27 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Change Fate/Zero to The Adventures of Rider and Waver

I’ve now watched twice as many episodes of Fate Slash Zero than I was capable of lasting through in Fate Slash Stay Night (in other words, I just finished episode 4). There’s a couple of more general reasons why Fate Slash Zero stomps over its previous competition. The directing is nowhere near as woeful. The animation is considerably better. What humour it attempts actually works. But the main reason I like Fate Slash Zero is because of Rider and Waver.

The story of Rider and Waver, when taken in solitude, is like a subversion of the  Magical Girlfriend genre. Here we have this hopeless loser Waver, laughed out of class by his teacher and classmates. No family of his own, trying to somehow prove to those around him that he too can be great. He discovers a magical game in which people summon powerful heroes who will be at their every beck and call. They fight with other heroes to get this magical maguffin that will grant him anything he wishes. It’s real wish fulfillment in here. But what hero does he get? Not the beautiful and proud warrior Saber, as would be the typical magical girlfriend type. Neither does he get the masterfully powerful warrior who will bow to his every whim, making him feel amazingly cool. What he gets instead is a gruff manchild who makes him feel like an even bigger loser than he already is.

There’s more to the combo than humour that makes it work. Rider is like the hard-headed father trying to beef up his wimpy son. Throaty guffaws from his gut as he thumps his pupil on the back so hard that he falls over, lecturing him on the virtues of good food, drink and sex. But in a sense, this is exactly the hero Waver required. Waver never had a father figure in his life. The old couple in the first episode were simply hypnotised by him to believe Waver was their grandchild. If the Holy Grail gave Waver any of the other heroes, he would have simply indulged himself in a power fantasy. Rider’s refusal to listen is the exact firm hand of parenting Waver needed.

I would honestly like the anime to be just these two, partly because they’re so great, but also because I’m really not too fussed about the rest of the anime. Take episode 4 and the duel between Saber and Lancer. The episode consisted of the two of them discussing the weapons they were using, followed by a brief (admittedly well animated and well coreographed) fight sequence. Then they back off, having internal monologues about the attacks they just threw at each other. Perhaps maybe a brief exchange as to what their true identities are. A few more words of praise or goading. Shuffling into stances to prepare their next attack and then finally another brief flurry of attacks. Fate Slash Zero has essentially become Dragonball Z. It’s not the worst formula in the world but, as was the case in Dragonball Z, the extent to which they draw out the inbetween segments makes them rather dull.

This is an indicator of a larger problem in Fate Slash Zero. In the duel between Saber and Lancer, they’re both very straight faced. Lancer is a teensy bit more flamboyant while Saber is slightly more proud, but the difference is so small it means their exchanges are very similar. The two of them are just trying to out-cool each other. As is the case with every other character in the series. I still struggle to tell the difference between the two identical brown haired, deep voiced dullards. The other heroes aren’t much better, with Assassin and Archer also being intent on looking as cool as possible. It makes the interactions dull because they have nobody to play off. Everyone is so straight-faced that their conversations are stilted.

This is why the Rider and Waver segments are a godsend. It’s the only part of the anime where humour is injected, making the whole affair a lot less tedious to sit through. Not only that, but they do this while making their character stories already far more interesting than anyone elses thus far. As I haven’t seen Fate Slash Stay Night, I don’t know who wins this version of the Holy Grail war, but it’s safe to assume that Waver doesn’t win. His wish is for people to simply respect him, something that is entirely within his own power. Rider points out as much, saying that he should wish for something outside of his own control, like making himself taller. In a way, the Holy Grail has already given him the thing for his wish to come true. He doesn’t need to win the war because he will become a person worthy of respect under Rider’s tutelage. I don’t want to see a story about the Holy Grail war. I want to see the story of how Wavers magical girlfriend made him grow to become a better person.

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  1. mcm38
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    You can’t be any more right about the DBZ thing. It’s the same with Naruto and Bleach. Now I just started Naruto and didn’t even get to it’s second season, but as far as I’ve seen and experienced with Bleach I can safely assume Naruto also draws out the segments between the fights to much. The battles become dull. (Part of why I like One Piece more than Bleach and Naruto.)

    And also, I like how their contrast as a father-son duo is so ridiculous and yet so brilliant. Anime scripts and mangaka should start focusing more on interesting relationships like Fate/Zero or Usagi Drop and give less attention to romanized relationships. But, who am I kidding. None of the f*cking Japanese teenagers are interested in that, so they won’t ever write that stuff. F*cking hormones and their effects on society.

