LET’S RANT about episodes 2 and 3 of the newest Fate franchise anime TV series!
Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files Episode 2 Review:
The Seven Stars and The Eternal Cage
The audio for this episode impressed me immensely. The opening music, “Starting the case: Rail Zeppelin” by Yuki Kajiura is stunning. The music that comes to the forefront around 18:44 is gorgeous. Same with the piece that is playing at 21:15. The ED, “Hibari” by ASCA is wonderful, sounding soothing, and yet melancholy. The art and animation, I noticed, isn’t on the same level as uftoble’s Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: UBW, but the visuals are still good. I’d even say they’re a treat for the eyes.
This episode is about Waver solving a mystery of who killed Mr. Ernest Fargo, with the goal of having the daughter, Mary Fargo, give a him good reward from her vast inheritance. “Who killed Ernest Fargo” isn’t a regular mystery, since so much depends on the systems of magic, and knowing and learning about them. For example, Ernest Fargo’s reason for cutting himself into seven pieces and then reuniting himself doesn’t make any sense unless you understand the concept of the Root, and how his plan would have moved him closer to immortality.
It hasn’t changed that most mages are scum. Ernest Fargo most likely abused his maid, Claire, and, like most mages, he viewed his daughter as property. We saw that Alec is a douchebag in general, and Mary didn’t mind letting her father die when she could possibly have saved him. But I understand Mary very well. She wanted freedom for herself and Claire, and it seems the two of them are very close.
As far as personal enjoyment, I got excited about the classic mystery setup. The suspects were the victim’s daughter, nephew, friend, and of course, the maid. I thought it was both funny and cool how Waver and Gray said the English slang “howdunit” and “whydunit” in English. The mystery didn’t exactly turn out being the classic type where the culprit is one of the ones originally suspected, but it was still highly enjoyable to see it play out.
In addition, Seeing Gray in action was fucking fantastic. I don’t know know how to do that scene justice with words. Let’s just say that it seems like TROYCA is doing well keeping the Fate Franchise’s reputation of beautiful scenes (and fights) with magic. I’m fascinated by Gray and what/who she really is. What makes her so closely connected to the world of death? I also wonder why Waver makes her keep hiding her face with that hood.
My only major complaint about episode 2 is that requires viewers to remember a lot of magic theory from other Fate works, and those works don’t even explain things clearly. They can take a while to understand. I only have a very casual understanding of the Holy Grail, the Root, Mage family crests, and such.
On the other hand, as long as you know about the Root and can grasp Ernest’s plan to make himself eternal, the rest is easy to understand and pick up on as the episode goes along. You can learn about different branches of magic that were never talked about in Fate/Zero, like Astromancy and Necromany. (For example, there is astromancy, where magic is done with arrangement of seven planets, where the planets correspond to seven body parts.)
Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files Episode 3 Review:
Thunder and the Underground Labyrinth
There’s a cafe that Waver goes to frequently to work on his papers and lecture plans, etc. Unfortunately, the shop is closed because there is an electrical problem believed to be caused by rodents chewing the wiring. Waver examines it and discovers there is Zoology Magecraft at work, and it also has to do with electricity. Meanwhile, Reines discusses the possibility of another Holy Grail War beginning.
If you watched the prequel OVA to this series, sometimes called Episode 0, you should already be familiar with Flat and Svin, two of Waver’s top students. This episode incorporates them. Waver didn’t return after going into the sewers, so Gray called the boys to come with her and find the missing Lord. They discover him weakened and wounded from a fight with a giant rodent creature that eats electricity to grow bigger. It’s huge by now. Svin takes Waver home, while Gray and Flat take on the giant rodent.
The design for the rodent is awesome but also kind of funny. It resembles a giant long-haired rabbit with a carnivore’s face shape and teeth– but still a pair of prominent rodent-like incisors. The rabbit features make it look more like it’s from the order lagomorpha (rabbits and pikas) instead of order rodentia (rats and mice). Of course, this a magical beast (a phantasm), so there’s no use trying to make sense of the classification. It’s just something I do for fun sometimes when an anime presents a new creature.
Flat’s appreciation and admiration toward Lord El-Melloi is quite touching. Waver ending up with all the problem students is just so like him. I’m sure he cares about them a great deal. It was especially great when Flat defended his teacher in the face of the evil mage underground, saying, “He’s the greatest upstart in the history of Clock Tower, who managed to become a Lord in his lifetime!” The evil mage (Gueldoa) is letting his mutated giant rodents eat humans as well as electricity to get stronger. He says it’s part of his plan to reach the Root, and also defame Modern Magecraft (and thus Waver). Gueldoa calls out many more giant rabbit-tigers– too many for Flat and Gray to handle.
Luckily, Waver returns accompanied by Svin in his beast form (basically a werewolf). While taking human lives for the search of the Root doesn’t seem to be a crime in Clock Tower, Gueldoa is still breaking the laws by violating the Concealment of Mystics, or the rule to keep magic and magical doings hidden from normal people. It turns out the underground Mage had been causing quite a fuss with his rabbit monsters eating people and taking vast amounts of electricity from the whole city. On those grounds, and with the backing of Clock Tower’s Zoology Magecraft Department, Waver may arrest Gueldoa.
The evil old mage submits without anymore of a fight. Waver, who is still very weakened, tells Flat and company that he was bluffing for half of what he said to make Gueldoa give in. And as he himself admits, it’s not in Waver’s usual character to burst in to save people without any plan besides an elaborate bluff. Why did he behave this way? It’s because 1) he truly cares about his students, and 2) he was following the style of Iskandar. Waver recalls what that ancient king once told him: “A cowardly thief sneaks away in the night. If you stride away, bursting with song, you are a conquering king.”
In this episode just like the last, you can learn a good deal about specific fields of magecraft in the Fate universe. A lot of it seems to be based on astrology, with the planets symbolizing certain fields of magic and certain ancient gods. Electricity manipulation and use of furry creatures in Zoology Magecraft are signs that the magic is Jupiter-based. It is also linked to the ancient god Zeus, whom Gueldoa sought to revive.
You can also get some perspective on how the Fate world is changing at this point. Gueldoa says that a hundrd years ago, his crimes would be “trivial.” Waver says, “This is what modern times entail. We at Norwhich exist to bring harmony between Magecraft and modern times.” (Norwich is one of twelve dorms or mini colleges within Clock Tower; it’s the one that’s aligned with Modern Magecraft and Lord El-Melloi II.)
At the end of the episode, Reines and Luviagelita tell Waver that 2 positions have been filled for participants of the next Holy Grail War. I’m only a casual Fate series fan, so this was confusing at first. After thinking a bit, I realized what’s probably obvious to everyone else. They are talking about the start of the Fifth Holy Grail War, the one that happens in Fate/Stay Night, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven’s Feel. It’s Shiro’s and Rin’s war. I believe that fits with the timeline. And that’s it for my anime rant! Thank you for reading!
Previous Posts About This Series
Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files Episode 1 Review
(Images from: Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files Rail Zeppelin Grace Note. Dir. M Katou. TROYCA. 2019.)