Posted on 12 August 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Fate/Extra Last Encore, Reviews by AidanAK47

To many the Fate series is daunting with its numerous incarnations and spinoffs and here in the year of many a Fate adaption we get another one by Studio Shaft which was first thought to adapt the story of the PSP game Fate/Extra. Fate/Extra could basically be considered Fate with a sci-fi twist as this entire series takes place in a virtual reality where a massive Holy Grail War is taking place. The protagonist Hakuno and his Saber Servant must advance up seven Floors while defeating the servant and master that guards each floor to reach the Holy Grail at the top. The scenario itself certainly feels like that of a video game but this anime is not actually an adaption of the PSP game but instead an alternate retelling/sequel to that game. Despite claims from the writer that this anime could be experienced blind, the story itself does require context from the game to understand the story as a whole.

I will say that the story of this anime does sound good on paper and I am sure if you read summaries on each episode you would find yourself interested as the events of this anime do sound exciting, at least on paper. However the execution is botched heavily as the story was essentially a novel written by the author and handed over to be adapted into a anime screenplay. It’s source trappings remain in the show as Fate/Extra is an anime that prefers to tell you it’s story rather than show you it. There is an unforgivable amount of exposition and characters are not developed enough to make such copious amount of exposition interesting. The main character is essentially characterised as having no personality besides a vague anger which makes him a poor foil to the heroine of the series who mainly acts as fanservice. The massive amount of dialogue and Shaft being the animation studio has had people referring to this anime as Fatemonogatari which certainly seems like an apt comparison. The show is mainly dialogue and the battles between servants and masters on each floor all feel uninvolving and anticlimactic. Not helped when each fight either boils down to the protagonists trying harder or pulling out some previously unmentioned dues ex machina. I will say that Shaft make the show quite visually striking and there is some legitimately beautiful aspects like the illustration of the servant master duos in the episode endings. However the animation isn’t as strong as some other Fate entries and this series can take a bit too many of Shafts quirks as an anime studio.

The show follows a fairly formulaic pattern which makes the show feel vacuous as it continues to progress but the characters on screen remain machines for exposition or meaningless dialogue. What is likely intended to be the driving force of the series is the mystery behind what is actually happening as the story itself is very stingy on the details of what is actually happening causing many a viewer to just think “What?” which is the intention of the author but sadly backfired. Anytime you feel you are beginning to understand just what is happening in this show, it throws another curve ball and leaves you trying to figure it out all over again. Once pieced together the story becomes more straightforward but instead of being a rewarding experience to puzzle out it just becomes a reason why the viewer becomes so disconnected to the events on screen as we can’t engage if we are too busy trying to get to grips with what the plot even is. Upon its conclusion it just feels empty and meaningless, providing nothing of worth nor entertainment. Music didn’t leave much of an impression either. Overall there does feel to be a story under all this which could have made for a pretty good anime but the execution of it’s ideas where botched to the point that it just feels soulless and vacant , lacking anything which makes it recommendable besides finding out where that girl who looks exactly like Saber but in a red dress came from. Even then playing the Fate/Extra game would be a better experience even if that too isn’t perfect. So I pray…for Fate/Extra CCC to be localised for that certainly seems like it would beat out both the previous game and the anime. So get on it Marvelous or Xseed.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

It’s been a while but the final episodes of Fate/Extra are out and I thought that I couldn’t really add anything to what I previously said about this series. The last three episodes did nothing to change my opinion on the series as a whole, if anything it solidified my previous opinion and pretty much confirmed that the series as a whole was a rather pointless addition to the Nasuverse. But I happened upon this quote from a blog post that Nasu wrote before the first episode aired. And I quote:

“And this is how I got my engine running, but since I have no experience with writing anime scenarios, I wrote the source novel-ish book for “Last Encore”, and had Sakurai-san help me adapt and adjust that into anime scenario format.”

Thus like a thunderbolt it hit me and suddenly everything wrong with Fate/Extra Last Encore makes sense. Even in my previous posts about this series I remarked that it was far too much tell and no show but of course it is, for the source is a book. Also Sakurai was involved and I swear this woman is involved with some of the worst the Nasuverse has to offer, she has proven time and time again to be a terrible writer. Of course I am not pinning the blame entirely on her, her fault is in poorly adjusting Nasu’s novel to an anime format. Nasu is at fault for writing a novel when he’s supposed to write a screenplay, clearly he wrote too much to be conveyed and didn’t make use of the visual medium of anime to tell the story through other methods besides excessive exposition. The director is at fault for not making the fights stand out animation wise and ending anticlimactically. But these flaws all originated from this supposed to be anime original adaption turning out to be a adaption of a novel. Thus i must ask…if you had time to write a novel for Fate/Extra then why the hell is the Tsukihime remake a decade late at this point?!

The final episodes focus on Hakuno and Nero taking on the final floor master and the mastermind behind everything. The fights themselves lack any real gravitas as while the two lost to Gaiwen at first, they effectively beat him the second time by…trying harder? Oh and Gaiwens master decided that he wasn’t going to fight Hakuno and just stand there unlike the first time where he took an active place in the battle. Not much f worth happens, it plays out much like any other floor master with two episodes, heavy amount of exposition to explain everything and a anticlimactic fight. The final battle against twice Pieceman, or to be exact Twice Piecemans deadface, was made fair less exciting when he revealed that his Servant who was shown at the beginning of the series pretty much left offscreen and just handed over his Noble Phantasm to Twice. The final boss of the anime essentially abandoned the story and I don’t understand how that could be see as anything but disappointing. So the climax hits and I still don’t give a damn about Nero or Hakuno so their noble sacrifices mean nothing to me.

