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animefreak114's Fate/Zero Tv Review

Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero tv Review

Prequel to Fate/stay night.

Story & Characters

If you like simplistic anime with a lighthearted, happy-go-lucky tone from beginning to end or you're just looking for mindless entertainment, then I'd say Fate/Zero is not the show for you. It's extremely dark, thought provoking and the rare breed of anime that has nothing to do with highschool, and contains no random fanservice. Yes, this is an anime catered to a more mature audience, or for those long time anime fans who are looking for something different which is one of the reasons why it's so epic. Sadly though, as close to perfection as this anime comes to, it definitely still has its flaws.

Story:

Fate/Zero is the prequel to Fate/Stay night taking place 10 years back during the 4th Holly Grail War: a battle royale between seven mages or "masters" that are able to summon one servant to aid them in their fight: a heroic spirit that's become famous through history or notable legends. The master servant combos fight to compete for the Holly Grail: a powerful artifact capable of granting one wish to the winning master/servant team.

Despite having virtually the same premise as it's predecessor Fate/Stay Night, in terms of caliber you may as well be talking about two different shows. Interesting concepts that were introduced and for the most part sidelined in Fate/Stay Night were fleshed out so much more in Fate/Zero. Particularly concerning the super-heroic-ally-of-justice ideology so loved by the protagonist in Fate/Stay Night and turning it upside down on its head by asking all the questions Fate/Stay Night couldn't or wouldn't ask. Thus, giving a new perspective on a rather hackneyed philosophy.

Furthermore, Fate/Zero definitely does well to play more on the battle royale aspect of the Holly Grail War as careful attention is given to each and every character. While it is true some characters gain more focus as the story progresses since this is a battle royale and death is inevitable, no single character is sidelined in terms of development. Everyone has different reasons to covet the Grail, in addition to having a multitude of diverse strategies to win the war. Fate/Zero is a show i would akin to other anime like Death Note and Code Geass in terms of intelligence. The difference between them being the levels of subtlety Fate/Zero employs that the other two shows don't. Nothing in Fate/Zero is broken down enough for the audience to admire, and surprisingly enough, that doesn't boggle down the quality of the plot in anyway. Moreover, it feels less like the generic clash between good vs evil we saw in Fate/Stay Night and more of a clash between different ideologies, making you feel like you're watching a seven way mind game. Still, you definitely have to pay attention to what's going on if you're to appreciate everything. Personally, I had to watch the series twice before I got everything I could out of it.

So fair warning, it can be very easy to miss the little things in the show in terms of plot and character interaction and that can effect your view of the anime as a whole since the little things in Fate/Zero is what makes it that much more enjoyable.

The Characters:

As far as story goes, the characters is where Fate/Zero truly shines.Shows like Fate/Zero that rely heavily on dialogue and character interactions during their less intense, not as action based moments, need strong characters and a diverse cast to keep up the interest. As previously explained all of the characters are given equal and detailed amounts of attention. That being the case, I feel like I'm not exaggerating when I say every single important character is way to deeply developed to squeeze into one cookie-cut out stereotypical archetype. Even Archer, whom I totally wrote off as a pompous ass who's intelligence and insight pales in comparison to his enormous ego and wouldn't develop any deeper than that, surprised me with an unexpected display of impressive judgement and spellbinding levels of charisma later in the show. To this day his interactions with Kirei are by far my favorite character interactions in Fate/Zero.

Another aspect of characterization I have to give Fate/Zero points on is the diverse cast of characters, particularly with the masters, since the grail has no problems with choosing anyone from a wimp, to a serial killer, to an assassin, to a priest, and so forth if it deems that person worthy of it's power. Excluding how they develop throughout the show, just watching the interactions between all of them never failed to grab my interest--especially with the master servant combination. Some masters and servants instantly bonded, others hated one another and had terrible dynamics when forced to work together.

