Fate/Apocrypha #05: Freedom! Horrible, Horrible Freedom!

hisui_icon_4040_round Seig really went from nobody to central focus character in no time flat. I was just talking about this with Elliot Page but Type-Moon does like to use the idea of the decoy protagonist. It happens with the Rin prologue in the original Fate/Stay Night visual novel and prologue of Fate/Extra with the fake out protagonist. In a way, this is no different from those examples but the amount of lead up to the reveal feels a bit different. It reminds me of the story I heard about how Tomino always wanted to make a mecha show where the signature mecha never appeared in the first episode but Sunrise NEVER liked that idea. Even with Turn A he at least had to show the titular suit at the end of the episode.

We shall see if the Tomino or the Sunrise approach was the correct one soon enough.

The homunculus was saved by Siegfried’s sacrifice but he is not out of the woods yet. Avicebron still wants his potential golem core and the Black Faction’s powerful Saber is now dead. Jeanne d’Arc is able to defuse the situation but as much as she makes it seem like the matter is resolved that is more a comforting lie in a stressful situation than anything else. But all of that goes on hold as the arrival of Jack the Ripper and her Master sets everyone off on both sides.

While they saved Seig’s life it was definitely done with a whole slew of serious consequences. First of all the other Black Faction Servants are not going to simply execute Astolfo but from most of their perspectives he has stolen a valuable magical item and gotten Siegfried killed even if Siegfried was not murdered but sacrificed himself. While Chiron has his sympathies he is also keeping his head down. Normally they would just use a command seal from Celenike to make this simple but a Ruler throwing in her two cents allows Seig to go free. While they would like their homunculus back it is not worth fighting a Maid of Orleans over it especially just after losing their Saber. Overall this is a huge loss for them. While capturing Spartacus was super valuable they lost a Servant and golem core as well as broke the trust between Astolfo and Celenike. They were already sort of incompatible but this definitely has put a huge wedge in between them.

Overall it is easy to see this scene as a quick bit or boring but necessary bookkeeping that lets the audience know that Shiro is aware that Spartacus has been captured and that Siegfried is dead therefore avoiding the standard “how do they know that?” question. Now, this can also be done with a quick throw away line if utterly necessary for pacing so if you’re going to devote a whole scene to the conversation you should usually add a secondary objective so the time does not feel wasted. If you unaware of some major plot points this scene mostly seems to miss that secondary purpose but if you have ever played the Japanese version Fate/Grand Order you possibly already know what I’m talking about. Otherwise, this scene is only important in retrospect or in a second viewing.

If you think about it Shiro has an incredible amount of information about what happened to the Servants in the forest around the Yggdmillennia Castle. You can chalk it up to really good scrying or amazing scouting by familiars but it turns out it is neither of those things. It is merely Shiro using his power as the other Ruler of the Grail War to sense all the Servants participating in the conflict. I’m sure he is also doing some independent spying but his utter clarity of events in enemy territory is due to his class abilities as the hidden Servant of the war.

It is a clever little scene that does not tip its hand too much but allows viewers to see that the reveal did not come out of nowhere.

So we are back to uncomfortable non-consensual sexual scenes with Astolfo and Celenike. Wonderful. I guess the reprieve was too long to last.

As my title suggests Seig does not share Astolfo’s carefree embracing of freedom. While he glad to be free of being a living battery he is not really super enthusiastic about his newfound freedom as well. You get the feeling that Astolfo was told he only three years to live there would be a bacchanalian trip around the world in the Paladin’s plans. Seig seems like the type to die after the three years merely regretting everything.

The main problem is Seig has a nasty case of Shiny Luminous syndrome. Shiny Luminous was a character from the second half of the original Precure.  After 52 episode of getting to know the dynamic of the original two Precure and their vibrant personalities, they introduce a third member of the team. Like Seig, she is pretty much a newborn despite her teenage body, therefore, it takes many episodes for her to have a distinct ego and interesting motivations. This was clearly done so that the audience could see her progress and hopefully really like her as time went on. The problem is her Tabula rasa existence made many fans just hate her before they could ever get to know her as they just felt she stole screen time from the characters they already loved.  It is very easy to see how Seig is already falling into the same trap. He like Shiny Luminous might become much more interesting later on but right now he seems more like a plot point than a person.

