Post Reply RETROSPECTIVE: Fate Zero
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Posted 11/6/14 , edited 3/13/15
Fate/stay Night is back, but there are a lot of people who got into the franchise with its prequel, Fate Zero! The Crunchyroll Newsletter Team took a look back at the past Holy Grail War, and gave us their thoughts!

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by battlewaitress

Let me start out by saying this first; if you've held out on watching Fate Zero because you watched the 2006 version of Fate/stay night, let that go. The two literally aren't even comparable in any way. Fate Zero is based on novels, while Fate/stay night is visual novel only, and the animation studios that handle the two shows are on entirely different levels.

Fate Zero is dark. There's no way around that. You're not going to get your happy endings with this show. Still, that's one of the things that's best about it; it's about war, and no matter if you're the winner or loser, you're going to end up making sacrifices, and this show doesn't sugarcoat that in the slightest. This leads to probably the most interesting part of it all, which is the conflicting ideologies. Of course, there are characters who are just straight up gross/terrible people in their choices, who really don't have redeemable qualities about them, but even with the "good" characters, the ones you end up liking, no one is particularly right. They all have flaws in their logic, and this gives them dimension and a depth that I rarely see in anime, period. I can personally say I loathe the main character, but they give you so many to work with that the show keeps you watching. You're going to be interested in someone's story, and things don't work out at all like you might predict they would.

If there was any "compliant" I had about the show, that last point would draw on it. Since the cast is so huge, a lot of characters don't end up getting as much of a backstory as you might like. This is something I've noticed as someone who finished the show, repeatedly watched some of the episodes, and is now more into the TYPE-MOON universe. I think it's something you consider after you finish and think back on the show-- the story still feels pretty complete how it is, when you're viewing it.

Fate Zero stands up as one of my favorite anime of all time. I think everyone who's a fan of anime should give it a chance. You'll find something, or someone that you like, and the lovely animation (the fights scenes are actually animated, guys!), and gorgeous soundtrack only put the shine on an already beautifully plot-wrapped package.



by Zerogouki

Fate/Zero is a challenging show from the start, if only because it clearly wants to get the introductions over quickly. Watching it without being intimately familiar with the Fate/Stay Night universe is a bit like watching the Star Wars prequels first, in that there's a whole host of information to wade through right away, and when confused, it's not always easy to tell what's confusing because it's confusing, and what's confusing because it's a reference to something else. Normally, there'd be nothing all that wrong with that, and just saying that it's helpful to have the background information or be a fan already before watching it would be sufficient. But Fate/Zero is so good and so interesting that it could easily create legions of new fans, especially compared to the original Fate/Stay Night anime from Studio DEEN.

What hooked me right away was the cast. Although the exposition in the first (double-length!) episode can be difficult to get through, the little portraits of each character's personality that emerge are striking and an instant hook -- I especially like Waver Velvet's outraged bickering and the grinning psychotic evil of Ryuunosuke, both of whom emerge as some of the series' more memorable characters. The only real issue is just how many of them there are, and that aspect never lets up for the entire series until near the very end, as the various players get eliminated or remove themselves from the story. Fate/Zero is juggling so many different ideas and concepts that they can get slightly jumbled, and it can be a disappointment if you find yourself less than enthralled by Kiritsugu's mission to reconcile his ideals with reality, which becomes the main emotional thread. The series never lacks for incredible moments (the way Kiritsugu deals with a magical protection spell in an early episode is just one example), but the structure could leave some viewers cold as it goes on. Even so, it feels so much more like a full and real story rather than an empty spine to hang characters and ideas on, an issue that Fate/Stay Night and some other TYPE-MOON adaptions have, that it's worth seeing through to the end regardless of where one's sympathies ultimately lie.



by iblessall

In the interest of full disclosure and preserving my own integrity, I feel obligated to note that I personally have a couple huge problems with Fate/Zero, mostly involving the philosophies of the show as it engages with the topics of utilitarianism and nihilism. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't recommend Fate/Zero on the basis of those issues, but I also recognize that not everyone is like to be as upset by the "nothing you do has meaning" messaging of the show. So.

