Oh look, it’s little Rin! This might be the most adorable thing I’ve seen today! The usual pre-opening scene doesn’t have a whole lot apart from Rin tinkering around a little with some magic. The post-credit scene offers some context; the scenes are from before the beginning of this Holy Grail War. Rin is trying to learn how to use magic and it is literally the cutest thing I’ve seen this year. I just checked the episode’s title and it seems like this episode is going to be entirely Rin-centric. I’m hoping that this means that we get to see a little more of her dad because, no offense to Rin, he’s far more interesting than she is at this point. We follow Rin to school where she makes a friend and helps people out with their homework – nothing to see here, really. I’m already a third of the way into this episode and all we’ve gotten is slice of life stuff with a little bit of Rin backstory; looks like this week’s discussion is going to be uncharacteristically short and sweet.
Shortly before the start of the War, Tokiomi tells Rin and her mother that he will be sending them away. Rin doesn’t take this news too well and ends up trying to lowkey study more magic but that backfires when she starts reading above her suggested reading level. Tokiomi bails her out and teaches her how to use something called a mana compass to detect magic. I’m assuming that all this will be relative at some point because otherwise we’re just watching a very simple children’s story about a girl who learns an important life lesson of staying away from her dad’s stuff. I think the one interesting thing that’s come up so far has been Tokiomi’s emphasis on elegance and refinement. It’s something that Kirei looks down on him for – though I get the feeling that Kirei’s issue with his teacher is more about Tokiomi’s insistence on elegance above everything else. However, given that you need a certain kind of calmness of the mind to perform the magic that the Tohsakas specialize in, it’s not unreasonable. I do seem to recall that Rin, being the hot-head that she is, struggled with following her father’s words but for now, she seems like could learn.
The episode finally picks up some speed when the Holy Grail War starts hitting even closer to home. Caster’s child-stealing rampage results in Rin’s friend being kidnapped and is assumed dead. Rin, being the intrepid little go-getter that she is, decides to take it upon herself to figure out just what happened. I don’t really fancy Rin’s chances against Caster, to be honest, but of course, we know that she’ll make it out just fine. It’s a little nostalgic seeing Fuyuki at night – I had flashbacks (flashforwards?) to another Tohsaka girl wandering the streets of Fuyuki by night though in Sakura’s case she was the predator, not the prey. Rin spots Ryuunosuke leading a drugged out kid somewhere and decides to follow. I have to say, if I didn’t know for a fact that Rin will be just fine, this scene would be pretty intense. The atmosphere and mood of this scene paint Fuyuki to be pretty creepy and Rin is in very real danger here, going up against Caster and his serial killer Master.
Rin keeps looking and eventually stumbles upon an unconscious Kotone before herself being discovered by Ryuunosuke. Ryuunosuke is using some magical bracelet, provided by Caster no doubt, to guile the children into following him around. It doesn’t work on Rin of course and she turns around and tries to destroy the bracelet, using her dead’s words to calm her mind and focus her energies. It stretching credibility to think that Rin could so easily evade Ryuunosuke and destroy the bracelet, but in the bigger scheme of things, I guess it doesn’t really matter. With the bracelet broken, the spell is lifted and the kids all just run out; Ryuunosuke just watches on impotently as all his little treasures just run out the door. Rin, satisfied with her night’s work, is about head home when one of Caster’s creatures attacks her. She is rescued by Kariya and his bugs, though she passes out before she sees him. I don’t recall if Rin ever speaks of Kariya or even really knows who he is in relation to her family so her sudden fainting is a good way of keeping the continuity straight.
Aoi, having finally realized that her daughter is unaccounted for with a kidnapper on the loose, rushes into town and spots Rin, and then, Kariya. Kariya tells her of his plan to give the Grail to Zouken in exchange for Sakura but Aoi doesn’t quite have the reaction that he hoped for. She is shocked that he is involved in the Holy Grail War and immediately realizes the implications; Kariya will be fighting Tokiomi. She also sees the Matou’s magic up close for the first time and it might be dawning on her just what kind of fate she has doomed her younger daughter to. Still, she doesn’t really indicate that she supports Kariya’s quest for Sakura’s freedom, nor does she indicate any desire to go back to the ‘good old days’ when they used to play in the park. Instead, she just seems sad – perhaps because she has realized that Kariya doesn’t really have that much of a chance against Tokiomi and all his resources. She will either lose a childhood friend or a husband – or both, because more suffering is better. The whole incident was being watched by Assassin, who’s only real purpose in this War so far has been to act as a moving, reticent camera. Kirei has something up his sleeves though; he tells Assassin to continue tracking Kariya.
So, I guess that was pretty much what a filler episode in Fate/Zero looks like. I’m not saying it was terrible, I’m just saying it better be worth it.