Fate/Zero and the Dramatics of Strangulation

While I no longer have a set schedule for posting, posts shouldn’t come out this infrequently after today. Partly due to catching up on Saki soon, but also because I’m already working on the summer impressions post.

Fun fact: this post was originally just going to be titled The Art of Strangulation. Seeing as I wouldn’t like a visit from cops busting down my door thinking I’m some kind of serial killer, I added the little extra bits and changed the wording slightly.

Anyways, for the last few episodes of Fate/Zero, there was a lot of strangling going on. Some people joked about it, but for the most part people got a little annoyed that this same method was being used. The thing is, there’s a reason for it (at least, in literary usage).

Strangulation is probably the most dramatic way to kill someone.

“After all, what you’re planning to do is search ’till ya find the ones responsible, and then you take them by the throat and squeeze, and squeeze, and squeeze… until they foam like a dog, and then squeeze some more; when their eyes are about to pop out, you squeeze just a little more…” Ladd Russo – Baccano

In dramatic works when people get killed off, the most popular way to do it is having one person strangle the other. One reason for this is the personal nature of it. When it comes to guns or knives, just one pull of the finger or one forward thrust and it’s pretty much over. Choking someone else requires a lot more physical exertion, and therefore it also obviously takes a lot longer for the deed to be done. Have you ever been choked or tried choking someone before (you know, like when playing around as kids)? It takes a ton of energy to actually fully cut off airflow. As some anime have… gracefully shown, it’s more likely the person’s windpipe and/or neck will be straight up crushed before they actually suffocate.

Lets take a quick look at some of these in Fate/Zero:snap1

Kariya’s role in the show was that of the sufferer, the guy got absolutely no breaks at all. All things considered, he was also probably the nicest guy in the show, seeing as everything he did was for Sakura and her mother and sister.

That’s why, as has been shown, he doesn’t care what happens to himself. However, what he does care about is people questioning his motives for why he does what he does. It was extra painful for the only woman he’s loved to claim that he’s never loved anyone. It was the last bit of string holding his humanity and will to live together, and he instinctively protected it when she said what she did. It was a barrage of anger, confusion, but most of all, fear, that made him snap and go for her. If she continued to talk, that last string he had would have probably been snapped. So he went for her throat and didn’t let go until he knew she wouldn’t say anything else.

Of course, it wasn’t until after the fact that he realized what he had done, and ironically, it made him lose that last bit he was holding on to anyways.snap2

Kirei’s moment was less dramatic, but the purpose for strangling her was still there.

Almost completely backwards to Kariya, Kirei’s killing involved absolutely no emotion. As he choked Irisviel, there was absolutely nothing to be read on his face. It was to show just how hollow he was inside, and was the first major showing of the biggest difference between him and Kiritsugu. Even after he killed her, he didn’t care. As he told Gilgamesh afterwards, “I couldn’t find a reason to let her live.” He actually needs a reason for people to live, rather than a reason to kill them.

While Kiritsugu can cut himself off from emotion when it comes to killing people, Kirei never even had it to begin with.snap3

A common theme that comes with strangulation is domination of one person over another.

That was the main idea behind Kiritsugu’s strangling of Grailisviel (OH GOD I’M SO CLEVER). The Holy Grail showed him what his wish would cause, and Kiritsugu wanted nothing to do with it. He grabbed Grailisviel with his own hands – trying to take back control of his ideals. Further showing this was how it was the only time the victim angrily fought back, rather than just being surprised and weakly trying to defend themself.

Well, all that and it was also mirroring what Kirei did to her. It continued showing how they were different, in that while they both did the same thing, they had very different reasons and emotions while doing it.


I was going to write something here in usual postscript style, but I forgot what I had planned. Oh well.


3 Comments on “Fate/Zero and the Dramatics of Strangulation”

  1. No. Your fascination with strangulation doesn’t lead me to believe you’re a serial killer at all! Riyoga, we’ve got you surrounded! Come out with your hands up! Haha.

    Uh, anyway, you’re obviously right in that strangulation is probably the most personal way to kill someone and that it even though the three characters you highlighted all had different motives, the identical nature of those kills showed us how different they were fundamentally. Kariya, a man on the verge of losing himself. Kirei, a man without an ounce of remorse. Kiritsugu, a man determined to adhere to his ideals.

    Now say Grailisviel five times fast!

    • Riyoga says:

      Well, it’s not really a fascination, I think it’s just an interesting mechanic for showing character personalities and/or development in storytelling. …The cops will buy that, right?

      Exactly. I mean having people shoot or stab others is cool and all, but as far as drama and bringing out the most in characters, it’s personal stuff like this that works the best. Obviously you don’t want to overdue it too much though.

      I tried it, and I think I won. But I could be biased.

  2. […] Fate/Zero and the Dramatics of Strangulation « Riyoga's Ramblings […]


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