Fate/Zero Episode Sixteen

Yeah, we still hate Kiritsugu.

And he certainly gave us more than enough reason this episode to continue doing so.

Unfortunately, Lily will not be joining us this week, but she’ll be back for next week’s episode… wherein we hopefully finally have a fully integrated post! Both Katherine and I had pretty crazy weekends, so please bear with us, we’re having another split-post type format here. So, without further ado, first up is Katherine:

Wow. This episode.

So…Kayneth claims the command seal that the Church offered as a reward for killing Caster. I hate to say it, but logically, Kiritsugu deserved the seal.

Lancer’s sacrifice allowed Saber to use her Noble Phantasm, but it’s his fault that she couldn’t use it in the first place. And the reward was for the Master whose Servant killed Caster, not the Master whose Servant helped the Servant who killed Caster.

Father Kotomine probably gave the command seal to Kayneth because Saber and Kiritsugu are a bigger threat to Kirei’s interests than Lancer, Kayneth and Sola could ever be. Subsequently, the show reminds us of what a horrible person Kayneth is so we don’t feel too bad for him when he becomes the target of Kiritsugu’s horribleness. (Kayneth to Lancer: “You dare to lecture your Master? If you are so dissatisfied, use your precious pride to resist my command seal.”) If only it didn’t mean shattering Lancer’s spirit also. This is easily the most painful episode of F/Z so far because no one sympathetic has died until now and watching what happens to Lancer is like seeing a litter of puppies thrown over a bridge in a burlap sack.

Kiritsugu tells Irisviel where she and Saber can find Lancer, killing two birds with one stone by ensuring that they will distract Lancer and not be able to “celebrate” Saber’s victory together for the rest of the night.

Saber—looking dapper in her suit—and Irisviel drive to Kayneth’s place and challenge Lancer to a duel. Saber decides that she won’t fight Lancer using her left hand because Lancer handicapped himself so she could use it again. (“Don’t get the wrong idea, Lancer. If I use my left hand here, the shame is certain to dull my blade. Against your spear, that would be fatal.”) Lancer gets an “Awww, BFFs!” look in his eyes and replies that he is glad that he was able to meet her, and I punch a wall because they both deserve much better Masters.

Then Kiritsugu executes his plan.

This series has a knack for giving horrible people sympathetic death scenes. See: Ryuunosuke and Caster. I wish we had been given a little more indication that Kayneth cared for Sola earlier, though. Even when Kayneth raged at Lancer because Sola preferred Lancer, I had the impression that his anger stemmed from his pride rather than any actual feelings for Sola. I was also puzzled because Kayneth had read enough of Diarmuid’s legend to know that Diarmuid ran away with his lord’s fiancée but not enough to know that Diarmuid’s lord’s fiancée fell for him because of his cursed mole and then put a spell on him to make him elope with her? Hmm.

Saber believes that one can fight and die honorably in battle. To Kiritsugu, such thinking is delusional and those held up as  “dazzling” heroes like Saber blind people to the truth. Saber points out that committing evil for the sake of fighting evil isn’t the solution.

My recommended reading for anyone interested in this type of ethical debate (I also know there are Type Moon fans who zealously pick apart the concepts touched on by Nasu Kinoko): chapter 4 of Alan Dershowitz’s Why Terrorism Works (“Should the Ticking Bomb Terrorist Be Tortured?”), Bob Brecher’s Torture & the Ticking Bomb, and Elaine Scarry’s “Five Errors in the Reasoning of Alan Dershowitz” essay in chapter 15 of Torture: A Collection. Kiritsugu should also read The Oresteia for an indication of where he’s heading.

Kiritsugu leaves, and cue another cliffhanger as Irisviel passes out in Saber’s arms. Please, please, please don’t kill Irisviel off next. She is one half of my OTP, but I also like her, period. She’s a much-needed ray of light in this increasingly dark series.