Despite the series having its stand out characters like Rider and Archer, no one character was truly neglected in terms of back story, dialogue and development. And while it is good to have a pretty looking anime, with an interesting plot and amazing action, having a strong set of characters, that are either likable or relatable to an extent can, has, and will make or break any anime. On a side note I'd like to point out how refreshing it felt to watch an anime with a cast of fully grown adults that weren't associated with a local high school as we are so used to seeing in many an anime.

Still as good as the story and its characters are, I cannot give them full points and this is ultimately because of its ties to the Fate franchise and more importantly to Fate/Stay Night. For those who've seen Fate/Stay Night, the ending can be anti-climatic and predictable. To those who haven't and plan on watching Fate/Stay Night after Fate/Zero, be prepared to be disappointed because as I previously said, Fate/Stay Night is nowhere near on the same level as Fate/Zero.

And to newbies of the franchise, I'd recommend doing some research on the lore of the Fate series before watching this show to better understand the nature of the Holly Grail war. Also be prepared for an informational first few episodes because the series doesn't pick up its pace until episode three and onward. Fate/Zero is an anime I'd equate to Game of Thrones or other epic high fantasy shows with mind games and magic and it can get complicated for those not already familiar with the Fate franchise, despite it's attempt to appeal to the newbies.


Rating: 8

Art

Considering production studio Ufotable is well known for creating amazing looking anime such as Kara no Kyoukai, and the horror anime movie Gyo, my expectations for Fate/Zero were extremely high and I was in no way disappointed. With Fate/Zero, no expenses were spared, and I mean that quite literally since I can only imagine the astronomical budget used to produce this anime.

Animation:

This is where I talk about the fight scenes in Fate/Zero because that's where you can see the animation at it's best. It exhumes a fluidity that can blow other anime with epic battles such as Bleach and Naruto out of the water. There are no choppy movements or flash step moments where the only thing you can see are blurry figures and not the characters themselves. In Fate/Zero there are no cases of cutting corners in the animation even during the most intense action moments in the show. Moreover Fate/Zero does well to keep their animation quality consistent even during the most ardent of fight scenes.

Other than that the animation especially, is where you can see all the time, the effort and money invested into the show as its so well done you've literally got scenes from one battle to the next containing a cinematic quality without the usage of crappy cg. It does well to give the anime a grand sense of scale, so for those who're just in it for the action, you will not be disappointed.

Fight scenes aside, its well worth mentioning the animation on a smaller scale. How it's used in the little things like the scenery, the weaponry, the vehicles and most importantly the characters. From the liquid gold look to Archer's Gate of Babylon to the three dimensional appeal of the Invisible air that disguises Saber's sword to the amazing amount of detail and effects on Berserker that makes him look like an entity on his own. Especially with Fate/Zero studio Ufotable outdid themselves on giving the little things the aesthetic appeal to make the anime that much more immersible.

Color Palette and Lighting:

For those of you who haven't figured this out by now, Fate/Zero is an extremely dark and mature anime and the artwork shows it. The colors lean more towards the cool side, and even when you've got a warmer color, lighting effects add such a rich contrast to nearly every scene that gives it a more serious atmosphere. From an artistic standpoint, Fate/Zero's art is great not only because its gorgeous but because it can really set the atmosphere with its appeal. When the mood is light, the colors and effects can reflect that. For instance, the snowy white beauty of the Einzbern mansion where Kiristugu plays with his daughter. But when the tone becomes dark and more intense, damn can you see it. From the dank greens and opaque shadows of the worm room to the horrors inside Caster's hideout. The characters are given just as much attention with effects and colors unique to them. The golden glow of Archer's armor and Berserker's smoky appearance had my eyes glued to my laptop every time they appeared on screen.

Rating: 10

Sound

Once more, it comes as no surprise that the sound in Fate/Zero is right up to par with it's art when you've got a composer like Yuki Kajiura working on the musical score for this anime. Especialy when you consider Kajiura's success in composing for animes that carry extremely dark undertones such as Madoka Magicka and Kara no Kyoukai, both of which are considered to be benchmarks for modern anime.

