Tag Archives: Anime

Fate/Zero and Snazzy Dishcloths

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.



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.



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

IrisvielAll 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!


Pictured: Action!


Baby Booties & Fullmetal Alchemist

(Originally published August 31, 2013 on scenesandstitches.blogspot.com by Elise Dukart)

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. This is alchemy’s first law of equivalent exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one and only truth.”
Sorry I’ve not updated for a while, what with school and graduating and general forgetfulness. However, since I have been home taking the summer off, I’ve seen some wonderful things and done plenty of crocheting while doing so, including the Marx brothers classic Duck Soup, some amazing Kurosawa flicks, various incarnations of StarTrek, and all but tying my mother to a chair to get her to watch Doctor Who. Despite this, the only media-related crochet project I documented in pictures is something a little different, and requires a bit of backstory.
There has been a veritable baby-palooza among those I know in the past few months. Just… Babies everywhere. Thus, I got it in my head to make some baby booties. Then I realized that booties are stupidly easy to make, and a good use for all of my extra bits of fingering/sport weight yarn, so I made a crapton of the buggers.
Rockin’ everywhere.
While all of this was happening, I discovered Fullmetal Alchemist.
I imagine that a large portion of my readers (for some reason mainly consisting of former teachers… but I love you all!) are unfamiliar with Fullmetal Alchemist, but the few that are familiar are rolling their eyes. “Just discovered it?” these people are muttering to themselves before a glowing screen, “It’s only the biggest anime ever to infiltrate America! How could you have missed it, dopey?”
And to that I say – well, I really have no defense. Other than the fact that I was about 12 when it came out and more preoccupied with Hey Arnold! and Harry Potter and the like. I also haven’t watched a whole lot of anime, so it wasn’t exactly part of my normal repertoire. And no, FMA people, I haven’t watched any of the movies orBrotherhood. Honestly, I don’t know if they will spoil the original series for me, so watching them is up in the air for now.
But I’m getting off track. There’s plenty of time to talk about such things in future posts. And this post has the potential to be very long indeed, so there’s no time for tangents (she wrote, as she dedicated an entire paragraph to said tangent).
Using Haley Missingham’s (super well-written) pattern for newborn baby booties, I made a wicked metric ton of wee shoes both using her design and variations I made up myself. Here’s a sole of one of ’em:
I started watching Full Metal Alchemist on a whim. I had heard the name before, having grown up on Cartoon Network and seeing it advertised, but had never paid much attention to it. That’s because it would have scarred me for life in the best possible way.


With odd puppy creatures! Except not…

FMA is about two brothers who are very skilled in alchemy, a science that causes something to be created from something else, similar to how transfiguration is used in Harry Potter, but more often used with inanimate objects. When they are still quite young, the boys’ mother dies, and they attempt to bring her back with alchemy – a great taboo. The transmutation goes horribly wrong, and the older brother, Edward, loses an arm and a leg while Alphonse loses his entire body. They barely survive, and decide to join the military to get access to files that will help them find a Philosopher’s Stone – a legendary item that would increase their alchemic power, and the only chance they have of rebuilding their bodies.
Ed and Al: posing dramatically in front of arches since 2003.
All of this information is introduced in the first few episodes, but it sounds like a premise that would be stretched over an entire season in American TV… and that was the briefest non-spoiler summary I could give. So here’s some more in-depth (still non-spoilery) stuff. And baby booties.
Or perhaps baby mukluks.
Firstly, the plot. The series spans 51 twenty-minute episodes, a pretty standard length for an anime, and a good amount of time to develop everything and throw in some great twists. As with many shows, it does have a few filler episodes as well as the tendency to meander a bit. However, these instances do not detract much from the story itself. Nearly everything that is brought up over the course of the show has some bearing on the story, and makes a return in a big way. More on that later.
Some ideas tend to repeat themselves a bit, but the English dub at least seems fully aware of this, as do the characters. An example of this is how several of the enemies that Ed and Al face justify their actions by comparing themselves to the way that the brothers operate, saying that they aren’t so different in their goals or beliefs. “Why do all of the bad guys keep comparing themselves to ME?” yells Ed at one point, following by a well-timed punch to one of the philosophizing bad guys’ faces.
But these comparisons are often completely legitimate. The characters in this show develop in such a way that no one is completely black or white, save the occasional one-off villain. The main and supporting characters themselves are extremely well-developed, causing even the goofy episode focusing on these yahoos to have emotional impact:
In fact, the storytelling is so complex that at a few points it seems like they’ve introduced a character or a premise out of nowhere, and only after really thinking about it do you realize that they’ve been sprinkling hints and allusions to these things long before their proper introduction. Take Izumi, for an example that I’ll try really hard not to spoil.

She shows up around pair #684… ish.Image
Izumi was Ed and Al’s alchemy teacher immediately after their mom died, but before they tried to resurrect her. After the failed attempt, they joined the military and work with (and against) it for several years until Izumi (the boys simply call her Teacher) abruptly comes back into their lives. She is harsh but fair, kicks all kinds of butt, and to the casual viewer it would seems as if Teacher just suddenly appeared, simply as a plot device. But she had been foreshadowed (quite literally in one case) long before that, and once she arrives, her actions drive the plot forward and add some more fascinating, dreadlock-infused backstory.
                                              There she is, kickin’ ass in a lab coat.
In all honesty, I would love to do a review of each episode of Fullmetal Alchemist if I knew anyone would read it. The music, the animation, the setting, the philosophical musings, the sophomoric humor, all of it – the weak points and the great – make up a truly memorable series. Even that weird ending has grown on me after some musing.
By this point, you’re probably tired of me raving about this show. Heaven knows my family is. But it really is that good. Even if you’re not an anime person, Fullmetal Alchemist has something for everyone (like The Twilight Zone!) – from juvenile humor to action to dark themes of grief and uplifting ones of familial love. I couldn’t think of a better series to have watched while crocheting a ridiculous amount of booties. With every bootie, I remember a certain part of the show and how it touched me or made me laugh or made me examine my philosophies a little closer. If thoughts like that were woven into something made for an infant, I hope that something will pass on and that their lives will be as rich. Or at least they won’t vomit on all over them or something.
                       Maybe I should Scotch Guard ’em all. (Thanks to my foot model, Evan.)

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