Polysyllabic Support Lead
The original Fate/stay night anime introduced plenty of fans to the universe of Type-Moon's visual novel, but lately (largely in part to how good ufotable's Fate Zero was), its luster has diminished. ufotable is back, though, retelling Fate/stay night and continuing the story of the Holy Grail War!
Let's get started!
For the longest time, I have been trying to get into the extremely popular Fate series. The problem was, because I lacked the means to play the visual novel, the only options before me were the anime entries in the franchise. But looking for advice from Fate fans as to which series to start with essentially put me into a catch-22. Fate fans thought the 2006 DEEN adaptation was an abomination, the Fate/Zero prequel series would spoil the biggest twists of Fate/stay night, and that I wouldn't fully enjoy the Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA spin-off series without prior experience with the franchise. Enter ufotable's new adaptation, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, an adaptation of the titular Unlimited Blade Works route in the original visual novel. Finally I had an entry point I could get into. So how has my first experience with Fate been treating me?
Well, for starters, the series is unquestionably beautiful, highly detailed to even a minute scale, and just some of the best pure visuals in an anime series. The quality is so high that this adaptation is jokingly referred to sometimes as Unlimited Budget Works, and it definitely shows.Then there are the characters and the fight scenes. I enjoy most of the characters well enough, though I especially like the Servants. The fight scenes are the highlight of this anime, not just in terms of the animation quality, but also in terms of giving me the most enjoyment. These are fun, well choreographed battles between members of history and myth, and that is just awesome. Few other series will let you see a five foot tall swordswoman go toe to toe with an eight foot tall enraged mountain of muscle and make it believable that the swordswoman remotely stands a chance. Lastly there is the story and the pacing. I'll admit, at first I thought the story was moving at a slow pace, but of course that was before the fights started. Once the Fifth Holy Grail War got going, the series kicked things into high gear and hasn't looked back since.
I am greatly enjoying what I have seen so far with Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, and can't wait to see where it goes from here, and I also can't wait to get around and watch the other Fate series I've missed waiting for this particular adaptation. If anyone is wanting a great entry point into the Fate series and for whatever reason can't play the visual novel, you won't find one better than Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.
Fate/stay night is beautiful. This might not be its most important detail, but when I find myself disappointed with some of the art styles and animation that I see in other shows, it certainly pushes my interest to the forefront. The battle animation in particular is fantastic, which is incredibly important for a series where the fights are so prevalent. Still, just seeing Saber, Rin, and everyone else doing everything from eating to walking around in school is enjoyable, too. Also, why does the food look so nice? Stop making me hungry when I watch you, Fate/stay night.
The pacing is a little bit slow, but I expect that to change as it moves into the second half. Even so, there are enough details and plot to pick up on that it keeps things interesting. I particularly feel that Fate/stay night is best watched after Fate/Zero, because it makes some of the plot details more relevant and understandable, but that's personal preference. One of this version of Fate/stay night's greatest achievements is making the characters more likable/interesting (Shirou, I'm looking at you). I find myself more curious the characters, even ones that are not as important or involved. The Archer and Shirou dynamic is handled nicely as well.
If you enjoyed Fate/Zero, liked the original DEEN anime in any way, or are just looking for a pretty, put-together show to watch, I'd definitely recommend Fate/stay night. Plus, it's the perfect time to catch up before it goes on break, and then goes barreling into it's second half in the Spring.
This year's Fate/Stay Night goes to great lengths to tell an engaging story in one of this decade's most reliably successful anime franchises, but it also demonstrates the importance of visuals in telling that story. The previous titles in the F/SN world have all been fairly perfunctory, working at telling the basics of their story or in the case of the original visual novel, giving future creators a whole number of interesting concepts to work with or discard. Perhaps it fits that a series that started with a game with multiple independent routes has inspired any number of spin-offs and new versions. The latest is without a doubt the most impressive installment visually, although where the plot is headed is still fairly undetermined at this point in the progression of the episodes.
In a sense, that almost doesn't matter. The original F/SN visual novel contained strength stats for its characters, as if it were an RPG or fighting game, but there was no actual player-controlled combat. That and the multiple routes emphasize how much the series is about its characters, following the progress of their various battles, both magical and emotional. In that sense, this new adaption is already a definite winner, fusing some of the different art styles used for different incarnations into something beautiful, and they are moved and represented by some of the best animation of this year, let alone the season. Special attention should be paid to how magical energy is represented, with bright, glowing colors that stand out from the already gorgeous colors of the characters and backgrounds. No matter how this particular plot turns out, the series is already a standout.
As a first foray into the Fate Universe, one's attention is immediately grabbed by how stunningly gorgeous this series is. Considering the popularity of the franchise, it's unsurprising that production spared no expense, but nonetheless, the beauty of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works cannot be understated. Even the most extremely anti-fantasy action audience in the world would find it difficult to criticize Fate/stay night on a visual level. It's quite possibly one of the most beautiful anime ever produced. The character designs are especially impressive, with the Servants being some of the coolest looking characters in anime today.
