Before the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War when Tokiomi sent his family away to keep them safe, his daughter Tohsaka Rin wasn’t happy about it and wondered whether there was something she could do to help her father.
But when she started going through their workshop to find a way to do just that she found herself attacked by one of the books they had and needed to be saved by her father, with Tokiomi giving her an early birthday present to know if something was at her level of Magecraft. A compass that pointed to any signs of Mana. Telling her to be careful and promising to teach her more once the war was over.
So she went along with it, but as she attended school normally, strange reports started to appear on the news about children being abducted and her school took extra precautions to keep them safe, after even one of her classmates being caught up in it. And so when she couldn’t get in contact with her friend Kotone who wasn’t at school, she took the compass and decided to look for her. Continuing to follow it no matter how scared she was to save her friend, happening to spot a strange man leading a group of children, and following him until she reached a point where the compass had a particularly strong reaction. But still heading inside where she found Kotone unconscious and was confronted by the man, inviting her to a party he was about to have, and somehow noticing that it was the bracelet he was wearing that was doing this she realised she had to destroy it. Taking ahold of his arm and pouring in as much Mana as possible to overload it, freeing her friend and helping the other captives escape.
But after this when the police had found them, Rin decided to head back on her own and her compass had another strong reaction as a monster landed right in front of her, but before it could reach her a swarm of bugs drove it off. Following which her mother having received a call drove back to Fuyuki and found her asleep on a park bench, being watched over by a familiar yet alien face, Kariya. Who tells her that his current appearance is the result of the Matou style of Magecraft which he will spare Sakura from, and so as long as his Servant wins the Holy Grail War they’ll all be able to visit this park as they always had. Leaving her heartbroken.
As something near entirely anime original I’d have to admit that I kind of liked this episode, it may have been kind of out of place compared to everything else at hand but as a side story of sorts it was fairly nice. Taking one of the main heroines and Masters to be for the next Holy Grail War, Tohsaka Rin and following her as she has a brush with the dangerous Ryuunosuke.
That said, for those who don’t exactly have much experience with the series that Fate/Zero is a prequel for, it may not have meant as much, the episode just would have been Tokiomi’s irrelevant daughter going on an adventure and going up against Ryuunosuke while he’s trawling the streets. It’s really only significant when you consider that Rin is one of the main characters and the heroine of the Unlimited Blade Works route in Fate/Stay Night taking place ten years later. But anyway, as simple as they were it was kind of fun to see things like her practicing Magecraft, going to school, and later taking on Ryuunosuke (for which the music and animation was amazing), though when you think about her basic tactics in the fifth Holy Grail War (patrolling Fuyuki with Archer) that compass she had really would have come in handy. Overall I’d also say that I liked this overall lighthearted side story, from what I can remember in the novel Kotone‘s fate wasn’t exactly resolved due to Kariya finding Rin before she could actually do anything, and for all we knew she could have been one of the children Caster took with him to the forest. It was a pretty of dark afterthought.
Alongside that I also like what it did to Tokiomi, without this episode he would have still been a somewhat boring letdown of a character, who despite having so much going for him simply hid in his basement twirling a wineglass from time to time. But what we saw of him in this episode despite it being mostly anime original managed to develop him a bit, explaining that his reserved and elegant behaviour is from the Tohsaka family creed and most of all detailing the sort of relationship he had with his daughter. Suggesting that despite how a Magus would generally see their children only as their heirs, that he actually loved and cared about her. All through the scene of him giving her a quick lesson in Magecraft and later giving her the compass, it really means a lot as the only thing that we had to go off until this point was her view of his last farewell.
Last of all Aoi finally meeting Kariya again was great to see, having a good idea of how things carried out in the novels I already knew that he was going to be the one to save Rin and if anything I was expecting Berserker to burst in to save her, as unlikely as it would have been. Not to mention that Kariya pretty much has to use a Command Seal each time to restrain him and prevent him from bleeding him dry, so that definitely took the odds down as well. But anyway, the second meeting between Aoi and Kariya was interesting to see, more so because it was more from her perspective that we saw what had become of him and to her the fate which she could assume would await her daughter. And most of all, how his naivety towards winning the war with Berserker and saving Sakura simply broke her heart. So even without considering that we hadn’t seen Kariya in a while, this part was great, easily making up for any possible disapointment that may have came before it.