Posted on 3 January 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Fate/Apocrypha, Reviews by AidanAK47

I was quite excited for Apocrypha and in the so called year of Fate adaptations, it looked to be the crown jewel. Sadly, partly due to lacking adaption and the source lacking in areas, this anime turned out to be not quite the jewel I thought it would be. It’s hard to call this a bad anime, mainly because it lacks consistency it it’s quality. Much like it’s animation, Apocrypha goes from highs and lows, from boring mediocre scenes to scenes that range from mildly entertaining to genuinely great. Unfortunately to get the most out of it you need to read up on the mythological of the characters in it as the series itself does a very poor job of fleshing them out. Fate/Apocrypha details a war between fourteen servants with one extra servant acting as referee. As such it boasts a pretty massive cast of characters which proves to be to its detriment. There isn’t enough screen time to flesh all these characters out and sadly a lot of potential with some genuinely interesting characters gets wasted. There are a number of servants in Apocrypha that deserved better than the story they got, such as Sisgou and Mordred, the people who originally appeared to be our main protagonists. Excellent chemistry, fun master servant relationship and despite Mordred being a saberface she gives enough personality to the design that she makes it her own. And all of this is absolutely wasted when they are pushed to the wayside for their screen time to be robbed by the actual protagonist of the story.

At episode three a homunculus called Sieg is introduced and from his very introduction comes the greatest flaw of Apocrypha. Sieg is a mistake. He is a character with no personality who goes from wondering about his existence to archetypical hero. The plot of Apocrypha bends over backward to give Sieg all the screen time and plot devices he needs to steal the spotlight. he is cardboard, a literally one dimensional plank with a sign that says “Your face here” and comes with his own romance subplot that is given far too much time and effort. Sieg sucks the fun out of any scene he’s in that I honestly believe that the times I was most bored watching this show where when he was on screen. Take note that Sieg is not an annoying character nor does he have a personality that irks the viewer. The problem is that he’s nothing and steals precious screen time from servants most desperately needing development. All the characters of Apocrypha suffer due to his presence and that’s a damn shame as this story does indeed have potential. But it’s clear that while the writer set up a grand epic battle, he didn’t quite think of how he was to close it out. Some servants feel like unnecessary time wasters like Jack and Avicebron. Also while the battle starts as shades of grey with no one technically in the right, it slowly changes into a strictly black and white affair.

The music of the series is fantastic which Masaru Yokoyama succeeds in giving Fate/Apocrypha its own distinctive identity through melody. There are plenty of scenes elevated by his OST alone and I truly think they deserved a better show. Though there are some medolics which play a bit too often. The animation, while shaky and nowhere near Ufotables level, does showcase some impressive fight scenes which are exhilarating enough to push away Apocryphas problems temporarily. Ultimately Fate/Apocrypha is wasted potential that made for a mediocre anime with some patches of entertainment and some small moments of greatness. Not to be recommended as your first Fate anime and most likely more for those that are deep into the series. It is a immensely flawed series that could have been better than the sum of its parts but as it there is at least some meat here to give a Fate fan reason to check it out. Provided you keep your expectations low and do a bit of reading on the servants histories. Though if the Light novel ever gets fully translated, that’s the better alternative.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

Forgive me for my lack of updates with the series I am blogging but as I am sure you all know, holidays tend to keep us busy for one thing or another. Believe it or not i only recently got around to finishing this series last two episodes and they didn’t really surprise me all that much. Truth be told I actually prepared for an ending far worse than this so that’s a positive of some sort at least. It was a good thing to bundle these episodes into one post as the previous episode boiled down to a debate between Joan and Shirou over what is truly salvation for humanity and that actually is rather interesting as Shirou has a very Eastern version of religion which attributes sin to the body and believes shearing the mortal coil will allow people to transcend sin. Meanwhile Joan and Wish believe that true goodness only comes from people overcoming trail and suffering which is a very western style to religion. Only for it to result in Joan pulling out her last noble phantasm in an effort to destroy the holy grail. A suicide beam attack that sadly accomplishes not all that much really. Well the name does not make it apparent but that attack did have a pretty devastating effect on the grail and Shirou himself but was highly played down in the anime.

