Skip to content

Holy Grail and Wholly Fail, or, Under Siege Did it Better

October 1, 2011

There was a bit in the first episode of Fate/Zero that toyed with being kinda awesome.

One of the characters went on a spiel about how another character hired by some warring family had a reputation for being something of a magical terrorist. They proceeded to talk about how he specialized in assassination-styled magic– sniping, poisoning, even terrorist bombings. All of that started to make this dude sound kinda interesting, since everything we’d seen of him to this point (Save for some vague, mysterious double-talk) made him seem like a mild-mannered, loving husband type.

It was like a scene out of a Steven Seagal movie or something. Seagal always starts off as some “unassuming” everyday dude, like a ship cook or something, only to turn around and bust out some badass fighting moves and kill some unsuspecting thugs or terrorists or whatever. Immediately after said scene we often cut to some authorities who go into a spiel about how Seagal’s character is actually an ex-Green Beret who’s a master in Aikido, has twenty purple hearts, and has a midichlorian count higher than Anakin Skywalker’s.

It’s one of those trademark action movie scenes that let us know things about the character and put their actions into perspective– a cool little character development trick. Fate/Zero almost pulled it off. I was almost interested in this character based on the preceding spiel.

The main difference is that this dude didn’t get a expectations-shattering action scene that segued into said rhetorical scene.

In order for that speech to have the required effect, we need to have that dynamic. We got the scenes establishing this dude as a “normal” guy, seeing to his wife after the birth of their daughter, and we got the info-dump from an outside source detailing his past exploits, but we’re lacking that “transitional” scene where we get to see him break the mold established earlier. Instead, we just get the info heaped on us. We’re left to accept all of this information as fact rather than having said assassination skills demonstrated to us first hand. We’re missing that verse in this action movie chorus, and it makes the whole thing fall apart. This guy could have been shaped into some badass type, but now he’s just some dude with a bunch of background info taped to his back like a kick-me sign that I don’t give a damn about.

And that’s a perfect example of what’s wrong with this first episode of Fate/Zero. It’s all prattling on about background details and no action or plot or anything else to back it up.

The damn thing spent 40+ minutes showing us dudes literally walking around in circles and discussing vaguely interesting and mysterious things that either happened in the past or were happening off-screen. In both cases, they were things that were most likely far more interesting than what was transpiring on the screen. It’s a bit like watching the post-game show on Sunday afternoon, except instead of showing clips from that day’s football games we just see Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw circle around each other and drink beers while hinting at who won that day’s games.

I can forgive the series for seeming to have a plot stripped straight out of my three ring binders I used for my high school RP sessions, and I can forgive the cheesy dialogue that sounds like an NPC giving you a tutorial in a JRPG. All of that made me giggle, but at least that was soliciting an emotion out of me that wasn’t frustration. What sucks about the whole thing is that we don’t get to see anything happen.

But anyway, why are these peeps fighting over the Holy Grail? They aren’t Indiana Jones. He’s the only one penitent enough to pass.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2011 9:28 PM

    Typical Nasu-verse exposition. It’s not as bad as Kara no Kyokai’s epilogue though. That was just SNORE. Also:

    >One of the characters went on a spiel about how another character hired by some warring family had a reputation for being something of a magical terrorist. They proceeded to talk about how he specialized in assassination-styled magic– sniping, poisoning, even terrorist bombings.

    He doesn’t actually use sniping, poison, and bombing magic. They’re afraid of him because he doesn’t give a shit about magic or whatever and fights magicians with firearms and other forms of conventional weaponry. It’s sort of like how Skill-Out and Hamazura Shiage are stronger than psychics and magicians in the Index-verse because they have the foresight to bring a gun to wizard hat and robe fight.

    • Landon permalink
      October 1, 2011 9:32 PM

      Yeah. Kyokai was pretty bad, too. Shoulda expected it and not bothered with Fate/Zero, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Shoulda known that assumptions are always right. ALWAYS. Heehee

      • October 2, 2011 2:37 PM

        Hopefully they’re done with all the long-winded exposition now, but we can still expect to see a lot of dialogue, since it is a novel adaptation.

  2. October 1, 2011 11:15 PM

    Random dig at Fate/Zero whatever time: That “famous” Unlimited Blade Works scene where Archer was “gar”? It’s actually a terribly animated scene that is not at all “gar”. All he did was speak hilarious Engrish and tossed a few pairs of swords at Barbarian in a rather stiltedly animated sequence.

    Just sayin’

  3. Anonnnnn permalink
    October 2, 2011 5:35 AM

    It’s a shame that in trying to reference the novel where it states that most of the characters were still while delivering this exposition, it made it boring to watch in the process. I understand that they are trying to get new viewers by getting all of the rules of the war and character exposition out of the way, but they really should have cut away to shots of the characters doing interesting things in the past like Kiritsugu killing magus or Kotomine doing that really horrible thing he did.

    Hopefully it picks up, the next episode should be great judging by the novels but the first episode doesn’t fill me with hope at all.

  4. November 14, 2011 8:28 PM

    It was a horrible way to create a first episode. If anything, they should’ve first made a zeroth episode so that we can actually somewhat care about the characters, or at least about the action. Majikoi did this wonderfully this season, and my expectations were pushed to the ceiling because of that one episode (until crashing down to the ground with the second).

    The only reason they did this was so that they didn’t have to do it later, but still, why not drink the medicine bit by bit, instead of all at once? Maybe they just want to try something new.


  1. Space Vampires Need Machine Guns » Mecha Guignol

Got Something To Say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: