Posted on 19 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

It’s funny that only now, when we are well into the halfway point of the series that it takes some time to flesh out its cast. Sisgou has gotten some backstory, Fiore was fleshed out a little and even Gordes got some time to prove he’s not a complete caricature. The last one is something Celenike really needed before she was decapitated by Mordred as at least now Gordes has a little more to him than just being some arrogant mage. When I saw Gordes approaching the injured homunculi I was preparing myself to see him start abusing them or taking out his frustration on them. Instead Gordes completely surprises me and actually starts giving advice on how to heal them. He’s still arrogant but now that the Holy Grail War has gone nothing like he expected it’s caused him to look at himself and recognise where he went wrong. He’s just as antagonistic and shortsighted as ever but this at least makes him a better character than what he was. Celenike meanwhile just remains a sadistic bitch and gets her rocks of seeing others suffering. If we had just a few minutes like this to show she had anything else then maybe her death could have held more value.

Flore has also been a character solely lacking development as her defining traits are just that she’s wheelchair bound and has Doctor octopus mecha gear. The flashback to the death of her dog shows that even though she can be a strong leader, she can also be quite naive and too kindhearted for her own good. An observation that Chiron happens to notice thanks to his history as a teacher. It really is small moments like this which can really make a character and what may be the main pitfall of the start of this series as a whole. I mentioned previously that as the death count climbs this could result in the survivors getting more fleshed out and that does appear to be happening. Even learning that Atlanta wishes for all children to be loved is a rather kind hearted sentiment despite her rough disposition. All the more important when you take into account her history where she was abadoned by her parents in the woods and only survived thanks to the pity of Arthemis. Sisgou has managed to keep being an entertaining character thanks to his skills and interactions with Mordred but finally knowing that he has a personal wish as well makes his stakes in the battle all the more important.

I really do love how the two of them delight over planning to stealing the grail while everyone is busy fighting over it. So we now have our factions, the red team has come together under Shirou’s command though there was a mistranslation in UTW subs regarding Karna’s motivation. Put simply Karna said their interests align at the moment so he will fall in line but his one desire is to serve his true master, not Shirou. Shirou seems to have some plan detailed out so that using the Grail won’t backfire on him as that is how it works. The grail has the power to skip the process and deliver the result but you need to know what result that you want. This was the big mistake Kerry made in Fate/Zero when he wanted to wish to save the world, but had no real idea on how to do so. So seeing as the grail was corrupted at the time, it choose to go with the worst way possible to grant his wish. Shirou here seems to know exactly what he wants and the grail here isn’t corrupted so he could very well get it. The big problem is that to accomplish his task could very likely result in something rather horrible, like humanity giving up all free will.

The black team are gathering what forces they can to launch an attack on the Gardens of Babylon which Sisgou and Mordred temporarily working with them. So what of our little rogue element? Assassin of black has done pretty much nothing for quite a while and I worry she might end up being a throwaway character much like Avicebron was. As some last notes, I really, really don’t like that they seem to be going with this Joan and Sieg romance. I have heard others say that if Sisgou and Mordred took over the main character slot then this show would be significantly better and I am quite inclined to agree. Besides that was clear favoritism of your part Joan, giving Sisgou one command spell and Sieg two despite them doing the same amount of work. On top of that they appear to be planting some chekhov’s gun for what looks to be a Deus Ex Machina in the future with his odd command spells. Also can we have more Shakespeare please? His character is criminally underused.

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

An action focused episode and as such I have very little I can say about it. Considering that Avicebron was more about brains than brawn it’s rather odd to see him get taken down like this. In a way I find this to be a big heel turn for him as I originally took him for the more logical type. I don’t think that him using his former master as the core for his golem is out of character as he has shown that all that really matters to him is the completion of his golem. However I thought he was working out of artistic integrity and not making this golem in some bid to save the world. Truthfully I am rather disappointed in that. I rather liked the idea of Avicebrons main goal being to complete his life’s work and that being his only reason for his position in this war. Upon completing it I thought he wouldn’t really care as to what purpose it served and that his only real intent was it’s creation. This however just transforms his motivation into something more petty and stupid. Bringing back the garden of Eden by creating a golem? Why not bypass the golem making process and just use the holy grail?

