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Thoughts on CCC

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(Warning: you are about to read a pointlessly long rambling about CCC which is neither review, analysis or summary, even if it reads sometimes like all three. It is nothing more than a disorganised pile of musings and thoughts which provide little insight. That said, feel free to partake regardless)

Now that I’m done with basically everything EXTRA-verse related ever produced (as far as I know?) I think it’s time I got back to thinking about CCC, which is undoubtedly the crown-jewel in the repertoire of this ‘franchise-within-a-franchise’. I suppose using the wording “crown-jewel” might falsely represent the rest of EXTRA as some sort of gilded construct, which is far from what I want to claim. By some miracle, within this franchise that is so otherwise by-the-numbers, one of Nasu’s all-time classics resides. That’s not to say that I think it is among the absolute top of them, but playing made me at least gain respect for people who hold the opinion that it is, in fact, the best thing he’s written. I now understand that this position is in fact valid.

All that aside, CCC is not perfection either, it is far from, and perhaps that in and of itself might lead us to question the merit of sweeping judgments altogether. If the good parts and the bad parts were weighed against each other with perfect numerical precision, would CCC attain a ‘high-score’? Is CCC a ‘10/10’? It really doesn’t even matter, at the end of the day. What merits understanding, is that CCC is worth your time, even if it feels like it sometimes wastes it.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the story structure, I think it is important to lay out what CCC’s theme is, or at least, what I think it is.

Love, of course.

That would be the simple answer, and it’s most probably what its author had in mind when writing the story. But CCC goes to such great lengths to define what love is, that it really touches upon everything what it means to be human. At its core, it asks what all of us ask ourselves everyday, with every action and with every thought. What is the meaning of life?

If you think that sounds a bit grand for a sequel to a spin-off to a Japanese porn-game ostensibly about dudes with superpowers beating each other up, then feel free. It is, however, the undeniable truth about CCC’s design. The fact that it has the gall, the mustre, the sheer arrogance, to talk with such conviction about the underlying issues of existence itself despite the fact that it is nothing more than a gameplay-wise low-quality PSP game is in a way, oddly reflective of what it has to say about humanity.

“Simple. Trite. Without any twists whatsoever! Just another piece of commercial entertainment! In whose heart will it ever remain?” - Andersen

This is what CCC should be.

It is not.

Welcome to — Cursed.Cutting.Crater

(spoilers, btw)

For those not familiar with CCC, I will be providing an overview as you read along. You are once again thrown into the cyber-world of SE.RA.PH from the first game, seemingly at an unspecified part of the plot. You meet two new characters (Kiara and Jinako) in quick order. Sakura’s shadows from F/SN attack, and you are swallowed and thrown into the void. You meet your Servant, which in my case happens to be Gilgamesh. He takes all your Command Spells, and saves you from the void. You are expelled onto the Far Side of the Moon (in contrast to the Near Side of the Moon, where the Holy Grail War takes place). This is an imaginary number space temporally and spatially unconnected to its counterpart. You find yourself at the old school building, a refuge for the people consumed by shadowy creatures seen in the beginning. Many familiar faces are there, primary of which are Sakura, Leo (and his Servant Gawain), Julius, Gatou, Shinji, Jinako (and her Servant Karna) and Kiara (and her Servant Andersen).

Your first action is to get to know your strange new Servant. Gilgamesh is a bit special. He was supposedly added to the game as the final Servant, and might seem a smidge out of nowhere as compared to other fan-favourites from F/SN. But as I played the game, it rather gave me the impression that it was almost written with him in mind. Not because of how he fits in the plot, but because of the thematic resonance he has with the work. Of most importance, is the insistence with which Gilgamesh reminds you of your doom. Without your Command Spells, you are fated to lose immediately upon returning to the Near Side. Through your contract with him, you’ve thus sealed your fate in the Holy Grail War, regardless of what happens in the Far Side. At the end of your journey, death awaits. It is vaguely reminiscent of the story of Gawain and Green Knight, as is it in its conclusion.

Leo’s plan is to escape the Far Side, and recommence the Holy Grail War, and he needs your help. You gather up some other willing fellows (which turns out to be only Gatou, aside from Julius and Gawain, who are already in Leo’s service) and head out to the newly formed Sakura Dungeon, named as such since it is accessed from a sakura tree on the schoolyard. Through the investigation of this dungeon, Leo aims to find a way out of your collective predicament. As you are the sole remaining Master aside from Leo with a Servant willing to assist, you’ll serve as the spearhead for the investigation, while the rest of the team assists remotely (partially to maintain your relative qualitative position in imaginary number space). Gilgamesh, though a transcendentally powerful Servant, has lost most of his power through his extended slumber in the Far Side and will need to grind mobs like the rest of us to regain his former might.

I think if you’ve read any works by our variously despised and beloved Nasu Kinoko, you’d know that he rarely moves particularly quickly in the beginning, and CCC does not break this mould. In fact, I played the game up to about half of the first chapter (about what I’ve described so far, out of a total of 7) before putting the game down for an extended time (about a month?). There is in fact not much to suggest that the game is particularly interesting at all until quite a ways in, and this is probably one of the more reasonable criticisms you can aim at CCC. Nevertheless, it is a necessary evil, as it steadily introduces the elements required to digest the themes and the story that is about to unfold. In my case it probably also did not help that I’ve known about the twists of the game since long, long ago.

After exploring the Sakura Dungeon you discover in short order that Rin has proclaimed herself queen of the moon, and seemingly commands the floors of the dungeon. She maintains a wall in the dungeon which cannot be physically destroyed. After consulting Kiara, you find out the walls represent Rin’s secrets. She grants you a special Codecast that lets you physically extract a girl’s “Secret Garden” once you’ve identified it. Doing so will deconstruct the wall, and let you proceed the dungeon. Naturally, Rin (and her newly acquired Servant, the not so well-concealed Lancer Elizabeth Bathory) will try to stop you.


The first three floors of the Sakura Dungeon constitute Rin’s heart, and the first chapter of CCC.

