Or, the yuri/Saber is so cool edition.
Well… at least, that’s how it was conceived of initially.
Yes, I used a picture of Jeanne D’Arc for this episode’s header image, even though Saber was obviously the star here. But, I couldn’t help it! It was the best-directed scene I’ve seen in a while, and certainly the best we’ve had in Fate/Zero so far. So, yes, Jeanne.
Moving along, for the first time in a very long time, I’m happy to bring to you a joint post here at GAR GAR Stegosaurus, with Katherine, of Yuri no Boke (see the links to find her blog) and Lily, of stray girl in her lenses. We were gushing about Saber being so freaking cool and about SaberxIrisviel being the best ship the weekend before last, and I suggested that we just blog Fate/Zero together with an emphasis on the aforementioned items. So that is how you find yourself here! Although, admittedly, I think Katherine stuck a lot more faithfully to the directive than myself or Lily did (I kind of went off on a few tangents about historical facts and legends regarding a few of the Servants).
In the future, I would like to have a more cohesive post than this, but unfortunately I just started working in a new capacity in my employment life, so I’ve been pretty swamped (and worked through the weekend, urk). So, in the meantime, try to suffer the format gladly, or you know, just tolerate it.
We’ll start with Lily, since she utilized pictures (and you all know that just ain’t what you’ll generally get from me), and also since I went off of her post a little bit:
Featured in this episode: Tokiomi being an overpowered jackass, Kariya failing epically, Gilgamesh playing around with Berserker, but who cares about all that when Saber finally got her moment to shine!
Ah, to be able to see the extent of Saber’s true power…
It’s in moments like the one we had this episode, with her unleashing her Noble Phantasm, her majestic Excalibur, that one can notice how handicapped she was in Fate/Stay Night. With Irisviel providing her mana, Saber is an ace of aces, the King of Knights, capable of destroying Caster’s tentacle monster with a single blow; in contrast, she needed Shirou’s help to defeat Berserker in Fate/Stay Night. Shirou couldn’t command her, kept treating her like a girl ignorantly, couldn’t provide her with power. With Kiritsugu acting on his own, making his own plans that include Saber only sometimes, Irisviel proves to be a very effective master. Even without battle knowledge, and she’s hardly tried to provide that, she’s still a skilled magus who knows the servant she’s commanding, and can give her all the power she needs. Squee.
And still Iskander has the gall to call her a little girl? Please. His condescension drives me insane, even if I normally love Iskander, judging her so harshly he can barely recognize her power. Did I completely disagree with his speech, about the sight of Excalibur being painful, since it carried all her ideals and dreams, making her so very ethereal herself? No. But even with the proven mistakes in her reigning, the distant king who never truly showed herself or trusted her people, Irisviel said it best… Excalibur is the song of knights, the hymn of battle and victory. She is the legend. Even Gilgamesh, who so wishes to diminish her and treats her like property, recognizes the light that shines with her, and the powerful light that it is. Harsh judgment by Iskander, one that irks me every time he describes her as a little girl. She is a warrior, with or without the sword in the stone, a little acknowledgement soon, please?
With Shirou she was but a shadow of her true potential. Kind of makes one wish that all the Irisviel foreshadowing from the opening and ending sequences was not true. Stay, Iri! Never leave, Iri!
Speaking of Iri, can we take a moment to appreciate her absolute fail at technology?
What is a phone, how does it work?!
I’d gladly exchange all that screentime of Gilgamesh chasing Berserker around with his little ship, and Tokiomi’s useless fight with Kariya for more Saber cutting off tentacles and Irisviel flailing around phones.
Better luck next time?
Day: Rolling into my portion…
Going off of Lily’s format slightly, I’ll start out with a rough summation of the events of the episode: Kariya catches on fire in the worst animation sequence in the series so far, Gilgamesh and Beserker fiddle around like thirteen year old boys playing Ace Combat Zero* (see what I did there?), Gilgamesh talks too much, Lancer demonstrates how classy he is, and Saber saves the motherfucking day!