Thus begins the downward path for this ending and much like most of the things wrong with this anime, it begins with Sieg. There is a admittedly cool fight scene between Sieg and Shirou but it does beg the question that if Sieg could fight Shirou, then why do it after Joan unleashed her suicide attack. Got to say Sieg that your anger over her death is pretty hypocritical when you could have helped at least not make her death worthless. Why can Sieg somehow match Shirou? Well on top of getting the power to transform into Siegfried, it appears that SIeg also absorbed the power of Fran’s Noble Phantasm. And to add insult to injury the holy grail throws Sieg a freebie after he defeats Shirou. Never have I seen a plot bend over backwards to accommodate the needs of a single character. Almost as if he was originally the surrogate of a player character from an MMO game that was never made. Like say what Apocrypha was originally. I will also note that Suicide attacks don’t work in this series, unless you happen to be Sieg. You can even survive them as an extra bonus.

Semiramis and Shirou have one final scene together which shows they have better romance that the two actual leads of this series. Shakespeare finishes his story before disappearing, wishing he was the protagonist.(Me too Shakespeare, I wish that too.) But Shirou’s wish is in effect and cannot be stopped. So Sieg turns into a dragon and takes the grail to the other side of the world where it can grant immortality to that place instead of the human world. I would love to say that this whole “Other side of the world” business is totally established lore and a good explanation but let’s just cut the bullshit and be blunt. This is just a cheap deus ex Machina and I don’t see how the hell Sieg could think of this when not even I knew about this other side of the world until now. I mean I knew about Avalon, which appears to be related but this other side is news to me. And honestly this kind of stuff is just supplementary material rarely put to any story use besides justifying plot bullshit like this. I mean Nasu has established stuff in this universe like the archetypes(Ultimates) and yet has done diddly squat with them besides a small short story. (Case in point, if the archetypes make an appearance in Fate Grand Order, that would be amazing.)

So world is saved, the remaining people live happily ever after, even Astolfo who is getting supplied mana somehow, despite not having independent action…screw it, there’s no point in questioning it. The girl Joan was possessing reaffirmed that it wasn’t her that fell for Sieg, she just respected his way of life which is…um…whining about your existence like a little bitch till the world bends over backwards for you? Yay, Joan was feeling true love…for cardboard…isn’t that just something. (I am never rolling for you or your Alter form. Ever.) And she reaches the other side of the world..somehow..screw it, I don’t care. Overall my experience with this series hasn’t been a hateful experience. Certainly this series didn’t live up to my expectations and part of the blame lies with A-1 adapting it poorly and just the source itself having its own problems. Hard to dismiss and yet hard to recommend, this will be a polarizing series indeed. So far the year of Fate Adaptations has proven to be a poor one with only Heaven’s Feel and Fate/Extra’s adaptations to prove that wrong.

Posted on 18 December 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

Thus the best master and servant duo sign out of the war and I certainly will miss them. They truly deserved better than this and when tomorrow comes I am certainly going to try my hardest to roll for Mordred in Fate GO but nonetheless this isn’t a bad way for them to go out. They still show in this episode that they had the best chemistry out of all the masters and servants, to a degree that I still wonder why they were not made the main characters instead of you know who. The fight between Mordred and Semiramis was suitable epic though again A-1 animators can’t match up to what Ufotable could have done with this scene, though it is an admirable effort regardless. Though a bit chaotic at times and editing could be a bit too quick. I might as well clarify a few things here and mention that while Semiramis is constantly mentioned to be one of the world’s first poisoners, but this isn’t really the case with her legend.

The matter of her poisoning the king actually came from a tragedy written by Voltaire on her legend and she wasn’t really well known for using poison. This can be somewhat forgiven by the nature of servants being based on people’s perception of them rather than the actual figures, hence why Vlad could turn into a vampire and Shakespeare’s general magic powers. But again Semiramis isn’t famously associated with poison so there is some pretty big liberties being taken here which is oddly not often the case with Fate Servants in general. You can certainly give Type Moon flak for character designs and their personal quirks but in general they do stick to the history of the character, even if they have to tweak events a bit so that they still work.