I liked this episode. As heart wrenching as it was (and at the risk of sounding callous), watching the puzzle pieces of Kiritsugu’s plan come into place—and the plans fall out—was interesting.

And, now, onto my portion:

Well, for the third week in a row, Fate/Zero has succeeded in getting me feeling all warm and sympathetic toward characters whom I previously loathed. Fairly impressive! Especially considering that I was hoping Kayneth would drop dead in the earlier scenes of episode sixteen; yet his love for Sola-Ui, a love he picked over his selfish desires in the Holy Grail War, was enough to make me feel for the man. That both he and Sola-Ui were then slaughtered in cold blood only furthered my sentiment. Although I still do think it really says something for the directing prowess here since earlier in the episode Kayneth somewhat swindled a Command Spell out of Father Kotomine, only to shoot him in the back, and then proceeded to bitch out Lancer in full arrogant form.

Y’know, maybe I’m missing something here, but I didn’t really see the point of killing Kayneth and Sola-Ui. Taking out Lancer, even as slimily as it was done, makes sense, but the deaths of his Masters seemed unnecessary. One could argue that they could potentially pick up another Servant by killing another Master, but Kayneth’s given up on the War once he agrees to Kiritsugu’s terms. Killing them both comes off as excessive.

Speaking of Kiritsugu, barf. Although I do agree with some of what he says – that the battlefield is hell, and that people are deluded into thinking there is something inherently glorious in war. There isn’t, and most people who die in armed conflicts don’t do so in some, well, glorious fashion. They die in the mud, and then they rot there. Or they slowly burn out from a raging infection.  For the most part, glory is for the elite, not for the common foot soldier.

At the same time, though, I don’t think war is wholly without any honor or glory at all. There are definitely people who enjoy the act of fighting, and enjoy it when done above-board, so to speak. And there are people who act honorably during conflict, whether they are the ones we end up remembering or not.

But, anyway, while some of what Kiritsugu says is right, he still is just as idealistic as the other people he is so dismissive of – he’s just idealistic about it being possible, even with a miracle from the Grail, for people to break from something that is as much a part of their nature as is breathing. And Saber is also right that to commit acts of evil, even in the name of good, will inevitably prove poisonous to oneself.

It felt like things happened very quickly in this episode; Sola-Ui getting her hand chopped off felt extremely abrupt, perhaps in part because there’s been such a long time since we’ve seen her. And Lancer’s death came off as extremely sudden as well. I’m disappointed to see him go, as I really enjoyed the back and forth between he and Saber – he is, after all, the only other of the Servants who seems to take her completely seriously so far, and to view her as an equal (although we don’t know how Assassin feels about her, nor do we know how Beserker does… well, y’know, other than him feeling murderous). That we know this is at least the second time that Lancer’s come to a tragic end doesn’t leave one feeling much comforted, either, and that the bargain made was violated in spirit only makes it feel that much worse.

(Now, I haven’t seen Fate/Stay Night, nor do I know much of it, but I think that Lancer’s curse as he died is the reason that there is another Holy Grail War so soon after this one in that show. I could be wrong, though, so don’t quote me on that.)

Also, in regards to too much happening, we got cheated of a good fight betwixt Saber and Lancer; what we did see was rather enjoyable, but we had chatter throughout. I boggle that the dishwater dull fight between Archer and Beserker got so much screentime last week, and yet something as energetic and engaging as this fight was relegated to being talked over and cut away from often. Sigh.

Even Irisviel is rather disillusioned with her husband by the close of the episode. She tells Kiritsugu that he must explain himself to Saber, and she seems disappointed when he refuses to. The episode closes out with her fainting, and Saber, of course, catching her before she can hit the ground. Poor Irisviel, although I’ll never really understand what she can see in a guy like Kiritsugu… also, he’s cheating on his with Maiya, jerk. I don’t care how much we see of him feeling tender toward his wife, it doesn’t change the fact that he kissed Maiya in the first half of the show in a scene that clearly implied that this was an ongoing matter, not something that Maiya suddenly decided to do.

