People claim the story’s going to get better now. Uh-huh…
— Those noses, though…
— The simple-minded Shirou is too much of a straight-forward, wholesome shounen. He’s not giving himself enough credit. Sure, Lancer just kicked his ass, but the guy managed to stay alive. That’s gotta count for something, right? But hey, it’s not like it matters in the long run. Everyone’s going to come to admire the hero anyway.
— Rin’s not clueless, and after watching the long prologue, we’re not clueless either. But sadly, Shirou’s clueless, so we have to sit here and watch Rin explain everything to the hero. The Holy Grail War, Master, Servant, Command Seals, so on and so forth. Meh, it’s all been talked about before, so I don’t see why this conversation isn’t just skipped to save us some valuable time. I say you have to pick one or the other. Either keep this conversation, or keep the majority of the prologue. It’s so unnecessary and boring to have both.
— And it continues. The characters discuss how Shirou is not a full-fledged Master, so he has no mana to help replenish Saber or whatever. I would’ve figured that something like this is self-evident, though. Nobody actually thought Shirou was a mage, did they? Moreover, this entire scene is like listening to someone read the instruction manual to a video game. Riveting. I’m sure there’s a more elegant way to deliver this information, but I suspect this was exactly how the information was delivered in the visual novel. As such, the adaptation has to stay true to its roots or risk fan backlash.
— Rin laments the fact that she couldn’t summon Saber. Hey, what if Archer was listening in, man? That’s not nice. As she does this, she has her butt gyrating in the air. I wonder if that was in the visual novel? Or is this something we can actually add to the adaptation?
— Shirou, however, naively asks, “Hey, are you saying I’m not worthy of her?” I like how he’s already implicitly accepted his situation. Oh, I’ve just been plunged into an all-out war with a bunch of people who can cast spells? WAIT, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? I’M TOTALLY WORTHY. Seriously though, I think I’d worry more about the fact that I have no fucking clue what I’ve just gotten myself into.
— Best part? Rin wants to take Shirou to go see someone who knows all about the Holy Grail War. Yo, that talk we just had? That was just the introductory course. Get ready for some upper division education, boy!
— Luckily, Shirou realizes that it’s late. Yes, it’s very late! Spare me from having to watch two lectures back-to-back.
— Saber assures Shirou that Servants can magically “adapt to whatever era they find themselves in.” That’s convenient. In other words, she’s going to become a mysterious transfer student at his school, huh? Yo, I’ll let it slide if Archer becomes one too. Fair’s fair. What say you, Fate/stay Night?
— Ah RIP… we’re going to go see that old man anyway.
— So Rin takes Shirou to go see some fake priest in a shady-looking church. Along the way, she explains how this guy became her guardian ever since her father died.
— Character models aside, the animation looks nice. Well, even the characters are well-animated. I just don’t like the character designs.
— So we meet Kirei Kotomine, and uh… I wouldn’t trust him. It’s just the way he looks and the way he sounds. Hell, Saber wouldn’t even come with Shirou because she apparently has bad history with the guy. But nuh-uh, you’re not going to fool me into watching Fate/Zero, anime!
— Rin: “You’ll need to start from square one with him.” Oh lawwwwwd.
— Billions upon billions of people on this planet, and out of all of them, only seven people at a time will get the privilege to fight over an object that can very well decide the fate of the entire world: “A Holy Grail capable of this can surely grant its holder limitless power.” That’s rather peculiar, isn’t it? Not only that, the Grail is located in this very Japanese town.
— Only one person may hold the Grail at the end of all of this. And who decided this? The Grail itself. Okay then.
— Naturally, our wholesome hero wouldn’t hurt a fly, much less kill the other Masters. Luckily for him, Rin gives him a way out: “We don’t have to kill each other, Emiya-kun.” Again, I didn’t watch all of the original adaptation, and even if I did, I doubt I would’ve remembered much. I wonder if he killed anyone then. I wonder if he’ll kill anyone now.
— Kirei insists, however, that the whole thing will be a fight to the death, but Rin angrily disagrees. Like really angrily. I wonder if she maybe wants to preserve his innocence or something. After all, someone went ahead and spoiled it for me that she already likes the guy. Still, her solution is just a half-way compromise. He doesn’t have to kill the other Masters, but he still has to eliminate their respective Servants. Does that mean they die or do they just go back to wherever they came from?
— Kirei reasons, however, that it’s hard enough to defeat a Servant. You may as well just get rid of the Master since this’ll kill two birds with one stone. But never give a wholesome shounen a challenge. He’s almost certain to take the hard way out every single time if it means he can spare a life. I mean, I suppose that’s what makes him a hero, doesn’t it? But it does get tiring watching the same archetype over and over in these stories. But again, this is the second route, so I’ll just have to wait and see what this Shirou does.
— Oh God, Kirei’s started walking. Let’s see if he walks in a circle.