The last main characters finally show up in real scenes that are not just a teaser. That said it is hardly a full scene. It is fairly clear that they have killed the man who was originally supposed to be Jack’s Master, they have no problem in killing in general, and they exude an aura of creepiness. They really feel like the Gilles de Rais and Ryuunosuke Uryuu of the series. They are the murder machine first bosses that can be killed off with little remorse. I’m sure thanks to their character designs they will individually and collectively have their fans but overall they make a first easy foil for the more upstanding members of the cast.

So we finally get the deal behind Jeanne’s unusual existence as a Servant. She is not an entirely spiritual existence that can manifest a physical form. (One could even say that Servants are Spirits in the Material World.) She is a spirit wrapped around a compatible human. The main question at this point is why has Laeticia been dragged into this. There are dozens of ways to show that there are problems with this Holy Grail War via Jeanne that doesn’t introduce a random new character. Jeanne’s human core will clearly have some bigger consequences later on but for now, we will have to just speculate what they are.

Gordes really want to make sure you know that he is the Shinji of this series. Since he did not die after his Servant died like Fate Path Shinji he has taken the route of Unlimited Blade Works Shinji. His mixture of bitterness and self-loathing make him the prime target for manipulation from outside parties. He clearly is looking for any chance to redeem himself and prove his worth which makes him a simple target for anyone looking to exploit his abilities. His desperation only makes him an easier mark. Thankfully no one is here to give him the King of Heroes to wield on the battlefield.

Frankenstein’s Monster and Caules seem to have a better working relationship. While they don’t fully see eye to eye they seem to have come the farthest in their bond. The main problem seems to be that Fran still has a hair-trigger. She could be working at 100% at one moment but totally go crazy after one poor decision by her Master. Fran is looking for a mate and she is getting closer to Caules. If he rejects her advances there could be big trouble.

As much as Jeanne might try an convince everyone involved otherwise Seig is not leaving the center stage. From a simple story telling perspective, the narrative has invested too much time and effort at this point for him to simply grow up with this old farmer. Also, there is no way that Avicebron is simply going to let such a prime golem core just wander off without a fight. Jeanne knows all of this is true and that Seig having a Servant’s heart makes him an integral part of the Grail War. I’m guessing her hope is that she can buy him as much time to get his head on straight as she can. If nothing else Jeanne is very good at fighting when everyone else would consider a battle a lost cause.

Well, Shiro has officially come in as the janitor to sweep several unnecessary Masters off a crowded stage. I guess all of their plans have … gone up in smoke. But seriously Shiro has just reduced the size of the cast significantly even if it was by removing some rather incidental characters. It is clear from some additional material that at points these characters were supposed to have a greater role but that seems to have been cut for time in the actual books. Oh well. This is Type-Moon I’m sure they will appear in other stories like the Lord El-Melloi II Case Files novels at some point in the future if you really liked the character designs on any of them.

I did have a revelation with this episode. At this point other than Jack I think Semiramis is the main character who has received the least amount of development. All the development she has gotten in the reflected moonlight of character development as opposed to the direct sunlight of primary development. We have the line from Mordred about her being similar to Morgan le Fay and the opening has her intimately cradling Shiro in her lap. Those both paint a picture of the woman but the few lines she has had are mostly neutral statements. She has some rabid fans but right now she is the Servant we have the most questions about. Hopefully, she will get more time in the center stage soon.

But what I am really excited about is more Modred in episode 6. Also apparently we get to see Morgan le Fay. I am hype.


Previous Fate/Apocrypha posts:

Fate/Apocrypha #01: One Night in Trifas Makes a Hard Magus Humble
Fate/Apocrypha #02: Who Wears Short Shorts?
Fate/Apocrypha #03: Meet Your Real Main Character
Fate/Apocrypha #04: Sumanai

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