Fate/Zero is finally over. As it aired it kind of did a weird thing where it aired one part one season, and then the next part two seasons later. I guess that can kind of be normal for some series as multiple seasons, but Fate/Zero literally cut off halfway through the series. Worse, it ended the first “season” on a cliff hanger episode, so it was clearly meant to be continued. Since it did something different, I decided to review part 1 on its own merits. You can find that here. I’m not going to mention a lot of the intro info I mentioned in the last review, so I’d suggest starting from the first review if you’re interested. Instead I’ll just be covering the second part of Fate/Zero. Let’s see if the second part can match up to my glowing review of the first.
The second half of the series’ plot is a direct continuation of the first. Still, all of the subplots that get started in part one get resolved in part two, and it’s quite exciting to see them all resolve. Thematically, it seems as if part 2 focuses a bit more on the philosophic outlook on Fate/Zero (I’m no philosophy expert, but if you want a good discussion on it look here). Honestly, some of these themes kind of went over my head. I’ve played Fate/Stay Night and watched Fate/Zero, and I can tell you I honestly don’t understand Kirei or his motivations in the slightest. His existence just baffles me. The major philosophical question wrestled by Kiritsugu in the second half of this series (the second half of part 2, I mean) is his ideal of sacrificing the few to save the many.
To cut a long, tragic story short, Kiritsugu becomes the kind of person who wants to save the world, and will do anything to do it. Including a few sacrifices along the way, no matter how important they may be to him. However, the events near the very end of the series cause Kiritsugu to question what he’d been doing, and eventually he makes an ultimate decision concerning his philosophy. And the very end has him come full circle, kind of ironically… But it’s very cool to see.
Besides the philosophical aspect of the series, there’s still a great main plot to the series. So the Holy Grail War was getting really exciting at the end of the first half, but it was just getting there back then. All of the exciting major plot lines concerning the war are coming to a head. At the end of the first series, only one servant went down, leaving 6 to duke it out… So over the course of last 12 episodes, the rest of them gotta go right? And boy, do they go. If you thought the battles and such in the first series were good… you’ve seen nothing yet. Everything gets cranked up a notch. The pacing stays pretty good, the dialogue is great, and the battles and events go crazy.You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be at awe, and you might even think a little. That’s what Fate/Zero did to me, and I’m sure it can do it to you.
The characters for the most part stay the same, but the second half’s character development is most certainly focused on Kirei and Kiritsugu. I’d comment on Kirei’s development, but I seriously don’t understand that guy, not in the least. Kiritsugu however is a little easier to follow, and it’s interesting to see how he became the person he is today, and then how the events of the Grail War change him into the person he becomes later… and then, all the little ways he didn’t change along the way. While some people may disagree with his character and his character’s choices, I found him to be a really relateable character. Kiritsugu does get a total of two flashback episodes (which is quite a lot) to establish his motivations and character, which is nice to see. And then you see how he changes over the course of the war… it was all very interesting.
Insofar as the other characters are concerned… It’s interesting to note that Saber, arguably another main character, goes through little to no actual development in the series. In that way Fate/Zero stays true to its sequel, Fate/Stay Night, since that’s really where Saber learns about how her path might be wrong and what she should do. On that note, I liked all the little continuity tidbits between Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night. For example, it’s stated in Fate/Stay Night that Kiritsugu never spoke one word to Saber when he was her Master in the Grail War, and Fate/Zero carried that out splendidly. I was a little dubious at first as to how that could be done, but it’s done so well.
Another thing I think is handled really well, and hats off to the writer for this, is character interaction. I suppose this might go hand in hand with the voice acting (which I found pretty good, but I don’t know a damn thing about voices or voice actors so that doesn’t mean much) but there are just some lines and interactions between characters that feel so incredible. In the second half in particular, there’s some amazing moments in both the Gilgamesh/Rider fight, and the very end between Kiritsugu and Saber. Yes, I know I said that Kiritsugu never spoke to Saber, but they still interacted, and I think in particular the final episode showed that quite well. The emotions behind the characters, the motivations, how they confront one another, are all spectacular.
Anyway, insofar as the other characters and their development are concerned… There is a little bit more development, but I guess the rest is more standard? Or predictable, at least. Waver becomes a more self-confident magus after the events of the war, Kariya completes his descent into insanity more or less. Maiya’s character and her motivations are explained a little bit. All of this development is great stuff too, so the characters feel even better in part 2 than part 1.
Moving on to art and animation… What can I say. If you read my earlier review, it’s pretty much the same here. ufotable has done it again, folks. Everything looks and feels stellar, and the animation is absolutely gorgeous. I honestly can’t praise it any more than that. But the music… Well, last time, that was where I found my slight tiny flaw with this series. Particularly in the opening and ending themes. This time around… even that is amazing. The BGM, on the other hand is still great stuff. Still composed by Kajiura Yuki. I don’t know if the same BGM is used from part 1 to part 2, but for some reason I happened to notice more of the BGM in part 2. I think that’s because some of the moments are so well accentuated by the music.
The opening theme is To the beginning by Kalafina. Honestly, since Kajiura Yuki was working on the series since the beginning, I was expecting to see some Kalafina work for the first half as well, but I guess they were saving it for now, or something. Still, it’s a great song and the animation is pretty awesome. As for the ending theme, the animation is a bit weaker I’d say, but the song again is great. This time it’s Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau, by Haruna Luna. I will say that I’ve never heard of Haruna Luna, and have no idea what else she’s done. Still, I really like this song, and I think both of these songs fit quite well with the series, insofar as the lyrics are concerned. So the only thing that I had reservations about in the first half were rectified, leaving us at…
Director: Ei Aoki
Writer: Gen Urobuchi
Character design: Atsushi Ikariya, Tomonori Sudou
Music: Yuki Kajiura
Original creator: Gen Urobuchi (author), Takashi Takeuchi (artist)
Original run: April 7, 2012 – June 23, 2012