Even then, this is frankly not a particularly interesting part of the story. We get to know Rin a little better, but there’s not much here which we didn’t already know. Hey guys, did you know Rin likes money? Did you know Rin is a TSUNDERE?? The first two chapters of CCC are not thematically cohesive, nor do they feel well planned out. There’s a feeling that they’re a token on the way to getting to the setup to the actual game, which is the gradual reveal of the Alter-Egos and the gathering of your scooby-doo investigation squad. It is now perhaps worth mentioning that CCC was written by an ensemble of people, one of the first of such efforts for TYPE-MOON. The pattern apparently seems to be that a sub-writer wrote the first two floors for each character, and then Nasu wrote the third conclusive floor. As a result, a lot of the time it feels like CCC just drags you along with strange floor gimmicks for no discernable reason, something which occasionally distracts from the overall experience. This is most notable at the beginning (and the fifth chapter).

Once you unveil all three of Rin’s SGs, you find a final wall ahead, with a grand relief of Rin herself embedded in its core. Kiara is once again called up to assist, and she guides you through a process to infiltrate the heart of Rin, where you have to first fight Liz, and then verbally abuse Rin into submission. This process is roughly analogous to the part in EXTRA where you commence the duel in the colosseum, much as the collection of the SGs is roughly comparable to the moratorium and the arena. You beat up Rin, and it turns out that actually she wasn’t the perpetrator behind the incident, but rather an oddly behaving Sakura-looking AI known as BB was. BB is nigh-omnipotent in this realm, having gained control of the malicious information that forms the Far Side of the Moon. Nevertheless, AIs like her cannot harm Masters, so she’s recruited a bunch of promising people into becoming roadblocks for her dungeon. She informs you, do not leave the school. Nothing bad will happen as long as you stay there.

Then the Opening plays, after what must be at least 6+ hours of play. Classic Fate.

This is where a lot of the intrigue of the story starts to reveal itself. Naturally, a lot of the facts of what’s going on are intentionally concealed, as they concern the true nature of BB and her motives. What are her objectives? Where did she come from? Why does she look like the harmless AI you have in your school? It is only here that I actually started to care about CCC, and at this point onwards, I think I played 1-2 chapters a day.

For as much as CCC generally has absolutely excellent character writing, I don’t think Rin is a benefactor of this quality. Most of what is explored about her character here has already been done far better in F/SN, and it lacks the familial quality to her character that completes her character arc there. It doesn’t help that Liz, who serves as her Servant, doesn’t get anything meaningful whatsoever here, and is in fact reused for the second chapter as Rani’s Servant, only to finally only get her conclusion at the very end, near the start of the seventh chapter.


Following the above conclusions, there really then is not much to say about the second chapter, and it might be the weakest of the bunch, something which is at least alleviated by the fact that it is rather short. Once again, you explore another character of which most things have already been said, and which are frankly not that interesting. You extract Rani’s SGs and dive into her heart, exposing her secrets and breaking the wall. However, this is the end of the Sakura Dungeon that BB has constructed so far. Leo commands you to rush to the exit, where BB is waiting. She cannot harm you, but has split off two clones of herself to serve as further parts of her expanding dungeon. These “Alter-Egos” are known as High-Servants and are an amalgamation of data from various Goddesses blended with BB’s sub-routines. They’re strong, and you’re forced to retreat. BB warns you to cut off your contract with Gilgamesh, and stop leaving the school, but you refuse.

There is one foundational aspect of these chapters which must be addressed in understanding CCC, however. The final and most fundamental issue that lies at the not-quite metaphorical heart of Rin and Rani’s issues, are surrounding the nature of their expression of love. Submission, in Rin’s case, and control in Rani’s case. It opens up the question of what love is to people, what it means to love someone, and that it is fundamentally connected to the innermost part of the mind. Love is more than simply affection, it is the building-block around which ‘people’ and by extension ‘life’ is formed.

And finally, we enter the Cursed.Cutting.Crater for real.


One of the major plotlines in the third chapter surrounds the retrieval of your (all the Masters trapped in the Far Side) collective memories, which have been stolen by BB and hidden somewhere in the Sakura Dungeon. Indeed, one of my first thoughts when I heard the protagonist lament their lack of recollection of the Holy Grail War, was that it was just a convenient way to get all the characters from EXTRA on the scene without committing to anything having happened. A kind of Hollow-esque situation. But this turns out to not actually be the case. There are things that have happened on the Front Side which have serious ramifications for the characters, and when they do, is when CCC really starts to get steam.

Passionlip is the core of the next part of the dungeon, forming the 7-9th floors. Despite being theoretically in direct opposition of you, Passionlip adopts a passive stance in fighting you off, and after you intervene in Alice and Robin (resurrected and employed by BB) bullying her for her incompetence, she falls in love with you. There’s a duality between the extremes of love displayed by Passionlip and Meltryllis, the two Alter-Egos. Obviously, the idea is that they represent the opposite sides of sadomasochism, and this is not a mere facade, but a rather deeply pursued idea. Both of these characters are represented not as real people with real issues, but idealogues representative of these mental traits. Idols of the concept of sadism and masochism. Passionlip is the M in this paradigm. Her disposition makes people want to bully and disgrace her, and she is extremely sensitive towards it. Much like the Breast Valley (an endless pocket dimension located in her cleavage), Passionlip is a receptacle for unlimited love, and she is positively starving. Nothing can satisfy her. In her pursuit of love, she loses track of the other, seeking only to satisfy herself.

While the idea here is solid, I can’t say I’m too big of a fan of Passionlip regardless, even if I feel like the third chapter had more of a thematic flair to it than the last two did. The main aspect that makes this chapter interesting is the aforementioned memory plotline. Our heroes suspect that BB has discarded them in Breast Valley, and aim to find a way to retrieve them. Because of Passionlip’s inclination to avoid confrontation, you finally manage to recruit Jinako to assist, at the promise of restoring her memories. At the scene, Jinako pretends to be your lover to bait Passionlip out, who appears with a jealous vengeance. Jinako panics, her terror leaving her unable to even summon Karna. After many hijinks, you rescue Jinako, and obtain Passionlip’s final SG. After the confrontation, Jinako finds your collective memories and takes a peek before you can retrieve them. What she finds disturbs her, and she runs off in a fit of heightened shock. Jinako is found by BB, and turned into the next part of the Sakura Dungeon instead of Meltryllis. It also turns out Julius is working for BB.


