Finishing Fate for real

I’ll say, tentatively, that “Heaven’s Feel” (or “Heavens Feel,” whichever you prefer) might’ve been my favorite of Fate’s three routes. It’s almost certainly the darkest; I read somewhere, I think in the comments to IKnight’s post, that horror is Nasu’s strength, and I can believe it. Where “Unlimited Blade Works” throws the characters into a worst-case scenario, “Heaven’s Feel” strips them down until they’re worst-case scenarios themselves, defective and startlingly human iterations of the characters we’ve come to know. And while Rin is undoubtedly mai waifu, as it were, I found Sakura to be the most engaging of the love interests.

This arc’s themes are many and varied. Family and the necessary selfishness of love remain prominent throughout; early human development and the right to life show up at crucial moments; significant themes from previous arcs, such as idealism, are revisited with a vengeance. “Heaven’s Feel” is certainly robust — perhaps a little too robust at times, as I found it heavy on exposition — and might deserve a more in-depth analysis than I’m prepared to give it here (Owen’s done it, though I haven’t yet devoted as much time to his post as I’d like).

I’ll correct myself. It’s not that Shirou lacks imagination, as I suggested before. He simply has little concept of things beyond the physical. This actually works well with the idea that he lacks a sense of self; he conceives of himself as a body and nothing more.

This after “Unlimited Blade Works,” in which Shirou asks why a copy must be inferior to the original, then promptly demonstrates that one can do a great deal with a copy. For me, UBW was all about creation and the formation of ideas, and thoughts (and works of art) aren’t born from nothing; they have origins in prior knowledge. Everything new is a copy, to some degree, and a new thing might well improve upon its basis. But then, Shirou isn’t thinking of human-made objects here. This works as one of HF’s frequent reminders that everyone dies eventually.

Kotomine and Shirou’s commonalities are made especially evident in this arc. In fact, Kotomine appears more human in general this time; he’s given a history, a reason for why his motivations and goals are what they are. He’s a kind of reverse-Shirou, in a way; he is (or was) devoted to a goal that can never be achieved, and his pursuit of that goal is not unlike a ritual of penance, but his is a far more personal goal. And when Shirou accepts that his ideal is unrealistic, Kotomine becomes a replacement, of sorts, in the same way that HF’s Kiritsugu occupies a thematic position similar to UBW’s Archer.

Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness…

“Heaven’s Feel” is like an 18-hour-long Giygas fight, with all the mental side effects that entails. Also dickworms.

Self-hatred? Well, I can understand that Sakura might have a few sexual hang-ups, she having been abused by a centuries-old magus with a body made of worms (yes, dickworms), not to mention her adoptive brother, and an altered body that craves magical energy, of which semen is evidently a concentrated cluster.

Still, I think more masturbators should be like Kurosawa.

“There are no meaningless things” — yeah, that’s what I say. But evidently Kotomine doesn’t think meaning and worth are related, at least insofar as meaning equals worth. It’s probably safe to say by now that Kotomine has a uniquely self-centered view of worth, as far as the F/sn cast goes.

Now here’s an interesting comparison: art is designated worthy of admiration, while nature is associated with a curse. This may be only loosely related, but I’ve been wondering lately, for various reasons, to what degree nature is the enemy of humankind. Once we’re able to improve upon nature — alter the weather, upgrade our bodies with more reliable parts — to what extent should we do so?

Then again, the essence of Shirou’s question seems to be whether Rider’s eyes (Medusa’s eyes, actually) are the beautiful, terrible work of the gods, or an abomination of nature. It’s almost as if art, a uniquely human act, cannot produce something “bad,” while nature, believed by many to be entirely impartial (or a manifestation of some god’s divine will), is more than capable of doing so. That seems a little, I don’t know, crooked — but so help me, I like the sound of it. After all, ours is a human point of view, and don’t natural disasters feel bad to us? We’re born of nature, but it is a kind of incomprehensible foe; will we, like the second and third pantheons of so many mythologies, overthrow our creator in the end? Not that I think doing away with nature is a great idea, but one has to wonder.

As in, “Kýrie, eléison?” So, Kotomine’s personal name, Kirei (綺礼), is pronounced the same as the word meaning pretty or beautiful (きれい), and it’s also likened to a Greek word meaning “O Lord” — an invocation of the Lord’s name, in other words. Ironically, Kotomine has a twisted concept of beauty, and he’s more likely to invoke Angra Mainyu than Jesus Christ. In the context of F/sn, though, his is also a name weighted with magic, as prayer and Biblical verse are literally used as incantations to dispel spirits.

