Fate/Zero – 18
「遠い記憶」 (Toui Kioku)
Sometimes… it is the things that we lose, not the things that we gain, that shape us into who are, and who we become. This is especially true when the thing we lose is a loved one, something Kiritsugu knows all too well. He is the embodiment of this maxim, as his life of an assassin, one who takes lives, came as the result of having lives taken from him when he was a young boy living on Alimango Island (which is an actual island in the Philippines).
The young Kiritsugu (Irino Miyu) lived a carefree childhood much like any other, except for the fact that his father, Emiya Noritaka (Chiba Isshin), was a mage who was researching the secret of immortality. Many viewers seem to despise him now, but he was once an innocent, happy-go-lucky kid with a boyish grin who I don’t think anyone could hate. Sure, these qualities by themselves aren’t that unique or notable since they could be shared by a kid protagonist of many other shows, but I still found them refreshing and likeable nonetheless. Knowing the type of person he grows up into and with Fate/Zero being the tragic series it’s turning out to be, I knew his personality, along with his idyllic life on a picturesque tropical island with a beautiful native girl, wouldn’t last very long.
The qualities which I liked about Kiritsugu are probably what endeared him to his father’s assistant Shirley (Takagaki Ayahi) as well – while her qualities endeared her to me. Her playful personality felt like a great match for his, and I immediately took a liking to her. Part of the reason for this is because her simple white dress and the fact that she took care of everlasting lilies reminded me of Saber Lily – all Shirley needed was a hair and eye color change to match and the resemblance would be uncanny. Seeing the two interact, it was clear that Kiritsugu had some sort of feelings beyond platonic ones for her, and she probably did as well, even if it never really showed in her usual friendly demeanor towards him. He was attached to her, and she pledged her attachment to him, but unfortunately, before either one could spell out their feelings for one another, fate intervened.
Fate had something in store for her, as there were several ominous signs that portended Shirley’s tragic ending. The first was the story she told about the island’s name, in which a girl who didn’t have any food to offer the sea gods took some of the offerings left there by others, and was punished by being cursed and transformed into a crab. Unbeknownst to her, Shirley was following the footsteps of the girl in the legend. She had nothing to offer in the search for Akasha, the Root, and so she stole from Kiritsugu’s father who did have something to offer, and as a result was transformed – but instead of a crab, she became a vampire, a Dead Apostle. The second omen was the red specks of watermelon around her mouth, foreshadowing her blood-sucking future. And the final sign was the lily that she grew, a pristine white flower which glowed much like she did, was supposed to be immortal like the others, yet it didn’t live as long as it was supposed to.
Even though I predicted tragedy would eventually befall her, the scene in which we actually find out exactly what tragedy it was did not lose any of its emotional impact whatsoever. Her cries and pleas were more bone-chilling than any I can remember, and coupled with Kiritsugu’s look of terror, made me glad that it was the last time we would see her. It was too sad and heart-wrenching to watch her reduced to such a tortured existence, and it was just as painful to watch the image burned into his eyes and into his heart. Kiritsugu had lost someone near and dear to him, but the way it had changed him wouldn’t become evident until later.
Like Kiritsugu, I didn’t get much of a chance to ruminate on Shirley’s tragic fate because watching all the vampires attack felt too much like a good old zombie movie – the doors weren’t enough to keep them out and the depths of the darkness held deadly surprises. And while the spreading fire gave enough light to see the creatures coming, it also ratcheted up the intensity and tension in that you could also see their faces, which meant Kiritsugu would be able to recognize those he knew from town like Father Simon (Hashizume Tomohisa). There’s nothing quite like the sheer horror of being attacked by someone you know. Adding to the tension was the feeling that he was not only being hunted by the Dead Apostles, but also the two groups working to cleanse the island: the church’s Executors, who wield the same signature Black Keys as Kotomine does to kill all those who defy the will of God; and the Mage’s Association, who wield fire indiscriminately in order to keep the secret of the Dead Apostle’s creation theirs, and theirs alone. It was as if the walls were closing in on him quickly and any hope of escape was dimming by the moment.
Fortunately, there was a third group who did not share the others’ beliefs – Natalia Kaminski (Watanabe Akeno), a hired assassin working for the Mage’s Association who I almost mistook for man had it not been for her midriff-revealing feminine tank top. Her arrival and subsequent rescue of Kiritsugu reminded me of how another famous anime assassin was born, Himura Kenshin. He too was Show Spoiler ▼
However, the similarities end there, as I find Kiritsugu’s transformation into an assassin to be much more tragic.
Although it was Kiritsugu’s idea to kill his father, only a cold-hearted assassin like Natalia would allow a child to follow through with patricide. I’m not sure she would have been able to stop him though – his losing Shirley had already changed him too much. Any doubts Kiritsugu might have had disappeared when his father showed no grief for losing his assistant, and when he reassured Kiritsugu that he would not be experimenting on him because his research was a failure, and not because Kiritsugu is his son. As for the murder itself, using Shirley’s dagger was a poetic revenge, but there was nothing poetic in Kiritsugu’s eyes as he pulled the trigger to end his father’s life.
Eyes which were once so bright and full of life had been forever changed. What should have been the wide-eyed innocence of a child were now the empty and unforgiving eyes of an assassin. At the same time it was humanizing to learn that a cold-blooded killer was once pure and harmless, it was painful to watch the light in his eyes was snuffed out by the dark reality of death. Losing Shirley changed more than Kiritsugu’s personality, more than his eyes – it also changed his name. His name once was Kerry… but it was much too delicate of a name for an assassin.
ED4: 「満天」 (Manten) by Kalafina