Fate/Zero 02: The dogs of War beckon….
Well sad to say my initial wish of each episode being 50 minutes was not fulfilled and combined with a certain set of news announced early in the week made me quite sad but this episode helped lessen the said sadness a bit.
The episode starts of with the Waver/Rider pair where Rider has just raided a bookstore to get a few books for himself much to Waver’s displeasure.
It seems that Rider is quite an intellectual as the books that he stole or supposedly ‘borrowed’ were a book from the philosopher Homer and a Atlas.
Rider then proceeds to explore the atlas while sort of ignoring the poor Waver even though he is his Master and he even acknowledges that fact. He is fascinated by the sheer size of the whole world which was different from his time and then proceeds to plan his conquest to rule it. For those who do not know the true identity of Rider, he is Alexander/Iskandar the Great from the past who once ruled over a large area of the middle east and Greece. As you can see, his ambition to rule to world has not even diminished a bit through time, and he plans to use the Holy Grail to achieve his goal.
As Rider is rambling on about his plans, Waver silently looks on and tries to think of a solution to handle this insubordinate servant. He obediently answers all of Rider’s questions till Rider asks him about his reason for wanting the Grail. He then answers Riders by rambling about proving himself to the elders of the Clock Tower and showing them his true ability but before he can go further he get a BIG slap from Rider.
Rider then proceeds to chide Waver for thinking that way, telling him that his priorities are wrongly placed in this War and that he should grow taller before asking for respect from others(LOL).
Due to this act, Waver initially wanted to use the Command Seals to punish/order Rider but decides not to ask he feels that he should keep them for proper use. Waver then proceeds to start a short conversation with Rider regarding the Grail War, ending with a short question implying that he doubts Riders true Strength.
Rider hearing that, gets a bit irritated and proceeds to show his true power to Waver by drawing his sword, The Sword of the Cypriots.
He then uses it to cut the air, summoning one of his Noble Phantasms in a flurry of lightning, The Gordius Wheel, stunning Waver with its sheer majesty.
As they are having fun, Saber and Irisviel look on from the Einzbern Castle.
It seems that Saber is quite shocked that Kiritsugu has such a nice demeanor to him as she has been treated quite coldly since she was summoned. Irisviel proceeds to explain that it was due to a few reasons. First being that they were actually quite shocked realizing that the King Authuria Pendragon that they wanted to summon was actually a girl. Secondly, Kiritsugu cannot bring himself to face Saber directly as he is angry with the people who forced her to become King and that it was made even worse knowing the fact that she had to hide the fact that she was a woman. Overall their relationship as Servant and Master is very complicated due to their different personalities. Saber recognizes Kiritsugu’s goal of saving the world as a noble cause as she also wishes something along that line for her own Kingdom.
In the next scene, the final Master and Servant combo is revealed.
It seems that in the town of Fuyuki, a series of serial murder cases have been occuring and the culprit is a young man called Uryuu Ryuunosuke.
It also seems that he leaves quite a scene at the places where he commits murder, drawing a mysterious pentagram on the ground with the victims’ blood. In the current scene, he is in the process of drawing one and it looks like he got the information on the pentagram from a very old book he is holding. Little did he know that the ritual that he is doing was actually one to help summon Servants for the Grail War.
As he is taunting the sole survivor of the family that he has just massacred, he receives the Command Seals on his hand and the pentagram lights up.
After the light has faded, a queer looking man is standing in the summoning circle and thus the final Servant of the Grail War has been summoned, Caster. Ryuunosuke’s ability to summon a Servant is mainly due to his latent magus lineage which he confirms just before the summon as not any random person can summon a Servant just by performing the ritual.
Ryuunosuke seems puzzled by the new arrival and the unfamiliar terms that Caster said but forgoes it and offers Caster a sacrifice. Caster looks on, reads his spell books and proceeds, to the dismay of Ryuunosuke, to free the boy that was held captive. As the boy runs away, Ryuunosuke tries to intercede but is stopped by Caster, seemingly asking him to wait and see. Just as the boy has almost reached his freedom, he is suddenly grabbed by a mass on tentacles and brutally killed.
After the boy gets ripped apart and the screams in the background, Caster explains his philosophy of what he did. To him, seeing terror gives him great pleasure and in this case was the change of emotion from pure joy to pure despair. Ryuunosuke then screams in sheer delight at that demonstration.
He heaps words of praise on Caster, promising to follow him in order to see what other methods there are in which to murder people. Caster is shocked with delight at the fact that he has found a Master who truly understands him. Both Master and Servant informally form a contract of their own with a short handshake before Caster introduces himself as Bluebeard.
The last scenes of the episode carries on from the ‘puzzling’ line from the preview in the previous episode. It seems that even before the War has officially started, Kotomine Kirei is planning on backstabbing Tohsaka Tokiomi. He orders his Servant Assassin to infiltrate the very well guarded Tohsaka mansion to kill him. The barrier are of no consequence due to the fact the Assassin is Hassan who was one of the best assassins in history( Assassin’s Creed ring a bell?) and that his Servant ability of Presence Concealment makes it easier to not be detected. Kirei orders the kill knowing all too well that he is facing one of the three knight classes, Archer, there and Assassin obediently carries out the order while knowing it too.
Assassin proceeds to break through and go through the barriers of the Tohsaka mansion with the finesse and style worthy of any great spy movie and manages to reach the center of the barrier in a flash.
But before he can deactivate it, he is suddenly attacked from the roof of the mansion.
It seems that their initially assessment was slightly off and Archer was either already in wait or detected the presence of a intruder.
Archer/Gilgamesh then proceeds to open his Gate of Babylon and massacre the poor Assassin in a hail of Noble Phantasms, leaving only a crater and a mashed up mound of meat there.
Overall this episode was great with superb adherence to the novel with only the explanation regarding Ryuunosuke cut short. The animation was great as always with the final scene showing just a fraction of ufotable’s ability. The ED animation is fantastic, putting across the bittersweet feelings of this Grail War out perfectly, the scenes of each Heroic Spirit’s past coupled with the ED song Memoria’s moving lyrics really sets the tone for the whole show. The last scene of the ED depicting Saber in the midst of battle as the camera flies through is really fantastic piece of work by itself, evoking tons of emotion.
Sadly the pacing of this episode seems a bit rushed but I think they have to do it in order to give the real exciting parts better screen time later in the season as these few scenes are mainly preludes to the BIG battle. Morever it seems that Fate/Zero is only going to last 13 episodes this season, with the later half of another 13 shown in the Spring 2012 season. According to the producer Iwakami Atsuhiro, it is done to maintain the quality of the anime which I feel is quite a good reason as the current quality is freaking amazing and requires more than the usual amount of work to be done so who can complain? haha.
In the next episode, the Grail War would finally start and more information regarding Kirei’s actions would be revealed. Seeing this pace, I foresee a big battle in either episode 4 or 5 so just a heads up.