「天命の粘土板」 (Tenmei no Nendo-ban)
“The Tablet of Destinies”
I mean, I’ve played this part of the F/GO and all, but even I was starting to forget that there was supposed to be an existential war against an army of monsters going on in Babylonia. I just never envisioned ancient warfare to involve so much picnicking, you know? I’m going to assume that the CGI for the demonic army takes a lot of work, which is why we haven’t even gotten a cut back to it to remind us what the stakes are, but it’s easy to lose track of the scale of the conflict when our point-of-view protagonist hasn’t had any direct involvement in it and is basically in his own little world with his supernatural kouhai anyway.
Evidently, the anime staff are also concerned that we may confuse the show with an anachronistic Middle East tourism commercial and has thus gone out of its way to remind us that war is hell. Duly noted. In pivoting our attention back to the war we also it’s also a good opportunity to spend more time with the warriors, in particular Ushiwakamaru. We’ve been telegraphing that she’d be getting further development for some time now (otherwise, why is she even in the story?) but she hasn’t gotten much of anything other than brief acknowledgements of her existence now and she’s not happy about it. This week, she gets an entire scene! Sure, it’s not enough to promote her to full party member status but it’s something). Exactly what, I’m not sure Show Spoiler ▼
And we still know basically nothing about her (including why she’s a her, other than Fate/ history). I assume that the Japanese F/GO was written for would be familiar with the tales of Ushiwakamaru and require no further introduction, but it seems the rest of us will have to Google it.
We’ve already dedicated so much to characterisation, though, so I understand if it’s hard to drum up excitement for even more of it (they even threw in Ritsuka’s exercise routine). Thankfully, in this episode we have plot! Remember, we had a plot? Yeah, I’m honestly as surprised as you are. There was something about an alliance of three goddesses (creatively named the Three-Goddess Alliance) so it’s probably useful to get ourselves a goddess (Rin sure gets herself tied up a lot. And that’s as far as I’ll take that analysis). Here I’ll note that it’s sort of hard to talk about this part of the episode without spoilers. I’m sure you anime-only viewers have a sense of why; the anime has made use of a lot of visual storytelling not available to the game to do some foreshadowing, to give a sense that there is something here that we’re not supposed to understand yet. I like these additions; in the game it was hard to tell that we were supposed to be paying attention to this part, even after the reveal. The extra foreshadowing will likely help smooth out the flow of the story in the long run, since this is less of a shocking twist and more of Nasu-lore shenanigans and I’ve probably already said too much.
In the end we didn’t really learn much about the Three-Goddess Alliance other than the fact that there are three goddesses and they do indeed have an alliance, because Ritsuka has a catch and release policy. I suppose that’s just the kind of good-hearted hero he’s supposed to be so there’s no helping it. And random acts of kindness bailed him out of the underworld once already, so something iss working. It’s not like he can contribute much other than moral fibre anyway. If all you have is a hammer… make hammernade. That’s definitely how that saying went.