The first time I read Fate/Zero, I got through about half of the prologue before forgetting about it. That was before I read Fate/stay night.
One of the great things about Fate/Zero is that the particular Holy Grail War it covers is serious business. Instead of having a bunch of high school students kind of flail about, you have some powerful magi all scheming against each other. These dudes know what they’re doing. And actually, that all of these guys basically off each other one way or another kind of explains why we’re left with high school students ten years later.
The main draw of Fate/zero for me has always been that I’d heard it’s particularly brutal and that there was a magus going around ruining everyone with the help of modern technology. After reading Fate/stay night, Kiritsugu’s character became much, much more interesting. As much as people seem to think that Rider is the best (and I’ll admit he is pretty fantastic), Kiritsugu has always been the most compelling character to me.
Those who are familiar with Fate/ will know that it’s all about dealing with ideals, whether it’s defending your ideals, sorting out your ideals, or having your ideals challenged. It’s kind of an easy subject to bring up when fighting for the Holy Grail. Fate/stay night is essentially about Shirou sorting out his ideals. In Fate/zero, we have Kiritsugu, who has the same ideals as Shirou, but ends up choosing a vastly different way of realizing them.
This combined with the high calibre of opponents means that there is a ton of cool stuff that goes down in this story. The fact that these are people prepared for the Grail War and not high school students not only means that their fights are better just because they’re better, but they’re also much better prepared. Calling the Grail War a war in Fate/stay night always seemed a bit silly to me, but in Fate/zero, I think there are enough casualties and heavy weaponry to justify it.
Of course, that’s all after I went through Fate/stay night. So what drove me to try and read the books the first time? Well, I’d just finished playing Saya no Uta at the time. Saya no Uta probably remains one of the most horrifying and disturbing things I’ve read. So obviously, I was looking for more in that vein and found this light novel that the same guy wrote.
On the physical horror front, I think Team Caster’s got it covered. In terms of emotional despair, we’ve got everyone else who’s connected to the events of Fate/stay night. It’s mentioned somewhere in the notes of the first volume that there is basically no happy ending for Fate/zero given what we know plays out in Fate/stay night. Basically, everyone involved bets the house on winning the Grail and ends up ruining their childrens’ lives in the process.
It’s going to be a long three months once the first half of Fate/zero is finished. I guess there’s uncensored Team Caster fun times to look forward to in March, though.