「王と民」 (Ou to Min)
“The King and His People”
I’ve never been particularly fond of Goldie. In the original visual novel he was basically just some megalomaniac douchebag who was arbitrarily overpowered so that he could be taken down in some impressive way. Fortunately, as the years went by and more spin-offs were added to the Fate/ franchise Gilgamesh actually got character development. And, perhaps more importantly, he began to veer from antagonist to protagonist, so he wasn’t just a megalomaniac douchebag, he was our megalomaniac douchebag, which was much more acceptable. The version we have in Babylonia is the culmination of all that. As Merlin made sure to explain previously, this version of Gilgamesh is one who’s returned from his failed quest for immortality, turned over a new leaf, and settled down as a wise king. That is, he’s gone through his mythological character arc and is a much more respectable guy now. Sure, he’s always going to have a bit of arrogant douche in him but at least he’s actually trying to save the world instead of being actively genocidal, which is a vast improvement. It also helps that Seki Tomokazu is plain brilliant in everything. His haughty laugh is just too good to not make you love this magnificent bastard.
Gil aside, this episode is the part of the RPG where you need to knock out a bunch of sidequests before you can advance the main quest. We’re anime, though, and don’t got time for that, so apparently we’re just going to montage past all of that. On the one hand, I’m slightly disappointed that we’re not devoting any time to sidequest hijinks because those were basically the comedy segments of Babylonia and we’d get to hear Seki Tomokazu howl again. There aren’t going to be that many opportunities for levity in this story so we should take what we can get. On the other hand, much of the comedy of those segments were of an absurdist metahumour streak, which do not seem to the kind of tone this anime adaptation is trying to set. If anything, this is Fate/Grand Order does Emiya Gohan. I can see why this adaptation would want to do things this way. This is a calm-before-the-storm episode, and there’s no better way to establish that mood than having your cast laughing around a meal. Secondly, we’re still getting to know Uruk, and anybody who has taken an overseas vacation that eating is the central part of tourism. Food is culture, after all. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, eating is humanising. It’s an old technique, when one wants to take the edge off a character, to give them a connection to eating and cooking. I haven’t plugged Darker than Black in a while so I’ll mention it, but many stories do this. That was the main appeal of Emiya Gohan for the Fate/ fans, as well; the supernatural and antagonistic cast feel human and friendly when they can share a meal together. And so it is in Babylonia, especially for Ana, who has been consistently stand-offish and professes to disliking humans but… well, look at her. We were always supposed to like her, of course, because she’s cute, so to soften her they emphasise her childlike nature with a sweet tooth (and by making her a darling). Ana may never admit it, but Merlin sure did a good thing by dragging her along with him and forcing her to mix with people (which makes Ana a sort of Fou II, but more on that some other time).
There were a bunch of other characters introduced this episode as well but we basically know nothing about them other than their alcohol tolerance so there’s not much to talk about. This again is where playing the game would help, because F/GO re-ruses a lot of playable characters from its roster in its story arc and players would be expected to have some familiarity with them. For anime viewers, I suppose we’re to treat them as a new batch of allies-by-circumstance that we should learn to recognise but don’t have to care about qutie as much as we do the main party. They’ll likely get their chance to shine sooner or later. We’ve seen them fight a bit in the OP but I’d like to see them participate in a lengthy action sequence. Mostly to see how the animators manage to make an outfit like Ushiwakamaru’s stay on.