It is good to be back. I have enjoyed the little break from episode reviews but I am now ready to start writing about Fate/Zero again. Season 1 ended just before we could dive into a grand set piece battle on the river so it is good to be back. Now that we have passed the half way mark all bets are off. The immunity people had is slowly falling away as the number of episodes go down. Someone like Rider or Tokiomi is not going to go down easily but we know they are going to die. So their battles are a bit more tense because you are not sure when they are going to die. In fact Gen Urobuchi eliminates one major character in this episode and has set up some characters in very perilous situations at the end of the episode. People will die when they are killed. The kid gloves are off. Now it is on to the beginning.
As Caster and his pet baby Elder God head to shore to kill 1d4 people per round the heroic trio of Rider, Lancer, and Saber do their best to prevent the seafood abomination from making a buffet of Fuyuki City. At the same time Team Archer and Team Berserker face off with Master vs. Master and Servant vs Servant battle royal. And while everyone is trying to kill each other Risei realizes things have gotten out of control as he has to cover up the chaos. This might soon become larger than just the Grail War.
A new season means a new opening. The new opening is by Kalafina which is a group that should be familiar to anyone who has watched the Garden of Sinner’s movies. The song is a bit more upbeat than the work that they did for the Kara no Kyoukai films but Fate/Zero has more of action than its more contemplative sibling. The new opening reflects the current status of the remaining participants of the 4th Holy Grail War. We see how everyone has either grown or suffered set backs. The most interesting thing is that we see a good deal of young Kiritsugu. This clearly means we are getting an episode about his back story as there is a lot to tell there. I wonder if we will get a similar flashback to what made Kirei who he is. That just might mean we could get a Caren Ortensia cameo. Other than that it is good to see Saber on her motorcycle in the opening. They seem to like to play that up in promo images for season 2. And I don’t mind one bit. Also the opening makes it very clear that there is a reason you don’t see Irisviel anywhere in Fate/Stay Night.
It seems like everyone’s plans are coming apart. First of all those silly pilots and their foolishness in thinking they stood a chance. They should have gone with their instincts and realized they are monster movie fodder. By the way the Giant of Light reference they make is of Adam from Evangelion. At the same time the three Servants fighting Caster quickly realize this will be harder than they thought. While they can cut the monstrosity that Caster has encased himself in easily it regenerates so quickly that they cannot cut a path to Caster’s Noble Phantasm quickly enough to make a decisive blow. While they are keeping Caster from coming ashore they are mostly stalling for time. As the battle continues more and more people are beginning to take notice and Risei knows that he cannot easily cover this up like the other incidents he has swept under the rug. I will mention that this is hardly the WORST thing that has happened to the Holy Grail War under his stewardship. He is the person who let the Grail get tainted during the 3rd Grail War which leads to all sorts of trouble. But I suppose Risei is blissfully unaware of this fact. In the sky above Fuyuki City Tokiomi is trying to get his servant to join in the battle rather unsuccessfully. His original plan to sit back and have Gilgamesh casually deliver the killing blow seems impossible and the longer he waits the more the situation is spiraling out of control. Tokiomi idea of gentle manipulation is only infuriating his servant. Not only is he in danger of losing the prize of a command seal, and getting the Mage’s Association involved, but he is also infuriating his already temperamental Servant. Another incident that only further solidifies an alliance between Gilgamesh and Kirei.
Thankfully for Tokiomi someone decides to give him a chance to end this argument when Berserker appears out of nowhere and launches an attack by turning a F-15 in his newest Nobel Phantasm. One could wonder how Berserker got up there but I just chalk that up to a simple fact that a Wizard did it (and in this series that is a valid excuse). So Archer enters a magical dog fight with the mad knight. Gilgamesh has his ancient Indian Holy flying machine and Berserker has powered up the remaining piece of flying cannon fodder. There is some nice CG as Gilgamesh throws around weapons from the Gate of Babylon for offense and defense while Berserker throws some juju on the already impressive weaponry of his hijacked jet. Both sides seem to relish throwing out projectiles and then using telekinesis to get them to move in new directions. If we continue to get fights like this then I have no problem with the season break between episodes. Sadly this dog fights only starts to warm up in this episode.
At the same time on the ground Kariya finally gets his grudge match. Face to face with his rival he calls out Tokiomi for giving away Sakura. But Tokiomi shows nothing for disgust for this opponent. Not only does he see Kariya as a coward from running away from his responsibility as a mage but an ignoramus who does not understand how the magical world works. In his opinion giving Sakura to the Matou family was the best thing for both daughters. His choice lets both girls grow to their full potential as they grow up as rivals who each have the undisputed backing of a magical family. If Tokiomi is unaware of the depraved practices of the Matou family is unclear. He is either uniformed of the dark practices of the family that took in his daughter or is lying to himself. But it is clear that his pride as a mage will not let Tokiomi see his choice as anything but proper no matter how uncaring it might be. Either way Kariya does not care. He will never forgive a man whose foolish traditionalism would allow him to sell his daughter no matter what the reasoning. Both men only see dangerous mongrels as their opponent and will give no quarter to the other. So begins a fight between flames and insects. Kirei is watching this fight from the shadows but for now he seems all to willing to let it play out how it will.
Kiritsugu is not one to just sit on the side lines. With almost everyone participating in the fight he decides to see if he can find any targets of opportunity and he find quite a juicy target. An undefended Ryuunosuke is a simple target especially since he is the only non-magical participant in the battle. We see a little reflection from the serial killer after he is shot through the chest by the Mage Killer who then gets rid of the first Master with a brilliant head shot. I know that they want Ryuunosuke to be slightly sympathetic but it does not work. I find him far too detestable to earn him any forgiveness. Good riddance to bad rubbish. But for the Heroic Trio this has not really helped their cause. Even though Caster’s Master has been killed he is a servant that can act independently for a long time. And as long as he can consume some people with his rampaging tower of tentacles then he can remain physical indefinitely. If anything it has only made Caster more committed to his rampage now that he no longer has a soft target to protect.
The new ending song by Haruna Luna seems a bit generic to me. It is not a bad song but it seems much more like a choice to put in a singer that Sony want to promote than an effort to match a singer to the show. Also the new ending does not focus on the whole cast like the last time. This time it only focuses on Irisviel and Kiritsugu. It seems to be various scenes of their time together before the Holy Grail War as seen in the Drama CDs. It is a nice little montage that shows quite a bit of how they came to know each other without saying a word.
I have to admire the show for hitting the ground running. They could have been tempted to do some recap but with the cliff hanger they left the show on before it was wise of them to skip that. I will say that I am slightly jealous of the people at Sakura-con that got to see the first two episodes there. But I suppose there is something to be said for spreading out your happiness. I cannot wait to see these fights ramp up. Three simultaneous battles is the way to start a season right. And of course we will clearly see a remix of a certain song in the next two episodes if Kiritsugu is correct in his predictions. Excalibur!