Fate/Zero Episode 2 – Cthulhu Reigns

I didn’t anticipate how awesome this episode would be. The hour-long debut set a high standard for the series; episode two showed that it would go above and beyond maintaining it. To start, let’s talk about my favorite scene—the one starring Uryuu Rinnousuke and Caster, which is some high octane nightmare fuel shit.

A psychotic serial killer is in the midst of painting magic circles with the blood of his victims. He’s not killing people for the purpose of doing so—it only happens that he discovered a summoning manual and thought that following it would make for more entertaining murders. He thinks it would be interesting if he summoned a demon, as he narrates to the tied up little boy that he hopes to sacrifice in the event that he does.

Wouldn’t you know it, the summoning works. Uryuu is surprised, somewhat dumbfounded as he introduces himself to the demon, and then remembers his excitement as he offers the sacrifice to said demon.

As Caster is closing in on the kid, I think, “how refreshing. A psycho who successfully summons a demon that is successfully going to eat his sacrifice.” I was excited—then Caster unties the kid and tells him to head for the exit. I was a little disappointed, though unsurprised, expecting that Caster would say something to the effect of not minding what his master does, but not preferring to kill of his own accord.

But something wasn’t right. The shots of the kid heading for the exit were lingering just a little too long. Suddenly, it was like, “is he gonna let the kid go? Isn’t he?” And then, the money shot:

The tentacles drag the kid off-screen, but we see more than enough. Horror and blood. Then we hear utterly grotesque tearing and screaming noises which last for quite a while, or at least seem to, transfixed as we are in shocking, smirking terror. Caster, it turns out, is a connoisseur of murder, and Uryuu is totally impressed. He wants to follow Caster into this holy grail war, despite having no idea what any of it’s about. He just wants to see awesome murders, and I gotta say, I’m in the same boat with regards to Caster. I look forward to his and Uryuu’s involvement for the sheer gleeful terror of it all.

This scene also contains Urobuchi Gen remembering love for Mr. Lovecraft, with Caster going so far as to name-drop Cthulhu for some reason. Caster explains his brand of horror, like an author insert for Urobuchi writing the scene in question. This took me right back to Saya no Uta, and the whole scene from the untying to the grisly murder is like a microcosm of Madoka Magica. Brillant, brutal. Ishida Akira is excellent as Uryuu, seeming to channel a bit of Kamiya Hiroshi playing Orihara Izaya, but creepier.

Besides this, the episode contains lengthy scenes of brilliant characterization and animation respectively:

Waver’s partnership with Rider is hilarious. There’s a definite sense that Waver doesn’t have control over his situation, and that he’s gotten in over his head with a servant that has no interest in his personal desires. It’s genius especially because Rider is simple-minded and kind in a way to where in spite of finding Waver weak and annoying—no, because he finds him weak and annoying, he’s willing to just let him do as he pleases. Of course, the control glyphs(?) Waver talks about pose a big, frightening problem. Every sign points to this bastard attaining victory through his idiotic selfishness.

The brilliant animation sequence involves Assassin sneaking into the Tohsaka compound at the end of the episode, only to get mercilessly slain by Archer. I’m more than a little curious about Kotomine’s intentions in sending Assassin to his death, because it seems very likely that this was intentional.

This Will Destroy You – The Lovecraftian Hell-Beasts Lurking Behind Every Corner in Haruhi, Bakemonogatari, and Index

Liable to end life as you know it at any given time.

…all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large.
-H.P. Lovecraft

Upon completing To Aru Majutsu no Index (post forthcoming) I noticed that this series contained one of my favorite plot elements, seen also in Bakemonogatari, Boogiepop, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – a trait no doubt attributed the certain style of light novel which all of these series are based on. In each of these stories, there lurks a power far beyond human comprehension – a force that can and will destroy you.

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