I feel it would have been better to make this situation more sympathetic. Have him sacrifice his master to create the golem. Upon it’s creation just let it roam wild, only to be destroyed by the servants. Once the golem is defeated, Avicebron is found by the servants where he laments at the realization that he killed a kindred spirit in blind pursuit of his goal. Avicebron then takes his own life as compensation for his mistake. Now that I believe would have really made this work. But sadly at this situation Avicebron is just made into a generic villain who is “saving” the world by destroying it. It’s a pity, as I at least like the situation of having the servants take on a massive golem and team up with Mordred. Even if it feels a bit like a unconditional mid-boss. I do find it funny that Ruler is still operating under the guise of a referee even at this point so that she must come up with cheap justification in order to help. The rules of this holy grail war have already been thrown out of wack so she needs no further reason to join a side.

Another servant has been removed from the game though even with that it seems the red side have a huge advantage. Looks like Atlanta and Achilles couldn’t manage to join the Black side so they are unwillingly on the red team. One thing I am rather disappointed about is that this anime cut out Mordred’s first reaction when she saw Ruler. Much like Gilles did during the fourth holy grail war, she first mistook her for Arthuria and as we know she has some daddy issues. Though I suppose at this point they have sexed up Joan of Arc’s servant design that it’s pretty difficult to see the Arthuria in her. Still it doesn’t solve the problem that she and Sieg are still dull as dishwater and it grows increasingly tedious to see them interact and build what looks to be some sort of romantic tension between them. So we have twelve episodes left for this series and for a halfway point assessment I would say this anime is a decent watch for Fate fans. It’s certainly lacking when compared to Ufotable adaptations but it may be on par with the likes of the 2006 Deen adaption to which I found to be decent as well despite the hate it gets. I feel like this story could have been stronger and A-1 have failed in that regard on adaption. Still with this animated that means Type Moon has one less Fate property to milk and with some hope that might finally get them to work on that Tsukihime remake they promised ten years ago.

Posted on 4 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

We have officially entered the second half of Fate/Apocrypha and with that comes a new opening and ending. The ending doesn’t leave much of an impression but I do prefer this opening over the first opening. The first opening just didn’t really suit my tastes while I prefer the melody of this opening more even if the visuals of it are rather generic. As far as Fate anime openings go for the whole franchise I still believe that Fate/UBW has the best ones. For the past few episodes this series has actually been pretty good but it seems that streak has ended with this episode. Part of the reason is that the long action sequence has ended and another part is that Sieg is getting center attention again. I swear this kid is like a fun black hole, where all fun is sucked out of a scene just by his very presence. I don’t like the fact that I keep harping on about this kid but he really is that much of a problem. His design is boring and every line of his dialogue is archetypal and systematic. He’s quest to discover his purpose is gone and with that he has essentially become the most predictable and expected hero character you can write up. I can almost predict his every line of dialogue in any given situation.

Made all the worse by his continued climb up the Gary Sue ladder with him now not only being a servant himself but also a Master. Not exactly a new thing in the Fate universe as Medea from the main series also managed to summon a servant despite being a servant herself. Though that came with it’s own problems, one of which looks to have been severely hand waved here. For now Amakusa Shirou is is sole master for almost the entirety of the red faction. Now it may be a question for some that if a mage can summon a servant during a Holy Grail War then why don’t they try to summon more than one? There are no rules against having more that one servant. However the problem is that it is akin to trying to drive three cars when you only have enough gas for one full tank. Sure you can drive them all if you divide up the gas between the three cars but all three will never drive as far as one can with a full tank. There are even cases such as with Shirou and Saber in the original where Shirou didn’t have enough mana to fuel her and as a result her abilities were handicapped. So the question is, how is Amakusa Shirou managing to fuel six servants(Including the newly defected Caster of Black) without them getting downgraded? Even taking into account that Shirou is a servant himself who also requires mana. He did mention about potentially being incarnated but even a previously incarnated servant needed an external source of mana. I don’t really expect an answer to this as this show has already made it clear the rules don’t really matter all that much.

