On Moral Genealogy in Fate/Zero


Classy is a word I would use when describing
Fate/Zero. With all the thrash anime that’s out there,
is good to have a show doesn’t need to indulge in things like fanservice to provide entertainment. It’s a good show that takes itself seriously,
but of course it has its flaws. Like that filler episode with Rin. Don’t misunderstand me I love Rin, but older. Are they trying to make me a lolicon? Also, I’m sure there are better ways to
deal with exposition dialogue… I mean, what the fu-!? Still, I don’t think there is anything flawless
or perfect and I don’t think I would like something flawless anyway. The point is, if you want my opinion on the
show this is as far as I’m gonna go, this is not gonna be any kind of review or recommendation
or whatever. I’m not gonna give a “number”, a “grade”,
or anything like that. I’ve just identified a topic, and a study
object and I’m gonna’ talk about it, hopefully in a way that’ll keep you hooked until the
end. If you are interested in Moral Genealogy I’ll
talk about it soon enough and… I don’t think there’s much more else in
the title that could have mislead you so… What is Moral Genealogy? We have to know what we are focusing on before
we go into the anime, right? Well, it’s pretty simple really. Let’s just focus on each word. We have “moral”, which I guess we all
have a general idea on what it means, right, RIGHT? Then, we have “genealogy” which many of
you may have done a certain tree on when you were little. So basically, we are looking for the family
tree of the word “moral”. Not in a linguistics kind of way, ugh. But in how has morality, and what it means
to be morally good, evolved in the western world. For this arduous task we’ll use the help
of this mustachio badass and his immense wisdom. More specifically, the wisdom he imparts in
his book On the Genealogy of Morals. But worry not my viewers! I’m not here to lecture you about modern
philosophy, nor do I think I could, I’m just gonna try to explain some basic and general
ideas so we can apply them to the show. So just bear with me with your hard and throbbing
attention span and you may end up learning a thing or two… Well, let’s start with him. French philosopher Paul Ricoeur called Nietzsche
one of the masters of the “school of suspicion”, that basically means going beyond or around
ideas that may seem obvious or self-evident at first hand with the objective of finding
some underlying less visible and less pretty-looking truths. Following this lines, most of the work of
Nietzsche looked to reinvent the principles of the society around him, and for that, he
needed to look past all the “obvious” truths and principles society taught. As a consequence, he saw the need to criticize
our moral values, and look for the reason behind them all. In other words he asked himself, what are
the origins of our perception of good and evil? Pretty cool, huh? In his studies, he starts to use a historical
perspective, and focuses on the value the word “good” had in the ancient world. That way he starts to take away “superstitious”
believes of values bound to the word “good”, like not being selfish, or being useful or
valuable, you know, bullshit like that. Finally, he ends up finding that, etymologically,
various languages remit to an identical concept of the words “good” and “bad”, in
which the meaning of “good” is, in its most basic concept, developed from “noble”,
not like we understand it now, but in a class sense, like aristocratic. On the other hand the meaning of “bad”
is connected to something “vulgar”, something common, and related to the common people,
in other words: the plebs. There is another specter of this study in
linguistics, in which other languages evidence this evolution of the word, but I said we
wouldn’t go the linguistics kind of way, so whatever. This class related morality is presented by
Mr. Fried Rice as “master morality”, the original system of morality, in which to be
good, was to be noble, a knightly aristocrat, which presupposed a number of noblemen interests
and attributes, like being wealthy, a good warrior, a good hunter, physically powerful,
but most importantly, happy. This can be exemplified with ancient Greece
and its heroes like the ones Homer wrote about, which were all nobles, not just by birth,
but by showing noble values and attributes. The heroes in the old epics were always bigger
than normal men, physically and emotionally. These were men that lived their lives to the
fullest, most hyped and exaggerated consequences, A bit like in Shingeki, if you will. This guys just have no chill. These were noblemen that even felt more than common people, and
they were supposed to be so imposing that there was no choice but to look up to them
and learn from their accomplishments and mistakes. On the other side of the coin were the vulgar
ones, the peasants. That is to say that, to be “bad”, was
to be like the lower classes the nobles used to rule over. This also presupposed a number of attributes
linked to the “bad” person, like being poor, weak, passive, with a sickly figure
and overall, a sad person. So, while the noble men lived sure of themselves,
being blunt with what they desired. The masses always lived with their heads down. For Nietzsche this resulted in envy and resentment
