Fate/Zero, Ep. 3 - "Fuyuki City"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]
If the last episode's theme was "Getting to Know You", then this week's was "Getting to Know You II: Not Everything is As What It Seems…". While Tokiomi ruminates over his grandiose future plans with the similarly-aspiring Archer/Gilgamesh (suave, devious, megalomaniac-style, with wineglass in hand), Kirei meets up with his Church counterpart (the "judge" presiding over the Holy Grail War) to take refuge following the death of his Servant--or so it seemed.
While he did indeed died, "Assassin" was apparently not meant in a singular connotation, for we see that Kirei has, actually, many "Assassins" at his disposal--a fact I'm unaware that Tokiomi is aware of (but falls in line with their real world background). Given Kirei's gloomy, poker-faced demeanor, his own Servants lofty goals (which may clash with his own down the line), and the Church's seemingly-duplicitous actions, I have long-wondered if Tokiomi is being set-up as the grand fool of the proceedings, the one who thinks he has everything wrapped around his finger only to get it and himself lopped-off by the bigger baddie in the story (not saying he himself is totally bad, but "world domination"-types rarely are). Other than being a classic narrative device, I may have also been slightly spoiled by the fact that [SPOILER]Kirei's seiyuu, Jouji Nakata, is the de-facto main villain voice for many of TYPE-MOON's projects (by their own personal choice!)[/SPOILER]. Having an entire assassin organization as your Servant(s) (and a sizable one at that) feels both a little cheap and cool, though I wonder if that is by design or the result of a Noble Phantasm, a Servant's big "special ability". Then again, they don't appear to be especially strong, accentuating power-in-numbers, plus stealth. And of course, if Tokiomi is in on all of this, then the balance of power is heavily tipped in his favor. Well, for the time being, anyway…
If there is one particular flaw that is emerging with Fate/Zero, however, it is its reliance on post-event dialogue at the beginning of episodes either for events taking place in-between episodes or for matters that took place during the previous episode, but go unseen. While such talk can work in bridging events together, it can feel like a cheap ploy in getting from point A to point B if done to too large of an extent or too frequently. Such was the case when Waver and Rider/Iskander talked of Assassin's death as if they were there--which they weren't, of course, but Waver mentions using a familiar to spy on the scene, something that few others did, but was never insinuated at in Ep. 2, making their knowledge of it sound far more convenient than it should have. One of the peepers, however, wasn't falling it, and it was none other than Kirei's probable soon-too-be enemy, Kiritsugu, who rightfully surmises that Assassin's death was too easily set-up not to be on purpose. He arrives in at a hotel room in Fuyuki City, the battlefield for the Fourth Holy Grail War, where his sniper rifle and other weapons await him.
…Oh? But what's this? He has a female assistant not named "Irisviel" draped over him and kissing him (who took more modern means and taped the attack)?! Meanwhile, Irisviel and Saber/Arthuria arrive in Japan and take in the city, and in the midst of another very good episode of Fate/Zero filled with intrigue and developments, the interaction between the two girls was the best part. We get to see that there is a bit more to their personalities, with the kind, demure Irisviel showing strength and smarts beyond her waif-like appearance and Saber, through her rough, icy demeanor, displaying a level of tenderness and even melancholy when conversing with her and recalling her past life. I was initially not warm to the prospect of seeing the pairing, which did not seem like a great fit with two polar opposites, but they were enjoyable and compatible together, making for yet another highlight of the show.
However, the pained expression on Irisviel's face whenever Saber mentioned Kiritsugu seemed to indicate that she is aware of what is happening with him and his helper. From the very beginning, back to even Fate/Zero's opening minutes (ominous warning aside), it seemed difficult believing the two to be a couple, especially given Kiritsugu's even icier personality. There may be some affection present, probably more from Irisviel's direction, but it seems like their relationship is more akin to a business arrangement for the good of her kingdom, perhaps involving him sniping the Masters in the War and fathering a child that will become their "ultimate weapon" (would that mean that Irisviel's not quite human?), meeting the goal of "world peace" both seek out. It would certainly be something if the assistant is actually his real wife/lover of-sorts, though regardless of the status, I don't think any good will come if she is ever left alone with Irisviel…
The episode concludes with the appearance of the last Servant to be revealed, Lancer, whose Master, curiously, has not shown his or her face. They certainly do not appear to have good intentions for either Saber or Irisviel, though the former stands ready, with the latter ready to back her up. Now the first real battle of the War begins…
And here are a few other pics for the road…: