Fate/Hating Your Fans?
I really wasn’t sure before today if I was going to do a post on the Fate/Extra anime: Last Encore. Yet here we are.
I knew I was going to look at the first episode, as Nero is my favourite Fate/ servant, and among my favourite fictional women of all. But I honestly wasn’t expecting much, and figured it would be fairly bland and not really worth talking about. After all, they had gone with the boring choice of using the male Hakuno as the protagonist, so the chances of it being any interesting were low indeed. I just wanted to catch a glimpse of Umu.
Then it managed to be so much worse than I imagined, which I find incredible enough that I need to get it out of my system.
First off, I guess I should do a disclaimer: I have not played Extra, only Extella. I have watched a plot summary of Extra, but it doesn’t exist on any platform I own. But the writer himself made a statement about how he wanted to do things a bit different from the game, so I’m not sure how much it matters. I freaking love Extella, though. And I’d play Extra if they released it on something I own. Okay then, on with the show!
The amazing thing about this anime is how needlessly and overtly hateful it is.
See, I can understand them picking the male Hakuno as the protagonist. It’s disappointing, but I can understand. It’s a Fate/ anime, so of course they’re going with the boring option, because they think that’s “safer”. Whether or not that’s true is a different matter.
But Nero is a canonically bi character, and has stated on the record that she prefers women over men. So this seems like it would have been a perfect opportunity for a Fate/ show to do something a little different for once. It’s really disappointing that they didn’t, but again: I guess I can understand that.
What I can’t really understand is why they would include the female Hakuno only to kill her off in the opening scene.
The episode starts with showing us a heavily injured Hakunon (as the fanbase often refers to her as). Her legs are missing, and there’s a giant hole in her side. She’s clearly dying while in a lot of pain, while Nero is desperately fighting what looks like a Final Boss in the background. The fight doesn’t go Nero’s way, and she gets a hole in the abdomen of her own before she’s knocked down. The last thing she sees is the dying Hakunon before everything is blown up.
Then it switches to male Hakuno’s point of view. At first you might think maybe that was just a dream, but as the episode goes on, it establishes that one of its themes is cycles. All that is happening has happened before, and will happen again, until the cycle is broken. So what we saw with Hakunon was a vision from the end of the last cycle. Heck, when Nero finally appears, she comes falling down in the same way she was at the start, though now she’s whole and strong again.
And it just seems so unnecessary. I’m not sure to what extent the blame lies with Shaft or Type-Moon, or to what extent they were conscious of what they were saying by doing this, but they could have just had it be a previous version of male Hakuno who failed, and now he had to try again: Groundhog Day style. Except it would be Groundhog Grail War, I guess. Grailhog War?
Switching it around so that it was specifically Hakunon who failed and died changes the context quite drastically. Even when bonded to Nero, Hakunon just wasn’t good enough, so now it’s time for the male version to become Nero’s Master and do it right. I remember them mentioning that she was going to have a “small role”, and I guess this was it. It just seems so actively hateful. As if they’re specifically calling out and attacking the part of the fanbase that prefers Hakunon.
They could have just had Hakunon not exist at all in this version. Just have the male version be The One, The Only. That would have been preferable to her just getting fridged in the first five minutes. Instead they went through the effort of doing it this way. It really makes me wonder if they resent that part of their fanbase, considering they’re so willing to spit them in the face.
Seems even stranger when I’ve gotten the impression from the official artwork and material that Type-Moon consider Hakunon to be the canon version, but since they signed off on this I guess I was wrong about that.
It’s not even the first time they’ve done this. I only learned about this today, but they did an OVA for Fate/Grand Order where Gudako is among the Masters that die in the background during the disastrous incident that happens in the tutorial in the game. I joked about how silly it would be if they made a Fate/GO anime without Gudako, not knowing they had already done so, and included a “she gets killed off” scene. Truly amazing, in its own way.
So do Type-Moon hate parts of their fanbase just for preferring their female protagonists? Maybe that’s a strong claim to make, but this certainly comes across as excessively hateful.
Side-note: I’m not sure how I feel about a statue of Emiya trying to save us from this mess of an anime by killing male Hakuno before he can cause any trouble. I really despise Emiya Shirou, and don’t want to give any version of him credit for anything, but this is genuinely the most redeeming action he has ever taken.