Fate/Zero Review

“Can Justice save the world?”

Fate/Zero, a prequel to the widely-acclaimed Fate/Stay Night, which first originally came about in the form of light novels, is a collaboration project between Type-Moon and Nitroplus, two of my most favorite visual novel studios; The novel was written by Gen Urobuchi of Nitroplus and illustrations were being drawn by Takashi Takeuchi of Type-Moon. Fate/Zero is made from the best of the best and it is no doubt a novel of greatness with disproportional scale.

The anime for Fate/Zero was adapted and released around October of last year, and later on, the continuation of the series, begun this year and after twelve episodes of epicness, Fate/Zero finally ended. Being produced by ufotable who also were involved in one other high-budget Type-Moon release, Kara no Kyoukai, the attention and recognition Fate/Zero receives were certainly deserved.

Fate/Zero is a prequel, and depicts Emiya Kiritsugu, Shirou’s foster father in Fate/Stay Night, and his ventures in the 4th Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. The system being the Holy Grail War is similar to Fate/Stay Night. Seven magi are chosen to participate, and they will have to summon a Heroic Spirit as “servant” in order for them to join in the war. Emiya Kiritsugu was selected as one of the participant, and in the war, he will face countless trails and revelations along the way.

It is recommended to watch Fate/Stay Night first before watching Fate/Zero. Fate/Stay Night handles the premise introductions slightly better then Fate/Zero does. However, what Fate/Zero outdid the 2006 TV show is the way it delivers these premises and concepts to ultimate extreme levels. Emiya Kiritsugu completely butchered the “system” of Holy Grail War by even using gunfires in his fights, he always find loopholes in the system, and uses it to his best advantage. The other masters aren’t dumb like a bunch of school kids either, and employs smart, tactical moves while in combat.

Fate/Zero also intelligently strikes at the core of philosophy by entailing the different parts of human natures and conduct: ideals and beliefs, pride and valor, the values of kingship, redemption and so on. Fate/Zero philosophically creates dozens of concepts and together, different characters who share different viewpoints regarding said concept, and it makes the whole anime even the more so interesting. Each of these was dealt in an in-depth manner, and it makes the viewers question themselves too; Was what Emiya Kiritsugu did excusable? Was Saber truthfully the rightful king? All these, coupled with the excellent dialogues of the characters, make the anime isn’t just “some action anime” but a “deep anime” too.

In order for such an in-depth story and plot points to continue, the characters had to be rich and colorful in context to delivery the story as well, and Fate/Zero manages in that aspect quite well. Recurring characters like Saber and Gilgamesh make a return, so do characters like the new Rider, who has his own viewpoints of kingships to share in contrast to Saber’s and Gilgamesh’s own. Then there are the new Lancer, Beserker and Caster who possess intriguing pasts and identities of their own. Also, Assassin in Fate/Zero actually acted like a true assassin, carefully plotting and besting their opponents from the shadows, unlike Fate/Stay Night’s Assassin who waited at the front door for an enemy to arrive. The more straightforward approach of the characters in Fate/Stay Night, and the more witful approach of the characters in Fate/Zero; The contrasting differences make the characters in both anime delightful in their own rights.

The servants aside, the masters had a lot to share as well. Velvet and rider’s interactions are always nice to watch, then there’s the proud and prideful Tohsaka Tokiomi, Rin’s father, the pitiful Matou Kariya who purely wanted to save Sakura, the psychotic Ryuunosuke and of cause, the main focus of the show, Kiritsugu and Kirei. The former wanted to save the world and aspires to be a hero, and the latter lacks a will and only joined the Holy Grail War to seek answers for his emptiness. All of them are explored deeply, careful attentions and time allocations are span out for all the characters in order to build and develop them.

Another one of Fate/Zero satisfying element is their visuals. The vibrant world of Fuyuki City is illustrated with great details, and almost all the characters are interestingly nice to look at. The animations are also of extraordinary quality; they are smooth, fluid and fast-paced. Because of that, Fate/Zero may in fact, shows us one of the best action sequences in the following years to come.

Some slight 3D graphics are present, and sometimes, may appear a bit overwhelming. One of the earlier major 3D usage is probably seen when Berserker first appears. Berserker is somewhat a human and non-human at the same time, so any 3D resources spent on him is a good waste in my opinion. It makes the existence of Berserker slightly virtual-like, yet, still manifesting. Another major 3D usage comes in the motorcycle race scene between Saber and Rider, which is literally an extreme visual pleasure to the eyes.

In some episodes, slight degradation of visuals quality may be spotted but overall, Fate/Zero still excels graphically as a whole.

The two OPs, “oath sign” by LiSA, and “to the beginning” by Kalafina are both good songs. The tunes of the songs provide a somewhat hopeful ambiance. They are also combined with a rhythmic beat give off that pop feel. Instruments like violin and guitars are also commonly used, similarly in most of the EDs as well.

Yuki Kajiura is the composer for Fate/Zero’s soundtracks, who made exceptional soundtracks for Kara no Kyoukai and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Compared to the two though, Fate/Zero’s soundtracks fall slightly but it’s still a good soundtrack altogether. The melodies are dramatic, sometimes ominous, and sometimes, completely dark melodies, captures the dark atmospheres of the anime.

