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Why Are the Mages in Fate Such not-so-nice-people?


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ThatMoonGuy



Joined: 13 Oct 2017
Posts: 273
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:08 am Reply with quote
That's a really nice write up. Back in the day, the whole nature of magic was pretty unexplored and even nowadays, with Fate (and FGO) taking the limelight, works focusing on the actual workings of magical society have been very scarce. The best elaboration by Nasu itself is Mahoutsukai no Yoru which was never translated to english, not even by fans. Outside of it, information about magic and magecraft used to come from the Tsukihime side of things (incluind the Sixth Magic which is, at the same time, six sisters, a ritual and a vampire). Interestingly enough, the most we know about mage society now comes from Makoto Sanda thanks to his El-Melloi stories.

Another aspect of mages is that they fit in the larger narrative held by Type-Moon about the Ages, mystery and the value of individuals against society. Back in the Age of Gods, mass production was rare so everything that was high quality was rare. Once humans conquered technology, the age of gods ended and the age of man started but it was still focused on individuals. But with the advent of the modern age and industrialization the value of unique things died and mass production came to be prominent. This is why Nobunaga is a mystery killer in Fate, since his destruction of the invincible Takeda cavalry by means of firearms employed by farmers proved that quantity overruled quality. That and his burning of Mount Hiei. The later creation of film also severely weakened mystery as information and images could now travel around the world (hence why Edison's NP in FGO is also a mystery killer). This is fairly well elaborated in Mahoutsukai no Yoru and there's quite an interesting perspective there about consumption society and how it basically burns the future in order to achieve more in the present (the same discussion we see in C: The money of soul and possibility control, but with an opposite conclusion). Nasu's historical vision puts a lot of emphasis on the french revolution and is, in a sense, very close to Hobesbawn's which, funnily enough, makes the Type-Moon an exceedingly sociological one.

So in a world where the conveniences of modern technology are so prevalent mages are people who reject that for the "old ways" of magic. There's a very good scene of that in Fate/Zero where Kirei points out to himself how Tohsaka Tokiomi could easily use a fax to achieve the same result but because that was such a "pleb move" he, as a mage, could never lower himself to do so. A crasser example was when someone, in a very old Q&A with Nasu & Takeuchi, asked wheter a mage could use a Bounded Field to freeze a girl's skirt mid air to get a pantyshot (...) and Takeuchi answered saying that this kind of overblown solution to a simple problem is exactly how a mage would think.

This all ties back to Nasu's perspective on the future of mankind, something he discussed a lot since Angel Notes. His old vision was that mankind was doomed to burn itself and the world, resulting in the lifeless Land of Steel, but nowadays he seems a bit more hopeful and seem to veer towards a direction where the future of mankind is to leave Earth behind and fare into space. You can see that in Fate/Extra CCC, Tsuki no Sango and, in a certain way, in the fact the killing of Tiamat in FGO is called "childhood's end". In that perspective, mages and magic are things of the past, people trying to hold on to something that is bound to disappear. The world of Type-Moon is one of dying magic (something that's been mentioned since Kara no Kyoukai) but unlike most series where this happens this dying of magic is seen in a positive light that'll usher the next age - The Age of Will.
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yeehaw



Joined: 09 Sep 2018
Posts: 154
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 1:49 pm Reply with quote
Aah, I've been knee-deep in fate lore for years and yet here I am, finally getting a grasp on what the heck the Root is, except very important. I honestly didn't even know about Mystery, I just thought wizards prefered the cops didn't know about all their crimes against humanity. Like the Tousaka family is portrayed as pretty nice people, but even they gave their child away to a creepy old bug-man!
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Tunod Denrub



Joined: 24 Mar 2021
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 2:20 pm Reply with quote
Of the three names you listed, I would contend that only Waver even counts as 'a mage'.

Emiya 'knows magecraft', but he's not a dude that studies magecraft and magic the way proper mages do, and he didn't actually study at the Clock Tower until he was already an adult and had formed his own set of morals and beliefs.

