Fate/Zero’s finale isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It isn’t exactly outrageous and controversial to scream that from the world’s tallest peaks, or to more realistically type it on an anime blog, but it’s nonetheless necessary to preface by saying that there are many little chinks in the otherwise flawless armor that take away from the overall merit of the show; microscopic blemishes noticed only with the utmost scrutiny, but blemishes nonetheless. And, as much as I could gush about the continued excellence of the production values or the tragic yet fitting end of Kariya, which was handled far better than I’d hoped, it wouldn’t help me maintain a thin veil of professionalism if I didn’t harp on the negatives with as much enthusiasm and vitriol as three cups of coffee and a cursory glance at political news can muster.
It’s clear that it was supposed to be a solemn finale, one of bittersweet victory and an ultimately fruitless bid for the Holy Grail on the part of most of the characters. After all, there’s some kind of poetic justice in Kiritsugu forfeiting his bid for the Grail, destroying a good section of the town and violating his own beliefs in the process, or Kirei having had victory in the Holy Grail War fall in his lap at the cost of that which he was furiously questioning—his humanity, or his reason for being.
As well executed as the vast majority of it was, there were niggling things that, when the mood was at its most somber, managed to destroy any semblance of seriousness that the show attempted to bash into the audience’s collective skull like a railroad spike made with the composition of Archer’s rock-hard abs. Speaking of Archer’s rock-hard abs, here are three things that, while being relatively minor gaffes when the rest was so damn good, took away from the overall experience for reasons ranging from slight hiccups of incompetence to my own insurmountable immaturity.
Archer’s Rock-Hard Abs/Full Nudity
I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason for this that I missed. Maybe being in molten grail juice made being in his armor unbearably hot, or maybe it melted it off, leaving nothing but his chiseled physique for the world to see. Or hell, maybe keeping his armor perpetually summoned was such a burden on him that he could no longer keep it up. No matter how you look at it, the facts are that he’s naked and providing fanservice for the ladies (and some of the gents) in the audience, and it’s as hilarious as it is slightly unsettling.
Kirei’s Engrish Prayer
The moment between Rin and Kirei was much more a metaphorical slap to Rin for not letting her in on the fact that Kirei was her father’s killer, and it was as beautifully tragic as it was frustrating to see him literally get away with murder. It would have been an even more well-written moment if it didn’t follow an awful, egregious bunch of Engrish. Granted, it wouldn’t have been quite as entertaining, but there would have been more gravitas to Rin and Kirei’s exchange if it wasn’t preceded by the latter’s unintentionally hilarious prayer.
The Faces of Unfathomable Despair
These are probably the most subjectively “off” things about the episode, in that it might just be me that found them so damn funny. I’m sure for many people they worked at conveying the considerable grief felt by Saber and Kiritsugu, and while crying faces are never the most gracious to animate, I still giggled my way through some of the scenes that I’m sure were supposed to be sincerely tragic. It’s a testament to the quality of the rest of the show that these few scenes create such a stir of befuddlement, so I guess it’s not a terrible thing. I just wish that sometimes, for the sake of being sucked into a narrative, I wasn’t so easily amused by silly faces.
Even taking these three relatively minor things into account, the finale of Fate/Zero is about as good as I could have expected it to be. While a bit anticlimactic, it’s done in such a way that leaves arguably more of an impact than would be had if yet another climactic battle unfolded. The show practically oozes style and excellent writing, and nothing was spared in making this finale as satisfying as possible. Yes, some characters were criminally neglected and yes, the whole Poe-faced aspect of it bit itself in the ass quite a few times by making some scenes outright comedic, but there was enough good to warrant a hearty recommendation to anybody looking for a compelling watch; hell, I’d go so far as to say that it falls into comfortably into the ever-accessible group of gateway anime.
I may have given it a fair amount of flak for failing to extrapolate on some key characters, or for making some scenes much sillier than it should have, but I criticized it because I love it, and nothing was ever a deal breaker when compared to its overall technical prowess. Long story short, Fate/Zero fucking delivered, even if the end-result had a few dings and scuffs. And naked heroes of Mesopotamian myth.