    (spoiler don’t read scamp!>)This is better than the main lead from Fate/Stay Night, who is a bit of an upgraded version of Yuji-every lead and Shana relationship. Well the only upgrade is Saber was not a loli like Shana and wasn’t fluorised with flame red hair to make her ‘moe’. Thank god!

    • Mr. Anon
      Posted October 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      I’m unsure what your spoiler is supposed to be spoiling. Two episodes of Fate/Stay Night and a bit of genre savvyness is plenty to see exactly how Shirou/Saber is going to play out.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 23, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      I’ve said this before, but you don’t have to c*nsor swear words. This is the internet. Nobody is going to be offended. Your mum isn’t reading my comment section

      • mcm38
        Posted October 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        I’ve said this before, but it’s a habit of mine since I write often swearwords on sites with censors.
        @mr.anon: I first wrote something that would spoil it, but than changed my mind and edited the last paragraph. Forgot to delete the spoiler.

  2. Posted October 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, but SaberxIris is hnnnngh.

  3. luffyluffy
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    >Calling him Archer and not Gilgamesh

    I think it’s helped by the fact that Waver is moe and Rider is handsome.

    Not in the sexual way, but in the “Oh hey this guy is an actual historical figure, and he’s really cool!” kinda way.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      implying he isn’t handsome in a sexual way

      • luffyluffy
        Posted October 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Oh he totally is, and his beard is god tier

        But in the non-sexual way he’s also really handsome and cool!

      • mcm38
        Posted October 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Idem for cool. Eh, handsome? Well he’s handsome for someone his age. But oh he’s so cool. Cooorrr!

  4. Posted October 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    If they lose the war, Rider disappears and that’s kinda sad. Its one of those moments where you wished you didn’t know the outcome.

  5. Hogart
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    You’re right, I also wish they were the focal protagonists of Fate/Zero. Without the rider Rider/Waver dynamic, Fate/Zero would just be a junior-high teenager’s idea of what’s cool in anime form. Nothing wrong with that of course, but for me an anime driven by the rule of cool needs to be a touch sillier and more self-aware, which is what the pair brings to the table.

  6. Kioku
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Gilgamesh is an asshat. Love that character.

  7. fathomlessblue
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Someone should trace back Charlie Sheen’s lineage to see if he was possibly related to Alexander the Great. I swear Rider’s the original progenitor of the tiger blood! Hell, he even looks like one! Ditch Kutcher, summon Rider, and you’ll have the greatest sitcom in history… literally.

    This is easily my favourite of the season by a country mile (funny, considering F/SN was one of the worst series I’ve watched). All the things that should bother me (long fights, dour and serious characters), don’t. Maybe I’m just relishing a series with a dark, sombre tone that doesn’t come with ott campiness (outside of the basic premise) or melodrama. This and Steins; Gate are the only decent ones from the last few seasons. If they want to make most of the cast miserable, amoral bastards then fine by me; it hasn’t ruined my enjoyment… yet, anyway.

    • mcm38
      Posted October 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      I think you didn’t watch Usagi Drop yet.

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted October 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Usagi Drop wasn’t dark or moody though, maybe a little melancholy in places but overall it was fairly lighthearted. I enjoyed it for the most part.

      • mcm38
        Posted October 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

        So it’s also decent, just like SteinsGate and FateZero?

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted October 24, 2011 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        Yeah, but I was referring to decent darker-edged series, not just anime shows in general. God, if it was that hard to impress me, I’d have given up on this years ago! Thankfully there’s been a number of excellent shows this year.

  8. Ty-chama
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    So am I right in saying that I’d be able to watch this show with little trouble despite remembering next to nothing about its sequel?

    • luffyluffy
      Posted October 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      Ayup, you’re golden.

      I went into it only knowing about once Saber had a dick because Merlin gave her one.

  9. Suzushina Yuriko
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    “I want to see the story of how Wavers magical girl­friend made him grow to become a bet­ter person.”

    Yes, this is actually a coming-of-age story for Waver, and he gets a lot of character development. Look forward to it.

    Also, believe in Urobuchi Gen’s storytelling. The last volume, in particular, is where you can see his powerful writing shine through the most.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 24, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink


  10. Blackholeheart
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Magical Brofriend, THE hot new anime genre for 2012.

  11. Posted October 24, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Then once it makes its rounds and comes back into the hands of Urabochi Gen… Viri Magi Masaki Magica, perhaps?

  12. Tonestigre70
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I read on this like wiki site for Fate/Zero and it says Rider is bisexual…

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