On-going Thoughts: Fate/Zero 25/25

It concludes.

Fate/Zero finally comes to its conclusion. From the first episode in October, to its half-season finale on Christmas, to its resumption this spring season, it finally concludes. It’s been a long journey personally, it essentially encapsulated the majority of my school year. Let’s see how it ends.

On-going Thoughts: Episode

The destruction of the Grail causes destruction throughout Fuyuki City. Kiritsugu’s incredulous at the sight; he destroyed the Grail to save people, yet with the explosion of the Grail, the city’s being engulfed. It’s quite rare to see Kiritsugu emotional outside of his childhood horrors, this would be one of the occasions. It needs to be understood that Kiritsugu doesn’t hate people, nor does he disregard human life; he treasures it, that’s why he killed Natalia, his father, and the situational visages of Irisviel and Ilya. Right now, he’s in a spot of pure helplessness; he has to watch the destruction of the city, without being able to do anything about it [something he wanted to avoid; he got stronger for a reason, he wanted to prevent this feeling of helplessness from occurring; it’s like he’s a kid again.].

Fate/Zero’s best described not as an action series, but rather as a show driven by dialogue, but more specifically in this case, a tragedy. It’s remarkable to see how hard Kiritsugu tried, and how much he failed; but it’s even more remarkable to see how reminiscent he is of Shirou, from Fate/stay night. They’re antithetical in their approaches, but they’re analogous when taking into considerations their aspirations [they both want to be “heroes.”]. Kiritsugu failed, so Shirou has to take over; Irisviel didn’t succeed, so Ilya has to take over. It’s ironic, it’ll later be revealed that Kiritsugu wanted Shirou to stay away from magic, due to its nature; yet, he’ll serve as his successor.

The Grail granted Gilgamesh a true incarnation, not bounded by the rules of the Holy Grail War. In doing so, Kirei was resurrected along with him due to them being linked. Ironic how a Grail that sought to took away numerous lives, granted one. It’s insinuated that Kirei’s wish was granted, instead of Kiritsugu’s. In this case, the wish of pure destruction to satiate his sadistic wants. The majority of characters in Fate/Zero are well developed, deep, and great; but I never exactly liked Kirei’s character. Not because of what his character contains, but due to the origin of his character: there really wasn’t one. Each master fought for a reason, something that made them who they were; Kirei fought for shits and giggles, to discover that he really liked killing people and seeing suffering among the masses. Kirei seems to have discovered the key to floating his boat; yet, he still wishes for more. He spots Kiritsugu yonder, yet Kiritsugu makes no attempt to engage, he seems to be fully destroyed. His fighting spirit, nonexistent, seemingly dead. And he has good reason to do so, he endured a multitude of shitty events for the serendipitous occasion of him actually saving the world. Yet, since the occasion proved to be an abysmal failure, everything he’s gone through, every atrocity he committed was for nil.

After searching through the rubble, Kiritsugu finds Shirou. Elated at the discovery, he gives repeated thanks. Yet, his actions aren’t due to benevolence, they’re due to a selffish reassurance that not everything he did, was utterly catastrophic, It’s similar to finding a rose on a desolate battlefield; it’s a sign of life, or hope, among the destruction.

I’m really glad that Waver survived. It would have been a shitty development if he did die, after Rider’s intentions, and his actions. It would make Fate/Zero a melodramatic tragedy in a sense; there wouldn’t have been a reason to kill him off, after the incessant monologues by Rider that foreshadowed Waver’s surviving. Waver announces his wishes to travel, a trait reminiscent of the diseased son of the elderly couple; he asks to stay while he gets things sorted out; they unanimously agree. He searches through the remnants of Rider’s belongings in his room; he finds a new shirt, a memento of Rider in other words.

At Tokiomi’s funeral, Kirei gives some final words, in English [it wasn’t that bad yo.]. He congratulates Rin as her debut as the new family head. Aoi seems to have survived, albeit with brain damage, possibly due to the asphyxiation [or out of psychological trauma; I’m really not sure.]. Rin seems to be distrustful of Kirei, but Kirei gives her the Azoth dagger that was given to him, as a gift for his loyalty. Oh the characterization of Kirei. He’s essentially the living incarnation of the devil. Pure evil, without a heartbeat; I still dislike his origins. He smiles at Rin’s crying, and her suffering.

Saber falls victim to the Grail too. She laments her decisions against Berserker; her forgiving nature, her refusal to seek recompense caused his insanity. A knight’s most central virtue is that of honor; since Lancelot’s honor was forsaken when he sought an affair with Guinevere, he never reattained it since he was never punished for it. In other words, he didn’t die a knight, he died a scoundrel [or at least in his eyes].

