Jul 27, 2019
h4xolotl (All reviews)
This show is set in the same timeline as Fate/Zero which means it was an autopickup because it's finally a Fate show that isn't a spinoff. On the surface, the idea of Waver Velvet doing Sherlock Holmes things is genius. Remember how Waver discovered Caster's lair in Fate/Zero? This show promises more of that with adult Waver and more dangerous mysteries!

While this show is still worth watching if you're a Waver or Fate Zero fan, it's ultimately let down by it's mediocre writing that poorly emulates Detective Fiction. Detective Fiction is a genre where the excitement comes from the audience engaging in the same problem solving as the protagonist. When you read Sherlock Holmes, you're essentially playing a metaphorical puzzle game with the writer; they are feeding you clues in a game with clearly defined rules. The reader must therefore know these rules. For example Sherlock finds a corpse in a room locked from the inside? You know the rules already because you know how locks work in real life. Waver finding Caster's hideout by measuring the concentration of mana in the river? You know the rules because it's analogous to dilution IRL. A character using necromancy to ask a corpse what they remember before dying? Even that works because it's magical CCTV footage.

Where this show falls flat is that fact that readers do not know the rules.

Take episode 2 for example. The entire plot hinges on Waver realising that Fargo's ritual circle is using the Heliocentric model of the solar system instead of a Geocentric one. Unfortunately the average viewer is not a Cultist or a 400 year old Astrologer. We do not understand anything that's going on until Waver spells out the solution. We cannot engage in the same problem solving as the protagonist. If Detective Fiction is a puzzle game, then the El-Melloi plot is like watching the writer playing both sides of a chess game. For all intents and purposes, the writer is essentially making up the rules on the spot, which ultimately leads to a boring experience for the audience.

Makoto Sanda's mysteries are impossible because you don't understand the rules needed to solve them. Once you do understand them, they're laughably simplistic (essentially 1+1=2 quick Eldritch magic). And that is why El-Melloi is a mediocre work of detective fiction.