I don’t like Riders master. No, I don’t mean that in the obvious way as she is a character meant to be disliked. What I mean is that I don’t like how horribly and lazily written she is. With such a large character roster it’s understandable that a couple of characters would get shafted when it comes to characterisation but this really is F grade villain writing. She gets off on torturing others and throwing them into despair and it’s just such childish reasoning. If you want to write a character who has that with better motivations and personality then take notes from DanganRonpa’s antagonist. Here I just realize that the entire purpose of this character is for this one scene, to give the protagonist a free servant and the satisfaction of seeing her head get chopped off by Mordred. Not saying that wasn’t satisfying to witness but come on, Shinji from Fate/Stay Night had better writing than this. I also find myself immensely irritated at what is the worst forced servant retreat in this series to date.

We have only four servants on the enemy side, defected Avicebron, Semiramis, Shirou and Karna. On the good side we have Joan of Arc, Atlanta, Chiron, Achilles and to top it all off Mordred enters the fray. Five against four and two fo the four are low tier servants. So why did Sisigou order a retreat? Karna is a problem, most definitely but he can be kept busy and while Semiramis has a territory boost she still would have trouble with a Saber. With Shirou being the master of all red servants, all the good side needs to do is kill him to win. So why did Sisigou order a retreat? Shirou may have command spells but Joan of Arc is a Ruler Class and thus has two command spells per servant. She can quite literally order all the servants on the opposing side to stand down. Not to mention getting into the hanging Gardens of Babylon again would be a hard task and facing Shirou with such advantageous odds again is even harder. So just why did Sisigou order a retreat? I just can’t understand it no matter how much I think about it.

Posted on 20 September 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

If Fate/Apocrypha can keep up this level of quality till the end, I may just change my overall opinion on it. I don’t think it would match the works of Fate/Zero or Unlimited Blade Works but it could beat out the 2006 Fate/Stay Night, Prisma Illya and Fate/Grand Order. It’s a decently respectable position in that regard. But of course this is mainly because the following series of episodes have been one extended action sequence and it will be a wonder as to how the show will move forward after this. So against the wishes of Vlad, Darnic forces him to use his Noble Phantasm, Legend of Dracula. Thereby turning Vlad into a bloodsucking vampire with all the benefits and negatives that come with the change. I can’t say I am fond of the forms design as I think the ears are too big and make him look silly. He gets a fairly massive power boost and has the ability to turn those whom he sucks blood from into his vampiric underlings. An ability quite dangerous for achilles in particular as his special in invulnerability would not stop him from being turned into a vampire.

Seeing the threat that Dracula poses to not only them but the entire world, everyone agrees to take him down together. Much like the bees in Fate/Zero, just having one vampire make it out of the garden could end up creating a apocalypse so it makes sense that heroes would put the protection of the world above the Holy Grail War. A part which always confused me a bit in the novel was Dranic somehow using a command seal to take over his servant. Command seals can indeed grant special boosts, hence why Ruler ordered everyone with a command seal despite everyone agreeing to fight Dracula. However I find the particulars of this command rather questionable in regards to the rules. Command spells can’t necessarily do the impossible and this command is similar enough to Rin’s command in the fifth holy grail war for Archer to have absolute obedience. When the command is rather vague it generally weakens its effects so I find this questionable. Though to preface it I believe Darnic has kept his young appearance by taking over other bodies so he may be using his own magecraft to take over Vlads.

