Fate/Zero 01: The Inception of the 4th War for the Holy Grail
The wait is finally over…the 4th Grail War has started and what a first episode this was…. ufotable has set the bar for this seasons anime with a crazy 50 minute debut episode showcasing their abilities, I think only Last Exile would come close to this….
This episode is roughly broken up into three parts, the first is where they explain a bit on each masters resolve on participating in the Grail War. The next part explains what further enforces each master’s reason for their participation by giving them a person/object to focus on in the course of the War. The last part is the masters summoning their servants, which would be a delight to all who are watching it.
To begin with first, the episode first focuses on Emiya Kiritsugu and his reason.
As all fans of the series know, Kiritsugu’s main reason of living is to make the world a better place but this time around the stakes are higher as he has a wife, Irisviel von Einsbern, and a daugther Illya so he seems to have bent his aim to include them in.
Next is Tohsaka Tokiomi and Kotomine Risei and Kirei little cabal of conspiracy on how to acheive their goal of winning the Grail War. (Tokiomi is one of the most dapper looking oss-sans that i have seen, sadly he is not voiced by Fujiwara Keiji ><)
It seems like they are collaborating to ensure the success of Tokiomi in winning the Grail War. The Church has been appointed to oversee the whole Grail War to help ensure it being carried out in utmost secrecy and overall fairness, with the ‘fairness’ bit explained later in the series but not this episode. Kirei’s dad Risei has been selected to be the overseer of this Grail War which of benefit to Tokiomi who is quite close to Risei. The main deciding factor of Risei’s choice of underhandedly support Tokiomi is that even though the Matou and Einbern families are also the founding families of the Grail War, it seems that they have lost sight of the main purpose of the War itself, much less to say those other Mages from outside participating whose goals are definitely self motivated. Therefore the best choice and winner of the Grail War is definitely Tohsaka Tokiomi whose goal has remained constant and is in line with the Goal of all Mages and the Grail War itself, which is to reach the Origin or Akasha. The magnitude of Risei’s support can be seen by he decision to ask his son to be an apprentice under Tokiomi and participate in the Grail War after his son suddenly gains the Command Seals which are required to participate in it and summon servants. Kirei, even obedient, goes with his father’s orders but not without questioning his own true purpose of participation, as the Grail normally selects people with a wish/purpose to be granted by it which in contrary to his own wishes because at that moment he does not have any.
Leaving the Matou Family at a young age and relinquishing his Magical lineage, he is just a normal man who is quite close to the Tohsakas, especially Rin, Sakura and their mom Aoi.
Meeting them in the park one day, he stumbles upon the fact that Tokiomi has given Sakura to his family when asking them about her. Enraged by the sheer audacity of that act, he goes and confronts his current Family Head, Matou Zouken.(FYI Tokiomi has quite a just reason for that which would be explained in later episodes)
After a heated discussion, Zouken accepts Kariya’s decision to participate in the Grail War and win it to free Sakura but Zouken drops a bomb of a statement on Kariya saying that it is too late to save Sakura from her initiation. Matou magecraft is based on insects, mainly Crest Worms which feed on Prana and boost the users abilities and skills that they are implanted in at a cost.
Seeing that, Kariya is devastated but still vows to save her, with some positive conditions by Zouken which would reduce Sakura’s ordeal till he gets selected by the Grail and receives the Command Seals.
Next part is on two other Masters, Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi and Waver Velvet.
Kayneth is just a one of the magus prodigies/ lecturers at the magus academy at The Clock Tower who has been selected to participate in the Grail War by the Magus association. Overall quite a powerful mage with a inferiority complex which would be explained later in the series.
A student of The Clock Tower and one of Kayneth’s own too. A prodigy magus of a young age but is given too little credit due to his family’s lineage apparent youth at being only three generations long. He tries to prove that lineage is not that a large factor in his paper to Kayneth but get publicly humiliated and reprimanded by him in front of the whole student body. Angered by that, he stomps out of the lecture hall before ‘stealing’ Kayneth’s package is his last act of contempt towards him. Seeing the package and doing some research, Waver decides to participate in to prove himself as a proper magus.
The next part of the episode jumps a few years into the future and focuses mainly on the Einzbern and Tohsaka sides. Both families have started researching on the masters participating in the Grail War and other intrigued by each other the most.
