Saturday, December 14, 2013

Character Analysis: Arturia Pendragon

ARTURIA PENDRAGON: A King who is a slave of her own ideals

Arturia Pendragon, more commonly known as Saber, is the main female character of Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero, and is considered one of the most prominent characters of the Fate franchise.

Considering that Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero have been produced by different studios, analyzing Saber could be tricky. The two portray her quite differently. In Fate/Stay Night, she is considered as the romantic interest of Shirou, so she is more feminine and her knightly sensibilities are not portrayed to a full extent. In Fate/Zero, her femininity is minimized to give room for her knightly sensibilities -- and this is the character that interests me.

Saber really values her chivalric ideals. She prefers battling with other Servants under the codes of chivalry -- direct, fair, and honourable. This is particularly obvious in her relationship with Lancer. However, her chivalric tendencies have also led to conflicts with Kiritsugu, her Master, because Kiritsugu constantly employs dirty tactics to achieve their ends as a Master-Servant team. It is true that Saber’s priority is winning the Holy Grail War, but if it means breaking her own chivalric codes, then that’s another story.

Her reason to win the war is what really makes her a more interesting character. She wants to go back in time and save her fallen country. She feels responsible for her country’s fate. She feels incompetent and unworthy of being King. What makes this interesting is that it adds a ghost to her character, and characters with ghosts are always interesting.

But then Rider explains that a King should not regret the fall of his kingdom, because trying to retrieve it would just be a mockery to those who have died in building it. The best a King could do is to grieve and just move on. After all, it is the people who should serve the King, and if the people are gone, then that’s that.

This is entirely opposite to Saber’s chivalric code. She believes that the King should be the ultimate servant, and the best way to show her service is to go back in time and retrieve the kingdom’s glory.

Neither of them is wrong. Either belief could form an ideal King. But the real problem here is that Saber has become too drawn to her ideologies that they have transformed into a longing to go back to the past and change fate itself. And, as I said earlier, this is the reason why Saber is such an interesting character. She is too consumed by her own beliefs that they have led her to her own destruction.

Some would argue that she is actually not a well-made character. She is just there as a mere perspective of the story of Fate/Zero. Hell, she isn’t even a good perspective. She is too passive as a character. She doesn’t develop much. She has minimal interactions with others. And her personality is somewhat boring.

I agree with them that she tends to be passive. But the problem is, Saber is not really highlighted enough as a main character. She doesn’t have enough screen time to fully expand the conundrums that enshroud her. We don’t get to see her full-on attempt to fight her ghosts within, so her attempt appears to be a cheap way to move the plot. The only thing to blame here is Fate/Zero being too character-oriented, so no single character is consistently in the spotlight. But if Fate/Zero has just given Saber the attention a main character deserves, to dive deeper into her ghosts, then you will realize that she is not boring at all.

So, overall, Fate/Zero’s version of Arturia Pendragon is inherently an interesting character, but she appears to be not so because she has very limited screen time.

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  1. After I finish the series I am currently watching, I will have to start Fate/Zero since it sounds great.


    1. I actually wrote this analysis because I remembered Fate/Zero when I suggested it to you! If Code Geass is your favorite series, then Fate/Zero is mine.

    2. Okay cool. I have a question concerning Fate/Zero. I was trying to find the episodes of the series and the episodes were around 45 minutes. Are all the episodes that long? Because that is a lot longer than most series. It is not a problem, I just want to be sure that I am watching the right series, but the little I have seen, the animation is AMAZING!


    3. Right, the first episode is about 45 minutes. But the other episodes are on the usual 24 minutes. And yes, the animation is top-notch! There will also be another Fate/Stay Night title next year or so, and it will be animated by the creators of Fate/Zero, so maybe that would interest you too.

    4. Thanks again! I watched the first two episodes and I think I am hooked. I will have to put watching the other anime on hold watch more of Fate/Zero. After I finish watching the series in a month or so, I will surely review it.