CARTEGORY: EPICALLY SAD VILLAIN DEATHS:>
I think I will first elucidate on the topic at hand; while I chose to use the word ‘moment’ here, I will refer to both single moments restricted to a single time period, as well as entire events spanning multiple chapters and time periods. Point it, there will be a singular entity that will be the focus of my discussion, but I might need to add context.
Secondly, I considered listing and ranking these moments, but I thought it more logical to assign an individual post to each event, in order to explore the subject more thoroughly. Also I decided against ranking these moments, so think of the ‘1’ as a merely organizational tool, rather than a ranking number.
So, with only three months into the new year, and 2012 still a fresh memory, It is no great surprise that, in speaking of great and epic moments, I would immediately skip to my favorite anime of 2012 (as well as my own personal top 5), Fate/Zero. I once toyed with the idea of reviewing this anime, but as a relatively amateur reviewer, I doubted my ability to do it justice, in terms of thoroughly peeling apart its layers and revealing the heart of the show. So you can call that my cowardice.
Back to the topic. Fate/Zero was such a masterpiece of an anime that a large part of the anime (especially the second part) is just one epic moment after another. However besides breath taking action scenes and superb animation, one scene stood out among all these gems, a moment that allowed us deeper insight into the man we deem to be the hero of Fate/Zero and it’s primary protagonist, Emiya Kiritsugu.
Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald is a member of the magus association, Lord of the house of El-Melloi and a prodigy of the mage craft. Kayneth is you typical snob; he was born of a great name from a great house, and his sensibilities and idiosyncrasies are firmly linked to the old ways and traditions of the most noble names and families of mage craft.
AS such Kayneth is a self aggrandizing, arrogant nobleman that has little to no regard for anything outside the noble families of the magus. So basically he thinks quite highly of himself. His discriminatory mindset with regards to blood and family make him a clear and undisputed villain, especially in regards to his utter disregard for non magus human life.
Where he to acquire the holy grail, their is no doubt in mind as to the sort of chaos he would unleash upon man, in his attempts to create the kind of order in the world that he would hope to see, one in which Him and his kind reign supreme.
It is only a matter of time before Kayneth eventually comes into contention with the Eizenbern family’s Kiritsugu. Kayneth views the magus killer as an aversion to the holy grail war, because of the unconventional and none magical means with which he engages his opponents.
Kiritsugu shows no regard for just and honorable battle and every action taken by him irks Kayneth’s strict sense of tradition. AS fans it is easy to take some joy out of seeing Kiritsugu totally totally humiliate Kayneth with that stunt he pulls early on where, while Kayneth prepares all sorts of defenses and barriers of a magical nature in response to Kiritsugu’s eminent assault on his home, Kiritsugu simply blows up the entire building with explosives, foregoing any mage related tactics.
Personally I thought it was funny, that these experienced mages with so much hubris with regards to their abilities would be so inept in the ways of modern war fair. it is probably the reason I always thought that none of the other masters really stood a chance against Kiritsugu; where they would be preparing to contend with magical fireballs, Kiritsugu was busy preparing missile and bullets.
Anyway, Kayneth seems temporarily and rather satisfactorily eliminated; he is confined to his bed during his recovery,a state in which he would continue throughout the rest of the war, and he even loses his seals and control over lancer.
But he quickly reemerges episodes later, wounded, wheel chair bound but twice as ruthless in his desire to acquire the holy grail. Plotting his return, Kayneth proves his villainous side by murdering the church priest presiding over the war after the old man was kind enough to return his seals to him (probably a ploy to incapacitate the other players), and quickly makes plans to take down his enemy, Kiritsugu.
Kayneth isn’t the vilest of villains. That would be Kariya’s uncle/great grandfather. Sure I didn’t see his killing the priest coming; it wasn’t even really a necessary act on his part (other than proving to us all that Kirei is indeed a psychopath). But really, Kayneth was as bad as they could get without being downright evil.
But as easy as it is to see his vile side, it is even easier to pity this character; and I am rarely a fan of pitiable and sympathetic villains, because usually I just can’t seem to empathize with them and the entire idea will usually come off as a ploy to make the story seem deeper than it really is, usually because it seems like the writers want you to struggle to support the hero over the villain.
IN the case of Fate zero, I thought they pulled kayneth’s character off without looking like they were trying to hard to do just that.
Kayneth’s first pitfall comes in the form of his student Waver. While waver was a magus prodigy, he could never really get Kayneth to truly respect him. In attempt to prove himself, Waver steals the artifact Kayneth was intended to use to summon his servant, Rider, for the holy grail war. Instead he has to settle for Lancer, while the somewhat less deserving Waver finds himself in possession of a ridiculously powerful servant.
Granted, that in itself could have been one of the best things to happen in the series. As the absolutely best servant that I have encountered in both the stay night and fate zero series, cheerful rider tied down to a stern Kayneth would have been a disaster.
But that in itself isn’t really enough to make Kayneth such a sympathetic villain; rather what it does is introduce to us the bane of Kayneth’s existence, whether he knows it or not. I am speaking of Sola-Ui, Kayneth’s wife, who is quick to berate him over the loss of such a powerful servant.