The third chapter, or rather, the end of it, is the turning point of CCC. This is where it goes from being a middling Persona 4 and instead begins to reveal its face as a TYPE-MOON classic. Still, this is rather far into the game, which is a shame. Truth be told, I was not sold on the game until Jinako’s chapter. Jinako is the closest the game comes to having a real person in it, and it was straight up uncomfortable for me to see her inner self unveiled. Partially I do think that is a reflection of myself, because loath as I am to admit it, she is very relatable.

Before I talk more about that though, there’s a character here that I’ve persistently referred to as “you”, and that’s out of respect for how the game treats them. The player character is named by you, and played by you. That said, they probably do not act like you. I levied some criticism against EXTRA for how the player character was treated, and I still think that’s fair. But things are different here. CCC gives such a concrete character to you that its hard to believe at times. Obviously Nasu is generally quite resistant to writing POV characters that are actually just you (aside from FGO, apparently) but it seems here he completely abandoned the attempt that was the crucible of that idea in Kishinami Hakuno. They are charming, humorous, persistent, almost stubborn and very much their own. When Gilgamesh gradually begins to respect them, you buy it, because you too come to do the same. The relentless yet ordinary pursuit of “life” and all the positive implications of that word are embodied in the protagonist.

On the opposite side we have Jinako, who represents death and forms the core of the next part of the Sakura Dungeon, and the focal point of the fourth chapter. What caused Jinako’s shock is that she found out she’s doomed. Her cowardice compelled her to hide during the first battle of the Holy Grail War, and so she was disqualified. Since she never left the entrance to the arena however, she was effectively in limbo as long as she remained there. Yet once the Holy Grail War ends she will nevertheless be deleted, along with the rest of the Near Side. Her conclusion is that if the protagonists succeed in escaping the Far Side, she will once again return to proper time and have to face her inevitable death. In comparison, staying cooped up and playing video games forever outside the axis of time seems preferable, would you not say?

Jinako’s SGs are compulsive lying, solitude and “the curse of death”. The floors which make up her part of the dungeon echo this, and are harrowing, especially the last two. The death of her family, her abandonment of the real word, the intangible and meaningless relationships she had on the internet. It stings, and it is delivered well. All the while, Karna watches over her, ever critical of her attitude, but nevertheless dedicated to serving her wishes. In order to reach Jinako’s heart, a final obstacle presents itself. A wall of absolute death. To break through it is to die, there is no way around it. Gatou says he has an idea on how to solve your predicament. Gatou is the only person aside from you that has tried to interact with the shut-in Jinako up until this point in the story, and feels obligated to help. Ultimately, his conclusion is simply to walk through the wall himself. Much like Jinako, he too was doomed. The Holy Grail War proceeded to the fifth stage on the Near Side, and he was consumed by BB right before being deleted after he lost in the fourth.

Unlike Jinako, Gatou embraces his doom. We all die, that is the price of life, or rather, the definition of it. Were life to be unchanging, permanent and without death, then it would have no meaning. The universe is a process, not a state. It too will at some point arrive at a conclusion. To deny this, is to deny why you live at all. If you sought permanence, then you’d have no reason to live in the first place. The vicissitude of things, that is life, and without an end, there cannot be a beginning. The realisation crushes Jinako regardless. If that’s the case, why have a beginning at all, why give her hope, why show her that things can be good, if the world is just going to take them away, like they did her parents?

Tying these philosophical concepts to a very normal and ordinary person gives a great outlet to the ideas, and shows how they can have relevance to all of us. Jinako is a NEET because her life has stopped, this is a state of pseudo-death. She has already reached her conclusion, or at least, so she thinks. She’s not a great person, and she doesn’t intend to change her ways, even after Gatou’s speech. But as long as she wants to live, no matter how twisted the wish for that may be, she is still a life worth saving. Her fear of death may have paralyzed her, but it is nevertheless symbolic of an ultimate expression of wanting to live.

The ultimate conclusion of Jinako’s arc arrives later, in the very last chapter, but I do find her one of the most compelling aspects of the whole of CCC, and her dynamic with Karna is both heartwarming and funny. I think if you’ve only experienced Karna from FGO, you’ll be surprised at how well-written and likeable he is here. He really was the perfect fit for Jinako. He is relentless in his criticism of Jinako’s lifestyle, yet willing to give her the room to find the answers on her own.

Another character who starts to come alive around here is Gilgamesh. Unlike the other player Servants of CCC, his story has never been fully told. We know a little about him from F/SN, but not about his inner thoughts. There is a lot of discourse surrounding the amelioration of Gilgamesh’s moral character in the Fate fandom, and where it originated. He is portrayed mostly negatively in both F/SN and F/Z, and it is then often said that the reversing of this trend started in CCC. Nevertheless, Gilgamesh feels very in line with how he is portrayed in those initial works. He is a ruthless person, and can actually give you bad ends if you disappoint him. What makes him such a perfect fit for the story though, is how his past pursuit of immortality ultimately ties into the themes of the game. Not to mention his banter with all the different characters is plainly entertaining. Gilgamesh holds no punches, and will insult everyone he comes across, all while providing accurate judgments of their character. He feels intimidating, yet a constant place of security.

Once again, you’ve broken past the entirety of the current Sakura Dungeon, and confront BB at the exit to the Near Side. Leo appears in the flesh, commanding Gawain to battle the rampaging AI. However, BB has broken through her AI-directive to preserve the lives of Masters after you caused harm to her Alter-Egos. She can now act in self-defence, and quickly defeats Leo and Gawain. In his final moments, Leo compels you to never give up, no matter how impossible the odds may seem. You can hear the noises of the school being invaded. Though BB cannot interfere with the school for whatever reason, Julius who allied with her can. Everything is seemingly lost, as BB banishes Gilgamesh back to limbo, while you are consumed by her, sent into a pocket of imaginary number space of complete nihil.

This part of CCC between the conclusion of the fourth chapter and the start of the fifth is called the interlude, and as such I’ll do a little one of my own.