The second thing is that the stuff that Sisgou injected into Mordred’s neck was an antidote for the hydra poisoning, made using the hydra head he got way back in episode one. The anime really glossed over just why Sisgou wanted that head and why he had this antidote in the first place but well A-1 has done a pretty poor job portraying the finer details of this story, even if I think the general things I dislike about it are the same. Still I really did love this for the symbolism of having Mordred take down another ruler for her final showdown and having the knight of treachery die because of her loyalty to her original master. Sisgou’s situation is far more vague in the series due to a lack of screen time but it appears both he and Mordred misunderstood just what they really wanted out of this war. Mordred just wanted to take away some of her father’s burden and Sisgou didn’t want not to continue the mage line of his family but instead just wanted his daughter back. There death scene was actually a big highlight of this series for me and makes it once again hard to categorize this show as a good or bad series.

Finally we have Joan vs Shakespeare in which Shakespeare reveals that his method of defeating her is through mindfuckery. It is rather amusing to have Shakespeare try to guilt her over her past only to have her break down when he calls her out on her affection for Sieg. Now it has been brought up that her feelings for Sieg are influenced by the girl Laeticia, whom she is possessing, though I think there is something later to say that Joan has her own feelings for Sieg as well. Personally I prefer to think it’s all Laeticia as I annoys me to think that Joan of Arc is unaffected by her mother, the war, being burned alive or even Gils horrible child murdering and yet gets mind broken because she wanted to get with a piece of cardboard called Sieg. I never was in favor of this relationship hinting as it is rather annoying to have a strong(Though rather boring) character like Joan get taken down a peg over a man. Still it was nice to see Saber Gils show up and even show him slowly twisting into the Gils we see in Fate/Zero. So we are near the finale and aside from Shakespeare, all the interesting characters are pretty much dead.(Sorry Astolfo fans but while he has moments, I still don’t find him all that interesting.) I have heard some rather unfortunate things about the ending to come and I just hope it’s not quite as bad as people make it out to be.

Posted on 10 December 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

Breaking my usual routine today just to give an opinion on this episode but this episode made me feel compelled to get out my opinion. We have another action packed episode with three contestants out of the war and boy did they go out with a bang. Many will notice that the animation for this episode was very different from what we are accustomed to and from my information we have Hakuyu Go(A talented taiwanese webgen animator) with friends to thank for the amount of work that went into this one episode. Indeed out of the episodes of Apocrypha so far this may be the best animated one to date but alas this comes with a bit of a cost. The animation in this episode will certainly be a divisive topic and sadly I find myself on the side that dislikes it. Mainly that this emphasizes movement over art and as a result we have a episode with a large amount of movement but character go off model and look rough far too often. I have never been too fond of this animation style as I find the off model characters to be a major immersion breaker but in this case there is a second much more problematic aspect.

Let me put it this way, today I watched a epic fight between Siegfried and Karna. What happened in that fight? Well…um…Karna unleashed his noble phantasm…something happened…then rider came and unleashed a noble phantasm…explosions…um…huh? Dear reader, what do you remember of this fight? Cause I fully admit that upon watching this that I had to truly struggle just to comprehend just what was even happening. The soundtrack and passion of the scene certainly got through but eventually what happened on screen just became a big ball of chaos and explosions. The Atlanta fights fared better as the fight was on a lower scale than Siegfried vs Karna but I do wonder just where these giant voids of space appeared from in the hanging Gardens of Babylon. Sources claim that Semiramis can change the space instead the gardens which could have resulted in these large rooms but the anime really hasn’t gone into detail on all the capability the gardens give her.

But regardless the fights in this episode remind of something and I think this could be considered the anime version of shaky cam sequences. Indeed the fast cuts and general chaos is very much like a shaky cam fight sequence and I have never truly liked those. I am more a person who enjoys good fight choreography over flashy explosion fests so it is my opinion that I actually enjoyed the Achilles vs Chiron fight in the previous episode much more than the chaotic lightshow that was Siegfried vs Karna. I do admire the effort put into this episode but I fear it will have a hit or miss quality with people. I just hope that those that don’t like it don’t do that idiotic thing of screenshoting inbetween frames and using it as evidence for bad animation. Cause hey morons, that’s not how you critique animation.

