Anime Corner: Fate/Grand Order- Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia Review

Blog Fate Grand Order Babylonia Review Title

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.

The Review

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.

The Verdict

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.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.

Put a Tune to It: Western Songs for Anime

I got nominated for a tag by tcrow over at Crow’s World of Anime! I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve done any tags and this was an incredibly fun one to dig into. At first I thought I was going to have a hard time with this, depending on my mood my musical tastes can get very eclectic and there’s normally a lot of musicals involved, which won’t fit a lot of anime. Then I started actually thinking about it and my selections came to me within about an hour, but before we get to them, let’s do the housekeeping.

First this tag was originally set in motion by Dewbond over at Shallow Dives in Anime and here’s the rules!

  • Choose any number of western songs (any genre) that you think best sums up an anime or manga of any type or genre.
    • If you want to pick more than 1 from each section that’s fine. Or if you can’t think of one for a specific category that’s fine also.
  • Explain why you think your choices could work. Is it the lyrics? The tune and the beat? Or just the music video?
  • Link back to the original post so I can read people’s suggestions, I’d love to read everyone’s ideas.
  • Include Put a Tune to It in your tags so everyone including myself can find them all easily.
  • Nominate around 1-5 bloggers. My nominations will be at the bottom.

And so, without any further delay, let’s get this show on the road!

Halloween-Themed (Soul Eater)

Okay, we’ll start off with a pretty obvious one and the first thing that came into my head. This is Halloween by Marilyn Manson. Does this really need any explanation? I must have seen a dozen amvs with this set to snippets of Soul Eater or any anime with a halloween episode over the years. It just fits so well. Every time I hear this version of the song I automatically see Maka and Soul standing under that grinning crescent moon, Blair riding a pumpkin somewhere in the background.

Mecha (Gundam)

And we’ll follow that up with another song that I automatically associate with anime, Mr. Roboto by Styx. This one I can blame on the review site SF Debris, because his reviews of Gundam 0080 had this song set over the credits and its been fixed in my brain ever since. I love that beat as they sing the ‘domo arigato’ part, it works so well as a marching beat as a gundam or some other mecha is deployed for action. Plus the song is unmistakably 80s and I always think of the 80s when I think of mecha, that’s another common association in my brain.

Drama (Sound Euphonium)

Right, taking a step away from long-held associations, let’s pick something a bit more current (at least in the fact that I’ve only recently discovered this band), Brighter by Against The Current. This song is really for any series that has either a main character or a large portion of the cast who are a little unsure of themselves. They’re lacking in confidence, but as the series progresses as they begin to discover themselves bit by bit and let their passions ignite. For me this song really suits Kumiko from Sound Euphonium, specifically towards the end of the series when she’s decided that she wants to be truly special along with Reina and is ready to throw her all into the band’s performance.

Gangster (91 Days)

And now, something a little more offbeat (I knew I’d get one in here somewhere). Gangsta’s Paradise by Postmodern Jukebox ft. Robyn Adele Anderson. I love the Postmodern Jukebox, they often take more current songs and perform them in a more retro style and this happens to be one of my favourite covers they’ve done. Can’t you just smell the smokey atmosphere in some rundown speakeasy as you listen to this? It fits so well with 91 Days as well, considering that anime is set during prohibition, I can just see Angelo and Nero sitting and sharing a drink while this plays, all the while Angelo is slowly reaching for his gun.

Shonen (One Piece)

Okay, maybe the last two choices have been me trying to get songs I really like on to this list and, well, here’s another one (though in my defence I think this one really fits). Friendship Song by Brennley Brown (featured in Tangled the Series). Considering how many shonen series are all about the power of friendship and unbreakable bonds, this song is really just perfect. It’s intended to be about two friends, but I think it works just as well for a group, like say the Strawhat pirates. They can always rely on one another, they’ll always have one another’s backs and be there through the laughs and the tears, as the song says, ‘we fit together perfectly’.

