The Sea at the World’s Edge
One more episode of Fate/Zero and one more feast for my eyes. The beginning of the battle between Saber and Berserker was even more awesome than I imagined, yet it was still overshadowed by how gorgeous Rider vs. Gilgamesh looked, not to mention how epic it was.
Rider went into the battle with the notion he would lose, but with the will and tenacity to try and win it. Yes, despite the awesome visuals, some may be somewhat disappointed at how Rider lost so easily, but the simple fact that he got Gilgamesh’s full respect, as shown by the fact that he was willing to use both Ea and Enkidu, as well as the little drinking scene at the beginning, should be a testament to how powerful Rider is, for we know that Gilgamesh is a character who was written as overpowered as it is conceivable by human imagination.
Seeing Ionian Hetairoi being completely ripped apart by Ea was truly saddening, not only due to it dictating Rider’s loss, but because it was the embodiment of his journey, and the bonds he formed over time. It was more than a simple weapon, it was something that defined his personality and goals, and though you could say the same about every Noble Phantasm, I feel it differently when it comes to Rider, maybe because those are, indeed, other Heroic Spirits, beings with will that willingly followed him, and not mere objects.
Despite that physical and emotional strike, Rider never gave up, and to the last moment fought with all his might. After losing his army, after losing his beloved horse, and after having his body pierced by Archer’s treasures, Rider still kept moving forward for his last desperate strike, which was mercilessly stopped by Enkidu, a chain which can bind even gods (in fact, its strength is proportional to the target’s degree of divinity). To that followed his inevitable death, which also marked the awakening from his dream. He realized the mythical edge of the world was within him and his journey had been worth it. So, in spite of the tears in my eyes during that scene, Rider actually got somewhat of a happy ending.
On another note, the music playing during that moment was as epic as the scene itself, and that piece alone is enough for me to eagerly look forward to the release of the second volume of the OST.
Moving on to Waver, it’s easy to perceive that, just as last week, this was a pivotal point for his development. We see that he truly has earned Rider’s respect, as the later invites him to serve as one of his subject, to which he promptly and emotively agrees. Thinking about it, as the Throne of Heroes is a place outside of space and time, Waver could actually be part of Ionian Hetairoi… Anyway, it is not only Rider’s respect he has earned, but also Gilgamesh’s, which is definitely something hard to achieve. The way he stood up to Gilgamesh, simply saying he had a promise to keep, and not showing fear to the overpowered Heroic Spirit, was extraordinarily brave and truly worthy of praise, especially as he showed true loyalty and commitment towards the promise he’d made to Rider, impressing even the King Of Heroes. That’s what allowed him to fulfill it and live on, even though the fact that he was no longer a Master (no Command Spells) had obviously it’s weight on the matter (not as a deciding factor – rather, it was the absence of Command Spells that allowed Gilgamesh to make a decision, else Waver would have died).
Neither Rider nor Waver are my favorite characters in Fate/Zero, but as a team, they’re definitely the most likable, so I find their scenes to be some of the best to watch, be it an amusing scene or a dramatic scene – they’re always welcome – thus, it’s a shame the Holy Grail War has ended for them, as I’ll sorely miss this epic duo. (Though with 2 episodes left there won’t be much to miss them from xD)
Away from the bridge and into the Fuyuki Hall, Saber is suddenly attacked as she enters the parking lot. Her reaction to the surprise attack was truly sharp and showed a great battle prowess, but nothing would have prepared her to what came next – the reveal of Berserker’s identity. The animation on Saber’s efficient approaching strategy using a destroyed truck as shield was pretty amazing and the transition between CG and regular animation for Berserker’s armor, was really well done, as was the suspense in the scene that lead towards the uncovering of his identity. However, while the transition to such reveal was rather good, I felt that they cut the best lines in their trade of words afterwards (well, Saber’s lines anyway, since Berserker doesn’t say much more than “Arthur… urrr…”). I wasn’t too bothered by it, but the repeating of “Arthur…” and “Lancelot…” felt rather awkward. Also, one would not understand a thing of Saber’s thoughts at the time without knowing King Arthur’s legend, since the cut most of the flashback. Either way, she should have looked more shocked, as she did look surprised, but not despairing to the point of losing her will to fight.
But as some kind of compensation, Kariya’s scene was taken up a notch from the VN. That’s how you adapt a monologue by someone who has, for all practical effects, fallen into complete madness – you make it a delusional dialogue with the cause of such fall. It was rather creative and had some more impact to me for the simple fact that he was directing his words to Sakura, who could actually be seen.
Gorgeous animation and music totally on par with it mixed with epic content make this episode a really entertaining watch. On a last note, I’d like to talk about the preview as well. It’s not something I usually refer since I may end up giving away a spoiler of two, but this week deserves it for one simple reason – the content that is shown will not fit into 20 min, however rushed they might intend to make it. That, along with the fact that there were announced 4 animation directors for next episode, instead of the usual number of 2, makes me think I’ll actually have my which of a 50 min special granted, except it would be the second to last episode rather than the finale. Either way, double episode or not, next time we’ll be proven why consequentialism is wrong and deontologists are hypocrites (aka. character development for both Kiritsugu and Saber). So look forward to it!