Director: Miura, Takahiro | Air Date: 12/10/2014 | End Date: 28/06/2015 | Overall: B+
Well peeps, the battle for the holy grail is now over. And so to is this most anticipated series. Roll on the review!!!.
Plot / Synopsis:
The story in fate stay night follows Shirou Emiya an amateur magus. And his participation in the 5th holy grail war. With Fuyuki city being the host. Seven masters are chosen to take part in the holy grail war. Along with their seven servants. These servants are figures from myths and legends from ages past. The servants also fall in to classes. These are; Sabre, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Berserker, Assassin & Caster. The masters along with their servants must battle other masters and servants to get the omnipotent wishing machine, the holy grail. Shirou along with his summoned servant Saber, Rin Tohsaka and her servant Archer. Join forces in order to survive the holy grail war.
The narrative of UBW is pretty straightforward. However what makes it complex is the world building, the personalities of the characters, their lofty ideals and philosophy. Which can make it hard to follow at times. This isn’t the shows fault. But the show does expect that you’ve played the visual novel to really understand what is going on. Which most of the anime viewers wouldn’t have.
Shirou Emiya is our central protagonist of the show. Shirou is our idealist magus, who believes in the “hero of justice” concept. Whilst this ideal is prominent in all three routes, this ideal takes a more prominent place in this route. Shirou is best described as an altruistic person. Those around him question this motivation and even worry for him. Whilst this personality trait isn’t bad, it can be tad annoying as you see Shirou making some really bad decisions. There are two adaptations. One made by Studio Deen and Ufotable. Studio Deen depiction of him was handled really badly. As they made Shirou look utterly unrelatable and mostly a redundant character. Whilst Ufotable depiction of him was handled much better, as you understood his viewpoint and inner monologue. Making him relatable and not redundant.
Rin Tohsaka our deuteragonist. She heralds from the most prominent magus family. So being the daughter of a magus. She knew what to expect in the war. Being the tsundere of the show, her interactions with Saber, archer and of course Shirou are something to watch. The chemistry between Shirou and Rin is not usually found in most animes. As they play off each other with such ease – it didn’t come across as forced. Whilst there some awkward moments. The earlier episodes really showed off their chemistry, and it was something to watch. The banter between Archer and Rin is interesting, whilst having a traditional master / servant relationship, they expressed their inner thoughts to each other. This showed the level of understanding and bond between them.
Archer is the most complex character. His ideal and stance greatly juxtaposes to that of Shirou. Whilst Shirou is an idealist, Archer came across as a pragmatic realist. His motivations were never shown as to why he wants to win the holy grail at first. But as the show progressed, it came abundantly clear as to why Shirou and Archer were constantly clashing. Most other servants are perplexed as to what type of heroic servant he is.
Saber being the face of the franchise didn’t have much of a role in this route. Which is a shame, but at the same time understandable. Since this isn’t her route.
Point of interest:
- The pendant that Rin uses.
- Difference of ideals between Shirou and Archer.
- The true nature of the holy grail.
The biggest complaint with the show is the prolonged dialogues exchanged between the characters. It is crucial to explain the world and the ideals of the characters. But it does it in such a way that they end up dragging the whole thing out. In essence, they fight more with their words than with their swords. As the source material is a visual novel, the anime doesn’t exactly make it clear that it is based off of it. The show does give some exposition dump to some of the other servants. Making them at least understandable. The mana transfer scene had more care in being handled with Ufotable, as it was a pivotal moment. Whilst Studio Deen handled it really badly.
The art work is what makes this show what it is. If the dialogues are the bad points, then the art work is the plus point. The art direction is breathtaking to see. The combination of hand and digital meshing together does nothing but create a world of fantasy. The fight scenes were choreographed really well, each attack having a meaningful impact as they land. The problem is that the fights didn’t last very long. What you can expect is some fights, then back to some lengthy dialogues. Which can get a bit repetitive. The music placement were used appropriately in the right places, creating the right atmosphere for the scene. With some music being a homage to the visual novel and the early adaptation. Kalafina did an excellent job on doing both endings. The first opening Ideal white was one of my favourites. As it described what the whole route was all about.
The show can be somewhat confusing at times, but with the right studio and budget. It really does make a difference. Which Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works benefitted from.
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