The final twist was pretty much expected with the earth being beyond help and practically ended but Hakuno decided to use the Moon Cell to create a virtual paradise which the remaining people on earth struggling to survive can escape to. I am reminded of the end of Apocrypha which also had the main character sacrifice himself in order to save the world and much like that series I find that the the character being sacrificed doesn’t have enough character to make me care. The end result of this series is that despite Nasu saying it would be a good entry point into the Extra spinoff of Fate, he was blatantly lying as without playing the Fate/Extra game this anime is missing valuable context. The semi sequel/Alternative path nature of the series makes it not an adaption of Fate/Extra nor providing anything of worth to the lore as a whole besides some Deadface ability which seemed to be invented for the sole purpose of trying to make Hakuno interesting. A straight adaption of Fate/Extra, which is briefly shown with flashbacks to Hakunon, actually looked to make for a far more interesting story than the one we got here. Not to mention a complete missed opportunity to have a Fate anime with a female protagonist. It’s sad really and this anime marks a pretty low note for the year of Fate Adaptations to end on. Well…at least Heaven’s Feel is pretty damn great.

Posted on 7 April 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

It hard to have an opinion on the last three episodes of Fate/Extra when the content has been quite similar to the previous episodes of the cour. For now the series has ended with the remaining episodes coming as a special later. Still unknown if that was the actual special broadcast that was originally considered a second cour. These three episodes mainly dealt with our protagonist getting through the fifth and sixth floors and yes, the fourth floor was rather shamelessly skipped over and only spoken about at the beginning of episode 8 as being “No big deal”. They essentially pulled a Katanagatari on it and to a degree I understand as the fourth master really was someone not really worth caring about. In fact depending on what route you took in the game the fourth master could be one of two different people, neither of which are particularly interesting. Only real thing of note was that one of the servants was actually Arcueid from Tsukihime which was rather neat.

Despite the different episode number the problems of the series remain the same. The fifth floor attempted to give some characterization to the protagonist and even featured female Hakuno for a brief time but ultimately Hakuno just remains a bland faceless void that you can’t really care about. Again the Scenario is interesting but the execution is lacking and it really does bug me about how that became a running theme. Really, looking at the story of Fate/Extra purely on paper it’s hard to imagine that it would be as lifeless as it is. Let us recap, the first floor had a city set up to harber masters that gave up on the war which culminated in the entire city getting flooded and Nero fighting a pirate ship on top of the ruined city. The second floor featured a forest with a sniper whose been killing people for a thousand years with a servant who can turn invisible. The third featured a cyber ghost girl in a weird wonderland who has been twisted into a monstrous abomination while waiting for the return of a friend. The fifth featured a master who was also a dead face, causing the protagonist to question his very existence and find new meaning to his mission all while finished with a battle on top of skyscrapers between master and master with servant vs servant. The ice landscape sixth floor had two masters who fought each other to a tie and ended up becoming the floor itself spawning hundreds of soldiers to fight each other for a thousand years only to finally gain enough sanity to guide Hakuno to the sixth floor just so he can end the long standing tie. Looking at all this , it all sounds very interesting and even great so why is it that I only remember feeling apathetic while watching previous episodes? By all accounts this should be engaging, it should have me anticipating the next episode with excited glee. Yet, much like the personality of Hakuno, I just feel it’s been a lifeless void.

I believe i have more or less covered why but seeing as this is the last episode for a while I might as well do a roundup. I can point three things that are messing up this story. One is that this story is almost 90% told through exposition. The exposition dumps are egregiously bad so as to have the setting, characters and current events all told through whatever is deemed to be the mouthpiece of the author. Too much effort has been put into explaining the story over telling it and despite all this it still remains a confusing mess at times because it fails to establish a foundation. Just when you think you know what is what, the story flings another conundrum for you to place and gives little motivation to do so. The second thing is characters with a big offender being Hakuno the blank nobody character. Nero admittedly is pretty tiresome as well considering her main roles is to do the fighting and be waifu fanservice. I am actually having trouble placing who is a worse protagonist, Sieg from Apocrypha or Hakuno from Extra but in truth they are remarkably similar in how they are both non characters with some existential dilemma of their manufactured existence that ultimately leads them to become stereotypical hero archetypes. Though while the main reason for hating Sieg is that he took screentime from much more interesting characters, the characters of Fate/Extra outside of Hakuno and Nero are really just exposition devices in human clothing. These creatures spout exposition about the nature of their character, the world and magic without much emotion. Indeed even in face of their own death they speak there last words like reciting a shopping list. That’s not how humans talk, we don’t just have prepared speeches and lectures ready to be fired off with perfect clarity and precision when first questioned. Our emotion comes out in how we speak, even how we respond to certain topics is within our character. Nobody stands like a mannequin reciting hamlet from memory. Of course some may argue that in this series everyone has lived a thousand years and their dehumanization is the result of dealing with a unwinnable situation for so very long. To which I say fair enough but it means that nobody here cares about what is going on and if they don’t care, why should I?