Fun fact: the kanji that make up “Kotomine” are 言 (statement, word) and 峰 (peak). Truly he represents the very pinnacle of rhetoric. (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

It’s almost as if Kotomine offers to God his inquisition of God. Would God appreciate such a thing? He damn well better; he’s the one who gave us the ability to question in the first place, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Here, Kotomine seems to espouse a view of good and evil based on the intentions of the being in question. Shirou, on the other hand, favors judgment based on the outcome of the being’s actions, which, in Angra Mainyu’s case, have not been favorable for those involved, on the whole. If I had to choose, I suppose I’d go with the latter, but I’d rather say that “good” and “evil” are oversimplifications, and deal with morality in more specific terms.

Well, that’s done. I have a few more posts planned on F/sn, but the game itself is finished, and I don’t know what I’ll do now. I think F/sn has broken my ability to enjoy visual novels; I started Kanon, but I just can’t seem to get into it. Maybe if Ayu used her noble phantasm on Makoto, and Piro turned out to be a spy from the Magic Association…

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9 Comments

  1. Nazarielle

     /  18 August 2009

    Damn, you sure enjoyed FSN, and especially HF, that was really quick. :p Maybe I’m just a jerk, but I found it very hard to feel much sympathy for Sakura. I was pretty much on the same page as Rin, kill the destroyer of the world and move on.

    Shirou, on the other hand, favors judgment based on the outcome of the being’s actions

    The problem with morality is that it’s almost always subjective. Good and evil are relative to who, what, and when you’re talking about.

    Reply
    • Pontifus

       /  19 August 2009

      Yeah, I hauled ass through UBW and HF. Nothing much better to do while waiting for school to start, and they were quite entertaining.

      The thing about Sakura, I think, is that we see her deal with such a wide variety of situations, and fall the hell apart in more than one way. I’m not sure Saber and Rin are picked apart the same way she is. I was fully prepared to view her as a flat Shirou admirer, but I didn’t think that was at all necessary. If anything, I thought Rin fell flat in comparison during HF.

      I suppose offing her would’ve been the quick and practical thing to do, but that wouldn’t have finished off Angra Mainyu, I don’t think. They had to take out the Great Holy Grail. Granted, they didn’t really know all that until near the end; somehow Shirou managed to finish things up in the most comprehensive way possible on accident.

      Morality’s just hard to talk about in general. In fact, I think that’s part of what makes HF so complex; everyone has a different opinion on what’s good and what’s bad.

      Reply
      • Speaking of Sakura, will you be writing something about her virginity, or lack of? Otherwise, the 2ch-Kannagi furore of yore should point you in the writ- I mean, right direction.

      • Pontifus

         /  19 August 2009

        I may yet write a post about Sakura in particular, but if I do I can’t say it’d be soon, as that would probably stray into Superfani territory. Mentioning that Kannagi thing would be mandatory, though. I’ve been wanting an excuse to go on about how stupid all that was.

  2. Play Umineko, please. It uses an amalgam of the unreliable narrator(s) and murder mystery devices, set in the When They Cry tradition (c.f. Higurashi et al)!

    Plus they’re done with all the question arcs (episodes 1-4), so now has never been a better time to begin.

    Further analysis about F/sn here should you have missed it.

    Reply
    • Pontifus

       /  19 August 2009

      Oh man. The unreliable narrator must be a great device in the context of the VN (I’m a fan of it anyway). I’ll have to check that out.

      Though, granted, it may be months from now, as was the case when you recommended F/sn. I do that sometimes.

      I hadn’t seen that post of yours, but I think I should be able to work it into my analysis of analyses.

      Reply
      • Heh, if it’s any consolation, Umineko happens to be a visual novel with no path choices–in other words, all you do is press the spacebar key for about 12 hours (with breaks; that’s how long it took me to read the first episode, but I read it very quickly due to the natural and exceedingly well-written dialogue). While thinking furiously. Every single murder mystery you’ve ever read, including but not limited to things like body doubles, corpse swaps, closed room murders, hiding places… they’ll all help, I reckon.

        Again, I’ve got to stress this–Umineko’s translation is above and beyond F/sn’s in terms of sheer readability. With F/sn I felt like I could never go too fast, especially during conversations between characters, but Umineko found me speeding through them like they were spoken. Plus Umineko’s a lot… lighter? Hmm. No, I wouldn’t say that it’s lighter per se, just that it’s a lot less heavy when compared to F/sn in terms of weight and density. Works different muscles, a lot of them involving that murder mystery thing. Excellent writing that fleshes out the characters very well despite the huge cast.

      • Ubiquitial

         /  7 November 2009

        Well, F/sn has a more complex plot, and an entire universe ( the ‘Nasuverse’) to go along with it. So obviously you’re gonna need some time to digest all that information.

  3. An experimental analysis of Lucky Star? This will be thought-provocational.

    Reply

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