One of the neat thing about Fate universe is its historical fiction aspect. Unfortunately, like most Japanese take on actual western things, it doesn’t quite match with what I have in mind when I think about Alexander the Great. In fact when the first promo for Fate/Zero came out, it left me sort of worried. The Iskander/Waver story is one of the best parts of Zero, after all, and I was hoping, if anything, that the adaptation would retain the Waver/Rider story’s charisma.
I mean, in my mind, Alexander the Great is this guy who died in his prime. Granted people back then don’t live very long on average, but he died when he was just 33 years old. (And from what I can tell, while that is higher than the average life expectancy for the period/location, once we take away the impact of child mortality anyone older than 15 should live to on average over 40 years.) Maybe that qualified you as “old” by anime standards, but it doesn’t mesh with the popular depiction of Alexander the Great in the west. I mean he’s middle-eastern, sure, but more to the tones of a pretty Greek dude and less of a crafty mountain bandit image. It would be weird once he starts playing video games!
Second, Alexander the Great is a great general. I think one of the most fabled thing about him is reportedly not losing a single battle. It also makes him one of probably the best military general ever lived on earth, given his exploits. At least in a top-5 list for sure. I’m not sure if the anime actually got this right when describing his background.
Third, and perhaps the most important one, is that it is with his sheer charisma that Alexander the Great was able to unite the large territories he conquered. The anime seems to build the Iskander Rider character out of this notion, and his semi-foolish claims of taking over the world (and had the means to at least made the joke seemingly less funny). That part is fine by me, at least in the sense that Fate Zero can also be a primer to history and bringing to life a historical marvel. At least, as long as you don’t think Alexander the Great is actually like this, or King Arthur is actually a person. I mean Arthur could be a girl for all we know.
There is a lot to be said about Waver too. I think in the book Waver was more appealing as someone who had ideals about meritocracy but failed to look within and see the flaws that tarnished his capabilities. Besides instilling a spine into the lad, Iskander is a mentor, a friend, and someone who is simply just better than Waver and inspires Waver to become a better person despite the Grail War circumstances making things difficult. The anime captures the interpersonal dynamics pretty well, but I think of Waver more a tsundere than the semi-dere little critter that he seems to be in the anime. By painting Waver as this green-behind-the-ears grasshopper slash bumbling academic, the overall dynamics will work. I just think he is probably a little too soft-boiled. I mean even Azaka Kokutou would’ve schooled the boy, and I always thought just by being a Mage at the Tower at one point, Waver was already better than that. Well, that’s just me.
I just want to note that I was in the last round of close beta for Sword Girls, which is this online collectable card game featuring pixiv-style moe girl visuals. It is a pretty fun game as far as a free-to-play online doohicky goes. The CCG mechanics lend themselves more to that style of play than actually decking it out and counting cards and what not like M:tG or whatever. Sure, you can do that in the game too, but it all feels too fancy and more about getting redraws to fish for combo cards. I guess what I’m trying to say is that some moe card games are solidly built on proven mechanics, others are more interesting and fancy than proven. Still I can see myself playing it from time to time. Top image is from said game.