Something that’s interesting about playing CCC so long since it came out (9 years ago!) is that it is ripe for comparison to the work now most well-known (for better or worse) to Fate fans. Yes, I’m gonna talk about FGO. Famously Nasu once said that he had said everything he wanted to say with Fate after CCC. This has then further been distorted into him saying that CCC was the last Fate work. Regardless of the misinterpretation of his words, I can fully believe him when he says as much. The amount of ideas that he just straight up displaces from CCC into FGO is staggering. Whether it's the concrete concepts like a bunch of gifted characters providing remote assistance from a command centre while you, an average person does all the fighting, or thematic stuff like the inherent value of life in contrast to death. It’s all there. I think one of the ones that made me just almost get whiplash, is when BB starts to unveil her plan to destroy humanity, and Rin and Rani pull up a digital construct that simulates the future state of Earth if BBs plan was to be put into motion at current parameters. There really are so many of these moments that I do not have time to list them all here, but it’s a fun little game to keep in mind as you’re playing.

Now in a seemingly hopeless situation, body dull and unresponsive, you nevertheless put willpower into your limbs and crawl on. Gradually you see a faint light, but as you approach it, you hear the thoughts of your lost comrades. They tell you to give up, to stop crawling forward. To cease your pointless struggling. Eventually BB joins in, heckling you, debasing you. But you keep going. You keep going. You keep going, until eventually BB snaps, and physically manifests a digital construct to stop you. The isolation of the space shatters, and before the construct can attack you, Julius appears and stops it. With BB’s interference in the closed-off realm, he could finally find a pass into it to save you. As it turns out, Julius is no traitor, but rather acted as one to gain information on BB. He carried out an act at the school to convince her of his allegiance, but spared those he harmed. The people at the school are still alive. He pushes you into the portal, and sends you out into proper imaginary number space. Julius does not come with you, breaking apart in his confrontation with BB.

I think there’s some level of which you were supposed to feel a lot of emotional weight at the loss of so many of your allies around here, but the one that really stuck with me turned out to actually be Gatou. Leo and Julius are interesting characters, and Leo is certainly very different in CCC compared to how he’s presented in EXTRA, he’s playful and almost whimsical. Still, they don’t get much room to breathe, and their characters aren’t particularly explored. As such, the impact of their deaths feel a bit hasty in my opinion. In fact, Julius’ confession that “you were his only friend” comes off as straight up corny and even a bit confusing, since CCC takes place during the fifth stage of the Near Side, and you’ve yet to see his inner mind (though that’s honestly a very minor critique) from the beginning of the sixth stage. Once again, if you really want to see these characters in their fullest (especially Leo, less Julius) you have to experience Last Encore, which is where all of the original EXTRA characters are truly done justice.

You drift around in the imaginary numbers, before finding yourself in Gilgamesh’s heart. This stage is simply one long tunnel at which the end stands a wall similar to the ones you’ve found in the Sakura Dungeon. You are not alone however, a fragment of Gilgamesh, his instincts (as compared to his rationality) is there as well. There is only one thing to do, go forward. However, the action strains your body. Approaching the grand Gilgamesh’s heart is no small feat, and you will surely shatter before you arrive. The instinstics of Gilgamesh watch on in quiet observation as you struggle vainly. BB’s voice sounds over the landscape. She tries to convince the instincts to intervene, and stop you from going forward. But to no avail. You make it, half-dead, and awaken the King of Heroes. Rationality overrides instinct, and Gilgamesh is whole again. BB sends in an attack program, so Gilgamesh can show off his NP, which he has now allowed you to use in respect of your resolve. It’s pretty damn cool.

As I said before, despite how it might seem, the exploration of Gilgamesh’s character so far does give you the proper understanding of why he’d come to respect you so much. He is the judge of man. That was the purpose given to him, and in a sense he has not budged from it. But while the gods wanted him to reign in humanity, Gilgamesh saw in humanity something the gods could not give him. Having collected all the world had to offer, Gilgamesh could only find value in things which had yet to come. And only humans could offer him that, not the gods. The ability to go forward, unrelenting, searching in the dark for answers that may not exist, yet still not giving up. This is the quality which Gilgamesh sees as worthy of his judgement. And though you may be frail, your ability to face towards the future no matter your doubts and fears has convinced him of your value in living.

Gilgamesh’s inner realm collapses, and you find yourself in the schoolyard, where Rin, Rani and Sakura greet you and the interlude ends.


Speaking of nothing, did you know this game is about Sakura? I’ve not mentioned much about her so far, but she obviously is the most integral character to the game. Or at least that seems to be the intent. In order to unlock the true ending, you need to essentially date Sakura. You buy her clothes and visit her in the infirmary as she degrades from the stress of maintaining the school building and supporting your dives into the dungeon. There is concerted effort to make you feel emotionally connected to this poor little AI and despite how integral she is… I could never find myself caring too much about her. It is strange, given how much focus is on her, but she feels so token. Obviously there’s something to be said about how BB and her Alter-Egos are also a part of the exploration of Sakura’s character, but that feels hard to buy when they’re so independent of her and wildly different. Don’t get me wrong though, that part of the totality that is Sakura is great. BB and Meltryllis especially are incredible additions to the cast, with the wacky BB channel segments that start every chapter being some genuinely funny writing. Yet that never feels like it reflects on the person we are supposedly romancing, which is the Sakura AI.

It is around this point that it is unveiled that the reason for the Sakura Dungeon existing is to hack into the Mooncell core to take control of Earth so BB can play health advisor to all of humanity, which she’ll do by making them give in to their own desires. Human society will self-destruct, and most will die. Rin and Rani run a simulation of the outcome which predicts a bleak future. They are no longer fighting to return to the Holy Grail War, but to preserve humanity as well. This might be the first time Nasu really gave in to his “save the world” stake-raising tendency, and it works decently well all things considered. The gradual build-up of the stakes throughout CCC is just that, gradual. The feeling of impossible odds giving in to final triumph is both ultimately believable and highly satisfying, and that should be the desired reaction to plot building of this character. Still, before you can save the world, you need to get through the next two and final parts of the Sakura Dungeon, all the while as BB is busy hacking into the Mooncell, becoming increasingly incapable of interfering.

