Friday, May 11, 2012

Anime review: "Fate/Zero"

As I said, I am taking little break from reading and the first anime I watched is "Fate/Zero". I have watched anime called "Fate/Stay Night" few years ago, which was a good but unexceptional fantasy/action anime revolving around some contemporary fight for the Holy Grail, with seven human Masters and seven mythical heroic Servants. So when last year "Fate/Zero" went out, with the same theme and same characters (at least some of them), I thought it was just an alternative version with better graphics, and decided that there is no reason for watching it. But as usually, good rates on AniDB and several good reviews, combined with a lack of tempting new anime made me change my mind.

First thing, I am a bit confused about the relationship between "Fate/Zero" and "Fate/Stay Night". What is certain is that they are set in the same setting. As I said at the beginning, they share a lot of plot and characters (who have same names, but are different), so I would be more inclined to the idea of this being an alternative version, as I thought first. But AniDB states that "Fate/Zero" is a prequel to "Fate/Stay Night". And if we consider that happens in this anime, this could even may be true. Of course, if we consider that fact that I watched "Fate/Stay Night" several years ago, I could be completely off.

And what happens is in this anime is: nothing! First episode is actually a double one and it is blatantly an info-dump, where the setting is explained and main characters are introduced. The rest of the episode servers only to build-up characters, their motives and the setting. For example, we have one episode dedicated to a completely minor character. Considering this is a fighting anime (Masters and Servants FIGHT against other in BATTLE for the Holy Grail), there are exactly three real fights: two ended in a draw and one was done so fast that you are left wondering what just happened (especially in context what happened in second episode).

My best guess is that "Fate/Zero" is a prequel, but that next year there will be a new "Fate/Stay" that will keep with this continuity. This is a good place to mention that next season of "Fate/Zero" is playing right now, called just "Fate/Zero (2012)".

But never mind that: this is a pretty good for anime where nothing conclusive happens and that ends in a cliffhanger. And that is established with unbelievably great atmosphere: dark and violent. Also, combination of grittiness and shounen chivalry somehow works great. I would really like to see what an adult and really gritty version would look like (probably something like "Kara no Kyoukai", a really SUPERB anime sharing this setting with nonlinear plot; if you watch it and like it, consider watching "Denpa Teki na Kanojo"). We have a lot of darker tones - most of the important stuff happens in the dark. Also, background sounds and music are very good and effective.

Characters are the other half of the reason why this anime is so good. They are all mysterious and surprisingly deep. Yes, they are stereotypical shounen character, but this is more a show about them than one about the battle for the Holy Grail. They are definitely more developed that in "Fate/Stay Night". Well, except Gilgamesh: he was intolerable prick then and he is one now (or vice versa). But even him I liked more in F/Z that in F/S. There is much more minor characters and what is even more better: not one of the main characters is an unaware high-school student. They are almost all mature people with their own histories.

About technical stuff, nothing less than you would except from modern action hit anime: great visuals with a touch too much CGI. And as I said, sounds and background music are very good (and I usually don't notice this stuff). There are 13 episodes; first is a double one and one last half again as others.

So for conclusion, although "Fate/Zero" share maybe too much with "Fate/Stay Night", if you like fighting anime, or dark fantasy is a pick for you (even more so if you didn't watch the latter). Not best out there, but good enough that I will watch the second season.

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