— So a Master would still be a part of the game even if they lost their Servant. All that matters is that the Master still has their Command Seal. Shirou asks what would happen if he just used up his Command Seal right there and then. Kirei doesn’t really give him a good answer. He just says that this would be cowardly. Well, okay, if I don’t want to die, who the hell cares if you think I’m cowardly?
— He’s made a turn!
— Still, if Shirou wants to give up that badly, he can. Kirei will even protect him until the whole ordeal is over.
— He’s made another turn! It’s going to be a circle, folks! All he’s got to do is make one more turn! Turn left, Dale!
— BAM, THE LAST TURN! We’ve come… full circle.
— Kirei: “Driven by their desires, [previous] Masters have engaged in indiscriminate slaughter.” I guess the Grail doesn’t really care who holds it so long as that person is good at killing… It doesn’t seem so damn holy anymore.
— Of course, Shirou’s not going to quit. Why? Because he shouldn’t want an asshole to get their hands on the Grail. I can buy that. It’s just another version of that “With great power comes great responsibility” idea. It is revealed that the disastrous fire from Shirou’s past was the aftermath of the previous Holy Grail War. See, now you’re just playing on the hero’s trauma, so he has to join.
— Oddly enough, even though this is the fifth Holy Grail War, only one guy has ever managed to hold it. I guess the other contests just failed for one reason or another. Even then, he held it only briefly and did nothing with it. According to Kirei and Rin, this was because the other Masters weren’t all dead. Apparently, getting the Grail doesn’t mean anything unless the other Masters are dead. Okay then. So uh, I have to ask… if only one person has ever gotten his hands on the Grail, and even then, he couldn’t do anything with it, how does anyone know for sure that the Grail will grant you limitless power?
— Kirei keeps badmouthing this previous guy as though he’s talking about someone that Shirou should know. I’m guessing this previous guy has to be Shirou’s dad, since the damn war only occurred ten years ago. Still, seeing as how Rin’s a Master too, and this is the route that focuses on her… I don’t know what to really believe. ‘Cause honestly, I don’t believe for a second that Rin’s going to die.
— Shirou finally leaves the church, presumably after confirming his desire to stay in the Holy Grail War. Kirei says something about great evil, blah blah blah. He shakes hands with Saber, and that’s that. Still, I like how the revelations about the fire from ten years ago is what ultimately convinced Shirou to participate. You’d think the idea of an evil person getting his or her hands on the Grail would be enough to sway him. Like what if Hitler was going for the Grail, y’know? But Shirou only really becomes adamant in his resolve, because he doesn’t want athe great fire to occur again. Well, I’m not saying that a fire ain’t a tragedy, but worse things can happen.
— Hell, we don’t even need to consider worse things. Let’s say some asshole’s wish is to simply — oh, I don’t know — destroy a single orphanage. That’s arguably not as bad as a fire that consumes an entire town, but I’d still think that something like this alone should be enough to get Shirou’s participation, no? My point is, why is the fire from the years ago the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and not the very real possibility that any unsavory bastard can get his hands on the Grail? Any hero of justice worth his or her salt would’ve said, “Stop right there. You had me at ‘unsavory bastard.'”
— Needless to say, Rin suggests that they go their separate ways because they are now officially rivals. Oh, it’s just the tsundere act.
— Archer shows up to state the obvious, i.e. yo, let’s just kill this kid right here and right now. But of course, Rin does nothing, so he teases her about her true feelings for Shirou. Aw, it comes complete with her blushing and everything. Good ol’ tsunderekkos.
— Shirou continues to insist that he doesn’t want to fight Rin. After all, he likes people like her. Cue more blushing and stammering. Yep. But all of a sudden, that silver-haired loli from last week’s episode reappears. She even asks if our heroes are done chatting. Girl, c’mon… you already know the answer to that question! We’re never done chatting! But fair’s fair, so I’ll admit that it looks like we might finally get some more action in next week’s episode. Pairing a little girl up with a Berserker-type fighter is so passé, though.
— Anyway, the episode’s finally over, and surprise, surprise… it’s another episode full of uninteresting conversations about the rules of the game. Hell, we got two different conversations in two different rooms, basically. When people said that the story would get better, I guess they didn’t mean that it’d get better right away.
— And of course, some of my favorite books are full of exposition, but this is not an apt comparison. When I’m reading a Dostoyevsky novel, I’m not just reading exposition. I’m reading exposition done his way. He has an undeniably unique way with words that makes his novels interesting no matter what. But at the end of the day, we’re talking about two completely different mediums. Just because you can get away with one thing in one medium doesn’t mean you should be able to get away with the same thing in another medium. There’s a reason why Dostoyevsky novels have rarely been adapted to the silver screen and adapted well. You can’t just lift the words directly from the source material, slap some animation on it, and call it a day.