「禁断の狂宴」 (Kindan no Kyouen)
“The Forbidden Banquet of Insanity”
Considering how Fate/Zero was originally slated for a contiguous six-month run, I wasn’t expecting the midpoint break to coincide with some finale-worthy material. However, I wasn’t expecting ufotable to leave off on a highly suspenseful cliffhanger either, which is downright cruel. The cynic in me doubts this was merely coincidental, as I can already picture the staff sitting around in a room and patting one another on the back for having viewers wrapped around their fingers. All I can do is just sit quietly and pretend that I don’t care for a bit before finally saying, “Damn it.”
I’m (half) joking of course, because I honestly would’ve been okay with an episode full of characterization, followed by a bunch of teaser clips in the preview. I was quite content when things were headed that way, starting with Ryuunosuke’s grandiose justification for his homicidal ways. That was some truly “fascinating” drivel, and rather amusing too because I perceived it as such. At no point was I going to take his reasoning seriously and concede that a serial killer has a good reason for killing, but he clearly believed everything he said, so it was fun to hear him out. I really couldn’t help but take his conversation with Caster as comedic, especially not after his ironic statement about how inhumane it was to destroy all the mutilated bodies that they decorated their lair with. Classy.
Assuming it wasn’t anime-original, I really have to hand it to Urobuchi Gen for writing some witty dialogue like that. The same goes for Rider’s attempts to cheer up his “emo” Master, which cleverly masked the somber mood from Waver’s realization that his vision of Rider reaching Okeanos — indication that he had traveled east enough and conquered all the land — never happened. I dare say it was kind of “cute” to see Waver not want to pry into Rider’s past and look up the history of Alexander the Great instead, because he went all tsundere when Rider said he could’ve just asked him directly. The two of them have always had a surprisingly considerate dynamic, but it’s not often we see Waver concerned about Rider’s feelings. It may have been unnecessary since nothing seems to get Rider down, but the fact that Waver felt bad about Rider dying in his early thirties did make it easier to cut him some slack about his self-loathing. Rider on the other hand deserves credit for trying to cheer Waver up, even though he’s not very good at it. (That easily misunderstood hug didn’t help either.)
In comparison, Saber may be somewhat dull, but her Iri-like driving skills kind of make up for it. I did find it odd how Rider still referred to her as the “King of Knights” after saying that he no longer acknowledges her as a real king, but Saber did have a cool moment afterward that was deserving of the title. As for all these temporary alliances that Saber agrees to, I see them as great opportunities for Servants to work together, but also as a potential problem in the future because I’m willing to bet Kiritsugu could care less about respecting any alliances that she makes. I assume this one will be okay though, as the preview suggests that Archer will be sent to help out with Caster too. From the sound of things, he’s reluctant to use his most powerful Noble Phantasm “Ea”, which he only likes to use against opponents he deems worthy.
* I won’t be including any final impressions because this series clearly isn’t over yet. I also decided NOT to consider it for this year’s Best of Anime post, since it lacks any sort of conclusion that would justify treating it as a separate entity from the second half airing in spring. In fact, I fully intend to number the second season’s episodes from 14 onwards.