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When Dreams Shatter} ?> Kiritsugu is a happy, wide-eyed kid with big dreams. He and his father live near a quaint village on a peaceful island in the Philippines. His best friend (and secret crush) is his father’s research assistant, Shirley. One night, while they are standing near a lake and staring at the sky full of stars, she asks him what he dreams of becoming when he grows up. Although he is too embarrassed to tell her, his dream is to become a hero.
One fateful night, everything changes. The research his father has been working on, which he thought was supposed to save lives, ends up being nothing more than a means to turn people into zombie-like creatures called Dead Apostles. Worst of all, the first person to transform into one of these horrifying fiends is Shirley. Kiritsugu knows that he is the only person who can keep his father from harming another person ever again, so he kills him.
This is Kiritsugu’s story in the anime Fate/Zero. It is heartbreaking to watch the young boy forced to choose between his father and the good of humanity. After killing his father, Kiritsugu’s expression becomes vacant and his personality robotic.
No one should have to make that kind of decision, especially as a child.
Kiritsugu still wants to be a hero more than anything and becomes determined to stop all of the evil in the world. He trains under a formidable mage and assassin named Natalia. She becomes like a mother to him as they hunt down evil men who threaten the innocent.
In time, Kiritsugu masters his trade of killing dangerous mages to the point that he earns himself the title “The Magus Killer.” But in a mission gone terribly wrong, he has to kill even Natalia to save the lives of the many. Kiritsugu tries to tell himself that he is doing the work of a hero. But after killing Natalia, he realizes that he is the farthest thing from it. He is just a killer. It is devastating to see him wake up to this reality. I couldn’t imagine experiencing the anguish of that moment. To believe that I am doing the work of a hero, only to realize I have become anything but.
It is after this experience that Kiritsugu retires from his work as an assassin and begins praying for a miracle. Years later, Kiritsugu finds the opportunity he has been waiting for. He can finally rid the world of evil once and for all. He is invited to participate in the Fuyuki Grail War. Seven Masters with seven Servants fight to the death, and the winner may ask any wish to be granted by the grail. He takes up his weapons again for one last fight.
After fighting many grueling battles and losing everyone dear to him, Kiritsugu finally obtains the grail. He wins the grail only to realize that it cannot rid the world of evil without killing almost everyone in it. His dreams are shattered. He will never save the world from evil. He will never become a hero.
Seeing all the wreckage and ruin that the Grail War has caused, he searches through the flames and digs through the rubble in hopes of saving at least one person. He has failed to reach his dreams, but he has one last hope. If he can save one person, he believes he can live with himself. He finally finds someone, a young boy named Shirou. He saves him, and adopts him.
Because of the after-effects of the war, Kiritsugu only lives a few more years. But those years mean the world to at least one person, Shirou. In their last conversation before Kiritsugu dies, he tells Shirou about his dream to be a hero and how he failed. Inspired by his adoptive father, Shirou promises that he will become a hero for him. “Since you can’t do it, I’ll be one for you,” Shirou says. “Your dream, leave it to me.”
Through all of the striving and toil Kiritsugu failed to reach his dreams, but found peace in the hope that his son would accomplish what he couldn’t.
I empathize with Kiritsugu because more than anything I fear that I will never reach my dreams. I have already failed in my childhood passion to become a famous musician. With the rigors of college, work, and sports, I stopped practicing my freshman year and haven’t picked up an instrument since. I also long to be a respectable scholar, but find myself scratching at the door of employers to give me a salary with which I can afford further education. Worse than that, I have already failed in my dreams of being a good person, having done wrongs that I swore I would never do. I also dreamed of a happy life, but have experienced pains and anguish that I hoped I would never have to endure. I have worked, toiled, pushed, pulled, and tried again to make my dreams reality. But will I ever reach them?
There is still hope. Even if I strive after my dreams my entire life only to fail in reaching them, Kiritsugu has taught me something: if I inspire at least one person, that will be enough. If I can at least be a hero to my daughter, I will be more than content. At the very least, if my family knows I love them, I will be happy. I won’t let go of my dreams, but I can also pass them on.