Welcome to the Fate/Zero power half an hour. We get what everyone (me) has been waiting for: SABER IN A SUIT. My goodness there might not be much fighting but there are some wonderful visuals. And for the doujinshi fans this is clearly the episode that launches a thousand ships. Yaoi, Yuri, and various flavors of hentai comics surely will be spawned by this single episode. Plus we finally get the setup for our first real fight that does not involve a one-sided Gate of Babylon massacre.
When Archer kills Assassin everyone starts to recalculate their plans now that the first killing blow has been landed. But it seems that it was nothing more than a show as Kotomine Kirei still has several tricks up his vestments. At the same time Irisviel and Emiya split up when entering Japan. Saber is protecting the homunculus of the Einzbern family while the Magus Killer meets up with his apprentice. But the beach time bonding of Servant and Proxy Master is broken up by the reveal of the last servant.
As always Gilgamesh is forced to stick to the shadows when he would rather be raining down holy terror on everyone. Until then he and Tokiomi play little games with each other. Tokiomi pretends to play the part of humble partner to a king but it is clear that while his social graces tell him the proper way to interact with the King of Heroes his arrogance is strong enough that it still shines through his smile. In Gilgamesh’s defense I think it is clear that he is not fooled by Tokiomi’s empty flattery but is just playing along to see how this Holy Grail War plays out. Both men see themselves as the clever trickster who is playing the other. But clearly since only one of them survives to see the 5th Holy Grail War one of them is better at the game than the other.
Rider and Waver continue their little war-time Manzai comedy routine. Waver still has his petty little dreams while Iskandar has ambitions so big that even the Holy Grail War and planetary conquest are just stepping-stones towards bigger dreams. So while Iskandar might look like he is the world’s most diesel hikikomori he is actually constantly gathering information for the next leg of his ambitions. Waver on the other hand has to be one of the worst reconnaissance agents ever. He either misses vital clues or does mention valuable insights when he has them. Rider is asking all the right questions but Waver is giving all the wrong answers. There is a weak link in this team and it is not the guy who conquered the Persian Empire. Oh well. It only solidifies their seme and uke status.
Nepotism is a powerful weapon and this is doubly true in the Holy Grail war. Kirei runs to the church and pretends to drop out of the war but as soon as it is clear no one is watching Risei allows his son set up shop in the church. I guess it is a good thing to have your corrupt father as a officiator of the battle. It seems that this iteration of Assassin’s gimmick is that he is actually the whole clan under Hassan-i Sabbah. So while he has pretended to drop out he will actually be backing up Tokiomi from the shadows with his army of servants. In a way probably the best strategy to enact when you have an army of weak servants who all rely on surprise. Make everyone think you are dead so they are not constantly looking out for you. But what no one ever told Kirei was that assassins are also bound the Inverse Ninja Rule. The more assassins you have the weaker they are individually. It is destined to only end in tears (and dead assassins).
During the interaction between Irisviel and Saber my roommate just turned to me and asked, “I assume there are more doujinshi of these two than there are stars in the sky.” I replied while have not seen them I could assure him that he is absolutely correct. While most of the scenes between Irisviel and Saber is developing their friendship of mutual respect there is an unmistakable air of homoerotic tension between these two as well. I am sure all the yuri fanboys were licking their lips (and perhaps doing other things) the whole time. Yuri goggles aside we see that both women have been slaves to duty for all their lives. This is Irisviel’s first real adventure outside of her home and the rest of her life has been in service of preparing for this battle. Saber on the other hand still feels the pain of the many sacrifices she made as the King of England. Saber knows the misery of isolation all to well. While Saber and Kiritsugu are much too alike to get along it seems that Saber and Irisviel have enough in common that their empathy bonds them tightly. Did I mention that Saber in suit being all gallant is pretty much Ambrosia and Nectar to my soul? Well it is.
While Kiritsugu left for Japan alone he quickly hooks up with his assistant soon after arriving in the country. And it seems that they hook up in more ways than one. I know it is a bit odd but part of my was like, “Bad Kiritsugu! Don’t be sleeping with Maiya when you have Irisviel waiting at home.” But I suppose it shows why Kiritsugu is a man wracked with guilt. He is someone who has many things he can feel guilty about. I do wonder if Irisviel is aware of this arrangement and how much will this mistress on the side come up. Women love Section Chief Kosaku Shima even though he has a mistress on the side so maybe Kiritsugu can get away with it. Bedroom politics aside we see that Kiritsugu is loaded to bear. He has a wide variety of weapons from mundane to magical. He knows that most magi are used to formal battles like they were Harry Potter wand duelists. So he knows many of them are simply not prepared for a long-range sniper rifle to the back of the head and plans to take full advantage of that. Also it is clear that he does not believe for a single second that the creepy priest is no longer a player in this game and that instinct is probably what will keep him alive.
And we finally get two things we have been waiting for. The first is the reveal of the final servant. We don’t know much about this Lancer but he does look an awful lot like the Fate/Stay Night Lancer. But as Assassin has taught us it is all the little differences that are important. Including the fact that this Lancer fights with two lances. And so unless someone comes in a stops this battle we will finally get some real action this Saturday.
It took the length of four episodes to get everyone on-screen but we finally have the whole gang in Japan and ready to murder everyone in their path to make their dreams come true. I will say that seeing several other people who are not Type-Moon fans reacting to this episode was interesting. While my roommate and I were on the edges of our seats everyone else was wondering when these people would stop talking and start going to town with some magical weapons. And while I love this show I can’t blame them for their feelings. I suppose that shows that it takes to be a Type-Moon fan. You have to WANT those long explanations of magical theory and character motivations. Otherwise it is a very odd-looking episode of Upstairs, Downstairs. Hopefully everyone who is sticking through the talky parts will get their reward next week.