Time passes by. Kiritsugu never saw Ilya again because he did not win the Holy Grail. He converses with Shirou; he shares his recollections, on his wanting to become a hero. It’s similar to Rider, who realized that his dream was but naught; Kiritsugu shares about how he realized the impossibility of becoming a hero as he matured. Kiritsugu comments on how beautiful the moon looks tonight, he’s seemingly close to death. Shirou, not taking his own advice, and encapsulated by his naivete, offers to redeem him for his failed efforts. He then finally attains peace.

On-going Thoughts: Concluding Thoughts

That was an extremely fulfilling ending. I laud Fate/Zero for its status as the epitome of great storytelling. The ending was just so great. The instrumental of the main theme, in unison with Shirou’s words empowered the feeling so much more. It’s something that you cannot quite construct into words. Regardless of how well I write, or how convincingly I write, nothing sways, or allows you to live vicariously, think vicariously, or experience vicariously as well as music. Music as a medium, with the animation bolstered the ending, it intensified it to such an extent where it’s inexplicably difficult to define through words, so I won’t attempt to butcher the feelings with an explanation.

Fate/Zero is a tragedy, the failings of the adults of Fate/Zero go on to haunt the children in Fate/stay night. Tokiomi’s position as head of the family passes onto his daughter, Rin. Zouken’s lost pawn, Kariya, transmits the responsibilities to Sakura for the next war. Irisviel’s position as a medium for the Holy Grail is being passed onto Ilya. And Kiritsugu’s naive wish is passed onto his successor, Shirou. It truly is the epitome of great storytelling. Each character is given life, although often to the extremes, the story is told so fluidly. It’s to be incessantly lauded.

Yet, as much as I appreciate the greatness that is Fate/Zero. I suppose the maturity, or the darker aspects of it prevented me from relating closely to the characters. It’s one I enjoyed immensely as a critic, an objective mind. But I prefer to wholly enjoy anime subjectively, through a mindless watching-to-enjoy mindset. Fate/Zero did provide that to an extent, yet, I couldn’t help but wish for more. Perhaps it’s my age [kinda 16], or perhaps it’s something that I have yet to experience. But Fate does not become a favorite of mine. It is one that I will examine, and point out as a great series, the epitome of great storytelling. One that I will ardently defend with a fervor of an adamant fan boy, but it’s not a series that I’ll reflect on. It’s not a series that changes my point of view, that makes me wish for more. It doesn’t make me want to enjoy the small trivialities in life, it doesn’t make me do that. Yet, I suppose that that wasn’t the intentions of Fate. But nevertheless, it was an enjoyable show, and a great one to write on. For those who actually read this blog, it’s greatly appreciated. I do write primarily for myself, but it doesn’t hurt to have an active audience.

Oh, and right. Hopefully ufotable animates Heaven Feel’s arc for Fate, the sequel truly deserves an adaptation that Deen could not offer. Fate/stay night’s visual novel is just as great as the light novel of Fate/Zero; the only difference is the current animation [ufotable against Studio Deen].

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7 Responses to On-going Thoughts: Fate/Zero 25/25

  1. Thess says:

    You claim you know HF and you don’t even have a clue of what Kirei wants. The entire HF is about it (and the Matou situation).

    “I want to know if it is a crime to live as you are, if you are different from others.”

    This is what Kirei wants: an answer for the meaning of his existence. The most basic, human thing that he keeps questioning.

    • mdz says:

      I didn’t comment on HF [explicitly at least, quote me on it] because I don’t know Kirei’s character outside of Fate/Zero. I’ve never read the visual novels; I’ve only watched the anime adaptations. I stated that he began to understand what he wants, although he doesn’t fully know it yet.

      I don’t dislike Kirei because of his capabilities. I dislike him because he’s a passive evil, an evil without reason. It’s too symbolic for me; I prefer symbolism paired with logic, rather than a “just is” explanation [Kiritsugu had a reason to act the way he did, so did every other master].

      Please give proof to my words, rather than commit blind accusations.

      • Riley W. says:

        This is a bit (5 years) late LOL, but judging Kirei’s character based on Fate/Zero is like judging Darth Vader based on the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Fate/Zero is the PREQUEL to the actual story. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel is Kirei’s main story and development and the reason why his fans like him. (By the way, Heaven’s Feel is actually coming out as an anime film trilogy starting this October so you should definitely watch it.) Fate/Zero just serves as an introduction to Kirei’s journey to understand his own true nature in Heaven’s Feel.

