「絶対魔獣戦線メソポタミア II」 (Zettai Majuu Sensen Mesopotamia II)
“Absolute Demonic Front Mesopotamia II”

Even the most adroitly written fiction is but a series of well-told lies. It is a a consensual deception, but a deception nonetheless, and almost all writing techniques boil down to ways to build and maintain a delicate illusion. This is especially true for fantasy, where any grounding in reality is voluntary and often an entire world has to be constructed from the ground up.

One trick to doing this well is to lay down a whole lot of rules. Turns out, our human psychology values consistency much more than reality. Let’s face it, we don’t really have an innate concept of what ‘is true’, just what ‘makes sense’. Not to get too political on your local anime blog, but our current media landscape quite aptly demonstrates that what is believable and what is factual are distant cousins at best, and are content to each go their own merry way. This is to the advantage of fantasy authors, though, who know that a firebreathing lizard bigger than a house yet still able to fly is entirely impossible in reality, but call it a dragon and everybody is cool with it in a fantasy setting, because we all know that the rule about dragons is that they fly, breathe fire, and kidnap maidens.

The key is to establish all the rules in advance, so the audience is never surprised by them. Established rules are precedent. New rules out of left field are inconsistencies. If you tell the audience in advance that dragons can only be slain by, say, silver swords, then they internalise that as part of your dragons ruleset. But, if later on your hero is forced to face a dragon without any silver, but manages to slay the dragon with, say, the power of song, then your audience is going to notice that a rule was broken. You could try to explain all you like after the fact that dragons also happen to be allergic to C sharp but the impression that the author contradicted themselves. It’s never good to have the audience feel like you’re just making stuff up. I mean, you are just making stuff up, but the illusion is that you’re not inventing the fantasy world, you’re revealing it, and the audience is happy to play along. When you break the rules of the game, it feels unsporting.

‘Unsporting’ is actually a decent way to think about it, because it really is like sports. That is, it’s all about following arbitrary rules. We’ve all agreed that we’re only going to kick the ball with our feet, and if somebody suddenly picks it up with their hands they’re cheating. However, it’s these arbitrary rules that makes sports compelling, both for players and for watchers. Knowing what the rules are also means we know what the win condition is and what the players need to do to achieve it, so their actions make sense and their displayed abilities seem suitably impressive.

My problem with the fight against Tiamat, then, is that at some point I lost track of what the rules were. Visually, I couldn’t really grok the fight at all. It’s a problem unique to fighting abstract monstrosities. I couldn’t really tell if there was any point to characters taking turns throwing attacks at Tiamat. I couldn’t really tell what affected her and to what degree. I wasn’t sure how our heroes intended to win other than stall until yet another deus ex machina was delivered. The fights against the lahmu were better, since they were still conventionally killable (as conventional as purple magic gets, anyway), but it was still often one set of vaguely defined powers vs another set of vaguely defined powers. And they were essentially infinitely spawning adds anyway, so one does get the impression that the characters of Babylonia were just filling in time until the plot told them they were allowed to win.

It’s not that the episode was without cool and enjoyable moments. But there were others that felt like they only happened because Nasu said so, rather than feeling like they were the logical conclusions of character actions. Ereshkigal’s was a touching scene, but it felt like somebody only remembering to mention, ‘Actually, the goalie can use their hands!’ an hour into the game. It really should have felt more like a wilful sacrifice rather than, ‘Welp, I’ve got to die in an obligatory fashion now’. Similarly, I must not have been the only person to have noticed how far backwards they bent to make Ritsuka useful. Obviously they were well aware of the Nega-whatever, never bothered to prepare a contingency for it, but somehow its very specific mechanics allowed for a window of victory anyway. If you were able to suspend your disbelief, then it was perhaps our hero’s moment of glory. If you couldn’t, it was a contrivance to engineer an action shot for our protagonist.

They didn’t need to do all that. All they needed to do was reveal that Tiamat was just a sad waifu deep down. Then it’ll only be natural that our resident harem protagonist is super effective against her.