A small correction to something I previously stated in my last posts about Achilles and Atalanta. I previously said that Achilles teacher told him stories about Atalanta but it was in fact his father, whom had taken part in Calydonian Boar Hunt and The Argonaut Expedition, both of which Atalanta participated. Thus he heard stories about her and had a childhood crush on her, it’s this piece of information that makes his efforts to stop Atalanta from destroying herself and the final farewell hit so much harder. I really do adore that final scene between the two of them and I also really like how much of Karna’s character came through in his final moments. Loyal to a fault that one and honorable to the end. They say Karna can match Gilgamesh in a fight and yet he is a polar opposite to him in regards to how he treats his masters. We near the finale of the series and it looks like Rulers greatest foe is…Shakespeare? Well I did say I wanted more Shakespeare.

Posted on 9 December 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

When Apocrypha slows down, it’s story shows it’s cracks. But when it’s an action showcase it actually becomes quite entertaining. The characters don’t have the time to be developed but they shine in combat when they clash, sometimes showing parts of themselves the series otherwise doesn’t allow for. Astolfo for one was actually useful for once and I found myself invested in his struggle to disarm the Hanging Gardens beam cannons. Part of the reason is because Astolfo isn’t acting his usual aloof self due to a new moon being out. As the legend goes, Astoflo’s sanity was taken by the moon and when a new moon is out he temporarily regains his sanity along with his noble phantasm.

So instead of the fearless comic relief he has been throughout the series, he’s much more serious and even feels fear. This gives his fight to take out the gardens some rela weight and i was genuine tension in the scene. Well…it was also partly helped by Sieg running off to fight Karna. I don’t know what it is but that kid can suck the emotion and fun out of a scene in a instant. I was convinced that this was Astoflo’s last stand and that he was about to exit the war but he surprised me by surviving. It certainly was amusing to see Seramus also mistake him for a girl before getting dive bombed by Mordred.

They follow this is what is by far the best fight scene Apocrypha has had yet and likely the best fight in the series as Achilles uses his noble Phantasm to stop time around the plane, making it that the only way Chiron and him can fight is through hand to hand combat.(Mortal Kombat if you will) I must say that was one fantastic fight scene seeing Chiron and Achillies beat the hell out of each other in the stopped time. Sure the animation and art could have been better but it still managed to make this one hell of an anime fight. Special mention to Chiron stomping on Achilies scarf to make him into his personal punching bag.

Alas Achilies comes out on top and Chiron exits the war, although Chiron manages to use his noble phantasm to remove Achilies protection by striking his heel. Chiron even manages to get Achilies to promise to hand over one of his noble phantasms to the black team and oddly enough the end credits sequence shows that he’s keeping to it, likely giving his chariot to Astolfo. This series has it’s ups and downs as well as not living up to the potential it truly had, but it’s episodes like this that make me glad I stuck with it. There is a few great moments in this series for a Fate fan and though it likely won’t be as highly regarded as other works, it’s still a worthwhile watch.

Posted on 2 December 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

We return to what I feel Apocrypha does best, action, and what an episode to kick off the final confrontation. We have the black team approaching the hanging Gardens of Babylon in a group of airplanes. This kicks off a fights between Atalanta and Joan, as well as Achilles and Chiron. This fight is great, thrilling and for once the animation and sound design don’t ruin it. It’s an explosive confrontation between these servants as they jump from plane to plane trying to take each other out. Quite frankly this is what I came to this show for, to see historical figures duke it out in the more over the top ways possible. Of course learning about these figures and seeing how they interact and are characterised is a personal draw in this franchise for me but it’s clear we won’t have time for that. Still I do lament its absence even if signs of deeper characterisation are present. For example, we know that Achilles cares a lot for Atalanta but as a matter of fact the reason for this is because Atalanta was his first crush. When he was trained, Chiron used to tell Achilles stories about Atalanta which caused Achilles to gain a schoolboy crush on her. His caring for her in this series is actually his leftover feelings from that period. Though this requires clarification as while I seen it mentioned, I cannot find anything referencing it. There is also the nice detail that Achilles deeply regretted killing an Amazon Queen during his life and because of that he swore to never unleash the power of his spear on a female opponent. I really do wish that little details like this were included and utilised in the anime. Likewise i can’t really find anything about Chiron having a degree of precognition but hey, Achilles never had a flying chariot and it makes the fight more interesting.