        It is common consensus that Kirei is one of the most complex characters in the Fate universe. If I’m being honest, he is not my favorite but he is exceptionally well-written and one of the most unique villains out there by far. Most villains either have some sort of traumatic experience that makes them do bad things or are just evil for the sake of being evil without ever pausing to think why. Kirei, on the other hand, is none of those. He was born as a sadist yet he always tried to follow the path of righteousness, even if it gave him no joy, so much so to the point where he equated happiness with sin itself! I don’t think I’ve ever met someone like that before (in fiction or IRL). I mean, can you imagine? Doing your best to be a good religious kid, helping others in church, always working hard – only to realize that your brain literally cannot process the chemicals for you to sympathize with other people? How hard it must be to do “good” things when you can’t feel emotions like normal people to begin with? Makes me glad I was born with a normal mind.

        The point of Kirei’s character is to raise the following questions: If a newborn baby finds pleasure in other people’s pain, isn’t that baby still technically innocent, since he was just born that way? If your inherent nature ONLY allows you to feel happiness when others are in pain, then are you wrong for trying to seek out happiness – even though seeking happiness is something that EVERYONE does? Or should you run away from pleasure simply because you were born differently than everyone else? Or should you just kill yourself?

        Because that is the life that Kotomine Kirei has been living. He always ran away from pleasure because he only felt happy when other people are suffering. Tell me, how many sadistic psychopath characters out there have spent their lives actively choosing NOT to do bad things? That’s right, none of them. Kirei is fundamentally the same as someone like the JOKER, yet look at how different they are!

        Everything Kirei does from here on out is him trying to understand his own nature and seek happiness, which is… exactly what the rest of us do, isn’t it? But unfortunately, he was born “defective” and can’t find pleasure in things that most people can. It’s fucking depressing when you think about it, especially after considering that his father named him “Kirei” because Kirei means “beautiful”.

        I hope that gets you to see him in a different light!

      • Riley W. says:

        (These questions I mentioned and the desire for self-knowledge is also why Kirei wants to “meet” Angra Mainyu, someone who has done nothing but kill all his life. He asks him something and gets an answer in response, but I won’t spoil that for you hehe. Let’s just say it’s pretty interesting from a philosophical standpoint.)

  2. Lorhand says:

    Short note: Ilya is not schizophrenic or something similar. All Einzbern homunculi are linked, as they are all based on Lizleihi Justicia von Einzbern(don’t care if the name is spelled wrong :P). And two weeks ago I forgot to tell you that Zero hour is the time Kiritsugu finds Shirou and thus Shirou’s new life and journey began, so it makes sense that ufotable was going to show that scene in the last episode. Total miscalculation by me. :S FSN and FZ were ultimately linked with this, though of course the scene under the moonlight was just as much important.

    The Grail granted Gilgamesh a true incarnation, not bounded by the rules of the Holy Grail War.

    Gil is half-Servant now. He has a body made of flesh and blood, which no longer makes it possible for him to dematerialize and removes the need to have an anchor in this world, but as we all know, he still can use all of his Noble Phantasms IF he has the mana.
    And we already know how Gil got it…

    An important scene is missing. The scene in which Gil resists the curse of the corrupted Grail, when he was showered by the mud. Angry Manjuice made a mistake and acknowledged Gil’s presence, the presence of “the King” in a place where nothing is supposed to exist. That is due to Gil’s unbreakable and unbelievable ego, selfishness and arrogance.

    I remember something he told Saber in Fate when she suspected that he became insane when he was showered by the Grail mud.

    Do not take me so lowly. How can I be a hero if I cannot swallow a curse such as this? All evils of the world? Heh, bring at least three times as much as that if you want to stain me. See, Saber. A hero is someone who carries with them everything they see.

    I am already carrying everything in this world.

    Damn. Pure badass.

    The majority of characters in Fate/Zero are well developed, deep, and great; but I never exactly liked Kirei’s character. Not because of what his character contains, but due to the origin of his character: there really wasn’t one.

    Well, he later had a reason, but it makes more sense to those who read Heaven’s Feel, thus again limiting the possible views to those who haven’t. Again, another problem of prequels.

    I can only pity him. After all, until now he tried everything he can to achieve normal happiness, but he couldn’t. Born to be evil is certainly not good (haha). At least the Grail showed that to him and granted him answers. Btw, have you seen this video?

