Technically continuing from where the first half left off, Fate Zero is back after a 3-month hiatus, and DAMN it looks like they upped their A-game even more.
I don’t even know where to start for this one, but I figured I’ll start with what I didn’t like about this episode, since there is just about one point. Too much CGI, almost the whole monster and air battle scenes were rendered in CGI. While it is pretty much eye-candy and a visual treat to watch, this fell under the “too much of a good thing” for me. That also made screen caps particularly hard to take because most ended up fairly grainy or blur since there isn’t much still shots of those.
The writing though, Urobuchi Gen (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica; Saya no Uta) is seemingly a master when it comes to stuff like this. Archer’s lines crack me up every time I hear him speak. His level of narcissism is simply beyond this world, “That would be a gardener’s work” “Are you insinuating that my Noble Phantasm is nothing more than a gardener’s shovel?” He does not even care man. This King of Heroes just does not give a single damn about the imminent crisis the whole holy grail war is facing.
Even his Master Tohsaka Tokiomi is in somewhat of a role reversal as he seems to be the Servant instead since he can’t really control the ego of Gilgamesh without resorting to using a Command Seal, which he desperately wants to avoid using. Even though Tokiomi is without a doubt the most boring person to watch in the whole Fate Zero series, he still manages to impress me with the lines he spoke today when facing Matou Kariya.
“Taking responsibility for yourself is the first condition to humanity. Anyone unable to do that is nothing more than a dog.” Sharp words, but they ring true. It is a more than a physical battle between the both of them. It is also a battle of ideals: “Idealism vs Realism” There is no distinct right or wrong between both sides, which makes the writing/dialogue all the more fascinating. Tokiomi wants to see his daughters achieve their potential without having to “sacrifice” the other while Kariya simply sees it as an act of separating the siblings apart, especially since the Matou household isn’t that all a comfy place to be in either. As for whose side I personally would stand on, I would pick realism in this case over idealism. It is good to have ideals and a noble goal to work towards, but at what cost? Make no mistake, I’m a fairly idealistic person myself (hence starting this pet project) but breaking family ties for the sake of a shot at honour and glory which is not even achieved by your own hands just does not sit well with me.
Speaking about not giving a damn, Berserker also does not give a single one, except that he is not quite in the right mind to give any. All 6 of the remaining Servants are here at the scene yet they have a couple of different agendas. While Saber and gang are busy trying to stop the monstrosity that is Caster, Archer and Berserker prefer to play fighter planes with each other. This is a sharp contrast compared to F/SN, the original series where one Servant shows up at a time.
Even the set-up for the next episode was done brilliantly. What exactly is Saber’s anti-fortress Noble Phantasm? Most likely it is her famed sword Excalibur but it might be something else. How will the battle between the two who have conflicting ideals turn out? What exactly is Kirei scheming? What is Kiritsugu up to, since he always seems to have a plan, taking out Caster’s Master Ryuunosuke this time.
While I’m not exactly a fan of the madness going on in between the both of them, I have to admit they were entertaining to watch. Ryuunosuke is one unique “I don’t care I just want to see the whole world burn because I’m bored” guy. Caster himself is more or less the same. It’s a shame he had to be taken out this early on but I guess in the grand scheme on things his ramblings isn’t quite needed anymore. Though his dying speech was kinda cool and he went out with a bang, quite literally.
Writing aside, need I say the animation here is god-tier? Surpassing full-length movies (UBW I’m looking at you) and putting them to shame. The 3-month break seems to have paid off, in more meanings than one. I’m not sure what kind of budget do they have, but it seems to me Ufotable broke the bank for this one. The level of detail as well as tons of CGI (which is rarely seen) speaks for itself. Even the number scenery shifts present were alarming. So much is happening at once and yet they manage to animate it out so nicely. I mentioned it before but I usually do not really pay much attention to stuff like this but wow I’m certainly blown back quite a bit.
Last but not least the music, composed by none other than the renowned Kajiura Yuki. (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Gundam Seed, Kara no Kyoukai) The OP and ED were already outstanding but listening to the various soundtracks while watching this episode made me feel that the production values are way off the charts.
Enough about singing praises on how awesome Fate Zero is, this might not be a series for everyone as it is dark; grim; bloody and deals with thought-provoking concepts like perspectives and whatnot. I’ve seen certain people write this show off as over hyped and how it makes them feel depressed and being overly serious. I won’t disagree, but I certainly do not watch anime just to see cute high school girls doing cute things, although I wouldn’t mind either. To be completely honest; in my opinion; Fate Zero is THE type of anime that makes anime so captivating to watch as a whole. The generic mainstay formulaic types will always be around, but gems like this only surface a couple of times a year.
Why does it sound like I’m writing a series review when it has only started..