Epic tales of heroes and the battle of seven mages in a Battle Royale for the Holy Grail? Yes, very much, please. Holly’s review of Fate, Blade Works continues below. The world needs a hero.
From what I knew of the Fate series it promised to be an epic tale of heroes, and it didn’t disappoint. A fight between seven mages with seven heroic servants from history in a battle royale over the wish-granting Holy Grail, what could be more epic?
The hero of the story, Shirou, is a compelling character and an archetype familiar to us all. A lone survivor of a tragedy whose ideals of justice and heroism define him and he is now being given the opportunity to prove himself. He is our window to this new world, although he knows of and can practice some magic, he knows nothing of the Holy Grail war or servants, and we learn as he learns. What I like about him is his ability to ask the right questions though those around him think him ignorant for asking; what would happen if a bad guy won the grail? The answer: nothing, they just get their wish granted.
Shirou’s dream of being a ‘hero of justice’ hang over the story and he only agrees to fight to keep the grail from possible bad guys. Yes, he is unrealistically kind and good even forgoing a happy life with the girls he loves, Saber, because it’s the right thing to do. Personally, the love story between Shiro and Saber never really connected with me although their parting did carry some emotional weight it didn’t seem enough to be called a love affair. Because of this, I focused on Shirou’s interactions with his ally Rin Tohsaka and her servant Archer.
Seeing Shirou go through trial after trial sticking to his beliefs despite the cold hard logic being thrust at him from the antagonist Kotomine and friends alike is what not only kept me watching but had me hungry for more. Fate/Stay Night has only 24 episodes and many characters to meet, sadly few of them get any real time to shine and the story moves at a far quicker than I’d prefer.
The pacing of the story is most certainly fixed for Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014) although it still only has 25 episodes it allows for the characters to really come into their own.
This series is not a continuation but a retelling with a new twist, the material is based on the different routes of a visual novel allowing for the same initial events to veer off in a new direction.
Watching these two titles, back-to-back is like watching the anime industry evolve before your eyes. The animation is slicker, the dialogue tighter and the fight sequences have less staring and more gore turning out to be even more binge-worthy than its predecessor.
By just altering Shiro’s love interest from Saber to Rin and the main antagonist from Kotomine to the servant Gilgamesh the story seems so much larger, there’s much more to explore and picks up one of the subtle mysterious from the original Fate/Stay Night.
Just who is Archer? In the original series, Archer is one of the few servants, a hero, who doesn’t have his true name revealed as he claims he doesn’t remember, it’s one simple scene that is never mentioned again.
Now, I’ll confess here, I knew a spoiler about Archer before I watched a single episode. Unlimited Blade Works features on many anime top 10 lists on YouTube, but knowing that particular twist was coming didn’t diminish it’s reveal in the show at all, a testament to the writing and execution of the story.
Unlimited Blade Works now sits in my Top 10 Anime of all time I enjoyed it that much and could quite happily sit through it all again. I recommend it to any fantasy fan, the series, on the whole, is a genuinely fascinating story and throws out some interesting questions about the nature of wishes, morals and what it truly means to be a hero.
The final rating for Fate Unlimited Blade Works is…
Rating: 9/10 (A hero comes)
What did you think of Holly’s review? Will you be watching Fate Blade Works? Let us know what you think below. Do you need a hero?