Posted by AidanAK47 on 23 August 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by AidanAK47

Long time no see and strap in cause this is going to be a long one. I will preface this review with the assumption that you have seen the first movie of this trilogy and this movie as well as the assumption that whomever is reading this knows what a command spell is. So basically expect spoilers after this first paragraph while I place my general thoughts at the beginning. To throw my final estimate on this right now I will say that Heaven’s Feel II is just as good, if not better than the movie preceding it. Ufotable truly have done great work in bringing this route to life and with two movies out of three adapted as well as this then as long as Ufotable doesn’t make any major missteps in the last movie this will be considered a perfect adaption with only nitpickers trying to amplify its flaws(Take note that nitpicking is to follow this paragraph.) The animation is steller, the music is…well I think Kajura held herself back enough to make my usual complaints of her less evident, the adaption of the source ultimately makes it better by cutting out the bloat and extending fight scenes which were originally nonexistent and the atmosphere and pacing is engaging from start to finish. For those curious I will confirm that yes there is a sex scene in this movie though temper your expectations as it is a sex scene on the level of which you would see in a PG rated romantic comedy. So I am afraid you will once again have to rely on doujins if you require some porn. Funny as it is though I would say that the strongest element of this movie isn’t the fight scenes, character interactions or the further developments of the holy grail war. But the show stealers here is when the story veers into horror as it’s there where Kajura’s soundtrack truly excels and highlights the utterly unnerving nature that the villain of this piece is. The “shadow” captures a near Lovecraftian level of unknown malevolence and any time it’s on screen is a showcase of just how powerless anyone is to oppose it. The combination of CGI and 2D animation makes it truly otherworldly and unsettling, almost making the uncanny effect its advantage. The story is dark to the point of giving Fate/Zero competition as developments long awaited and wished are finally happening to the cast. If there is a detriment it would be that some great scenes with Illya and Kirei were cut to make the runtime reasonable which is understandable but somewhat disappointing. So if you have already watched the first movie and was interested enough to move on to the second then I doubt you need my encouragement to continue.

Now it’s time for my fanboy self to emerge and comment away on various scenes of the movie so again spoilers be awaiting. So as I said the horror in this movie is remarkably effective which has me thinking that Ufotable could very well take a shot at crafting an original anime horror film. Even in Fate/Zero the scene of Irisviel being taken into the grail was unnerving in how she acted and smiled. Angra Mainyu is something which Ufotable has always managed to capture the ominous and corrupting nature of the thing with it’s visuals often resembling nightmare sequences. So it is rather interesting to have a scene in this movie so dreamlike and unlike Fate appear without warning and slowly twist into a Madoka like labyrinth and this a scene which many will sight as a major highlight of the film. Yes, I refer to the Sakura in wonderland scene which is an anime only addition that confused the hell out of source readers like myself. When the scene started with a fairy tale princess like atmosphere I was trying to process just what exactly was going on before a slow realization kicked in. The unsettling tone of the music and the completely cloying surroundings made me suspicious of just what I was seeing. I particularly like the scene of Sakura walking over the bridge while four stuffed toys float under like dead bodies. If you take note of them you can see they are a dog, a fox, a lion and a bear. The dog is an obvious reference to Lancer who is highly associated with dogs, his name even meaning “Culann’s hound”. The Fox seems to be for Medea’s devious and betraying nature. The Lion being without a doubt Saber who his heavily associated with Lions to the point where in the Camelot Singularity of Fate Grand Order she is referred to as the Lion King(No association of the Disney movie of the same name.) The bear being a bit more on the nose with Berserker being big and ferocious. Each floating by in the order which they were devoured with Archer being absent due to him either being a counter guardian or just dying before he could be absorbed. You could very well put on your detective hats and try to find hidden meanings throughout the rest of the sequence though I think it was mainly to dress up what was actually happening in reality and to make the whiplash of Sakura saccharinely eating candy to Sakura about to eat a severed human finger all the more shocking.

But ah yes the nitpicking. Well my gripes with Kajura are lesser but still present as I do think she has a problem with comprehending the purpose of background music. Too often the music jumps to center stage in that it’s the only thing you can hear and it becomes far too distracting. It doesn’t work in tandem with the scene then by rather fights for dominance. I feel the biggest offender was when Rin and Archer broke through the window of the library as the song used there blared full force which might not be a problem if it wasn’t the most unsuitable Fate song I ever heard. Almost as if a song from a Tokusatsu show managed to sneak it’s way into the soundtrack. Perhaps this was to showcase Archers superman complex within his trumpant moments but it really didn’t work and just made me raise an eyebrow. Of course we got the usual songs with the choirs screaming nonsense but those aren’t too intrusive besides the Salter vs Berserker fight. Kajura’s soundtrack generally works best during the more somber or scary parts of the movie as that’s when it works in tandem with the scene. But back to a previous statement, that Salter vs Berserker fight was certainly something. It really is nice to have something which attests to Saber’s long claimed status of being one of the most powerful Sabers so with a near unlimited mana supply she certainly obliterates Berserker. Though it is amusing that it’s her Alter self that lives up to her status more with her appearances here and in Prisma Illya than the original herself. Though if I was to criticise the fight I would say that maybe Ufotable flexed a little too much here if that can be believed. Well it’s more on the movement of Berserker where his attacks felt less like the enormous strikes of his UBW self and more like a ragdoll being flung about by his own momentum. Of course you could say that was the point but I much prefer the control level of fighting he did in UBW and this wasn’t the only place that had this rather erratic movement. Zouken in the courtyard with Illya was also an odd one when displaying his bug like nature just had him moving in really odd ways. Again, less controlled and more like a ragdoll. Though for the most part this was a rarity in the film.

