Streaming in November on Netflix
We get to know some of the colorful characters participating in the Holy Grail War.
Hoo boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a Fate post. Gotta get back into the swing of things. Honestly it’s real weird doing these without knowing what’s going to happen down to the last detail, but hey, that means its a first for all of us. Probably.
It’s more exposition and setup this week, since 7-on-7 team-based multiplayer means we have to introduce twice as many characters as a normal Holy Grail War… except not, since a good five Masters are MIA, including in the OP. We got a quick montage in the first episode about all of the Masters allegedly aligned with the Mage’s Association, but I doubt a single one will ever appear as anything other than a corpse. Instead, Shirou Kotomine (no relation, to either character) takes charge as the blatantly shady leader of the Red Faction, giving orders to Semiramis (Assassin-R), Shakespeare (Caster-R), Spartacus (Berserker-R), Karna (Lancer-R), and presumably the other two. Kairi and Mordred (Saber-R) state their intention to go it alone, without revealing her identity, which might be the smartest thing anyone in this show has done so far; Fate/Apocrypha itself is remarkably glib about just revealing everyone’s true names, killing half the franchise’s fun.
As for the Black Faction, most of the Yggmillennia crew are so one-dimensional that they’re hardly characters at all, playing second fiddle to their Servants. Chiron (Archer-B) brings up a good point in that even if the Black Faction wins, the rules of the Grail War dictate that they’re still going to fight to last man standing, which sows some seeds of discord among the team, but half of them are so cartoonishly evil – Glasses (Female) randomly molesting Astolfo (Rider-B), for instance – that it’d be foolish to not expect some pointless betrayals. Big Bad’s summoning of Vlad III (Lancer-B) is a heaping helping of Fate fanservice, taking advantage of the mentioned-but-never-really-used rule where Servants draw more power from belief and renown, and even moreso from their home turf. This Holy Grail War takes place in Romania, making Vlad substantially more powerful.
This week also establishes a fifteenth!! Servant: the irregular Ruler class, meant to preside over the Grail War as a referee of sorts. Following another throwaway line from Fate/Stay Night stating that Servants can be summoned into another person’s body, Jeanne D’Arc looks to be straight up possessing an innocent bystander, who really ought to buy some proper shirts. Honestly, for a woman who was disguised as a man most of the time, Type-Moon (hell, Japan in general) sexualizes Jeanne way past any point of possible decorum. I’d hazard a guess she’s Fate‘s #2 money-makin’ waifu at this point, only behind Saber herself. Funnily enough, for all the lip service about how she looks exactly like Saber, it’d be way easier to accept all the bullshit if they actually were identical. I always sort of felt that Saber was generically handsome and slim enough to potentially pass for a man in anime land, whereas Fate‘s Jeanne has monster boobs and exposed thighs. They ain’t foolin’ anyone.
So, uh, yeah. Apart from a bit of decent, albeit generic action against the Black Faction’s convenient mooks – magically supplied by Avicebron (Caster-B) and otherwise – this week was just a lot of showing off the cast and getting a better handle on the “Great Grail War” as a whole. Tune in next week for some more complaining, I guess.
It’s really difficult to take this show seriously when everybody keeps standing around and vomiting exposition straight out of their mouths. I appreciate that the concept is tricky enough that it requires some setup, but to me the entire premise of this episode fatally undermines one of the most important parts of the Fate franchise’s storytelling. Half of the intrigue and anticipation of these tales is trying to figure out who the servants are and what special abilities they possess, but this entire twenty odd minutes is dedicated to not only having the Servants reveal unambiguously who they are, but even having several of them reveal their quirks and powers. It doesn’t help that the one Noble Phantasm we see, Frankenstein’s Monster‘s, is not only severely underwhelming, but also revels in the old cliche of ‘it will damage her body if overrused’. Combined with her clumsy, bespectacled master, this immediately plants a plot flag the size of the Empire State Building, and not a particularly original one. So much of the storytelling onscreen is either pointless over-explanation or just characters running their mouth for no reason at all that it’s difficult not to find it tiresome quickly.
The one redeeming factor about this episode is the last few minutes, which not only shows off Mordred’s enjoyably sassy personality, but is a pretty neat action scene to boot. It’s the only sequence in this episode that felt remotely like two actual humans talking to each other, and it’s the only one where anybody feels like they’re haStay ving fun either. For an episode that’s supposedly all about laying groundwork, I feel the show is more stuck in the starting blocks than ever.
- As a joke on the original Lancer’s tendency to get unceremoniously killed off, the Lancers in Apocrypha are both indisputably the most powerful Servants of their factions.
- Kairi’s use of guns and modern weaponry ought to mark him as a hated aberration among magi, but I guess that goes to show you how popular and influential Fate/Zero was on the franchise as a whole.
- Framing in the OP and establishing them as having a modicum of care about their Servants pegs Glasses (Male) and Wheels from the Black Faction as most likely to betray the baddies at some point.
- Shiro Kotomine bears an uncanny resemblance to Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s Marik Ishtar.
- A number of voice actors from original Fate/Night return in this as different characters entirely. For example: Junichi Suwabe – formerly Archer – is back to voice Siegfried (Saber-B).
- Speaking of Siegfried, his Noble Phantasm Balmung made a cameo in the original F/SN as one of the weapons inside Gate of Babylon. Gilgamesh cut Shirou in half with it, too.