Chapter five returns to us with a familiar face. The core of the next part of the dungeon is Elizabeth Bathory, with Shinji serving as her Master. I’ll spare the details, but this chapter could very well be construed as a breather between the intensity of chapter four + interlude and the climax. Liz does have a serious side to her, but she is still primarily a gag character. From that you might think that I have little good to say about Liz, but she is actually one of the few Fate characters I find genuinely funny, and this is at full display in CCC. Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’d rather be doing other stuff with how the story is progressing. I’m starting to question the need for breathers at all. This is not quite as bad as the part in Avalon le Fae where a sudden chocolate-making contest is held in the latter half, but it kind of puts a damper on the pacing.

There is an aspect of this chapter which is great though, and that's Meltryllis. Unlike the passive Passionlip, Melt appears directly to stop you and is unrelenting in this task. She takes no damage, has capped out her level at 999 and shows zero remorse in displaying her overwhelming power. She absorbs Shinji and is about to end your life, until Robin intervenes, allowing you to escape. Meltryllis once again raises the stakes of the story. BB might be busy, but an equally, if not more terrifying foe takes her place.

Now getting past this floor involves getting past Meltryllis as well, and though you managed to acquire one of her SGs, it doesn’t mean much as long as you cannot hurt her. In trying to explore your options, Sakura accidentally contracts the Meltvirus, one of Meltryllis’ fundamental abilities. Now you have to save Sakura, but the only way to do so is to dive into her Cyber-body, which only Kiara is capable of through her forbidden Codecast known as Banshokuyuukai. Kiara agrees to lend it to you, but only if you meet her in Liz’s dungeon. You do, at which point Meltryllis ambushes, killing Kiara and subsequently Andersen, but not before the Servant uses one his abilities to allow you to escape.

Kiara and Andersen have a very low-key presence throughout most of CCC, and their conclusion is in fact entirely missable if you do not do the true route. I’ll spare the details of Kiara herself for later, but Andersen is an incredibly enjoyable character. He’s got a sharp mouth and is always badmouthing his Master. He also delivers the intros to every chapter. Along with Jinako and Karna, these two are another example of two characters that are so much better together than they are on their own. I’m sure it barely even merits mention at this point, but their VAs (Tanaka Rie and Koyasu Takehito) deliver impeccable performances as well.

With Kiara’s Codecast nevertheless acquired, you dive into Sakura’s Cyber-body, where it turns out a fragment of Elizabeth serves as the invasive aspect of the Meltvirus. Battles are had, puzzles are solved and Liz is a dork (and gets to see Gil’s junk). You also find Shinji, compressed into a part of the virus and manage to retrieve him, despite his betrayal.

This reckless and constant pursuit of forgiveness and virtuosity might be familiar to those who’ve played FGO, and there’s really no great difference in that aspect of Hakuno and Fujimaru’s characters, as much as you can say Fujimaru has one. That comparison feels inherently unflattering considering how poorly built up FGO’s protagonist is, and as much as they are inherently alike, the difference is in the presentation. These almost messiah-like qualities are much easier to buy given the expanded characterization. You could also factor in the fact that you are sometimes given the decision to spare people or not (specifically the Alter-Egos, as that is part of reaching the true ending). Another easy criticism to levy is that neither CCC nor FGO ever show the bad side of these actions, being overly idealistic and naive. I do think this is partially because Nasu didn’t feel like repeating Shirou’s storyline (though one does wonder why he felt so eager to repeat CCC’s storyline in FGO), and partially because his conception of Fate concerns the inherent goodness of humanity, in comparison to his other works.

Liz herself finally displays the more serious aspects of her character in her confrontation and is an interesting take on the motivations of the real murderer that was Elizabeth Bathory. She responded to that which was expected of her, to stay forever young and pure, and bathed in blood to preserve her beauty forever. Nobody could resolve the contradiction of the evil that was her actions despite doing what was expected of her. She was imprisoned, and finally met a cruel end. But of course, Liz knows her actions are evil, she knew all along. But this was the only way she could live, the only way to make her headaches go away. As you hesitate to end her life after exposing her heart, Rin and Rani imprison her, once again damning her the same fate as in life.


The sixth chapter concerns the confrontation with Meltryllis, though encounters with her are sparse at the start. BB is starting to break down as she tries to force herself through Mooncell’s firewall. Alice and Robin appear again as roadblocks on the first two floors of Meltryllis part of the dungeon. Notably Robin has managed to slip out of BB’s control and stolen some of her data, which he hands over after which you have to put him down before he’s absorbed by Melt. Your capable assistants try to find ways to deal with Melt’s invincibility, and even Shinji starts to pitch in on his lonesome.

This chapter is among the first times we get to see Shinji (for as much as you want to correlate the original and the EXTRA version) be unambiguously heroic. I don’t think my conception of him has changed regardless, but I do think it's clear Nasu wanted to make people reconsider him as a character, and this is a trait that carries onto later depictions as well (most notably Last Encore). I do think it’s good to make pathetic characters more sympathetic, especially considering how irredeemably awful Shinji is in his first appearance. Regardless, unlike Gilgamesh, this attempt isn’t quite as successful. Obviously Shinji is not given nearly as much time, so perhaps that’s to be expected.

While Melt was distracted by a dummy of you deployed on the upper levels for the first two floors, she finally appears on the last. BB cancels Melt’s invincibility (a rule Melt had hacked into the Far Side itself), but you still stand little chance against her with her level-capped stats. Shinji shows himself, annoying Melt enough with his minor hacks that she attacks him to re-absorb him. As it turns out, this was part of Shinji’s gambit, who had used a sample of the Meltvirus to reduce himself down to LVL -999, effectively cancelling out Melt’s absurd level advantage. Melt flees into the depths of her heart, sensing she is now outmatched.

Melt’s character is the more compelling Alter-Ego, if only because she’s given more time to be explored. Still, what I said about idealogues still applies here. Melt is an impossible person, and is rather used to explore the idea of giving love, in contrast to Passionlip receiving. As with her sibling, her desire is twisted to its extreme. She is so wildly in love with you that she wants to dedicate herself so entirely that mutuality has ceased being a concern for her. Whether you like her or not doesn’t matter. She shall simply give, offer up the entirety of her being, and literally become one with you, so she can take care of you forever. It is a contradictory sense of selfishness for others peoples sake. Another broken form of love.