  1. The problem is that leaving Nega-Genesis with its in-game effect (prevents certain kinds of Servants from using their special weapons/tools; in the game it’s specifically their ult.) wouldn’t have it be very threatening. Moreover it works based on a specific kind of trait that hasn’t been discussed at all in the anime, so people are going to be very confused. So they had to actually turn it into a threat for the anime. And if they were going to do it, might as well give the MC the spotlight for it.

    Why couldn’t Merlin do it? Because he’s a lazy son of a bitch that would rather someone else do the actually dangerous bit. On the meta level it’s just an issue the writers introduced trying to create something that feels less gamey and can be understood by someone who isn’t deep into the lore.

    In the game it makes more sense; Ereshkigal is providing your entire party with a set of massive buffs, and Merlin is healing your party every turn for the last four or so fights. So it’s clear to the player that Ereshkigal is overstepping the bounds placed on her by helping you, and Merlin is given an excuse to not help with the fight (he’s busy healing).

  2. Pingback: Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia – 20 - World's entertainment latest updates

  3. The only problem I had was King Hassan cut off her wings to prevent her flying ingame, but I’ll give them credit they actually showed him applying the concept of death upon Tiamat as blue veins and this being implied to be why she doesn’t defy the laws of earth’s physics like she had been doing previously and so her having to climb out.

    And yeah, this is what Tiamat is at her core. She loves her children, and her fear they don’t love her as they trample over her lead her to become a Beast. All Beasts have a core obsession built around humanity love and lash out toward humans based on said trait.

    1. Didn’t just do that, game states Tiamat has become like Servant after Hassan crippled her and applied the concept of death and we’ve seen him being the only support vs the Special Lahmus.

  4. If you couldn’t, it was a contrivance to engineer an action shot for our protagonist.

    I’m of this opinion. We talked about it in the previous episode, and this episode has enshrined it: Ritsuka Fujimaru is the main weakness of the anime adaptation.

    Fujimaru’s problems are threefold when compared to the game: he can’t summon the legions of Servants the game has (so he’s much less useful), he doesn’t direct the fights (so he seems to lack agency), and his personality is generically heroic and nice at best, and downright bland and uninspiring at worst. The anime noticed that he was being overshadowed by the much more colorful cast around him… and their solution was to invent a heroic moment for him alone.

    It’s a common mistake of confusing cause and effect. Fujimaru’s problem is not that he lacks the spotlight, but what he does with the spotlight he is given. This is particularly frustrating in a franchise that has a very long list of memorable Masters and other support characters.

    It’s even more glaring because there’s this nagging feeling that time and resources were allocated to a scene that fell out of place, whereas much of the canonical Servant action got the short end of the stick. First Hassan was probably the best example in that regard; after his dramatic introduction at the end of the previous episode, he lacked the “oomph” factor in this installment.

    I didn’t dislike all the changes, though. Fujimaru’s scene with Tiamat was actually one of my favorite scenes, finally giving her some proper dialogue. But I think he didn’t need to run with a tiny dagger “because Sudden Plot Reasons” to get that encounter.

  5. This show is an absolute mess of a plot pretty much sums it up. It has reached a point where I just don’t care about the outcome anymore or the characters involved which just pop-in and out at basically random where death is cheap and its always its impossible but possible in a loop until they run out of episodes. It would have been far more wise to take the game’s plot and create a more integrated story than just start with one side story and try to adapt it from there.

      1. Eh? Y.Aoi?


        But now that you mention it, the last time I heard Aoi Yuuki with a soft, soothing, Mamiko Noto-like voice* was Claire Cruz from Toaru Hikūshi e no Koiuta.

        (* Other Y.Aoi characters I remember with a soft, soothing, Mamiko Noto-like voice:
        – Shuten-douji [also from F/GO] – That sultry Kansai accent…
        Azur Lane‘s Taihou – Seductively yandere. Amusingly, her KanColle counterpart was voiced by Mamiko Noto.)


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