The omitted scenes were for the most part unnecessary as I have said before that Heaven’s Feel has a middle portion which is bloated with a lot of slice of life. It was the reason why this film was the one I thought Ufotable would have the most difficulty with as the middle of heaven’s Feel is what kept it from being my favorite route in the Visual novel. Nasu put himself in a bad position where he made it that instead of the VN moving from scene to scene based on importance to the plot, that instead he would detail each day of the Holy Grail War. Which meant that he covered what they were doing from morning to noon and night. Of course this causes pacing problems galore and the rather common occurrence of elaborate Shirou cooking sequences that were enough to inspire its own spinoff. The movie cuts a lot of that out with not much complaints in regards to what was lost in my opinion as a lot of it was a slice of life hijinks with little plot relevance. It did however make Sakura’s deteriorating condition less gradual and more immediate and there were a couple of scenes that I wish could have been included. One is a scene I don’t understand why it was omitted as they had the setup for it and while it had no real plot relevance, it was a pure Kirei moment. Basically when treating her after the library incident, Kirei put Sakura in the next room while Rin and the others discussed the possibility of killing her. All heard Sakura go out the window and Kirei says something along the lines of “Oh dreadfully sorry but I had Sakura in the next room and due to how shallow these walls are she must have heard how you were all planning to kill her. Oh my what a blunder.” That was just Kirei through and through and rather reminiscent of how he set up Kariya to be framed for Tokiomi’s murder. A sad removal but not critical. There were also a few scenes with Illya and Shirou bonding which could have sold their familial dependence more as well. There were also a couple of scenes involving rider which showed a less murderous side of her but on those I would say good riddance as they mainly consisted of Rider acting cute or seeing Shirou as a love interest which is detrimental to the tone the movie is going for. But the exclusion which actually does hurt the story had to do with Shirou obtaining Archers arm. In the film they leave the explanation for it all up to Rin which gives the mistaken impression that she was the one to attach it despite her claiming that healing magic really isn’t her strong suit. In the VN the arm was attached by Kirei who sold the explanation a lot more than Rin did and provided the Shroud of Martin for the seal. It’s a pretty big part of the next film so I don’t know if they plan to cover it at the beginning of that or leave it up in the air as it currently is. I suppose the current explanations have given the general gist of the seal but I think that anime only watchers may get a bit of the wrong impression.

As for last notes, Shinji’s death was both satisfying yet unsatisfying. For it’s good that someone killed him yet he deserved much worse than that. Of course Shinji is a bit of a product of his house as it has shown that in different circumstances he wouldn’t be as bad as he was. But his superiority complex, utter incompetence and jealousy drove him to become the monster that he is. Anime often uses bastard character whose bastardness is driven by idiotic and flimsy logic but Shinji is at least a bastard who I can understand why he does what he does. Of course doesn’t make him not a bastard but it does separate him from the usual random rapists that wander anime Japan. It’s nice to see as well Shirou taking the path of abandoning his rather self destructive beliefs which is something that truly marks Sakura as the real heroine of Fate/Stay Night. After all Saber encouraged Shirous beliefs, while Rin tried and failed to get him to leave them behind, the only one to get him to abandon them was Sakura ultimately showing just how much she meant to him. However, I have always thought of Sakura as a succubus like existence as while she is the only one to accomplish that, she is also like a poison to Shirou. Through love tempting him on a path that may be even more self destructive than the one he was already on.

HelghastKillzone: I watched this back in February in theater when Cineplex Canada was nice enough to have a couple of showings in my city. Let me tell you that it was worth purchasing a movie ticket to see this on the big screen. When it comes to technical excellence, Ufotable continues to one-up itself as every action scene is oozing with color, sound, and just blasting my face with its awesomeness that only a theater experience can provide. Every fight scene that fans have waited so long is realized in this movie from Saber Alter pulverizing Berserker into nothingness to Gilgamesh unceremoniously exiting from the movie.

I haven’t gone through the entirety of the Heaven’s Feel route in the visual novel but I do roughly know the major plot points and I think that the staff did a good job in condensing the route in a digestible movie trilogy. If the first installation of presage flower was mostly setup for Sakura storyline with a couple of fight scenes thrown in, then lost butterfly is the execution of her character arc and it far-reaching consequences.  As someone who didn’t get the appeal of Sakura, these movies have bumped up her a couple of places in my ranking of best girl within Fate. There is an actual sex scene without the CGI dragons or dolphins and the addition of a Madoka Magica-like scene really drives home the point that Sakura owns this movie.

Many consider the Heaven’s Feel route to be the true successor to Fate/Zero as many of the plot threads come together in a horrific manner that throws out all the rules of the Holy Grail war. By the end of the movie, most of the servants are either dead or have been co-opted into Dark Sakura’s shadow, Shirou has abandoned his ideals for Sakura and shit is getting real. I can’t wait for Spring 2020 when the third movie comes and wraps it all up and I’ll gladly to purchase another movie ticket to do so.

One Response

  1. Avatar MDG055 says:

    I worry the cut Illya and Kirei scenes will hurt the climax in the 3rd movie. The Kirei fight into *that* Illya scene was easily my favorite part of the whole VN and I don’t know how well it will work considering both characters have had their roles relegated a bit.

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