Loner’s Favorite Anime Characters: Kariya Matou (Fate/Zero)
NOTE: Article contains minor spoilers throughout the first season of the anime.
I just got finished marathoning through Fate/Zero’s first season off CrunchyRoll. Although I enjoyed Fate/Stay Night, despite it being deemed as terrible by most fans of the original visual novel, I’ve purposefully been holding Fate/Zero off for various reasons. One being the fact that I really hate waiting every week for an episode. Usually this doesn’t bother me, but Fate/Zero had to be an exception. Unfortunately, I ended up giving into the temptation of watching it while season two has recently just started. Seeing tons of cosplay and advertisements for the series at Sakura-con this year can be a good chunk of the blame. I mean, c’mon! Check this highlight out from the NicoNico panel featuring Gilgamesh playing Twister.
I also happened to be fairly addicted to the opening song “oath sign” by LiSA, the same singer for the in-show band “Girls Dead Monster” in one of my favorite anime series known as “Angel Beats!”. Great theme songs, huge fan following, amazing animation and story… there just wasn’t enough to hold me back from watching Fate/Zero. Not to forget that LiSA will be performing her US debut at Anime Expo 2012! Apparently this was announced only a couple weeks ago. I honestly wasn’t planning on going, but with LiSA being one of my new favorite artists; it’s stupid for me to pass up this opportunity. Even after blowing off a lot of money at Sakura-con, I think I’ll be able to manage the budget to make it to AX this year. I’ll make a post about it some other time.
ANYWAY, putting all that information aside, I think it’s time to actually start talking about one of Fate/Zero’s characters that I’ve really been liking so far. It’s none other than Allen Wal– err, I mean, Kariya Matou!
Who is Kariya Matou?
To summarize his role in the battle for the Holy Grail (which grants the winner any wish) in Fate/Zero, he’s a mage who had abandoned his family’s practices due to his strong beliefs. He later learns that one of his close friend’s daughters, Sakura Matou (the other being Rin Tohsaka), had been adopted by his selfish and strict father, so that his father, Zoken Matou, can raise her in Kariya’s place. Kariya, being the awesome guy he is, sacrifices his own freedom for Sakura’s. He makes a deal with his father to release Sakura back to the Tohsaka family, if he happens to win the 4th Holy Grail War.
Why is he so awesome?
Plenty of reasons to like this guy. To start it off, he was in love with his childhood friend Aoi Tohsaka, but allowed her to marry Tokiomi Tohsaka, despite his strong feelings for her. Even after an inevitable friend-zone, he continues to maintain a close friendship with Aoi. This hit close to home for me. I have a very strange philosophy with my own personal desire for finding love in life. Most of us guys want a girlfriend, right? A girlfriend who’s always there for us, bakes us cakes, and buys us new video games for Christmas. Who doesn’t dream of sharing a happy life with a beautiful lady? I’m no exception; but I were to find that special someone — I personally feel like I’m taking someone else’s opportunity to find their happiness with this person. I grew up as a pretty damn selfish teenager, and after graduating out of high school, I started to look at the previous relationships I’ve had back then. It usually consisted of me being completely oblivious of other people’s feelings, and I ended up losing a handful of great friends due to my inconsiderate actions. After these experiences, I found myself becoming more and more distant from pushing myself into meeting new people. Since then, I’ve been avoiding any close relationships with girls. I simply don’t see myself as “boyfriend material” in any way. I’m content knowing the girls I’ve known since high school are happy where they are now — single or not. I believe relationships always end up hurting someone in the end, which is another reason I’d rather keep myself out of that mess. Besides, the happiness of my peers heavily influences my own happiness. This is only one of the reasons why I think Kariya Matou is a great character.
