Title: Fate/stay Night
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand)
Based on: Visual Novel by the same name from Type-Moon.
Genre: Action, Romance, Supernatural and Thriller
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (16:9)
Runtime: 600 minutes
Classification: This title is classified as M for Moderate Animated Violence
Blurb: The anime series based off the popular Japanese visual novel series under the same name. Featuring a human cast alongside supernatural personifications of famous figures – this series involves a human and a ‘Servant’ teaming up to eliminate the others, for the ultimate goal of achieving the Holy Grail – a mystical object that will grant the holders a wish. Overall the storyline is strongest in the action however the romance element is very weak. I did enjoy the graphics and music as well.
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to the Madman Entertainment PR Team for providing me with a review sample of this title.
Recently, the series has been of focus with the Fate/Extra PSP title being announced for English distribution and the Fate/Zero prequel series due to start in Japan this October. Therefore, I think it is important to go back and look at the original anime series before indulging in the pleasures of the recent titles – as I am sure both upcoming titles will be less than newbie friendly. You will most probably find that this anime will be in volumes instead of a set at your local anime supplier (or at least they are at mine), however Madman Entertainment has them in stock so ordering from them might be your best bet. Anyway, with that out of the way, please read on for my review of Fate/Stay Night.
Ten years ago there was a secret war fought by master mages with their servants in order to obtain the Holy Grail and the result was devastating to everyone. Today, the Holy Grail War is beginning again with new masters. One such master, Shirou, must now come to grips with the reality of the secret world of war mages and their summoned servants when he unknowingly summons his own servant, Saver; the one said to be the most powerful servant of them all. Perhaps Shirou will be the one to prevent the destruction that had marked the first war.
The story primarily revolves around two characters: Shirou Emiya – a high school student who has latent magical power however is unable to use them effectively but is able to reinforce anything into a weapon and Saber – A personification of a legendary figure who has been summoned by the weakest mage in the game. Their goal is to complete this game as the victors and all the same, both surviving to see another day. As the series progresses, the further six competitors are revealed with some becoming allies and some becoming enemies. The series is rather involved and does not spend much time going into filler content – with the only filler content would be a date between Shirou and Saber.
The storyline was good, I will give it that however I thought they tried to be a bit too ambitious in the implementation and lacking explanation and details along the way. The series deals with drawn out battles and scenes where the main cast is in trouble frequently which I suppose is normal for a series of this type however would have benefited from deviating from the characters frequently getting injured (and in Shirou’s case – healing quickly). The series has quite a few different events going on such as the entirety of the school populace possibly being killed by a long-charging magic spell to the youngest of the masters owning the servant personification of Hercules which has an almost immortal state of existence – but generally these are all intermingled with other plot events or drawn out for so long that it would have been beneficial to perhaps shorten the individual plots and focus on less at once.
As well, this series did win in the action-oriented department however they tried to get some element of romance in there, but it was very half-assed and left me more confused over anything else. It was hinted that three – potentially four different characters had some degree of feelings towards our hero however all but one of them were dropped whilst the one between Shirou and Saber was only used to give the ending just that little bit more impact. In terms of the individual storyline elements however, it managed to keep me infront of the television for hours on end, so that is a good sign.
I will say that the character development is something of a strong point – with most of the characters receiving some backstory during the course of the series. Saber has a few episodes dedicated to her backstory as a “Hero” and why she became a servant for the Holy Grail Wars. Her episodes were most probably some of the more creative episodes of the lot. The two primary human characters Shirou and Rin (Who allies herself with Shirou early on) are also strong points with Shirou going from his pessimistic “Girls shouldn’t fight” attitute to one more suitable to taking the front lines in battle and Rin who herself goes through troubling moments and conflicting thoughts on allying with someone she may have to kill in the future. Whilst it is more focused upon in the prequel series starting this October, several scenes also involve Shirou’s father who took part in the previous wars – which links to Shirou’s storyline as well as that of others.
Besides the characters involved in the Grail Wars, there are other characters present throughout the storyline however their impact and screen-time is limited. One of the main heroines from the original visual novel story, Sakura holds a very minor role throughout the story. However, all the other characters are not much to be missed for. In the end, I felt that perhaps the story needed to be refined more, but it was a series that definitely used the 24 episodes to get as much of the original storyline across as possible.
I am slightly torn between my overall impressions for the design of this series. I love the environment designs chosen as well as the lighting effects used to give the characters a sense of being in their environment, I felt that the character designs themselves were not up to a standard I would have expected. Starting with the good first, the environment designs were well detailed and it looks like what I would expect a small Japanese city to be like – with all the differently designed buildings, the strong mix of nature and city (Eg. the image above) and all the other bits and pieces that makes it stand out. The character designs are okay, but if you contrast them to the designs of the environment, they look slightly disarrayed to each other. However, the lighting choices were some of the best I have seen yet in an anime, and helped boost the quality of the character designs a bit – through the use of shadows as you will see in most of the images in this review. The fighting animations were also a strong point and up to the standards one would expect for a series surrounding a battle of swords and magic. One further slight issue I found just whilst doing this review – the dimensions of the videos differ between each episode, with more of a black border appearing in some episodes then others, however the entire series is in 16:9 ratio.
Opening Sequences 1-2
disillusion by Sachi Tainaka
Kirameku Namida wa Hoshi ni by Sachi Tainaka
Overall, both of these themes were enjoyable to watch – with perhaps the first opening having a slightly better musical track and the second having slightly better design. I have mentioned previously that I have a liking for little musical pieces separate from an opening/ending theme, such as that in When They Cry’s ending theme. Both of these had brief episode title tracks after the rest of the sequence that were very well done – to the point where I believe they added the first one to the PSP game.
Ending Sequences 1-2
Anata ga Ita Mori by Jyukai
The song has a much softer tone to it and the animation is nothing special with just a clip of Saber standing. Watched it long enough to find the skip button on my PS3 controller.
In terms of packaging, all six discs are contained within a psuedo-normal DVD sized case similar to that of Kanon and Shakugan no Shana. The DVD holders are both sturdy and do not give you troubles when trying to remove the disc (I am looking at you Figure 17). The cover art is nice, featuring Rin and Shirou alongside their servants and keeps the redish colour scheme throughout the cover and the discs inside. Each of the discs are from the looks of it, the original single-volume discs in one collection, each featuring a different character on the front of them. In terms of extra content, there is a decent compilation of extras which include:
- Textless Openings and Closings
- Rider’s Diary
- Opening Music Clips
- Promotional Videos
- TV Commercials for the series
- Saber and Archer Music Clips
- and what you would expect in every anime disc…. TRAILERS!
Storyline/Character Development: B+
OP/ED Sequences: B+
Music/Voice Acting: A
Personal Opinion: B
Overall Score: B+