The voice acting is truly godsend. Since most of the cast are of adults this time around, some may sound a bit generic but Kiritsugu, Kirei and Kariya’s seiyuu did a truly wonderful job. Koyama Rikiya (Kiritsugu) and Shingaki Tarusuke (Kariya) in particular, knows exceedingly well when to sound cool, and when to sound desperate. Veterans from the old cast like Kawasumi Ayako’s (Saber) and Seki Tomokazu (Gilgamesh) doesn’t disappoint too, which makes Saber’s prideful manner of speech, and Gilgamesh’s provocative tones much more amazing.

The ending tied up a lot of details. In particular, one could understand more about the perspectives of heroes in the eyes of both Kiritsugu’s and Shirou’s respectively. It also gives more background information about characters in Fate/Stay Night, like Rin and Sakura in particular.

At the end, Fate/Zero is one hell of a masterpiece. Truth to be told, when I watched Fate/Stay Night several years ago, despite raging complaints, I thought it was good, not exactly the greatest but good nonetheless. Fate/Zero completely outdid itself though, and it makes a Type-Moon fan like me even the more so obsessive. For those who had watched Fate/Stay Night (or had played the game), be sure to check out this anime too! Fate/Zero is a series which would certainly be one of the best anime in years to come, and I’m sure once the BD are released, it will enhance the qualities of the anime even more so, with added dialogues and whatnot.

Story: A+
Character: A+
Art: S
Animation: S
Sound: B-

Final Score

This entry was posted by Kai.

22 thoughts on “Fate/Zero Review

  1. Agreed, agreed, and agreed XD Honestly, I was only hoping that the story and its execution to be good – its gave way more than that. Awesome visuals, dialogues, music and the depth which the 2006 FSN lacked, just epic. Going more with depth, it clearly showed us why every master wanted to join the war and how (they think) the grail grant them their wish.

    I think the Assassin from FSN was awesome, seeing that he can’t leave the temple ^W^ Your ratings remind me of FSN Servant Stats (Magic Resistance: A, Noble Phantasm: EX, etc) XD

    • It surpassed my expectations way more :D I learned the hard way not to put too much hopes into something (*coughGuiltyCrowncough*) but it seems I still have this bad habit. Good thing F/Z doesn’t disappoint :D Indeed, that part of the plot is quite important, and F/SN wasn’t able to accomplish that, even though both had almost the same number of episodes too ;p

      Even if he can’t leave, he could had fought Saber more stealthy, he’s more like a samurai who fight on the forefront then an “assassin” o.o

  2. A very good review and just a few hours after the last episode has been subbed.

    I really liked Fate/Zero,especially the first half was awesome. The more grown up setting and the great voice acting created a very intense atmosphere. It was also good how the different masters and servants and their motivations were portrayed.

    “oath sign” was my favorite song btw :)

    Well, the break in between killed my excitement a little bit to be honest.

    Two complaints I would raise where the slightly underwhelming servant fights, they were always a little short. Kiritsugu’s two big fights were far more thrilling.
    Another complaint which is much more of personal taste were the cruelties in the second half, sometimes it was more than I could bear. It was a very hard anime in terms of violence. I could barely watch how some of the characters I liked met their mainly cruel end :(

    Overall I would give it an 8 out of 10, even though I gave the first season a full 10/10

    next I will do a Fate marathon with Fate/Zero and Fate stay night afterwards, it will be interesting to watch it again with more background informations ^^

    • The best way to enjoy Fate/Zero’s sequel is to actually dismiss Fate/Stay Night the anime and go through Heaven’s Feel in Fate/Stay Night’s visual novel because Fate/Zero is more closely linked to Heaven’s Feel than the anime series (based off the Fate route) ;D Though of course you’re obliged to do whatever you want Fabienne ^^

        • Before Fate/Zero, it was actually the Fate/Stay Night VN which got me so obsessed into Type-Moon, so it’s definitely recommended :D

      • @Tofu Ahh this is one thing I don’t get. In my opinion, they should be animating Heaven’s Feel in some form (series, movie, OVA) and only THEN, they should animate Fate/Zero. There are a lot of details like the crest worms which require Heaven’s Feel knowledge. This would help non VN-players understand the wide world of Nasuverse :D

        • I guess considering how popular Fate/Zero is, we might be able to get a Heaven’s Feel anime adaptation which I’d really love to see ;D

          Not just the crest worms but there’s also more depth about Angra Mainyu, Zouken, and Sakura in Heaven’s Feel that none of the other routes touched upon ^^

          We must pick up arms and protest for the sake of giving Nasu’s work the justice it deserves!!! xD

        • But I do think they have quite the difficulty adapting it, when the route feels like a lesser Saya no Uta.. lol ^^”

          And yes, those are good knowledge to know beforehand D: Actually, Type-Moon is releasing Girl’s Works too.. not sure if I should be happy or sad about that D:

    • @Fabienne I can’t seem to choose now that when I think about it. Both halves are equally good, the first half are more about introductions and the second half are more about actually “starting” things up. So both have their goods and bads ;p

      Thinking on a positive side, the “break” in between would allow them to gather more resources and whatnot, since Fate/Zero is indeed a pretty high-budget anime.