Secondly, he’s extremely nice to Aoi’s two daughters: Sakura and Rin. Any character that truly cares for children (in a non-pedophiliac way, mind you) always gets a plus in my book. Sakura and Rin are related by blood, but were separated after she was sent to be adopted by Kariya’s father. As briefly mentioned before, he attempts to save Sakura from his father’s harsh and painful training by taking her place in the dangerous Holy Grail War. Sakura’s happiness became the sole motive for Kariya’s participation in this deadly battle, and it’s really the most noble reasons to fight out of all seven masters. As seen near the end of episode one, Sakura seems lifeless (especially after comparing her to her sister Rin), and states that her new step-grandfather has forced her to forget her previous family. Until Kariya wins the Holy Grail, Sakura will forever be oppressed under his own father’s cruelty. Seriously! If you haven’t watched Fate/Zero yet, AT LEAST watch the first episode. It practically covers the whole background of Kariya — and he’s not even the main character of the show! It’s really tragic to see Kariya suffer so much for the sake of one innocent girl who isn’t even blood-related to him. Coincidentally, this kind of theme (“all for the sake of the child’s future”) plays a huge part in one of my visual novel stories I’m writing, which heavily impacted how sympathetic I felt for good guy Kariya. Unfortunately, I’m awful with children in general. Especially the really noisy and annoying ones I deal with at work (I work at a fast food restaurant). Seriously, SCREW those kids, and mostly SCREW the parents who don’t properly raise their children with any decency. For this, I give much higher respect for children who are always polite and behave themselves in public. Sakura is one of these awesome kiddies, and she definitely does not deserve the lifestyle that the Matou family has enforced on her. Kariya, being the cool dude he is, promises Sakura he will reunite her with both Rin and their mother.
Lastly, he’s an ‘effing badass. His servant is Berserker; the fiercest and most kickass of all servants available. In Fate/Zero, he’s a kickass knight with an intimidating black aura, and can savage any object and transform it into a powerful weapon. It’s a shame both Kariya and Berserker don’t get as much screen time as they probably deserve. Kariya himself has the ability to control deadly insects to fight for him (as seen in the opening picture above). Unfortunately, learning this sorcery wasn’t without the cost of his own body deteriorating. This, while remembering that Kariya is doing this all for little Sakura’s sake, makes me a very sad panda.
Why he’s my favorite character of Fate/Zero
Yeah, you heard it right! Kariya is my favorite character from this show. Saber’s cool and all, but she’s the expected servant to win the whole thing. It really doesn’t seem fair to me that Kariya, who, in my opinion, has the most sympathetic and unselfish reason to be fighting in the Holy Grail War, and is unlikely going to win simply because he isn’t main character. Hell, I could be wrong! I haven’t read the light novels, and season two has only started just recently, but putting into consideration that Saber and her super secret service squad are the primary focus of the show makes me believe my wishes of Kariya winning won’t come true. I’m not even sure if fate/stay night revealed the winner of the last war (which would be Fate/Zero’s war)… and they probably did. I just don’t remember since it’s been over four years since I watched it. Well, just to save any readers who haven’t touched fate/stay night from spoilers — I’ll remain completely oblivious.
Other characters such as Rider and Gilgamesh are awesome as well, but I feel no personal connection with them. To me, Kariya is the most realistic and most “human” person in the cast. I really look up to unselfish characters who are more than willing to sacrifice all they had to save a child, since I, myself, has always strived to do something just as benevolent. I believe the children are the most important to raise, as they’re the ones who will be shaping the future of the world for many generations to come. Even if I’m not around to witness these changes, I hope to at least inspire one person within my lifetime to achieve a success which many others can benefit from, and possibly pass down my altruistic ideals to their own kids.
Even though I’m not a very ambitious person, nor do I plan on having my own kids, the least I can do to contribute to society is become some sort of role model for those around me — by always being courteous and respectful to others, and always try to help your friends in need. Kariya’s values are similar to mine, and even though his screen time has been very limited, he’s a great reason to watch the show (or read the novels!). Ever since the first episode, he’s always been my favorite character.
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