[RR] Fate/Stay Night Review
“Seven warriors. Seven wishes”
Fate/Stay Night, one of the first and better visual novel adaption, and definitely one of the better anime in 2006, though surely not best. Adapted from the visual novel of the same name, in short, it tells the tales of a boy, who engages in an unknown mystery war all of a sudden, while upholding his ideals and beliefs.
In more detail, the story revolves around Shirou, who lost his parents in a fire outbreak. During Shirou’s last dying breath, a man managed to save him, a man who was shown to be called Emiya Kiritsugu. The man is a magus, or a magician so to speak. Due to Shirou’s inspiration of his foster father’s beliefs, Shirou continued the legacy and even started learning the arts of magecraft himself, despite being talentless.
One day, he suddenly got involved in a conflict known as Holy Grail War. The war has a system of summoning seven “Servants”, who were heroic beings in their past life. Using servants, the summoners, or “masters” fight each other to obtain a relic that will grant any wishes, the Holy Grail. Shirou, who barely knows a bit of magecraft himself, somewhat summons one of his own just to protect himself. Using whatever little knowledge he had of magic, he aims for his survival and beliefs.
Fate/Stay Night, is definitely one of the first and better visual novel adaption, though not the best. It’s main flow is the plot pacing itself as it suffers quite a lot from cramped information and plot inconsistencies. Though the anime is going in the “Fate” direction, it doesn’t help that the director made the choice in mixing in other scenarios from the game, “Fate” the main route itself, “Unlimited Blade Works” and “Heaven’s Feel”, which results in an even chaotic plot execution.
Lots of scenes are sacrificed to provide information instead of development. This result in another problem, romance. The relationship between Shirou and Saber just appeared out of the blue, there had been no moments nor time for more developments in their relationship, making it feels out of place. Also, not just Shirou and Saber but other important relationships are left to dust. Rin and Sakura for example, why do Rin care so much for Sakura? It’s only through reading the visual novel that we learned just how do these two relate to each other but Fate/Stay Night didn’t go into this in detail.
Ultimately though, the saving grace for Fate/Stay Night’s plot lies in it’s intriguing concept. The Holy Grail War although invites hard-boiled action, was a mystery still inside out. All the masters and servants do not even know how the Holy Grail looks like, which was supposedly an omnipotent wish-granting device. Interactions between the characters could be ironically fruitful, unveiling the mystery and secrets behind the Holy Grail War.
The driving force for Fate/Stay Night, are the characters. They are the ones who move the plot forward, and it’s because of the characters that one can easily overlooked the plot’s flaw at times. The characters are well diverse as well, resulting in different traits and quirks. Needless to say, each Holy Grail War participant has different kind of wishes, and each wish reflect onto their own personalities, especially Shirou and Saber in particular. The anime focuses a lot on both of these two contrasting individuals, with one wanting to fight and another one wanting to protect. A fair share of focus is also shared for Rin, another great character in the Fate/Stay Night franchise.
Well, the characters are good, that much we know. The problem lies in character developments. Again, due to crammed time, the characters aren’t expose well enough. Because the anime combined three scenarios, it is introducing us concepts which were unnecessary, since it had nothing to do with the Fate route at all. Even excluding that problem, it is still as bad, to the point that some major characters are killed in barely a few episodes. Deaths from key point characters are supposed to create a long-lasting impression and impact, but Fate/Stay Night fails to deliver. Due to lack of time, once again, not all the wishes of the participant are made known, making their reason for participating in the war unknown.
The strongest point of the anime, comes in the visual department. The animation is so crisp and smooth you would have problems believing that it was actually an anime from 2006. It is even comparable to the standards anime from today graphics-wise. The smooth animations made battles sequences flow considerably well. Character designs are gorgeous, especially the designs for the servants themselves. Each of them have a distinctive look really enforces the impression of a historical being. The anime also has quite a lot of rich backgrounds, notably the city, the forest, the castle and so on. The beautiful lighting is also another one of the secret behind Fate/Stay Night’s pretty visuals, enhancing the backgrounds considerably.
Audio doesn’t fail to impress either. The background music are catchy and memorable. A few of them may be unfit in a particular scene they are most of the time works well. The OP and ED have great tunes as well though the strongest point in sound comes from the voice acting. All the seiyuu are veterans, most notably Sugiyama Noriaki (Shirou’s VA) who voiced major characters like Sasuke from Naruto and Ishida from Bleach. Some other voice actors in the anime also come close to Noriaki or even surpasses him in terms of voice acting experience.
All in all, Fate/Stay Night is a good anime, but not great and definitely has more rooms for improvements. Comparing all the anime adapted from visual novels though, Fate/Stay Night, aforementioned, is definitely one of the better ones and is worth a try.
This review is part of the
Reviews Recollection Project.