All Hail the King!
What’s the Story?
Humanity is facing extinction! When the Chaldea Security Organisation built its facility high in the mountains, it did so with one purpose, to watch over the safety of humanity’s future. Now that future has vanished and seven singularities have appeared across time, corrupting key moments in history to their bleakest possible outcomes. It’s up to the last master of Chaldea, Fujimaru, and a demi-servant with an unbreakable shield, Mash, to travel to these times and correct the course of history, only then will humanity’s future return. They’ve already cleared six of the singularities and now it’s down to the seventh and final one, which will take them to the Age of Gods in ancient Mesopotamia and a city ruled by King Gilgamesh.
It’s hard to know where to start with this series, like most things connected to the Fate franchise, it’s complicated. I suppose I should start with a warning, if you’ve never watched anything from Fate before, especially if you’ve never even heard the name ‘Fate Grand Order’ before, DO NOT START WITH THIS SERIES! Anyone going into this franchise should be forewarned that they’re going to be exposed to a metric tonne of back-story and lore (which is perfectly fine, Fate can be a bit of beast at times, but the majority of series in the franchise are more than worth it. If you’re looking for a good place to start I’d either suggest ufotable’s Unlimited Blade Works or Fate/Zero). Fate Grand Order though is another level entirely, not only does it have all the lore and history behind it, but this series is also an adaptation of a mobile, more specifically one of the later levels of a said mobile game. There were times watching this series when I felt like I’d walked into the final season of a show and missed the previous half dozen seasons entirely (which I suppose I have in a way). I’ll admit it, I’ve never played the Grand Order game, in fact my only prior experience with this part of the franchise is the movie, Fate/Grand Order: First Order, which I enjoyed but it did feel like one big advert.
So, with all that being said, watching this series was probably some huge mistake right? Well, this is where it gets complicated, because I really, really, really, really, really, really liked this show. I still feel like I barely know Fujimaru and Mash as there are clearly parts of their arc that I’ve missed, but if you’re looking for epic action and characters then you need look no further. Part of what’s always attracted me to the Fate series, heck it’s the main reason I keep coming back to this franchise, is the idea of all these heroes of legend coming together to duke it out. You want to see gods going head to head in a battle for the fate of humanity? You want heroes from across the ages making their last stands against nightmarish monsters? This show has all that and more! It’s a roller coaster of some of the best action I have ever seen put on my laptop screen and larger-than-life characters who will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. I’m sure there’re tons of in-jokes that I’m missing (personally I’m still trying to work out why Jaguar Warrior was Taiga in a onesie, yet at the same time she was completely insane and had me laughing my head off every time she appeared), but I just don’t care. This show was so much fun and had me punching the air with joy every time a fight kicked off, which was the majority of episodes.
Now I don’t want to make this series sound like it’s just an action-fest, there is a lost of action and it’s all great, but it manages to fit in a lot of character too. Sure I struggled to connect to Fujimaru and Mash, because the show clearly expected me to already know them, but every other character was introduced for the first time here (or at least this version of them is new to me). Let’s talk about Gilgamesh for a minute, I’ve seen him in plenty of series and while he’s always been an interesting character, this show’s version of him is probably the most interesting I’ve ever seen of the King of Heroes. This Gilgamesh is older, more matured and reliable, a true king to his people. It was fascinating to watch. Does he have an intricately written, character dissecting arc? No, not really, but then there aren’t that many of the characters that do. Most people we just get to know like a friend down at the pub, they might have some personal revelation along the way, but the series is hardly built around their arc, and that’s fine. These characters have so much personality and charisma already that the fun is just in being around them.
I love the way people banter in this series, the conversations are always interesting, if occasionally overly technical, but the comedic timing is next level. Sometimes people don’t even have to say anything, it’s just their expressions. My favourite scene has to be towards the end of the series, when everyone is gathered around for their big strategy meeting to discuss ways to defeat the big bad. They finally hit on an idea that might just work and all they need it this item that belongs to the goddess Ishtar. Everyone’s getting really excited, right up to the point where Ishtar admits she doesn’t have said item. Everyone freezes, except for Jaguar Warrior who’s stopped listening and is just dancing around in the background. The looks on their faces, followed by a cut away to Ishtar stood holding a tablet which read ‘I am the Worst Goddess’ just had me in stitches. I may just love this show.
In the end, Fate/Grand Order- Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia is a complicated series. On the one hand, I wouldn’t recommend going into it without prior knowledge of the franchise, this is definitely a series for the fans, and yet this series is so fun and action-packed that I really want to everyone to see it. It’s an epic adventure packed full of memorable and lively characters, titanic clashes of gods and heroes and some jaw-dropping visuals. I’ve laughed and cheered so much with this series, it’s unlike any other entry in the fate franchise and more than worth the price of admission.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.