Knight on Two Wheels
(Before you start reading, please pretend that this post is filled with Saber vs. Rider screenshots, as that is what I would have done, would my conscience and sense of duty not dictate otherwise.)
Anyway, if I had to use only one word to classify this episode, I’d be troubled to choose between two terms. Unfortunately, those are usually not employed together. Whether this episode was “awesome” or “rushed”, is something still unclear in my mind, but it certainly had a bit of both.
It was definitely “awesome”, largely due to how amazing this part of the original source is. The battle between Saber and Rider, as well as the confrontation between Kariya and Aoi were two of my most anticipated moments in this second half. On the other hand, I can’t help but notice how some important details were missing. But as a novel reader, that’s highly subjective, for I could probably have enjoyed better if I hadn’t read the source material.
The battle between Saber and Rider is my favorite one in Fate/Zero, and as far as visuals go, its animated version couldn’t have been better. It was just as awesome (if not more) as I had imagined. However, it was too short. The part where Rider starts destroying the wall of concrete and the trees should have been longer, as I’d love to have seen more of Saber dodging it. Also, the scene where she jumps using that ramp… One could hardly discern what was happening as it seemed to have come out of nowhere, flashing only once in the screen. But, despite my harsh words I was satisfied with how gorgeous everything looked, and I still loved that scene to bits ❤
As for the other highlight of the episode, that’s what I was sorely disappointed with. I’m referring to what happened in the church. The scene was good, the direction was great (even if I think that they exaggerated a bit on the flashbacks featuring Tokiomi) and the voice acting could hardly have been any better. However, it lacked the some of the impact it had in the light novel, especially due to the lack of exposition about Kariya and Aoi’s backstory, and it was also misleading regarding (minor LN spoilers ahead – highlight to view) the motive he chocked Aoi and the fact that she isn’t dead, which is why I’m afraid they’re actually making some changes. Either way, seeing Kariya finally giving in to madness was still heartbreaking, albeit expected.
The episode was also an important point of development for Kirei. His trade of words with Zoken was quite the interesting dialog, as the later completely saw through Kirei’s sadistic nature, which he has always tried to deny, up until this very scene. It is not until later in this episode that he finally embraces his source of pleasure, being even surprised with how he felt after engendering that “real-life play”, as Gilgamesh calls it. On another note, this is also the point where I started to truly hate him xD Using Kariya is fine – it’s not something one would deem morally correct, of course, but it’s a means to an end, and thus is understandable. But he had no need to make him suffer like that. He did so for his own enjoyment and I just couldn’t stand that.
And with this episode, we’re reaching the halfway mark of the last book. As it wasn’t Rider who kidnapped Irisviel, (though I guess that was obvious enough, even for people who hadn’t read the novel) Saber has now no clue regarding her whereabouts. On the other hand, Kiritsugu has just gotten some valuable info from Byakuya (slight change of events but a good choice this time around, imo) and things will now get into the final stage.
In a final balance, I definitely had some qualms with this episode, mainly with the pacing. Some parts felt so rushed that I almost want to (once again) take back my words of two weeks ago regarding the decision of splitting the flashback into two episodes. The motorbike chase was somewhat rushed, they changed some things in the Kariya and Aoi scene and there was a cut in really important foreshadowing during the conversation between Kirei and Zoken. That said, the positives still largely outweigh the negatives, and I’m pretty happy with Fate/Zero’s adaptation so far. There’s also the chance that the missing details will be included in the BDs, as were some important scenes from the first half, so it’s too early to rage (though I wouldn’t just for this, either way). Next episode will have another good battle and another one of my favorite scenes (or two), so I’m as eager for next week as always.