Being a reviewer, I think it’s important to be critical about the technical aspects of a show, yet be able to express one’s own thoughts and views sufficiently enough to let people understand your feelings. However, during the course of my reviewing stint, I have found some reviewers being overly critical about an anime while neglecting his/her own feelings while writing/recording the review. This makes the reader feel as if the reviewer doesn’t enjoy the show even though the truth may be totally opposite from what is perceived.
What has that got to do with anything with Fate/Zero? Well, absolutely nothing except for the fact that I freaking love it!
I just kinda want to get it out there very clearly before I do anything.
So, that being said, allow me to introduce you to Fate/Zero, the prequel to ever popular Fate/Stay Night.
Ufotable Inc. is a rather small anime production studio. To be frank, I have never heard of their previous works before (Except for Gyo OVA) and I don’t think I would want to watch them. This leads me to wonder, how the hell did they even get to produce something with such popularity?
I mean, if you are a Fate series fan, you would know of the countless prequels, sequels, spin-offs, parodies, visual novels, light novels, films, video games, radio dramas etc. that were derived from the original Fate/Stay Night adult visual novel.
Not that it’s popularity is incomprehensible, though. Adult factors (e.g. *ahem* sexual charisma) aside, the concept of the visual novel was one of guaranteed success. Introduce characters with the most mind-blowing powers, then have them to duke it out, then watch the ensuing chaos and madness. This formulaic approach has brought success to countless shounen anime series. Add some of the most famous historic/mythic characters into the mix and you ultimately get the concept of the Fate series, which is kinda cool, since you get to watch historic characters you learn from books and stories fighting each other.
First, the setting. We are introduced to the Holy Grail War that is held every sixty years in Fuyuki City of Japan. Where else? The war chooses seven Masters from the mages in the world and these mages are to summon Servants, embodiments of Heroic Spirits from the history of the world, to fight in the said war.
Enter Emiya Kiritsugu, a freelance mage killer. He participates in the Holy Grail War on behalf of his wife’s family, the Einzbern family. He intends to obtain the Holy Grail, an omnipotent object that grants its owner’s wishes. His goal is to use the Grail in order to achieve his goal of shaping the world into an ideal one where there is only peace, which is otherwise impossible in terms of worldly aspects. In short, he needs a miracle and the Holy Grail promises just that.
Of course, this wouldn’t actually be a war, if there were no other warring factions. And thus, we are also introduced to the other six Masters, each with their individual hidden motives and desires for winning the war. The fact that there are no obvious main characters, with every faction given equal amounts of screen time adds flavor to the story.
Unlike many other simplistic shounen stories out there which are considered to be the next big thing just because a sudden twist in the story, Fate/Zero constantly surprise us with many twists and turns along the way. I mean, this is not a war between high school students, one mistake can prove fatal. Like every ACTUAL war out there, there are alliances, betrayals, and cold-blooded murder during the course of the war, and that lays down the foundations to one of the darker sides to this battle royale.
Now, here comes the juicy parts. There are seven different classes of Servants to be summoned: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Berserker, Caster and Assassin, each with their special abilities and finishing moves. As if having these characters at each others’ throats are not exciting enough, for the most part of the show, the true identity of the Servants are kept secret from the audience. At least, most of them are not revealed until mid-way of the show.
This adds the flavors of mystery and intrigue as the viewers are kept grasping at straws, trying to figure out the identities of the Servants. But then, (a twist here) the Servants are not just fighting machines that are used by their individual Masters to win the war. They also have their own motives for participating in the war, which most of the time complicate matters further for the Masters.
All the different parts of the plot, hidden or otherwise, can individually make up a good story, but to be able to piece it together to create a phenomenal over-arcing big picture takes exceptional planning and calculated arrangements. Over this, I commend the writers for doing such a great job of piecing all the pieces together and bringing the tried-and-tested formula to a whole new level. Thus, I highly recommend this show to whoever looking for great multi-layered stories featuring a battle royale filled with espionages, betrayal and mind-blowing action.
The only thing that I could complain about the plot is the lacklustre ending, which I will not discuss, for the sake of not spoiling you guys. I can only say that the ending is necessary to ensure the continuity of the series as a whole. In short, the ending was it trying to cover for the retarded 2006 anime version of its elder brother, Fate/Stay Night.
The character designs, on the other hand, are one of the most realistic and thought-provoking ones in a very long time in anime world. I mean, it’s been so long since I have watched an anime that doesn’t feature some high school delinquent and their daily lives.
Each individual Servant and Master in the show has their different set of ideals and before long, their ideals clash, causing them to waver. In my opinion, these ideals are eye openers, as we are exposed to different types of thinking and cultures, especially for people who are bounded by the same type of thinking. Who knows? Maybe you can learn a thing or too from this anime.
Ideals aside, the characters also have their very own characteristics that are unique to them. Fate/Zero really excels at giving us a wide array of characteristics, ranging from the prideful to the wimpy to the menacing, and utilizing them to build up the tension in the series. The use of character design also plays a prominent role in boosting the plot as I have mentioned earlier.
Now, you must be wondering why I mentioned the production studio, Ufotable Inc. earlier. Or…maybe not.
Anyway, despite having relatively less experience dealing with highly popular franchises and being comparatively unknown, Ufotable got the project to produce Fate/Zero. Somehow. Whether you like it or not, Ufotable has produced one of the best anime entries in the Fate series, which is not surprising given that it’s predecessor was the 2006 Fate/Stay Night, the UBW film, Fate Kaleid Liner Prisma Illy and Carnival Phantasm (Does that count?). But not only did Ufotable exceeded the expectations of many but also produced one of the most relevant and entertaining anime series ever produced.
The studio probably also poured all their budget into producing the many epic and beautifully animated fight scenes ever produced. That gamble paid off though, as viewers are treated to fight scenes so beautifully animated and choreographed that it probably ate away most of their budget by the end of just the first season. Trust me, when I say it’s beautiful.
They are not the best choreographed ones though, nor the most epic but it certainly is the most beautiful. The array of colors and the glorious intensity of the fights were simply outstanding.
In the technical aspects, the animation and the music was marvelous too. The animation was flawless and consistent throughout. The production studio certainly did not cut any corners here. The music was also splendid, with the first OP by LiSA, sending chills down my spine. The OST was great too and compliments the series really well. I have really nothing to complain about in the technical aspect, which is pretty amazing, given that it was produced by a relatively unknown production studio.
All in all, this show is one of the best anime series out there. There’s splendid plot, relatable characters, outstanding action, flawless animation and great music. Damn, I think I’ve run out of complimenting adjectives to use. That’s just how good it is.
So after meticulously calculating points awarded for the story, animation, character design, music and my personal enjoyment, I decided to award the series with a rating of:
So, if you enjoyed this show and would like to watch more like it, I point you towards the remake of the original Fate/Stay Night by Ufotable last year, entitled Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. For another spectacular battle royale story, I recommend you Btooom! which is also very dark and has very graphic content. Definitely NSFW.
So, there you have it, my review of Fate/Zero. If you like this review, do feel free to click the ‘Like’ button and follow my blog too. If you haven’t done it already, also feel free to like my Facebook page here. If you have any suggestions, feel free to post it on the comments below. Like per say, “Daniel, there are too many words. I don’t feel like reading.”
Joking aside, I sincerely hope for any suggestions or requests from you, my dear readers. For example, if you have any topic in mind that you would like to read about, feel free to reach out and tell me. I’ll try to write about it or make a list. Your choice.
Anyway, till the next post, cheerio!