Fate/Zero is beautifully animated by the studio Ufotable and deftly written by fan-favorite Gen Urobuchi, the writer of Madoka Magica, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, and creator of the Summer 2014 anime Aldnoah.Zero. Although the general motions of the show tend towards ponderous dialogue punctuated by short bursts of action, when Fate/Zero dives headlong into debates or fights with abandon it provides some truly memorable moments. There are a lot of ideas and topics bouncing around in this show, and while Fate/Zero engages only a few of them fully, the collage of philosophies at least supplies plenty of food for thought. And the action sequences are indeed spectacular—the Type-Moon/Aniplex budget is pretty obvious throughout the entire series.

In my opinion, the wheels of the narrative start to come off a bit in the second half of the show. There are a ton of characters dashing around in Fate/Zero, each with their own motivations, but their sheer numbers mean its hard to fully understand what's driving everyone. These seams show more and more as the battles intensify and, while the spectacle is engaging in its own right, resolution of the Grail War is unsatisfyingly inconclusive in a number of ways. Of course, this is just a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, but I can't help think that Fate/Zero would have benefitted from being freed of the shackles of the existing material.

In the end, Fate/Zero just wasn't for me, but that doesn't preclude others from enjoying it or falling in love with it. There certainly are plenty of reasons why people might like the show (the animation quality, the fights, the philosophizing), but for me the shackles of the franchise and the hopelessness of the ending were too potent for me to ignore.



by Dingofist

In case you weren’t aware, Fate/Zero is a beautifully animated show with sky high production values that make themselves apparent in every aspect possible, from the gorgeous art to the captivating score to the top-notch voice cast. Those things alone more or less make it a series worth consideration, full of eye-catching scenery and jaw-dropping battles between sinister mages and super-powered heroes.

All that quality got me watching, but what kept me hooked, what really earned Fate/Zero my admiration and dare I say affection was the stellar cast of complex characters and fascinating world that’s been built around them. As far as I’m concerned, Fate/Zero has no real protagonist. Instead, it presents a truly ensemble cast of characters, very few (if any!) of which could be described as “good guys”. With the story centered on a “Holy Grail War” the interactions of the various characters play out appropriately, with different ancient magical families matching wits and beliefs with one another and their incredibly “gray” conflict playing out in bloody, magical fashion. Factor in the different Servants (reborn heroes of history and mythology), and there’s certainly a lot going on thematically and philosophically, and some episodes will glue you to your TV (or tablet, or computer, or phone…) on the strength of the conversations alone.

One other thing worth mentioning: if you’re a fan of history or mythology, you’ll no doubt delight in each of the Servants’ true identities and their interactions with one another and the modern world in general. They’re possibly my favorite part of the entire show.



Back to Square Zero
a mini-reivew by edsamac

Prequels are, in a sense, a publicity stunt. If done properly, they enrich, deepen, and expand the universe of a franchise beyond its original intention. Done improperly, however, it can ruin an otherwise reputable series. This much is obvious, but from the perspective of a writer, prequels come as a challenge. In the case of Fate/Stay Night, the challenge is rather imperative. Though one of the most popular Visual Novel games of all time, Fate/Stay Night leaves much to be desired in terms of clarity without the aid of back stories and sidewalk discussions. Leave it to Gen Urobuchi to take the hacking saw out and wreck havoc. Coupled with his knack for macabre and deconstructionism, the result is a compelling work that is not only sound, but graphically brilliant.

There are many things I can name that were done most exquisitely by the butcher himself, but my personal favorite would have to be character development and interactions. All the characters were flawed in their own right, and there was no hesitation to present them almost as shamelessly as they were depicted. Terror, deceit, murder, espionage; all the bubbly visual novel characteristics inherent to the original F/S series was stripped down to a all-out battle royalé, perhaps in the intent of emulating what the holy grail war was really all about. I can’t condone most of the actions of the masters involved, but their interactions with their respective servants were balanced well enough with the action so as not to drag the series with too much content. The result is a cohesive re-visioning of the holy grail war as ugly and reproachable. If you were disgusted by any of the actions of the characters portrayed in the series, I’d say Urobutcher did his job.

