Fate / Zero 16 — Chivalry, Ruthlessness, and Mercy

Wow, this was amazing. Just what I’ve been waiting for. Putting up with Saber and Lancer’s chivalry claptrap was almost (but not quite) worth it.

Archibald starts the episode by generally making an ass of himself. First he murders the priest in cold blood (not that the guy didn’t deserve it, but…) and then he rages against Lancer for Sola-Ui losing her arm and being captured. But I find myself nearly able to sympathize with his actions towards Lancer. He did just have his fiancee captured. I would be mad too.

Then when Saber arrives, Archibald has the good sense to just want to escape. All this silly honor stuff!

Unfortunately, Kiritsugu shows up with Sola-Ui and a gun pointed at her head. He offers Archibald a choice: give up and command Lancer to kill himself, or have Sola-Ui killed.

I have to give it to Archibald. I honestly thought he could care less about Sola-Ui. He’s devoted so much to his dreams, after all, and the woman did just betray him. But he chooses her. He earns some respect.

Lancer’s outburst in response is odd, since he says “you all” rather than referring specifically to Kiritsugu. I assume this is simply the translation, or the fact that Lancer doesn’t know what just happened. I wonder though, if Lancer were aware of Archibald’s choices, would he have made the same one?

Lancer has spent his entire life and afterlife trying to escape from women and fight honorably. And here he died once again because of a woman. Lancer’s comments do seem directed at Archibald, after all. Archibald disregarded a knight’s honor for personal gain: the life of Sola-Ui. Yet I think Archibald made the right choice (esp. since Lancer is already a spirit). Lancer’s quest for honor and chivalry would lead him to do what is dishonorable, allowing someone to die so that he can continue to fight in a noble battle.

Of course, this all becomes a moot point when Kiritsugu has Maya murder them both after Lancer is already out. What a bastard! Killing your enemies when they’re trying to kill you is one thing, but when their heroic spirit is gone and they basically have no chance of winning?

Uh oh, I’m starting to sound like Saber and Lancer with all their talk of honor! But I don’t believe in chivalry. I believe in mercy. Occasionally the two happen to overlap.

Kiritsugu’s disses towards Saber were pretty awesome though. This is one of the problems I have with this chivalry thing: with all the dressing they put on it, it’s still in its essence all about killing people.

I totally agree with Kiritsugu up to this point. War is hell, and honor on the battlefield doesn’t exist. The part I disagree with is what he did after the battle was over. Archibald and Sola-Ui proved no threat to him at this point. If he was really that worried about Archibald becoming a master later, he could have just added it to the contract. Honor on the battlefield is silly, but mercy is essential. That’s why some things are frowned upon in war. Killing civilians. Using landmines, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Attacking medical personnel and hospitals. War is still hell, of course, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for mercy.

Kiritsugu has a good point here as well. Hero stories have always encouraged the peasantry to go to war, and have had a negative impact in this way. But they do have other effects as well…

Saber has the final word, and I have to agree. Archibald chose to end his war because of love. Kiritsugu chose to fight his war because of hate.

One final thought: I liked how the priest used the communion ritual to pass on the command crest. I wonder how many Japanese people would actually get this reference? They should have gone with a better sounding translation though.

19 thoughts on “Fate / Zero 16 — Chivalry, Ruthlessness, and Mercy

  1. There’s this novel called The Once and Future King by T.H. White, which is essentially a retelling of the Arthurian myth. If you’ve heard of The Sword in the Stone, that’s the book’s first part.

    One thing that has always stuck with me from that novel is a scene in which Arthur is talking to Merlin about peace and conflict. Essentially, the discussion boils down to the idea that it’s impossible to secure peace through conflict. You can free a nation through strength of arms, and slaughter the opposition. But chances are, all that pent-up aggression from the battle is going to have to go somewhere, and anything that is built on that foundation will eventually collapse. Most of the novel is Arthur attempting to redirect that aggression, either through sending his knights on quests or by searching for the Holy Grail, so that his kingdom will last. He fails, obviously. Basically, anything started with bloodshed will inevitably end in bloodshed, no matter the intentions.

    Which is why I was so surprised to see Saber say basically the same thing that T.H. White said all those years ago! Kiritsugu might take it upon himself to save the world by killing as (relatively) few people as efficiently as possible, but it’s going to come around and bite him on the ass eventually. Makes me wonder if Saber’s last words to Kiritsugu in this episode came directly from the myth, or from The Once and Future King, or were just the logical response to Kiritsugu’s brand of heroism. It’s funny how these things work out!

    1. Might and right! I totally was thinking about that theme while watching this episode. “The Once and Future King” is such an awesome series…

    2. Yep, I’ve read the Once and Future King, it was a great book. I think this idea is actually much older than the Once and Future King (“he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword” Matthew 26:52 and it was probably old then too) so I’m not sure where exactly it originated, if the author even knew himself.

  2. Lancer’s hatred is directed at everyone, yes, inlcuding Saber. He just thought everyone was against him. Though Kayneth was totally right. If he can’t really win this fight, then he has to flee with his Master immediately. I remember a talk between FSN-Lancer and FSN-Archer, in which Lancer told Archer that he is lacking pride. Archer then responded sth like: “So what, the name of the hero will be disgraced? You can wash away disgrace with results. You can feed your meaningless pride to the dogs.”

