Tuesday, November 22, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Fate/Zero Ep. 6

<--To Fate/Zero, Ep. 5 | To Fate/Zero, Ep. 7

Fate/Zero, Ep. 6 - "Night of Stratagems"
[Nico Nico Douga] [Crunchyroll]

After back-to-back episodes of superlative animation, Ep. 6 is, understandably, less-than-impressive-looking in Fate/Zero's weakest visual outing, thus far. However, do not mistaken that critique as an indictment on the episode as a whole, which, in spite of a return to its more talky ways, was still a good one that managed to flesh out a few more of its characters. The episode even starts right off the bat with it when we are treated to Irisviel channeling her inner Initial D by drift racing on a spiraling mountain road (complete with CG car), and nearly giving Saber a couple of heart attacks along the way (I'm sure her situation last episode was far more safe). It's a pretty jarring way to introduce an episode following all of the serious, dire action in the previous two, but it was funny in its unexpectedness and humor.

Also proving unexpected was the sight of a subdued Kayneth behind-the-scenes, who seemed more unsure and concerned than the chest-puffing individual seen in the last episode. Maybe it's due in part to his sharp-tongued wife, Sola-Ui, but he did not seem quite as confident as he had projected himself to be this whole time, which may explain his eagerness to off Saber when the time presented itself and perhaps even his deriding of his weakling ex-pupil.  It is an interesting twist on such a character and it makes him feel a little less one-dimensional as the smug, jerkface braggart. Even more so, we finally learn that Kayneth is splitting Master duties with Sola-Ui, who is acting as the mana reservoir that enables Servants to exist while he holds onto command privileges. He may be a high-ranking mage, but to think that a participant in the Grail War is able to alter the rules enough to allow them to join in is disconcerting, to say the least.

When the time arises to take action, however, his head swells and Kayneth dishes out some more "Big Talk of Doom", which has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the show due how excessively bombastic and foreboding his threats sound. This time, he boasts of the myriad of supernatural and magical traps he has laid out for uninvited guests to his beloved atelier, which include evil spirits, magical barriers, and trap doors leading to other dimensions. He places great confidence that no one will be able to touch him, but I am not sure if "bomb the whole building" ever crossed his mind as a viable method of attack, which is precisely what Kiritsugu does. That Kayneth's grand plans fail to materialize is perhaps the funniest part, though I do wonder how he, his wife, and Lancer survive (and whether he actually anticipated what had happened).

Watching all of this go down was Kirei, who had apparently apprenticed under Hellsing's Alexander Anderson with the way he ambushed Maiya. We see another side in him, too, as he carried a more gregarious tone in his voice, a slight smirk on his face, and even the smack talk he paid towards her way, Kirei seemed to relish being on the prowl and was more alive here than at any other point in the series, thus far. It's an interesting contrast and a welcome, if not unexpected, wrinkle to such a straight-faced, dour character. Even so, Kirei's still something of a lost, unfulfilled soul, which Gilgamesh tries to tap into (for his own gain) by challenging his subservience to Tokiomi and getting him to gather intel on the motivations of the other Servants and Masters for his "amusement". The passive-aggressive banter between the two--especially as total opposites of one another--was simultaneously fascinating and amusing, where neither sees the other as an equal (Archer being a Servant, and Kirei not having the stature as a king), yet both share a disinterest in their master (Tokiomi) and stand to benefit from the other's assistance. Kirei's machinations for going along with it almost gave him a sympathetic tilt.

In the midst of all of this, Caster/Bluebeard and Ryuunosuke are on an unsavory tear through various towns (particularly the former), kidnapping children and doing whatever sick, bloody thing they are doing to them. Caster already came close to attacking his precious "Jeanne d'Arc" (a.k.a. a mistaken Saber) earlier in the episode when he interrupted Irisviel's joyride and now his delirious fervor has caught the attention of Tokiomi and the Church, who suggest gathering everyone's power and dispatch the trouble-making duo. But with such a move coming this early in the series, I doubt they will go down so quickly--or that things will go according to plan…

P.S.: A few good screenshots…:

Better quality version of the lead screenshot.

One of my favorite lines from the series…

Another favorite, and a zinger coming from an unexpected source…

Kirei's a bad, bad man…

Extra Shot #1

Extra Shot #2

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