Soundtrack:

Yet again I'm going to discuss the fight scenes in Fate/Zero considering that's pretty much where you'll find most of the high points in this anime. Coupled with the cinematic experience the animation provides during the action you've got tracks like Point Zero or Battle to the Strong that combine orchestra, electronic guitars and epic choirs that will give you goosebumps from the amount of awesome the series radiates in its intense moments. Still as energetic as this soundtrack gets it never escapes it's dark undertones much the same way of the show it was composed for.

Rating: 10

Presentation

Ultimately, the only things that keep this anime from getting a perfect score is the first three episodes, the anti-climactic ending, and how overall the complexity of the story, while not as mind boggling as Kara no Kyoukai or Evangelion can be, is certainly potent enough to ward away a younger audience. This is especially if they're not entirely used to anime or even somewhat familiar with the Fate franchise as a whole. But other than that, as much as I tried to see if I could find any other discrepancies with my reviewer mindset, I couldn't.

Presentation:

The strongest part of the way Fate/Zero was presented to its audience, is it's sense of purpose. Nothing in the anime seems unnecessary or unneeded. from the dialogue to the action to the animation to the story, to the music every aspect of this anime is focused. Not even from the end of one episode to the beginning of the next does the show lose any of its momentum, making it one of those rare anime you can waste a night marathoning from start to finish.Another thing thing Fate/Zero deserves points for in presentation is balance. No one aspect of Fate/Zero outshines the other. The art, the music, and the story play expertly off each other to create an anime that's easy to immerse yourself in.

Once again I'm going to take the time to say that Fate/Zero is an anime catered to a mature audience so don't expect any sort of comedy or popcorn material from this show because even in it's lighter moments, it's still relatively somber.

Overall:

You heard it from me ladies and gentlemen, if there's a show that sets a benchmark for the current generation of anime then it's Fate/Zero. When you put the best of the best under one project this is what you get. From a technical perspective the set-pieces to come out of this show have got to be visual/audio crack, considering how addictive they are in appeal. Combine this with a well written story and characters and you've got one of the best and overall well balanced anime I have seen in a long time. Fate/Zero is a show that not only taps into the hidden potential of the Fate franchise but also into the potential anime can have overall. Along with other benchmark shows like Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, and Kara no Kyoukai, Fate/Zero is an example of an anime that can appeal to an adult audience and completely destroy the childish-adolescent image the medium inspires from many non fans as a whole.


Rating: 9

Final Verdict

9.00 (very good)

Reviewed by animefreak114, Apr 28, 2013

Comments

  1. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Apr 30, 2013

    First off, it's really nice to see a review from you Animefreak. Secondly, it's nice to see a review of probably one of my favorite anime released in the past several years.

    Fate/Zero is that rare bird. While Fate/Stay Night wasn't bad, it certainly wasn't great in any means. It had some really good elements and told it's story well enough, but not even remotely when compared to the level of depth and development that Fate/Zero has. If anything, I'd say that Saber is the one character put off to the side more than anyone else, and I honestly didn't mind it as much. She was such a focal point in F/S N, so it was refreshing to have something with her in it and not have all of the attention be about her. As for the animation, well, I don't think a studio will be able to touch them for quite some time. Not with the budget they put into that show.

    As for the review itself!

    Usually for comparisons, it's nice to offer what exactly about the show is worth mentioning, in this case with Death Note and Code Geass. Despite the popularity of these two shows, there's always the gamble that people haven't watched them, so therefore the comparison at hand is lost to them since they can't identify with what you are talking about. I'd personally recommend either avoiding them, or what I learned to do was break them down a bit further to help the audience understanding.

    I especially like how you broke down the art section. While all of your sections provide a great level of depth, I especially enjoyed the art section. Lighting is an aspect that is rarely to never covered. Heck, I can't even say that I often cover it myself. However, you devote a section to it and for that I applaud you! It really helps make your review stand out and truly make it unique.

    Generally speaking, I don't like perfect scores, even for great series, but I think you did a pretty decent job explaining why you gave two perfect scores. It's obvious that you think highly of this series, and you more than back up that theory with words and examples. I think that is what I enjoyed the most about reading this review.

    Overall, all I can say is I hope this won't be the last review from you. It was an incredibly enjoyable read!

  2. SnickerdoodleNinja Moderator May 14, 2013

    Here are the judge comments from the contest!

    Judge 1:
    Thoroughness: what I appreciated most was the directness in which the facts were presented, especially in regards to the audience the anime is most likely to appeal to (notifying the reader from the beginning about the characteristics of the series). The presentations for each section feature just the right amount of detail: not lacking and not overwhelming, but enough to arouse interest, create a good foundation of information and make the reader look up more information themselves if they want to see the series.

    Style: good blending of facts and personal opinion, with easy-to-understand phrases and appealing descriptions. Some grammar mistakes here and there.

    Objectivity: highly objective, with good comparisons to both other entries in the Fate universe and other popular anime that those unfamiliar with the Fate universe may understand better (or the other way around). Facts are told clearly, with few personal opinions included for variation and for preventing the review from sounding too much like a Wikipedia article.

    Balance: overall, every section is treated in enough detail to allow the reader to form a correct impression of the series. Language-wise, the review is formal enough to be a reliable source of information and informal enough to be entertaining as well.

    19/20

    Judge 2:
    Absolutely amazing for a first review. Very thorough, easy to read, and concise, but still with enough heart in it to grab your attention. Perhaps a bit more information on some of the characters mentioned would be nice - after all, not everyone is familiar with the characters from the Fate universe yet. Sound could also use some elaboration, especially on voice acting. Considering how much the reviewer clearly loved the show, it was very objective. Any flaws here could easily be worked out with practice and experience. Great work!

    17/20

    Judge 3:
    Absolutely amazing for a first review. Very thorough, easy to read, and concise, but still with enough heart in it to grab your attention. Perhaps a bit more information on some of the characters mentioned would be nice - after all, not everyone is familiar with the characters from the Fate universe yet. Sound could also use some elaboration, especially on voice acting. Considering how much the reviewer clearly loved the show, it was very objective. Any flaws here could easily be worked out with practice and experience. Great work!

    19/20

    -------------------------------------------
    If you would like the score broken down for each individual category, just let me know and I'll get it to you.

    Thanks for competing, and congrats on first place! I hope we can expect more reviews from you in the future. :)

  3. fishshell May 26, 2013

    Quite a good and open review...
    At first, I was enthralled with the trailer shown and very excited with the beginning of the show especially with the summoning of servants that left me watching for few times on just how cool it was. I am sure it was deemed for first audiences and also Fate franchise fans. The pride of knights were also clearly portrayed and how it affected them in their life stories..
    One of the few things I liked about the show is how it left you thinking about details and their conversations were to be taken seriously. As you can see along the series, relationships between masters and servants are quite complicated and betwixt compared to in Fate/Stay Night like Kiritsugu and Saber. Here, you could see masters using strategies and underhanded tactics....not just barging in and expect everything to be resolved somehow.

    However, I am not satisfied with the ending of Tokiomi which I deemed quite to be a powerful magus and should have predicted the scheme considering his preparations for the war. I find that the second cour was a bit too lengthy for Kiritsugu's story and some of the fighting should be lengthened like Berserker against Saber and Gilgamesh against Rider near the end of the story. I was like what......that's all! Quite disappointed with both of the duels especially with me expecting Berserker to put more of a fight and the battle choreography wasn’t anything to write home about but at least duel between Kiritsugu against Kirei was almost perfect.

    Anywhere, looking at the whole series in a bigger picture, it did quite well and splendid. Not many flaws that could actually jeopardised the whole story. The soundtracks were awesome and I love the first opening and ost of tragedy and fate. It is a solid 8/10 from me. My point of view ^^

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