Then comes the third problem, the animation. Now it actually has be wanted by fans for quite a long time for Shaft to do an adaption of Fate/Extra, a sentiment that I never truly understood. Maybe it was because Shaft animated the openings for the Fate/Extra games but I honestly felt they were a mismatch. Shaft are about artistic animation saving techniques, you can have an opinion on the expression that Shafts style brings but the ultimate goal is mainly to present a show in a matter that’s least troublesome to animate. Considering that the Fate series has a pendant for ridiculously impressive animation it seems like a odd choice to go for a studio that uses style to cover for animation workload. Maybe it was because Fate/Extra was considered more avantgarde? Like hell it is. While exposition scenes are made a bit more interesting with their visual experimentation, ultimately it makes all the fight scenes of this anime feel ridiculously anticlimactic. I once thought Fate/Zero was too anticlimactic, oh what a sweet summer child I was for Fate/Extra truly embodies the word. Not a single fight in this series is remotely satisfying. So the fighting stinks, the story told primarily through exposition and the characters are too apathetic and soulless. So on a last note I will say I did at least like the presentation of Nero’s backstory, female Hakuno showing up briefly and that one small moment where Rin describes her hellish situation with a pained smile. Emotion, makes all the difference.

Posted on 15 March 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

Thus ends the Nursery Rhyme two episode arc and that certainly was more confusing than it needed to be. The fight was once again, anticlimactic and rather lacking strategy wish as well. I mean our protagonists kept talking like they had a plan but it pretty much amounted to just climbing the tower and fighting the monster again. Then on off chance the protagonist managed to pick up a book which convinced the monster to let them win instead of turning back the clock yet again. So it’s back to the game of figuring out just what the hell is even happening again. From what I can gather it appears that the story has been jumping between two different Hakuno’s. The Hakuno of the past who met Alice, sympathised with her and got her to give up so he could ascend to the next level, promising that he would come back. Then god knows how much time has passed and a new Dead Face Hakuno is climbing the floors. But in the time he was gone, Alice has been consuming materials and masters in order to stop herself from fading away, resulting in her turning into a monstrous amalgamation that no longer remembers what she was waiting for.

So our Dead Face Hakuno learned of his previous versions interactions with Alice and climbs the tower in order to put her out of her misery alongside Rin and Nero. WIth RIn providing truckloads of exposition and Nero admitting that she has been through this all before while suggesting that Hakuno was her master back then too. While it has been apparent for quite a while, Fate/Extra Last Encore does have a problem with characters dialogue almost consisting of pure exposition and little else. After all, we meet Nursery Rhyme in this episode and all she does is spout more exposition and when it comes to character motivations that too is told by the individuals themselves. This may be a result of the Nasu being the author as it is important to note that he is a Visual Novel writer, not a anime writer. Nasu doesn’t seem to be taking advantage of the medium to show rather than tell, instead treating it like a visual novel where stretches of exposition can be more forgiven due to limited visuals and the binge nature of the medium. Even Gen Urobuchi has this same kind of exposition heavy storytelling but in his case he writes exposition so well that it hardly becomes an issue. Nasu on the other hand isn’t quite as good at writing engaging exposition and I honestly feel his strengths lie more in his character writing and action setpieces. With this anime it feels like Nasu is focusing far too hard on the mystery of the story rather than the characters going through it with may be the primary reason for it becoming rather dull despite the actual story being told having interesting aspects.

You can write the most interesting story in the world but if you don’t care about the characters in that story then nothing that happens within it is going to engage the viewer. Spice and Wolf proved that with enough character chemistry you can make even the most boring of subjects engaging just by the interactions between them. Nero, Rin and Hakuno just lack that as Rin exposits, Hakuno may as well be a walking plank and Nero seems to be there to fight, make small musings and say umu while being the fanservice. So for this show to get interesting, we need these characters to lighten up, the action to get better and more show with less tell. Cause I got to tell you, as for the mystery of this series, I don’t give a damn anymore. As a last note, Nasu you give Rin the ability to install Cu but not put Cu into the story? Cu could have been the perfect ice breaker for all these serious scenes. I would have loved to see him throwing Rin off balance and teasing her. Also we can install in the extraverse now? How does that even work?

Posted on 7 March 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

In case you didn’t know this series was made by Shaft, this episode has left no doubt. As our heroes walk through a forgotten Madoka set piece to find the latest master. I admit that this may be a change of formula that I was hoping for last episode, though the two episode Master of the week setup remains. Visually it’s a busy episode with Shaft flexing all it’s muscles in providing odd locales but storywise it’s rather barren. It honestly seems that when I approaching a point where I can make sense of what is happening the story just suddenly veers back into what the hell territory. Something which has become quite annoying now as we are halfway through the series and I am so disjointed from the plot to bring myself to care about it much. The majority of this episode consisted of Nero,Rin and Hakuno just walking through the area while Rin throws down some exposition only to lead to Hakuno meeting Alice who proceeds to lay down more exposition. Today’s topic is cyber ghosts which is basically means that people can died in SE.RA.PH and still survive in digital space with just their mind and soul.