And Fujimaru just plain doesn't even come close to counting; they don't know a lick of magecraft and can only cast spells through whatever Mystic Code they have equipped. They basically only exist to be a mana battery for Servants. So of course they're a decent human being, with no mage indoctrination whatsoever.

However, I would add two names to the list of 'mages who are not awful people' - Rin and Luvia. The entire crux of Rin's story arc in all three routes of Fate/Stay Night is that she wants to be a cold, hard, calculating mage the way her father was and the way the Clock Tower thinks mages should be... but she has this tiny nagging little thing called a 'conscience' that keeps tripping her up. By the end of any given route, she's given in and accepted that she just can't be a jerk like that, and resolves to do her research her own way. Luvia, meanwhile, is just... larger than life, boisterous, full of herself, but genuinely warm and friendly. To anyone who isn't Rin, she's personable and agreeable in general, and she shows moments of genuine kindness.
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Covnam



Joined: 31 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 3:17 pm Reply with quote
Interesting write up. I'm only familiar with Fate from the recent Babylonia series and one of the older ones I watched many years ago.

Do we know what the other 4 true magics are?

Quote:
The Third Magic, “Heaven's Feel”, is the ability to make the soul physical—even if that soul is a hero from a myth or legend.


So would the goal of this be to make a servant go from a temporary resurrection to a permanent one?
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Aaronrules380



Joined: 08 Oct 2012
Posts: 112
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 3:43 pm Reply with quote
Covnam wrote:
Interesting write up. I'm only familiar with Fate from the recent Babylonia series and one of the older ones I watched many years ago.

Do we know what the other 4 true magics are?

Quote:
The Third Magic, “Heaven's Feel”, is the ability to make the soul physical—even if that soul is a hero from a myth or legend.


So would the goal of this be to make a servant go from a temporary resurrection to a permanent one?

We don't know exactly what the first magic is, but it's related to generating ether clumps which have been called "crystallized nothingness". We know a current user exists but is only barely alive for whatever reason. It's also kind of implied that the original user was the nasuverse version of Jesus since they were “born the night before B.C. became A.D.” but

The second magic is known in good detail, it's ability is "the operation of parallel worlds" and basically involves things like traveling between time lines and time travel, though there's more to it than that. The user has shown up a few times throughout the nasuverse and several applications of his magic have prominent roles in the series (The kaleido stick from Prisma Ilya is one of his creations, as is the the jewel sword Rin uses in the climax of Heaven's Feel). There's a lot more that can be talked about it in the greater lore too.

4th magic is pretty much a complete mystery, it's pretty much just known it exists

5th magic belongs to a pretty prominent Nasuverse character (but I think they're more important in the non fate entries in general). It's related to time travel, but it's true nature is stated to likely be different since time travel is already possible with second magic. It's been suggested the ability that the big villain of the first arc of Fate GO used to kill humans across history is similar to the 5th magic as well
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kotomikun



Joined: 06 May 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 5:51 pm Reply with quote
I think this kinda demonstrates why I've never been able to get into this franchise. It's because it's one of those fictional worlds that seemingly contains every idea the author(s) ever had, and it takes itself very seriously.

Like, just by asking the question "why are mages somewhat more evil than the several other types of summonable supernatural people," we go down a whole series of rabbit holes. There's two types of magic, one that does possible things and one that does impossible things. But nobody really has the second one anymore because magic only works properly if technology is primitive. Mages want to revive the second type of magic (though it's not clear how, with technology constantly advancing). The general population has to not know how magic (the first type) works for mages to use it. Except for this one guy who's stealing their knowledge and taking the mystery out of it, which makes it not work for them, but it still works for him? Oh, also, there's five different types of magic (the impossible-things variety). Which doesn't really matter because four of those aren't available for various reasons, so everyone's fighting over the last one in that Grail War thing you've heard about. Although, mages don't really care for the Grail because, y'know, they could die trying to get it and lose generational knowledge. So they mainly want this other thing called Root, which is... literally all of the things, and also the afterlife, and the before-life. Anyway, they're all jerks because you gotta be selfish and ruthless to attain ultimate power. What do you mean, "that's a common theme and doesn't require such a convoluted explanation?" I mean, that was only the basics...

