Fate/Zero Anime Review
Fate/Stay Night's prequel manages to be a much better anime than its parent show.
Fate/Zero is the prequel to the popular visual novel Fate/Stay Night, created by Type-Moon. Fate/Zero followed roughly the same path, being created as an illustrated novel before being adapted into an anime. Even if you haven't seen Fate/Stay Night, you'll probably recognise it for spawning this memetic phrase:
Let's hear it for Captain Obvious!
Set roughly a decade before Fate/Stay Night, the story of Fate/Zero revolves around 7 mages (known as Masters) who each summon a hero from myth or history (known as Servants). Each Master and Servant duo then fights it out for the chance to win the Holy Grail - an omnipotent wish-granting device. Each Servant is sorted into one of seven categories, and their powers depend on the category. The categories are: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Caster, Rider, Assassin, and Berserker.
The story largely follows Saber (whose true identity is a gender-flipped King Arthur) and her Master, Kiritsugu Emiya, who ends up becoming the adoptive father of Shirou Emiya (the protagonist of Fate/Stay Night). However, every other Servant-and-Master pairing gets plenty of screentime, and most of them get a good deal of character development.
From left to right: Assassin, Lancer, Rider, Saber, Archer, Caster and Berserker.
One of the good things about this show is that the war isn't simply played out as 'Saber battles one foe and wins. Rinse and repeat'. The tactics used by the Masters are clever, cunning and above all, believable. There are alliances, temporary treaties, and plenty of backstabbing, and every plan is explained in detail for the viewers. Of course, there are lots of fights, and a large number of them are nothing short of awesome.
The characters of Fate/Zero are all unique and multi-layered, and almost every one of them is likeable (although some lean more towards the 'love-to-hate' type). However, the Servants are given more characterisation than the Masters at some points. For example, Archer (who is actually Gilgamesh, from the epics) seeks the Grail simply because he believes that every treasure in the world belongs to him, whereas his Masters reason for wanting the Grail is never really given.
"My name is Caster, and I'm most definitely not a villain."
Out of all the characters though, special mention must be given to Rider (who is actually Alexander the Great). He is partnered with Waver Velvet, a meek university student who enters the war purely to prove himself. Rider is the stereotypical boisterous bruiser; a massive, muscled man who (to quote one reviewer) has more awesomeness stored in his beard than most anime characters have in their whole bodies. However, despite their differences, Rider and Waver end up having the closest Master and Servant bond in the war. In essence, everything about Rider's character can be summed up in one sentence: If there were ever to be a live-action adaptation, the only actor that could accurately portray him would be Brian Blessed.
"Look at your command seal, now back to me. I'm on a horse."
The animation in Fate/Zero is simply amazing. Every scene looks as though it has HD quality, even when nothing exciting is happening. It's probably best seen in the aerial battle between Gilgamesh and Berserker, which is one of the most epic battles in anime history. Seriously, the animation budget must have exceeded the GNP of Luxembourg.
The music is equally epic, with a number of different themes for each character and fight. The dogfight between Gilgamesh and Berserker has at least three themes, and they're all epic. The first opening fits the start of the series perfectly, and the second opening (whilst not as catchy as the first) feels somewhat fitting as events come to a climax.
Warning: Motion Sickness may occur.
Sadly, Fate/Zero has one big fault, and it's the fact that the ending has to tie into Fate/Stay Night. This means that events in the last few episodes are hurried along, and the ending makes little to no sense if you haven't seen Fate/Stay Night. On the other hand, if you have seen the parent show, it means that you can pretty easily predict what's going to happen, as well as which characters die and which ones survive.
Overall, Fate/Zero is definitely worth watching. The animation is spectacular, the music is epic, and the storyline is gripping. In fact, were it not for the ending, which is both confusing and annoying, it would be incredibly difficult to fault the show. Unfortunately, the reasons behind the events in the last two episodes are not adequately explained, and so it can leave some viewers scratching their heads in confusion. Add that to the fact that the ending is essentially dictated by the canon of Fate/Stay Night, and you have a big problem. Look past that however, and you have a pretty damn good show.
GOOD THINGS:Gorgeous animation.A wide, varied cast.A gripping storyline.
The fantastic soundtrack.
BAD THINGS:Some characters get less screentime than others (especially Berserker).
The confusing, forced ending.
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at KYLEROULSTON1993@GMAIL.COM. The alternative is his Skype account at KYLEROULSTON1993. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. He has been known to absorb energy directly from his computer.