「太陽の神殿」 (Taiyou no Shinden)
“Temple of the Sun”

It’s at this point in Babylonia that I thought, ‘I wish we had a mecha’.

Like many adventure visual novels, Fate/Grand Order occasionally offered up dialogue choices for the player to pick. However, F/GO wasn’t really an adventure visual novel, at least not the kind with branching routes based on choices and all that, so much of the time dialogue choices were entirely inconsequential. Indeed, both choices were often basically the same thing or it’s implied both choices are spoken by the protagonist regardless of which one is chosen.

Nasu is of the visual novel tradition, though, and perhaps wanted choices to be actual choices, so the Babylonia chapter actually had dialogue choices that did something. And this was not just in gameplay consequences or in bloating Nasu’s word count. This was also in giving characterisation to a blank-slate protagonist.

Have any of you played Persona 3? Have you played the PSP version? The one where you can choose the gender of the protagonist? Well, the thing about Persona 3 is that it, like F/GO, features a mostly silent, self-insert protagonist defined largely by dialogue choices. You’d be forgiven if you think that it wouldn’t make much sense, then, to say that the male and female protagonists actually felt rather different to play. Surely, two self-inserts who are supposed to be the same person, in the same shoes, following the same plot would be the same. But Persona 3 Portable nudged the player towards picking specific kinds of dialogue choices by anchoring differently (more extreme choices in one direction or another) and by the way other characters reacted to you. A role-playing game inviting the player to role-play? Madness.

My point is that you can actually do a lot with little. And, one has black hair, one has orange hair, you can see it, right?

Anyways, this part of Babylonia was supposed to be Ritsuka’s moment. This is where the blank-slate protagonist came into their own. In the game, the player had a choice: either to pick dialogue choices that cement the protagonist as a passive, hapless player who just get dragged along by the flow, or have them fully embrace and celebrate the craziness of hurling oneself from the sky to enact a wrestling move on a Mesoamerican god-turned-goddess to demonstrate the courage of humanity. Don’t just do it, do it with style! Do it while shouting a war cry from the top of your exploding lungs! Choose to be badass! If Seki Tomokazu wasn’t busy voicing Gilgamesh I would totally have been on board with him doing Ritsuka, just so he can SHINING FINGER!!! it up for just this scene. Nothing less than a hot-blooded mecha pilot can do humanity’s spirit justice.

The anime almost goes there. I appreciate how they gave Ritsuka more agency, giving him the choice to take the to skies and then plummet face-first suicidally. I just wish that they had lingered on that scene more, given it more impact — maybe simply by showing the impact. I can understand why they cut it — the storyboard probably flat gave up on explaining how Ritsuka could possibly survive his stunt — but I wanted more oomph when our protagonist is finally acting properly shounen hero. The Babylonia anime has been rather consistently over-attached to sanity when the plot had abandoned it episodes ago.

Speaking of suicidal insanity, Gilgamesh is dead! Kono hito de nashi! So that’s what it takes to get him to show his silly side: actual death. Over his dead body, haha! Perhaps a bit sudden, but I assure you that this was as much a non-sequitur in the game as it it in the anime. If anything the anime has been better at scattering about hints and context clues to fuel the foreshadowing. I mean, all the Dr Romani stuff is actually outside the scope of this adaptation but they’re setting it up all the same (of course they’re going to adapt more F/GO. Who doesn’t like money?). In the short term, though, the puzzle is largely complete. We basically have all the pieces necessary to figure out who Blonde Thighs is so I expect a payoff in the next arc.

Wait, next week is a recap, isn’t it? Bah.

10 Comments

  1. I will need some time to get used to the new design. Pretty, though.

    Yep, it’s definite: I ship those two, And by “those two”, I mean Ritsuka and “Blonde Ishtar”, whose name shall remain secret despite the fact that her references to Kur and Irkalla make it obvious for anyone with a bit of knowledge of Mesopotamian mythology. And from what I’ve seen, she’ll be the star in the game’s upcoming summoning event.

    It’s not just cute (even the bugs used to symbolize the ship in that scene were cute!), but I’ve always have had a soft spot for stories about relationships between mortals and gods. In this case, their conversations and the contrast between them are very good at making the characters feel alive. Less one dimensional.

