Fate/Zero: Spoilers, Anakin Skywalker Becomes Darth Vader

SPOILERS FOR FATE/STAY NIGHT AND FATE/ZERO

While there is a good deal of Sayre’s law styled controversy surrounding the Aniblog Tourney, I do find that it can a show you a previously unseen segment of the anime and manga blogosphere if you let it. While perusing sites that are participating in the tournament, I came upon a curious phenomenon surrounding Fate/Zero. There were several blogs that were reviewing Fate/Zero without ever experiencing the original material that Fate/Zero is a prequel to. That sort of blew my mind. But then again, it is not that hard to imagine. The Fate/Stay Night anime came out in 2006 so there is the distinct possibility that a good number of current anime fans have neither watched the original anime or played the visual novel but at the same time are interested in watching Fate/Zero cold. Like many things that fascinate me it is not that the phenomenon is that hard to imagine. What caught my attention was how it changed the way the bloggers looked at the show.

Imagine someone watching the Star Wars prequels without any knowledge of the original Star Wars trilogy (also let is not bring up the quality of the Star Wars prequels because they are irrelevant to this discussion.) This person could be theoretically shocked by events that seem run of the mill to someone who is a Star Wars veteran and conversely moments that have amazing gravitas to an old school fan might be rather run of the mill to someone who does not know what is going to come later on. Anakin Skywalker turning to the dark side might be a shocking twist to this fresh-faced viewer while the experienced fan considers this a forgone conclusion. At the same time, the introduction of R2-D2 and C-3PO is nothing more than arrival of two new characters to someone how has never seen them before. And these people exist despite the ubiquitous culture saturation of Star Wars in our culture. They tend to be very young fans when you see them at all but they do exist.

While Type-Moon hardly has the cultural presence that Star Wars does it is hardly an unknown title in the anime community. The fact that Saber is in fact King Arthur is hardly considered a grand reveal to anyone but the most die-hard spoiler guardians. That said I remember one blogger speculating on an alliance between Kirei and Gilgamesh while this is just an inevitability to anyone who has seen all of Fate/Stay Night. This alliance is now a surprise as opposed to a mere piece of back story. In fact the overall victor of the Holy Grail War might be in question to a new viewer giving this series a very different form of excitement. There is a certain amount of tension present when you think that all the horses have an equal chance to winning the race. At the same time seeing Illyasviel make the magical circle in the shed at her temporary hideout has a tremendous weight that would be completely lost as they have no knowledge of Shiro’s adventures. Likewise there is no cognitive dissonance between Shiro description of Kiritsugu and who he is in Fate/Zero. While two people may enjoy Fate/Zero with foreknowledge or lack thereof of the orignal work it still changes the way you experience the series.

I would quickly like to state that I am not some horrible elitist about this. I don’t feel you have obliged to read the original visual novel before you are deemed worth of watching Fate/Zero. In fact this whole incident has only made me more curious about how new fans feel about the series when this in their entry point. I would love to see someone watch all of Fate/Zero and then follow through to play the visual novel and see how they react to that in turn. Their reaction to Sakura and Rin’s storylines alone would be fascinating. A whole conversation about that would make a great podcast. That said if anyone is watching Fate/Zero cold I am curious what your reactions are when the season is over.

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6 thoughts on “Fate/Zero: Spoilers, Anakin Skywalker Becomes Darth Vader

  1. omo says:

    You are right; it’s a lot of fun reading about people’s reaction to Fate/Zero online, since you get all kinds of responses from people with all kinds of backgrounds.

    I think that goes to show that F/Z is a pretty solid adaptation in that sense. I guess the novels themselves were already written in a way which was enjoyable even if you missed out on much of the Fate lore from the previous works.

    Some of the points you brought up, though, were opaque even to people who has only watched the Fate/stay night anime. I think if you didn’t play the games or otherwise spoiled yourself on it (and that accounts for most people), there are still plenty of tension and mystery left as far as how Fate/Zero will end and who will win the Grail War.

    Coming from someone who’s read the novel translation, I have my own set of things to get excited about, so things like Iri’s magic circle and the ties to Fate/stay night excites me less (I was excited about that when I read the books), but things like key turning points and exciting action scenes are more exciting. Seeing Kiritsugu and Kayneth fight in the first season was one of those moments for me.

    • reversethieves says:

      Also as you mentioned you level of Type Moon lore knowledge does effect things. There are little points of surprise as well as big ones.

      I myself just want Saber on a motorcycle. That will be wonderful.

      – Hisui

  2. relentlessflame says:

    I think your Star Wars analogy is apt.

    I remember, at the beginning of the anime, having a conversation with some Type-Moon fans about whether Fate/Zero should be treated like a sequel in the sense that Fate/stay night should be “required reading/viewing” (and that it was all written assuming you knew where things were going). They were rather adamant that Fate/Zero should in fact be treated like a standalone story, and that knowing Fate/stay night isn’t a requirement despite the relation and the timing of the writing. This is obviously a challenge in terms of discussion, as you said, because there are a lot of things one group of viewers take for granted that another group have no clue about. It’s to the point where one group will say “well, it’s obvious, because surely you remember how…” practically without realizing that, in fact, no they don’t remember that! And the other group will make speculation that would seem totally reasonable to them, and it takes a lot of willpower for the other group of fans not to step in and correct the “obvious wrong thinking”.

    I’m sure that it’s been a challenge for those trying to approach this cold to remain ignorant of Fate/stay night with the abundance of spoilers coming from the fans, and the temptation always there to just pick up the game or at least the anime to get a sense of all they’re missing. But, if people made it through unscathed, it would indeed be interesting to hear their perspective once they experience the franchise in “chronological order”.

    • reversethieves says:

      I am curious how many new fans are going to be surprised who lives and who dies. And in the same regard I wonder how many casual fans will not know that one of the Masters lives but only shows up in passing in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia and some side material. If you only saw the Fate/Stay Night anime you would easily assume they died like everyone else as they never appear there.

      But yeah you have to isolate yourself pretty well from spoilers to be completely clean. I know someone like Narutaki could do that but she has become like a spoiler ninja over the years. She is invisible to all but the most persistent spoilers.

      – Hisui

  3. Aorii says:

    There’s also the perspective difference between those who knows FSN, and those who knows Heaven’s Feel imo (:3). Kiritsugu is, after all, still mostly idealized in FSN, and the horrifying scene in ep1 was all too expected to those who read HF (but still painful to watch). I guess that’s all getting steadily more elitist (I’m near the top, a firm believer that the anime is nowhere as good as the novel. Show me the real Hetaroi!)

    Different things to look for from each perspective, I guess. I still remember hoping to see Ionian Hetaroi vs Caster animated. Alas, my wish was not granted. Curses, seihai-kun!

    • reversethieves says:

      Saber gives us some strong suggestions that Kiritsugu as not the kindly man Shiro knew as a father but they don’t play that up too much in Fate/Stay Night.

      But yeah Heaven’s feel teaches us the valuable lesson that Shinji is sadly not the WORST member of the Matou family. Just completely rotten. But completely rotten is still better than Zoken.

      Yeah I wish we could get an official English release of the Fate/Zero novels but I don’t see that happening any time soon. As far as I can tell light novel sales have always been abysmal in the US. I doubt any company would want to take a chance even on something as popular as Fate/Zero. It just seems like throwing money out the window.

      – Hisui

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