Now, I did say the idea for blogging this was conceived as a way to air our utter adoration of Saber and total love for SaberxIrisviel. So I figure I should start off with them. Irisviel doesn’t do terribly much in this episode other than watch from Lancer’s side as the battle with Caster rages. She also fails to be able to answer a cellphone, but, well, she was pretty much kept locked up her whole life, so no shock there. Anyway, she doesn’t really need to do much during battle other than this since her mana is what is allowing Saber to be as totally freaking awesome as she is.
Saber is very impressive this episode; the animation covering the scene in which she destroys Caster is simply amazing. Her attack blows everything we’ve seen so far completely out of the water. Even Gilgamesh, with his ridiculous arrogance, seems to approve of it.
Speaking of Gilgamesh, though, he seriously needs to stop yapping so much. It’s hilarious that the guy who keeps calling everyone else dogs just spends his time yip, yip, yipping like one of those tiny dogs some folks store in their purses. He just cannot shut up. The fight between Gilgamesh and Beserker got old very fast, but at least Beserker had the decency to keep his trap shut (thought we were gonna get a reveal on his identity this week, but, alas, another day).
The exchange between Gilgamesh and Rider was obnoxious. I normally like Rider, he’s an enjoyable character, but it’s irritating when he refers to Saber as a ‘little girl’. This is also, incidentally, why I am not a huge fan of Kiritsugu, who we were told in the first half of the show disapproved of the fact that Saber was made to take on the duties of a king even though she was just a girl. What an utterly backwards sentiment; obviously she was able to do it, even if her reign didn’t end well. And even this is a crap metric, since if we inspect Rider’s and Gilgamesh’s history, we find out that:
- Gilgamesh: so awful to his subjects that they prayed for the gods to do something about it (the gods provided a super-manly guy, they were rivals briefly, then dearest of friends, and, well, there’s an undertone of homoeroticism to it all)
- Alexander/Iskander: pretty good record while he was around; however, his empire fell apart following his death, which indicates that he didn’t do a terribly good job of prepping his subordinates for leadership in his absence
(Aside: there’s a varying undercurrent of homoeroticism in all three of these figures lives/legends, which is a bit interesting! Although, in Saber’s case, since she’s a woman, that would negate that… well… sort of, guess flipping the gender just means the homoeroticism involve Guinevere.)
Gilgamesh’s position as hyper-arrogant is actually pretty funny when you compare his legends with the legends/facts of the other Servants involved in the Holy Grail War. The historical record on him is almost nonexistent, although there is enough out there that historians do believe he was a real person , and the legends have him as a terror of a king, that then go on to focus primarily on his time spent trying to hunt down immortality, far from his city-state of Uruk.
Anyway, to regress a bit, the takedown of Caster. Caster’s death scene was actually… surprisingly good. I think calling it ‘moving’ would be going a bit far, but they gave him more than I would’ve anticipated. Going back to last week’s episode, ditto for his master. Ryuunosuke was still a total sociopath, but there was something very humanizing about him finding what he was looking for the whole time as he was dying… sure, it turned out to be his own blood, but, still, it worked.
Caster’s death scene was pretty dramatic; as he reaches toward the light, there’s a sudden absence of sound as he sees the church interior and Jeanne facing away from him at the altar. And the way she proffers his hand as he cries and reaches forward… man, Caster certainly doesn’t deserve forgiveness, but it certainly came across that way, and the staff managed to handle it impressively. This could’ve very easily just left a sour taste in my mouth, but I come away from it thinking it’s the best directed moment we’ve had in the show so far.
Getting a glimpse of Jeanne D’Arc was pretty cool, too. If there end up being more entries into the Fate universe, I’d love to see her involved (you know who else would be cool to see? Boudica). For a clarification, Caster is Gilles de Rais, who is thought to have inspired the fairy tale Bluebeard. He fought alongside Jeanne during part of the Hundred Years’ War, but went on to allegedly dabble in the occult, and, oh yeah, murder between eighty and two hundred children. I say ‘allegedly’ since there are some questions as to the validity of those charges, although historians tend to agree that he probably killed at least some chillens, occult involvement or no. He also allegedly tried to summon a demon. So, now you know why Ryuunosuke summoned him when he was trying for a demon!
It is also worth noting that, despite Caster’s obsession with Jeanne D’Arc, there is nothing in the historical record to indicate that Gilles de Rais had designs on Jeanne D’Arc in real life. Likewise, the two were not romantically or sexually involved, although don’t be surprised if you’ve seen them depicted in popular culture as somehow romantically entwined (hello Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne!).