    Mistic
  2. https://randomc.net/image/Fate%20Grand%20Order/Fate%20Grand%20Order%20Zettai%20Majuu%20Sensen%20Babylonia%20-%2011%20-%20Large%2025.jpg
    What rank is this Noble Phantasm ax?

    https://randomc.net/image/Fate%20Grand%20Order/Fate%20Grand%20Order%20Zettai%20Majuu%20Sensen%20Babylonia%20-%2011%20-%20Large%2014.jpg
    What happened to Rin’s kung-fu? Rin put up a much better fight against Luvia’s pro-wrestling so, assuming the “fusion” was done properly, Ishtar shouldn’t have a problem against lucha libre.

    greed
    1. Serious answer: It’s all about concepts in the Nasuverse. As was explained, Quetz was considered the ultimate deity of good in her mythology, therefore cannot be defeated by ‘good’. Unfortunately for Ishtar, she is a ‘good’ member of her pantheon.

      1. You know, I’ve always found Fate’s allignment system weird. I still remember how the original Gilgamesh was deemed “Chaotic Good”, which doesn’t fit his depiction in either the story (I always felt he was Neutral Evil there) or the original epic (where he went from Lawful Evil to Lawful Good, basically).

        Mistic
      2. Fate is indeed weird that way, and ultimately I believe it is covered by ‘this is what the Servant’s role in their story was’ as opposed to ‘this is how the Servant acts when you see them’. Overall, Gilgamesh is lawful good, although the law he embodies is basically what he says it is due to being the codifier of law itself, and he generally acts for what he sees as the greater good happens to be. However from the current standing of the world, his actions aren’t all that.

        Personally, I think F/SN Gil was a lot more corrupted by the Grail that he was ever willing to admit, due to his whole ‘I am the master of my own destiny’ nonsense. He does tend to care a lot more in basically every other story he shows up in, although he’ll be damned if he shows it.

        In the meanwhile we have Cursed Arm Hassan who is listed as Chaotic Evil… and the one time he shows up in FGO is basically Batman. Its hard to see the Chaotic, let alone the Evil.

        In this case though, Ishtar is super hard countered by Quetz. Not only is Quetz a God of Good, which gives her a leg up against anyone who is good who tries to fight her, but she’s also a Goddess of Venus on top of it. Ishtar mentions in game that due to that aspect of her divinity, if Ishtar used her Noble Phantasm on Quetz it was entirely possible Quetz would grab it and throw it back at them.

        Which means they’re probably going to save Ishtar’s Noble Phantasm for the late game when she really cranks it up to full power.

        Rune Grey
  3. Pretty decent episode. I like it better if he shout “JUSTIICCCEEEE!!!!!” during his fall. That would be amusing to watch.

    Ritsuka is one lucky bastard to get that pillow lap from her. Blonde goddess kept evading me during my pull!!!

    BloodHunter
  4. Actually, because Quetz loves wrestling, the explanation could easily have been explained with wrestling logic and how the game actually treated it. It also really ruins the ending of that scene. Though I’m of the belief that the anime team isn’t very familiar with professional wrestling and didn’t realize the significance of what Ritsuka did.

    When doing a diving plancha (which you could choose to have Ritsuka call it in Japanese or in English as Sky Bomber or something), the person receiving the plancha would catch the person using the move. Which helped prove Quetz loved humans.

    It proved Quetz’s love for humans because if Quetz really didn’t love humans, she would’ve just let Ritsuka die. Instead she takes the move full on and catches him, which she also flat out admits to and what adores her to him entirely. That’s a major reason while you’ll probably see quite a few complaints about the scene because it is what cements Quetz’s endearment to Ritsuka. Ritsuka literally trusted that Quetz loved humans and entirely gave that trust to her.

    If they wanted to keep the significance of professional wrestling as a real sport (because in Japan kayfabe – what happens in the ring is still real – is still a thing), Then you can just have it that someone who loves humans as much as Ritsuka thinks, would ever back away from a challenge head on. And considering Quetz fights one on one, 100 times, this statement still plays true and that he trusts her to take his all head on.

    Either way, I was saddened that this didn’t have more of that too it. From this person opinion’s of Ritsuka (in game), he seems like a ‘hero’ otaku who’s cool with what he is. Mecha, wrestling, knights, samurai, you name it. As long as it is heroic, he’s a huge fan. However, he’s also good with villains, because without villains, there’s no heroics. He treats every villain like he would a hero. Which is what endears those evil guys to him as well. Don’t worry, none of this is spoilers. You see it come out more and more as the game goes on.

    …and I think I’ve slightly strayed from what I was meaning to say. Needless to say, this episode should’ve been an insight into some of this and about Quetz’s wrestling/life philosophy, but it didn’t happen. So I was disappointed with it and I can get why others would be as well. For those who don’t know, it was a disappointing episode because they didn’t give it as much serious feeling (like him diving off of Manna) that would’ve made it feel more impactful.

    …now that I think about it, I think Ishtar in the game just dumped him off at the peak, not let him dive himself. Could be wrong about that.

    Dorian S.

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