There are two things you must know about me this year:
1. I have ragequit a terrible TV show (JJ Abrams’ Revolution) and found two others to replace it, Fate Zero and The Myth.
2. I will have no time at all for NaNoWriMo, which saddens me, because I still harbor delusions about one day becoming the next George R. R. Martin. WRITING IS COMING.
The obvious solution, then, is to take on the grand tradition of Mark Oshiro’s “Mark Does Stuff” and liveblogging my forays into these two shows. For if I can’t write, I may as well nitpick/squee. Given that I liked the source materials for both those shows, indications point to the latter as being more likely.
So, without further ado, Let’s Watch Fate Zero.
Fate Zero, Episode 1: Summoning Ancient Heroes
Every sixty years, the Holy Grail (yes, that Holy Grail) calls forth seven mythological/historical heroes and assigns them to seven combat classes as Servants, to be summoned forth by seven mages so that they may battle each other for possession. When only one Servant remains, the Grail will appear and grant one wish. At this point, Servant and Master may clash due to differing wishes, but the conflict is usually solved simply enough by the three Command Spells that Masters may use to force their Servants to their will.
The series Fate/Stay Night dealt with the Fifth Holy Grail War, which was highly irregular due to having drawn a random high school boy into the mix of magic masters battling it out. Fate Zero, being a prequel, is about the previous war and how a battle of truly powerful mages is fought. The first episode introduces us to all the various players involved.
We open with Kiritsugu Emiya (adopted father of the main character from Fate/Stay Night) and his wife, Irisviel von Einzbern, celebrating the birth of their daughter, Ilya. They seem like quite a happy couple. It also makes the Ilya/Shirou tsundere romance arc in FSN juuuuuust a wee tad awkward. Kiritsugu worries Iri will die due to the war, but Iri says she believes in his ideals. Careful Kiritsugu, people die when they are killed.
OMG baby Ilya so kawaii!
We then switch to Kirei Kotomine, a priest in the Catholic Church, who has also been selected as a Master. The Church has arranged with the Tohsaka magical family to ally together. Since Kotomine appeared in Fate/Stay Night, we can assume this plan more or less remains intact despite whatever wrenches the other Masters throw in Kirei’s way. Go on, KK. In the words of a great man, show us your moves. Yes, Captain Falcon does too count as a great man.
If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let them be accursed at His coming. God save you from your fate.
Kariya Matou of the Matou magical family visits his…sister-in-law? Friend? I dunno, but she’s a Tohsaka and the mother of Rin Tohsaka from FSN. Apparently Sakura (from FSN) and Rin were actually biological sisters, but Sakura was given away to the Matou family who lacked heirs of magical ability. Kariya goes home to call the old man out, in which we discover the with the exception of Kariya (man, that is three characters with “K” names already), Matous suck and need to die in a fire.
this is not a human. it is some kind of…xenos thing.
“On the fourth day, the screaming stopped.” srsly, who the fuck does that to a little girl?
Kariya is suitably horrified. Eh, you’re alright. The rest of your clan can srsly get killed by all the things, now.
Kariya makes a deal with Zouken Matou – he will fight for the Holy Grail, and upon his victory, they will release Sakura. To do this, he has to undergo the same ordeal with the worms as she does. It turns him from looking like the above…to this.
Kariya, you’re probably gonna die since we never heard anything from you in F/SN, but I will be sad to see you go.
Now we hop across the pond to a lovely little magical school in jolly old England (no, not that one). Waver Velvet has proposed a radical new theory, that with training, effort, critical thinking, and properly applied spell construction, anyone can become a great mage even if they are lacking in bloodline pedigree. Naturally, his jackass teacher tears down this theory, lecturing the class that bloodline will always be the deciding factor in magical prowess, a theory which is highly convenient because if you belong to an ancient line, then no matter how inept you might be at magic, if blood is all that matters then you’ll always have the important thing that no one else can get, right? Wait a minute…
Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi, asshole instructor…
OH MY GOD.
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT
WAVER/HERMIONE OTP FOREVER.
Anyway, being the cheeky little Gryffyndor, Waver steals the artifact meant for El-Melloi, hits up the library, hops on a plane away, finds a rural family, Confundus-charms a family into thinking he’s their son returned from studying abroad, and prepares to enter himself in the Grail War to show them all what he can do.
Now we get a series of contrast scenes, with Kirei and Kiritsugu gathering intel and analyzing each other. We learn that Kirei has summoned his Servant already, a shadow-man who can only be Assassin. Meanwhile, tiny!Rin Tohsaka demonstrates how much of a tsundere she can be, as she yells at Kirei that if her father dies – wait, but the only survivors from this war as shown in FSN was Kirei and the previous Archer. WTF IS GOING ON.
Tohsaka, Assassin, Kirei.
We also find out that Kiritsugu is known as the “mage-killer” because he uses guns and bombs and modern tech in conjunction with his magic, such that he’s really more of a mercenary/contract killer who just happens to also have magic. Kiritsugu worries that their plan to summon King Arthur as a Saber class won’t work so well, since surely Arthur’s knightly ways would contrast with his pragmatism. Irisviel reassures him that surely Arthur will be swayed to his ideals just as she was. Using the recovered scabbard of Excalibur, they begin the ritual, segueing in an epic scene where all the various Masters summon their servants.
Waver prepares a casting circle and calls forth…Rider. Kariya is told that since he is naturally weak at magic which debuffs the stats of any Servant he summons, they must add lines to the summoning incantation to mitigate this. Presumably, this means they’ve summoned Berzerker. Tohsaka is confident that the alliance of him and Kirei will win, as he’s summoned Gilgamesh as an Archer class.
Gilgamesh thinks this episode is highly formulaic, not impressive at all, and thinks the plot twists can start right about now.
And at Einzbern mansion, the smoke clears around Kiritsugu’s summoning circle and we discover that King Arthur… is actually Arturia Pendragon, Queen of the Britons.
Yes, I am suggesting that coconuts migrate. Deal with it.
Overall, this was a very well done episode. The focus on adult characters straight off the bat with the exception of Waver Velvet makes it clear that this is no Fate/Stay Night, which, again, featured many high school students in its cast. The major players are revealed, and it gives you enough of a glimpse into their motivations to kind of let you tell what kind of people they are while keeping you interested in how they will accomplish their goals. You get the idea that Tohsaka’s got some kind of grander scheme going, that Kirei’s just sort of aimlessly wandering and seeing where the road takes him, that Waver’s on a standard “make everyone recognize me” quest, that Kariya’s trying his best at a goal that he may not be able to finish for the hope of saving his niece. Most of all, you get this idea that Kiritsugu’s this guy who has a grand vision that will be good, and that he’s so dedicated to that vision that he doesn’t care if people think poorly of him for his methods to accomplish it. Much like the Operative from Serenity, he believes in achieving his utopia, even if it means there’s no place for him there, and that to me is something worth admiring.
Eagerly awaiting the next episode.