I at least understand why Darnic did this despite it seeming a desperate and risky gamble for when you look at it, the Black faction where practically finished. Berserker and Saber are dead, Rider is injured, Assassin is rogue and the only servants left are a relatively weak caster, Archer and Lancer. Vlad was well on his way to being defeated after losing his territory bonus and there is no way the other two could beat the five servants on board the Gardens of Babylon along with the Saber on the ground. So this desperate move makes sense but it sadly it backfired on him. All the servants turned against him and he was killed by Shirou Kotomine, now officially revealed to be Amakusa Shirou Tokisada who was the Ruler servant from the third Holy Grail War. I swear, the more I hear about the third Holy Grail War, the more I want to see it. Sounds like one hell of a party. You likely don’t know who he is and the simple answer to that is that he is a Japanese Catholic claimed to have holy powers who lead a rebellion against the Shogunate in 1638.

Considering this Dracula was up against a catholic servant trained by an organisation packing black Keys made for the specific purpose of hunting down Dead Apostles.(Aka, Magically made Vampires) This is why in the Nasuverse matchups are decided not by those with the greatest stats but rather the one with the best compatibility. You can have the best servant in the world and still be outmatched by someone with the right abilities. Hence why you can argue till the end of the earth about who would win in a fight with Nasuverse characters. This fight went a bit differently in the novel as their Shirou smashed Dracula’s head into a wall while performing an exorcism but I think this restrained manner was more suitable. Next episode will be a recap episode so there will not be a post but with the Black Faction well on their way to defeat just how will the story go?

Posted on 13 September 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

We have a hat-trick as Apocrypha pulls out it’s third good episode but admittedly the reason for that is because we are still in the middle of a pretty massive action scene. Perhaps this is why earlier fights were so lacking as they needed to save the effort for an action set piece as big as this. Animation has most certainly improved as the fights are more dynamic than ever. But for the love of god can someone fire the sound director. I watched this episode with headphones and while the music is great, the sound effects are an abomination. I don’t know why but fight scenes are bombarded with reverb, compressed sound effects and far too loud explosions. These are servant battles so it’s natural that the clashes would be loud but here whenever a fight starts up it’s just a constant barrage of unpleasant noise. It’s just never lets up as when explosions stop you have uncomfortable reverb in between the sword clangs and thuds. It really goes to show how one small element can really ruin a scene.

This episode we had fight after fight after fight but I will admit to being disappointing when the Karna and Vlad fight was interrupted over some silly reason that Karna was ordered to retreat. I thought this was rather idiotic as literally a few minutes later Karna and Vlad resume the fight in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. However upon seeing what was happening to Vlad I have to admit that it was a very smart move. Out of the black faction it is clear that Vlad is their strongest servant and that is mainly due to the stat boost he gets because Romania is his home ground. The Hanging Gardens however are not Romania so that means that within them Vlad’s power decreases immensely. By attempting to abduct the grail they gave reason for the black servants to infiltrate the Hanging Gardens and now their strongest servant has been put at a disadvantage. We also have another berserker taken out of the lineup as Spartacus explodes in a beam of energy after taking too much damage. Seeing Joan use her Noble Phantasm put a big smile on my face as I have been playing Grand Order quite a bit and during the hundred years war chapter I used that Noble Phantasm more than once.