    *sigh* If Diarmuid just had done the same. Or at least notice the hints and draw the parallels between his two lives. The unhappy fiancee, the misunderstanding of seducing said fiancee, the jealousy of his lord and his own death by this lord. This is like destiny rubbing salt into his wound. It’s actually funny that Sola would have survived if she had accompanied Lancer and joined Waver and Iri.

    Kayneth did indeed make the right choice, but… did he even have any other? If he hadn’t signed the scroll, Kiritsugu would have immediately kill Sola and Kayneth anyway. The only remaining problem would have been Lancer, but he wanted to end his fight with Saber anyway. As far as I understand Kiritsugu, he thinks it was really necessary to kill off Team NTR completely because even if it was a very tiny chance that Kayneth could get in his way in obtaining the Grail, Kiritsugu wouldn’t have wanted to take that risk, so he immediately eliminated every possibility. In HF Kirei was talking about how Team NTR was killed by Kiritsugu, so Nasu has planned that long before he told Urobuchi to write this scene.

    I just think neither Kiritsugu and Saber’s methods are right. Saber already got told by Rider how wrong Saber must be with all her ideals and Kiritsugu is too extreme. That kinda reminds me of a bad end in Heaven’s Feel, in which Shirou decides to become Kiritsugu to make his ideal come true, when he wanted to kill Sakura because she was a potential threat for humanity. Only being interested in numbers to decide who should be sacrificed and who will be saved is a rather sad and mad kind of thinking. But well, if he wants to become “all the evils of this world”(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNdwl0HZPGM) then it’s apparent why the Grail chose him. I think it’s the best if we wait until episode 18, since we will get a Kiritsugu flashback then.

    What I think is interesting to note is his reaction when Saber realized that Kiritsugu talks like someone who wanted to become an ally of justice/hero( it’s seigi no mikata, I think in the VN it was translated as superhero) once. Isn’t this exactly his dream he passed on to Shirou? 🙂 Well, guess now Saber understands Kiritsugu better, considering she just wanted to kill 5 minutes earlier, I say talking with him for the first time somehow repaired their relationship a bit. If I remember correctly, Saber said in Fate that she only talked with Kiritsugu three times. This is the first time and you can’t really call the other two times “talking with each other”.

    Anyway, since this is my favorite scene I noticed that quite a bit of dialogue was cut out again. And Sola That’s why I think the sound drama of this scene sounds better at the moment. Well, maybe the bluray box will add the rest later on again…(hm, do I have to say that every time now?)

    Btw, if you see similarities/shout outs to famous books, the bible or what else then it’s probably intended. Even in a Q&A in one of the Character Materials someone mentioned that Saber would never go to the Throne of Heroes but rather to Avalon because she is the Once and Future King who will return.

    1. It’s hard to say if Kayneth had another choice or not. He might have been able to use his command seal to call Lancer to kill Kiritsugu. Probably he couldn’t do it before Sola died, but likely Lancer could get Kiritsugu before Kiritsugu killed Kayneth. Although who knows if that actually would have worked.

      It’s amazing how you remember all these details. You are definitely an expert on the Nasuverse. 🙂

      That’s a good point with Shirou wanting to be a superhero— I guess that Kiritsugu did, in the end, accomplish the dream he had long since abandoned. This brings to mind what Shirou came to decide in Fate / Stay Night (heaven’s feel I think? I remember him saying this but can’t cite the chapter and verse like you 🙂 ) that even if he couldn’t be a superheroe who saves everyone, he could still save someone. Perhaps Kiritsugu also failed because his dreams were too big.

      Sola talked here in the novel? Now that would have added another dimension to all this…

      1. Oh, that was a typo. Sola was unconscious in the novel, but not in the sound drama. Basically she was crying for Diarmuid’s death in the drama and screamed a little more, when Maiya cut off her arm.

        The thing about Kayneth getting killed by Kiritsugu immediately after Sola was shot is explicitly mentioned in the novel, I believe. These were exactly Kayneth’s thoughts. However, that does not diminish his correct choice to throw away the last thing and chance that remains of his life as a magus to save his beloved one.

        (Warning, little SPOILER for those who don’t know anything about FSN)

        Well, we all know that Kiritsugu seemed to die in a peaceful way because Shirou promised to fulfill Kiritsugu’s dream to become the ally of justice(as Kiritsugu said, he gave up when he became an adult, so it will be interesting to see his flashback, when he was similar to Shirou or Saber; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSWUQ0ty2fw I really hope ufotable could use the music playing, it would fit sooo much). In Fate after meeting Saber, Shirou still wants to become a superhero. Well, that’s why I think Saber and Shirou actually got along very well and why Saber and Kiritsugu are quite similar. At least similar to the old Kiritsugu before he turned into a dead-serious, sarcastic murderer.