Fate/stay night: UBW is a solid introduction to the world of Fate, as the basic nature of Masters, Servants, and the Holy Grail War are all explained. The major players of the world are also introduced here, meaning that the Fate neophyte need not watch with wikipedia open. This can be a double-edged sword however (or should that be Saber?), as retreading these explanations and introductions to characters that the seasoned viewer has already seen multiple times is likely to get frustrating. For this reason, to the initiated, it's possible the series will drag. Neverthless, fans of the franchise should find more than enough to enjoy, particularly where battles are concerned. The storyline divergence and consequent new focus from the original visual novel will also provide regular fans with more reason to watch the series, as it's not just an enhanced remake.
All in all, it's certainly easy to see why Fate/stay night has achieved such popularity. It's a series with compelling characters, a relatively simple but effective plot and some excellent character designs. Combine that with Unlimited Blade Works' flawless animation, and you have a definite winner.
The Fate series has been an anime mainstay since it first aired back in 2006, so not only was the hype for Fate/stay night certainly unsurprising, it was, as expected, also rewarded. Without a doubt, Fate/stay night is a visual masterpiece. Partly produced by ufotable, a studio known for both its large budgets and excellent work on Fate series prequel Fate Zero, Fate/stay night immediately captivates with its immensely high production values. Not only does the series have a one hour premiere episode, it even has a one hour prequel special, and this is without a single drop in animation quality throughout the series. The high quality animation is especially evident during the battle sequences; as weapons clash and mana sprays into the air, the vibrant colours and visual effects are exquisite. On top of an excellent soundtrack, Fate/stay night is definitely an impressive feat to experience.
On the other hand, Fate/stay night quite isn't as impressive to the brain at first. Though the series begins with a solid establishment of the context and characters, it quickly loses its tight pacing amidst the thrilling battles. These battles, the main focus of the series, make it easy to forget the story's initially slow pacing — it does eventually return to a moderate pace — as well as its relative simplicity. The story's simplicity somewhat fades over time, as its lurking philosophical complexity becomes more evident underneath its plainer exterior, and this observation also applies to Fate/stay night's characters; many of them start as quite stereotypical and, in some cases, annoying, but they eventually reveal more intricate parts of themselves far beyond stereotypes. In combination with absolutely fantastic production values and beautiful animation, this is more than enough to keep most hooked on Fate/stay night.
Action anime usually ends up being something of a guilty pleasure for me. Plenty of shows in the genre are well-animated and fun to watch, but I often find that I need to check my brain at the door. Characters and storylines tend to be simple and unambitious, and the ones that aren’t often collapse under the weight of their own complexity. Of course, every rule has its exceptions. Fate/stay night proves that swordfights and explosions can coexist with genuinely good writing.
I remember watching the previous Fate/stay anime around six years ago. It was a decent series, but the only character that made any lasting impression was the ever-charismatic Saber. This new version completely blows the original out of the water, and feels more like a sequel to the excellent Fate Zero than a remake of the old show. From the writing to the animation, it’s just better across the board. Rin and Archer make for a much more interesting duo, and even Shirou feels like a proper main character instead of a stand-in for the viewer. This show is the real deal: smart, immersive, and beautiful to watch. If it’s not on you list, it ought to be.
I find it's really difficult to talk about Fate/stay night without more or less repeating anything good that I've said before about Fate/Zero. The two shows are so fundamentally similar that the easiest way to judge whether or not you'll like one is to conclude if you liked the other. Granted, the differences ARE present: Zero is very much bleak and nihilistic, with an ensemble cast of characters with a myriad of beliefs and goals, while Stay night is only slightly more conventional, with a similar story structure but a narrative more precisely focused on a single (sort of) protagonist.
Both series are beautifully drawn and animated, with Stay night perhaps edging out Zero ever-so-slightly thanks to being a few years fresher, and the magical battle scenes are just as breathtaking as they were before, though I personally think Zero benefited from slightly more intriguing and better designed Servants.
The setting of the Holy Grail War and the series' portrayal of magic and mages appeal to me just as much as before, too. Something about it all just feels so off the charts cool as a concept, and it's fun to see the events unfold from the relatively inexperienced Rin's perspective after watching the previous war through the eyes of mostly battle-hardened sociopaths. I can't think of an eloquent way to put it, but know this: if you like magic and legendary warriors and beautiful animation and awesome music and breathtaking action sequences and a great cast of characters you'll like Fate/Stay night. You'll like Fate/Zero, too. The only question then is which series you should watch first.
And that's everything! How do you like the new Fate/stay night and its take on the Unlimited Blade Works story? Sound off and let us know!
I agree with essentially all of the points made, so that's good to know! I only have one real major problem with the show, and it's one that is not necessarily the show's fault, but rather an inherent problem with adapting Fate/Stay Night to an anime: each route only tells a third of the story. For those with VN experience (like myself), this isn't really an issue, but for others, I can see it being one. The result of this is that no adaptation of any of the routes can do the story complete justice. Again, there's not a whole lot one can do about that, but I think it bears mentioning.
As for the inevitable comparison to Fate/Zero, I would have to say that Fate/Zero is better than any of the individual routes, simply because it is better written. Even comparing the VN as a whole to Fate/Zero, I'd be reluctant to say that F/SN is better. For a whole host of personal reasons, as well, I prefer F/Z.
Well, those are my two cents. Happy New Year!