“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.