Shonen (My Hero Academia)

Another common trend in shonen anime is that their main protagonists are often optimistic dreamers. They’ve got these big, impossible dreams and there’s no shortage of people ready to tell them how unattainable their goal is. Yet that won’t deter them, they have….High Hopes by Panic! At The Disco (did you see what I did there? Of course you did and I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist that one.) I can just see Midoriya charging forward as this plays, All for One or some other villain cackling away until Midoriya comes out of nowhere and smashes them out of the way and ready to declare ‘I am here!’

Epic Fantasy (Fate series)

Last one! Actually this one may be cheating a little bit because I first discovered this song in an amv using clips from Fate/Zero and Garden of Sinners fused together into the best amv I have ever seen (look for Steel Fenders amv on Youtube, I hope it’s still there). Ever since Iron by Woodkid has been linked to the fate series in my brain. From the first blast of those trumpets to that rising beat, this song is the very definition of epic to me. It fills my head with images of climatic battles, legends brought to life and just a sense of majesty that makes me want to grovel in my unworthiness (which is often how I feel about the fate series when it’s at its best). If you haven’t heard this song, then listen and thank me later.

Hmm….there’s not as much rock on this list as I thought there was going to be, or electro swing for that matter. Ah well, we’ll leave it here for now. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my choices, I certainly had a lot of fun putting this together and thanks Crow for nominating me!

As for who I’ll nominate, apologises if you’ve already been selected, but I’ll go with:

Scott

Ospreyshire

Jon Spencer

Irina

Karandi

Of course anyone else who is interested please join in.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.

First Impressions Autumn 2019 Part 2

And we’re back! No preamble, let’s get straight into this and get on with the first impressions!

Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun

Iruma is a total pushover, he’ll agree to do anything you ask as long as you say ‘please’. Obviously this makes his life difficult, but it’s not helped by the fact that he has the world’s worst parents, who are so completely lazy and useless that they get Iruma to do everything for them. Well, that is until they sell Iruma to a demon! Seriously, Worst. Parents. Ever! Luckily for Iruma the demon that he’s been sold to is actually fairly harmless and just wants to experience being a doting grandfather. He showers Iruma with love and presents, he even enrols him in Demon School, a school where if any of the students find out that he’s a human they’ll devour him in seconds, it’s even in their school song. You know what, I’ve changed my mind about how harmless this demon is.

I think this series may just be the surprise of the season for me. I really wasn’t expecting much out of this show, between the bright contrasting colours and how unsubtle this series is (the moment all the students started singing about killing humans while Iruma was stood there was a particular highlight), I judged this series to be fairly childish and simplistic, which isn’t a bad thing, but it didn’t exactly raise my hopes. But then, somewhere towards the end of the first episode, I realised something. I was actually having a lot of fun, Iruma is such a sweet kid and you can’t help but root for him as he tries to survive school and there are several points were the series manages to pull out a joke that I didn’t see coming. The series is just bursting with energy, it’s often completely over-the-top and ridiculous without ever breaking the internal logic that the series has set up. I’ve really grown to love the characters in this series I’m looking forward to spending the next season with them. Make sure to check this one out.

Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia

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, but then something changed. Suddenly humanity’s future no longer existed and seven singularities appeared, points in history that have been warped to create a bleak outcome. Now Fujimaru, the last master of Chaldea, and Mash, a demi-servant with an unbreakable shield, travel into the past to correct the course of history and return hope to humanity’s future. With six singularities completed, it’s now down to the seventh and final one which will take them to ancient Mesopotamia and a city ruled by Gilgamesh.

This is yet another show that I was really looking forward to. I’ve had my ups and downs with the fate franchise over the years, but I did enjoy the Fate/Grand Order First Order movie that was released a few years back (I’ve never reviewed it so here’s a quick summary, it’s a fun little adventure, bit too much exposition and there’s no real conclusion to events and while I like the characters and the fights are cool, it definitely felt like one big ad for the game, which I’ve never played). Going into this series I really didn’t know what to expect and I’d say you definitely either need to have played the game or at least watched the First Order film to get a grounding in the characters and the set up because this show jumps straight into it’s story, and it’s an interesting story. For starters Babylonia is a great locale and I’m having a great deal of fun looking around the place, add on to that the usual collection of legendary heroes for us to get to know and a chance to see a wiser and calmer Gilgamesh and there’s plenty here for me to love. The action is pretty fantastic too.

Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next life?!

Mile is a totally normal 12-year-old girl! Honestly, she’s super completely average and in no way special in the slightest, please believe her! Okay, fine, she’s not the least bit average, see Mile is one of those kids who made their way to a fantasy world after passing away in Japan (seriously has anyone checked Japan for any kind of dimensional instability? This keeps happening!). Since she was a bit of an honour student in her past life, Mile’s one and only wish is to be average in her next life. Unfortunately, as with every monkey’s paw, she should have phrased her request a little more specifically. What Mile meant was to be average for a human, but what is she is is average for the world, which basically means she’s half as strong as a dragon! Join Mile and her friends as she searches for her perfectly quiet and ordinary life, and fail miserably each and every time.

Okay, own up to it, who started putting effort into isekai series again? I mean between this and Asendance of a Bookworm it feels like the genre has been given a much-needed breath of fresh air. I wasn’t expecting anything from this series, but between Mile’s myriad of worried expressions, the many references and parody elements as well as the bond that’s formed between the four main girls, this series is so much fun! I mean all the standard tropes are here, Mile is the super overpowered protagonist that can breeze through any danger, and yet this feels fresh because Mile is trying so hard not to breeze through things. She so desperately wants to be average, even though we all know it is way too late for that, and we’re just waiting to see how Mile will mess up her own plans this time. Add on to that the fact that Mile actually uses her knowledge of her past life, and not just to comment on all the tropes at play, but she’s actually bringing otaku culture to this fantasy world, which I love! It’s just so much fun, I’m definitely sticking with this one.

Food Wars! The Fourth Plate

The battle for the Totsuki Academy is well underway! Having made a clean sweep of the first round of the Team Shokugeki, the rebels are feeling pretty good about themselves, but the Elite Ten are the top of the totem for a reason. There’re plenty of fierce battles ahead, but if Soma and the rebels don’t succeed then the whole of the culinary world will be forced to adopt Azami Nakiri’s rigid and set way of cooking. Cooking doesn’t get any more dramatic than this!

And it’s back! It feels strange to say, but out of all the sequels I’m watching this season, this is the one I was looking forward to the most. I have this weird relationship with Food Wars, when I first started watching it it was fun, but nothing really all that special, and yet, with each episode I watch of this series I just get more and more invested. After watching three seasons of this show I feel like I should have ‘Team Soma’ tattoo across my back and be waving a flag every time I watch an episode. It helps that this current arc is what I’ve been dying to see from the start, Soma and the gang vs. the Elite Ten in a knockout battle and we even get Erina participating instead of standing on the sidelines all the time! Well, at least she’s going to be participating at some point. My only real fear with this season is something that I noticed in the last one, the battles seem to be ending too quickly, we’re skipping over the actual cooking and just going straight to the judges’ decision a lot of time. I liked the cooking, partly because you get some really good food animation, but it also helps to build the tension for the climax. I hoped they don’t rush this arc, but I guess we’ll see.

No Guns Life

Extended, people who have been enhanced with cybernetics, giving them everything from superhuman strength to perfect marksmanship. Originally they were created as soldiers for a war, but the war is over and those who survived must find a new way to live. One such man is Juzo Inui, a man with a gun for his head! When’s he’s asked to protect a kidnapped kid, he finds himself battling the very mega corporation that not only runs the city, but actually built him, and they’ll stop at nothing to get their property back.

Another show that actually came as a bit of a surprise, I didn’t know anything about this series before the season started, but I’m so glad I found it. It combines several things that I love, from a hard-boiled detective to a grimy cyberpunk setting with some typical anime creativity like a main protagonist with a gun for a head. There are plenty of cool designs in this series, and I do also love a cyborg, but I’ve really grown to love Juzo as well. At first he looks like the typical stoic, manly main protagonist, and he certainly has plenty of cool and badass moments, but you spent five minutes and you realise he’s a bit of a goofball. Nothing over the top, but he’s easily flustered and panics about rusting or not getting his favourite brand of cigarettes. I like that and while we haven’t seen all that much of the other characters so far, I like them too, though the less Tetsuro takes over people without their permission, the better.

