Posted by psgels on 24 June 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Fate/Zero




Fate/Zero was one of the big titles of the past Spring Season. It already had an incredibly solid first season, and this promised to only get better as it fired off. And yeah, the second season indeed ended up trumping the first and using its build-up. I have some qualms with it, but really: this was an incredibly well made series.

In a season with so many series that stood out with their visuals, Fate/Zero stands among the best: its consistency is amazing: characters stay amazingly on-model, even after 25 episodes and there is a ton of eye candy with brilliant use of CG. The director, Ei Aoki is a guy who started in Photography, and it shows: just about every frame in this show looks good. To put this into a perspective: in a season with three Satelight series airing at the same time, this second season alone the eye candy surpasses that of all three of them combined.

The plot continues off where the first season left off and contains a number of very satisfying climaxes that are surrounded by an interesting plot that just keeps taking turns. There are a few issues with this plot, though, most notably that you really need to be familiar with the Fate Franchise, otherwise some plot points won’t make any sense. This series may be just a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, but even then there were events that happened before this series that this series refuses to line out.

Like the first season, this series again does a wonderful job to melt the setting from the European middle ages and the ancient middle east together, putting Chivalry on one hand and conquests on the other. The two mesh greatly as they clash, on top with the Fate franchise’s interesting system of magi and mages.

Now, as for the characters. I do feel that I need to clarify myself a bit after claiming that the emotions feel empty, and things indeed are a bit more nuanced than that. The cast of Fate/Zero definitely has a number of characters that are developed really well throughout the series. The second season in particular contains some really heavy scenes that show many of them completely breaking down and there definitely are a lot of big emotions in this series. What I feel like the creators could have done better is flesh out these characters. This series puts a lot of time into battles and explaining the actions of its characters, but not so much on the touches that make their characters more human or show them in different emotions. Balancing these scenes out could have been done better: when this show builds up, it’s usually very slow (there in particular is an arc devoted to the background of just one character that takes up 2 whole episodes, but in the end is a bit too focused on explaining why he is involved in the story and a bit too little on creating a dynamic character). I feel that this could have been built up a bit better and because of that things don’t come together at the end as well as I hoped.

This series is a bit overhyped, but still, Fate/Zero remains an excellent series. Even though some plot twists come from nowhere if you’re not familiar with the Fate franchise like myself, it’s a big recommendation and there really is nothing like it around. This series pushed what can be done with animation further and the people of Ufo-Table have really grown into a powerhouse of a studio at this point.

Storytelling: 8,5/10 – Great action-packed climaxes with many interesting plot twists that are best enjoyed when you’re familiar with the Fate franchise.
Characters: 8/10 – Excellent development and loves to make its characters break down.
Production-Values: 9.5/10 – The consistency of the amount of eye candy in this series is amazing. 25 episodes and it still manages to look amazing with very few weak points.
Setting: 8,5/10 – Great themes, blends different settings together really well. Make this a full 9/10 if you’ve seen Fate/Stay Night.

Suggestions:
Kara no Kyoukai
Berserk
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

12 Responses

  1. Avatar CJay says:

    I feel like a lot of people are going to say you underrated it but I pretty much agree with this review and feel like you analyzed the strong and weak points very well.

  2. Avatar Nic says:

    Maybe a little bit (I have it at 90) but personally, I’m more inclined to say it’s because the gap between the two seasons is of somewhere around 10 points in my mind. Can’t agree with a 86 rating when S1 is rated 85 by pgels.

    S1 had a great start that fumbled early and save for a few stunning dialogue sequences, felt much more like stalling before the real action started in S2.

    S2 didn’t have those problems as the pacing was excellent. A little deceived about them cutting out the part about Berserker though since I never read the VN and would have loved to see it fleshed out on screen. Hopefully, this gets added to the Blu-Rays.