towards the nobles and their ways, and, instead of trying to own up to their desires and envy,
the common people got seduced by religion Starting with Jewish priests and then Christianity,
which capitalized on the feelings they already had, introducing “slave morality”. What this essentially did was to turn the
tables on the masters, and by the end of the Roman Empire, with the boom of Christianity,
it became the new predetermined set of morals in Europe. Paraphrasing Nietzsche’s words: the “good”
became the humble, the ones that restrict their feelings, the ones that lower their
heads and moderate; the servants and the slaves that tolerate their masters, because of them
will be the kingdom of heaven! And on the other hand, the “bad” became
the lords, the kings and nobles that rule the humble man, the ones with power, the ones
that let loose their feelings and show no humbleness, they will be cursed and condemned! Damn, this guy has no chill either. So, we are around 7 minutes into the video
and I can see you are already thinking “fuck this guy, what does any of this has to do
with Fate/Zero?” Well, first of all, fuck you too, and second,
good job getting through all of that. You see, apart from being a show that literally
talks about servants and masters all the time, Fate/Zero is essentially a show that thrives
on the conflict of different values and ideals. And, as interesting as it would be to analyze
them all, for the sake of making this video digestible, and of course, my sanity, I’ve
chosen to focus on specific characters starting with this two heroic spirits: Saber, and Archer. The reason why, is that this two kings are
the embodiment of the two different types of morals that we’ve just talked about. Oh, before we continue, since there are a
number of Saber’s in town, I’m gonna use the actual names of the characters here and
there, and hopefully it’ll add bit of variety when I mention them too, so, you know, you
don’t get bored of me saying Saber all the god damn time. Just try not to get to alienated ok? And also I’d like to get personal with this,
I’m not talking about Saber the servant, that’s her job title, I’m talking about
Artoria Pendragon, yes you, look at me in the eyes when I’m talking to you! Ok what was I saying? Oh yes, Gilgamesh here represents the extreme
side of the “master morality”, as he is one of the first kings, he represents the
morals of the ancient world. On the other extreme, Artoria Pendragon, as
a post-Rome ruler, embraces Christian values, and with it, the “slave morality”. You may say, but she’s a king, not a slave. Well my “too literal for your own good”
viewer, slave morality got its name because it started forming from slaves that got seduced
by the Church, and by the time Artoria became king, Christianity ruled the western world. Which means, many kings and rulers of that
era had already internalized that moral code, including Artoria. Or at least, that’s the consensus? You see, in contrast with the epic of Gilgamesh,
of which we have a unique recognized set of stone tablets that tell us the king’s story,
King Arthur has too many iterations to really have one unique canonical story, I mean, frikin’
Lancelot was added in later, and not even the movies can get their shit together. For all that matters, King Arthur could’ve
been a Queen Artoria, and his nephew Mordred could’ve been his “son”… I mean daughter, wait… what? Product of incest? Oh my go- The point is, at least in the book
of Camelot I read, King Arthur upholds moral values that coincide with the Christian creed. And, as you’ll see in a bit, this damsel
also does. One could see small tidbits of this in the
way she addresses herself in front of Irisviel and Kiritsugu (though she dislikes the latter
one) but as you may have guessed, the most telling moment for her, is when Rider and
Archer strip her NAKED!… figuratively, during the banquet of the three kings. You see, in line with slave morality, for
Saber being a king is being a slave to the wishes of the people, and because of the way
her rule ended, she desires to obtain the grail and avoid the bloody fate her people
faced. She oozes Christian ideals left and right,
she wants to serve the people, she wants to protect them, she thinks she shouldn’t be
above them, she thinks she should be humble as them, she sees greed and pride as sins,
and she almost strives to be a martyr. What you say? Those sound like good traits to you? Well hold on sklaven. What Saber does is completely ignore the agency
of the people she’s supposed to lead. By protecting them she doesn’t let them
protect themselves and train them in doing so, by trying to be no better than them she
leaves them no one to look up to, by being humble as them and having no greed she leaves
them with no purpose and nothing to fight for, by being a martyr, she leaves her subjects
nothing to do. You see she’s like one of those bubbles
they use for children that are too weak to come in contact with the environment around
them, but instead of a sick little boy, she has a whole kingdom inside of her… don’t
take that out of context. She wants to carry the weight of her people
and follow a thorny path, when a king is supposed to show the people the way and how to follow
it. And what about the ones that actually try
