There’s Fate Zero, then there’s the Fate Zero in my mind.
Fate Zero is a prequel to the Fate/Stay Night Visual Novel about which I know and care nothing. I only care insofar as the Fate Zero anime was mostly introduction and exposition at this point, and I’m hoping it holds together as a series on its own.
The story is, relatively speaking, simple – 7 great heroes/evildoers of the past are reincarnated with even greater powers than they actually had when they were merely men who achieved notable things, and they each have a master who wishes to find the Holy Grail to achieve some goal, selfish or otherwise. Who the heroes are, is the most interesting part of the series to me, and how their myths are rewritten to determine their powers.
I was asked some weeks ago about my interest in the reincarnated heroes, as I’ve mentioned here in the past that myths are typically a good hook for me. Since these heroes aren’t really connected to their past incarnations in any meaningful way, these are clever and some good fun, but I don’t actually feel a connection between one and the other. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the heck out of this series – even when large chunks of episodes were merely expository conversation.
Let’s start from the top – the heroes themselves.
Lancer was a hoot for me, it’s not often I get to see Fionn mac Cumhaill in an anime. Or, ever. When people think of Irish heroes, they always default to Cuchulain. I liked how he was noble, but his master is a prick. A story from his perspective would be much different than the one from Saber’s.
Rider‘s really the hero here. I’m pretty sure that Alexander the Great didn’t look anything like that great huge mountain of a man, but I loved the interpretation of “Great” as meaning looming large in every way. Rider’s what you think of when you think “Age of Heroes;” great huge muscular men, laughing as they fight, drink and die. (Except for Cuchulain, I think he’d be a mope no matter what he was doing.) Rider’s master is weak, but not bad, and having Rider as a servant will man him up pretty fast, so if he survives, it’ll be good for him. Poor bastard needs it, with the name Waver Velvet.
Oh Saber. Who can’t love the idea of a conflicted, tortured King Arthur? Everyone tortures Arthur differently. Whether you force him to deal with a wife who is having an affair, or make him have an affair himself, or turn him into a woman who had to hide his gender, or even turn him into Sailor Moon, Arthur is a splendid tabula rasa on which to draw. He’s timeless. Even though Saber’s master is the utterly dull Kiritsugu, we’re supplied with a Guinevere for him to adore in the person of Irisviel. I have no doubt that most of you were writing little stories in your head about Saber and Irisviel, as I was.
Caster is half of the best comedy team I’ve ever seen. He and his master, voiced absolutely deliciously by Ishida Akira, were perfect. Gilles de Rais is the name of a man so loathed, so envenomed by the ages that I’m kind of inclined to think he probably didn’t do any of the things he was accused of doing. You all know Bluebeard, right? Well, you should. I have to tell you, I *loved* his speech about “What do I have to do to be punished by god?!?” That was almost as good as Saber on her bike for me.
Beserker is Lancelot?
Well, that’s just dumb. Lancelot was no beserker, I can tell you. They should have picked someone Norse. It doesn’t make any sense to have a Berserker Lancelot. Gawd. Now I’m just depressed. ( I retract this. Berserk Lancelot does make sense. And it caused a fraught conversation in the second season between Saber and Berserker.) But Berserker isn’t the interesting half of this story anyway. Kariya, his master, is the most pathetic of all the masters. (Pathetic in the sense of inviting pathos.) You really have to root for him, because if you don’t you are consigning at least one, possibly two little girls to a eternity of foulness, which means you’re a heartless wretch. Fooey on you.
Gilgamesh is Archer and a delightfully wtf interpretation of the myth. I have no idea how they got that trash-talking asshole from the legend of Gilgamesh, but I look forward to his destruction. Kotomine is a snooze – I was so happy Gilgamesh thought so too. What a BORE.
If you don’t grok Assassin the moment they mention them, you fail in your study of legends, myths and secret societies.
The animation is stunning – we expect no less from Type Moon. The characters are well drawn, well-acted and so far, at least, really well written. The only complaint I have is that the first season ends where the plot begins and if they don’t actually give me a story to hold on to, I’ll be peeved, since I have no intention of ever playing any game/reading any Visual Novel.
Since I don’t care about the Visual Novel, or the series as a whole, I’ve cheerfully rewritten the story in my head. Of course Irisviel and Saber get to be together, duh.
Art – 10
Story – 6 It’s been all character all the time, which has had moments, and also been a lot of blah blah blah.
Characters – 9
Yuri – 0, but in my head, it’s more like 7
Service – 1 on principle
Overall – 7
I await Season Two with the faint hope that Kiritsugu dies, Saber survives the war with Irisviel, and they live happily ever after, just like on this clock I got from Young Ace magazine.
Also, I wonder what the fallout of the absurdly priced Blu-Ray release will be. I can’t imagine too many American fans coughing up that usurious a price for what amounts to light entertainment.