OK…..I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t really a fan of the Fate/stay Night anime adaptation and I probably would’ve never watched that show if I didn’t hear how great Fate/Zero was. It could be that it was made by a different animation studio, different production as Aniplex was in part of that, Urobuchi is responsible of the series composition and yet the weirdest thing about this is that the director Ei Aoki….directed Girls Bravo. (So, that person moved on up from that.) Knowing that all the disappointment that Fate/stay Night is and even though the movie Unlimited Blade Works actually worked for a little bit and prequels aren’t always guaranteed gold, there could be a way for this to work.
The story of Fate/Zero takes place ten years prior to the events of Fate/stay night, detailing the events of the 4th Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. The War of the Holy Grail is a contest in which seven mages summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete to obtain the power of the “Holy Grail,” which grants a miracle to each member of the winning duo. After three inconclusive wars for the elusive Holy Grail, the Fourth War commences.
Founded by the Einzbern, Makiri, and Tōsaka families centuries ago, the Einzbern family is determined to achieve success after three consecutive failures, no matter the cost. As a result, they have elected to bring the hated magus killer, Kiritsugu Emiya, into their ranks, despite his methods and reputation as a skilled mercenary and a hitman who employs whatever he can use to accomplish his goals. Though Kiritsugu had once wanted to become a hero who could save everyone, he has long since abandoned this ideal upon realizing that saving one person comes at the cost of another’s life. For the sake of humanity, he will ruthlessly destroy anything and anyone who threatens the peace of others.
However, Kiritsugu finds himself deeply torn between the love he has found for his new family – his wife Irisviel and their daughter Illya – and what he must do to obtain the Holy Grail. Meanwhile, Kiritsugu’s greatest opponent appears in the form of Kirei Kotomine, a priest who cannot find any sense of fulfillment in his life and sets his sights on Kiritsugu as the possible answer to the emptiness he feels.
I can think of other reasons why the show is hard to get through mainly through the first episode, which gives a lot of exposition, which I may remind you is a 46 minute episode (as in, that’s the length of any Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Mad Men or any other TV drama you saw) and it also helps to watch that episode again but in smaller scales but after that, the show is actually quite the darker tale that I actually wanted from the last series, meaning it doesn’t pussyfoot around the hero angle and actually display some consequences that people make when playing that role as in, to save millions of people, you have to kill a few and often that can backfire on you and it will make your choices even harder. The way they set up these servants fighting for the Holy Grail War almost feels like a sophisticated version of Mortal Kombat and yeah, things do get violent but equally of gory violent and psychologically violent. The philosophies display in the show does got me questioning the choices that most of the characters make, even with the Servants and what they’ll do with the Holy Grail. Some want it for fame, fortune, to be on top of the world, or even just to be the fair ruler that the people will love but realizes that they can turn on you and go against you.
There is a rich and unique assortment of characters throughout the series as they are centered on more than just one character at a time like Kiritsugu Emiya and I find his journey in the series of what it means to be a hero and battling to win the Holy Grail with his servant Saber more so than I did with Shirou in stay night only while I detect some traits from Shirou in Kiritsugu but he’s less annoying than him and actually has good meaning even though you’ll question his methods in some episodes. Kirei Kotomine makes a captivating antagonist of the show, even when his antagonism doesn’t show until the second half of the series but nevertheless a formidable opponent to Kiritsugu and shows a great threat to him. At first, I though Waver Velvet was annoying in the first few episodes but luckily after they introduce Rider, one of the more charismatic characters on the show, Waver was actually tolerable although there isn’t anything to hate on him. BTW, you got to love how Rider is in the show, compared to Saber (who is more guarded much like she was in F/SN) and Gilgamesh (also fuck Gilgamesh…..); Yeah, not a big fan of him. I know he’s the intentional asshole in the show but damn, he just pisses me off but yet the character that really pisses me off is Ryūnosuke Uryū, the master who’s a child killer and overall sick fuck, and while he is a character that is intentionally unlikable, I kept thinking “Oh, please, somebody kill this guy already!” While I can explore some more characters in the show, but it would take forever Irisviel (who I really did like among with her and Saber bonding), Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald (prick; also his wife Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri….weird name by the way…a bitch), Maiya Hisau (Kiritsugu’s partner-in-crime and lover??), Lancer (worthy Servant), Tokiomo Tohsaka (father of Rin Tohsaka and a bastard), Caster (the weird creepy servant to Sick Fuck) and Kariya Matou (the one guy I really felt bad for in this).
The animation from Ufotable, whose credits I only know are the Garden of Sinners movie series (really need to see those movies BTW), and the contemporary anime art style definitely surpass most recent anime out and this was made in 2011. The glorious animation in the action scenes are amazing, especially in all its HD glory. The character designs and everything in general feel slicker and cleaner than what Studio DEEN did with F/SN.
Yuki Kaijura does it again with the score as this is where she shines as the music gives the heavily orchestral epic tone that compliments its scenes, whether it be the dialogue scenes or the action scenes, the music gives it more strength than it already has. The opening and ending songs is what really capture me with LISA doing the first opening, “Oath Sign”, which in my opinion a much better song than “Crossing Field” and the first ending with Eir Aoi’s “MEMORIA” was easily one of my favorite ending themes. The 2nd opening “To the Beginning” performed by Kalafina was also another highlight for them considering their ending song for Madoka is already golden.
Now for the English dub, which I got to say my thank you to Aniplex of America, Bang Zoom Entertainment, Neon Alley, and Tony Oliver because this was the best dub I have heard all year in 2013. When you heard that cast list announcement, people were going to be psyched for this as they put out the names. All the performers did a phenomenal job on the dub and whatever little flaws they got, they are mostly forgettable or something I really don’t give a damn about. Matthew Mercer, Bridget Hoffman, Crispin Freeman, Lucien Dodge, Johnny Yong Bosch, Dan Woren, Jamieson Price, and Kari Wahlgren taking over the role of Saber (3rd English voice actress to do so). Also, I’m really glad that this show got a dub because most of the show is dialogue-driven while having action in it.
FINAL VERDICT: Fate/Zero has done the inevitable by proving to be better than its successor and being bold to go into that dark direction that was heavily needed. The show, like Berserk, is another example of being an epic anime although going into it will be a struggling journey. Those who were disappointed with stay night will definitely love this show.
So does Fate/Zero gets the Holy Grail of grades?
9/10 – FIRST CLASS
Fate/Zero is available to own on DVD and Blu-Ray via Aniplex of America (technically, they released the imported version [Japanese language only version] in 2012 but following it with a bilingual release in 2013) Streaming options are available for Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki, Crackle & Aniplex Channel. For the dub, it is streaming on Viz Media’s English-dub streaming service, NEON ALLEY.
And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka Blue Hybrid, bringing all the servants into the Holy Grail War.
FATE/ZERO – animation by UFOTABLE / distributed by ANIPLEX OF AMERICA
THE MIND OF THE HYBRID ONE – my Tumblr Page