Picking up from a somewhat familiar scene, Kiritsugu is now in his teens as Natalia unveils his new Mystic Code after having implanted the dregs of the Emiya Crest, bullets which will materialise his dual Origins of binding and severing within a target.
And to think this was aired on Mother’s Day.
Having left his island home Kiritsugu lived and trained under Natalia as a freelance assassin, learning skills of arms and that the horrors he saw in his childhood are actually commonplace in the world, wondering if there was a way to prevent such from happening again. In contrast to Kiritsugu’s save everyone mentality however, Natalia favoured self-preservation above all else, reasoning that there’s little point in doing something if you’re not going to be around.
Their next mission however would prove to be their last, with the target being a target that had eluded Natalia in the past, a Magus known as Vorak who was also a Dead Apostle who used bee familiars to create Ghouls. Their window of opportunity would be a tricky one as well, as he was travelling from France to New York, Natalia decided that she would eliminate him on the trip over while Kiritsugu went on ahead to New York to take out those waiting for him. And so they parted ways, but while both of them were able to eliminate all their targets with ease, there was one thing that Natalia failed to take into account, that Vorak had stored some of his bees within his own body. Turning what would have been a routine job into a potential disaster as the bees infect everyone on board.
True to her code, Natalia attempted to make her way out of this by making her way to the cockpit and secured herself within, however the instant she mentioned this Kiritsugu had made his decision, and so as she steers the plane and he makes his way out to the ocean they exchange some words. Her noting her reluctance to take him as an apprentice and how he didn’t hesitate to kill, something that she didn’t believe was right, and the regret she has for it as a parent, Kiritsugu responding that he does think of her as his mother and that he’s sorted everything as she talks about retiring once she gets out of this. However refusing to take any chances of a full-scale Ghoul outbreak in a city like New York for the sake on one person, Kiritsugu shoots the plane down. Collapsing to his knees as he attempts to convince himself that it had to be done, wondering whether Shirley would be proud of him.
A little drawn out but just like the last episode the events of this one are undeniably important if Kiritsugu’s relatively undeveloped character is going to step into the spotlight in the show’s closing acts, we need to be able to see him for who and how distorted his ideals really are. And just like the last episode this one contained an important milestone for him.
We knew that Natalia was never going to make it out of this whole ordeal, if she did Kiritsugu wouldn’t be as messed up as he is now, however for her death to be at Kiritsugu’s own hand is an important step for him to become who he is at the time of the Fifth Holy Grail War. There may have been some remote chance to save Natalia and if he could have it any other way he would have, but after weighing up the odds he cast his personal feelings aside and for an option guaranteed to save as many people as possible and prevent the Nasuverse equivalent of a zombie apocalypse in a city of 20 million (though Zero is set in the early 90s). Even if it meant sacrificing a loved one. Having weighed those odds saving Natalia just wouldn’t have been an option.
In a sense taking a similar path to the one Shirou is implied to go down in one of Heaven’s Feel’s Bad Ends, Mind of Steel, where he too casts away any personal feelings that he has for Sakura and remains true to his ideal, constantly sacrificing everything he cares about without a second word for the sake of people that he doesn’t know or who even give a damn about him. And unlike Shirou in Heaven’s Feel, Kiritsugu remains true to his ideal and refuses to risk the lives of uncountable people in exchange for the woman who was the closest thing he had ever had to a mother, and furthermore just like Sakura, Natalia wasn’t only someone who he cared about but was also innocent in regards to the outbreak, making one small mistake and getting caught up in it all. So in combination, these two aspects mark an important stepping stone for Kiritsugu, first he was climatised to the tragic spiral of the world and secondly he decided that he would put a stop to it all, no matter what it took.
Moving on from Kiritsugu’s development however it was still pretty sad to see Natalia go, like I’ve said we knew that her death was coming but even in the short amount of time she was around she managed to be fairly likeable as a character. She initially came into the series as Kiritsugu’s mentor, given a few lines explaining Kiritsugu’s Origin Bullets and a single shot back in episode 8, but in these two episodes she became much more than that, getting a rather awesome introduction, being shown to smoke the same brand of cigarettes as Touko, and most of all to have been just as much of a mother to Kiritsugu as she was a mentor, or the closest she could be. The fact that he even admits such as he readies the shot says a lot, and similar to Shirley if things hadn’t taken the turn that they did it’s quite easy to see her settling down and attempting to pull Kiritsugu out of his messed up mindset, but alas that just wouldn’t be so.
Overall this was another good episode, my only complaint is that while Rikiya Koyama pretty much nails the jaded husk that Kiritsugu is throughout the events of Zero, Miyu Irino probably would have been better to play his, by contrast optimistic, teenage counterpart before he would begin on that path. But either way, with this episode over the story should be heading back to the events at hand and with only six of them left I’m looking forward to seeing how it will all carry out.