    Other than that, I am displeased to see Kariya’s death scene. I don’t really know what to say, ufotable did not portray it the way I imagined it. Sakura was certainly confused why he came back and that she then realizes that this is probably a lesson Zouken wanted to teach her. Well, in both adaptation and novel she shows that she is pretty much broken, but the Sakura hate is rising up again and some Kariya fans are now starting to hate Sakura, too. Poor thing…

    I’m really glad that Waver survived. It would have been a shitty development if he did die, after Rider’s intentions, and his actions.

    It’s getting even better. See below.

    Aoi seems to have survived, albeit with brain damage, possibly due to the asphyxiation

    Correct. The lack of oxygen damaged her brain and there was no one who called an ambulance. Well, Kirei was there, but c’mon, it’s Kirei…

    Rin is actually very strong and that’s why I like her so much. She doesn’t want to show a weakness and let out her emotions, especially not in front of Kirei(which frustrates him a bit). But then Kirei just had to screw with her and give her the Azoth dagger, that bloddy bastard… But well, we all know it bites him back, so I’m fine with it.

    Saber falls victim to the Grail too.

    The problem is imo, she never understood why Kiritsugu ordered her to destroy the Grail. She still had hopes and she was one of the last two surviving Servants, yet she still lost, even though the Grail was almost hers and now again she is stuck in time until someone summons her for the Grail War again. Lancelot died in his king’s arms and was relieved, but she still couldn’t forgive herself and Rider ultimately failed to free her. Fortunately, Shirou does…

    Time passes by. Kiritsugu never saw Ilya again because he did not win the Holy Grail.

    Not only that. Angry Manjuu’s curse slowly destroyed his body, almost rendering him blind, weakening his limbs and sealed almost all of his magecraft, making him unable to break through the Einzbern’s barrier and free Ilya. It is Shirou who relieves him.

    Kiritsugu reflects his entire life, having achieved nothing and regrets Shirou’s admiration and the wish to become like Kiritsugu a bit, yet Kiritsugu couldn’t bring himself to tell Shirou how foolish that is. Kiritsugu went astray and forgot his pure belief in his selfless ideal, but when Shirou told him to fulfill his dreams, he was reminded of it again and was sure that Shirou will never go the way he went, as the memory of this night will never be forgotten (and indeed, Shirou never forgets). Shirou’s pure declaration is Kiritsugu’s salvation and when Kiritsugu closed his eyes – as if he fell asleep – he died.

    Btw, Kiritsugu made preperations to prevent a fifth war. He placed mines that would detonate in 30 or 40 years to destroy the Grail system forever, but he couldn’t know that the next war would come in only 10 years. Oh and the short cameo of Taiga was really cool. ^_^

    And now what happened to Waver…

    Waver later returned to the Clock Tower in London, seeing how the Archibald family, who was on the verge of ruin after losing its heir and the Magic Crest that was I believe 8 generations old. Waver’s theories were true and although he remains to be an average magus, he is the best lecturer of the Clock Tower(as well as being extremely popular and a chick magnet) and the best in talent production.

    His achievements in the name of the Archibald family restored their glory and reputation and for this, the heir of the El-Melloi title, who was only a little girl at that time, gave the title to him, making him Lord El-Melloi II. However, she clearly stated that he was just making up for what he caused in the first place and made him her “servant”.

    He becomes Rin’s custodian in London (but not her instructor) and is actually pissed that she doesn’t know anything about Japanese technology, electronics and games(pretty much the only thing he enjoys of Japan), calling her the worst Japanese ever. In all routes in which Shirou does not completely destroy the Grail system (like in the FSN anime), he will be the one who dismantled the Grail forever. And have a look at his outfit. I think that says it all. ^_^

    Wow, the series ended. However, I will have some final thoughts when the blurays are released and I watch the complete series again. Overall, it was satisfactory. I believe ufotable will animate Girls’ Work next, but now I’m waiting for the Prisma Ilya anime. I guess I’m just too obsessed with Type-Moon. ^_^

    • mdz says:

      Wow, Angra Mainyu seems to be integral, but it played such a behind-the-doors-like role in the animation. I suppose there is more depth to Kirei, but from the prequel alone, it painted him as a closet sadist without a reason. And Waver’s life seems great after. Your explanations are really awesome, thanks.

  3. Simon says:

    Ah, I entirely agree about respecting Fate/Zero from a critics standpoint, but it isn’t one of my favourite series either. I just felt it was missing a little something. Still, first season 8/10, second season 9/10.

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