverse but this is just silly. But in all honesty if we consider the first episode actually 2 episodes to introduce all the Masters than it will take episodes 2 and 3 to introduce the Servants. I look forward to seeing the end of the introductions so we can start getting into the next stage of the story.
I will be at the New York Comic Con next week so I sadly will not be as quick to throw up my review of episode 3. I’m not sure when it will go up but I assure it will be done as soon as I can watch it and write it up.