Fate/Extra Last Encore – 02

Our introduction to this new Fate world and story continues with a classic Shaft-type episode that is dense in conversation and exposition, but festooned with lavish trappings that befit a story of this scope. F/ELE (as I’ll be calling it for brevity’s sake) has a lot that is familiar to fans of Fate, fans of Shaft, and fans of both such as myself.

Indeed, the manner in which Kishinami Hakuno summons Saber when he is on death’s door is essentially a reversal of Araragi Koyomi’s first meeting and rescue of Kiss-Shot, another blonde of legendary status, in Kizumonogatari. And while Hakuno is so far a walking bag of virtues, this new-look Saber, voiced by all-star seiyu Tange Sakura, is a lot of fun to watch.

We also get a Nisemonogatari-esque bath scene, not just in any bath, but a sprawling, elaborate Roman-style mixed bath strewn with rose petals. It’s hardly a Shinbo production without such a bath, where a young man and a young woman talk business utterly unfazed by the fact they’re both stark nakked.

When they arrive at the first level, which Saber believes will be the first battlefield of the next Holy Grail War, she is surprised to find a bustling metropolis that, far from being ravaged by war, is united in celebration. At first Saber doesn’t mind this twist at all, and soaks it all in, and we learn that while Tange’s Cardcaptor Sakura says “ho’e,” her Saber says “umu.”

They visit an empty bar occupied by only one, somewhat suspicious woman with pink hair dressed as a bartender. When Saber presents herself as a foe and bids her chosen opponent defend herself, the lady scoffs; surely Saber jests. There is no Holy Grail War here, she says; the Masters have sold off their Servants to live in eternal happiness and peace; that’s what’s being celebrated.

Both Saber and Hakuno seem a bit disappointed by this news, but also somewhat skeptical. When seven splendidly uniformed policewomen arrive, surround the pair, and ask them to accompany them to the Mayor’s office, Saber may gush about how pretty they look, but just as with her outwardly carefree soaking in of the city, Saber is likely staying on her guard and gathering information as if there were a war in progress, which is as it should be.

As they’re escorted to the Central Tower and ride its super-fancy elevator to the top, Hakuno starts to remember some of what happened before he arrived here. Saber said his memory would start to return upon becoming a Master, and his vision of a pile of dead classmates serve to remind him of what had to be done to get this far.

However, the mayor—who turns out to be Matou Shinji, appearing before the pair as a hologram—would prefer if they go no farther. After waxing poetic about the benefits of the AI and NPC-rich Utopia he’s helped build (and performing the Shaft Head Tilt), he finally brings up the price of all this happiness. Citizenship requires all Masters to sell off their Servants.

Naturally, Hakuno refuses, and Shinji stops playing nice, reveally he had physically isolated Saber some time ago with his suite of high-tech digital smoke and mirrors, and sics not one or two but three nasty-looking Berserkers upon Saber. She seems to relish a fight at last, as I did, but at the same time she doesn’t seem that impressed by her foes.

Meanwhile, Shinji’s sexy police all stab Hakuno with their swords. For defying the order of things, the plan is to use Saber as a power source as other Servants have been used, and for Hakuno to simply die.

Only Hakuno didn’t get the right script, and refuses to let a few impalings bring him down. To his attackers’ shock, he pulls out their swords one by one and then seemingly powers-up/transforms, a phenomenon Toosaka Rin senses from the top of a building elsewhere in the city.

Rin calls it “Dead Face.” Whatever that is, it’s clear Hakuno isn’t there to celebrate, or live comfortably, or die. He is there to fight.

Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

4 thoughts on “Fate/Extra Last Encore – 02”

  1. While the first episode wasn’t /that/ huge a deviation from the original Fate/Extra game, this one sure is. As a Fate devotee, let me just put out there that I’m pretty much on the same playing field as you and have no damn idea what’s going on. Pretty much all I know is the identities of the pink haired girl and Saber.

    She did drop enough details in this episode that you might be able to identify which civilization she’s from at least @ Saber

    This whole thing is visually gorgeous and it’s sure to be an exciting ride.

    Though one thing I can say is that one of Fate/Extra’s major themes is ‘stagnation’ and this artificial utopia for people who have given up on their wishes is very directly part of that. It’s some good shit.

  2. I like how Shaft is really injecting its distinct visual style into Fate/Extra. This is such a pleasant contrast to last season’s Fate/Apocrypha, where A-1 Pictures seemed to be bent on aping Ufotable’s take on the Fate-verse.

    Also, it seems that you are obviously liking this more than Apocrypha. Can’t blame you though. F/A the anime never really was able to establish its characters. There were a few interesting ones, like Semiramis or Ruler, but the series never quite got the to go beyond what the plot demands. And don’t even get me started on the masters.

    1. I’m also enjoying the Shaft influence, and particularly glad Kosaki Satoru (one of my favorite anime composers) was brought on to provide the score, which like in, say, the Monogatari series, has an almost Philip Glass-ian minimal, repetitive quality that lends even static dialogue scenes a great energy (in concert with the lush production design).

      If I had to state one reason off the top of my head for why this is so much easier to get into, I’d say “restraint.” As in, we don’t check in with seemingly every single player in the War in the first episode, and those we do meet are familiar faces like Rin. The focus is on ONE Master and ONE Servant so far.

      There also isn’t the mild frustration one gets when the characters you’re watching know exactly what’s going on; Saber and Hakuno mostly share our confusion here. It’s much easier to relate to people almost as lost as you are in these kinds of stories. I’ll also say Tange Sakura wastes no time fleshing out Saber as a likable young woman; someone not above seeing the sights, enjoying a tasty breakfast, or admiring the wardrobes of her Master’s would-be assassins.

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