Fate / Zero – 25 (Fin)

Did the Holy Grail know Kiritsugu would reject it? Who can say? But even if it initially chose him to be its bearer, his order to Saber to destroy it flipped the script. It also flipped the cup, as the Grail’s destruction means the black ooze it contained falls upon Fuyuki, destroying everything in sight, to Kiritsugu’s great despair. Even trying to do the right thing at the right time would seem to have backfired on this exceedingly unlucky and tortured soul.

Speaking of tortured souls, Kariya is still barely alive when he returns to the Matou basement, but while his senses tell him he is reuniting Sakura with Rin and Aoi, in reality Sakura is abandoning him to the Crest Worms and accepting the fate he tried in vain to keep her from.

Perhaps it was the contents of the Grail, not the Grail itself, that mattered most, as those contents fell on Archer, but rather than destroy him along with everything else, it gave him physical form (though not clothes). And because Gilgamesh still had a pact with Kirei, it resurrected him, albeit with no heartbeat.

That literal lack of a beating heart is indicative of his departure from humanity, as is his apparently Grail-fulfilled wish for death and destruction around him, and a hunger to “learn more” and explore the depths of his inhumanity. But as I said, the Grail will never fully satiate; at best it can only lock people—Servants and Masters alike—in a perpetual state of searching.

As for Kiritsugu, he’s done searching. Indeed, he seems to be just about done with everything, owing to the curse bestowed on him by a scorned Grail and his entire life’s work burning before him. The last thing he searches for—a single survivor among the scorched rubble—is something he ironically finds immediately.

By saving that single life—a young Shirou—Kiritsugu himself is saved. It’s a concept a sneering Kirei can’t possibly comprehend enough even to envy.

With that, the clock on the Fourth Holy Grail War reaches…Zero and comes to an end, with the official winner in doubt, though more-or-less claimed by Kirei, since the Grail seemingly brought him back.

Back at his “grandparents”, Waver announces he’s going to set aside his magical studies for a bit, get a part-time job, live with them, and save up enough to travel the world his king once conquered a good chunk of.

Kirei has upheld his promise to his master to look after Rin after he’s gone, likely so that he can observe and absorb all of the grief, pain and suffering Rin is likely to experience on the long, hard road all heads of great families must walk.

Rin maintains a stoicsm beyond her years at her father’s futural, even as she wheels her brain-damaged, delusional mom around. What gets her to crack and shed tears is the Azoth dagger; Kiritsugu twisting the blade like the piece of work he is.

And Saber, poor Saber, is back in Britain, on a battlefield strewn with corpses, having led everyone nowhere but to their own deaths. She remembers Lancelot’s last words to her, about how he only ever sought her righteous judgment for betraying her and falling in love win Guinevere.

Arturia considers herself a failed king who never understood anyone, and considering her surroundings it’s hard to argue with that assessment.

As for Saber’s former Master, he is banned from Einzbern Castle forever, having failed to secure the Grail for them, and never sees his daughter Ilya again. So he adopts Shirou, fixes up the old safe house, and spends the next five years raising his adoptive son and living a quiet but happy life.

One night he tells Shirou how he once wanted and tried to be a hero, but ultimately failed. Shirou confidently promises his dad he’ll become a hero in his place. A heavenly light suddenly shines above Saber; a ray of hope.

Clearly contented by his son’s words, Kiritsugu starts to peacefully pass away, with an answer for his friend Shirley’s question about what he wanted to be when he grew up: he wanted, and still wants, to be a hero.

* * * * *

And that’s it for Fate/Zero! Boy, what a ride it’s been these past five weeks. That was a far better show than I could have imagined…which is why it took so long after UBW to watch it. Burned by previous prequels to beloved works, I was worried knowing pretty much how everything would end would make it difficult for the stakes to matter.

Yeah…I was dead wrong about that. Not only was I far more emotionally invested in Zero, it was a lot more approachable, had a lot more heart, and took a lot more risks than the smoother, shinier UBW. It’s not that UBW is bad, it’s simply a matter of Zero kicking ass in virtually every aspect of the game. It wasn’t just a great anime, it was great television; great storytelling, full stop. So thanks to everyone out there who recommended it to me. It was well worth a look back.

Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

9 thoughts on “Fate / Zero – 25 (Fin)”

  1. And that’s a wrap!

    Obviously as someone who knows every twist and turn of the Fate series, it was a delight to see you watch Fate/Zero over the past few weeks, and get to experience that Urobuchi brand suffering all over again. You were a lot more perceptive about things than a lot of first time viewers, and it was just all around a fun time.

    In regards to your comments regarding UBW… well, I look forward even more to seeing you watch HF someday.

    It’s far more Zero like in tone, and is also the part of Stay Night with the most connections to Zero. The seeds planted for Kirei, Illya, Sakura, and even Zouken here will reach narrative resolution there. Real real look forward to it.

    That’s pretty much the end of quality animated Fate content besides for Apocrypha. If you ever find the time, I think you’ll find quite the fair improvement in quality from Episode 3 onwards, and having watched Zero you’ll get a lot more stuff and references (both Arturia and Gilles from Zero put in appearances).

    Oh, yeah.

    This dude in UBW is Waver ten years later. Puberty and a character arc about maturation are a hell of a drug.

    Dude in Episode 1 of Apocrypha is also Waver ten years later.

    He sure did pick up some things.

  2. I found Zero more enjoyable than UBW too. Main Fate story is like Grail Special Olympics after THAT, actually.
    One thing I love more than Zero in this Fate franchise is Carnival Phantasm, though.
    Different genre and format, but funny as hell.

  3. That was some ride huh? F/Z is indeed such a great work. It was also a lot of fun to read your posts detailing the journey hahaha. Look forward to Heaven’s Feel next! As another comment said, it’s the best follow up to Zero by far. The other two routes, Fate, and UBW, leave a lot of open ends. Of course they aren’t bad my any means, but you can tell they are visual novel routes with the whole work on mind .

  4. This is what really disappointed me with the Ufotable UBW series. Unlike the earlier UBW film, the series already has Fate Zero to use as a background for it. Yet, Ufotable seems to have forgotten that they have actually made an FZ series when they did UBW. There are a lot of plot points in UBW that would have made sense to casual viewers if they have just incorporated Zero more.

    I don’t buy the “Ah but Kiritsugu’s connection to Shirou and Illya is explored in Heaven’s Feel” argument. We’re talking about the TV series here, not the VN. I don’t understand why UBW is not allowed to use FZ as its background material to improve its storytelling.

    1. Hm… to be fair they did already have HF in the works/announced at the same time as UBW., so that could be related to it. It’s not like UFOtable was afraid of adding anime original parts, as they did a few things like Caster’s backstory etc.

      1. No, Im referring solely to the FZ-UBW connection. There are a lot of parts in UBW that could have worked better if they just explored the connection with Zero more.

  5. I agree and the same goes for Kotomine and Gilgamesh in UBW. Kotomine is only half the villain in UBW he is in Zero, and Gilgamesh gets short changed too.

    1. NB: There is probably more continuity between Fate Zero and Fate: Stay Night 06 than there is between UBW and FZ.

      I concur on Carnival Phantasm as a must see too – but only after viewing Fate Stay Night 06 as the jokes make more sense then. :)

  6. Fate Zero is really a wonderful work. In many ways, it is a better gateway anime than something like COWBOY BEBOP because it is more representative of the form and art style of many modern anime projects.

    I do find that the ending struggles a bit as it is forced to set up F/SN. It’s still a four out of four to me.

    One of the interesting (and frustrating) things about the series is the approach to the original light novel. Gen Urobuchi (of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Psycho-Pass fame) went with a prequel to all three possible routes in F/SN. Because of this, FATE ZERO has a great amount of narrative heft. There was speculation that the anime that became UBW would instead be an original “unified” route that balanced the Saber, Rin, Sakura, and Ilya narratives. This wasn’t an unrealistic expectation, by the way. The “sequel” to F/SN, F/HA assumed some unified route occurred rather than picking a single outcome and rumors of a unified route have always been a thing. Obviously UBW didn’t go that, erm, route. But you can see glimpses of how UBW was expanded to serve as something of a follow-up to FATE ZERO.

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