The episode ends with Darnic about to force Vlad to use a Noble Phantasm that he despised with all his heart. I really dislike that A-1 decided to cover this information now with a flashback instead of bringing it up near the beginning of the series like it was supposed to be. Having it be mentioned mere seconds before it’s relevant just makes it feel like lazy writing. The episode keeps quiet about what exactly it is however with the clues in this episode I think people could figure it out considering the context given here. If not, let me ask you this. What fictional figure is constantly associated with Vlad the Impaler? Yes, you likely caught on now and honestly I think this is genius. Vlad Tepes joined the holy grail war in order to use his wish to erase the story of Dracula from existence. Marvelous, I adore that motivation because of course Vlad would be furious that his legacy is forever intwined with a bloodsucking monster. Even if his methods were questionable, he still defended his country from foreign invasion. He was a hero to his countrymen. Yet in the modern day people only tend to know his name because Dracula was based on him. Thus because of that association he has even gained a Noble Phantasm directly linked to Dracula. It really is a pity that Fran died as we could have very well have a Dracula vs Frankenstein’s monster matchup. Well regardless of reasoning I doubt Vlad will be very happy with being pushed to use that Noble Phantasm.

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

This was an action focused episode as Mordred takes on pretty much everyone. It is rather nice to see a Saber than actually lives up to the claim of Sabers are the best class. Upon examining the main Fate series poster girls record as a servant I find her to be disappointing due to her low win record and a Noble Phantasm that just is too risky to make use of. Though she isn’t overpowering as it makes sense as to why she can put up a good fight in this scenario. Her opponents in the beginning are Astolfo who is weak from taking on the hanging Gardens and Fran who is just a bad matchup to begin with. In Fate combat the combat is usually a matter of suitability as what may be an unbeatable foe for one servant is a easy win for another. Berserker is sort of a wild card of the system as while you get an advantage by boosting their parameters with madness enchantment there is a disadvantage in that you cannot control them. All you can really do is set them on an enemy and hope they can overpower them with mindless attacks. So against an enemy that cannot be overpowered and can fight tactically, a Berserker is dead on arrival.

Thus it isn’t a surprise that Fran couldn’t defeat Mordred but she certainly went out with style putting everything into taking her down. Backed up by a master properly using their command seals for once. Those things are more than a single use unbreakable order, with them you can give your servant a significant power boost when the need calls for it. Be it to power up an attack or boost your servants defense. I have to say I adored the scene of Berserker powering up her noble Phantasm, this show nailed that scene perfectly. Mordred did indeed almost die and if it wasn’t for Sisgou using a command spell she would have clocked out then and there. Sadly the second drop out of this holy Grail war is Fran. As for Rider, he’s at a disadvantage already seeing as he doesn’t have his mount. Thus enters Sieg with the powers of main character plot Armour to turn into Siegfried and put up a fight with Mordred. It’s a pity the kid couldn’t stay dead when Mordred stabbed him but on the other hand it’s nice to see Siegfried in more fights, even if he’s a possess homunculus or whatever nonsense they used to justify this. Well to be fair there is some logic behind it as this isn’t the first time a body transplant from a servant managed to grant someone power in the Fate mythos. However there are certain circumstances needs for that to be remotely feasible, ones that i am sure are getting hand waved away with the Homunculus argument.

We have pretty much reached the point foretold in the opening scene of the first episode with the exception of Joan of Arc fighting what is most likely Spartacus. Fight scenes went down rather well this episode and this makes it the second time this show has managed to pull off another genuinely good episode. That might be because we are getting what we signed up for, a battle to death between heroes of legend. Though I dislike that we had a recap on Siegfried’s past when it was already covered. We have plenty of underdeveloped servants and masters in the roster that could due with some fleshing out so devoting time to go over what we already know is a rather wasteful decision. One last thing I would like to note is that this series soundtrack remains fantastic. It was scored by a Masaru Yokoyama which is a name I need to look out for in the future as he did the music for Scums wish and Gundam Orphans. This man has some real talent. It is such a pity it’s covered up by the rather lacking sound effects, which sometimes can work but other times be far too overbearing, repeated and loud.

