Monday, February 26, 2018

Grading the Historical Accuracy of 'Fate' Characters

So a few months ago I went and saw Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel, which is a movie based off of a popular Japanese visual novel that has a bunch of spinoff games and shows. Despite not understanding all of the movie (due to me only watching like six episodes of Fate/Zero), I liked the overall premise of the series, the premise being that a bunch of magicians summon historical and mythological characters to duke it out in a giant death-match. Said death match will decide who gets the Holy Grail in the sort of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/Hunger Games/Street Fighter mash-up that the entire US population is too afraid to admit they want.

Dorian Gray is OP. Plz nerf...
Wanting to see if the rest of the franchise could scratch that collective itch, I decided to go ahead and do research. Writers being writers, I wasn't expecting perfection or complete historical accuracy, but the results ended up being more--uh--interesting than I initially imagined.

1. Medea
Medea is best-known in Greek mythology for her adventures with Jason and the Argonauts and for being a witch who later seeks revenge on Jason for mind-controlling her and literally ruining her life.

How badly did he ruin her life? "She was cursed to blindly love a man she had never seen just because he was favored by the goddess of beauty, which led to her being forced to betray her own father and country ... and cut apart her own brother and throw the pieces into the sea to escape her native country."

Dark. So, uh, yeah the portrayal of her as an evil, empty, magic-using husk of a human being in the series is pretty accurate. What's even worse is that they also made an alternative timeline version of her where she doesn't meet Jason and grows up normal and happy.  Well played, Fate, and way to pull on the heartstrings a little.

Accuracy: 9/10

2. Gilgamesh

OK, so Gilgamesh probably wasn't a blond bishonen and the removal of that fabulous beard is positively criminal. Physical differences aside, his arrogant personality, combat prowess, and general lack of respect for mortals are pretty much in line with the character in the original tale. His sexual exploits in the epic (*cough* "droit du seigneur" *cough*) thankfully didn't make it in, but he still acts pretty creepy towards a protagonist in the show. So all you history geeks can rest easy knowing his terribleness has been accurately recreated (hooray?).

He also uses his personal treasures as projectile weapons, which isn't all that authentic, so he's not getting as many points as Medea, but the effort is noted.

Accuracy: 7/10

3. Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was a British nurse who became famous for her efforts to care for soldiers during the Crimean War. She is viewed as a pioneer in modernizing the profession of nursing and the school she founded still exists today as a part of the King's College London. In Fate/Grand Order, she is a lawful good character who wields pistols and is a berserker class servant.

Wait, what?

Yes, you read that correctly: Florence Nightingale is a berserker. I'm not sure if this was intentional or some poor intern didn't translate something right, but either way it's impressive. As a berserker, her limit break is called "Nightingale Pledge" and requires that she "sublimate" her convictions about killing so that she can attack up to 100 people with a giant sword! This is just straight from the wiki, folks, I couldn't make this up if I wanted to.

"I say the whole world must learn of our peaceful ways, by force."
Don't worry, though. It also heals your allies' negative status affects because she's a nurse!

Accuracy: 3/10

4. Julius Caesar

Well I guess I know why Caesar crossing the Rubicon was such a momentous event. Based on this depiction, I'd be impressed that a man with that physique crossed anything. Guess all of that military training and time spent fighting in Gaul didn't count for much in terms of exercise, eh?

On second glance, though, what is going on with his outfit? Is that a toga ... suit ... combo ... thing? Fat Caesar clearly doesn't play by the rules and with his arms outstretched he dares anyone to question what on earth is going on here. He gets some points for having the toga and the laurels, I guess. Kind of makes you wonder how else the Japanese could further degrade the Roman Empire though.

Accuracy: 5/10

5. Nero

Japan, that was not a challenge. I don't know what concerns me more, the fact that you made Nero a girl or the fact that you made the person who executed hundreds of Christians a chaotic good character, then included her in a Christmas special.

What makes this even worse is that Nero is saber class, which is supposed to be the most powerful class in the series. Real life Nero had like zero combat ability and preferred playing music and writing bad poetry to actually ruling. He ruled so badly that the empire rebelled against his excesses and had him killed, plunging Rome into civil war.

But no, Fate, you're right: he's totally a good person and a heroic spirit. I can only assume that the genderflipped Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong-Un DLC is incoming.

Accuracy: 1/10

6. Quetzalcoatl
Fate, I'm starting to notice a trend here where we do this gender swapping thing, which would be super progressive if you didn't seem to be doing it only for fanservice.

This design reminds me of all of the sexy Halloween costumes that pop up around the holiday. Clearly, the character designer here was really trying to make some sort of Buzzfeed top 10 list. Hey girls, you've been a sexy nurse, but why not be a sexy feathered serpent who is capable of devouring men whole? What could be more Halloween than requiring blood sacrifices to ensure that the sun will continue to rise?

And yes, I'm aware that Quetzalcoatl had a human form, but unless those Vikings were way better explorers than we give them credit for, there's no way blondes end up in ancient Mesoamerica.

Accuracy: 4/10

7. Oda Nobunaga
Yeah, I gotta be honest, this pretty much sums up the current state of Japanese culture. Japan would totally make one of its most revered historical figures into a small girl for the sake of garnering sales in a mobile game. Hirohito's empire is gone and in its place is kawaii, anime, and youth idol culture.  Nobunaga's ambition, given this design, is probably to pass algebra and pick out a homecoming dress rather than create a unified Japan.

But hey, she's got a sword and has some sort of military garb on. And at least it's not weirdly sexualized like some of the other ones on this list, so I feel like I can in good conscience give it a pas--

"But Scott, there's a swimsuit edition."

Every day we stray further from God's light

Four words I thought I'd never have to type: Oda Nobunaga swimsuit edition.

You win, Fate. I can't look at this anymore. I guess this isn't going to be the thing that unites history geeks and classics nerds under a common banner of spectacle and wanton violence. But if anyone wants to Kickstarter the project that will, you've got at least one backer.

What other series do you know that have "unique" views on history?  Sound off in the comments section below.


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