Fate / Zero – 22

For an episode preceded by such disturbing spectacle as a broken man murdering his best friend and making Rin an orphan, and followed by the casual malice of a born-again nihilist discarding his hostage before setting a foreboding trap, this episode has the most charming, heartwarming opening: an exhausted Waver finally arrives back home just before daybreak.

We know it’s not really his home, and he hypnotized its occupants into thinking he’s their grandson. But when his “grandpa” beckons for him to join him on the roof for a truly spectacular sunrise, something else dawned on me: Waver is Me. He’s the most normal, decent, well-adjusted participant in a war stocked with utter weirdos on all sides.

He seeks only simple glory and acknowledgement; the underdog raised high; his doubters and haters silenced. Sure, hypnotizing the couple was wrong, but how can I judge when even after the hypnosis wears off, the grandpa is not only forgiving, but wants Waver to stay. He’s a better grandson than they ever had.

On to the weirdos. While I more easily related to him early as a young kid having fun before all hell broke loose, and continue to recognize the emotions in his heart, support his goals (as laid out by Iri) and feel for his many losses, I simply haven’t lived a life as intense as Kiritsugu, so while I’m rooting for him, I’m on the outside looking in with Kiritsugu.

And Kiritsugu is alone again. It’s not ideal, but he’s not going to slow down or stop, even though he’s gone forty hours without sleep. He says “alone again” because, like Natalia, Maiya has left him. He doesn’t seem to count Saber as a person he can work with or trust, let alone a person at all; instead, she’s a tool to win the war, and he treats her as coldly as ever as she makes her report.

Kiritsugu probably also feels alone because Iri has been taken by the enemy, and he no doubt fears he won’t see her alive again. But a defiant Iri makes use of her captivity by Kirei to get in a number of barbs that cut the priest to the quick. Notably, that Kiritsugu isn’t an “empty man” like him; he seeks nothing less than the salvation of the world through the elimination of all violence and conflict.

Unsurprisingly, Kirei hears nothing but the naive utterings of a child in these words, but Iri does manage to give him something he didn’t have before he kidnapped her: Kiritsugu’s dream, which he will now proceed to destroy, along with the Holy Grail itself, which he can think of no use for. And since he gets all he needs out of Iri, he snaps her neck, seemingly killing her.

That I’m a bit fuzzy on how this whole Einzbern homonculus system works—and thus unclear whether Iri is dead dead or even ever alive—is irrelevant; it’s still absolutely gutting to see such a gentle, loving person treated with such contempt. Kirei is one hell of a villain, and his frustration and resentment for lacking something fundamental Kiritsugu seems to possess is palpable; he’s an almost pitiable wretch.

After that unpleasantness, what sure feels like the final day of the War transitions into the final night, and Waver awakes to find Rider in no particular hurry. Mage signals in the sky indicate that someone wishes to challenge them—Kirei arrranges for Archer to fight Rider while Berserker will keep Saber company—and Rider summons a horse, the backup to his chariot.

Waver has no intention of going along. As Rider said, only the strong remain, and Waver doesn’t consider himself strong. He’s Just A Guy, after all, the Everyman of Fate/Zero, with no business in the final battles. He even expends all of his Command Seals at once so he can say with certitude he is no longer Rider’s Master.

And yet Rider still picks him up by the scruff and dumps him in front of him on his horse. He wants Waver to accompany him as he has on all of their great battles thus far, not because he’s his Master, but because they’re friends and equals.

Having gone from gut-punch to heartwarm, the episode closes with a bit of a mindblower, as Iri, apparently not quite dead (or…whatever) after all, goes Beyond the Infinite.

In a surreal, bizarre and thoroughly unsettling sequence that calls to mind Akira, Evangelion, and Dalí, Iri sees hundreds of naked doll bodies piled up before her, one of which cracks a way-too-wide evil grin; then she has a touching scene with her daughter Ilya before an oozing black darkness encroaches upon them, and dozens of tiny arms grab at her and pull her down into the goo.

When she emerges, she realizes what’s happening: she’s in the Holy Grail. What exactly that means, and whether and how she can aid her beloved from there, remains to be seen. But I have to say I’m digging the extra metaphysical layer the show has revealed.

Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

5 thoughts on “Fate / Zero – 22”

  1. Only three episodes left, and you might want to prepare tissues for each and every one of them.

    Look forward to them; what is in them is considered some of the finest stuff in all of Fate period.

