The second episode of Fate/Apocrypha was largely spent trying its best to establish the identities of as many of the summoned Servants and Masters as possible. In a 20 minute anime episode, there’s not a lot of time for much of anything else. With 14 masters, 14 servants and that’s not even counting the extra servant Ruler, there is going to have to be some lightning fast development even with the luxury of 2 cours.
But then, this huge amount of characters isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Shows have balanced large casts like this before (Assassination Classroom). One of the reasons I fell in love with Fate in the first place was that the setting attracted large amounts of characters and with double the fun I’m very excited by the possibilities of this series. Yet even now I am a little breathless and confused as to how the matchups are shaking. So I’m going to spend the majority of this review, as the episode did, on introducing the characters. I’m going to draw up a table of the Masters and Servants, based on information I have drawn out from my watching the anime, no looking up comment threads or further information and see what I can do (update: I looked at Reddit and I was fairly spot on, except with much less detail about the Red Servants, but I’ll get to those in another review). I will be awful at remembering the master’s names so that’s probably not happening.
Black Saber – Siegfried the Dragon Slayer from Norse mythology and the main character of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, attached to the plump Yggdmillennia guy with a moustache who wouldn’t let him reveal his identity, but Vlad went ahead and did it for the audience anyway.
Black Archer – Chiron, the famous centaur from Greek mythology, appearing as a human, but the way I’d expect a centaur disguising himself as a human to look. He’s a wise and self-sacrificial character, I look forward to seeing what Fate do with him. His Yggdmillennia master seems like the most morally good of the Black side so far, if only because she’s stuck in a wheelchair.
Black Berserker – Frankenstein, appearing in a female form, as roughly half of Fate servants are contracted to be, especially if there is any doubt about their legendary gender. She’s the first girl Berserker I recall seeing and looks a formidable opponent. Her master seems fairly caring but nondescript.
Black Rider – Astolfo from the Matter of France, a legend written about Charlemagne. She’s also a girl because why not. I’d never heard of her before now but her character seems pretty boisterous and could be fun. Coupled with a fairly rapey female Master though, that could make for some awkward viewing.
Black Lancer – Vlad III. I guess this was kind of inevitable given where we are, that one of the Black servants would be ol’ Vlad, and he will have the home team advantage. Even though (if I got this right) he’s paired with a master who seems low in the Yggdmillennia rankings, I expect him to be a big part of the series and a major threat for the red team.
Black Caster – Avicebron, a mere poet and philosopher in history, but he’s already seeming to be the support power behind the Black Team as he unleashes his golems (that in history he was obviously only alleged to have made) on Mordred. He’s got Darnic for a master if I recall correctly. Or Darnic’s got Vlad and I’ve mixed it up.
Black Assassin – Jack The Ripper, with an unknown master, he’s (or she, it’s going to be a she, isn’t it, yes, that’s what that goddamn loli was, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?) arriving late.
Red Saber – Mordred, already best girl of the series most likely as she cuts down golems with ease and a smile. Paired with Kairi and they are killing it so far.
Red Assassin – Semiramis, from Assyria, who if I had wanted to go into a bit more detail, I probably could have talked about in my history posts. A very pleasingly obscure servant (although credited with inventing the chastity belt so I expect her to be very disapproving of Mordred’s free spirit tendencies later on), paired with alternate timeline Kirei Emiya (I mean, of course, Kotomine Shirou), I look forward to seeing what they get up to.
Red Berserker – Seen but no identity was given.
Red Caster – Seen but no identity given, from his clothes, he looks like a writer or at least an upper class gentleman, perhaps Byron.
Other Red Servants and Masters – Not even seen, at least as far as I spotted. I’ll do a section for them when they appear or are revealed.
Ruler – Joan of Arc, I imagine, at least that must be what that scene at the beginning was meant to signify. Amusing considering Caster and Saber’s conversations in Fate/Zero
Like other Fate series, I expect there to be a lot of subtext that points out the needless violence at some point and there seems to be setup to a lot of that, Kairi, the closest thing we have to a hero so far, already cutting down Yggdmillennia grunts ruthlessly, as well as plenty of the Black servants or masters seeming emotionally unstable. I’m fairly sure the title of this episode, The Appearance Of The Saints, is at least somewhat sarcastic given how few of the people involved in this war could be said to be saints (Chiron, maybe).
But most of all, if you could follow the exposition and could take some time to lay it all out like I have, this was a fun episode that basically continued the grand preamble to the big fight, sating us with a few minor skirmishes, as we expect the first episodes of a Fate series to do.