The trouble with such overly-complex worldbuilding is that it allows you to explain anything if you want to, but you can just as easily claim something doesn't make sense. Like, one could also argue it's pretty illogical for mages to be so obnoxiously horrible, since it draws attention to them (potentially making them weaker) and creates enemies who might kill them (and their whole bloodline). The more likely meta-explanation is that evilness is cool and it makes antagonists easier to despise, and potentially excuses only-moderately-evil stuff the good guys get up to.
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tintor2



Joined: 11 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 5:59 pm Reply with quote
Shirou can count of as a mage asshole if we count Archer Emiya especially in UBW though
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ThatMoonGuy



Joined: 13 Oct 2017
Posts: 273
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:32 pm Reply with quote
Aaronrules380 wrote:
We don't know exactly what the first magic is, but it's related to generating ether clumps which have been called "crystallized nothingness". We know a current user exists but is only barely alive for whatever reason. It's also kind of implied that the original user was the nasuverse version of Jesus since they were “born the night before B.C. became A.D.”


One the DAA is actually implied to hold the first magic as it can be called either the Frist Wraith or Wraith of the First. If we go by it's old name, it would be "creation from nothing" which is definitely in the realms of physical impossibilities since it violates fundamental laws of nature.


Aaronrules380 wrote:
5th magic belongs to a pretty prominent Nasuverse character (but I think they're more important in the non fate entries in general). It's related to time travel, but it's true nature is stated to likely be different since time travel is already possible with second magic. It's been suggested the ability that the big villain of the first arc of Fate GO used to kill humans across history is similar to the 5th magic as well


One thing that can help understand the fifth is a line by Touko in Mahoyo in which she mentions that the Fifth doesn't quite remove time as much as it moves it around. spoiler[Aoko uses it to ressurrect Soujurou by throwing the "time where he died" in the far future]. As it is, the fifth magic seems to work sorta like using a credit card in that you consume energy first and them worry yourself with the payment later. Fitting for the magic that represents modern consumption society.

Also, there's theoretically a sixth magic that Zepia, in Melty Blood, tried to reach. As an Atlas Mage (basically, an ether hacker and living Laplace Demon), he foresaw the end of mankind and, to try and avoid it, he, in Type-Moon mage fashion, decided to create a destructive event so large that he could not foresee, thus denying the absolute future that he saw. He sought to do this by using something he called The Sixth Law (dairokuhou, 第六法) which just happens to be one character short of being The Sixth Magic (dairokumahou, 第六魔法). Given how much Nasu enjoys playing with kanji (see, the ending of the Shimousa Pseudo-Singularity) I don't think this is a coincidence.

BTW, one aspect of Nasu's writings that doesn't get commented very often is his habit of having his villains have the exact same goal. Zepia's goal of salvation through destruction was the same as spoiler[Beast II/Goetia and Twice H. Pieceman] which, in and on itself, is a repetition of Araya Souren's plan in the fifth Kara no Kyoukai chapter. Basically, as long as the main villain is a mage, chances are that his endgoal is "destroy the Human Order to save it". This is idea of trying to destroy something out of love is also the core aspect of the Beasts so you can tell that Nasu really loves this discussion.

kotomikun wrote:
snippety snoppity


About Waver, the thing that must be understood is that the power of magic is derived from mystery with mystery being, quite literally, "things that humanity doesn't understand". If you want to think about it so, you can liken it to humans finding god (or gods) in things they don't understand. As such, lightning was once the sound of the gods (kami nari) but as it became understood, it stopped being mysteryous and having power over people (power being understood as divinity). Reality, in Type-Moon, is not a phyisical thing nor a consolidated thing but something that changes as the perception of humans change. That is because humans are perceived as being Prime Ones, that is, "the greatest creation of gaia" and, thus, are the ones who define the laws of reality.

But since mystery is being replaced by reason, in order for magic to continue working you need a mysteryous system, one that uses symbology and techniques that are hard to grasp but also based in things that humans recognize as "being mysteryous". As long as it's not understood, it remains powerful as people concede it power. What Waver does is akin to a magician revealing another's trick and, thus, lowering it's power to fool people. Hence why he's dangerous. But the end result is that it will also stop working for Waver, eventually.

As for the root, it might be easier to understand what it is if you call it by another name. Akasha or Amalavijnana (Mukushiki) which, in buddhism, is the "originating factor of all things" and the core principle of reality. That's why it exists both before and after since it is, fundamentally, the spiral within all exists and from within which all is born. The influence of buddhist thinking in Type-moon is just absolutely huge and this is clearly demonstrated in Kara no Kyoukai, arguably the single most buddhist work Nasu has ever written.
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Xavon



Joined: 09 Jan 2007
Posts: 291
Location: Minnesota
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 7:09 pm Reply with quote
Emiya Shirou is moral. He is not sane.

I would also argue that Tohsaka Rin is fairly sane and moral, by general societal standards, and is freaking saint by Mage standards
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tintor2



Joined: 11 Aug 2010
Posts: 652
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 7:36 pm Reply with quote
Xavon wrote:
Emiya Shirou is moral. He is not sane.

The guy is a philanthropist regardless of how much you hate him. Even Sugiyama said Shirou is a kind hero of who will try to protect the weak regardless who writes him especially in the Snow movie where he shows a darker self

Xavon wrote:
I would also argue that Tohsaka Rin is fairly sane and moral, by general societal standards, and is freaking saint by Mage standards

She actually tried killing the only sane mage in the actual Fate visual novel.
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LastPage 3



Joined: 13 Jun 2010
Posts: 41
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:57 pm Reply with quote
Tunod Denrub wrote:

However, I would add two names to the list of 'mages who are not awful people' - Rin and Luvia. The entire crux of Rin's story arc in all three routes of Fate/Stay Night is that she wants to be a cold, hard, calculating mage the way her father was and the way the Clock Tower thinks mages should be... but she has this tiny nagging little thing called a 'conscience' that keeps tripping her up. By the end of any given route, she's given in and accepted that she just can't be a jerk like that, and resolves to do her research her own way. Luvia, meanwhile, is just... larger than life, boisterous, full of herself, but genuinely warm and friendly. To anyone who isn't Rin, she's personable and agreeable in general, and she shows moments of genuine kindness.


There are plenty of Type-Moon mages who are decent people, not just Rin and Luvia.

tintor2 wrote:
Xavon wrote:
Emiya Shirou is moral. He is not sane.

The guy is a philanthropist regardless of how much you hate him. Even Sugiyama said Shirou is a kind hero of who will try to protect the weak regardless who writes him especially in the Snow movie where he shows a darker self


Shirou being a wonderful person doesn't change the fact that he isn't right in the head at all. That's a huge part of the visual novel.
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maximilianjenus



Joined: 29 Apr 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2021 10:21 am Reply with quote
luvia being a nice person makes me love the random factoid that in the apocrypha timeline sakura is given for adoption to the edelfelt instead of the matou.

generally speaking i prefer to see those conflicts of morality as us humans having a black and white scale of morality while the mages , in this case, have an orange and blue scale. so, some lages like luvia or rin care how dark their orange is, but other mages cant be bothered.

the buddhism influences and the real magic vs rules magic is present in more japanese works, its obviously cultural. right now i can see them i. when they cry and mushoku tensei ( not yet in its anime ).
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Covnam



Joined: 31 May 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2021 3:15 pm Reply with quote
Thanks for the magic info all =)
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Gonbawa



Joined: 28 Jun 2016
Posts: 42
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:30 pm Reply with quote
Thank you Richard for this very informative feature, bravo.
I think that the fifth movie of Garden of Sinners has the best exemple of magus doing anything to find the Root.
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H. Guderian



Joined: 29 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2021 6:25 pm Reply with quote
This is why I like the nasuverse. There's plenty of "Do You have Enough Swords" and "we need to make Arthur a girl" that is general entertainment. But then you begin to see the foundation is pretty strong and it goes across many series.

On one hand you're contemplating existence and the other minute you're watching Carnival Phantasm.
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