And then there’s the brilliant animation that surpasses anything you’d expect from a weekly television show. UFO Table is, hands down, one of my favorite animation studios to date. Everything they touch is gold, and Fate Zero is no exception to this.

So there you have it. If you haven’t watched this show yet, I highly recommend you do. It won’t please everyone, but modern deconstructions were never meant to powder anyone’s cheeks, anyway. If you like unsettling, reasonably plausible prequels that can enhance an already great franchise, then look no further than Fate Zero.

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So there you have it! Type-Moon fans, did you rewatch Fate Zero before the recent Unlimited Blade Works retelling hit? Let us know what you think about this new classic!
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Posted 11/8/14 , edited 3/13/15
Great review. Zero has gorgeous art, tons of ambiguity, twists, turns; and best of all; no Shirou!
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Posted 11/8/14
Fate Zero was a masterpiece in its own right.

I loved all of the characters, my favorites being Gilgamesh and Rider followed by the anti hero, Kiritsugu.


Great show.


I personally re-watched Fate zero about three times before the new adaption of the UBW route. Mostly for personal enjoyment.

I dont think Fate Zero even needs to be seen in order to understand the plot of UBW.

However I do believe it will add some context to the events they mention and you would be doing yourself a great disservice to not watch this series. Solely for the fact you will not hear all of the beautiful insults Gilgamesh manages to come up with
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Posted 11/9/14
Just curious: The English version of Fate Zero popped up in my Netflix queue and I've been watching/loving it. Stay Night is the sequel right? It's on here I noticed. Does it pick up directly after FZ?
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Posted 11/9/14 , edited 11/9/14
Spectacular reviews. Although I was left satisfied with Fate/Zero, what with all the philosophy and eye candy, I'll admit I did have some qualms with the emphasis on the multiple perspectives between the characters instead of focusing mainly on Kiritsugu himself. But viewing this in a particular light, if this were based mainly on his perspective, then wouldn't there be a main villain to defeat? But with the advantage of the contrasting perspectives is that according to their own, they each have enemies to defeat. There was never any sole villain nor sole hero to begin with.


cypherslock wrote:

Just curious: The English version of Fate Zero popped up in my Netflix queue and I've been watching/loving it. Stay Night is the sequel right? It's on here I noticed. Does it pick up directly after FZ?


It picks up after 10 years of the 4th Holy Grail War.
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Posted 11/9/14
ah...also curious: is there ever an option for English dubbed (I do like watching in the original Japanese but sometimes it would be nice to have the option)?.
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Posted 11/9/14

cypherslock wrote:

ah...also curious: is there ever an option for English dubbed (I do like watching in the original Japanese but sometimes it would be nice to have the option)?.


Yeah, there is an option for an English dub. As for an English dub, I think it's fairly decent, but that's just according to me.
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Posted 11/9/14

cypherslock wrote:

ah...also curious: is there ever an option for English dubbed (I do like watching in the original Japanese but sometimes it would be nice to have the option)?.


You can find it on Netflix in English!
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Posted 11/10/14 , edited 11/11/14

2320448 wrote:

Great review. Zero has gorgeous art, tons of ambiguity, twists, turns; and best of all; no Shirou!


Like it or not, Shirou Emiya is the reason the prequel called Fate/Zero exists.

If everyone didn't like his character then the Visual Novel called Fate/Stay Night would have never sold as well as it did or be remembered. I am getting rather tired of the constant hatred for Shirou just because he wants to help and save people.

Great review by the way.
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Posted 11/10/14
Indeed, Fate/Zero is phenomenal.