And that’s it for the first impressions this season. There’s a bunch of other shows I want to be watching, but I can’t get access to them yet. Damn it Amazon give me Psycho-Pass! Sorry, back next week with the regular reviews.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.

 

 

 

 

Anime Corner: Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel 1. Presage Flower Review

Blog Heavens Feel 1 Review Title

Let’s do this, one last time.

What’s the Story?

Ten years after a disastrous fire erupted in Fuyuki City, the Holy Grail War has begun again. Seven Mages have been called to summon seven Servants, the spirits of heroes of legend, and now they will do battle for the all-powerful wish granting relic, the Holy Grail. Shirou Emiya has no interest in wishes, other than his own wish to become a Hero of Justice, but when he learns that the last Holy Grail War caused the fire he was lucky enough to survive as a child, he feels compelled to act. Trouble is Shirou is a pretty inept Mage and is in no way prepared for the bloodbath that is to follow, especially when an old childhood friend turns out to be a competing Master. Meanwhile something strange is making moves in the background, turning the war towards a dark outcome and what’s going on with Sakura, the girl who not so secretly loves Shirou?

The Review

The fate franchise, by this point, is a massive, complex beast, just asking someone where to start can get you several different answers (though for my money Fate/Zero is your best bet), and I’ve come to the conclusion that my favourite entries in the series are always going to be the offshoots, the prequel and the alternate universe stuff. The series that ufotable did before this film, Unlimited Blade Works, had an amazing start, before face planting in the second half. Having said all that though, Heaven’s Feel is the storyline I’ve been waiting for and, from what I know of it (I’ve done my best to avoid details of what actually happens over the years so I can appreciate this properly), this may be the one for me. This time we might get an exploration of the Rin and Sakura relationship, not to mention Shirou and Illya might have a proper conversation for once to talk about their family stuff. Heck, Shirou might even get an ending that doesn’t involve him carrying on being a self-sacrificing martyr with only the woman he loves to keep him sane (gods I hated that resolution to UBW).

Let’s talk about the film though, firstly, if you’re new to fate franchise, turn back around right now. Don’t watch this film until you’ve watched Unlimited Blade Works at least, and you’ll probably want to watch Fate/Zero if you want to get absolutely everything, but that plays into the unique nature of Fate/stay night. For those that don’t know, Fate/stay night was originally a visual novel with three distinct routes to play through the game, the routes use the same characters and locations across the same span of time, but the stories diverge at certain points to fill in new bits of back story and lore, so that while each route’s story is its own, they build on top of one another to form a complete whole. While I find that way of story telling fascinating, it does create problems in the adaptation department. Adapting one route is more than enough to fill an entire series, but adapting only one route is only giving you part of the story and if you then choose to go on and adapt another route, you’re going to be stuck rehashing several things at the beginning of the story before you hit the point were the story diverges.

That’s the problem this film faces and it never manages to quite overcome it. It does its best and, honestly, gets off to a really good start. The opening of this movie begins a year and a half before the typical events of Fate/stay night, we get to see the devolving friendship of Shirou and Shinji and how Shirou and Sakura came to know one another. It’s a good look into relationships that we know of, but haven’t really gotten the focus in past iterations of the story. Then we come to the problems, the film chooses to skip over a lot of the events from the beginning Fate/stay night (since they’ve already been animated in Unlimited Blade Works), only animating a few scenes that we need to see again or that lead into changes. Even then a lot of the early scenes cover ground we’ve seen before and the new scenes lack the emotional impact because unless you already know these characters you’re never really given a chance to invest in them.

It’s annoying because there’s a lot of stuff in this film that is really cool and interesting. The animation is jaw-droppingly beautiful and the action sequences are some of the best I’ve ever seen (the fate franchise has never looked this good before, ever). We get conversations I’ve been looking forward to for ages, but there’s no build up to them. There aren’t that many scenes of daily life and we skip over several big events and the characters reactions to them. Those have all been animated in Unlimited Blade Works, but for this story, as you watch it, it feels like your skipping steps and just bouncing from one random scene to the next. It becomes a patchwork narrative and it just doesn’t work because the story hasn’t had time to properly build up to those big moments to really make you feel, and while I enjoyed them, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I should have. The connective tissue of the story is missing. Hopefully the next film will feel more complete since by the time this film ends it’s well and truly separated from all the other versions so we won’t have to skip past anything next time.

