Business has officially picked up as of this episode.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t like what came beforehand. I’ve certainly found its animation to be superior to FSN/Tsukihime adaptations and on the Garden of Sinners level of quality ufotable produced in recent years. The cast in Fate/Zero has incredible depth and a great mix of personalities across the spectrum.
My one issue has always been how the sheer volume of dialogue at times has hindered the pacing and atmosphere. Book 1 of the original novels is very saturated with dialogue. This slow start was always going to happen. I’ve forgiven it somewhat with the character development that has gone on through it, but it becomes testing at times. Episode 4 didn’t flow that well for me since dialogue between combatants or to other people present always seemed to happen when the scene was picking up, then lose that momentum. Even my hardcore Type-Moon fan friends think Episode 4 didn’t need as much dialogue as was provided there.
However, the promise of what this adaptation can deliver is now coming to fruition. Dialogue was sharper, fitted the mood/scene and allowed the atmosphere to build up all through the episode. The fighting in this episode was flockwin. Fluid animation, lovely smoke effects (FINALLY in anime there is smoke animation that actually looks/feels like smoke!), Berserker looked festy as hell with the CGI, dialogue within was short and to the point. And best of all, within that action/scheming we now have a very clear grasp of the methods and motivations of most of the Servants and their Masters. This episode achieved so much but was able to provide plenty of action and the like to be entertaining/stimulating while developing the characters and delivering dialogue. This is the balance I’ve been wanting to see in this show all along. And I’m fairly confident it will be able to provide that balance more often as the dialogue volume tones down as of Book 2, which the adaptation will be reaching soon.
Saber continues to be charming and honorable – gotta love that. Irisviel isn’t afraid of her mortality at all and sticks with Saber even under the worst of circumstances – lovely woman. Rider is a freaking man’s man and is Mister Charisma in spades. Power to him for the way he stuck up for Waver when his old teacher tried to talk him down. Lancer is pretty FAB-ulous but not a cockblock, kudos to you Grand Master Sexy. Archer has an ego the size of Jupiter but is amusing. Kariya’s re-emergence as a cold-hearted bastard from the once soft, caring person is poignant, although he has his (deluded) reasons.
I really couldn’t have asked for more from this episode. If Episode 4 left me underwhelmed, Episode 5 more than made up for it.
PS. Rider, my man, let’s hang out sometime and talk about kingship and manliness! My shout!