I am so sorry for my inactivity life got in the way but I’ll try and stay more active.
The year of 2012 was a step forward for the world of anime, with the previous year signalling for the transition out of the moe/slice of life genre with the release of Steins;Gate. Fate/Zero was once such of those anime that was a landmark to further move out of those genres and into some more entertaining and action packed anime.
Originally a light novel as a prequel to Type-Moon’s visual novel, Fate/Stay Night, these novels were written by the masterful Gen Urobuchi featuring incredible characters and plot twists. The premise is identical to that of Fate/Stay Night where seven masters battle out to be worthy of the Holy Grail whilst summoning a servant to aid them in battle.
A stark contrast that is evident to Gen Urobuchi’s style of writing to that of Kinoko’s Nasu’s way is evident through the eyes that the story is told through. There is neither singular protagonist nor first person perspective where a particular viewpoint of the War is told from. It is quite easily said that there is no main characters and all the masters and servant are equal characters. This is a factor that makes the Holy Grail work so well. Each character was been carefully constructed for desiring the grail whether they be servant or master. The portrayal of the 4th Holy Grail War is expressed through the characters where there is no right or wrong way to go about winning the war. Rather than a battle of good and evil, it is rather much a clash of morals and ideology.
Each master and servant will appeal to different people. If you’ve seen this anime you may hate me for it but my favourite master is Kotomine Kirei.
The writing itself of Gen Urobuchi screams his particular style of writing. What makes this anime a landmark to how it was a step forward for the anime world was the way it was written. This anime is mature, all the “main” characters are above the age of eighteen and it doesn’t feature any sort of high school. The themes presented along with the script can be dark and disturbing especially the theme of morality. I haven’t seen a theme portrayed in a way such as this. The morals of the characters vary so incredibly different while expressed through the way that they go about winning the War. However with the diverse cast, excluding the masters and servant a major problem I had with the supporting characters or rather one particular character in particular. It was Irisiviel Von Einzbern who annoyed me to such ends, however since time is focused on fleshing out other characters this doesn’t turn to be a major issue but a rather a small prick in my side.
Fate/Zero was animated by Ufotable who were responsible for the masterful Kara No Kyoukai movies which were another Type-Moon adaption. They as in those movies do not disappoint when it comes to animation. Once again prove why they are considered (by me at least) to be the masters of animation. The animation has such fluidity to it it’s like water where we are given near cinematic quality animation. The action scenes are breath taking and are a feast for the eyes with its intensity and grit. In the 2006 adaption of Fate/Stay Night, Deen’s particular art style was rather rigid and didn’t compliment the character designs. However the same cannot be said as Ufotable style certainly compliments the character designs especially with the use of gradients. This leads into the next point about how Ufotable does their art. Rather than using solid colour they incorporate gradients which bring objects and characters to life in unforetold beauty and depth.
Talk about animation and art because this out of this world.
The action and character interactions have added depth and atmosphere through a sound track that was composed by Yuki Kajura. This epic score of a master piece and is one of my personal favourite sound tracks of all times. The choirs featured well throughout the sound track and have an epic feel to it and manage to complement each scene perfectly.
Despite all of the highlights this anime has, it indeed also has its low lights. This anime has a slow start, I mean really, slow start. The first episode is forty minutes of pure exposition and the next few are even more exposition without anything kicking off until episode four. However once the anime gets going it doesn’t stop until it reaches its next biggest flaw which was the ending. Although it was satisfying it threw everything up to make way for Fate/Stay Night. To further clarify it went from heart pounding action, character driven story to taking a back seat involving a lot of dialogue which was anticlimactic. However it still did a good job as an ending and served its purpose.
Fate/Zero is one of the anime I hold in highest regards. It is an incredibly well rounded anime where it excels in all categories only being let down but its slow start and anticlimactic ending. It is a masterpiece in its own right being with beautiful visuals and astounding sound track. Fate/Zero has a recommendation to have been watched at least once by all otakus and anime fans alike as it is something that simply shouldn’t be missed.
Fate/Zero was one hell of a watch for me and I really enjoyed it. Of all the animated Fate material, Fate/Zero was definitely my favorite installment, though we’ll have to see how the upcoming F/SN by ufotable will do.
Like you mentioned, F/Z is really about the characters and ideological clashes, and that’s what I loved about it. Urobuchi works in general are very enjoyable for me because they almost always focus on moral issues and the gray in between the so-called “good” and “bad”, and it really helps to flesh out the characters and make for gripping stories. While F/Z is not nearly as action-oriented as F/SN and has a lot more dialogue, I feel like that really added a lot of depth to the experience and made the characters (for the most part) more than just one-dimensional obstacles to be offed. I felt that F/Z had more gripping characterization than F/SN (the anime, at least) and it really was an amazing experience. As far as the ending, I felt it was very much fitting with the tone with the series as a whole, and while some might feel that the conclusion was sacrificed to stay in line with the canon of the original F/SN story, I can’t imagine the ending being done in a “better” way to fit with how it was all presented. A largely happy ending doesn’t seem like it would go well with everything established in F/Z, and most other Urobuchi stories prove to be like this as well.
Interestingly enough, I really disliked Kotomine through just about all the animated installments of Fate, yet I found myself very fond of him in the Heaven’s Feel route of the VN. Same with Illya. Fate/Zero has a much bigger focus on the ideological conflicts among the cast as a whole and is a darker tale than F/SN (with the possible exception of Heaven’s Feel, which is darker in some ways but it really depends), though the VN benefited greatly from having three different routes to present its characters. If someone asked me my favorite installment of Fate right after I finished the animated material, it would be F/Z without a question, but having finished the F/SN VN I can’t be too sure now. F/Z does a great amount with the time it has and the sense of scale considering its 25 episode length is something great, yet I really loved how the VN managed to develop Shiro and present the subtleties behind the actions of the characters through the different routes and Heaven’s Feel has some of my favorite moments of all of the Fate series. I really hope that ufotable can make something great with the F/SN anime like they did with F/Z, it’d be ideal if they could adapt all 3 routes but I’m not sure if they’ll manage to do that. As much as I would love to see HF in animation, that would be a near sure way to ruin the experience for first time anime-only viewers, so I really do hope that the anime finds a way to properly develop everything without butchering the source material or alienating the new fans, but that’ll definitely be a difficult task.
Awesome right up, and didnt know they are going to make an new version of F/SN. I havent seen or read any of it so i cant wait
Yes I’ve been following the news of Ufotable’s adaption of F/SN which i have no doubt it will be awesome. Now regarding story I have no clue what’s happening whether not its Heaven’s Feel (as VN fan that would be awesome). However I have heard that apparently Nasu has written an original story for the anime
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Thank you and its good to be back after six months or so of inactivity, check out my thoughts on Ufotbale’s 2014 Fate/Stay Night adaption