Fate/Zero Episode 16 – Machiavellianism

Best episode ever.  No, you cannot argue with this, it is scientifically proven to be one hundred percent true.  This episode was complete and total badassery to the very core, but not only that there was a lot of it.  Awesome dialogue, awesome action, awesome everything; it was simply fucking amazing.  Hopefully, this marks a darker and more violent turning point in the series, because I don’t there’s been this much shit happen collectively in the entire series, let alone in a single episode.

About the point that Kayneth shot the priest, I was pretty convinced that shit was about to go down.  However, I certainly didn’t expect it to go down as much as it actually did.  I’m still a little confused as to how Kayneth got the command seal for killing Caster.  First of all, I assumed that he had given all control of Lancer over to his fiance, but apparently he is still technically involved in the contract.  Second, the only part that Lancer actually played in killing Caster was shooting himself in the foot so Saber could one-shot the bastard, so it doesn’t really make sense as to how he should receive the extra command seal.  I guess it doesn’t really matter; if nothing else we can just call it a plot device for the epicness that happens later in the episode.

Everything in the whole last half of the episode was almost flawless, from Kayneth insulting Lancer, to Saber and Lancer’s duel, to Kiritsugu’s bribery of Kayneth, and the aftermath of everything was amazing.  Lancer’s death after all that was the icing on top of the cake, but what happened to Kayneth after that was the icing on top of the icing on top of the cake.  I am kind of upset that Lancer has been eliminated relatively early in the War, but at least he had an awesome death, I don’t think many people can deny that.  As sad as the fact the he didn’t even have any control over it was, his final “Fuck you and fuck the War” speech was pretty damn cool, and it was made even cooler by the fact he was dying as he gave it.  We all know that dying while telling people off is the epitome of badass, that’s why Captain Rhodes’ death inDay of the Dead will always be the most badass thing ever.

Now, everybody is surely going to jump on the “Fuck Kiritsugu” bandwagon, but I for one will do nothing of the sort, as he is still one of the most interesting characters in the show.  For a while, I just assumed him to be a careful and organized who knew how to get what he wanted, but now we all know that he’s pretty much a completely uncaring killer, if only for a greater purpose.  Basically, this whole episode encompassed the main theme of Code Geass better than Code Geass itself did.  In a rather broad sense the idea behind both Kiritsugu’s and Lelouch’s motives was the principle of Machiavellianism, or more simply “The end justifies the means”.  It’s not as this is an unexplored topic in entertainment or even anime – hell, that’s even one of the big ideas in Evangelion – but nonetheless it seems to fit really well in the context of this show.  Seeing as how the Grail can do pretty much anything, it seems like a perfect time to apply that principle in the search for a greater good.

But like always, Saber and her absurdly unflinching pride can’t even seem to comprehend the idea.  Of course what Kiritsugu did was dishonest and cruel, but doesn’t the saying go “All’s fair in love and war”?  Saber still continues to maintain that there absolutely has to be some kind of sacredness to battle and that chivalry must always be upheld, but she seems unable to grasp the concept that things may have extenuating circumstances sometimes.  Even if Lancer was honorable and kind to Saber, even if Kayneth just wanted to save his fiance, their goal in the War is to kill everyone else, even Saber and Kiritsugu.  So does that mean that they must adhere by some vague and self-defined sense of honor in such a situation?  I would say, no, it doesn’t, and even though Kiritsugu may seem like a heartless monster, the goal of the Holy Grail War is: to win, not: to win while being as nice to everyone as you can.

Posted on April 22, 2012, in Episodic, Fate/Zero and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. “Best episode ever.”

    I strongly disagree. More badassery to come. This is the best episode up till now. :p

    The extra-rule about Caster was actually clear. All Masters who cooperate to take down Caster will get a Command Spell. Lancer not only destroyed one of his two trump cards, he also took down Berserker’s jet, so he was crucial in defeating Caster at the end.

    Well, if the Holy Grail is indeed the omnipotent wish-granting vessel then I think 6 dead people(minimum)/all the people of Fuyuki(maximum) are a pretty low price to pay for eternal world peace. However, Kiritsugu himself is thinking way too extremely. He is just thinking in numbers. It’s better to see Kiritsugu’s flashback in episode 18 to understand him better. Rejoice, people. We get 7-8 episodes for the last volume(no. 4)! ;D

    Another interesting fact is that Saber’s relationship with Kiritsugu improved after their conversation, instead of getting worse. At least she now knows that Kiritsugu theoretically deserves(in her opinion) the Grail more than anyone else. His mind is just so tortured that she even pities him. Btw, the term “ally of justice”(seigi no mikata) is quite an important one that plays overall in the fate-franchise an important role. Note, that Kiritsugu reacted with an angry face when Saber assumed that he once wanted to become such a person, before he became the more pragmatic Magus Killer.

