「黄金鹿と嵐の夜 ゴールデン・ワイルドハント」 (Kogane Shika to Arashi no Yoru -Gouruden Wairudohanto-)
“The Golden Hind and a Stormy Night -Golden Wild Hunt-“
Every week, Last Encore likes to remind us that this isn’t your father’s Fate/EXTRA. That is, other than sharing some jargon and some characters, the game and the anime are, for the most part, entirely different experiences. For one, flying motorcycles. Fate/EXTRA was definitely not the kind of game to have any sort of anti-gravity automobile, and maybe that’s precisely why there’s one in Last Encore. You can bet the anime production committee has a long list of ‘Cool Things We Couldn’t Do On the PSP’ and ‘Flying Motorcycle’ is in the top 10. And perhaps it’s a good thing they’re doing that, because the only thing anime adaptations of videogames can really trade the gameplay for is spectacle. Hence, dramatic action set-pieces, ridiculous attacks, and characters striking artistic poses anywhere and everywhere. Very anime indeed.
Even though Last Encore does seem to want to be distinct from its videogame source, it does seem at times it wants its audience to have played the game as well. And I don’t just mean the vaguely familiar callbacks to something that we may or may not be supposed to recognise. Take the Big Bad of this arc, Shinji. If you haven’t played the game, you won’t really know what his deal is. If you haven’t experienced the greater Fate/ franchise at all, you’ll know even less. As he stands alone in the anime, he feels like an incomplete villain. Sure, he gets his big fight scene like a proper stage boss (though perhaps pink laser beams actually look less impressive than proper cannon fire), but as a person we know little about how he got this way except that one time he killed an astronaut and felt bad about it. And, curiously enough, the game and the anime actually offer two different perspectives on him. In the game, he was an arguably more wretched character. In the anime, arguably more sympathetic. Putting the two together, he’s whole. But if you’re only watching Last Encore, Shinji’s just a blue-haired punk who monologues too much.
So I wonder, still, how one is supposed to approach Last Encore. For now, it seems that it wants to draw a Dante’s Divine Comedy allegory sort of thing. Paradiso had nine heavenly spheres laid beneath the realm of God. The first sphere was represented by the Moon, the inconstant, for souls with a deficiency of fortitude, for the abandoner of vows. One can perhaps see the parallels with Last Encore‘s first stratum. That said, if we’re really going to go through seven spheres (assuming Last Encore lumps Dante’s first three together), at around two episodes per sphere we’re going to run out of episode time very quickly. I wonder how the pacing is going to be. We come back to the same bottom line: I have no idea what Last Encore is going to try to do. And admittedly, that could be my biggest reason for sticking with the show.
…Or are we all just getting trolled?
Weekly spoiler warning: Spoilers for the videogame are spoilers too! Please don’t assume that everyone knows about the source. Thanks.