It’s not really surprising that Fate/Apocrypha is still introducing things in its second episode. With 14 (15) servants and, presumably (?) an equal number of masters to try to show off before things really get going, I wouldn’t be surprised if episode three follows suit – nonetheless, this episode did a decent job introducing lots of new characters, as well as giving us a taste of the kind of action we can expect going forward.
We see a little more of Ruler to begin with before rejoining the two factions who take turns in introducing themselves. The Black team do a full (and quite convenient) set of introductions led by their overly bubbly Rider.
The release of Fate/Apocrypha has put me in a very Fate mood recently. As a result, I was inspired, over the weekend, to go back to the Fate/Stay Night visual novel. I’d got hold of it this time last year, but at the time I didn’t get far passed the prologue. This time, I got a little further, and discovered a new facet of the gameplay: the ‘bad end’.
All things said and done, I can think of five visual novels that I’ve had experience with. Out of those, one didn’t have any decisions, three are largely linear (though there might be some deviation if I keep playing, though I’m fairly sure there isn’t) and then Fate/Stay Night.
The workings of the Fate VN will need no introduction to most familiar with the series so I’ll keep this section brief. The VN is split into three routes: Fate, Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven’s Feel. On the face of it, these three routes fit in largely with the three heroines of the tale: Saber, Rin and Sakura, though in truth there is a lot more to it than that. The game doesn’t allow you to play the routes out of the order above and as such the game gets progressively darker as you play each route. But I digress.
Yes, this article is a thing. After my last article it might seem odd that I’m here writing this, but all I can say is I made a decision and the result is you guys get weekly reviews.
And frankly I’m glad I watched episode one of Fate/Apocrypha this week. For those of you familiar with Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, I wouldn’t rate this as highly as the first episode of that, but I would say that this has got of to a great start, particularly for fans of the franchise.
Yesterday, we got yet another addition to the Fate universe in the form of the feature length Fate Grand Order: First Order. The Fate franchise has been constantly expanding since it’s inception with the 2004 visual novel Fate/Stay Night (the most well known and popular part of the world), but that has possibly never been as true as what we are being promised looking forward to 2017. Before we look at these new adaptations, I’ll run through the previous anime appearances.
Fate/Stay Night (2006)
The very first anime adapted the Fate route of the original visual novel. It follows the now familiar story line of Shirou and Saber in the Holy Grail war against six other pairs of mages and heroic spirits fighting it out in a battle royale format for the Holy Grail. It’s full of well fleshed out main characters with interesting motivations which set a reasonable benchmark for future instalments, but it suffered from bad pacing and a questionable selection of sections from the visual novel (when you see the bit I mean, you’ll know exactly what I mean). My full review is here.
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works Movie (2010)
After a four year break, Fate/Stay Night returned in movie form adapting the second visual novel route, Unlimited Blade Works. I will admit I’ve chosen not to watch this particular adaptation because of some of the reviews I’ve read about it. The movie takes one of three main routes of the 50 hour long visual novel and tells it’s story in 90 minutes – I suppose that tells you all you need to know.
In the wide world of anime there are very, very few shows that are generally viewed as very good whilst being popular. One such show was Fate/Zero, the anime adaptation of the light novel series and prequel to the Fate/Stay Night visual novel and anime. It’s two halves sit pretty in the top 100 on MAL and on the whole most people seem to have little to say about it. Personally I found the series to be generally very good, if a little slow at times.
The franchise more widely is perhaps slightly less critically acclaimed though it does maintain a certain reputation as a high class series, a point which has only been helped by the large budgets which have boosted the series along in the last five years – particularly on the part of the anime studio ufotable. This brings us to the point of this article: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works, the 2014/15 series adapting the second route, Unlimited Blade Works, of the 2004 visual novel.
Fate/Stay Night is one of those shows that has been around for a while and you hear a lot of good things about. Don’t think that those things go to their extremes though, it’s nine years old and people have recommended plenty of other things over this. You get it though, not new, not awful- surely worth a watch?
Ten years ago an area of Fuyuki City was inexplicably burnt down with the only survivor being a young boy, Shiro Emiya. After being saved and taken in, he promises to uphold his father’s ambition of being a ‘champion of justice’. As it turns out, Shiro’s father is what we call a magus (magician, wizard etc.) and has passed a degree of his power onto his son. ‘A degeee’ is just the right way to talk about it, as Shiro can only do one type of magic which is viewed by the other magus’ as largely useless. The story focuses upon the ever recurring ‘Holy Grail Wars’, a battle royale of the sorts between pairs of masters and servants to gain the Holy Grail, an object which can grant the user anything they want.
In the beginning Shiro is clueless. Actually, he’s always clueless.
As with most anime, our main character (though some bad things have happened to him a long time ago), starts off living an extraordinarily normal life. This very quickly changes as he is selected to be a Master in the Holy Grail Wars and accidentally summons his Servant, Saber. Between the two of them they have to defeat the other masters, which unsurprisingly they manage before meeting an unseen and much greater challenge at the end of the series. As it happens, Saber has already been involved in the Holy Grail Wars before, fighting with Shiro’s father, coming very close to winning before the Grail was destroyed (or was it?!) burning down a large area of the city (see, it’s come full circle).