You invade Meltryllis’ heart and deal finally corner her, but much like with Passionlip, you can refuse to kill her. For the naive, I think it is easy to chalk this down to the virtuosity tendencies of our protagonist. And as someone who has grown increasingly jaded about such simpleminded heroism when it is displayed in FGO, CCC actually did a good job at convincing me about the impetus of such actions. Meltryllis and Passionlip are by all means wicked in their actions, but regardless, at the core of their motivations lies love. It is an ill-born and untempered form of love, but love regardless. And while the exact value of love (which hasn’t really gotten a great rep so far in CCC) is to be revealed later, it makes a lot of sense in hindsight as to why showing compassion towards people who hold love is so integral to obtaining the true ending.

With the final layer of the Sakura Dungeon cleared, you head towards the exit, which now serves as a direct route to Mooncell’s core. Descending down the long ramp, a final obstacle reveals itself. A massive wall with a Sakura-like relief. As you stand unsure what to do, the truth reveals itself. BB’s now machine-like voice is heard throughout SE.RA.PH; she has seized control. Rin and Rani’s doomsday predictor immediately turns red. All of humanity will perish in 7 days. Space starts to rumble, and you escape, with no way forward. At your return there is an immense sense of gloom. With BB having seized Mooncell, she is free to direct the flow of the time towards the future she wants. Not only that, but because of the nature of time in the Far Side, BB’s ultimate success was essentially destined, they just didn’t know of it yet. BB never saw them as a threat, because she knew from the beginning that she had won. This crushing realisation destroys all willpower you had in opposing her. BB guaranteed your survival from the start, you may spend the rest of eternity in the school. A small, unchanging plot of land subsumed in imaginary number space.

And with that, you arrive at the climatic final seventh chapter.


In your slumber, someone speaks to you. Someone not yet known to you. This is the voice of Twice H Pieceman. Humanity is doomed. But that is not any different from how it always has been, is it not? We are all collectively hurling ourselves towards the future, and at some point the end will come, for humanity, much as it comes for the individuals that are a part of it. So why give up now? What you were fighting for wasn’t changing that outcome, it was changing how that outcome would look. Will the end be one of satisfaction? An Artgraph worthy of seeing to completion?

This information is the culmination of the first part of the puzzle of the meaning of life that CCC has so brazenly decided to tackle. And it asks a very good question. Knowing that your death awaits, and that all will inevitably come to an end, why live at all? If we were to stare at that question from a rational stand-point, you inevitably come to the conclusion that living has no point. A rational being would never choose life. Yet we do, we continue to do so, even in not knowing why. Because that’s what it means to live.

Reawakening, you feel your purpose return. Gilgamesh glows in satisfaction and swears to see your battle to end, regardless of outcome. Back in the classroom, Rin introduces the concepts of Observational Time and Recorded Time to illustrate the hopelessness of their situation. Humans can experience time Observationally, while Mooncell sees it as Recorded. In Recorded Time, all events can be observed freely as a chain of cause and effect, while Observational Time can only perceive the Present as it passes through possibilities. When BB acquired Mooncell, she perceived the future of her liking, and the Recorded Time was thus established. After a chat with Sakura, you return and Gilgamesh of all people manages to convince Rin and Rani to return to their senses. They’ve forgotten their privilege as people. Those who live in Observational Time are the only beings that have the power to change fate. It is only those who cannot know the future that have the ability to change it, who discover the possibilities that change the universe. That gives the world its infinitude, and imbues it with meaning. For if there was nobody to observe, it could not be. To change the future is simple, all you have to do is keep going forward. Finally, the gloom subsides.

This information is the culmination of the second part of the puzzle of the meaning of life. Humanity’s existence, or rather, the existence of life, in choosing to live, gives not just themselves meaning, but the world itself. Through aiming towards the future, we steer the ship of existence itself, seeking the ultimate death of the world as we do our own.

With everyone once again fired up, the first order of business is finding a way to overcome BB. BB’s nigh-omnipotence comes from her having appropriated the Authority of the Primordial Goddess for herself. This skill is called Potnia Theron and its description is one of my favourite lore pieces in all of TYPE-MOON and directly concerns the cycle of life and death. In order to nullify it, your Servant will need to acquire something called Mythical Wear, a manifestation of their own primordial genesis. To do this, Rin and Rani formulate a plan that requires you to dive into Gilgamesh’s cyber-body, not unlike what you did with Sakura. There’ll be obstacles though so Rin prepares a mysterious helper Servant to guide you inside of Gilgamesh.

And here we go again, it’s fucking Liz, let out of her prison to help with one last job. The introduction to her final appearance is actually hilarious. And it also made me realise that her repeated and persistent appearances in subsequent media is nothing more than a continuation of this one gag from CCC of her reappearing over and over again. By this point, Liz has seemingly come to terms with her sins, and the appropriate nature of her punishment, bringing her character to its conclusion. You fight a shadow of Gilgamesh, and acquire his Mythical Wear, as Liz says her farewells. The equipment takes an extraordinary amount of resources to use, and will have to be spared only for the final battle.

There’s also the final reveal of Gilgamesh’s past (and it might have been a bit earlier, but I’ll put it here regardless). What he saw at the end of his life, and why he stopped pursuing immortality. His choice to abandon the gods. Indeed, Gilgamesh laid down in a pool to clean himself, having completed his journey, and his adventures. He realised then, that the bliss he felt in that moment must have been why he had pursued all that he had. The image became clear, and it was a beautiful one. Yet this moment couldn’t come again. A snake ate his herb of immortality, and Gilgamesh laughed. Never had he felt more complete. Though he was more god than human, at that point he chose to die, to become one of them. He looked into the future, and there were endless possibilities for him to preside over, and he knew the world was good.

