OP: 「starting the case: Rail Zeppelin」by Yuki Kajiura
“The Seven Stars and the Eternal Cage ~Not even the stars’ luster can last forever.~”
Last week, I asked for mystery. This week, Lord El-Melloi II Case Files delivered. Without further ado, let’s dive into our first murder case!
Ernest Fargo is killed and horrifically dismembered within his own mansion. There are four suspects to be had – his daughter Mary, his shifty colleague Mr Li, his unscrupulous nephew Alec and the timid housemaid Claire. Each individual was equally motivated on paper in murdering him, which is what made the mystery so intriguing. So whodunnit?
To be honest, when Mr Li first appeared on the screen, I was expecting things to play out like a Chinese villain cliché. Fortunately, the rabbit hole went much further than that. At times, I even wondered if all four parties had colluded in Mr Fargo’s death. And the twist where Alec brutally died took me back to the drawing board. They truly hid things under wraps, and I personally didn’t piece the mystery together right until the very moments leading up to Waver’s ultimate reveal. For that reason, I thought the mystery premise was excellently constructed. Though congratulations if you did manage to guess it from the get go. Still, who could have guessed that the Fargo patriarch was very much alive, only that his attempt to achieve immortality had gone horrifically wrong, leaving him in a vile state of undeath? We even got a deliciously animated fight scene between Gray and Mr Fargo’s corrupted soul, with the beautiful quality to match Ufotable’s work on the Fate franchise. Yummy.
The Whydunnit was a really nice way to wrap up the episode. It turns out that Mary was fully aware that her father’s plans would likely result in his death, yet she didn’t go about stopping him. Let’s assume this takes place in England (which it does). Now I have an excuse to whip out stuff I learned during my law degree. While the failure to act does not usually result in criminal liability, exceptions arise in situations such as a special relationship – e.g. parent and child. So there would be a voluntary presumption where Mary as an adult would be obligated to provide care and protection for her father. This, she failed. The distinctive ethics behind active and passive euthanasia within English law are also relevant. Is there a difference between Mary directly murdering her father as opposed to letting him die, where the ethics would be concerned? I would feel inclined to say, not really. What she did was morally wrong, even if it’s understandable why she would do it. If people felt Mary was justified in knowingly allowing her father to die, then I’d ask you these questions. Is it okay to let someone drown without doing anything? Do all abusive and controlling parents deserve to die? My answers would be no – death cannot be justified in this particular scenario for me. Her omission and failure to act heavily contributed to her father’s death, imparting a significant degree of culpability upon her. There’s also a significant conflict of interest, regardless of her claimed motives, in that she inherits his entire estate too. A bit too convenient.
So while I sympathise for Mary, her actions cannot be justified in my eyes. And I’m pretty sure most English judiciaries would have sent her to the slammer, if all these facts came to light during a trial. If your answers and perspective varied from mine, I would be very curious to know, so feel free to provide them in the comment section below!
To conclude, Waver went full magic Sherlock in trying to solve the mystery, and succeeded too. It’s great as always to see a mainstay from Fate/Zero getting on with life, having grown so much since his days competing in the Holy Grail Wars. El Melloi II’s been fantastic start where the mystery is concerned, that doesn’t feel particularly contrived or convoluted — so props to the source material’s writer. And I’m curious as ever to find out more about Gray. To begin with, I wasn’t sure if Gray’s physical appearance alluded to a connection with Artoria or whether it was simply a case of Saberface. Now I’m certain there’s a deeper connection with Artoria, and I’m excited to find out how they will be related. Truly, the Type-Moon mythos and its extensive depth never ceases to amaze me.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading my post and see you next week for what will hopefully be yet another magical mystery!
ED: 「雲雀」 (Hibari) by ASCA
If you think of Mary’s actions as criminal you need to start with mages actually keeping their children (even adult ones) as personal property first.
Also this screen:
suggests that she acted not only to protect herself.
(sit, Yuri goggles! I dont need you right now! aaaargh….)
Ahem. Sorry my artifacts sometimes act rebelliously.
Since there was no possibility of simply calling the police to end his abuse, I offer a case for justified self-defence.
P.S. I <3 Gray and the way she fights.
Defence of others (included under self-defence) wouldn’t apply based on the information that came to light, since Mary never actually confirmed that she did it for Claire, and mainly reasoned that she did it for her own personal freedom. But it could be inferred. Assuming we go along with this inference, for defence of another, you need an imminent threat to invoke it. What exactly is this imminent threat then? Thus I’d argue it still does not apply. There’s nowhere for the reasonable force test to even be applied, because there was no situation arising in which force was used in response.
We move onto the defence of necessity. Death or serious injury are the only conditions that can justify necessity. In my opinion, neither death or serious injury were risks that arose from Mr Fargo’s abusive conduct, so I highly doubt that necessity could constitute a complete defence in this scenario – though it could offer a partial one that reduced a sentence. Even if Claire’s injuries were deemed serious, where manslaughter and murder are concerned, necessity is pretty much never completely granted as an acceptable defence in the UK courts outside the medical profession conducting euthanasia.
For these reasons, while I personally wouldn’t want Mary to go to jail, if all the details came to light, she would on a technicality. I mean, she did confess it to Waver too. And letting your parent die (even if they were an abducted asshole£ like that while having the capacity to prevent it is something I perceive to be an extreme measure that cannot be justified.
I think it’s more complicated than that. The implication here is that Mary is in love with Claire. This is a problem for her father since a Magus is supposed to give their crests to the next generation. Since blood-relation is very important for a successful transfer, that basically means that a Magus has to have children. That means all kind of problems if a Magus turns out to be gay, as in the case of Mary. Two women can’t have children (and the last time two women had a child, Camelot got destroyed), which means that Mary would be willing to end her lineage and the chance of her family to reach the root for the sake of love. She would basically go against everything a Magus stands for.
