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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E16: Jack the Ripper

Episode 16
Jack the Ripper.

Well, would you look at that: We're nearly at the end of this god-forsaken show, which is to say that we're about two thirds of the way through. After an episode where very little happened, I was all geared up for another episode in which basically nothing changed -- which is more or less what I got, but I won't say it wasn't somewhat entertaining in spite of that.

Or, well, it could have been, were it not for my many, many problems with this show's Jack the Ripper. We've talked about the bevy of bad writing decisions in that regard once before, but let's recap them for anyone who's forgotten: Jack the Ripper, a serial killer infamous for a series of brutal attacks on Victorian sex workers, is re-imagined here as a little girl who is the -- sigh -- the aggregate spirits of children aborted by Victorian sex workers.

If that sentence didn't make you cringe, I honestly don't know what to tell you.

Anyway, this week's episode sees Fiore asking Caules, Chiron (Archer of Black), Astolfo (Rider of Black), and Jeanne (Ruler) to investigate the murder of several Yggdmillennia mages over in Trifas, believed to be the work of Jack the Ripper (Assassin of Black). Once the four are in Trifas, they discover that Jack has learned how to enter Castle Yggdmillennia, and is out to kill Fiore, with only a sick Sieg (Saber of Black), who's suffering from the effects of transforming into Siegfried, there to protect her.

So, to be completely honest, not a lot actually happens in this episode: For all of Jack's survival horror shenanigans, she ends up meandering off without killing any major characters as soon as Caules, Chiron, Astolfo, and Jeanne return, meaning that the end of the episode leaves us in basically exactly the same situation as the beginning of the episode -- Jack's a problem that needs to be fixed, people are still preparing to besiege the Hanging Gardens, everyone's very unhappy.

Having said that, this episode does have a few entertaining moments: The scenes in which Jack is invading Castle Yggdmillennia, filling the courtyards and then the hallways with an acidic fog that conceals her presence, while Fiore attempts to escape to safety, are short but surprisingly atmospheric. You could spin an entire episode out of Jack doing her horror film routine across the castle, and the characters dealing with being unceremoniously shoved into a slasher flick.

We also get the reveal that Sieg is becoming sick due to his use of command seals to transform into Siegfried, but given how heavily the show has been beating us over the head with 'Sieg isn't going to survive this series,' that should really come as a surprise to absolutely nobody.

Really, this episode might feel a little more meaningful if Jack actually was a problem that tied into the main plot, rather than a completely separate one. We've talked before about how Avicebron's exit episode felt like a loose end being tied up more than anything else -- well, Jack's entire storyline is a loose end, an entirely separate issue that has no effect whatsoever on the main plot and has been, since the moment it was introduced, just a loose end to be tied up before the final battle could start.

(Nor is this the first time a Fate show has done this -- Ryuunosuke and Caster, although I adore them, were exactly the same thing in Fate/Zero.)

It looks like the next episode (or at least the next two) will be capping off the Jack the Ripper plot, which will leave the last five or six episodes entirely for the final battle at the Hanging Gardens, so that's something, at least. Final stretch, people!

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