to follow her in her thorny path? Let’s just ask my boy Lancelot’o what
he thinks about that. You know this guy practically fucked her wife,
and Arthur just forgave him? What a cuck. This kind of leadership alienates
your followers, they can’t identify with you as a leader because they can’t understand
you (and how much of a cuckold you are) and you also don’t care to understand them either. And why should you care about that if the
only thing you care about is protecting them and dying for them like a martyr, right? Artoria kind of realizes this herself during
her battle with Lancelot. But by the end, she ends up brushing it off. It’s kind of frustrating how Artoria’s
journey ends. Faced with the destruction of her idolized
image of a king, I would have preferred she tried to create his own new meaning for her
life. I would have preferred she went the extra
mile and realized a way to improve the morals and ideals she upheld instead of crying about
them and feeling bad for herself and those who followed her, but I guess I get why it
had to go that way… fucking franchises. On the other side of the spectrum we have
Gilgamesh. I guess most of you wouldn’t doubt for a
second how he follows “master morality” considering how much of a prepotent dick he
is. Gilgamesh oozes this nobility up
to an extreme. He has a frikin’ gold armor! He doesn’t see lust, pride or greed as sins,
but as traits a king should have. Unlike Artoria who has an ideal of kingship
she strives to follow, he doesn’t strive to follow anything but his wishes as a king,
he creates his own meaning, he establishes his law and sees it trough. As he puts it himself, he have tasted every
pleasure the world has to offer, living to the fullest, experiencing the best and
the worst, and filling his treasury for his people. You may say, well then, if that’s how it
is, then “slave morality” is better because it gives us people like Artoria. But, you see, he’s just a conceited asshole. And to further the point we’ll see how bad
can “slave morality” get with this sick muthafucka. For Kirei, most of his scenes with Archer
are pure gold. You see, Kirei’s moral and its evolution
throughout the show are directly related to Gilgamesh’s involvement with him. Kirei is also a devote believer in “slave
morality”, but unlike Saber, he doesn’t have to rule, he is ruled by the church (which
I guess is a good representation of god), and that is what gives meaning to his life. And if with Artoria Gilgamesh couldn’t help
but to laugh at a king vowed to “slave morality”, with Kirei he can understand it, and from
the start, be amused by it, and (as a king from the ancient world would) try to lead
him into creating his own reason to live, to find what gives him pleasure and fight
for it, to embrace “master morality”. At the beginning, we see Kirei, in line with
“slave morality”, devoid of any desire or will of his own. As the church was what gave meaning to his
life, he didn’t have to create that meaning himself. But as we see this made him a hollow person
that only serves the church that imparted that mentality to him. Is not up until his first meeting with Gilgamesh
that his morals are questioned, and he realizes he’s suppressed his desires so strongly
for so long that he doesn’t even know what pleasure is to him. And investigating the other masters becomes
the way to find what Kirei’s interested in. And oh boy what interests does he have. A bit later, Gilgamesh confronts Kirei with
the fact that he seems to be more interested in the tragic situation of Kariya, and damn
does he take it badly. You see, he may follow “slave morality”
and serve the Christian church, but deep inside him he is a very twisted man, and all this
time he has only suppressed his twisted desires making them worst. and when Gilgamesh hints at him what those
desires may be, they come out so strongly that the grail itself chooses him again to
participate in the war. Then, he feels bad about not being able
to kill his father and kills Tokiomi instead, finally freeing himself of any orders, being
able to explore himself freely. First, he plans and executes Kariya’s demise,
and then he satiates his curiosity about Kiritsugu. Seeing that Kiritsugu kills for a reason,
(as crazy as that reason may sound) and it’s not an empty person as he was by following
“slave morality”, Kirei gets angry, as he thought Kiritsugu was the answer to finding
what desires lurk within him, and to contrast with the first time he killed Irisviel, methodical
and right to the point, like a weapon of the church! God dammit look at that, one more
time. Oh jeez man that’s fucked up! Also, can I mention how funny it is how he escapes? I mean you have the other participants travelling
with style, like sick ass cars, boats, levitating, mother fucking wheelchairs dude, then they
tell him a fucking angry ass servant is coming and he goes: whoops, let’s get outta here! I mean he goes full nigga-run on our asses. Not even running just casually jogging man. Oh hell, where was I? Oh yeah, so first time he does this, and then
he chokes her to death with hatred, and maybe even pleasure. Is it me or this show has a weird fetish with
choking people? It’s almost… sexual. Sorry, I’m going really off topic here… Kirei is a funny guy. Let’s get back on track, so it’s not until