Also, for those who've watched Fate/Zero and want to get into Fate/Stay Night, I recommend skipping the DEEN adaptation. It's not that good (could be worse though, could be the non-existent Tsukihime anime), and to be honest, it adapted the least interesting story route (Fate, the other two routes being Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel) of the visual novel. If you want to get the whole experience, get the full visual novel and download the english patch. If you don't want to spend hours reading it, watch the currently-running Unlimited Blade Works adaptation by Ufotable instead, which relates to Fate/Zero much more than Fate does, provides a much more concrete picture of Shirou Emiya as a character (hint: he's actually not nearly as generic as you think he is), as well as how he contrasts with Kiritsugu.

If you're interested in an extended resolution to Kariya's story, Ufotable are also making a film adaptation of Heaven's Feel, which will hopefully be multi-part, because a single film wouldn't remotely do that route justice.
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Posted 11/10/14
Fate/Zero is my all-time favorite anime TV series. I love the music, the animation, the amazing quality of writing and most of all the philosophy. I love this show on a very personal level. I cannot think of any other piece of media that has resonated with me so much on both an emotional AND intellectual level. I have read Shakespeare, Kafka, Lovecraft, Goethe, Poe, you name it. I have never connected with anything they've written quite as much as Fate/Zero. This is not an exaggeration on my part. I've seen this show all the way through 4 times, and I've watched individual episodes from it countless times more. I almost never re-watch shows, ever, maybe a second time at most, and even then only if I loved it or I felt a need to do so.

Now, that's not to say I think it has no flaws. There were a couple things I had problems with, namely the infodump first episode and a few awkward scene transitions. But overall, it's a masterpiece.

Something I like about Fate/Zero that it seems other people don't is the ending. Personally, I loved it. It's in my top 3 anime endings. It hit every emotional chord just right and tied up every loose end that needed to be.

Also, I really liked Kiritsugu. He did what he had to in order to save the world; the grail turned out to not be an omnipotent wish-granter as he had imagined it, but honestly, he had no way of knowing that. If anything, I feel really bad for him. What it seems like a lot of people don't realize about the ending of the show in relation to Kiritsugu is that he ended up saving the world. If he had wished upon the Grail, the Grail would have wiped out humanity, but saved his wife and child. He could have had personal happiness with them, but he rejected that and held true to his ideals, and in the process, saved humanity by not wishing upon the Grail. It still destroyed a city block, killing all but one person who lived there, but even this further justified his lifelong philosophy of sacrificing the few to save the many. He sacrificed a few hundred people to save billions. Until the very end, everything that Kiritsugu did justified his philosophy.

I'm just scratching the surface here about what I love about this show, but I'll stop here for now.
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Posted 11/10/14 , edited 11/10/14
Good retrospective, and yeah while I didn't latch onto Fate/Zero as quickly as I did say AoT; I found in the long haul I've had more to talk about in the Fate series than AoT which is a huge plus. Fate/Zero especially does this, and while I loved the VN and seeing UBW I have to admit That what many have said is true. That everything Fate/Zero did right sort of gets bogged down by Fate Stay Night. Again I like Fate/Stay Night, but it's because of Fate/Stay Night regardless of how good the adaptation is; Fate/Stay Night still keeps me from giving this series the "Game of Thrones of Anime" award like die hard fans want to.

I personally think it's the lack of ambiguity and cross examination of multiple ideologies that shoots FSN in the foot. I started with Fate/Zero so I had no clue who would win until I saw Saber and you pretty much know anyone like that is going to be at least second place by the end of the narrative. But even then I was still on the edge of my seat because for all I knew they could suddenly GoT me and pull a fast one. Fate Stay Night has a bit more of a black and white narrative, but you end up sympathizing with the antagonists a lot as well which is where FSN gets its depth, but ultimately the point gets driven home that the bad guys are bad, and therefore they have to lose.

Plot contrivance hurts narrative more often than not and Fate/Stay Night has that in spades whether we're talking the 2006 version or even UBW now. I would still highly reccomend watching both as it's still one of my fav anime series in my top 10, but I gotta say Fate/Zero is a crowning Jewel comparatively to the original source material. This is one instance I can say without fear or remote shame that the prequel is better than the original source material, but the source material was pretty great in its own rights so hey :DD.
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