Posted on 30 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

Now this is the kind of quality this show should be delivering. Very good, fights have more weapon clashes and we are getting some great character moments here. The opening scene made me actually want another Fate Prequel to cover the third Holy Grail War because it seems like some great things went down there. I mean for one it looks like Darius summoned Fionn mac Cumhaill and I do love seeing more Irish representation in Anime. I wonder if we can get Urobuchi and Nasu on board for a Fate/Zero 2. But then again it would be rather nice so see Type Moon move away from Fate and make a new goddamn IP for once. Still this is one of the few episodes that really captured what I loved about the parts of the novel I read. The epic battles and the servant interactions. I love Shakespeare strolling in and just commenting on what’s going on and Mordred having an easygoing chat with Astolfo before the two get ready to battle. As well as Chiron and Achilles testing each other’s skills. Fight are going on all over the place so the improvements in the fight animation was much appreciated. Finally this is beginning to live up to my first expectations. The Sieg portions were still boring as hell but at least everything else worked so damn well. Now they just need to keep this quality going.

Definite highlight of the episode was Fran’s breakdown and backstory. It’s things like this that I love this franchise for, taking a historical figure and humanising them. As far as execution goes that scene was done perfectly, barring some rather janky animation. Showing Fran’s memories with an old time silent film filter fit the mythos and gave it so much style. So Frankenstein’s monster’s story is different in the Fate universe than it is in the Frankenstein movies. However oddly enough it is closer to that of Mary Shelly’s novel. The general beats follow that of the novel in that Frankstein creates a monster and then rejects it. however in the novel it was due to it being hideous whereas here it appears Frankenstein was more revolted by the creatures mentality. Frankenstein wished to recreate the perfect humans, Adam and Eve. Thus Fran was supposed to be Eve which is rather interesting because there is a servant in this war that wishes to recreate Adam. However it seems Fran’s infant mind and general lack of empathy caused the Doctor to see her as nothing more than a monster and dismantle her.

She rebuilt herself and proceeded to hunt down Frankenstein in order to get him to build another like her. However no matter what lengths she went to(Even going as far to kill those around him, including his fiancee), Frankenstein always refused her. Her journey ended at the north pole where Frankenstein dies after years of running away from her and in her despair she killed herself in a funeral pyre. There are details changed here and there but overall this is indeed the story of Frankenstein’s monster though tailored to be more sympathetic towards the monster. It’s this history that makes this scene have so much impact. For Shakespeare provided an illusion of the only thing she ever wanted and that drove her mad for in her heart she knew it wasn’t real. For once Fran isn’t some weird moe addition to the story but a genuine character in her own right. Now if only the other characters can get such treatment.

I also really like how they handled Astolfo and his dilemma that he couldn’t take down the Gardens of Babylon because he’s fighting with a handicap. He has some sort of noble Phantasm that packs serious power but seems to require a hefty amount of mana. Thus if he uses it then he would end up killing a large amount of Homunculi from power drain. Of course at this point Sieg has freed to the Homunculi so he couldn’t use it if he wanted to but it does show that Astolfo isn’t willing to compromise on his ideals for a easy win. Having him and Mordred take each other was great as these two talking is amusing particularly on how easygoing they are about this fight to the death. These two honestly feel like two friends having a playful fight up until Mordred starts mocking Seigfried for dying for a silly reason. Astolfo doesn’t even disagree with her but nonetheless doesn’t take kindly to her mocking him for it. The thing is and this is something which Apocrypha has been criticised for, neither of these two are evil or in the wrong. You can see where both are coming from and I rather like that moral grey aspect of the series. Some have said that this aspect makes it hard to know who to root for as neither side seems to have good intentions.

On surface level it seems like we should be rooting for the red squad as the Black squad are the whole reason for this war in the first place. However the leader of the red squad Shirou is a shifty individual you can’t quite trust. At the same time the leader of the black squad is a former Nazi and clearly isn’t someone you want to win either. Then within these teams you have genuine good people on both sides who are fighting for their own agendas. It’s nice to have shades of grey and not a clear cut hero and villain but likewise I do understand how people may have a hard time getting behind it as characters goals seem to be rather scattered. In Fate/Zero despite having a large roster of characters their end goals are more or less the same, win the Holy Grail War. Here we have an even larger character roster and to most winning the Grail War is a secondary Objective. In fact out of what we could consider our main characters, Seig is just looking for some meaning in his life, Joan is acting as referee by obligation, Sisigou is just doing his job and Astolfo does whatever he wants to. Perhaps as the servants drop out this story could become more focused and strengthen as a result.

