Poor guy, though. He poured his heart out in last week’s episode only to get an “I don’t exactly hate you” in return. But this is that tsuntsun nonsense that people love so much, right? Anyway, they’re both Masters without Servants. That sounds like the setup to some goofball BDSM-themed sitcom. How will these two wacky Masters ever manage to live together! But alas, we’re watching another episode of Fate Something or Other. And because they don’t have Servants, Shirou and Rin may as well run to someone who does. Like that loli we met way back in the first half of the series. You remember her? Unfortunately, I remember her. She has a bigger role to play in the story, and it’s coming up soon.
But first, Caster’s backstory!
Why? Because, like, character development is important, man.
This doesn’t really have much to do with Fate Something or Other — well, maybe it does — but I really like how it’s all-or-nothing with fans. If a show doesn’t have the ambition to pursue grand ideas, t-t-then it must be a character-oriented series!
But not all character development is equal, and Caster’s story doesn’t really do anything. Look at it this way… she starts off as a villain, right? So how should her backstory add drama? By making me reconsider whether or not she’s really an irredeemable villain. By making me reconsider whether or not her actions are justified. By making me reconsider my first impressions of her, so on and so forth. Long story short, I should probably feel some sympathy for Caster, and thus understand her motivations a little more. But what we see here doesn’t really move me one way or the other.
And to be quite frank, I don’t really see her as a villain either. I see her as a stepping stone. She’s just someone to tie up the hero’s time. I’m just waiting for her story to be history already. Obviously, I don’t love the character, but there’s not even much to hate. Her villainy doesn’t even disgust me.
You gotta make me make a decision. That’s one of the many strengths of storytelling:
“The success of the show, I think, is because we have back & forth emotion during the storytelling. And the key is that we come to a climax where the audience individually has made a decision…” — Quote about a wildly popular show.
Applied to Fate Something or Other, for Caster to be anything more than just a bit character, I have to decide whether or not I’m disgusted by her villainy. But in practice, I never reach that point. And like I’ve said, I don’t even lean strongly in one way or anything. Her villainy is rather muted.
Maybe this is just a microcosm of the series as a whole. Supposedly, this is a story about an epic clash between divided interests… and they’re after the Holy Grail. Not just some dinky treasure. This motherfucker will make your wishes come true! Maybe you can even reshape the world with it! Like how Reasons operated in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. But somehow, Reasons felt a whole lot more significant despite belonging to Nocturne’s rather understated narrative. Here, on the other hand, I can’t say I really feel the true gravity of the situation. Like yeah, logically, I know it’s bad if a bad guy gets his hand on the Holy Grail. But I don’t feel it on a human level. I don’t feel it at some raw, emotional level that makes me want to get up out of my seat and go, “C’MON SHIROU, DON’T LET THAT ASSHOLE WIN!” Whoever that asshole is. My point is, I don’t feel particularly compelled to root for anybody.
The show doesn’t compel me to root for or against Caster.
And more significantly, I don’t feel compelled to root for or against Shirou. It’s just like eh…
And really, the same thing happens again with the next episode.
Yeah, yeah, Berserker and… blond dude (I forget his name–… ZOMG IM NOT EVEN PAYING ATTENTION LAWD HELP ME) are “fighting,” but we don’t really see them fight. All we see is blond dude standing still, smirking, and conjuring up weapons out of thin air and hurling them at Berserker. I’ve harped on the show’s lack of action enough, so we’ll just leave it at that.
What I mean by “the same thing happens again” is how the story just dumps loli girl’s backstory on us (now, I actually know her name, but I just don’t want to type it out).
Character development is so great! Oh, let’s worship at the altar of character development!!!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not disparaging backstories at all.
But this shit isn’t organic. We haven’t seen the loli in how long? Weeks now, man… weeks. Hell, if you count the winter season that sat smack dab between the first and second halves of the story, we haven’t seen her in months. Then when she finally returns to the picture, the narrative drops a massive, steaming backstory deuce on our chest. I can appreciate good character development, but whatever happened to slowly peeling away at the layers of an onion to learn the true nature of a character?
We’re just shoving the raw onion right down your gullet, skin and all.
And like Caster, loli’s story doesn’t force me to make a decision. I’m not sitting here teetering between two sides. I’m not wracking my brains over whether not I should root for or against loli girl. After all, I just got a massive backstory dump after not seeing the character for quite some time. It’s really hard to engage my sympathies that way, and you can really tell they really wanted you to feel for her plight as a homunculus (or whatever she’s supposed to be) and how she has been abandoned (supposedly by Shirou’s dad).
But then the silent but impossibly strong Berserker shows that he has a softy-wuddly side to him! And I think the “Awwww~!” emanating from our lips are supposed to melt the fallen snow around these two characters. But y’know, theory is not practice, and these scenes don’t really elicit anything from me. Loli girl was not a major player for much of the story, so some sudden character development won’t change that.
Besides, parts of it are kind of corny. I think the scene above is supposed to be creepy.
Ditto for loli girl’s conversations with the dolls in the water. But everything’s too pretty to be disturbing or offputting. Everything just treads that safe, familiar path.
Like how I’m rather tired of the whole large man and little girl pairing. It’s just so cliche at this point.
And all the rulebreaking shit is really starting to become predictable. Like as soon as blond dude said that nobody — especially not a god!!! — can break free from these chains, you just knew Berserker would. Ah well. I’m sure I can still tough this series out until the bitter end. After all, this is the second half of the story, right? So it’s not like Fate Something or Other will continue on forever.
Shhh, shhh… it’ll be over soon… You’re just making it harder on yourself by struggling.
By the way, that quote above was from Maury about Maury.