It’s nice to have a little Shakespeare and amusing as hell that Shirou knew that Shakespeare would prefer to write the ending of this story as a tragedy rather than allow a happy ending. In other words Shakespeare actually wants Shirou to fail cause the tragedy of it would be far more interesting. So why does Shirou have to force Shakespeare to not turn his recount of this story into a tragedy? That is because Shakespeare’s writings have power, in fact he can pick up a pebble off the ground and turn it into a E rank Noble Phantasm. He can create up to C rank noble Phantasms just by writing about the object. As such there is a very real possibility that what Shakespeare writes about Shirou’s plan could affect it and Shirou cannot take that chance. Thus like a forceful editor, he must order Shakespeare to not write such an ending. It’s funny that in a way Shakespeare could have saved the world from Shirou’s plan but only done so because it would be more interesting to him. I really do love his character and the way in which he manages to get Semiramis to reveal more of her character goes to show how much more of a boon he could have been to the story if he was given more screentime. Just having Shakespeare running around inquiring into the servants characters could have given so much development to them.

So time for Nasuverse 101. In the Nasuverse there is magecraft and there is true magic. Magecraft is the kind that mages in this series use and it is magic but it has it’s limitations. True magic on the other hand, has no limitations. Bring back the dead, time travel to the past, enter alternative dimensions, even achieve true immortality. These are the things possible for true magic. There are five known true Magic’s but for simplicity sake we shall only talk about the one that is relevant here, that being the third magic, Heaven’s Feel. Heaven’s Feel is materialisation of the soul, essentially removing the soul from the body and allowing it to interact with the real world. What this would accomplish would be to give a kind of immortality as souls would never die and live forever. In fact the manner in which servants are summoned into the real world is a kind of third magic. This magic is actually the main goal of the Holy Grail War for the Einzberns as well as Zoukens main goal. This is also the reason that the Holy Grail War can be alternatively called “Heaven’s Feel”, in case this wasn’t confusing enough. Thus in the after credits scene of this episode we have Shirou’s goal be to use third magic on all humanity, hereby making humanity immortal and rendering death obsolete. In truth this isn’t the best solution as while it may work in theory, i believe there are Nasu works in which humanity has obtained immortality and it lead to the problem of humanity stagnating. It’s unlikely that he will succeed giving the current narrative but I hope we see some good fights till then.

Posted on 15 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

We near the finale and Apocrypha gears up to bring things to a close, even if that setup is essentially mentioning that the battle is coming to an end over and over again. it’s more than a little strange to see this episode start up and it is though the entire three episode arc of dealing with Jack the Ripper never even happened. I actually think you could skip over those episodes entirely and starting this episode nothing would really feel amiss. It feels rushed at just how this series is pushing towards a finale, with only Sisgou and Mordred proving to be the most natural on screen. This episode had a focus on Fiore giving up on her right to lead the house on the basis that she is simply not cut out for the life of a mage. She has plenty of magic talent as stated by Chiron but is too kind to take on the normally dark aspects of a mage lifestyle. Bit of a stretch as you don’t need to disregard life in order to be a mage and she certainly gave up rather fast seeing as her whole reason for entering the war was to allow her to walk and be a mage without giving up on one. I like the narrative arc of having Caules become the leader of the Yggdmillennia but I certainly feel like this development isn’t as smooth as they wanted it to be. Plus they really played down just how intense transferring a magic crest is. It normally requires surgery.