There is no doubt that Gilgamesh is a terrible person if you were to know him in the flesh. But there is no mistaking the awe you feel at his conclusions. It is not a human perspective, yet it affirms our lowest and most flawed attributes. To take for oneself, to dally in self-satisfaction. What turned the god into a man, was his admiration of humanity’s ugliness, their dogged and contradictory march towards their doom. WIthout any regard for their purpose, or where they were going. This is what birthed the infinitude of possibilities. It didn’t need to be pretty, it didn’t need to be just. It just needed to go forward.

And it is here that we are treated to a hurdle of reveals regarding BB from the data retrieved by Robin. BB is a partitioned-off section of Sakura. During the repetition of the preliminaries (essentially, the prologue of Fate/EXTRA), you continuously approached Sakura, treating her like any other human would. Through these interactions, a fatal error blossomed within the AI Sakura, that of love. Within 69 repeated days of contact, Sakura eventually resolved to solve the issue by partitioning off the feelings and memories she had for you as another being. This spawned the anomaly known as BB, who was discarded in the Far Side, together with all other emotions spawned by humans within SE.RA.PH, processed as malicious information. But BB was different, she had a will, subsuming the Far Side, using its powers to reconstruct herself with other data, until she had become an all-consuming monster. Basically, BB doesn’t just look like Sakura, she is Sakura. The final wall standing in front of Mooncell is not BB’s, but Sakura’s.

This information is the culmination of the final part of the puzzle of the meaning of life. Love is not just an emotion. It is what creates life, not just physically, but metaphysically as well. It is only in the cycle of life and death that love can be born, that it can be needed. To protect, to nourish, to create anew, to change. Those are the gifts given to us by this process. The power to change the world. To live is to love, to love is to live.

The final confrontation looms, and at this point you can choose your desired ending. I’ve played both endings (well, I’ve only played Gil’s normal ending, but hey), and I’ll mostly spare you the details but understand that CCC is very much constructed around the true route experience. As such that is what I’ll be talking about. However, there is a very important scene that for some reason only triggers in the normal ending, and that concerns a character who has gone a few chapters unmentioned: Jinako.

If you choose to proceed with the normal ending (by resolving to kill BB instead of saving her), then the school starts to dissolve, all except the little room which Jinako shut herself into. Here, she trembles in fear as the world starts to dissolve. Karna asks if she wants to go back to her previous life on Earth, to which she responds that she’d obviously love to but can’t anymore. She’s doomed to die here. With that, Karna finally gets the answer he’d hoped for. Jinako wants to return to life, instead of staying forever locked up in imaginary number space. Then it stands to reason that he’ll have to save her. He reveals that he’s already gifted her his Noble Phantasm, his golden and unbreakable armour. With it, not even Mooncell will be able to delete her, giving it no choice but to send her back to Earth after the end of Holy Grail War.

At this act of kindness, Jinako breaks down in tears. She’s done nothing to deserve such treatment. She’s a pointless person, with a pointless life, so why would someone so great as a hero from ages past go out of his way to exchange his life for hers? Rationally speaking, her argument makes sense, Karna admits. But all he knows is how to give, and if she wishes for life, that is what he shall grant her. No matter what form that life takes, no matter how ugly it may be, it still wants to live. Those feelings are equal among all life. As long as Jinako lives, even perhaps in confusion and doubt, she will fulfil the oath of life, and love will fill its frame. Karna takes off, needing to fulfil his end of bargain on the Near Side to resolve any temporal problems.

Karna’s simple reasoning is very touching. In fact, this is the only scene in CCC that brought me to tears, partially due to Yuuki Aoi’s heart wrenching voice-acting. The comforting acceptance that Karna brings is the same kind of feeling I bet those initial Christians felt at the existence of Jesus. One who forgives. One who treats all life equally. This is what it means to give, and is a most powerful expression of love.

Back to the true route, you resolve to save BB. Sakura breaks down the wall on her own, but retains enough power to maintain the school. As you approach Mooncell and its new ruler, you are greeted with something different. BB may have infiltrated Mooncell, but the same can be said to have happened to her. Her love is faded, her way of being subsumed by the construct of records that make up Mooncell. This is no longer BB, but Mooncancer. As promised, you resolve to save her. You know her true nature, and you still believe in her love. Eventually, you break through, and BB tries to eject herself from Mooncell.

But in a final twist, this act still does not change the predicted future. Sakura has arrived to take control of Mooncell and restore it normalcy, but Humanity still faces its demise in 7 days. Indeed, BB was not the true mastermind. Having had her tool fail in its objective, Sesshouin Kiara reveals herself. Mooncell AI constructs do not have flaws. They are perfectly rational beings. The flaws that manifested itself inside of Sakura were planted there by Kiara’s Codecast, with the intention of driving her to infiltrate the Far Side and strike at the weakness of Mooncell. This is why BB’s plan for humanity involved drowning them in lust, as this was the sole seed planted by Kiara in Sakura’s cyber-body. The Kiara who died at Melt’s hand was a fake, created from Passionlip’s body. Regardless, BB has achieved her purpose, the Mooncell firewall was breached, and Kiara absorbs her and Sakura, transferring Mooncell access to herself. Unlike the dispassionate Mooncancer, Kiara is in full control of her Ego, fully subsumed by her pursuit of love. She seeks the ultimate expression of love, to let the whole world drown in it, and achieve completeness of her being.

And so it is here at the final juncture of the story that Nasu introduces not a villain who goes against the themes of the story, but rather affirms them. This is actually something she shares in common with EXTRA’s previous final antagonist, Twice H Pieceman. Though as mentioned before, this is hardly new to CCC. Love has not had strong positive representation so far, seemingly instead serving as the nucleus for a motley of broken people. Kiara is the ultimate representation of this, fully alive and ready to form the world to her liking, to bring its picture to completion. So not only is she physically the threat standing in front of our heroes, she is ideologically an obstacle. And she cannot be killed by any means other than finding the answer to the dilemma she presents. Why is Kiara the villain? Because she wants to destroy the world? No, because there’s something about her answer to the question of love that is flawed, much like Twice’s answer to the question of conflict is flawed.