    • Btw, I forgot to mention that the sound drama is actually better(regarding sound, duh) than the anime in my opinion. A lot of lines were cut out and will probably added later again… Gosh, ufotable, I don’t have the money to spend 500 bucks. :(

    • Perhaps Saber at least understands Kiritsugu, but I don’t really think it seemed like their relationship improved, seeing as how she still is insanely prideful and chivalrous and those two things don’t mix to well with “Do whatever it takes to win”. Of course, you’ve read the novels, so I assume you know more about her opinions than I do.

      • Well, after Kayneth’s death, she was almost about to kill him. Now that she sees that he is just as self-sacrificing as her, she has a better opinion of him now.

        That’s the main problem in Fate/Zero actually, I think. Kiritsugu doesn’t talk to Saber, Kariya doesn’t reaaallly talk with Tokiomi and vice versa(finally next week we should get a lot more info about Tokiomi), Kayneth never had a real talk with Lancer, Kirei wanted to have a talk with his father about his feelings(right after he brought Kariya to his house), etc.

        This is Saber’s first conversation with Kiritsugu. Talking works wonders.

  2. Spirit of Kings

    Does anybody know where i can get the novel for this??

    • Google baka-tsuki and fate zero for the online translation. But here’s a warning: Some parts sound really, really strange and confusing because no one really proofread it. Many parts were translated literally and/or from the Chinese translation.

  3. One thing I think everyone is missing: the knight’s chivalry code works only if others also observe it on the battlefield.

    Then again a cursory study of strategy in warfare, namely Sun-Tzu, there is no such moral code on the battlefield — except for the goal of a complete victory with minimal to zero bloodshed.

    That means no moral code exists independent of the times.

    Calling Kuritsugu machiavellian fits — he’s not just a pragmaist or a moral relativist like some bloggers think.

    He nails the opponent where they are weak like a superior strategist. For that reason alone he’s automatically my favorite. Moreover the fact that he’s a failed idealist — as pegged by Saber — makes his tragic nature all the more interesting.

    • “If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight.”

      It seems about time that Saber realize that not everyone is going to have good clean fights that only happen according to her arbitrary definition of honor. If nothing else, she should at least be able to understand that by adhering to such a code she’s severely handicapping herself in the long run.

      • I doubt heroic spirits have the capacity for growth or change as “heroic spirits” of the Grail. So expecting a knight who takes the chivalrous code of honor as a given to turn into pragmatists is unrealistic. I doubt Saber will ever try to win at the cost of sacrificing her code of honor – unless Urobochi sells out and cheat us all.
        It is better to avoid projecting your perspective onto characters who aren’t from your time or culture.

  4. So many icing ^^

    Yet this episode is as awesome as can be, and I agree that it may very well be the best episode so far.

    As to the “Fuck Kiritsugu” bandwaggon, well, I don’t think there’ll be an overload of passengers, or the very least, I didn’t board it. Kiritsugu is too awesome.

    Though, to be honest I totally forgot that famous Machiavellian line when Kiritsugu’s plan unfolded. While it it true that what he’s doing has “the end justifies the means” written all over it, it’s also a case of “there exists no means where I can do this the right way anyway”. For him, saving one person means failing to save another. Saber would never go for that, and that’s why she’ll always be a little dreamer girl in Rider’s eyes.

  5. To the whole “should we hate Kiritsugu” discussion there are two sides to it. On one end, it wasn’t wrong for him to kill all of Team Lancer because all of them committed to a fight to the death match. Do they absolutely need to kill one another? No, but you can’t be angry if the enemy decides to kill you after you lose. Kiritsugu could have killed Kenneth and Sola-Ui without even making a contract. The contract was just to ensure Lancer had no chance to retaliate after his master was killed.

    And now for the other end. Call it pragmatic but Kiritsugu chose the cruelest way to kill off Team Lancer. If all he wanted to do was win, he could easily have just assassinated Sola-Ui and waited until Lancer ran out of mana. Instead he mutilated her, held her hostage forcing Kenneth to surrender, and then double crossed them, killing them both as if to rub salt in the wound. And to add some dickish irony to the mix, he made it so Kenneth had to lay there suffering until Saber finished him off. Lancer also had a cruel send off. If he were killed in battle he could at least die with dignity but by forcing him to commit suicide after being a paragon of honor and loyalty, that is the biggest slap in the face he could receive. Both of them were completely broken in their final moments, the proud Kenneth begging another to end his suffering and the normally soft spoken Lancer boiling with rage and cursing them all even as he died. Yes, it was cruel enough for me to pity Kenneth of all people.

    Kiritsugu is just doing what’s necessary to achieve his noble goal, you say? No, not even that. His excuse for double crossing Kenneth and Sola-Ui was that if he let them live there was a chance they might get a new servant but that’s bullshit. They had no more command spells, Kenneth is crippled and unable to use magic and Sola-Ui is missing an arm. Furthermore there aren’t any servants available and it’s unlikely there will be any in the future. I won’t say that I hate Kiritsugu because Saber up till now was even more infuriating but he lost a lot of sympathy from me.

    • Oops, I made a mistake. He says the threat was Lancer making a contract with a different master but since Lancer died first there really was no reason to kill Kenneth and his wife.