      Now that when I think about it, my fav fight is actually Kiritsugu VS Kirei nearly at the end. And most of F/Z fights are pretty short, I grimaced at the shortness of Kiritsugu VS Kirei too, and I heard the LN’s way of showing that fight is even more epic. Either way, I plan to read that soon.. or check out the BD, still picking..

      Ahh cruelty, it’s to be as expected since it’s Nitro+ material.. They are good at physically or mentally torturing their own characters.. and then kill them when they feel like it. Of cause, it’s not that exaggerating, the way I put it makes Nitro+ kinda.. sadistic.. :D

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  4. Fate/Zero outdid Fate/Stay Night so much that now I want a remake of FSN with the same team that did FZ. The characters were brilliant, from ones that use their wit and cunning to the ones that fight with righteousness and honour. The ending was a bit disappointing for me since a lot of things were left unresolved, but I guess that’s what FSN was for.

    • I think it’s highly possible, considering the huge number of remakes we had so far, but before that, I really want them to adapt heaven’s feel in some shape or form first. It really questions the effiency of using power or strategy, many masters in F/Z are killed in strategically silly and human-like ways. It’s ironic. Most of the plot points in F/Z are resolved, but as for the rest, F/SN indeed..

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  6. I have only taken a look at the first four episodes of Fate/stay night and definately by far, Fate/zero is a drastic improvement, especially in the animation and production department. Also liked the dark feeling of it, although it’s kind of sad that most of the women in the show got butchered or strangled.

    The only flaw, which is rather minor is the missing parts. Yes, the Anime can’t adapt every detail, so people who want more have to read the light novel. Even so, it kind of renews my interest in continuing Fate/stay night anime, although it would feel like a downgrade after watching this awesomeness… but oh well.

    • You watched it right after Fate/Zero? If so, I would bet the awesomeness would had died down a lot by F/SN D: Well, it’s nitroplus afterall, so that is most expected :p

      Actually about that, as I had started reading light novels anyway, I had thought about reading the light novels of Fate/Zero too, but decided to wait for the BD first anyway.

  7. I think it’s kinda unfair to compare Fate/Zero, an adaption of a light novel, to the 2006 F/SN, an adaption of a Visual Novel, as VN’s are much larger and much, much, more difficult to handle due to the branching nature of the plot. Other than that little thing though, pretty much entirely agree with this review, but I would say that F/SN had a better plot (Note: I’m talking about the VN, not the anime).

    • Well I guess you do make a point, I do think F/SN can still be improved too, like if they focused on Fate route more strictly instead of adding in a few plot points from the other routes. If you’re talking about the VN as a whole then true, both Unlimited Blade Works and Heavens Feel would put up a good fight against F/Z, but even in the VN, Fate to me is still something sort of an “introduction” to the premise and settings to the franchise.

  8. Hmm, I do agree that the second part of the Fate/Zero anime was great. The first part? not so in my opinion. Also there are two assassins in Fate/Stay Night: The “fake” assassin that caster summons, and the true assassin that Matou Zouken summons. Let me tell you, the true assassin in Fate/Stay worked from the shadows and was totally vicous! He beats Hassan from Fate/Zero on every level (although accoding to Fate/Zero every assassin you summon will always be a reincarnation of Hassan so I guess Zouken was just a good master). Anyway, there was one thing I really like about Fate/Zero – that some masters fought to gain pride. In Fate/Stay Rin was probably the only one who claimed the fight will bring her family pride. In Fate/Zero you have Velvet, Tokiomi and Kayneth. All three of them fought for their pride as a wizard and for the glory of their families (well, for Tokiomi reaching “the root” using the Holy Grail would be the source of the pride). Anyway, sorry for the long post. I hope we get a budget release of this someday.

    • *some spoilers ahead*

      I see the first *half* as a sort of introduction to the settings and most importantly, the characters, the colorful cast of characters. While the second is good, the first one isn’t that far bad.

      The “true assassin” only emerges in the visual novel, and it’s pretty much the same guy from all the previous holy grail war. Yes, it’s kinda weird that all summoned Assassins are always Hassan, except for Kojirou with his very special circumstances. Fate/Zero’s assassin has an unique ability, but falls short in some ways indeed.

      Of cause, Shinji is psychotic, Kirei went mad, and Shirou doesn’t even know what he’s doing, and Ilya’s just being.. Ilya. Rin is probably the only one who still thinks about her pride and glory of her family. Speaking of Rin, that reminds of the last scene where Kirei gives Rin the dagger which Kirei used to stab the hell out of Tokiomi. Doesn’t seem like Rin knew about it, and Shirou ended up taking the dagger and killed Kirei himself with it. Ahhh, the irony. The murder weapon Kirei used ended up being his death door.

      Well, there’s the BD, I guess.

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