I think at some point I may just have to do a separate post on the similarities between Jeanne and Arthur’s stories, along with a bit about what sort of spin having Arthur be Arturia would put on similarities in their stories. There are actually some elements of Saber’s character that seem to have been drawn from the historical Jeanne D’Arc, although these items may just be coincidental.
My final bit to add is that it occurred to me, for about the fifty-eighth time, that Saber wearing a dress to do battle is kind of weird. If we go by what she said regarding her past in the first half of the show, she was disguised as a boy and then a man, so it seems strange to have her dashing about in a skirt now. It also just doesn’t seem terribly practical for battle.
But, hey, Saber was totally cool and awesome in this episode, so I think I can overlook it. Just wish that SaberxIrisviel quotient had been a bit higher.
And, finally, with Katherine actually fulfilling our intent to display our adoration of SaberxIrisviel:
Alright, so—this episode opens with a shot of Saber (thank you, Aoki Ei, for having your priorities straight) facing down Caster’s monster, followed by Waver panicking to Rider and Kiritsugu twiddling his thumbs at his vantage point. Remember how Rider said that a Master who hides instead of openly supporting his or her Servant in battle is a coward, and thus, an undesirable Master? Ehem.
After the show cuts to poor Kariya trying to kill Tokiomi while their Servants duke it out, we’re back to Saber’s fight. (1:02) Rider saves Saber (1:15), which would probably bug me (you know, strong woman saved by a man) if she hadn’t saved him in the previous episode.
Irisviel is still stuck on the shore with Lancer, no doubt itching to crack Gae Buidhe (Lancer’s short spear) over her knee so that her beloved can regain use of her left hand. (1:29) In all seriousness, Lancer’s my second favorite Servant, partly—I’ve just realized—because he’s the only male Servant with a personality who doesn’t respect Saber any less than his other opponents because of her gender. Archer and Caster both see her as an object to possess, while Rider’s speech at the end of this episode is problematic. Why? It reeks of the assumption that Saber couldn’t possibly be happy because, in her traditionally masculine role as a King and knight, she isn’t able to live like a “normal” woman—an assumption that has come up again and again in anime and manga featuring women whose traditionally masculine lifestyles put them at odds with being “normal women,” and thus truly happy—as seen in Ribon no Kishi, Yawara! and even, to some extent, Rose of Versailles. I wouldn’t mind if Rider simply felt bad for Saber because she had to become a ruler at a young age and wasn’t able to fulfill her dream of saving her country. It was the gendered aspects of his speech (reinforced by the fact that he doesn’t single out any of the male Servants as having lost the ability to be happy because they lived as warriors or didn’t achieve something they wanted) that bothered me.
The OP (1:34) has way too much Kiritsugu, but it also has a nice shot of Saber putting on her tie. This will do until we can see her amazing suit in the show proper again. I really appreciate her armor, since it actually looks like armor (http://womenfighters.tumblr.com/) instead of some stupid metal bikini, Queen’s Blade-type get-up. But it still isn’t as wonderful as the suit.
By the 10:43 point, Saber can use her left hand again—and thus, the Noble Phantasm that she needs to kill Caster— because she and Lancer are bros, and he’s willing to destroy one of his two weapons for the greater good. I hoped Berserker would finish off Archer in this episode, but he arbitrarily switches to shooting at Saber. Sadly the closest thing to Saber and Irisviel exchanging words in this episode is Irisviel screaming Saber’s name again and again. (But hey, she’s screaming Saber’s name, hoho.)
Saber began the battle against Caster, and now she ends it. (16:10) Fate/Zero is renowned for its eye-popping visuals, but it outshines itself when Saber uses Excalibur for the first time. Bravo, ufotable.
EDIT: Refer back to the asterisk regarding Gilgamesh and Beserker; Ace Combat Zero had a number of nods to Arthurian legend, such as a weapon named Excalibur, a location called the Avalon Dam, a character named Bedivere, amongst others. Yeah, yeah, I’m lame, whatever, you’re just jealous ’cause I’m awesome and I did this post with awesome people.