「時計塔と日常と未来への第一歩」 (Tokeitou to Nichijou to Mirai he no Daiipou)
“The Clock Tower, Usual Days, and the First Step Forward to the Future”

Criticising the Finale

I had mixed feelings about the finale. It was had a bizarrely inconsistent mix of good and bad. First off, they can’t just end last episode on an epic cliffhanger, before cutting to the present without showing us what actually happened. I don’t care if this was a 1:1 adaptation of the novel. Telling us it all happened off-screen is extremely cheap. Anime exists to elucidate and bring to life a source material in a way the original content cannot. So it really disappointed me that we didn’t get to see Rhongomyniad vs Hecatic Wheel fully play out on the screen, or Karabo Frampton’s noble sacrifice to save both Waver and Gray. This was my biggest gripe for the episode, and it was big enough to put a damper on my general impressions of the series.

My other reservations come from the overall construction of the mystery premise. Dr Heartless is finally dropped as the biggest and most exciting villain of the franchise. Then they swiftly vanish him off the screen at the very end. The fact that the last episode is an opportunity to lay things bare, only for Case Files to dispel any pretense of mystery really annoyed me. Which begs the question: the whydunnit. Why go through all the hoops, painstakingly crafting the foundation, when there is no attempt at a satisfactory resolution? If I had to guess, my intuition tell me that there’s possible ulterior motives pulling the strings behind the scene: 1) They’re leaving room for a potential follow-up season where they can satisfactorily answer these questions. 2) This was literally advertisement for the novels and an inconclusive ending forces viewers to check out the novels to gain any semblance of closure. Unfortunately, these reasons are commonplace across the anime industry. My only hope is that we either get a new season, because despite my complaints, I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and would love to see more. Or we get a sequence of OVAs to grant deserved closure.

Praising Themes that were Realised

Now that I’ve vented my gripes, we can move onto the praise this series has earned. There’s no denying that the series as a whole did an excellent job showcasing the internal politics of the Clock Tower. Because we see that Magus Association rankings aren’t based on a system of potential proficiency or moral codes, but on magical and academic accomplishments – in other words, how close an individual is in attaining the Root. And there’s a lot of colluding involved between the great magic families. Even at the end, we have Reines and Olga Marie wrangling a deal together as the respective future of their clans. Which brings me onto the politics of the Clock Tower’s Holy Grail War candidates. Interestingly, though I disliked him as a character, I felt that the Case Files allowed me to view Kayneth in a much more sympathetic light. Most people who’ve seen Fate/Zero might have had the impression that Kayneth was an arrogant bastard who overestimated his own abilities. However, Case Files highlights just how unlucky he was to have crossed paths with Kiritsugu, let alone be considered as a primary threat that urgently needed to be eliminated by the Magus Slaying mercenary. Even Tokiomi, who did extensive research about Kiritsugu, did not know about his Origin Bullet. So now, we can appreciate just how capable and ingenious Kayneth was, to have attracted Kiritsugu’s attention as well as having his original artifact stolen – which caused him to summon Diarmuid, a heroic spirit who proved to be his absolute undoing in spite of its best intentions.

Waver’s character progression was absolutely substantial, and it was worth seeing every bit of it. He’s grappled with the ghost of the Holy Grail War for the entirety of his adult life, single-mindedly craving to see his King at least one more time, while being haunted by endless guilt and regrets. His dream sequence of meeting Iskandar at the end was heavily fitting. The piano version of ‘You are my King’ the played during the scene hit me right in the feels, and it was an amazing place to wrap up the series. As always, Rider strikes the heart as a charismatic character who dominates the screen. It’s easy to remember why Waver respected this man, and sought to follow him till the very end. This dream encounter also allows us to witness the culmination of Waver’s character development, after pursuing the shadow of Iskandar for his entire lifetime. And now he’s come to an emphatic decision. Instead of seeking the Holy Grail to fulfill his own desires through its wish-giving capabilities, his calling will be to foil Dr Heartless and his machinations from seeking to misuse Iskandar’s powers for nefarious purposes. When Waver’s voice cracked, reverting to his teenage years, that moment really hit home the emotional gravity of it all like a megaton truck. And this is why you had to watch Fate/Zero to get full mileage out of this series. Going in blind, there’s no way you can properly comprehend the depth of Waver’s characterisation or motives without having first seen his journey of a lifetime alongside Iskandar.