A convenient topic as the master this week is a dead girl who happened to become a floor master. Alice gave some background on herself this episode but allow me to elaborate because somebody’s got to set thing straight here and this show certainly isn’t going to do it. Alice was a English girl who was gravely injured in a WWII air raid and left in a vegetative state, however it was discovered that he body had magic circuits and she was kept alive for research purposes. She spend a few years in continual pain and suffering before he body finally gave out and died. Seems her mind was connected to the net when she died(Trying to make sense of the net existing around WWII) and she was left a cyber ghost wandering around till she found the Moon Cell(Big old supercomputer that runs Virtual world SE.RA.PH) SO she strolled in and made a contract with the Servant Nursery Rhyme which took on her appearance and became her only friend.

I told you the servants in this one get weird and Nursery Rhyme is a weird one indeed being a heroic spirit that represents childrens rhymes. Her real form is a book and she only takes the human form of her current master and it seems she can even have a different class or stats based on who contracts with her. In this case it seems they have made some weird floor reality marble with is like an Alice in Wonderland like paradox where up is down, left is right and time is all over the place. A neat idea and made all the more troublesome in that the world can essentially reset itself if the servant doesn’t like where it is going. What’s more it seems this place causes masters to have flashbacks to previous memories though here we mainly get cryptic nonsense from a girl called Amamia. Once again we get evidence that this has all happened before as Hakuno recalls memories where he oddly has a different command spell and of people he has yet to meet.

It would be quite interesting if Hakuno didn’t respond to that like a lethargic doll and I think that really is a problem with this series, the character simply not reacting much or responding to clearly bizarre events. Point is that if Hakuno, the one whose in the middle of all this, can’t bring himself to care about his own situation, then why should I? Once again the setup here is excellent as we have a world that writes its own rules, with a master whom you lose all memory of if you leave her and can have past and present merge together. Maybe if the cast was more interesting this could be an exciting prospect but so far our current enemy master has proven herself to be more interesting than the main cast. I do at least wonder how they will win when the rules are so turned against them and I hope the solution doesn’t come from Rins convenient access to the script.(How did Rin know that the Floor masters servant was Nursery Rhyme? There is no way in hell anyone could conveniently guess that)

Posted on 28 February 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

So we have basically established that the events of Fate/Extra’s game story did in fact happen as Maximilian has a flashback to the point where he lost in Fate/Extra’s game. So it is rather odd that I still can’t make much sense of the plot here. What I can gather is that he was somehow revived as this floors master and effectively decided to throw away his chivalrous attitude and focus on killing a master to advance up the floors. However because he is a previously deceased master he can no longer advance up the floors but Robin and him still kill masters because…then they don’t lose? What is this motivation here? Are you telling me these two killed people for a thousand years only because they were sore losers? Yep, I think it’s time to admit it. The honeymoon period is over and I have started to lose a lot of interest here. So far the main drawing point of this series has been the mysterious nature of it’s plot but there’s a point where it’s too hard to care about something when you end up with more questions than answers. Not to mention the mystery is primarily presented through massive amounts of exposition and the characters just remain uninteresting. The only other drawing factor is the action which once again has a servant be taken out anticlimactically by Nero. The way these servants just go down so fast has started me making a pet theory that they all have pretty much given up over the thousand years and just let nero win, which would be delightfully cathartic if that was the case. Nero has previously staged fights in her life where the fight was rigged so she would win and the idea of her victories in this war being nothing more than servants just letting her win would be so suitable. Ultimately meaning she’s not really that strong a servant and is just getting full of herself.

The annoying factor is that the fights so far have a great setting for a showdown with the Sniper battle with the master and Robin hunting in the woods are great setpieces for an epic battle. These floors make for explosive battlegrounds for these servants to wreak havoc and yet the battles often just feel like they are cut off too soon with no real satisfaction. Topped off with the fact that Nero is the only one in danger here as we have more or less established that Hakuno cannot be killed. His dead face powers are far too vague at the moment as it’s not even clear if he can activate them at will or why he’s keeping them secret from Nero. What these powers can even do is a mystery as he somehow materialized a gun to shoot max and I don’t know if that’s part of his powers or not. It doesn’t matter if Hakuno gets shot by Max, he won’t die so there no real tension. Sure Rani can die but quite honestly who cares about Rani? She was introduced last episode, has the emotional range of a teaspoon and has done nothing but spout exposition. Am I supposed to be sad when she gets shot and dies? But this could be another trend with this shows formula as I recall Rin being on the bottom floor as Shinji flooded the city, meaning she could be dead. But then who is the Rin at the end of this episode you ask? Well I have gotten fully on board with the Rin is Tamamo in disguise theory. Though I think that only applies to the Rin that traveled up the elevator with them and then mysteriously disappeared during the events of this little skirmish.

Regardless despite this info I just find myself rather…apathetic. Tamamo fans might rejoice if she shows up but I don’t particularly care if she shows up or not. Fanservice can only go so far and I need something to get me interested here. The characters are not doing it for me cause our main heroine has nobody to work off besides the soulless husk that is Hakuno and everyone else just feels like exposition devices. The action scenes are lacking so no eye candy to keep me interested either. My point is, I want to care. I want to like this show, I want it to not be as disappointing as the other non Ufotable Fates have been. I remember referring to UBW with disappointment during it’s airing but over time I think it did a better job than Apocrypha and Extra here. As far as I see it, this show needs something to grab my interest again, perhaps a new character to join our duo to make their interactions more fun to watch? Maybe give Hakuno a bloody personality? Perhaps an upgrade to the fight scenes? Or maybe we can stop being all mysterious here and start telling the audience just what in the holy hell is going on, or at least a framework that allows for us to start making theories. What I don’t want is another Nero bath scene, another encounter of the new master and servant antagonists only to be interrupted by some new random serventless master who takes in the two, followed by another barrage of barrels of exposition, with another anticlimactic final confrontation while leads to the elevator and wash, rinse, repeat. As a wise man once said, Variety is the spice of life.