the very end, when the grail destroys everything around him that he completely accepts his
desires and oh boy isn’t he happy. You see, what following “slave morality”
did to Kirei was just make him unhappy. He never really believed in the church as
he was just following orders, thus he felt his existence didn’t really had any meaning
beyond those orders. He was just restricting himself, his feelings
and emotions for the sake of serving the church. He did that so much he created a void inside
him that he couldn’t fill because he didn’t know how or with what. Now we know that void was pleasure and he
likes filling it with sadism. And god damn isn’t he a sadist, he gave
Rin the same dagger he used to kill her father, what a sick fuck. But, the point, is that he couldn’t be happy before. You may think why is “slave morality”
so bad if it had been keeping Kirei’s sadism in check? Well let me put it another way, “slave morality”
may also be keeping Artoria’s happiness in check. She is not a sadist like Kirei, she obviously
has good intentions for her people, the problem is that following “slave morality” has
demanded from her to keep everything she wants in check, everything she could have desired
that is not in line with the image of a Christian King had to be controlled and suppressed. Even the wish she had for the Holy Grail was
a wish that was in line with the image of a ruler she is so attached to. Even if it means undermining what all her
followers fought for like Rider said. You see, a ruler is chosen or accepted because
of what he is, not because of what he should be. For example, if Artoria pulled Excalibur to
become the ruler of Britannia, Excalibur chose her because of what she was, because of what
was already inside her. If she wasn’t fit to rule the sword wouldn’t
have come out of the stone like with everyone else before her. So when she suppresses her desires to follow
a specific set of morals she is basically negating the reason why the sword chose her
to rule in the first place. She may have wanted to punish mah boy Lancelot’o
because of what he did with her wife, hell he even wanted to be punished himself, but
because she is supposed to be forgiving we’ll never know what she really wanted. The people followed her because they believed
in her, because they thought she was fit to rule them. But she never believed in herself, she was
restrained to such extent that she only suffered, And when she’s stripped of her ideal image
of a king in the banquet of the three kings, and faced with the meaninglessness of her
actions, and her life in general, she just sulks stubbornly and fails to create meaning
beyond that. She can’t fathom the idea of meaning that
is not thrust upon her, and that she has to create herself. The point is, you may have good will inside
you or sadistic tendencies, but under “slave morality”, as Nietzsche would have said:
you are just part of the herd. You won’t be able to really explore yourself
beyond what is preordained by the society around you. But most importantly, you won’t be able
to truly be happy. So, are we all supposed to be arrogant assholes
like Gilgamesh? Well, of course not. Maybe some of you saw this one coming, I’ve
been trying to avoid mentioning him as much as possible to make this one a surprise, but
there’s a third king we should be talking about. To keep with the symmetry, I bring you the
king of conquerors himself, Iskandar. We all love him or at least like him in
any way. He’s the cool bearded guy that’s so charismatic
and always seems to have everything under control. Apart from the extreme moments like the time they found all those dead kids in the sewers. As you may have guessed he’s a king from the ancient world, an as such, he follows “master morality” But unlike Gilgamesh, he is not a dick. The telling moment, as with Saber, is
the banquet of the three kings. God I love this scene. The issue comes when Artoria tries to validate her morals. This troubles Iskandar, as he can’t
understand why a ruler should be bound by such things as humbleness and sacrifice, seeing
those as detrimental to the very act of leading people. He is deeply worried by the idea of a ruler
in service of something else than his own will, a ruler that can’t create his own
meaning, and is saddened by the notion that Artoria is bound by external rules and has
to constantly restrict herself and her desires. For Iskandar, serving his people and serving
his own will are the same thing, and why wouldn’t they be? They follow him because of what he is, and
if he is not being himself, constantly restricting his desires, he is brushing aside the will
of the people that follow him because of his big desires. That’s why he has to be
true to himself, to be an example, and to honor the will of those who follow him. And in the end, what is the result of Iskandar’s
example? He becomes a catalyst for the will and desires
of his people. And thanks to his example, his people can
envy and adore him, and owning up to those feelings is what makes them strive to better
themselves. The fact that many naturally gravitate towards
his character and consider him one of the best and most likeable characters in the show
is in itself really telling of how this works. In a way, if I’m not being too metaphorical,