Overall Impressions

To wrap things off, Troyca’s animation remained exquisite for the entire run – a rarity for shows these days. Yuki Kajiura did amazingly as usual with her widely recognisable musical style, and the source material – although iffy towards the end if this is indeed how everything played out in the novel – set out a fascinating premise for the most part which had me spell-bound for the majority of this ride. Mystic eyes, murders and a gruff detective on the job make for excellent entertainment. Would I recommend this show to other people? Definitely. Anyone with an itch for fantasy, mystery and action will find something here. But with a caveat: you have to watch Fate/Zero first, or else you’ll only be getting half of the experience. Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. I sure wouldn’t mind a second season or a bunch of OVAs, and I would be interested to hear what other people think – especially people with knowledge about the novels who can weigh in with a broader perspective. As always, thank you for reading my posts till the end and see you next time!


  1. https://randomc.net/image/Lord%20El-Melloi%20II%20Case%20Files/Lord%20El-Melloi%20II%20Case%20Files%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2038.jpg
    Oh they are alive, I hope someone can spoil me in telling what happens to them in the end. Want to know who else is confirmed to be summoned and if there is a “sub-grail war”
    And whose painting is that I wonder
    And honestly, why does Gray think Svin hate him, he is not even a Tsundere in hiding his feelings. Sigh, those two need to hang out more.

    Anyway, hope this world is safe, there is no Chaldea and
    Show Spoiler ▼

    1. To answer your first question, Show Spoiler ▼

      On the second one, I can’t really tell from that distance, and I’m not even sure if it’s someone important or not.

      Regarding the last bit, Show Spoiler ▼

    2. In the FSN timeline Case Files takes place in, IIRC, the Demon Pillars and Goetia are never summoned because

      Show Spoiler ▼

  2. Ok the Eng subs still mistranslate Dr Heartless as adashino ‘s brother in law when she clearly says he is her adopted brother. Whom ever is translating this is being too literal and not reading from the context. the term adashino uses is 義理の兄 which btw is the same word Reines uses to describe her family relation with waver so I m stumped why they translate it differently for adashino. Literally translated the term indeed mean brother in “law” however in English that would imply its the brother of one’s wife or husband; in Japanese the term “in law” in this case is used for adopted or step siblings especially when adashino literally says that they are both adopted in the very next sentence. To describe one’s sibling of the wife or husband is generally used in a different context entirely in most asian cultures.

    And Zaiden, there is not much more to animate from the cliffhanger last episode. Karabo passed away as soon as he told Gray about the “prayers” in her spear and the brief flash back you seen in this episode with gray firing Rhongo and hearing Heartless’ incantation is pretty much all there is to it as that was Heartless’s spell to teleport/phase Shift, they were never hit by the light of the spear. And like you guessed the grail zeppelin arc is meant to be Part 1 of the Dr Heartless arc in the Novel series, so Waver won’t fully Discover the whyduunit for Dr heartless for 2 more arcs of 5 light novels total. Rail zepplin is Vol 4 and 5 of the novel and the entire mystery around Dr heartless is not solved until Vol 10. Though Vol 6 and 7 is mostly about the secrets behind Gray’s history and all the ancient Arthurian conspiracy that surrounds it.

    1. That explains it. If they were both adopted as the child of a single lord, and were siblings-in-law, that would have been quite messed up. And I suppose the next part would be exciting if it got the light of day. I would be excited to find out more about Gray and her history, as well as the Arthurian conspiracy you’ve highlighted. Here’s hoping for another season!

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