The Appearance of the Saints.
So, first thing's first, we got an opening this week! It was, truth be told, more odd than anything else. The music seems to be trying to go for a sinister, vaguely gothic, horror-tinged thing that is entirely at odds with the rest of the series so far, which is pretty much straight up action fantasy. It also lends basically all the visuals an air of absurdity -- oh, no, look at those people walking slowly down some well-lit stairs as the music tells you how creepy it is; oh, no, that woman is putting on tights, how horrifying.
It's not a strong opening at all, and that bodes somewhat poorly for the rest of the series. Two episodes in, and I'm already sort of wondering if picking this up as an ongoing was a good idea, but it was either this or Katsugeki! Touken Ranbu.
This week's episode introduces us to the various Servants. In Black territory, the Yggdmillenia Masters introduce their servants to each other, test out their abilities, and bond with them; while in Red territory, Sisigou and Mordred pay a visit to Shirou Kotomine, the Church overseer who has been assigned to the Red faction. Shirou has a plot of his own, however, being apparently in contact with Black faction Servants, and expressing a desire to kill the Grail's Servant, Jeanne D'arc.
|'Pick the best looking screencaps,' they said, 'there must be some good ones,' they said.|
Remember how I said 'well, this first episode was set-up, but I can tell there's exciting stuff in store for us soon,' ? So, after last week's set-up episode, this episode is even more set-up! Watch as my optimism slowly starts to dwindle, as we are now forty minutes into this story with absolutely nothing happening.
So, on the Black side, our servants are Vlad Tepes (Lancer), Siegfried (Saber), Frankenstein's Monster (Berserker), Astolfo (the twelfth paladin of Charlemagne, Rider), Chiron the centaur (Archer), Jack the Ripper (Assassin) and, as introduced to us last episode, Solomon ibn Gabirol (Caster).
It's an interesting enough spread of characters, but in quite a feat, the show managed to bewilder me as to which Servant matches up with which Master. I initially thought that Solomon was Darnic's Servant, and had no idea who Vlad's Master was, but no, no, it turns out that kid who showed up for all of six seconds last episode is Solomon's Master, and Darnic's is Vlad's. Good going, show, failed at the first hurdle, I guess.
'Confusing' is, in fact, something of a theme with this episode, but we'll get to that in a moment.
On the Red side, we have Mordred (Saber), obviously, who gets a bit more character development this episode and is shaping up to be the most enjoyable character in the show, with some solid character motivation and a great relationship with Sisigou; Semiramis (Assassin), partnered with the obviously evil Shirou (who I think is meant to be an evil version of Shiro Emiya from Fate/stay night? Maybe? I'm not ... sure ... ); and William Shakespeare (Caster), who is about midway between how Shakespeare actually was and Nobunaga the Fool's Leonardo da Vinci, and honestly, I'm more than happy with that.
|It's what he would have wanted.|
We also get a brief glimpse of the Red faction's Berserker, which brings me onto the other confusing thing about this episode: Distance and time.
This episode seemingly takes place over the course of the day following the successful summoning of all the Servants, right? Right. But during that time span, we find out that Berserker (and presumably his Master) have now arrived in Romania to directly attack the Black faction's castle, and several Black soldiers arrive in London to attack and kill Sisigou.
Look. Look. Trifas, the Black faction city, isn't real, but we know it's situated very close to Sighisoara, which is. The closest airport to Sighisoara is Targu Mures, and the quickest flight you can get from London Heathrow (which is about thirty minutes away from London) is three hours long, and on top of that it's recommended that you get to the airport approximately two hours before a flight to another part of Europe, due to check-in and such. So, already it would take five and a half hours for Berserker and his Master to even reach the country.
|A fine duo.|
On top of that, though, you then have to get from Targu Mures to Trifas, and if we assume that takes as long as it takes to get to Sighisoara, that's an hour's drive -- except Berserker's walking, so that would take ten hours. That means, at our most optimistic estimate, Berserker (and his Master) would have to travel for fifteen hours non-stop to reach their destination.
If Berserker's Master didn't go with him, then that just raises more questions. Did he walk all the way there? He's not smart enough to get on a plane. Given that it takes seventeen hours just to get to Brighton, it's impossible he could have made it to Romania, situated on the other side of Europe, in good time.
If it feels like I'm spending a lot of time talking about the logistics of intra-European travel, it's because what else am I even meant to say about this episode? It's more set-up, more exposition, more characters being introduced. It serves a function, but it doesn't even serve that function very well, since I left it more confused than when I started it.
Maybe next episode will be better. Maybe I'll be saying that at the end of all twenty-five of these reviews.