I have heard word that Fate/Apocrypha was an attempt by the writer Yuichiro Higashide to top Fate/Zero. It’s up for debate on how true this is as the wiki states that Kinoko Nasu planned and wrote a majority of the story elements for the characters and plot. That said there is a certain air around this series of wanting to emulate Zero, especially in the light novels. The Assassin of black duo are very reminiscent of the castor duo in Zero. Having the story focus on multiple master and servant pairs instead of basing it around one. A general dark tone and having a presist of the church be a main villain. Admittedly these are abstract vague comparisons and could very well be brushed off but I even felt that out of all the fate works that Apocrypha was the closest to being a Fate/Zero 2. That said it overexerted itself due to having a writer who really can’t match up to the scale of the narrative he wants to tell. Apocrypha has good ideas and good characters(Aside from you know who) and I would very much attribute those to Nasu as that has always been his forte. Gen was the master of exposition, pacing and focus, elements which Apocrypha is very much missing. Fate/Zero is a tight story with nary a unnessary moment. Apocrypha on the other hand has had several episodes which could be removed from the story entirely. Now this isn’t to say that Urobuchi Gen is a perfect write, believe me that he has his own writing issues, but I do want to point out just how much of a perfect match Gen and Nasu were. Higashide is not Gen and as such cannot take Nasu’s good ideas and make a good patchwork. So should Gen and Nasu just write all future Fate works from now on? Well that does sound interesting but other writers have proven they can work their own magic on it. Ryohyo Narita’s Fate/ Strange Fake has quite a number of fans after all.

I have become significantly less fond of astolfo as of late. Part of that might be because of him helping to ship Sieg and Joan in this episode but I admit that a large part of his character is just the gimmick of him being a trap. I liked him in the novel for being the comic relief much in the same way as Alexander did in Fate/Zero. But he’s just not provided anything besides trap jokes but perhaps much like Joan, his problem is in that he just has a cardboard plank to work off of. Again, so many of Apocrypha’s problems connect back to Sieg. It’s a pity that Mordred and Sisgou are not in the spotlight more as this episode was at least made more interesting by Mordred being to wonder just what makes a good king. Rather amusing that despite wanting to usurp the title from Arturia, that her idea of a good king is very much the same as hers. The every same idea that got so chastised by Alexander in Zero. Despite her professed hate, she still holds a high degree of respect and admiration for her father. Something that Sisgou sees easily…sigh…why is it that these two were shafted into the side character slot? I do believe this series was significantly better when we were under the impression that they were to be the main characters. So the last battle draws near and Apocrypha is looking to be a decent but sadly disappointing entry into the Fate animated universe. Pity we had so many Fate adaptations this year and a majority of them disappointed. Grand Order’s Ova was rather bad, though I must admit the Mobile app itself has me absolutely addicted.(Saving my quartz for you, my darling Scathach) Fate/Apocrypha disappointed. Fate/Prisma Illya’s movie, despite adapting the best part of the manga, has dropped the ball on animation quality.(Though the movie seems to be still pretty decent) Heaven’s Feel at least looks like it delivered for you goddamn lucky Americains. And I have no real expectations for the Fate/Extra adaption happening next season due to the source material being nothing special. The year of Fate has sadly not turned out well but maybe now Nasu can get off hs lazy ass and write something for a change.

Posted on 8 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

I won’t say that blogging is a hard job, really the only thing truly troublesome about it is the amount of time it takes, but sometimes covering a show can be a painful experience. With great shows the trouble comes in that there is only so many ways you can praise something and eventually you start nitpicking at any flaw you can find so that you can have something to say that isn’t gushing compliments. With a bad show it’s similar but in opposite as you attempt to find something worthwhile in a dung pile. However what I truly find painful to write about is when a show has so many good ideas and shows potential in the beginning. Only to have it slowly squandered over the course of it’s run. That is Apocrypha in a nutshell. By which I mean that I really like the ideas in this episode. Jack the Ripper being a bundle of curses from all the children that died pitiful deaths on the streets of London is something I can really get down with. It’s not outlandish for the world of Fate and it fits with the lore of Jack the Ripper in general. Though no matter what I cannot justify the dominatrix stripper outfit, even the rag she wears in this episode is a better alternative.