Posted on 20 February 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

Well is it just going to be a thing from now on to have Nero take a bath in between floors? The large amount of Nero fanservice seems a bit of the excessive side and I feel like shaft is to blame for that. As a matter of fact now might be a good time to bring up cons with this series seeing as we have made it past the three episode guideline. So far I still remain somewhat invested in the story but I admit that we may be moving to a formula with how to approach the remaining masters. Seems that Hakuno and Nero will move to the floor, have an encounter with the master and his servent, meet some serventless master on the floor who clues them in with exposition before moving to take down the floor master. Then wash, rinse and repeat. Likely there is some changes to this coming but if this is to be the formula going forward this could get rather stale.

It wouldn’t be such a problem if the action was good but I find that Shinbo’s style doesn’t quite work well with the normally kinetic nature of Fate’s servant battles. It works when the characters are standing round having a chat so when it comes to exposition that this series is shoveling out heavily, Shinbo’s style works. But with it comes to action scenes, the quick cuts and odd determination to not show attacks actually hitting proves to be rather frustrating to watch. It might be rather unreasonable to expect Shaft to bring the level of fights Ufotable has trained fans to expect but even the likes of Prisma Illya and Apocrypha attempted to meet that expectation. For this however the style is clearly getting in the way of making the action work which is a same as the opening does show that Shaft can make some rather excellent fight choreography.

On that note I am disappointed to see that Drake wasn’t added to the opening and instead it remains being just Nero fighting off shadows. The song is growing on me but it does feel like a song that lacks an explosive chorus. Instead building throughout the song to just cut off suddenly. The endings are updated at least to show the master/servant duo of the week and the illustrations are quite excellent. For another previously mentioned con, the Nero fanservice is getting on the excessive side though I am surprised that they didn’t take the opportunity to show off Rin in the bath if that was the agenda. Look, Nero is such a narcissist that she thinks nothing about showing her naked body to people but having her walk out of the bath wearing nothing but a ribbon is just going far too far. In the first place, did I miss the bonding session where Nero became so comfortable with Hakuno in the first place?

Nero seems awfully attached for a servant that only knew her master for a day or two. Though yes this brings me on to my next con, Hakuno desperately needs some goddamn personality. All we got from him is that he has this vague hatred and a need to win the holy grail war. He still is the player character of the game and this is truly a missed opportunity to give him some characterization. At least we could have taken the route done with Persona 4’s protagonist which turned a normal mute player character into a deadpan snarker. Or even Gudako from Fate/Grand Order who has basically been characterised as a massive troll by supplementary content. (God I wish she was the protagonist of Grand Orders anime, could have gotten some amusement out of it then.)

Moving on to another con, we have Rin disappear and a new girl pop up called Rani. I am really quite surprised to see Nasu actually bring Rani into this as while she was a character in the Fate/Extra game, she wasn’t a fan favorite despite being a potential main heroine. Personality I always saw her being destined to join the backalley alliance in Carnival Phantasm featuring the unloved Sacchin, Sion and Riesbyfe.(Though maybe Sacchin wouldn’t be so unloved if she got her damn route in that Tsukihime remake that you should have been done writing about now Nasu!) Ultimately Rani’s purpose her is to shovel exposition which has gotten rather excessive with this series but we at least learn that this anime is set far into the future and that the digital humans within this virtual world may be the last remnants of mankind. Not sure what to make of that as I am still trying to piece together just what is going on too much to actually find the reveal all too shocking. I spent the majority to this post talking flaws but overall this episode was rather straightforward, new servant, new exposition dump and more questions.

A noteworthy aspect though is that this particular master and servant have done a completely 180 in how they were in the game. Before the old man was the one who wanted to fight fair and square which often worked against his servants style who is more accustomed to playing dirty. It’s a pity as i rather liked that dynamic in the games story but lets see just where this is going. As a last note it appears this series has two arcs, the first of which is this one named “Oblitus Copernican Theory” and a second arc named “Illustrious Ptolemaic Theory” which will be broadcast at a later unconfirmed date. It has not been clarified whether the second arc is a second cour of sorts though I am placing my bets on it being another 12 episodes. Some seem to believe that this is doing some sort of Danganronpa 3 Future/past arc broadcast with the future arc being broadcast first with the past arc answering questions. Though considering how unpredictable this series has been as of late, we really cannot guess as to what we are truly going to get.

Posted on 13 February 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

I actually wonder if a time will come when I have an actual idea of what exactly is going on in this series. But today marks Hakuno’s first true servant battle as he takes on Shinji and Francis Drake so that he can ascend to the next level. So to surmise what I can understand of the exposition in this episode, it seems that originally a pretty standard grail war tournament was going on with masters killing each other to reach the top floor. However something seems to have happened which has locked down each floor and put the Grail War on halt. Now it seems the only way to make one’s way up is to kill the Floor master, whom seems to have been selected by the bright circle in the sky. Shinji seems to have had the option to move up to the next floor but after killing yet another person to get further in the game ultimately decided that he wanted no more of this and built a town on the bottom floor. It’s not really certain whether anyone was in the town, or if the town was filled with the ghosts of the masters who died in the war, or if the town existed at all. But I will say that Shaft knows how to make a good servant match setup as the town is flooded to make the stage for Nero’s battle against Drake.

