What They Say:
Ten years prior to the events of FATE/STAY NIGHT, the War of the Holy Grail is a contest in which seven magi summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete to obtain the power of the “Holy Grail,” which grants a miracle. After three inconclusive wars for the elusive Holy Grail, the Fourth War commences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Fate/Zero worked through some very good material previously in dealing with Rider and Gilgamesh while also giving us some very heartfelt and appropriate scenes for Waver as he took it all in and really manned up. While there were other things going on in that episode, particularly the revel about Berserker being Lancelot, the Rider material was some of the standout material for the series overall for me as I really found a lot to like about the character. With this episode, the more personal and up close fight that’s fought between the two men standing at this point is intense, especially since it’s mixed in with scenes of the grail itself rising into existence and being filled as well. It’s all reaching a strong point here with the swell of music, the intense action and the disturbing nature of the grail itself being there.
This episode starts off powerfully when you get down to it, even if they are riffing on the garage basement that was used in the recent Batman movies. Giving us a match between Kirie and Kiritsugu in this big open space, well lit at that, makes for some striking scenes as they suss out each others skills and potential, some things which have been well hidden along the way so they can have an ace or two up the sleeve when needed. Kirie in particular has a good bit of style as he goes through all of this, though both men are intently serious with what’s going on and really go at each other with some beautiful impact. From weapons, to fists to magic and more, it’s just constant and wonderfully intense. While we often get shows that have these overpowered kids who have no clue about their power and are just lucking into it, here we get two men that have trained and worked hard to achieve this level and the results are spectacular.
While the action dominates early, the show also spends a good amount of time dealing with the emotional side of events, giving us a greater insight into Kiritsugu’s adult past and how he was manipulated and used in so many ways. Tying this in to what we knew of his childhood, it says a lot that he turned out as well as he has, but it also makes clear why he’s as intent as he is. With Kirie, we get some other very disturbing scenes as well, particularly with Irisviel, and it shifts another part of the larger narrative around to make for some beautifully awful scenes. The show has worked the atmosphere and mood of things well from the start, but as its progressed in this second half, it’s really hit it out of the park and an episode like this really does drive home how well it’s done so.
Fate/Zero has certainly been an engaging series to watch, but like most shows that have the buildup for events, it’s those final episodes that just push it all over the edge. With the heavy focus on Kirie and Kiritsugu here, it brings to an end part of the story that has been unfolding since the start with a brutal kind of beauty that you can’t turn away from. The emotions are fully there and the animation serves it all very well. We also get the shift towards what will come next for Saber as she brings us further into the end story, especially with the Grail so close at hand. Fate/Zero continues to be one of the best things I’ve seen this year.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.