REVIEW: FATE/ZERO – PART 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: MATT MERCER, KARI WAHLGREN, BRIDGET HOFFMAN, CRISPIN FREEMAN, MARC DIRAISON, JAMIESON PRICE, GRANT GEORGE, DAVID EARNEST, DAN WOREN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Alliances have been made, broken and destroyed. Master and Servant alike battle with enemies old and new, struggles within and without, and demons figurative and literal. The fight for the Grail rages on, but, to borrow a phrase, there can be only one.
As expected, the first episode launches directly where part one left off, with Saber, Rider and Lancer attempting to destroy the eldritch abomination that Caster has transformed into, while Berserker interrupts things by swooping in astride a commandeered fighter jet and engaging in an aerial battle with Archer in his golden skyship.
As Assassin, the only Servant to die in the first part, was the least interesting and most underdeveloped of the Holy Spirits, his annihilation was not much of an event, while any significance was overshadowed by the manner in which it occurred. As things begin to draw to a conclusion, the inevitable death tally racks up higher with each passing episode, including the early and ignominious checkout of one character you’d expect to have survived longer.
The identity of the psychotic juggernaut Berserker is eventually revealed, and turns out to be a figure you’ll be familiar with but wouldn’t expect to be assigned such a designation. In retrospect, there were small clues to who he was, but far more significant are the implications of what happened to him to affect such a drastic change in personality and the repercussions these have for another character’s development.
Further exploration into characters’ motives are explored, most prominently with an episode devoted to Kiritsugu’s backstory, detailing the origin of his hatred of magic, his training as a mercenary and the true depths to which he is willing to sink in order to maintain the greater good of saving as many people as possible from the forces he fights against. Through the voicing of what he desires from the Grail, the limitations of its wish-granting abilities are revealed, and by extension the true worth of all the people sacrificed to attain it.
The moral stance of the more heroic of the Servants, who try to conduct the duels they have been summoned for with a modicum of honour, soon clashes with the scheming of their Masters who desire victory whatever the cost and will resort to any tactics to attain it. The combat remains as spectacular and inventive as the violence is brutal and uncompromising (including a slightly uncomfortable recurrence of women being strangled), and the colossal, almost apocalyptic extent of the powers some Servants have at their disposal comes into play.
The finale might seem somewhat muddled and more than a little metaphysical, but the series was slightly constrained by the requirement to maintain continuity with Fate/Stay Night, and in any case, the resolution ends things in such a way that the stories of both series combine into a single narrative.