The tragedy of Kayneth can be seen from two angles. We know that Sola-Ui and Kayneth’s marriage was one of convenience, arranged by their families for the greater good of both. Kayneth doesn’t merely say it, he shows it over and over again that he loves his wife to death.
More than not reciprocating that love however, Sola-Ui has shown herself to loath her husband. And she doesn’t seem to to really struggle with hiding it, whether Kayneth doesn’t see it or simply chooses to ignore it, I will choke it up to stupidity.
Sola-Ui plays an increasingly negative role in Kayneth’s attempts to win the war. She enervates his attempts by constantly berating him over the smallest failures, and more than that, she fawns over kayneth’s servant Lancer, even going so far as to coerce her convalescing husband out of his contract seal with Lancer, and eventually acquiring control over the servant while Kayneth is recovering from Kiritsugu’s attack, with the intention of finally taking up with Lancer while Kayneth rots away in some basement.
Basically Kayneth got the raw end of the deal. The one person he should have trusted was working again his better interests. The only other person he could have trusted, he hated and distrusted because of his wife’s infatuation over him. So Kayneth couldn’t trust his wife or his servant, and in the end he was reduced to a desperate and paranoid lunatic of a mage.
In the end, Kayneth’s fate was decided when Kiritsugu decided he was the easiest target to eliminate. I whole heartedly concur with what Maiya did to Sola-ui on the roof top, to break her link and control over Lancer. But the final plan that the magus killer eventually executed in order to destroy both Kayneth and Sola-Ui was, without a doubt, too cruel.
Sure, Kayneth was the last person you could have wanted to see gaining the holy grail, but to kill him as he did, along with his wife, like some dog that needed putting down was excessive to say the least.
I will admit that even considering what Irisviel eventually suffered at Kirei’s hands, this was the single saddest moment in Fate/Zero, in watching kayneth cradling his wife’s frail body, seconds before Maiya killed her, then him. Sure, she hated him, but whether he knew that or not, what he meant to her wasn’t in dispute.
Kiritsugu didn’t kill Kayneth; he destroyed kayneth, both physically and mentally, gave him a couple of minutes to agonize over his life, and then killed him. If Kiritsugu could have sent a message to the magus world as to who it was they were facing, this would have been it.
I wasn’t surprised at by this event, I was downright shocked, blown straight out of my mind, and not in a positive way. I was left asking my self who Kiritsugu Emiya was. Because the one thing I was certain of was, he was no hero. It would be a difficult task to argue that Kayneth deserved death, it would be impossible to argue that he actually deserved what he got (though with the hate I held for Sola-Ui, it is hard to feel sorry for her).
I have seen pitiable villains, the kind that leave you thinking after they pass. But I have yet to see a villain death that created such an aura of sadness, the kind reserved for the hero and his comrades.
And even if you could forgive what was done to Kayneth, there is Lancer; poor, poor lancer. Who in the otaku world didn’t like Lancer? That would be a crazy anime fan (then again, it is Fate/Zero’s blessing/curse that besides Gilgamesh and Caster, it was difficult to really dislike anyone.)
Lancer hadn’t had the easiest life. There is no arguing that he and saber were the most honorable servants (and characters) in the war. Lancer hadn’t had the easiest history and he had hopped to make up for his past mistakes through his service to Kayneth. Yet because he couldn’t see beyond his past, all Lancer received from Kayneth was abuse and accusations of disloyalty, all because of some crazy lady.
For such a noble servant to be reduced to the vengeful state he was seen in seconds before dying, it was sad as it was a shame. I would have loved to see he and saber finish their match, to determine who the superior servant was.
I had originally written Lancer off as fodder for Saber to prove her ability, and but he grew on me over time, while proving his worth as a true warrior. Certainly I couldn’t help but struggle to support Kiritsugu and his quest after this incident (though seeing his past helped alleviate some of my distaste for him).
We had known and felt the uneasy tension between Saber and Kiritsugu since the beginning of the series. We could even understand the comments Saber had made to Shirou in Fate Stay night regarding his adopted father, but in this episodes, we saw the relationship between Kiritsugu and Saber completely shatter.
And as much as I tried to see Kiritsugu reasoning in the matter, I couldn’t help but agree with her when Saber called Kiritsugu a monster. As his servant, you would expect her to better understand her master, but clearly even she didn’t see his move coming, certainly not when he had consented to her engaging Lancer in battle.
Poor Irisviel was stuck between these two obstinate pseudo-enemies. Logically, there is no way a saber Kiritsugu team up could work.
At the end of the day, that scene stood out as the most outstanding moment in fate Zero. More than that, it could be one of the most shocking and awe striking moments I have ever seen or read in anime.In my mind, as it watched it, all I kept thinking was ‘this shouldn’t be happening’, because it was that…crazy.
If you have watched Fatezero, then none of these words matter, because you will already know and understand just how impactful this moment was. If you haven’t seen fateZero, this one scene is more than enough for you to sit through 25 or so episodes.
I would go so far as to call Kayneth the most pitiful character in Fate/Zero…though I would be lying. That title goes to Kariya, the very personification of misery. Seriously, that fellow should have never been born.