Kiara ascends into Mooncell’s core, and begins her metamorphosis, neutralising Gilgamesh and transporting you out of the room, back to the stairs leading up to it. You are alone, without Gilgamesh, but there is nothing left to do but advance. As you do, records of Kiara’s past come flooding into your mind. Her life as a cult leader, messiah, and bodhisattva. One who found enlightenment in love, including the lustful aspects of it. Much as we are prone to forget it, the romantic notions of love are nevertheless rooted in carnal desire. This is all Kiara sought, the full experience of love, seeing it sprout, blossom and wilt. Nothing brought her greater satisfaction. But there is no place for another in her picture. The one who harvests is her. Her image of the world contains no other people than herself, with humanity nothing more than a tool to achieve her final climax. This is Sesshouin Kiara’s love.

When you return, Kiara’s metamorphosis completes. Her erotic form contrasts with her playful innocence, drawing you in like a moth. Before she can charm you, Gilgamesh breaks through the ceiling, now in his full Mythical Wear glory. Though Kiara sealed him off whole galaxies away inside of this Conceptual Space, he easily commandeered himself back with FTL travel. The battle begins, as Heaven’s Hole stands ready to receive the full might of the King of Heroes.

At the conclusion, Kiara lies beaten. More so than upset, she is confused. Regardless of Gilgamesh’s strength, her metamorphosis into an all-powerful goddess should’ve easily overpowered him. Andersen laughs at her innocent ignorance. He’d seen this conclusion coming from the very beginning. He’s created yet another dull story without any twists. How could Kiara think she’d win against the romance of a young couple like you and Sakura? Especially given that her plan had involved absorbing the one person who would never hurt you. But of course, that’s who Kiara is. She doesn’t see other people, so how could she ever understand that her plan never had a chance at working? Romance crumbles before reality. Reality crumbles before love. Love crumbles before romance. Kiara will never bring someone happiness, and see the kind of image that can be made with someone by your side.

As a slight aside, I’ve sort of transposed some words here. Love (愛) and Romance (恋) might seem like arbitrary distinctions in English, but carry a certain nuance in Japanese that is difficult to fully articulate. What is relevant in CCC’s case, and what is most likely the intended reading, is that Nasu interprets love in a Buddhist context, where it represents desire in general. Of course, romance is a type of desire, but suppose instead a person who knew all desires in the world, except for romance. That is the love embodied by Kiara. There’s a lot to be said about the Buddhist reading of CCC, and in a larger context, of Nasu’s works in general. I am not terribly initiated in this however. My knowledge of Buddhism is limited mostly to things that have entered into common parlance in the Japanese language. I’d love to see what someone with better grounding in this subject could elucidate, but personally I will refrain from pursuing the line any further than this.

With Kiara defeated, Sakura automatically regains control of Mooncell as the closest remaining properly functioning AI. With most of her systems returning to standard routines, she begins a general purge of the irregularities around the core, which happens to include you. Not to worry, there is an escape route, ready to lead you back to the Near Side. You and Gilgamesh make a final sprint, but are blocked by a wall. The purge field approaches, but is in the final moments intercepted by BB, who was also awakened by the defeat of Kiara. You get a last farewell with the love-smitten AI as she secures your escape. The contradictory nature of BB’s actions and her inverted concept of love and hate clicks into place. This Cursed.Cutting.Creater was made to contain her precious and doomed love forever.

Nearing the exit to the Near Side, Gilgamesh stops you. The Command Spells he took cannot be given back. That was the price of your accord. Without them, you will be promptly deleted by Mooncell once you return, unfit to serve as a Master. He asks you what the two of your relationship has been like, and you answer to his satisfaction. You were Gilgamesh’s amusement. In reward of this answer, he grants you a new set of Command Spells, cheater that he is, and sends you off.

Right before you take off to the other side, at which point the entirety of the world created by BB in the Far Side will collapse, and its events will return to nil, knowable to no-one, you turn around and confront Sakura. She too, will return to her fate at that point, even as she now temporarily stands as the master of Mooncell. Your love then, will turn to nothing. But with all the knowledge you’ve been bequeathed throughout your journey, you put the puzzle-pieces into place.

Life goes forward without purpose.

Through the process of seeking death, life gains the ability to change the world.

In this process, it paints the world with its love.

Love gives meaning to life and death.

You transmit this to Sakura, and she accomplishes what an AI should never have been capable of: Love, thus life, thus death. With it, the world turns and a miracle occurs.

You wake up, not on the Near Side of Moon in the midst of the Holy Grail War, but instead peering up towards it. The dull night rays shimmer across your hide. And you know, that this is Earth, where life resides. Above you comes peering in the face of Sakura, no longer a digital construct, but a being capable of love.


CCC has possibly one of the best endings of anything Nasu has ever written, and I hope my appreciation for how thoroughly it brings together all of its various plot-threads and themes into a cohesive whole has been conveyed. In many ways, it’s been a messy ride up to this point, with all kinds of strange moments and happenings. Boring parts, stupid parts, confusing parts. But through it all CCC never loses sight of what it came to do, which apparently was to answer the question of the meaning of life. To so decisively try this, in the context of everything that CCC is (PSP, Fate, Video-game, Spinoff, etc) might have seem foolhardy, and it is. What kind of stupid person thought all this up? And why does his genius charm me so?

I think more so than the characters, the setting and the events, what will always stick in my mind is the things CCC lets me think about and ponder. Even if you disagree with the conclusion it ultimately gives to this completely unanswerable question of life, you have to admire the handiwork with which it does try to answer it, and that puts it above many other video-games, despite its shortcomings.

Updated May 6th, 2022 at 11:42 AM by Petrikow



  1. Five_X's Avatar
    You're a good thinker, Petri. I'm glad you found so much satisfaction in CCC - I hope I might be able to dust off the game box I bought a million years ago and someday play it in an English patch, or somehow anyway.
  2. Petrikow's Avatar
    Thanks, Five. It makes me happy to hear that from you.

    It's unfortunate that the state of CCC's translation seems stalled, but maybe we'll get there someday.
  3. Escavalien's Avatar
    If it makes you feel any better, following the translation on the discord has been pretty fulfilling as there's a continuously updated page count of text translated from the raw script. I'd say we're a month or two off from having the entire script translated, and then it's editing and testing.