The Verdict

In the end Fate/stay night Heaven’s Fell 1. Presage Flower is a film for fans, but it’s what it sets up that has me more excited than anything that happens in the film. The animation is beautiful, the fate franchise has never looked so good and the fights are electric, but when it comes to the characters there’s too much missing from the journey the characters go on. I understand why they did it, that stuff has been animated elsewhere, but without it the bigger moments in this film just don’t have the same impact. We’ll see how the next film turns out, when that eventually gets released in the UK.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

October Movie Madness!

31st October 2014, that was when I started this little blog o’mine with a review of Frozen.

Blog Frozen Review Title

Honestly it feels crazy that I’ve been writing for this blog for nearly five years now, especially when I only started this blog, in part, to build my confidence as a writer (the other reason I started this blog is because I desperately needed some place to talk about all the movies and shows I watch and as it turns out, once I start talking you can’t shut me up!)

Anyway, the anniversary of my blog is a month away and typically I use that anniversary post to look at a film which belongs to a franchise I adore. In the past I’ve done Madoka Magica Rebellion,

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Fullmetal Alchemist – Conqueror of Shamballa,

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How to Train your Dragon 2,

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And last year’s, Tangled the series: Queen for a Day,

Blog Tangled Queen for a Day Review Title

This year it’s going to be Digimon the Movie to tie in with all the other Digimon reviews I’ve been doing (and, yes, expect another oversized title card, I’m actually really proud of this one and I can’t wait for people to see it). However, this is a 5 year anniversary and that feels like a big deal, so I’m going to indulge myself a bit this coming month.

For this year only the movies are taking over October as I’m going to be reviewing a movie tied into a franchise I adore each week (some I’ve talked about before, some I haven’t), so here’s the schedule for October,

4th October – Batman Hush

11th October – Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel – 1. Presage Flower

18th October – My Hero Academia: Two Heroes

25th October – Digimon the Movie

I’m already a little bit giddy with excitement, and to anyone who’s read, liked or commented on any of my posts over the past five years, firstly, you’re amazing, secondly, thank you. I hope everyone’s going to enjoy this as much as I am right now, but enough waffling from me, meet me back here on friday when the party will really begin!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Fate/Apocrypha Review

Blog Fate Apocrypha Review Title

This is the story of a Holy Maiden and a Boy with the heart of a Hero, literally.

What’s the Story?

This is not the world as we know it. The Third Holy Grail War ended with the Holy Grail stolen, whisked away from Japan, not to be seen again for sixty years. Now, in Romania, a group of mages have declared themselves independent of the Mage’s Association and with the help of the Greater Grail, hope to make their wishes come true. Thus the Great Holy Grail War begins, no longer a battle between seven masters and their magically summoned servants, each one the spirit of a legendary hero, now the battle is between two teams of seven. The Red and Black teams shall clash, each one hoping to make their wish come true, but not everything is as it should be. Something is decidedly wrong with this grail war and its up to Jean D’Arc, summoned as the ruler of his war, and a homunculus boy still trying to figure out what he wants, to save the world from salvation.

The Review

What is it about the fate series that always draws me in? Maybe it’s just that I love the concept of all these great heroes summoned into the modern world to fight over their ideals and their dreams. I mean you can hardly call the depictions of the Heroic Spirits as accurate, but at least we learn a little of their legends and get to see the unique ways this franchise likes to depict its Heroic Spirits in. What matters most though is where I feel the fate franchise often shines the most, and that’s because each series (haven’t seen Extra yet and I’m a little worried, but holding out hope) is a melting pot of ideals and different perspectives. It’s people’s hopes and ambitions and dreams fighting it out in a death match and how can that not be an amazing story, frankly I’m dying with jealously that I didn’t come up with the concept. Now, while this latest instalment, Fate/Apocrypha may lack the raw emotion of Fate/Zero and the mind blowing animation (though this series isn’t exactly a slouch in that department) of Unlimited Blade Works, I still had a fantastic time watching this series.

