「祈りの弓 イー・バウ」 (Inori no Yumi -Ii Bau-)
“Bow of Prayer -Yew Bow-“
Ah, at last we get some confirmation. This week, we are told more or less explicitly what the relationship is between the Fate/EXTRA videogame and Last Encore: we are almost a millenium in the future. That will explain why nothing about this setting is as we knew it (though perhaps the canon of the Fate/EXTRA Holy Grail war has changed as well; more on this in later episodes, I’m sure).
For those of you who have not played the original game before jumping in this anime, it’s looking more and more like you really should have, but that’s no fault of yours. We’ll try to talk more about the game’s continuity here for those who need to catch up. 999 years ago, Dan Blackmore was a former soldier and knight of the United Kingdom. In that Holy Grail War, he was pretty big on the whole chivalry thing, forbidding his servant, the Archer formerly known as Robin Hood. In fact, the way the two fight in Last Encore is reversed from how they were in the game; Robin Hood’s style was to use his poison and stealth tricks to assassinate the enemy Master, while Blackmore insisted on facing the enemy Servant head on. Because chivalry and blah. But now, after a thousand years of brooding, it’s like this. We know why there’s such a role reversal; this ‘floor master’ is less Dan Blackmore and more the ghost of Dan Blackmore. There are none left in SE.RA.PH but resentful spirits (and we ask, what is Hakuno?). That’s an interesting turn, because the Servants are but spirits too, and they try to keep the ideals of their Masters alive after death. Shinji, in Fate/EXTRA, died quickly and miserably, so in Last Encore attempts to create a city where Masters like him can live. Drake helped him, vain though it was, and at least helps him die with dignity. Blackmore, in Fate/EXTRA, was torn between his duty to his country, his sense of honour, and his feelings for his dead wife, and that ultimately defeats him. In Last Encore, he is only after victory. Robin Hood helps him, vain though it is, while seeking glory in combat. This continuation makes Last Encore feel like a much more appropriate sequel to Fate/EXTRA than whatever Fate/Extella ended up being, in theme if nothing else. I don’t know if Nasu is still doing the Dante’s Divine Comedy thing, and SE.RA.PH is arguably more Purgatorio than Paradiso, but there the second sphere of heaven was for those who did good out of ambition, lacking in the virtue of justice. Make of that what you will.
One thing I’m unsure what to make of: Rin. Her counterpart in the videogame, Rani, has properly died like a good martyr, but Rin remains. She’s definitely more than just some Master hanging around, and I won’t speculate here, but we keep losing track of her for long stretches of time, which is definitely suspicious. If something is going to shake up the stratum-by-stratum-formula we’ve had so far, it’s her.