        In UBW then, Shirou sees the hypocrisy of his ideal and all the pain Archer had to endure because he “borrowed” his ideal and faced reality like Kiritsugu(but always believed in his ideal only to be betrayed by it, so it’s again basically like Saber), but nevertheless, he wants to pursue his dream and become a hero.

        The crucial thing imo is HF. Shirou gives up his childish ideal and just does whatever he can do to protect those he loves. This is what Kiritsugu doesn’t seem to realize. Or at least he killed already too many people to stop. In the first half, we see him struggling because of Iri and Ilya so much, so he already considered giving his dream up. Sadly, he doesn’t.

        I think what you remembered is correct. It is either from UBW or HF, but my memory is kinda fuzzy.

        1. Wow, there was a sound novel too? Gosh, you’ve seen it all.

          I completely agree with respect to Shirou’s dreams of becoming a hero. Shirou realizes that an abstract ideal is not as important as his love and his actions.

      2. Gosh, another typo. Kayneth thought that immediately after Kiritsugu would kill Sola, he would shoot Kayneth next.

  3. Kiritsugu killed the Archibald couple to be thorough. Even if all his command seals are gone, there is a chance the grail could give Kayneth more if a Servant becomes available (and with Ryunosuke’s death, the grail has three unused command seals just waiting to be given out if a servant loses its master) and the grail always favors the people that it originally chose as masters when giving out new command seals. Also, if Kayneth changed his mind and decided he wanted revenge once he and Sola were safe, he still has the influence of the archibald family that he could use to hire an assassin to send after kiritsugu or some other way to get back at him. Naturally, all these possibility’s are very unlikely, only about 1% in Kiritsugu’s mind. However, that’s the point being made about Kiritsugu here. He is completely ruthless and completely thorough, and will eliminate anything, even a 1% chance that could prevent him from obtaining his goal. Which is to end war and bloodshed forever. To him, doing something evil like this to the Archbald couple is worth it if it can create world peace.

  4. takashid is right about Kiritsugu. I mean, we shouldn’t even be surprised on the man that is the progenitor of EMIYA’s ideals. That’s because he’s the embodiment of the ideal that there is a need to kill a few in order to save the greater many. Of course, like EMIYA, that way of thinking puts him at odds with everyone else except for Irisviel.

    But the big question here is this: Why is Emiya Kiritsugu insisting on resuming participation to the Grail War? For those who have followed the first part of this show, they know this question is something that’s merely waiting to be asked. And so I ask, why? Why does he continue to punish himself for the sake of greater good? What does he get from it? Why does he continue being the Einzbern family’s pawn? And, like Irisviel asked, why can’t he just settle down with his future family and go as far away as he could?

    These questions can only be answerable with a single reason: Irisviel is the current homonculus catalyst for the fourth Grail War. The Einzbern family provides homonculi for the Grail War that will materialize the Great Grail once six servants have been killed. However, this comes at a price of the homonculus’ life. That means Irisviel will die regardless of Kiristsugu’s decision to leave or continue fighting the war. Kiritsugu doesn’t want that to happen, at least without his presence on the war, which is a somewhat bittersweet thing for him.

    1. By EMIYA do you mean Shirou from F/SN? I thought he was obsessed with saving everyone, and refused to let go of a few to save the many.

      I completely agree with the reason you provide. Did the show not tell us that she’s the catalyst yet? I kind of thought it did. Although for someone who’s played the game it’s impossible *not* to realize.

      1. EMIYA is F/SN Archer, i.e. the personification of Shiro Emiya’s ideals. They are two entirely different instances of the same person. His beliefs are laid out in detail on the UBW route of the F/SN game, as well as the UBW movie.

        As for the catalyst issue, F/SN material should’ve given us enough detail to assume the Einzbern homonculi’s role in the Grail War. The TV series gave us the scenario where Ilya was about to be used as the Great Grail’s catalyst, while UBW used Ilya’s heart as the core and Shinji’s body as the catalyst.

  5. “Lancer’s outburst in response is odd, since he says “you all” rather than referring specifically to Kiritsugu.”

    The Nico Nico Douga translation was a little bit different, so I took it as him talking to Archibald, since they just had that conversation about how he wouldn’t be able to resist the Master seal.

    1. Ah, cool, thanks for the input. According to carray, in the novel his anger was more or less blind and directed at everyone, including Saber. My understanding is that in Japanese it’s not always clear who the subject of a sentence is, so the original may not be entirely clear here and the translators are filling in the blanks.

      1. draggle and carray are correct. Lancer’s outburst is directed to everyone, from his masters, Kiritsugu, even Saber and the Holy Grail. He’s especially mad at the Grail for dooming him to his fate in the war, which is a repetition of the events that killed him in the past.

  6. To be fair, Kayneth had shown himself to be a conniving sneak by shooting Kirei’s father. Kiritsugu may not have known about it, but he knew that Kayneth was too dangerous to be left alive as he was. Of course it was still a dick move, but there was some logic behind it.

    It was neat how, even after Kiritsugu berated Saber for her focus on chivalry, she managed to win their little verbal battle. Good episode, if a little too heavy on the “War is hell” thing.

    1. There was some logic behind it, and I’m not saying Kayneth didn’t deserve it, but it’s still completely heartless.

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