And yes, Francis Drake is a big breasted pirate in this universe and no, there is no real explanation as to why this is. Honestly I really like how this fight was set up though they really should have kept Drakes Golden hind in the water instead of having it weirdly floating. Also for all the grandstanding the fight itself is disappointingly anticlimactic with Drake essentially giving up the moment she runs out of bullets. Part of the reasoning suggested behind this is that Shinji was using Drakes treasure to sustain the illusion of the city and Drake is a servant whose power is dependent on how much treasure she possesses. Still this does feel like Drake was effectively given the short end of the stick as it doesn’t really show just how much of a powerhouse she can really be. She’s a five star servant for a reason so she shouldn’t be getting destroyed by a four star servant. She really should have put up more of a fight than this and it just seems so out of character for Drake to just lay down and die. Drakes a girl that fights with her fists when she runs out of bullets.

So my previous episode guesses turned out to be half right and half wrong. Right in that it appears there were no masters on the first floor but wrong in Shinji’s intention. Shinji seems to pity those that gave up on the fight and the town was really supposed to be just that, a refuge for the quitters. Or he believes that bringing a bunch of masters together will cause something to happen. Or he just wants to prove that humanity isn’t worthless. Honestly his motivation is rather confusing. This would be a good time to remind that this Shinji isn’t Fate/Stay Night Shinji. If this goes by the same lines of the games story, Shinji was a regional games campion who joined the Grail War because he thought it was just another game. He is also significantly younger than his teenager avatar would suggest. Same goes for Rin who may look Identical to her Fate/Stay Night counterpart but her real self actually is rather different.

For one, real Rin is blond. Still I find it really weird for Shinji of all people to accept dying with Rider. Shinji so far has been portrayed as being the usual Shinji we know though his final words certainly seem to suggest he went through a large change of heart in the time since coming to the first floor. Most curiously both Shinji and Rin don’t seem to recall meeting Hakuno in the school simulation and on top of which when Hakuno remarks about having been killed in the school, several shots of Hakuno’s dead body are shown with different causes of death. One I find most interesting is one where he is lying dead in front of a throne with a clear sword slash on his back suggesting that Nero killed him. There is most definitely some time looping shenanigans going on here. Last note, Rin states that her servant was taken but I hope that doesn’t mean he won’t be showing up. One thing I always thought was a massive shame with the Fate/Extra game was the lack of Rin and her servant interacting with each other.

Posted on 7 February 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

I would say if this series had a element that could become a major problem it’s going to be Shinbo’s directing style. It’s sort of a given when you walk into a Shaft series that you are going to have people tilting their heads in awkward angles alongside talkative characters where the camera shots jump around as to show as little movement as possible. Still so far it’s at a tolerable level and it may even be a positive for those who are fans of the monogatari series as I can see people labeling this Fatemonogatari. But dear readers it’s time for the million dollar question, namely just what the hell is going on? Casual viewers are confused, Fate fans are confused and even those that played the game this is adapting are confused. Of course it’s already been made clear that Nasu intents this to be an anime original take on the game but what he has planned is certainly got everyone tilting their heads in bafflement. So let me round this up. We have a number of exposition scenes with the first taking place in a bath as a buck nude Saber explains the bare necessities to Hakuno. Honestly questioning just why this had to take place in a bath but I guess we gotta get Nero naked somehow. Can’t say it’s out of character for her to bath with Hakuno without a shred of embarrassment and more importantly this does appear to be Fate/Extra Nero and not Fate/Extella Nero.

Roman public baths are a thing and Nero is cocky enough that being naked in front of people is no concern to her. It does seem like a blatant show of fanservice but at least it’s not at the levels of Fate/Extella where Nero seems like she made every line either about wanting to screw you senseless or toot her own horn. So we get the usual rundown, Holy grail, Masters and servants, Battle royale to the death. The big info here is the reveal that all this is taking place in cyberspace, virtual reality. All which a some supercomputer called the moon cell is doing to determine the master of the Holy Grail. Thus what was supposed to follow was that Hakuno and Nero would fight their way up seven levels to make it to the top and claim the grail. But instead are greeted with a bustling town on the first level which has all the masters that decided to just give up on the grail and hang out on the bottom floor. The mayor of this town being Shinji of all people whom is asking people to sell off their servants in exchange for just having fun on the bottom floor. Already it appears that a significant amount of time has passed between the massacre in the school simulation and Hakuno’s elevator trip up to the first floor. I don’t really have an explanation on why there is a time difference but I think I understand what is going on in this first floor at least.

From my guess it appears Shinji is busy trying to con people into selling him their servants so he can use them to make it to the top floor. I don’t really think there are any masters on the first floor as the town does seem quite empty but I am not sure if that’s intentional or just Shaft making things look spacious and empty for style. It does make sense that Shinji’s first move would be to try and nab as many servants as possible as even at the beginning of Fate/Stay Night he tried to make alliances with Rin and Shirou. As for the final episode twist which brings back Hakuno’s odd durability it appears that they are hinting him to be some sort of combination of all the dead masters that failed to reach the grail. Interesting as Jack from Apocrypha was also that kind of entity as she was created from the grudges of dead and abandoned children in london. It’s a decent twist but Hakuno does remain a bit too much of a non character to really relate to. I would like him to gain more personality as I don’t really buy his sudden attachment to Nero and for Nero to really shine she needs a foil she can work off of. Just make him more suave and snarky and he will do just fine, already winning points for being fairly nonchalant with a nude Nero in front of him.