It seems that the Tohsaka camp has gained a slight advantage over the other participants with Kirei summoning a servant, Assassin, who reveals his true name to all viewers as Hassan.(I’ll let the series to the explanation for this servant to prevent spoilers) Tokiomi has been collecting infomation on Kiritsugu and when Kirei reads the dossier, he is shocked at what he sees as it is completely different from what a normal magus would do. To Tokiomi, Kiritsugu is just a rogue magus who sullies the honor of being a magus by his horrendous acts. After Tokiomi leaves, Kirei further reads the dossier, and discovers that Kiritsugu is not what he initially thought, as he is behaving like he has a greater purpose in life and is living without any sense of self preservation which intrigues him the most.
Later they review the information they have gathered on the other known magus who are partcipating in the Grail War, with Kotomine Kirei proving a stumbling point for Kiritsugu as he does not understand why a person like him is participating in the Grail War and to him personally, he is afraid of facing someone like him with his talents and eccentric behaviour.
It seems that even though he has received the command seals, it has come with a great cost. The crest worms inside of him has taken a great toll on him, deforming his body so much that he has lost the use of his left side of his body and giving his quite a hideous appearance, but to him it is a worthy sacrifice to save Sakura.
In last part of the episode, pace picks up, with most of the participants doing their final preperations.
The Einzberns finally receive their relic, Avalon, the Sheath of Excalibur, which would help them summon one of the strongest servants, the soul of Arthuria Pendragon and Kiritsugu decides on his plan to win the War.
For the other magus, it a much less exciting affair, Kirei sees of Rin and Aoi who are leaving for another families house to stay safe from the War, Kayneth manages to scrounge up another relic to summon another servant, Waver tries to do his preparations living in a elderly couples house while they believe that he is their son who has returned from overseas but has his work cut down with his relic being one that he stole from Kayneth and lastly the Matou side in which Kariya promises to Sakura that he will save her and that she could meet her sister and mom again. Kariya also has some help with the summoning by Zouken who instructs him to add two extra lines to the incantation to give the servant he summons the attribute of Mad Enchantment, essentially any servant he summons would be of the Berserker Class.
Next is all the known magus performing the summoning rituals, with the incantation spread throughout each of them which is pure cinematic bliss courtesy of ufotable and Urobuchi Gen.
And with the ritual complete, the servants are summoned.
First with Waver Velvet summoning Rider(my personal fave in this show)
Matou Kariya summoning Berserker( omg second fav!!)
Tohsaka Tokiomi summoning everyones favourite badass and overpowered servant, Archer, better known as Gilgamesh.( Sorry for this spoiler but i doubt anyone who is watching this show does not know who this is unless you are seeing the Fate series for first time)
And lastly the episode ends with Emiya Kiritsugu summoning Saber and her saying her favourite line.
Well those who have not read the story would be quite confused with the preview especially with the last line which was said by Kotomine Kirei so just a heads up, the next episode would be very exciting with some action at last and the revelation of the last master, oh and be prepared to be baffled by Kiritsugu’s reaction towards Saber.
Overall, I feel that this is a fantastic adaptation of the novel with utmost adherence to what was written by Urobuchi Gen, each scene occurring just as it was written. Even though this is just the first episode, I get a feeling that this show has set the bar for all novel to anime adaptations. Also, this show has seriously high production values like that of the movie anime Kara no Kyoukai with ufotable not holding back their creativity. They have blended the CGI with the animation to the best of their ability and they even did not scrimp on the details. Did anyone see the motes of dust floating in the light when Waver was in the library? I did. The animation is topnotch judging from the OP animation, and knowing ufotable, their standard is of the utmost quality so they will not disappoint. Art wise, it is very close to the original art by Takeuchi Takashi courtesy of Sodou Tomonori as usual. Oh and now to the good part, the MUSIC. One name says it all, Kajiura Yuki, simple as that. Her music that she composed for this show fits it perfectly, fitting in well with what is happening on screen, even the OP, Oath Sigh, having some of her influences. Seiyuu wise, the choices are perfect for each role, thats why there is no change from the drama cd, if only Fujiwara Keiji was Tokiomi then that would be perfect. Hopefully each episode would be 50 minutes in length or else too much would happen in each episode if it was 20+ minutes in length so we would just have to see next week then.
P.S: just a heads up, like my other Fate/Zero posts, do not expect a happy ending or journey with this series.