Tuesday, November 08, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 5

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 4 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 6-->

Fate/Zero, Ep. 5 - "Scream of a Mad Beast"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

Picking right up from Ep. 4's endpoint, Rider/King Iskander makes his big impressive entrance onto the battlefield, with a reluctant Waver in tow. He tries to get Saber/Arthuria and Lancer/Diarmuid to acquiesce their roles in the Holy Grail War and serve his cause instead, but neither of the two are amused by his proposal, particularly Saber, being a king herself and wanting to liberate her Britain, not become a vassal for another ruler. Waver's yelping at the situation leads to Lancer's master (Kayneth El-Mellchoi Archibald, aka his teacher) to finally show his face to chide him for his theft of his original artifact and make some big-chested threats of death and doom towards his way. Rider, though, is quick to retort over his former Master-designate's own cowardice with his hiding in the shadows to avoid being attacked, and expresses pride in having a Master that is not afraid to be by his side on the battlefield, which sends Kayneth seething with indignation.

Moved by Saber and Lancer's battle is Rider that he asks the other Heroic Spirits to join in on the impromptu gathering. Archer/Gilgamesh obliges, but not for Romantic or altruistic reasons. The ever-haughty (and that's an understatement) king, in his warm, cordial way, dismisses the "pretenders" and becomes incensed when asked his identity--an insult to man of his stature. But before Archer can unleash his swarm of blades, Kariya's Servant, Berzerker, is unleashed, catching both his attention and easily-cast disgust. He launches a vicious attack at the figure, cloaked in misty darkness, but the mysterious knight dispatches his array of weapons with incredible ease and skill, even managing to throw a few back. This only enrages Gilgamesh more, but Tokiomi uses one of his Commands to rein the king in before he reveals too much of his Noble Phantasm, causing him to depart the battlefield.

While the threat of the gold-clad ruler dissipates, there is still the matter of Berserker, who suddenly goes crazy at the sight of Saber and dashes forward to attack her! She has difficulty defending herself with her injury, but is saved from a potentially mortal wound by Lancer, who doesn't want him interfering with their duel. Kayneth thinks otherwise and uses his Command Spell to force Lancer to team up with Berserker against her, much to his great distress. The pair bumrush Saber, but as Kiritsugu prepares to take Kayneth out, Rider tramples Berserker with his chariot to send him on a early retreat. Kayneth beats an early retreat too, much to his Servant's relief, after Rider chastises him for his act and sides with Saber. The three Heroes extend pleasantries before they separate, with Iskander laying claim to the victor of their unfinished duel--something Saber must resolve if she wants the curse from her wounded left arm to be lifted. In the meantime, Castor/Bluebeard, spectating the match from afar via magic with his Master, Ryuunosuke, goes mad with delight at having the chance to meet his "compatriot"…

As good as subsequent episodes have been, and in ever-increasing quality, this episode was perhaps the best, thus far. The interaction between the chivalrous figures of Rider, Saber, and Lancer played out as cordially as one might expect, with nice bits of comedy in the beginning with his doomed-to-fail proposal (and I guess there is no taboo for a Servant to reveal one's name). It was refreshing seeing their respectfulness for one another, especially when it played a major role later on in the episode. Another highlight came in Archer's perpetual belittling and self-aggrandizing, which had me rolling as virtually every sentence out of his month was an insult or put-down over the slightest of slights, and even more so when he lost his cool during his thrilling battle against Berserker--also a highlight of the episode.

Just as the characters said, for a guy who's supposed to be out of his mind, he was fighting with masterful ease, and it made Gilgamesh's abilities look less imposing than before. Once again, the story is taking a big gamble showing a such a powerful character meet their match, but, similar with Saber, it still worked out pretty well and showed that no one Servant is unbeatable, no matter their strength. The animation was still at movie-quality and Berserker's smoky CG appearance should look jaw-dropping in full HD, like much of everything else in the show. I was sort of spoiled on his true identity beforehand, but I'm still interested in seeing how Saber relates to it.

Overall, the sudden gathering of the Servants played out rather well and organically, instead of feeling forced or done just for the "cool" factor of seeing them all together and fighting amongst one another. The events that transpired also fit within reason given their respective personalities. Great action pieces and animation aside, great moments of tension were to be had, such as when the noble Diarmuid painfully had to betray his sensibilities and when Kiritsugu comes within a second of taking a shot at Kayneth while an injured Saber is in dire straits with two powerful foes breathing down her neck. That two people already had to use one of their three Command Spells (or three, if Kariya had to use one to reel in Berserker) is significant, especially when one of them was Tokiomi…

Another great episode from Fate/Zero, which is definitely living up to its hype, so far…

P.S.: Additional pics for your viewing pleasure…:


Whoa, two Saber Smiles in one episode?

UPDATE [11/15/11]: Added a Berserker screenshot I forgot to post the first time around, this one hailing from Crunchyroll's subscriber's-only HD stream… :D

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