The opening for this series is a strange one as it appears to be just Nero fighting shadows in a colosseum with a decent song in the background. Her fight choreography is good but it just seems rather barebones at the moment. The could come to change as more servants are introduced as I have a feeling the opening with include them as they are introduced, turning the opening into one big free for all between Nero and the servants of Fate/Extra. I will keep my mouth shut on who the servants are for now but if you played Fate/Extra or Fate/Grand order then you likely spotted some familiar faces here. Also even if I do keep things secret there is not a chance in hell you will end up guessing these servants because Fate/Extra’s servants are….weird. You may be thinking “What, weirder than female frankenstein’s monster or stripper loli Jack the Ripper from Apocrypha?” and the answer is kinda. See Fate/Extra’s servants are either famous names whose design has been changed so drastically that they are unrecognisable or names so obscure and out there that no one could ever figure it out. Either way I am interested in where this is going. Fate/Extra Last Encore isn’t blowing me away yet but so far it’s been solid enough to keep me invested.

Posted on 30 January 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Extra Last Encore

To newcomers of the series this first episode of Fate/Extra must have you thinking “Just what in the hell is going on?” but have no fear for as this sites resident Fate expect I can safely tell you that…yeah, I have no idea either. While this is Fate/Extra, it has been confirmed that Nasu is writing a brand new story for this one so while some beats of Extra may be followed, the story may end up being very different. An important thing to note is that despite familiar faces showing up here, this is indeed an entirely different world and therefore that means that even though Rin is here, she is not the same Rin who went through the events of any of the other Fate Adaptations. The same goes for Kirei though it seems that no matter what world he is in, Shinji is always Shinji. We have less animation this time around but I do admit that Shaft makes up for it with style though this episode was unfortunately dampened thanks to the dimming of action scenes due to epilepsy concerns. For a first episode this is a strong effort as while the characters are not particularly interesting yet, there is air of mystery and intrigue that keeps you sucked in. This anime appears to be building on Extra’s story and adding another layer to it as the opening starts off with the female protagonist getting decimated before changing to the male protagonist. I hope there is a greater effort to characterise him as the protagonist of Extra was very much a blank slate for the player to insert himself into and after Apocrypha I really don’t want another one of those.

However the protagonist isn’t the only one I am worried about here as this success of this series does depend on him and also on Nero, otherwise known as Red Saber. I don’t really think I need to hide her identity considering that it’s widely known and otherwise impossible to guess. But yes, the success of this series depends partly on her or to be more exact, which Nero is here. What do I mean? Well my friends let me tell you a tale of Nero from Extra. Nero was a cocky little narcissist who loved tooting her own horn and that was actually quite charming. She came across as what would happen if you injected some of Gilgamesh’s ego into Blue Saber and ended up a loveable dolt who had the kind of confidence you just wish you had. I mean the woman wears a see through dress because she thought it would be a shame to deprive the world the beauty of her thighs. What made her particular fun was when she spoke pure bullshit on her achievements and if you called her out on it she would get meek and sullen.

I actually quite liked her then but it seems I didn’t nearly like her as much as the writer Hikaru Sakurai does. The writer of Fate/Extella and the Septem section of Fate Go, Sakurai has proven that she quite likes Nero. In fact, she absolutely adores her but sadly this results in Nero undergoing a massive character shift when one plays Extella or Septem. For Fate/Extra’s Nero was a cocky loveable brat who always touted herself as the best thing since sliced bread but Fate/Extella’s Nero is not only being claimed to be just as great as she makes herself out to be but actually even underselling her godly essence. Sakurai’s Nero is a mary sue of the highest caliber and the plot does nothing but to constantly wax on about how great and magnificent Nero is that it turned my opinion on her from like to hate. With Nasu writing this instead of Sakurai I am hoping for a return of the Nero that I liked provided that Nasu isn’t getting Sakurai to ghostwrite for him.

So what exactly happened here in this episode? Well it appears to be some sort of elimination round before the holy grail war. They got a hefty amount of masters here so they are whittling them down to a certain number of masters to fight in the war. The process appears to be sticking them in some sort of school simulation and having them eliminate each other through tests? Seems like for a while that people were getting killed off and brought to the infirmary before being thrown into the incinerator. This has been going on for a while until Kirei pulls sudden death with the last masters being chosen based on whoever kills someone else first. The good news is that the school setting appears to be gone though I do believe that the series is really pushing sense of disbelief with the main characters durability. Guy was stabbed several times, fell down a hole, pierced through with an arrow and even after all that the man is still kicking.

