To be honest, I’m not a very good reader in FGO, and I tend to skip stories every single time and only relies on summaries.
However, there is something charming about Shinjuku Phantom Incident that led me to read through all of it— well, aside from getting Holmes in gacha, falling for him and wanting to read the story where he’s the most prominent.
Shinjuku Phantom Incident is the first of Fate/Grand Order: Epic of Remnant, a series of ‘side stories’ (dubbed as chapter 1.5) sets after the end of Solomon chapter, the first of Grand Order’s story arcs. You can do any of the stories (Shinjuku, Agartha, Shimosa and Salem) in any order, though technically, Shinjuku’s the first that happened in the timeline.
Though I can’t really say EoR is counted as ‘side story’ because it’s quite heavy on its own and may contain hints to what’s coming in FGO’s main story, especially if rumors I heard about Salem’s story is true….. Also, you’d get spoiled on Shinjuku and Agartha if you did Salem first so most of my mutuals in Twitter suggested I should finish this first before continuing Salem.
Anyways, enough background.
What’s Shinjuku about? To give a short summary; it’s a Sherlock Holmes series fanfiction by Fate/Grand Order sets in 1999 Shinjuku, Japan where some horrible shit happens every day.
…..I’m sure there’s quite a lot of detailed summaries on the plot itself, so I’m skipping the detailed plot summary and instead, going to write about what really made me fell in love with this story arc; characterizations.
If you saw me on Twitter, you might already realize that I got really attached to the Servants appearing in Shinjuku itself. I don’t really know the other EoR Servant’s roles yet, but I feel like the relationship and interaction between the protagonist and Shinjuku Servants are… really interesting, that I hoped it strikes through the rest of EoR.
I can’t really read much on it since I still suck at Kanji, but basically, in Shinjuku, most of the independent summoned Servants are either Alter or have ‘Evil’ nature that even Holmes had to disguise as Dantes to not raise suspicions.
Yet, even though most of them are evil, they show an interesting range of humanity, too. I remember a post on Tumblr about how FGO’s charm that it has so many people attached to its characters and Chaldea is that they showed even the most badass characters from legends like Vlad having a side of humanity too.
That charm really strikes through in this chapter.
Saber Alter, a badass alteration of Arthuria Pendragon who rides a motorcycle, adopts a puppy and gets attached to it. Jeanne Alter, who probably would burn anyone annoying her, got really tsundere-ish to the protagonist the entire chapter and even asked (in my case, a) her for a dance twice.
But the spotlight of it was, of course, Shinjuku Archer, or also known as James Moriarty— Holmes’ eternal criminal mastermind rival.
I came to read this after being spoiled on what he is, yet I feel like if you didn’t know who he is— the impact of the climax would be more painful.
He’s the first support you got in this chapter and is indeed a goofy old man, who once got drunk on the hideout and latches quickly on the protagonist. If I had to explain his role, he’s like the protagonist’s weird uncle who got attached to her and saying ‘Wow, you grew up so much, girl!‘ during family reunions even though Gudako didn’t remember who the heck he is as she’s a toddler when she first meet him— at least in the first half of the chapter.
At least until Holmes revealed who he is actually. The embodiment of evil in the story he lived in, the ‘Napoleon of Crimes’, James Moriarty. Holmes said Moriarty isn’t supposed to have a good side, yet…. he’s actually split into two and has a good side by the protagonist’s side and the evil side ruling Shinjuku, and all of them believed they’d resolve this if the evil Moriarty is defeated.
Well, it doesn’t get that smooth, though. Turns out it was all Moriarty’s plan to beat Holmes with a demon pillar’s assist in return for killing the Master, and blah blah, you’d have to battle him. Also, there’s going to be an asteroid hitting them, too.
But at the end, you beat him with the help of some ‘Authors’ on the finale, and you survived (took me 3 CS and 1 quartz, but, whatever), and returned to Chaldea.
And you can reveal how he’s actually enjoying the short time he had fighting as the ‘hero’ by protagonist’s side, before disappearing, saying he hoped she would pretend the terrorist in front of him isn’t the ‘Moriarty’ the protagonist knew, so that he could get summoned as a hero on Chaldea.
So, yeah. FGO did a good job with him, no wonder they let him appear as the silly mastermind behind Halloween event, or before that racing with Fran he wholesomely adopts. He has such an interesting character during this arc, and up to this moment; I still can’t believe FGO is making me feel emotions about a Moriarty that I’d pay to summon him on my Chaldea.
But I did, anyway. And I’m sure a few lots did—- I mean, look at the number of fanarts this old man is having.
So, Shinjuku arc is good. Yet, at the end, it’s also a fanfiction— heck, Shakespear said so ‘This is just a fanfiction‘, during the climax of this arc. But I think that’s why it’s so charming to me; it’s a fanfiction that shows the humane side of some Evil Servants you’d never expect.
And it also proves that how silly a concept for a mere ‘fanfiction’ might be, as long as it’s pulled through execution nicely— it could be great.
And that’s an important message.