I originally had another post planned out for Fate/Zero. I wrote a bit more than a quarter of it (like 1000 words or so), but then I realized that it sucked. So, I put it aside and began anew. Anyway, first let’s talk really quickly about the conversation in episode 16.
In episode 16, we were treated to one of the best conversations in Fate/Zero. In fact, I would place it right up there with the discussion on Kings from episode 11. The discussion or rather the fiery argument between Kiritsugu and Saber was fast, furious, exciting and a treat to behold. With Kiritsugu just having killed 3 people so ruthlessly, the argument obviously started with Saber on the higher moral ground, but Kiri quickly turned this around.
It was interesting wasn’t it? Kiri could have said so many other things about Saber. He could have called her unrealistic, blind, foolish or naive, but no! He chose to refer to her as a bad person, as a selfish, self-centered bad person! Many people (real or fictional) have criticised the silliness of honorable people, but this was arguably the first time I saw someone call an honorable person, evil.
It is not like Kiri was making a bad argument either. His argument was brilliant, point after point, he heckled Saber and made a really strong case about the shortcomings of honor. So, how did Saber respond? She calmly took it all in, and then in one short conversation, she turned it all around and once more got the higher ground.
I do not recall the exact name for it, but no matter how good they are, an individuals argument is only good for so long as the individual remains credible. Saber destroyed Kiri’s credibility and as such, his argument was made void, or at the least, it was void in Saber’s eyes. Now, if someone came along and wrecked my life philosphy like that, I’d be a crying mess, but Saber was hardly fazed. If anything, Saber was pitying Kiritsugu, like one would pity a child.
Think about it. Kiritsugu has perhaps seen one or two bloody battles and killed a few dozen people. Saber on the other hand has not only seen death itself, but LEAD hundreds of battles and slain hundreds of people. On top of that, Saber lost hundreds of her own men. Oh and it is not like everything in her time was honorable either. I am sure there were deserters, dirty fighters and evil people back then to, but more importantly, King Arthur was betrayed several times.
I am not an expert on King Arthur legends, but Arthur’s wife (Guinevere) cheated on Arthur, and not only that, but she cheated on him with his most trusted knight: Sir Lancelot. Oh and Arthur had a son to! His name was Mordred. He killed Arthur. Note: Mordred died but Arthur died from mortal injuries inflicted by Mordred. So, yeah, if we assume even a tiny bit of mythological accuracy, it can be inferred that Saber did in fact and indeed experience quite a bit of hardship in her previous life.
So, what does all that mean? It means that Saber isn’t as much of a naive dreamer as everyone makes her out to be. She isn’t an idiot with delusions about reality. No, she knows what life is like and yet, she chooses to continue on with her honourable path. If anything, that makes Saber a very admirable person. I know all the cool kids mock Saber, but I actually really like her.
If I had to sum up Saber and Kiritsugu, I’d say that Saber is an unmovable object and Kiritsugu likes to pretend he is an unstoppable force. Then again, Kiritsugu doesn’t really have much faith in himself, so perhaps it would be better to think of him as a slightly stubborn, deeply hurt kind of guy. You know, the kind of person you’d want to hug, except maybe not because he is sort of dangerous. Either way, he is an interesting character, and it would be kind of interesting to read a full character study on him. Now, we know what Saber and Kiritsugu think about honour, but what about Fate/Zero itself?
I don’t know. This is sort of iffy. If the secrecy, deception, betrayals, merciless killings are any indication, then Fate has been mocking honour all along. Heck, back in the first season, a few characters even said something to the effect of: “deception and secrecy are the most important things in this
game of thrones fight for the grail”. But, having said that, Fate has had a few positive things to say about honour and as such, it is hard to say whether it has been actually mocking honour or not. In particular, I found that the deaths of a few characters gave a bit of commentary on honour.
Stabbed in the chest with his own weapon, Lancer morphed into the very vile entity he had sworn to never become and died in agony. Bathed in a serene yellow glow, Caster saw a vision of past love, gave up his insanity and died peacefully. Why? Well, Caster was killed honourably, while Lancer was not. It just goes to show you that even the most noble of men, turn into demons when they die with dishonour, and that even the most vile of demons, turn into men when they die with honour.
As another illustration, take a look at Tokiomi’s death. He could have died the typical stabbed with a knife death: a single stream of blood dripping out of his mouth, eyes fading out, maybe a last word or two and then a graceful fall. But no, Tokiomi made one of the ugliest faces I have ever seen. And he made that face because he was betrayed. His death, like Lancer’s, was a dishonourable one.
It is as Kiritsugu implied: honour is just a wrapper to make things look pretty. But, is that really a bad thing? I mean, sure Lancer, Caster and Tokiomi all died, and nothing will ever change that, but maybe Saber had a point after all. If we must kill others, then should we not try and make sure that they at least die happy? It’s an interesting thought and one I am glad Fate/Zero brought up. This show is really quite engrossing, isn’t it?
I know it’s bad form to suggest something that might be contradictory to the points made above, but I did think of another alternative reason behind the Caster/Lancer parallels. A few fellow fans pointed out that Lancer shouldn’t have been so negligent of his master. When you think about it, placing one’s honour above the well being of one’s lord is not really an honourable thing. By fighting Saber in the yard, Lancer put his master at his risk. He should have just run away.
Caster on the other hand, got along really well with his master. When Ryūnosuke died, Caster swore to show him the “greatest cool”. So, perhaps Lancer’s painful death was a punishment for his abysmal loyalty and Caster’s painless one, a reward for his loyalty or friendship? It’s an interesting thought, but not one worth paying too much attention to.
And this is off topic (was there even a topic?), but when he died, Lancer became exactly what Kayneth thought he was all along. In other words, Lancer became a dead thing in the form of a human being. Ironically enough, Lancer seemed to try so hard to convince Kayneth that he was not just a magical tool and that his honour was important. Lancer was such a poor soul. May he rest in peace, but well, it doesn’t look like he will.😦
Thanks for reading!
A bit of info on Arthurian legends was taken from this wikipedia entry.