In preparation for a move to a new apartment, I’ve been whipping up some dishcloths. I’m really fond of this shell stitch pattern I found at http://www.examiner.com/article/simple-shell-dishcloth-pattern-to-crochet. I used Lily’s Sugar & Cream cotton yarn (which I always call Sugar & Spice for some reason) and settled in for a Netflix marathon of Fate/Zero.
SPOILERS COMING ‘ATCHA
A summary: Seven people with some sort of magical talent, or ties to it, are chosen by the Holy Grail (yes, that Holy Grail) to battle to the death for it in order to gain a wish. There’s also some backstory about three powerful Mage families and their ties to the Grail, but whatever. These seven chosen ones then summon a Servant from one of seven classes: Saber, Archer, Rider, Lancer, Berserker, Caster, and Assassin. These Servants are legendary heroes, each with specific abilities and strengths that either complement or are the antithesis to the Masters who have summoned them. These Servants then fight on behalf of their Master for the Grail. By the end of the series, a lot of people die, long discussions are held, mead is drunk, and there is an abundance of dark and creepy weirdness before everything goes to hell.
Fate/Zero was an interesting series on several counts. I loved the philosophical discussions that arose between the Servants as to what true kingship is, as a few of the servants actually claimed that title; King Arthur (Arturia), Gilgamesh, and Alexander/Iskandur the Great. It raised questions about what it meant to be a leader, whether it be through power, riches, conquest, or your connection with the people you are ruling over. I felt like I was back in my Arthurian Legends class, examining why King Arthur’s rule was so different from those who came before and after him, and how those other rulers might view his ideals. Needless to say, I loved the dialogue between these legendary characters, and despite a few surprising creative decisions (Hi female King Arthur!), it felt like the creators had done their homework in researching each hero.
Among the heroes, the weak link (in character, though he wasn’t the strongest in combat, either) seemed to be Assassin. There could have been subtleties that I didn’t catch, but as a whole, he/she/they were just the creepers in the corner that were tricky and expositionful. Not a lot to learn from him/her/them, whereas Arturia and Iskandur were a veritable fountain of character quirks, personality, and charisma. And occasionally lightning.
In fact, for the most part, I actually found that the Servants were more interesting than their Masters. This could totally be because of they are based on pre-existing lore, which is always my jam. For example, I was more intrigued by Saber’s journey through her own doubts and weaknesses than I was with her Master, Kiritsugu, ‘s background story. Don’t get me wrong – he was very interesting and rightfully angsty. His background was sufficiently fascinating and could have been an entire series by itself. I just found Saber’s story to be even more so, helped along by her being constantly challenged not only in battle, but in her ideals and worldview. It was this way for most of the Servant v. Master dynamics. Of course it is beautifully animated (That sky battle! Those lightning oxen! Giant pools of blooood!), the music was gorgeous, the character designs were fun, and all of that. But it was the character dynamics, especially between the Servants, that compelled me the most throughout the series.
The plot was a bit of a struggle, as the first few episodes are a massive info dump, and it was rather difficult to keep characters straight for a while. I may need to go back and watch the first few episodes again now that I have finished, but as a first time watcher, they made it really difficult to understand the plot and give an errant fart about was happening. And at a certain point, the push for the grail becomes quite secondary, as it was far more interesting to watch the characters interact than focus on whatever the grail plot was doing. Seeping a lot and being corrupted, I guess.
But the characters each had a story and a NEED for the grail that was so well-developed (barring a few early ones, such as Ryunosuke/Caster and Kayneth/Lancer, both of whom were great fun to watch) that by the end of the series when all of the hells break loose, you KNOW people are going to die, and it really is difficult to pinpoint who – if anyone – will be victorious. There are some outliers of course. Some we have more information about (Kiritsugu/Saber, Karia/Archer) and thus could be considered our main protagonists(?), so it is most likely one of them will prevail. But even those who do not have that advantage are built so well that it wouldn’t be surprising for them to be the dark horse and come away victorious. The true ending pulls the rug right out from under you in terms of what you expect, but I loved not being able to predict what the outcome was supposed to be, and was even happier when it was completely different. A downer of the highest caliber, but different.
Sidenote: More than your usual amount of ladies getting choked to death in this anime… twice it was the same lady. And the other one, Tokiomi’s wife… I guess only mostly died? Why… why so much lady violence, Fate/Zero? Not cool.
SO MANY CHARACTERS.
It’s time for Super Simplified Character Rundowns! These are the main traits I used to keep all of the characters straight throughout this sprawling series. Feel free to use them yourself, or cackle at my incompetency.
Saber/Arturia – Kicks ass; contemplates philosophies; needs new motorcycle
Irisviel – All homunculi have weird eyes; high-pitched ladyvoice; full of secrets and other fluids
Kiritsugu – Haunted by past; gunslinger; surprisingly noble, but breaks stuff
Mariya – Quiet killer; shady implied past; unknown relationship dynamics… just shady in general, she was
Kariya – Extremely nutty family (understatement); good intentions; Berserker was fitting
Berserker – Crazy visuals; crazy character reveal; crazy in general
Archer/Gilgamesh – Stay golden, prettyboy; errbody be mongrels; Vash Hair
Tokiomi – Goatee of irritating ideals; sucky father and Master; I seriously forgot about you until I was making this list
Rider/Iskandur – Big muscles & big heart; perpetually jovial; surprisingly heartwrenching
Waver Velvet – Wanted to flick him; Slytherin outcast?; thanks, character development!
Grandma/Grandpa “Velvet” – Easily bamboozled; stargazers; know more than they let on
Lancer/Diarmund – Badass prettyboy; good team player; wish he could have stuck around longer
Kayneth – Creepy pureblood; remains creepy and tortured; ends creepy in a wheelchair
Sola-Ui – A giant NOPE to any proposal you will ever make concerning anything, ever
Ryunosuke – Killing insanity funtimes; amazingly amiable; Hi Johnny Yong Bosch!
Caster – Dem bug eyes; is he as big as his giant robe, or….?; intriguingly, and irredeemably, insane
Kirei – Christian stoic; sporadic loyalties; I constantly got you confused with Kiritsugu, you bloodlust maniac
Assassin – Skullface reconnaissance; easily killed; perches in plain sight
I know I’ve missed several characters, either because they didn’t show up often, or I just couldn’t think of anything in particular to say about them. Or I genuinely could not remember their names and I got lazy. *sad trombone sound* Oh, well. Most of the characters were great. If you’ve seen the show, feel free to leave your own Super Simplified Character Rundowns in the comments!
Tying off: Fate/Zero was beautifully animated and raised some interesting questions about the nature of leadership. And while it struggled in the plot department wandered into an abundance of exposition-dumping, the characters carried the series through their sheer charm.
And I now have four and a half dishcloths! I still need to weave in the ends of the second stripy one and finish the bright orange, probably with the black border:
I highly recommend the shell stitch pattern I linked earlier; it makes for a lovely-looking, yet highly efficient dishcloth. They turned out pretty rad, since I’m a sucker for bright colors paired with black. What will happen in the next thrilling installment of CineCrochet? Tune in next time, gentle reader, for more insane hook and analysis action!