  3. Avatar Reverse says:

    unlike Satelight (model based cgi), Ufo-Table use most of it CG on Effect animation ( smoke, fire ,water … etc ). I guess it work for them since they were the first studio to use it rigorously

    as a bit of hand drawn advocate, i shouldn’t say anymore

  4. Avatar HENRCAST says:

    Do you absolutely need to have watched Stay Night to enjoy this? Zero looks very interesting, but from what I’ve seen, Stay Night involves a lot of teenagers and the kind of terrible overreacted humor that is so common in anime

    • Avatar mousoukyoku says:

      Zero has a different cast and tone and was written by a different author, so just go for it. I watched Stay Night years ago and gathered some of the info the anime left out from internet resources, but since I’m by no means a fan of the franchise soon forgot about a lot of stuff and still thoroughly enjoyed Zero. And I get your problem, I can’t stand those typical Visual Novel / Harem Anime antics either. Even though I found the setting to be quite intruiging, I stopped reading the novel rather early.

    • Avatar Bradley says:

      You can watch either. I watched F/SN anime first, though I was know how Fate/Zero would end, I still find F/Z still very enjoyable because of it ‘s richer characters and intelligent dialogues it had, compared to F/SN.
      Just ignore those harems stuffs, they aren’t the focus of the story of F/SN anway.

  5. Avatar rawr says:

    watch the blu ray version if you get the chance, since a lot of scenes that were cut will be in it, and the plot will make a lot more sense with those scenes added in.

  6. Avatar earl says:

    i personally didnt enjoy fate stay night very much. It was cheesy and is harem pretty much. but fate stay zero was really good! they should just remake the story of fate stay night so we have a better sequel!

  7. Avatar JustPlainCrazy says:

    I’d suggest against watching the anime version of F/SN; it’s generally agreed to be mediocre. (The anime only adapted the Fate route of the visual novel, which is generally considered the weakest of the three. There was a movie recently for the second route, Unlimited Blade Works, but it’s nearly incomprehensible if you haven’t actually read the route, and not really worth watching.)

    If you don’t want to download the visual novel, there is a text Let’s Play of it (with videos of the particularly important/awesome parts and links to the background music that plays during each scene, even) that’s totally complete and a good way to read it.

    While F/SN does have a few… scenes of an inappropriate nature, let’s say, they are brief and infrequent enough that you can easily skip them to get at the story. It actually tells a really interesting story (and if you’ve watched Zero you’ll probably appreciate all of the little details about the fourth war that had an influence on the fifth). Yeah, there’s some cringe-worthy stuff in there, but it honestly doesn’t pop up nearly as often as you’d think.

    If you liked F/Z, really, you owe it to yourself to read F/SN if only because some parts of it make so, so much more sense if you do. Plus, if you liked the lore there’s plenty more of it to be had.

    I’m really glad F/Z was as good as it was. Ufotable is awesome and this was a treat for the eyes. There were only a few things I had a problem with and you highlighted them pretty well.

  8. Avatar Stars says:

    This is purely from the Fate anime perspective, I watched Stay Night a few years prior, and Zero came along and just knocked my socks off. The characters in Stay Night felt like dirt compared to the richness of the characters, the plot, the descriptions, just about everything in Zero.

    Probably the most impressive point for me was the cast, and how well the cast played off each other and that EVERY character can stand for themselves. I really looked forward to the gorgeous action scenes and wow, I got those for every single character.

  9. Avatar Oroboros says:

    If anyone is interested…

    Here’s my blog on Fate/Zero — the most nihilistic piece of work ever? http://t.co/5aF7ANKZ (spoilers lurk within)

  10. Avatar Amaya says:

    I find that Fate/Zero was, in several ways, anti-climatic. Considering how certain fights end without a proper climax, and the ending felt very forced (Zombie Kirei) like it was just meant for the sole purpose of setting up the stage for Fate/Stay Night. Zombie Priest aside, I feel that the anti-climatic parts could actually count as the show’s climaxes. Fate/Zero is dark and mature, and the efforts people put in are often disregarded. In that aspect, the anti-climatic nature was pulled off well in the sense that it helped establish the grand, yet mediocre efforts of people in attaining their goal – humans (as magi) and heroic spirits alike.

    Fate/Zero does a good job at this, but I find that some characters did fail to be developed enough. I understand that the main character needs focus, but with it being a Battle Royale I felt that some people should be made easier to feel for or relate to for us. But it’s still a fantastic series.

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