All my posts about Fate/Zero should be considered to have a spoiler warning for Fate/Stay Night, it’s going to be impossible to talk sensibly about it without bringing in what I know from playing the game. If you haven’t played the game, I encourage you to do so. It’ll only take you… well, ok, it is like seventy hours long or something. But it’s really good! Come back in three days and we can talk about how awesome it was! And then you can read what I have to say about episode 1 of Fate/Zero.
…sixty minutes pass…
Yep, Rin's a cute kid.
Well, I’m hype as hell now. This first episode was just them getting out the board, setting up the pieces, and explaining the rules of the game, but it was done very well. There won’t be a repeat of the fiasco with the original Fate/Stay Night anime, where everything was presented blandly with bad animation and I turned it off after six episodes. The one complaint I might have is that while the characters and backgrounds are drawn well, they could stand to be animated a little more. Sometimes you would have people standing there talking to each other about servants or murders or whatever and their arms would be frozen to their sides with just their mouths moving. This is common in anime, but in a show otherwise so visually appealing it sort of stuck out.
So we’ve been introduced to the masters, now:
*Kotomine we already knew and hated, but we get a new perspective on him seeing him not as a puppet-master but as a junior combatant under Tohsaka. We also got a new perspective on him based on his relationship to Kiritsugu. I got sort of a Death Note vibe from them, the scene where they were reading each other’s life stories and pondering how terrifying each other were.
*Kiritsugu would be Kira, then, a mass murderer who dreams of a better world, where Kotomine would be L, the servant of the status quo (in this case, the Church). I thought that this story would be told from the viewpoint of Kiritsugu, but maybe that was just because his son was the focus of the game. He does seem a little cold and terrifying to be the viewpoint character. If this story is being told Animorphs-style from all the different characters at once, that will be great.
*Tohsaka seems kind of flat as a character, but maybe that’s just because Kotomine dominated all their scenes, maybe they’ll flesh him out. He seems almost like the stereotypical Magus that all the other Magi are deviations from.
*Kariya… what can you say about Kariya. Poor guy. The Matou family seems to exist only to send laughable token representatives to the Holy Grail War. If he can’t even withstand being eaten alive from the inside by worms, how can he hope to win the war? (I was surprised how explicit they got in re: the worms. That was the creepiest part of the game, and it took you fifty hours of play to get there. Here they show it in the first episode. I guess they’re figuring everybody watching has played the game.)
*Waver is really… odd. I would almost say that he’s the comic relief character, because this show desperately needs one to balance out all the selling children into slavery and blowing up passenger airliners. But then he goes and mind-controls some old couple, like it was no big thing, as far as I can tell just to get out of paying for a hotel. He might be crazier than he looks. I just hope he doesn’t end up being the viewpoint character, like that dumb kid in Claymore.
*That lecturer guy whose name I don’t remember is gonna be the first to die. They haven’t even bothered characterizing him beyond “kind of a dick to his students”. Probably he dies in a battle with Kariya, so Kariya can feel better about being the second to die.
I guess that’s only six, we’re still one short. I can’t think of anybody we’ve been introduced to that would be a secret master. Maybe Kotomine’s dad, but you would think Assassin would have noticed. Let’s see, what Heroic Spirits are accounted for. Kotomine->Assassin, Kiritsugu->Saber, Tohsaka->Archer, Kariya ->Berserker, Waver-> Some Mesopotamian that isn’t Gilgamesh. Do you know any other Mesopotamian heroes? He looked big and muscular, he’s probably not caster, that leaves Lancer and Rider. Ali Baba maybe? Ali Baba had a flying carpet, right, he could ride that, and that scrap of red cloth could easily have come from a flying carpet. Or am I mixing up my myths? Ok Wikipedia confirms it was actually King Solomon who had the flying carpet. He actually makes more sense as a Heroic Spirit, and the Spirit Waver summoned did look sort of regal. So that leaves the unknown and the lecturer to divide up Lancer and Caster between them. The lecturer is a big important wizard who cares about magic, so maybe he gets Caster. On the other hand, Caster is a sneaky type (second only to Assassin in Kiritsugu’s view), which doesn’t fit the lecturer and does fit a master who has maintained so low a profile even the audience hasn’t seen him. And IIRC Caster is also considered to be sort of a bad class, because all the good Heroic Spirits have magic resistance anyway. The lecturer would have picked out a relic associated with a better class than that. So give him Lancer instead. If all Lancers are as prideful as the one in the game, they’ll be a good fit.