Her father obviously intended to make her pass down her crests, because why else teach her and send her to London Tower? But Claire confessed she is in love with a woman. That threw a wrench in the plans of her father. It would also explain why he abused her daughter and the maid to begin with. Be it punishment or trying to scare them straight. I wouldn’t be surprised if he would have forced her to have children. Anyway, all that didn’t work, so her father had to find another way. Becoming immortal by taking over his daughter’s body.
But with his death, she is now free of the old and cruel traditions and life of a Magus and can be with the person she truly loves. It fits well with theme of tradition vs modernism. Plus by Magus standards, what Mary did is really nothing. It would have resulted in a slap on the wrist at worst.
Hm, must have missed the lesbian relationship.
Seems to be a Bleach + Fate/Stay Night fusion: we have a Saberface, undead, and a sentient anti-ghost weapon. Would be nice if Lady said “bankai”
Anyway, I like to know where the author pulls all this “magic” rubbish from. Obviously this case couldn’t be solve from regular anime detectives, who know nothing about magic.
Wonder what was the point of this scene anyway. Meh.
Good point about Li… I think maybe the implication was that he recognized his research was being used, and was worried that Waver would notice and mistakenly think he killed the man, so he couldn’t resist the urge to spy on him? But even then, he looks far more suspicious than he has a right to be.
Well who says he won’t return.
yeah, it would be bad if you are suspected of murder. I am more curious as to why they don’t have some Lie Detection magic. Or some “truth serum”
Honestly, both of these two seemed to be the most suspicious but I am at least glad the blond dude is dead. I don’t think marisbury would be happy to know she and him are related. Wonder how old is she around this timeline.
It’s not like Mary could appeal to a court or anything to free herself from her abusive father. Clocktower mages are only held accountable to other Clocktower mages of higher standing, and the only thing Clocktower mages are concerned with is: is an act likely to reveal magecraft to humanity at large? If not, pretty much anything seems to be fair game.
Going back to one of the basic tenets of English law, a person has a right to be tried by their peers. And following on from Guile’s comment, that would mean that mages get tried by mages. You can’t really expect “normal” law to apply to them, not that they are above the common law (“be you ever so high, the law is above you” sort of thing), but in most cases brought against mages there would be vastly significant extenuating circumstances that could never be revealed in a normal court.
Anyway, so far I’m not overwhelmed by this series. I think the basic problem is the standard anime episode length. After ads, OP and ED you have 21 minutes to tell a story, and that’s simply not enough to present, develop and resolve a mystery. I wonder if any of the stories will use a double episode format.
From what I understand, volumes 4 and 5 are a single case and that case will be adapted in 6 episodes.
These are just warm up episodes that focus more on character and world building. The real cases haven’t started yet.
It’s a pity that the first three volumes (aka the first two cases) are not included in the anime as they do a pretty good job with exactly that, the background build-up.
In fact, I think this episode can be taken as a watered-down version of the first volume.
Like I guessed, episode 2 felt very different from episode 1. Also, Gray’s a poet and she knows it. Her action scenes will probably account for a large part of what I find fun in this anime.
“Now I’m certain there’s a deeper connection with Artoria, and I’m excited to find out how they will be related. Truly, the Type-Moon mythos and its extensive depth never ceases to amaze me.” I honestly admire your optimistic enthusiasm toward yet another character like this… I’m sure there’s a deep explanation for why she looks like that…
I keep thinking that it’s too bad the Rental Magica anime aired way before the light novel localization industry really took off.
There has to be something with Artoria. The hair-bun, the cowlick and the ribbon are all exact, plus they keep making sure the audience knows that Waver does not want to see Gray’s face, which, while I don’t see it, is probably meant to be an exact copy as well. I just hope the backstory there isn’t covered in another part that the anime won’t be getting to, but with how prominent Gray is in the ED, I’m not too worried.
Without entering in spoilers, Gray’s backstory is actually quite interesting. It’s a big departure of what you expect from a Saberface, to the point you even start to wonder if it’s supposed to be self-criticism or them taking a jab at the concept.
I wouldn’t say it’s a self-criticism or a jab at the concept. It’s actually a fairly well-thought out reason in TM world for why someone would look like Altria. (I don’t like the spelling either, but I think it’s Canon now.)
As for howdunnit Saberfaces in general, I’d just chalk it up to genetics and randomness for an in-world explanation. I happen to know of RL case where a Taiwanese man and a Western man looked REALLY similar. And if I had to guess at possible genetic connections, Taiwan was ruled by the Dutch for a while (and I’m guessing the rulers had Yellow Fever)
No characters in the six thumbnails on the main page. 😀
Surprised no one’s mentioned how Magi society operates on a very different values system than the rest of the world.
Sure, Mary let her father fail. But on the other hand, his research was basically about turning into an undead/immortal.
IIRC, that’s a kill-able offense. As in, “slap on a Sealing Designation, and call in one of the above: the Clock Tower’s Enforcers, the Church’s Executors’, or the Burial Agency.”
Letting the man potentially kill himself is possibly one of the kindest outcomes in Magi society.
eh they’re rich and aristocratically titled, don’t think general law would be enforced by them. in this case, the clock tower (which seems to be head of the english/uk mage society) would be the main judiciary arm? or suchlike? other possibility that it’ll be a trial by peers, in which mary could win depending on who the jurors are and how the defense is spun.
This episode failed to impress me as much as the previous one. Didn’t help that there were a few scenes were Waver was looking off.
But it’s good to hear Hisako Kanemoto (voicing Mary Lil Fargo) being back doing voice work.