I really love how they connect Jack to Atlanta who feels the most for the children due to her own trauma of being a child abandoned by her parents. But her change of heart and development is just far too sudden that it’s hard to truly get a grasp on whether these are her own feelings or if she is being manipulated by Jack. And Joan, who takes the role of executioner. Understanding that the cursed children that form Jack can only either continue as a curse on humanity or be cleansed into oblivion. It truly connects to her nature of adhering to the greater good while showing that even if she knows it must be done, it’s still weighs on her. But Atlanta can never accept it and thus vows to kill Joan. Again, there are good ideas here. Nay, great ideas. But it all just falls so flat because the characters are not developed, these conflicts feel forced and staged, the animation is too crude and the general plot feels like lost opportunity. I spoke before about a scenario in which Avicebron’s defeat could have been made so much better and there are plenty of ways this episode could have taken better turns. I even at one point considered Sieg turning into the main villain after Jack exposed him to the evil in this world and having him turn into a Kiritsugu like figure of resorting to any means necessary to remove suffering from the world. Sure it likely wouldn’t fix his character but god it would be at least something.

Instead we go the boring route and have Jack the Ripper defeated by compassion. Or more that Joan gave her a bit of a lecture and Jack just gave up. There is a reason as to why sappy “Love defeats the villain” type ends are often so weak a conclusion. The virtue of it may be right but it doesn’t stop it feeling trite and cliche. In truth we all know what happens when we attempt to get a wrongdoer to see the errors of their ways and appeal to their compassion. After all, we have all gotten into an internet argument at one point or another and the sad truth is that people will always do everything in their power to avoid admitting they are wrong. So seeing someone as childish and psychotic as Jack just give up is not only out of character but utterly absurd. I could rationalize it somewhat if it was because she wanted to join her master in death but that doesn’t even seem to be the case. For some last notes, I am still not on board with this whole JoanXSieg ship and goddamnit can we give Shakespeare something to do?

Posted on 2 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

You know what? I think I have been been wrong about Joan in how I pair her and Sieg as the things dragging down this series. Joan isn’t all that bad, in fact she could be an interesting character if she just had someone who could get her out of her comfort zone. Yes, the problem isn’t Joan but rather Sieg is all to blame for this. He’s a shameless self insert character whose personal existential crisis is stereotypical and his general personality is just a void without emotion or any real character. He’s a Kirito or take your pick of any of the bargain bin light novel protagonists. Nothing quite exemplifies this more than this episode where “Insert your face here” goes out on a date which this series primary waifu bait. They try to excuse it as an attempt to draw out Jack the Ripper but the plan itself is rather flawed seeing as Jack really should know that Joan is a Ruler class and she also knows something is up with Sieg.

Anyway this date was a painful experience and truly out of line from what i expect from this franchise. True, the first series also features a date between Shirou and Saber but god dammit at least Shirou had character to work with. This episode was about Joan attempting to interact with a piece of wood! I swear I can see how much she seems to struggle with her role here as she attempts to get Sieg to say anything remotely interesting. As they montaged though the event of their “date” it was as though Sieg was some random background character in the images rather than the main protagonist. However I am thankful to A-1 for cutting out a part of the date that involved Sieg asking Joan about whether servants can get pregnant. That was certainly a conversation that I really don’t need to hear. Sadly A-1 also cut out a large part of the Jack fight which would have been really interesting to see and this seems to be a common thing with A-1. Ruining the characterisation and fights that were in the source material. The Apocrypha source material did start out really strong and while I have heard that the source does end up wasted potential, I feel it deserved better than this adaption. But well, C’est la vie.

THere is a nice parallel between Joan and Shirou here as both were killed but have different ways of looking at it. Shirou hated the people that killed him but tossed aside that hatred for the greater good. While Joan couldn’t even bring herself to hate those that killed her. Joan is a saint in every sense of the word and thus she is more deserving of the role to bring salvation to mankind. Can someone like Shirou, who harbors hatred in his heart and resorts to any means necessary to achieve his goals, truly bring humanity’s salvation? Honestly no, because he’s the villain and something’s got to be wrong with his plan. Otherwise we have the Shakugan No Shana final problem where the villains have a plan that’s great for everyone and the heroes only fight them because they are the villains. I remember feeling very confused that the show wanted me to cheer Shana on when by all accounts she was completely in the wrong.

