I’m so late. Blame Netflix. As I continue to do for all of Fate/Apocrypha’s problems. Somewhat unfairly, as they have nothing to do with this but they’re against anime simulcasting so I’m against them. Even though I barely watch shows live.
Anyway, the episode. I really appreciated that this episode of Apocrypha was all in one scene, no jumping around to other parts of the war or Mordred or anything, just one big battle between Red and Black and we got some really good fights out of it. Particularly Achilles and Atalanta against the various Black servants, they’ve shown themselves to be rather useful. Spartacus wasn’t (though I’m intrigued to see what Vlad does with him). I liked that they had a little reference to his true character and his ability to talk but he was never long for this world. From a written stylistic standpoint, Berserkers are always the weakest class in Fate because they necessarily, due to the class’ traits, bear so little resemblance to their legendary form that there aren’t so many interesting parallels and they’re only there for dangerous fighting stances. Frankenstein seems to be an exception to this rule however so long may she survive and make weird yet oddly characteristic grunts.
Achilles was wonderful. In contrast, Riders are always the best servants it seems, if Astolfo, Achilles and (obviously) Iskander are anything to go by, through the natural charisma the role seems to require. Clearly a fantastic fighter, the fact that he is fighting against his teacher in Chiron will make for some good combat down the line as only Chiron will know his weakness, whether he shares that with the rest of the Black team is something to be found out.
There’s a bit of dissent in the Black camp, led by the gloriously cute Astolfo and I still can’t believe he’s a guy. Everything he says brings a smile to my face as he takes the whole thing with no seriousness yet works for the side of good by getting the bland main character out of harm’s way. Which is the part of this episode I’m a little unsure about. While he’s a homunculus and I understand why he’s bland, building so much of the story around this self-insert is risky and oh such a disappointingly anime thing to do. Still, we have what we have, and the two cutest girls in Astolfo and Jeanne (shut up Astolfo’s a girl in my mind) are around him and ready to protect him, and we also have the wonderfully noble Saber of Black sacrificing himself to give his heart to the homunculus. In an ideal world (speculation ahead), this will give the bland main character the power to transform himself into Black Saber, a power he never knows he had when it first happens and will come as a HUGE SHOCK (I feel like this is the sort of show that might genuinely play that as a huge shock) to the audience, to make himself awesome for the purposes of fighting as he teams up with Ruler. If it just serves to make him survive or make him a Shirou Emiya type who is underpowered and always gets nearly beaten but pulls victories out from under the rug, I will be disappointed but I’m sure there is more to it than that and in all likelihood, I would guess at something similar to the above being the case. In any case, Siegfried was too awesome to be stuck with Go… whatever his name is.
Where Apocrypha goes from this plot development will be very important as to my rating of it, fumble it and give too much screentime to the so far uninteresting MC, and it will be a huge disappointment. Use it as an opportunity to make the MC interesting however, and I will be rather pleased.