Let’s take a brief overview of several of the magi in Fate/Zero. There’s Kayneth, a prodigal “elite” born to a prestigious family line, who ends up suffering a painful death at the hands of Kiritsugu. There’s Tokiomi, who treats his family like tools and ends up getting literally backstabbed by his apprentice. And finally there’s Noritaka, whose research on immortality turns an entire island into zombie-like vampires and makes his own son kill him. Not looking too good already. But let’s take things up a notch by examining more magi from the extended Nasuverse.
Being a fan of Kara no Kyoukai, I will focus on several of its magi. There’s Araya Souren, who commits attrocious human experiments and gets killed by Ryougi Shiki after an epic battle. There’s also Cornelius Alba, who makes a cameo appearance in this episode of Fate/Zero as part of the clean-up crew. He gets devoured by a monster in a suitcase. Ok, granted there are many more magi who don’t meet an unfortunate end, but what do the magi that I mentioned have in common? Well, they all singlemindedly focus on reaching the Root; the source of all knowledge. Since this is established to be the overarching goal of all magi in the Nasuverse, though, we can generally infer that all magi are inevitably screwed.
Seriously, it’s almost as if Type-Moon makes an effort to emphasize that if you pursue the Root, bad things will happen to you and those around you. I think I’ll call this the Type-Moon Effect. Just take a look at Kiritsugu’s situation. Like any good magi, his father only wanted to reach the Root, so he researched immortality in an attempt to facilitate the lengthy process. What happens as a result? A girl steals the potion and starts a vampire epidemic. Perhaps he should have better guarded such a dangerous thing? Nah. Just traumatize your son with the ensuing massacre. Next thing you know, he’ll be out for your blood.
I’m not sure how much of the whole incident was purposeful, but it certainly could have been prevented. You prepared a boat to escape in case this would happen? Perhaps you should have prepared a magic safe to keep the potion out of the wrong hands instead. But of course, all of this was for the noble goal of reaching the Root so that makes it alright. You know what they say; the path to hell is paved with good intentions. With all their vast knowledge and expertise though, you’d think the magi would have realized by now that perhaps reaching the Root isn’t exactly a worthy goal; there are just too many sacrifices.
But of course, the fact that most of the magi in question have an alarming disregard for the wellbeing of others doesn’t exactly help. I’m not sure if Noritaka even recognized how much distress Kiritsugu was in when he confronted him. The fact that Tokiomi never suspected Kirei was acceptable, but Noritaka should have at least realized that all of Kiritsugu’s friends perishing that night might make him just a little upset. I suppose in the end, it all just boils down to the magi being on a completely different “wavelength” than all the other “normal” humans. I don’t think I would even want people like them getting ahold of the Root.
I suppose you could argue that the act of pursuing the Root was what twisted them to be this way, but they had to have made a conscious choice to start doing so in the first place. I guess the real moral of the story, then, is that anything associated with some strong magical concept will inevitably bring about pain and despair. The Holy Grail is already looking pretty bad from the events of the Grail War, but when you consider that the Root is the actual overarching goal of everything, it really starts to look like the “final boss” of magic.