each king’s noble phantasm is a representation of himself. For Saber, her Excalibur highlights her martyrdom. There is no room for anyone else, no one can
follow her, and the weight is just hers to bear. For Archer, everything and everyone is just
an object to his will, all those who follow him are just instruments for him to use. Even his best friend Enkidu is seen as a weapon. But for Rider, each and every single soul
that follows him deserves his recognition, and is granted greatness alongside him. But in the end he loses, you may think, doesn’t
that support Gilgamesh’s view of the world? Well, he doesn’t exactly win either. Kiritsugu does, but he refuses the grail and
choses to destroy it. In the process some weird shit happens and
he ends up getting resurrected by the power of the grail, which wasn’t even his wish,
but Rider’s. Still, he beats Iskandar, right? Well, there is a last twist in this video
because, as much as I’ve been praising him up until now, he is not the important one
here, it’s him. In a way, we are all Waver. But man, you may say, I’m not a pussy. Well, first of all, it’s not exactly up
to you to decide that, isn’t it? It is up to the people you are going to let
down because you are a pussy. And second of all, I’m not referring to
the being a pussy part, but to how we are supposed to end up after the show. Since the beginning we see Waver besieged
by his inferiority complex. As with Saber and Kirei, he has external forces
dictating the meaning of his life. He wants the mage association to acknowledge
him as a mage of equal value to mages that come from older families, to the point that
he steals and enters a fucking war to prove that he is equally as good as the others. But the possibility of winning the war is
not enough for him, even his wish for the grail is to be acknowledged! And once the war begins what does he do? He downplays everything he manages to achieve,
and almost up until his last fight he can’t believe in himself. It’s not up until our bro Iskandar acknowledges
him that he starts to believe in himself and sees the way to improve. Even if Iskandar loses the fight, his job
as a king is completed. The example he set up for his now servant
Waver was enough for him to realize he has value, and that he has to live on to improve
that value in a constant strive that aims at an horizon he might never reach,
but will always end up making him better. And by the end, he decides to take a break
from school, where all the people he wanted so much to be acknowledged by are, and go
travel to find his own path of improvement, to create his own meaning to live. Which, as her Stockholm Syndrome’d grandmother
says, makes him more like Iskandar. And shouldn’t we all be a bit more like
him? You know, I’ve been ranting about the way
Artoria’s storyline developed, saying she should’ve realized a way to improve herself
after facing the destruction of her ideal of kingship instead of sulking. But maybe that is trying to show us that this
is not easy. It’s not easy to realize and accept that
the ideas that have always given meaning to your life are bullshit, and even after that,
to pick yourself up and try to create your own meaning to live beyond that. Which would only make Weaver’s decision
the more impressive, considering he survived the Holy Grail War and could have just gone
back to school and brag about that. But that wouldn’t give meaning to his live,
and it shouldn’t give meaning to yours either. In the end, what can we conclude from all this rambling
of mine? Well, maybe a bit counter-intuitively considering
all that I have said, it’s not an endorsement of the so called “master morality”. You see, Nietzsche never intended for people
to ditch “slave morality” and go back to how things used to be. But the point I think was to take a page from
how morality used to work in the past and compare it to the kind of morality that ruled
during his time. To show us that moral values that we may think
are obvious and self-evident now, where not considered that way before, and sometimes
even for the better. To show that we don’t need a “greater
power” to dictate the meaning of our lives, and that we can create that meaning ourselves. A meaning that is not bound to what we may
have learned about good and evil, as that itself may have been reforged by people with
determined agendas, furthering the point of how good and evil are nothing but artificial
constructs. Constructs that may be useful at first, but
from which, inevitably, we have to break free in order to pursue true greatness unrestricted. And I think that’s all I had to say. Thanks for watching all the way through, like
I said, hopefully I helped you learn something in an interesting manner. But, I guess my main objective here is to incite
discussion. If you agree or not to what I said, please
comment below so we can exchange ideas, whatever they may be. Words of encouragement would also be appreciated
to see if I continue with this kind of approach on different shows. I mean that like, or dislike, doesn’t really
tell me that much about what I’m doing good or wrong and, you know, path of constant improvement? Anyway, thanks again, for sticking to the
end, and be on the lookout in case I make any more videos.

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