So to clarify, the attack that Jack used on Joan was supposed to be an instant kill technique and was nullified by Joan’s attributes as a ruler. What was supposed to happen was Jack using children wielding knives to attack Joan so she could get away. This was important for two reasons, the idea of Jack giving knives to children and getting them to attack Joan is wonderfully dark. And this was the real reason that Atalanta joined in the fight as seeing Jack take advantage of children really pissed her off. We were also supposed to get Atalanta’s backstory which was to explain just why she has such a soft spot for children. The Apocrypha anime really is shafting a lot of the character development just to move the story forward and I think it would have been a better idea to remove Sieg’s presence entirely and use any screen time he took up to flesh out the cast. Jack and her Master also lost a lot of characterisation as there was a whole series of chapters detailing how Jack was summoned and how she killed her master and decided to be a servant to the hooker that was intended to be a human sacrifice. It’s a pity as I really do love the whole demented Mother/Daughter relationship that these two have. Seeing her master sacrifice herself to save Jack could have been a very good moment, in fact it was executed rather well. But it just didn’t have the screentime to justify it. We got the payoff with none of the buildup and so it just falls hollow.

Posted on 25 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

Jack is back and sadly this is the weakest episode so far of the second cour. A big part of that is because it was more or less pointless as while it brings Jack back into the war after a long absence, it really didn’t accomplish anything. This episode mainly revolved around Jack torturing mages to gain information to infiltrate the Black Headquarters and attempt to kill off Fiore. But well once the servants return she says “I will get you next time!” and runs away. So the attack failed and thanks to Jack’s noble Phantasm, the Black team know nothing about her powers or what she looks like despite coming face to face with her. So nothing was truly accomplished. This isn’t how i thought Jack would re-enter the story and I fear that she is becoming another pointless mid-boss much like Avicebron was.

I originally thought that Fiore and the crowd would wish to recruit Jack seeing as she’s a rogue servant and they need all the help they can get to face off against the red servants. I mean sure, there’s the morality issue of joining up with a serial killer but this is the team that was literally breeding people to die in war. Rather silly to have them care about the sanctity of life now. If it’s a danger of her betraying the black side then you can have Joan bind her with command spells. It’s doesn’t make much sense for them to prioritise killing Jack over taking on the gardens of Babylon. Shirou is currently working on a plan that could have devastating consequences for all of humanity so why is it that Jack running around killing mages is a bigger issue?

Not sure why Jack is doing this in the first place as taking out the Black team wouldn’t help her chances of getting the grail at all. They bypass this off with her just being crazy and wanting to kill people but still this just seems far too forced a development. After all, even if she succeeded that would mean it’s her up against all the red servants in the giant death castle. Even if you are crazy those odds are far too disadvantageous. That’s not the only forced element here as when Fiore was attacked a single question went through my mind. Why wasn’t she using her command spell? Command spells do have the power to transport a servant to your side and that’s one of the best reasons to have them in reserve and yet here Fiore seems to have forgotten about it completely. The light novel explanation is that she was just so scared and not thinking straight which does fall in line with her inexperience with combat.

However they also showed her using magic and planning to get her gear which does mean she had some logical thinking. Really if she was trying to find a way out of the situation then the command spells should have come to mind. When it comes to this episode, the word of the day is forced. It feels forced for Jack to attack the black team. It feels forced for her to just retreat after pulling all this. Really this whole sudden conflict just feels forced as if the story just remembered that Assassin of black is a thing and is now trying to find the fastest way to remove her from the plot. As some last notes, I like how they showed that Fiore is unaccustomed to cellphones as mages tend to be rather clueless when it comes to technology. I also like that Sieg is at least getting some payback for his newfound power and I just hope it isn’t somehow negated with another powerup.

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