I tend to view Fate/Apocrypha as very much a popcorn action fantasy series. I get the feeling I’m going to be watching this series whenever I just want to have a blast. It’s not that it’s lacking for character or drama, despite the large cast all the characters get a chance to let their personalities shine, even if its only for a brief moment. There are some characters here that I truly have grown to love and enjoyed watching, whether that’s the heart-warming bond that develops between Saber of Red and her master (seriously that first fist bump scene had me melting), or the epic fist fight between Archer of Black and Rider of Red (on a plane suspended in midair and no I’m not going to give that scene context because it is awesome and you should go see it). There are so many epic battles in this series, but its not all action.

Thanks to one of our leads, Sieg the homunculus, we get plenty of questioning of humanity and morality and the importance of free will, seeing as how he’s new to the world and trying to figure all this stuff out. Sure these are all topics that are well trodden in fiction and the series doesn’t have all that much new to add to the topic, but they’re still important questions and ones that we should keep asking ourselves. That actually brings me to an interesting topic with the series and that’s how hopeful it is. When I look back at previous series, well, Fate/Zero is a tragedy through and through and so can be as twisted and traumatic as it likes. Fate/Stay Night on the other hand tries to do both, it has its happy, hopeful moments while at the same time having some real tragedies woven into its story. Fate/Apocrypha on the other other hand, while not afraid to have a high body count or look at some of the darker aspects of human nature, it always fights back with the assertion that humans can be better. It’s telling just how many of the servants pass away content with their lot, they may not have had their wishes granted in the way they first envisioned, but each of them finds something in this series (I’m not crying, I swear, damn it Saber why’d you have to make me care so much, you’re as bad as you’re father!)

On the animation front, while there is no way the animation can ever compare to the gods that are Ufotable, A-1 Pictures did an outstanding job with this series. This series looks great and even more so during the battles, though admittedly there are a few hiccups here and there. There are so many moments that feel epic throughout this series, whether it’s the previously mentioned fist fight on a plane, the knockout battle between Ruler and Archer of Red or any of the other great duels littered throughout this series. My only complaint is that the animation isn’t always consistent, there are occasions where it goes off model, or a few times in fights where the camera is just flinging itself around the scene and I honesty have no idea what’s going on. When it counts though, the animation for this series is spot on. Also a shout out to the soundtrack for this series, which is, again, is fantastic. I know I’ve probably used the word epic too many times already in this review, but the songs here really do make so many moments in this show feel as epic as they truly deserve to be.

The Verdict

Fate/Apocrypha, while it doesn’t have the likes of Ufotable backing it up for animation or the raw emotions and depth that previous entries in this franchise have had, it is still an incredibly fun ride. I’ve fallen in love with so many of its characters and I have enjoyed watching their battles and stories unfold (also it was nice to have so many people have happy endings for a change). I used the word one last time, this series has an epic feel to it, from the animation, to the music, to the characters and stories, this is a worthy addition to the fate series.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.

First Impressions: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works

I have quite a substantial list of anime that at some point I want to get around to watching. Fate/Stay Night, and its prequel Fate/Zero, have been on that list for a long time. Now I have heard that the original Fate/Stay Night has some problems, like iffy animation on occasion and an annoying main character. So, can this new version do better? Can it draw me into the franchise and persuade me to finally watch the other shows?

Yes, yes it can!

Good god this anime is beautiful in every respect. The animation is movie quality. The fight scenes are electric, seriously I had to change my shirt I was drooling so much. I like all of the characters so far, except for that jackass with the wavy blue hair, but I’m not supposed to like him am I?

And I knew we’d never get to keep the 45 minute episodes for the whole run, but not even the switch back to a regular run time can halt the awesomeness of this show. Watching the quality of this animation I worry for the health of the animators. Surely pumping out something of this quality each week will kill them (at least their sacrifice shall not be in vain).

I cannot stop gushing about this show. Go watch it right now. And on a side note I think it has earned the unofficial title I saw on the Crunchyroll comments section, Unlimited Budget Works indeed.