      • the threat was that, if he kills only the master, lancer may make a contract with a different master (lancer probably wont, but kiritsugu doesnt know this). And if he kills only lancer, there is a chance the grail will choose kayneth to be a master again in the case where some other servant loses his/her master (like how kirei became a master again after losing assassin).

        So he needed a fool proof plan, and this is it.

    • The problem is that there was a very tiny chance that Kayneth could somehow get in his way. Even if it’s just something like talking to other people in the Magic Association or whatever. It sounds extremely stupid, but he just wanted to get rid of any possibility because the risk of losing the Grail to someone else would be too high. As I’ve said, Kiritsugu’s thinking is way too extreme.

      • Well that’s the thing, he wants to end suffering but he’s being hypocritical by causing great suffering based on flimsy pretexts. Sure there is a chance Kenneth might somehow come back to bite him in the butt, but it’s too miniscule to give serious consideration. A human should have the cognitive ability to understand when they are stepping over the line when following their personal philosophy. Where is Kiritsugu’s line? Should he hunt down all the relatives and friends of Kenneth and Sola-Ui so they don’t try to get revenge on him? If Kiritsugu was in Shiro’s shoes after defeating Berserker in FSN would it have been appropriate to kill Ilia?

        Kiritsugu wants to end suffering for everyone, even the people he has to kill, so his undo cruelty to Team Lancer is a contradiction of his goal. It’s not a necessary sacrifice for the greater good. It’s cruelty because it’s convenient and that’s how we define who the bad guys are in a story.

      • “Let us tell the story of a certain man.

        The tale of a man who, more than anyone else, believed in his ideals, and was driven to despair by them.
        The dream of that man was pure. His wish was for everyone in this world to be happy; that was all that he asked for. ” – these are FZ’s first lines in volume 1

        This post contains FSN spoilers, just to warn those who watch FZ first.

        I guess he would have killed Ilya if he had been the same old Magus Killer nine years ago. Fortunately, he isn’t (Besides, Ilya and Iri are the most important people in his life. His mind is just so tortured and he killed so many people already, that he has forgotten the value of life and the people around him. All lives are for him equal. While this doesn’t sound so bad, it is horrible once one notices the flaw of this logic since he immediately saves the majority without thinking, if he can minimize the damage that way).

        Heck, even Rin wanted to get rid of Ilya(which would have been extremely stupid, now that I think about it). I don’t dare to judge Kiritsugu and what he has done all his life, but it’s apparent that following his pragmatism basically means doing things that contradict his ideal all the time, just as Saber said at the end of the episode.

        And this is the major difference I see between him and FSN-Archer. This is why the “Mind of Steel” bad end basically means that Shirou won’t become a mature Shirou or Archer, he will become Kiritsugu.

    • You may be overlooking the fact that Kritisugu might have had a personal vendetta against Kayneth, seeing as how me attacked him first way back in whatever episode and destroyed his home. Perhaps it was just some type of payback.

      • I don’t think he really takes personal things into account. Saber commenting on his failed idealism of the past was the first time he was visibly angry and only briefly. I think Kiritsugu (and the author by extension) was just trying to make a point about how war is hell and things like mercy and honor are pointless. My point of contention was that for a guy who wants to end suffering he was pretty villainous in how he caries out his agenda. Which brings up an interesting point I forgot about. In FSN Kirei tells Shiro that he never thought of Kiritsugu as anything more than a cold blooded magus and that he shot people even as they begged for mercy (iirc). I could understand that point of view if he saw what Kiritsugu did to Team Lancer and Uryuu but as far as I’m aware, he did not.

  6. Kiritsugu’s determination and will to enter the Holy Grail war are even more extraordinary if you think that he had just “found peace” by joining the Einzbern and meeting Irisviel. Apart from the centuries of Magii quest to reach the Origin – which are of no concern to him – he personally had no reason to join the war, he literally took a chance to save the world, even at the cost of losing Iri and Ilya. If you were in his shoes, you would not allow anything to get in the way of your goal: winning the war and getting the omnipotent vessel is, by definition, worth any possible loss, be it a thousand or a million lives. This is simply math, and it’s also the logic behind Archer’s (FSN) actions: Kiritsugu is no different from the adult, undeceived Shirou who actually became a “seigi no mikata”.
    He is not gratuitously cruel, he’s just ensuring there won’t be the slightest chance of failure (hence the exaggerated and hyper-complex schemes to reach victory). Mirai Nikki’s finale exploits the same idea (killing to become God and create a new world).
    Basically, this is the theme of the whole Fate franchise: the three main routes in FSN are the three possible answers to the dilemma. Fate/Zero is probably the most pessimistic and darkest Fate setting, but one of the most beautiful and realistic, together with Heaven’s Feel.

    Speaking of the anime, this is by far the best F/Z episode (better than any FSN ep. too). If Ufotable can keep up with this quality, the remaining 8 episodes will be awesome. I’d give anything to have Heaven’s Feel animated the same way..

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