Part of this is sort of justified by the digital looking nature of the world but still, with that level of damage the MC should have been long dead. As a last note, I really like that the stone servent that brought the main character near death before summoning a servant was Archer from Fate/Stay Night. As in Fate/Stay Night it was Cu who wounded Shirou before he summoned a Saber which is whom Archer was fighting when Shirou saw them. So it makes for a nice parallel to have Archer instead be the one to chase down the MC before he summons a Saber. Even the stone nature of the servant referring to his position as a counter guardian and that he was also a servant you could choose in Fate/Extra. Sadly like Tamamo and the alternative Female MC, he appears to have been Shafted.(Pun not intended)

Star Crossed Anime Blog

12 User(s) Online Join Server

Featured Posts

Dr. STONE – 15/16 [The Culmination of Two Million Years/A Tale for the Ages]

This week of Dr.STONE is a double feature, courtesy of my inability to write! Here we cover the conclusion of the Grand Bout, finish the Cure-All and then dive into the history of Ishigami village. So without further ado, since we have a lot to cover this week, let’s dive in. Starting off, first an […]

Beastars – 02

Furry anthropomorphic animals animals are in fashion now thanks to the onslaught of countless isekai settings, but Beastars is here to offer something fresh and different. Indeed, there are many elements from Beastars that we can feel optimistic about. The manga source is penned by Paru Itagaki, which recent news reveals to be the daughter […]

Hoshiai no Sora – 02

Hoshiai no Sora picks up where Mix left off in terms of character-driven sports dramas. Between those two and Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru at the start of the year, we’ve had a strong representative for the genre at all points during 2019. Though it’s just two episodes old, Hoshiai has the potential to be the […]

Mononoke – 11 [Goblin Cat, Part 2] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome one and all to the penultimate week of Mononoke! Apologies for the lateness of this, life is busy busy right now, much like Mononoke itself. As this week we dive into the mystery at hand, our suspects start to talk and the series gets… weird. Let’s dive in! Starting off, what do I mean […]

Legend of the Galactic Heroes Die Neue These – 13-16

This really wasn’t the best way for me to pop back into blogging for a while if I am to be frank. It’s not hard to shake off the rust but to walk into the middle of a series I watched a year ago which has a cast and political landscape to dwarf a star […]

Fire Force 12 – Eve of Hostilities in Asakusa

Welcome back to Beni town!  After a two week break, Fire Force has awkwardly picked back up with its penultimate episode (for the first cour).  Missed Shinra and the gang?  Unfortunately, there’s some Catgirl this week, but aside from that, we have another solid effort all around.  Let’s get into it!

Vinland Saga – 14 [The Light of Dawn]

This is a big week for Vinland. One of the best episodes, not just of the season, but the year for me. So many things just came together to really nail it. As this week Askeladd makes us question who we are rooting for, and really throws the brutality of war in our face. Let’s […]

Mononoke – 10 [Goblin Cat, Part 1] – Throwback Thursday

Hello all, apologies for the delay, and welcome to the final arc of Mononoke! This is perhaps the most unique one yet. As we skip forward to a modern era, set the entire thing in a single location, and have ourselves a murder mystery. So, lets dive in! Right off the bat, as always, I […]

Vinland Saga – 12/13 [The Land on the Far Bank/Child of a Hero]

Hello again everyone and welcome to a double feature for Vinland Saga. Apologies for the missed week, but even I am not totally immune to sickness. So this week we cover episodes 12 and 13. Where we learn quite a bit about Askeladd, Canute finds his voice and winter starts to turn. In we go! […]

Latest Reviews

Mix: Meisei Story Review – 75/100

Mix is, by my count, the eighth Mitsuru Adachi work to be adapted to animation. I’ve only seen one of the other seven, so it may not be my place to say this, but Mix probably ranks around the middle of those eight. Its main cast is complex, but the non-baseball players among them slip […]

DanMachi2 Anime Review – 40/100

“Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon” burst onto the anime scene as something of a B-tier cult classic.  2015 saw Season 1 massively outperform expectations  – ignoring the occasionally shoddy animation – to bring excitement and mostly fan service (and the cosplayer favorite: the Hestia ribbon).  Now, four years later, the […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba Anime Review – 80/100

It’s hard to find a more ubiquitous genre in anime than Shounen. Maybe romance/moe-blobs, but it’s a close race. With series like One Piece and until recently Naruto, being a constant presence each season/year. Often this makes it difficult for newer series to break into the anime market in a meaningful way. With the recent […]

Youjo Senki Movie Review – 85/100

Outside of a very few exceptions, I have come to despise the isekai genre with its predominantly self-inserted overpowered male protagonists, massive harems, fan-service bait and overused fantasy settings. Youjo Senki is none of those things and it has gained a very special place in my heart where it features the combined arms of a […]

Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel – II Lost Butterfly Anime Review – 91/100

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 […]

Serial Experiments Lain Anime Review – 78/100 – Throwback Thursday

Serial Experiments Lain is weird. It is a series unlike any other, wholly unique in anime, both modern and historical. Every aspect of it, from presentation to narrative, is best described as an experience. It is because of this that I believe Lain is a must watch, if only to experience a piece of anime […]

Penguin Highway (2018) Movie Review – 89/100

You’re walking along in your neighborhood, going about your daily routine. It’s a fine morning. The sun is shining brightly. But suddenly, you see something strange. You squint your eyes; even rub them, to make sure it isn’t a mirage before exclaiming with excitement, “Oh, look. It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane! No no. […]

One Punch Man Season 2 Anime Review – 34/100

Often at the start of one of these reviews, I will wax philosophical about a series. Attempting to slowly draw you, the reader, in to whatever topic or anime I am discussing in that review. This time, none of that. This time, I have to come out and say from the beginning, that One Punch […]

Dororo Anime Review – 55/100

In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo […]