[Anime] Fate/Zero: The Sea at the World’s Edge (S2E10)

Lonely At The Top

This post has spoilers for Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero (up to episode 23). If you do not wish for certain information regarding plot points from this series or other related series to be revealed to you, you might want to consider not reading any further.

After an episode filled with of characters being forced to come to terms with the consequences of their ideals, you can’t help but walk away feeling like it would be better to never dream at all. In one of the series’ most emotionally charged scenes so far, Gilgamesh and Rider have their final confrontation. No punches are pulled, no quarter is given; Gilgamesh brings out Ea and Rider uses Ionian Hetaroi but it was clear from the beginning that everyone involved knew what the outcome would be. Rider exits the stage with his head held high; he was defeated in battle but Gilgamesh could not conquer his marauding soul. Meanwhile, the episode’s other big reveal, Berserker’s identity, was the source of further anguish for Saber, because clearly the poor girl hasn’t been through even. She is forced to accept the truth in Rider’s words when it looks her right in the eyes and says her name. There is a lot to praise in this week’s episode ‘The Sea at the World’s Edge’ but also a couple of points of criticism.

The highlight of the episode was clearly the confrontation between Gilgamesh and Rider. We’ve been waiting for this clash for a long time now, ever since that banquet of Kings, and this episode certainly delivered. The outcome itself was never really in any doubt; the audience knows that Gilgamesh will be there for the final showdown and the characters in-universe know that Rider has come to Gilgamesh in a weakened state after losing his chariot to Saber. Of course, Rider waves that little inconvenience aside; being backed into a corner only makes him fight that much harder, is what he says pretty much. As things turn out though, all the skill in the world can’t overcome an anti-world Noble Phantasm, but Rider deserves a lot of credit for his attempt. Gilgamesh is, of course, completely self-assured throughout the fight; the possibility of defeat never presents itself to him at all, though he does concede that Rider comes to him with ‘the possibility of victory’. You have to admire Rider’s pluck in asking Gilgamesh to join forces with him one last time before their fight; Gilgamesh naturally turns him down but the fact that Rider asked at all is a sign that he stayed true to his style of leadership right till the very end. Yet, for all the shit that Rider gave Saber about the shortcomings of her style of leadership, what about Rider’s own style? Throughout this Holy Grail War, Rider has asked Saber and the other heroes to join his side but not a single one even considered it. In the end, he was unable to conquer any of them – whether in the literal sense of overcoming them in battle or in the more figurative sense of pushing his ideology over theirs. I don’t think Rider’s philosophy lets him down to the same degree, and certainly not in the same way, as Saber’s does her, but it’s still something to note. I don’t know if this is the writer trying to tell us that no single leadership philosophy is perfect or if it’s just a consequence of the plot turning out the way it did.

The fight itself begins shortly after the two characters exchange a final drink. Rider, in a rare sombre moment, acknowledges what we all know deep down; this will be his final fight, Command Seals or not. Gilgamesh waits in anticipation as Rider summons his Ionian Hetaroi one final time; the visuals are pretty impressive as we see his legendary army come together for their last charge. Gilgamesh’s line is both damning and sad – “All dreams eventually disappear, when the dreamer wakes”. He acknowledges Rider’s achievement in uniting all these powerful warriors under the banner of his dream of conquest but notes, indirectly, that their conviction (and thus, their strength) is only as strong as the force binding them together (Rider’s dream of conquest and force of personality); when Rider’s dream comes to an end, so too will theirs. Rider lets out his ululating war-cry, and unfortunately, so does Waver, in what has to be the least intimidating war-cry ever sounded. Let’s talk about Waver for a second. Waver has never really been anything more than a sideshow throughout this series; in fact, the only purpose he’s really served is to bring out the more human aspects of Rider. Still, he impressed me in this episode, following Rider into battle and staying loyal right to the bitter end. Anyway, back to the fight, Gilgamesh draws Ea and at that point, whatever sliver of hope Rider had, evaporated. There is an interesting moment, as the the world of the Reality Marble comes crashing down, and Rider’s companions fall into the abyss.  He looks ahead, determined, but you get the sense that he doesn’t want to look back and experience any regret – certainly, he’s not all smiles and jokes at that moment. The part of the scene where he emerges from the crumbled Reality Marble is very nicely done; it’s like he really is waking up from a wonderful dream to a drab reality. Waver officially accepts Rider as King and is given his first and last order; watch Rider’s final charge and live to tell the tale. Rider’s desperate final charge right into the Gate of Babylon is the culmination of his dream; we never really find out how Rider died the first time, but this time, we (and, more importantly, Waver) get to see exactly how Rider’s path of conquest ends and what comes of it, but I don’t mean that in a negative sense. Rider goes out fighting, dignified in his own way, acknowledged and respect by no less than the King of Heroes; I don’t think that’s a condemnation of his life’s path by the story. In fact, you could argue, given the more ignoble ways people in this series die, that what Rider gets really isn’t all that bad.

I found Rider’s last line to be a mirror of Ryuunosuke’s last words; the dream that Rider spent his life pursuing was inside him all along. Unlike in Ryuunosuke’s case however, this actually makes sense; to Rider, Okeanos represented the idea of conquest instead of an actual destination. When Rider reached Okeanos, the titular Sea at the World’s Edge, he would have conquered the whole world – as such, the sight of Okeanos would have been proof that Rider has achieved his goal. So, when he says that the sound of Okeanos’ waves was within him all the while, what he really means is that in living his life the way he did, he had already, unwittingly, achieved that dream. The end of your life is a sad time to realize that you already had what you were looking for all along but I guess better late than never. Gilgamesh sends Rider by to the Throne of Heroes and in a surprising move, spares Waver, though whether he does so because he genuinely respects Waver’s loyalty as Rider’s subject or because he doesn’t want to kill Rider’s friend isn’t totally clear. I’m going to go with the former – I think the take-away from Gilgamesh’s actions throughout the fight was that he saw Rider as someone worthy of calling himself King and that’s the closest that Gilgamesh will ever come to acknowledging someone apart from his best friend as an equal. It makes sense then that loyalty to a worthy King is something that ought to be respected and valued and thus Waver is spared. Even though Rider’s death hurts, I can’t say I have any problems at all with it. The character went out fighting and the various points he brought up during the series were all addressed sufficiently. I want to say that it was a satisfying death, but my sentiment is more that if he had to die, then this was a good way for it to happen, but I sort of wished it didn’t need to happen in the first place. Since I just can’t see any other way for Rider’s story to end without devaluing and derailing the rest of the story, though, I guess I have to accept that this was the best possible outcome of an unfortunate situation.

The other big talking point from this episode was the big reveal of Berserker’s identity. I had postulated in the past that Berserker would have some connection to Saber but that was a fairly obvious statement to make given that Berserker was clearly a knight. What I had not expected was that this Berserker was a person that Saber knew so intimately. I don’t know a great deal about the backstory (within the Fate universe) of Saber and her individual relationships with her various Knights of the Round Table, but from what Saber says in this episode, Lancelot was the best among them and his fall into darkness/madness really shocked Saber. The episode laid the connection between his fall and Saber’s failings as a leader a little thick, with the voiceovers of Rider’s admonishments but the point itself is well made. I’ll be very interested to know what exactly happened between them and whether Lancelot’s fall really was Saber’s fault – her reaction certainly had some elements of guilt to it. Beyond that, however, did I miss the memo that said that there was something inherently bad or evil about the Berserker class? Saber has a line in this episode where she says she can’t understand what she did to make Lancelot fall so low as to become Berserker, but I had always thought that any Heroic Spirit that had ever experienced even momentary madness was eligible to fight in the Berserker class? Can someone help clear this up? Berserker class Servants get a pretty big stat boost in exchange for their sanity, but beyond that I didn’t think there was any implication on their morality or worthiness.

The final talking point from this week’s episode is a minor one. We see Kariya continue to suffer, because clearly, the poor guy hasn’t been through enough yet. I’m not entirely sure whether Sakura actually visits him or if that’s just a hallucination of his but either way, I think he’s slowly realising that there is no way for him to win this War any longer. I don’t just mean that in the sense that there is no way for Berserker to beat Saber and Gilgamesh without killing Kariya in the process but also that even if by some miracle, Berserker did win, Kariya has essentially failed in every other way. He has killed the love of his life and in doing so, has ensured that that ridiculously idealistic dream that he had at the beginning, of essentially replacing Tokiomi in Rin, Aoi and Sakura’s lives is now more of an impossibility than it ever was before – and it was a pretty darn big impossibility before. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him though; even if nothing went as he planned, he tried his hardest and his intentions were good. It’s just that at this point, I kind of wish that someone would just put him down and out of his misery.

That’s all I have for this week – next week, I’m going to be doing a double feature of episodes 24 and 25 to wrap this baby up. I’m not sure I’ll be doing a combined write-up of both episodes or one for each but publish both on the same day. Following next week’s finale, I’ll be doing a review of the show overall and after that – well, after that, it’s time for a new series. More details to follow, but expect a survey next week. I’m torn between doing some of the highly regarded shows I’ve been hearing about and doing something that’s on-going right now; my initial plan had been to finish Fate/Zero in time for the Spring 2016 anime season but it looks like I just missed the beginning. I can catch up quickly enough though and I’m actually kind of looking forward to covering an on-going series. By the way, if you haven’t already, please follow me on Facebook or consider donating a dollar or two to me on Patreon or spread the word any way you know how!

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9 thoughts on “[Anime] Fate/Zero: The Sea at the World’s Edge (S2E10)

  1. I have always felt the fight between Rider and Gilgamesh was the best part of the finale of Fate/Zero, it felt like it was the fight apart from Kirei and Kiritsugu that was built up throughout the series, the two had a few interactions that built up their respect of each other, their philosophies and dreams have been explored in great detail, they have shown other sides to themselves at a fair few points to Waver and Kirei.

    Both in general have actually gotten their chosen masters to self analysis themselves and develop, with Rider getting Waver to develop positivity, this allows Waver to overcome his insecurities and not be self absorbed. While Gilgamesh gets Kirei to embrace that of which he has spent his life fighting and not wanting to become, and yet Gilgamesh actually spent time getting to understand Kirei, getting to explore him.

    When pretty much everyone else including Kirei’s own father has never even come close to understanding who Kirei really is, though Kirei himself didn’t fully know it either until Gilgamesh unlocked his keyhole per say. Of course Gilgamesh did this for his own amusement as well, but you get the gist of it.

    They both also have that one companion whom they value greatly, Rider of course with Waver here, but the episode leaves out what the novel mentioning Gilgamesh’s only friend from his legend Enkidu, whom Gilgamesh does refer to indirectly in the episode with this line, “It is unfortunate, but I do not require a second friend. Past and future, my companion will only be one — and there need not be two kings.”

    Remembering Enkidu I think explains a little bit of why Gilgamesh spares Waver after the fight, not to mention I think he respects how Waver respected the king he has shown himself to, fitting I think of how I think he views how a King should be viewed and treated.

    I think at the end Rider was glad that in the end he got the enjoyment that his path had given him and that he had no regrets as to how it all ended for him. Going out in style and in a way that fitted with his philosophy, which I think he liked to spread to many people as possible, but never imped it on others as Gilgamesh and even Saber and Kiritsugu do I think.

    As for Saber and Berserker, the moment I saw the first seasons ending video and seeing a knight in a lake, I knew it was Lancelot. Lady of the lake legend and all that knight get up and what Lancelot did in the arthurtarian legends meant to me only Lancelot could be Berserker. Only someone like Lancelot I think could affect Saber in the way he does in the episode.

    But the anime overall rushes the whole thing between them as you will see in the final two episodes, leaving it feeling like we missed out on a lot of details, not to mention it was the least built up thing as well in the whole series, so the fight between them to me felt unfulfilling, little investment and just there to keep saber out of the way until the moment we know is coming.

    The novel and especially the elizabern room is where you will find the details needed on Lancelot for Fate Universe that the anime left out.

    As for Kariya, wait and see for whether Sakura is there or not. But yeah the man at this point is merely a walk bug corpse.

    As for reviewing the final two episodes, do them back to back, but on their own sheets as you will find overall so much to write about episode 24 I think that will put much of your previous thoughts and views into full perspectives that you will probably fill three web pages, episode 25 will be where your whole fate universe experience will come full circle and where I think you will give your overall final analysis, thoughts and feelings on the series in general.

    Another great review.


    • Thanks! I really like your points about the similarities between Rider and Gilgamesh, though of course, Waver and Kirei are two very different characters. It made me realize that I can’t really imagine any of the Servants with other Masters. I guess Assassin and Lancer could be shuffled around a little but that’s more because of how bland they are.

      I’ll go see the Einzbern Consultation Rooms but I wasn’t sure if I should watch them after the whole series. Do they spoil the last two episodes?


      • Oh yes Waver and Kirei are very different characters, hence why I think their masters effect’s worked on them wouldn’t have worked on the other I think.

        As for the Einzbern Consultation Rooms, watch them after the whole series, don’t think they spoil anything, merely put stuff into context and spectate on the events of it for the most part.

        Which if you haven’t watched the episodes can leave you a little bit lost.


      • They’re basically a Tiger Dojo sort of bonus thing with a minor plot so they shouldn’t be viewed without context of the main series, and can be taken how you want, as a fun bonus, or a thing-that-maybe-kind-of-possibly-happened, but definitely watch after finishing F/Z.


  2. The backstory flashback for Lancelot is left out of the anime. It should have been at the start of next episode.

    To help you in your analysis I will share it here.

    – A woman was crying.

    Her beautiful countenance became more ragged by the day with sorrow, and wrinkles of dilemma were etched into the ends of her brows; the woman was silently crying.

    She blamed and questioned herself.

    She was ashamed beyond measure.

    As a sinner who shouldered all the guilt and blame in the world, she could only wet her face day after day with her tears.

    Everyone was speaking wicked words of her – an unchaste wife, a traitorous queen.

    Those foolish plebeians blinded by the glorious myths did not know the truth, but only surrounded her and reprimanded her all at once.

    They did not even know that her husband was not a man.

    In this world, only her noble visage made ‘him’ give out his true heart.

    However, all ‘he’ could recall were her frustrated and sorrowful tears.

    Yes, ‘he’ had hurt her.

    Loved her –

    Was loved by her –

    That was the root of their fall.

    Even she must have had discarded everything back then and consigned herself.

    An ideal king was needed to save the country ravaged by chaos and war – and a noble and virtuous queen needed to be beside the king. That was the way the monarch was supposed to be in the dreams of the populace.

    A woman’s life was so insignificant compared to this grandiose ideal.

    Even if the king wasn’t a man, even if this marriage was between two women who hid the true gender of one and could never be consummated, this sacrifice was necessary to protect the country and its greater good.

    Even so, ‘he’ still wanted to save her.

    The first time ‘he’ had been granted audience in the court, ‘he’ had sworn silently in his heart that ‘he’ would do anything for this woman, and would even give up ‘his’ life for her.

    It had been too late when she discovered that it was this thought of ‘his’ that had been tormenting her.

    She had fallen hopelessly in love with ‘him’.

    She had already discarded the happiness of a woman. Love was the greatest taboo.

    Even if this romance was impermissible, there should still have been a path in which they could make their difficult resolution, shoulder their sins, and continue till the end.

    What man would not fight against the entire world for the woman he loved?

    However – ‘he’ could not do that.

    She was not a ‘woman’, nor was she a ‘human’, but a mechanical part called a ‘queen’ that supported the king ruling the world.

    ‘He’ was not a ‘man’, nor was he a ‘human’, but a mechanical part called a ‘knight’ that served the king with absolute loyalty.

    ‘He’ was the man called ‘the Knight of the Lake’ – incomparably brave, courteous and chivalrous, elegant and flamboyant at the same time. ‘He’ was indeed the personification of the essence of chivalry, an existence that all admired.

    Not only was this ideal knight worshipped by all, he had even been blessed by the fairies. This title was ‘his’ ultimate glory, and at the same time the greatest curse bestowed upon ‘him’.

    The ‘perfect knight’ who served the ‘perfect king’ – this man could only live in this way that others had expected and trusted ‘him’ to, and so give up ‘his’ life for it.

    ‘His’ life did not belong to ‘himself’, but to the people who honored chivalry and gave their lives for it.

    And the king that ‘he’ served was truly too perfect, a hero that was absolutely flawless. The ‘Knight of the Lake’ could never harbor any thoughts of betrayal towards this ‘King of Knights’ who had saved ‘his’ home country from the depths of war.

    ‘He’ swore ‘his’ absolute loyalty to the perfect monarch, and made a noble friendship with the monarch.

    ‘He’ also knew that, behind this noble chivalry, there was a tormented and ignored woman who wept by the day.

    Just which path had been the correct one? No one could tell now.

    Should ‘he’ have been cruel till the end and stayed with ‘his’ ideals, or should ‘he’ have discarded loyalty and lived for love?

    While ‘his’ heart was twisting in agony, time was passing mercilessly by. Finally, the worst outcome greeted ‘him’.

    Villainous fellows had shattered the king’s prestige to pieces, and the betrayal of the queen was finally revealed to the world. In order to save the queen, who had been given the death sentence, ‘he’ could only go against ‘his’ king in arms – thus, ‘he’ lost everything.

    A knight turned traitor –

    ‘His’ disloyalty broke the balance within the Knights of the Round Table. Finally, this incident became the trigger of war and carnage, and the country shattered to pieces in the flames of war.

    Men had often called ‘him’ with those mocking tones.

    That stained name was carved deeply in the history of the past and would never be washed clean.

    Therefore, she fell into a deep self-deprecation for having misguided that ‘perfect knight’, and was crying to this day.

    In the end, the only thing ‘he’ had done for the woman ‘he’ loved – was to make her cry forevermore.

    Had ‘he’ been born as a sordid man without honor, ‘he’ may have taken away the queen without a moment’s hesitation and destroyed the king’s prestige.

    But ‘he’ was a knight, an overly perfect knight.

    For the king who was ‘his’ rival in love, for the one who caused the woman ‘he’ loved to step onto that painful and difficult road – ‘he’ had never had any feelings of hatred till the end.

    Yes, who could possibly depreciate that famous king? That king, whose glorious name was passed down through the eons, was more courageous and noble than anyone else. That king had ended that troubled time.

    That king, who had never lost a battle, was uncorrupted and just, honorable but never affected by personal emotions, and had never made a mistake in life.

    After all, that king had never blamed ‘him’ throughout life. Even when the king had gone to exchange blows with ‘he’ who had been discarded by the Round Table, it had been a helpless act to make an example out of ‘him’ with the country as their witness, and never the king’s original intention. For ‘him’, who had committed the greatest sin of betrayal, the king had always treated him with a pure and noble friendship even to the very end.

    That noble king was so ‘correct’. How could anyone hate or despise that monarch?

    However – if that was the case, then to whom should ‘his’ regret and her tears be dumped upon?

    The hatred ‘he’ brought to the grave was extracted at the end of time’s long passage, and tormented ‘him’ for an eternity on the Throne of Heroes that had no end… And then ‘he’ finally heard the call from afar.

    Come, mad beast.

    Come, stubborn vengeful spirit. That sound from the end of time had called.

    That sound woke ‘his’ long-held wish.

    Had ‘he’ not been a knight.

    Had ‘he’ been a beast knowing no honor and had no reason, had ‘he’ been a demon fallen into the league of beasts, maybe ‘he’ could have avenged this hatred and regret.

    Yes, madness was the road to salvation.

    A beast would not be lost. Therefore, it would not feel pain. No one expected anything of it, no one entrusted anything to it. If ‘he’ could become a beast and direct the movement of ‘his’ limbs with nothing but ‘his’ own desire –

    This wish became the connection that linked ‘him’ with the end of time, and placed ‘him’ on this battlefield that ‘he’ cared and knew nothing about.

    ‘He’ had long ago forgotten ‘his’ name, long ago forgotten ‘his’ disciplined vow. ‘His’ body only existed to perform the murderous skills that ‘his’ hands had long been drenched in. The pride that took shame in this no longer existed, and the heart that regretted was lost as well. This was who ‘he’ currently was – the existence called ‘Berserker’.

    There were no regrets. To fall, to be freed, that was what ‘he’ had sought.

    Moreover, the merciless hand of Fate had even arranged such an ironic rendezvous.

    “… Ar… thur…”

    The call that slipped out of ‘his’ lips no longer meant anything.

    Even so, this silver swordsman who now knelt in the torrential rain was undoubtedly that person whom ‘he’ had both loved and hated in the past.

    That noble visage and that majestic and solemn face, which innumerable hopes and blessings had been bestowed upon, was now kneeling in front of despair. Now the king knew the truth that had been hidden for so long, knew the hatred that had been buried in eternal darkness. The king forgot the pride of a monarch and mourned.

    – Do you hate me so much, my friend? –

    Yes, that’s what I wanted to see – the beast in his heart cried, the knight in his heart sobbed. Savor it well. Now you know how many tears we’ve shed for your transient glory, how we have annihilated ourselves, wasted our days, and sat in emptiness waiting for old age.

    Now was the time when his buried injustice would be revenged. The fallen black knight lifted his sword of vengeance up high.

    – Do you hate me so much, Knight of the Lake?! –

    Ah. Yes, that’s right.

    At the time, had I not been a knight, but only lived as a man –

    Had I not been a loyal subject, but hated you as a human –

    Then, perhaps, I could have saved that woman!”


  3. Episode 23 is probably one of my favourite episodes from the series, what with the confrontation between Rider and Gilgamesh being handled as well as it could’ve with it’s predetermined conclusion, Wavers development coming to a head and the fairly surprising reveal of exactly who Berserker was, along with the heavy foreboding of the ending, it was pretty much excellently directed.

    While I agree Waver has been a sideshow, and ultimately not supremely useful to Rider in the combat sense, I think his development from this bratty kid who stole his teachers artifact and rushed off to fight a battle to the death in a faraway country while brainwashing some random people just so he could one up Kayneth to what he’s become with Riders companionship was fairly well handled, and he has had, in my opinion, one of the strongest (positive) developments in the whole series. The Waver at the start undoubtedly would not have lived up to Gilgamesh’s scrunity, for whatever reason he chose to spare him (I agree that it was admiration for loyalty, though, since that is something I can see him considering a good trait).

    Though, the development I found best handled overall was Kirei’s, from pseudo moralistic lost soul to what he is here, and will remain throughout the rest if Fate, but that’s not exactly positive.

    There is a fairly interesting work which covers the events of Sabers backstory in detail, Garden of Avalon, featuring Lancelot and the other Knights of the Round Table, though unfortunately not completely tl’d yet, and the translator is doing Apocrypha as well, so it’s going a little slowly.

    Technically, being a Berserker isn’t damningly bad, but to Saber, who wants to be knightly and what not, and always viewed Lancelot as well as a great honourable knight etc etc, seeing him becoming a mad warrior is probably a bit too much to take, especially with the way the war has been going for her so far.

    Well, I’ve enjoyed reading these and i’m gonna miss them, though I do look forward to your final thoughts and review on the last two eps and the show as a whole.


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