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Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia Episode #18 Anime Review

5 min read
Babylon inches toward its climactic final battles with all the tropes that would be expected of such an episode

If this whole King of Heroes thing doesn’t work out, Gilgamesh should look into speaking at graduations.

What They Say:
Fujimaru, Mash and the goddesses enjoy one last moment of peace on the eve of the final battle. That same night, Kingu reaches the peak of the ziggurat. So badly injured that he can no longer stand, he looks up to see a figure looming over him… As morning dawns, King Gilgamesh gives Fujimaru and his companions some final words of encouragement. Their attack on Tiamat begins now!

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s hard to believe that there was so much humor in the previous episode, because this one is deadly serious from the first moment, whether it’s at its quietest or its loudest, both of which are at the most extreme for a series that has already become quite notable for both of those extremes. There is no purer definition for “the calm before the storm” than the early parts of this episode, featuring subtle dialogues between various pairs of characters in still, dark settings in the night. I’ve never found the character writing in this series quite strong enough for such scenes to be very effective, but considering the diehard fandom for many of these characters, I’m sure a more targeted audience would find them valuable.

Gilgamesh has several very prominent scenes, the first of which fits within this theme despite putting him face to face with someone who should be one of the foremost enemies, someone who wears the face of Gilgamesh’s most beloved friend but should be nothing but an imposter. It’s increasingly difficult to reconcile the prior depictions of Gilgamesh in Fate, a Gilgamesh identical in every way but personality, with this depiction of a king who constantly displays more and more kindhearted selflessness. Not only does he love his people and always fight for what’s right, here he even accepts this enemy as a friend, even the worthy successor to the true Enkidu’s legacy. He couldn’t be any less like the Gilgamesh we expect, even with the inconsistencies between Nasu’s and Urobuchi’s versions of him. He’s still one of my favorite characters around, probably helped by the fact that I find several of the other members of this cast rather dull, but such pure-heartedness does make him a less interesting character to watch than the classic interpretations of the character. Frankly, this series is a bit too full of characters that are simply good or evil, which contributes a great deal to the reasons that I don’t care about the cast as much as I’d like to. It’s why Kingu has suddenly become a much more compelling character, but it’s unfortunate that he had to be on his deathbed for that to happen.

But if we can accept this Gilgamesh as a good man and a great king who loves his people, then at least we can get a hell of a pre-battle speech out of him. This is a staple of stories with warfare, and it’s the natural transition between the peaceful calm and the imminent clash that’s sure to shatter the lives of most who venture into it. The remaining people of Uruk have already accepted their fate, perhaps a foolish decision, but even if Gilgamesh no longer needs to convince them to continue fighting, it’s easy to imagine how he could’ve done so in the first place. If there’s one thing that consistently defines Fate’s Gilgamesh in all of his drastically varied appearances, it’s his infinitely magnetic charisma. I may find the more arrogant, despicable Gilgamesh more engrossing, but this battle needs someone who can carry such a level of conviction, and this face fits it better than any other. The voice does as well, as Tomokazu Seki deserves a great deal of credit for delivering such a rousing monologue.

It feels like the episode should nearly be over by the time the actual fighting starts, but this show doesn’t need much time to pull out some incredible action animation, and it certainly wastes no time in delivering a climax that will ultimately prove to be a precursor to what’s to come. In a sense, the same things can be said of all the big battles in this series, and in that way they are slightly predictable in execution, but that doesn’t make them less powerful by any stretch of the imagination. The series doesn’t always have the best writing; in fact, sometimes it’s a bit of a mess all around. But sprinkling these moments in every few episodes makes it all well worth the commitment, even if there’s always a decent chance that your eardrums won’t survive each onslaught. Now that we’re approaching the final stretch of the series, these are likely to last longer than usual and get even bigger than ever. It’s entirely possible that this marked the beginning of the final battle of the series, which could retrospectively make the time dedicated to calm buildup and epic speeches (no Gilgamesh pun intended) more appropriate.

In Summary:
Babylon inches toward its climactic final battles with all the tropes that would be expected of such an episode, but some of them are executed with enough finesse to elicit exactly the intended response, mostly thanks to Gilgamesh’s endless charisma. Perhaps most impactful is that the episode makes it to the fighting itself, and pulls out all the stops to deliver some of the biggest moments of the series despite spending such a small percentage of the episode on it. I have my issues with this series, but if the final few episodes continue at this rate, we might be in for a real treat.

Grade: B

Streamed By: Funimation

Review Equipment:
LG Electronics OLED65C7P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

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