Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fate/Zero Review (Japanese)

I’m not much into light novels, but I have heard of the Type Moon Fate series. Sadly Fate/Stay Night is pretty infamous for how much of a bad adaptation it is, and I’m going to guess now that Fate/Kaelid is going to be bad too. But for some reason, I keep getting told to watch this series because it blows Fate/Stay Night out of the water. Time to find out.

Fate/Zero is a 25 episode Action/Fantasy series originally based on the Light Novel by Gen Urobuchi and published by Type Moon around 2006-2007. An ongoing manga from Kadokawa Shoten is currently not available in the states. As for the anime series directed by Ei Aoki and from ufotable Studio, both seasons have been licensed by Aniplex of America and Madman Entertainment.

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. 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 mage 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.

Let’s start with the animation of Fate/Zero. It is absolutely beautiful! I’m actually surprised that a little known studio managed to pull it off! If you own an HD TV, a Xbox, and have the Crunchyroll app then you NEED to see the series in HD. There are very little hiccups which is very surprising. This project must have taken some time to complete and I am ever grateful for the time that was spent into this series because the time it took to make it really showed. As for the soundtrack for the series, it was done by none other than Yuki Kajiura. The same person who did Madoka Magica. Need I say more?

The story takes place several years before the events of Fate/Stay Night. Now the story of Stay Night had quite a few problems making Zero a little bit cursed to begin with due to franchise association. However, what Zero has that Stay Night doesn’t is the right pace and ability to show what it needed to show at the right time. This brings us back to the whole “bowing Fate/Stay Night out of the water” thing. There is a slight downside for Zero though and that’s in its first season. The majority of the season uses Caster and his Master Ryunosuke as the main plot. As long and drawn out as this is, it gives more time for the servants and masters to become more established characters. The second season is what picks up in the story and action a lot more and makes it into something really epic. It brings the characters that were developed in the first season and gives them much more trauma than was first seen. There is another slight downfall, but it’s more for those who have seen Stay Night. Stay Night takes time to describe how the Fourth Holy Grail War ended, giving the viewer a clear indication as to how Zero will end. It’s a little bit of a mood killer, however it’s nice to know that Zero didn’t change the story in any way shape or form. It even ties a few nice things into it that makes it nice for those who have seen Stay Night. I suggest watching Zero before Stay Night so you’re not completely spoiled rather than going Stay Night before Zero just because Zero aired after it’s predecessor.

Archer is not amused....
This is actually a kinda good seg-way into the characters themselves. Like I said before, the first season gives us time with all the Master and Servants and a few others as well like Maiya and Irisviel. This certainly helps the viewer become attached to certain Master/Servant teams and has them rooting for them till the very end. This makes Zero’s characters into something extremely wonderful! Wether you’re rooting for the goofy team of Waver and Rider or the sadistic Kirei and Assassin pair, you will end up picking sides. Sadly I can’t go into every single person in the series, so I’ll cover a few of the good ones. One of everyone’s favorite teams is, of course, Waver and Rider. These two, over time, obtain a wonderful friendship and understanding of each other that everyone loves. That and Rider is a bit of a funny badass. Kariya Mato and his story is actually a pretty tragic one to watch unfold and you can’t help but feel for his struggle. The same can be said of our lead character Kiritsugu Emiya. For most of the series he can be seen as a bit of a jerk due to the choices he makes. However, when we reach the second season and get, not one but, two episodes of backstory we understand him a little more. And then there’s Archer. Archer is just... well.... Archer. Overall, the entire cast of characters play their parts well and you can’t help but go along with them.

Crispin Freeman is of course Crispin Freeman.
I watched the entire series in the Japanese so I will be mostly talking about that for the language track. However, I will touch upon the dub for a few moments as well. Overall, the cast of the Japanese track is very strong. I can’t even pick any stand outs from the cast. Ok, maybe one.... Akio Ohtsuka as Rider. The Japanese knew what they had on their hands was special and they needed to knock it out of the ball park. I almost never noticed a wooden line or bad performance in the series. As for the dub, I did get a chance to watch the first two episodes at Anime Boston and I was very impressed. Aniplex is going all out with this one! Matthew Mercer as Emiya and Kari Wahlgren as Saber is fantastic! The there’s Crispin Freeman being Crispin Freeman as Kotomine. A few others of note include Lucien Dodge as Waver, Liam O’Brien as Kariya Mato, Johnny Yong Bosch as Ryunosuke (which, by the way, I love that Bosch has been playing the crazy lately), and Jamieson Price as Rider. I’m gonna have to become exceedingly rich if I want to purchase Fate/Zero from Aniplex now. Aniplex take all my money!

By the end of the Holy Grail War, Fate/Zero is a wonderful adaptation that makes up for the failure known as Fate/Stay Night. It is nearly perfect in every aspect of it except for the story of the first season and a few very very minor plot holes in the show. I highly recommend seeing this series despite what people may have heard or seen of it’s proceeding series. This is one of the best series I’ve seen in a long time, and I can’t wait to rewatch it with more of the dubbed episodes!

Next time, things get a little crazy around here. I just need my guitar and my vespa. Until then, otaku on my friends!

Final Rating - 9/10 - A nearly perfect show in every way, shape, and form.


  1. The reason why Fate/Zero is significantly better than other animated Fate titles is the source material. As you mentioned, Fate/Zero is based on a light novel by Gen Urobuchi, while the other Fate titles are not. This makes Fate/Zero acquire a mature atmosphere (knowing Gen Urobuchi), while the other Fate titles appear to be more Shounen-ish.

    Another factor is the execution. Studio DEEN did create a poor adaptation of the other Fate titles, while Ufotable did remarkably well in Fate/Zero. Also, Type Moon and Ufotable have interesting collaborations so far. Try Kara no Kyoukai. I haven't seen it, but I've been hearing a lot of good things about it. Also, Type Moon and Ufotable are collaborating for a new Fate titles, and that's just great news.

  2. Fate/kaleid liner is pretty funny though. It features the Fate characters in an entirely different story. I think it's something that shouldn't be taken seriously. It's more of like a fun watch overall without the seriousness.

    1. I looked at Kaleid for my Impressions series and I didn't really like what I saw. I may go back to it eventually, but not at this second. As for Stay Night, I didn't look at the visual novels or anything the Fate series is based on and even I could tell Stay Night was a poor adaptation lol. But since there is going to be a remake of Stay Night by the same studio as Zero, I am looking forward to seeing it kick the original's ass!

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