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Fate EXTRA Last Encore – 09

「招き蕩う黄金劇場 アエストゥス・ドムス・アウレア」 (Manekitou Kogane Gekijou -Aesutousu Domusu Aurea-)
“Golden Theatre of the Deranged -Aestus Domus Aurea-”

Here’s another thing that can make a videogame much harder to adapt into anime than something like a manga: multiple-choice protagonists. In the original Fate/EXTRA, near the beginning of the game the player can choose to play as a female character or a male character. Even those of you who have never played the game can tell guess that it was the female Hakuno and the male Hakuno. There was no mechanical difference between the two, and only a few pieces of dialogue had any significant gender specificity, but they were different enough (and mutually exclusive) that the decision to play either one still felt like a choice. Anime, of course, involves no choice at all for its audience; we are passive viewers. So what to do? If the anime only has one protagonist over the other, game players who didn’t choose that protagonist may feel a disconnect, or even unrepresented. The dedicated fans are a picky and vocal lot. You could make two versions of the same anime, but that’s untenable. You could try including writing both protagonists into the anime — something I wished that the Persona 3 movies did — but with limited episode time it’s difficult to fit them both in. What Last Encore has done is, I think, as good a compromise as any. As a sequel to Fate/EXTRA, it does not really use both, but at least justifies the significance of both thematically. And it also makes the case that, no matter the characterisation, Kishinami Hakuno was always something of a blank slate anyway. S/he was defined, first and foremost, not by appearance and gender, but by their Servant. Even without a past or a wish, they were the Master of their Servant first and foremost, and the interaction between the two gave Hakuno personality.

Ah, but in the Fate/EXTRA game, we got to choose our Servant as well! Why Saber for the anime? Well, it’s the unwritten rule of the Fate franchise that the Saber-face is the mascot character, and in the marketing role Nero Claudius certainly has high specs. But I think the greater consideration is that, of the three playable Servants, Saber had the best monologues. As I noted last week, Nasu loves his monologues dearly, and I suspect that often the top consideration is which character would make the best mouthpiece. Archer was mostly snarky. Caster was mostly catty. But Saber would break out the soapbox and make grand, sweeping speeches of flowery prose at the drop of a hat, and more than any other Servant she’s designed to stand in front of armed opponents and talk them to death. For Nasu, that is main character material.

I think it can be assumed, though, that no matter which Servant was chosen the story would, like in the game, still be fundamentally similar. This arc has been the backstory arc, and this week Saber reveals her name and her past, which meant it was time for the patented SHAFT Picture Theatre. Her story, or at least her version of her story, is a tragic one to be sure, but each of the playable Servants basically had a story like that. Deliberately so. Here is where Last Encore got self-referential and Nasu revealed his secret as a writer. Even though Last Encore is ostensibly a sequel, and many things have changed, Nasu is still fundamentally writing the same story. Nasu places emphasis on the thematic core of a story — what he’s calling the ‘soul’ — above all else. All characters are extensions of the themes. This is why he keeps changing his canon every time he visits it, because to him those plot details aren’t that important as long as they serve the themes. And this is why so many details of his mythology can feel like complete bollocks but we still let him get away with it, as long as the strong thematic core holds.

That said, I’m not exactly sure what Last Encore is building up to yet. I can take a stab, but it seems like Fate/EXTRA has come full circle this episode and can spin out towards a number of different directions. Next week is episode 10, the last we’re slated for this season, and although the story is certainly not going to wrap up by then I’m still hoping for something climactic; Saber’s Noble Phantasm didn’t quite do it for me. I think we’ll have some stray episodes after (SHAFT is a disorganised mess like that) but 10 is a nice, round number. Let’s hope for a good one.

End Card

March 26, 2018 at 8:14 am
8 comments »
  • March 26, 2018 at 8:56 amHalfDemonInuyasha

    “Why Saber for the anime? Well, it’s the unwritten rule of the Fate franchise that the Saber-face is the mascot character, and in the marketing role Nero Claudius certainly has high specs.”

    And let’s not forget, “Umu!”

  • March 26, 2018 at 12:55 pmGreed

    http://randomc.net/image/Fate%20EXTRA%20Last%20Encore/Fate%20EXTRA%20Last%20Encore%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2020.jpg
    One True Pairing to me. The other true pairing is the male Hakuno with a certain Caster fox Servant. I hope that Nero got a kiss from the female Hakuno, love is something crucial for a Saber-face servant.

  • March 26, 2018 at 3:41 pmTheVoid

    Poor Archer and to a lesser extent Tamamo always get the Shaft to Nero. I will say I vastly prefer Nero here than in FGO Septem or Extella where I found her insufferable. Though Hakuno’s Berserker never even gets to appear at all in any media.

    Gilgamesh and his role as Hakuno’s fifth servant got also have a pretty good dynamic, especially when he had the best Servant Ending in CCC Show Spoiler ▼

    Plus being so tsun when Hakuno says Gil likes humans he acts surprised because he thought it was obvious with the way he treats them (Which is just Gil being a dick). It felt really good seeing him finally call Hakuno master partway through out of respect and making it clear to BB she’s now his enemy.

  • March 27, 2018 at 7:05 pmedo

    WTF only 10 episodes ?

    • March 28, 2018 at 7:07 pmPasserby

      There will be more, but not broadcasted on TV.

  • March 28, 2018 at 1:28 amlkaze

    Geez, the only thing i look forward in fate series is it noble phantasm. And this UMU saber’s noble phantasm is just not great. Wish they remake it in DVD or something

  • March 28, 2018 at 6:34 pmsealouse

    What the hell is going on in this show? What was that huge thing at the end of last episode? Where did Rani come from?

    • March 28, 2018 at 7:06 pmPasserby

      Unfortunately, Last Encore seems to want its viewers to have some knowledge of the game. The huge thing at the end of the last episode Show Spoiler ▼