Speaking of Maiya, although she’s the one who shoots Kayneth and Sola-Ui, I don’t feel so negatively toward her as I do Kiritsugu, although I think this is primarily due to the fact that she has almost no characterization in this show. We know she’s good with a gun, takes her job seriously, and apparently has a sexual relationship with Kiritsugu, but we don’t know anything else. Why does she work for Kiritsugu? How’d she end up having anything to do with the world of the Holy Grail War? What’s her favorite color? What does she do for a hobby? I’d really settle for knowing any little thing at this point.

And I think this is where I find my major criticism of the series: there are too many characters, and too many characters who are potentially interesting. The show simply does not have enough time to spend with all of these individuals, so we end up having the Maiyas floating around. Maiya may be an extreme example, but how much do we truly know of, say, Tohsaka? Or even characters we see often, such as Irisviel?

Anyway, referring back to Katherine’s bit about recommended readings on ethical debates, I feel compelled to say that I think Alan Dershowitz is full of shit because the ticking timebomb scenario is one that never actually happens in real life. However, I nevertheless encourage you to read that piece of his, along with the others she recommended, if you are interested in ethical debates regarding whether ends justify the means or not.

Anyway, hopefully next episode gives us a slight reprieve for Saber and Irisviel, by which I mean some slashtastic material. Once a yuri fangirl, always a yuri fangirl.

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2 Responses to Fate/Zero Episode Sixteen

  1. kimalysong says:

    Not that this makes any much of difference overall (and I do agree Kiritsugu is a jerk lol even though I kind of agreed with a lot of what he said in this last episode much as I hated to do so).

    But anyways I kind of get the feeling that Kiritsugu is using Maiya and only sees her as a tool for his goals (much like he does with everyone else) so I expect the sexual relationships don’t mean anything to him in that way…although they obviously might mean something to Maiya.

    I do think Kiritsugu cares about Isrviel & his daughter and his goal “to save the world” although that isn’t much of a defense fpr the other things he has done.

  2. Mockman says:

    I think Kiritsugu has made some commitments. Not just to others, but to himself. That he will do what needs to be done, whatever the cost. And everyone involved who has a say in it is in agreement, even if they don’t understand what he means.

    I think he loves and cares deeply about Irisviel. But their peculiar circumstances aren’t normal enough for a typical husband-wife relationship. Consider how other mage families behave. As such Irisviel copes with Maiya’s role. It’s a little bit awkward for the viewer (at least this one) in that Irisviel is such a wonderful character. Ironic that the most feminine and attractive character is the homunculus. Kudos to her seiyuu whose performance is memorable.

    Someone else, I forget now who, but probably Tohsaka or Kotomine, mentioned that Kiritsugu was the victim of the Einzberns. I think that there was mention that he’d stopped hunting mages some nine years ago, when he took up with Irisviel. I’m not a fan of flashbacks, at least not those that last more than a few seconds so I don’t feel that I need to know what happened.

    I think that Sabre is an issue for Kiritsugu in that she wasn’t hired to impose her code of conduct on them all. They are playing a high-stakes game. From Kiritsugu’s perspective, it’s for all the marbles. Contradicting that of course is that his summoning of her included some commitments which appear to have fallen by the wayside. Of course, maybe Kiritsugu was just being practical. Sabre did go off to fight Caster but how many of the children did she save? I think that Kariya was the only one who actually saved any children from Caster. And FWIW, Lancer, ever chivalrous, declined to kill Kiritsugu when opportunity presented itself, with bad results for him, his master, his mistress, and possibly a lot of other players in the game. If all of the losers are going to die anyway, more or less, what effect does that have on morality or humanity?

    I’m probably rambling a bit here so I’ll close by saying that it’s an interesting conflict between Sabre’s and Kiritsugu’s perspectives. Sort of a values vs. principles type of argument.

    p.s. As I recall, Kiritsugu did ensure that the apartment building was fully evacuated before destroying it.

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