    Not everyone picks up on Kirei’s depth and role parallel to Kiritsugu, and it’s good times. Kiritsugu is a man who throw away his humanity and happiness for the greater good, and Kirei is a man who would do anything no matter how selfish and evil in order to fill his emptiness and discover his meaning. They’re excellent foils.

    “In retrospect, Kirei had been wrong since the start– his question was answered, but his anticipation became disappointment.

    Emiya Kiritsugu was not looking for the truth amongst meaningless repetition.

    That man had simply consigned all meaningful things into nothingness.

    It wasn’t that he had no wishes, but that he had such a ridiculous wish that he fell into a cycle of nothingness. His futile efforts and what he had wasted was so foolish that it was unsalvageable.

    Perhaps Kiritsugu could see through Kotomine Kirei’s empty heart, and perhaps he would fear that emptiness and be alarmed. However, he would never be able to imagine the meaning of having such an emptiness. He could never hope to understand the fervent desire that Kirei harbored.

    Emiya Kiritsugu’s life could be concluded as having repeatedly discarded everything.

    The joy and happiness that man had discarded – even its fragments were important enough in Kirei’s eyes for him to protect with his life or even die for.

    For a man like Kirei who continued to be lost and could not find a single piece of such joy and happiness, Kiritsugu’s life only existed in his dreams and his admiration.

    His insatiable thirst and unrecoverable loss had been belittled and mocked in such a way – how could he endure this? How could he not hate this?

    The dark feelings swelling up in his heart twisted Kirei’s smile.

    He finally understood the meaning of this war.

    He had absolutely no interest in the Holy Grail. It did not matter if he had no thoughts of fulfilling a wish.

    But if he could break the dreams of this man, who had gambled everything upon this miracle, with his own hands – then even the Holy Grail, which was completely meaningless to him, had a use in being obtained.

    The excitement of approaching battle made Kirei’s hands tremor. The rising desire of battle burned in his heart, as if he were about to take out his Black Keys right then and pierce through everything in front of him.

    In the darkness muddied by the stench of blood, Kotomine Kirei laughed out loud. It was something that had never ceased in all these long years – the throbbing of his soul.”

    As for Irisviel, well, you’ll see. I can offer another infodump at that time this one is plenty lmao

  2. Sir I want to watch this anime thanks to your review, but I’m not sure what is the first season of this anime? I think I already saw last year an anime with “fate” title on it. I want to make a new list and add this to my article. :)

    1. Fate/Zero aired between the Fall of 2011 and Summer of 2012, and is the prequel to Fate/stay night, which aired in Winter 2006 and ran for 24 episodes.

      I’ve actually never watched the original 2006 show, but I did watch the alternative version: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, which aired in two seasons totaling 25 episodes from Fall 2014 to Summer 2015 and features the same cast of characters and setting.

      Another version of the Fate/stay night story will be released as the movie trilogy Fate/stay night Movie: Heaven’s Feel. The first film will be in Japanese theaters this October; the second and third are TBA.

      The Fate show currently airing in Summer 2017, Fate/Apocrypha, takes place in a different setting than the events of Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night, with a different cast of Masters.

      There are many many additional spinoffs and OVAs besides the series and films listed above. For more info, check out the Type-Moon Wiki.

      1. You really should watch the original 2006 Fate: Stay Night. It is no where near as bad as some claim and I find is a stronger more consistent story than Fate: Unlimited Blade Works. UBW has a paradox running right down the middle of it that it never resolves and which makes key elements of the story somewhat nonsensical. 2006 Fate Stay Night is actually Saber’s arc and was the vehicle that made her the anime icon she is today. Yes it has 2006 old school artwork and wasn’t made by Ufotable. In some ways that is a good thing as it has a lighter feel which makes it more enjoyable and less ponderous and self important than UBW. I’m sure others will flock to disagree as that’s the predominant Fate orthodoxy, but I think to ‘get the whole picture’ you need to watch the 2006 entry as well. :)

        PS: After watching all of them watch “Carnival Phantasm”… you won’t regret it! :D

      2. No promises, but if Fall turns out to be as quiet as Summer (all my Summer picks were dropped long ago; I’m only watching two Spring carryovers in Re:Creators and Baha Soul), I may have to take you up on that. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ll find the time at some point down the road. Curiously, only UBW is available to stream on Netflix, not the original F/SN.

        I’ll also be keeping my eyes peeled for a limited US theatrical release of the Heaven’s Feel films.

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