Posted on 23 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

One of the particular things I like about Apocrypha is that out of the Fate franchise, this is the only Holy Grail War that is deserving of the title of War. Other grail wars are certainly flashy but by definition they are more battle royales with every man for himself. This on the other hand has armies with two sides each with their own generals. This is a genuine war and not a war in name only. Though while I say that the real deciding factor in this war is the servants with the Homunculi and Dragon tooth warriors being just pure cannon fodder. Another thing I like is that they have pretty much thrown away the whole “keep the war secret” rule which has always been a rather inconsequential rule. It has only ever been relevant in two places in the entire Fate series. One was with Shirou Emiya being a witness to the battle between Archer and Lancer in Fate/Stay Night. Remarkably the only civilian within the Fate universe to ever do so despite the kind of things that the servants get away with. The second time was when Fate/Zero’s caster summoned a monster in the river and gave the masters a reason to all gang up on him. Other than that despite servants having ridiculously flashy battles in open view, no one ever sees them and the damage is written off as gas explosions and the like. There are those assigned to cover it up but it really is silly that no one in Fuyuki manages to see any of this going on. In Apocrypha this rule is just chucked out the window because why bother with it. We got a giant flying fortress with a small war going on so screw the rules, he who dares, wins.

This was an alright episode of the show as we have an action packed battles between the servants. I really do love the exchanges between Chiron and Achilles, as well as Vlad and Karna but the fights themselves do feel lacking. I attribute this to a general lack of fight choreography as far too little do we see servants exchange blows. To often do we have close ups and explosions obscure the action and very little do we see servants deflect blows or land blows. We either get an exchange of laser beams or see a servant wind up an attack only to cut to after he has unleashed it. This is basically the shaky cam style of fight scenes where in exchange of good fight choreography the director just makes a series of fast paced edits which does give the impression of a intense fight sequence but often is too face paced and frantic for the viewer to follow. For me these scenes are just filler which is why I am not particularly fond of the Bourne series of movies. No matter how flashy and epic these fights appear, they cannot hold a candle to the Saber vs Lancer fight of Fate/Zero. I would even say they are inferior to the Illya Archer fight of the first Prisma Illya season.

We have our matchups, Vlad is facing off against Karna and while he has a home field advantage Karna is someone who could fight on par with GIlgamesh so there bout isn’t favorable to him. We did get a bit of backstory on Vlad but once again I am disappointed that it didn’t go into Vlad’s reason for fighting in this war. Chiron is facing off against Achilles which is a matchup made more interesting by their former relationship as master and student. Astolfo is taking on Semiramis and the hanging Gardens of Babylon in the air. Our last fight appears to be Shirou Kotomine taking on Fran in the woods after having decided to leave the garden as a kind of test of conviction. Shirou seems to be under the impression that if he can come back from the battlefield alive then this would mean that god approves of his mission and he can move forward without doubt. At the moment i can’t really think anything of Shirou as much like Sieg he’s playing a bit of an expected role. I have heard he gets more interesting later but at the moment his chemistry with his servant is dull and his general interactions just seem to speak of him having some genius master plan that no one can guess. He’s better than Sieg who I swear just kills interest just by appearing on screen. Well Mordred has landed on the scene and it looks like we are getting closer to that opening sequence we saw at the beginning of the series.

Posted on 16 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

As a Fate fan I can state for certainty that this series does have a problem of having a bit too much anticlimax. Which is a problem that may affect all Chuuni style stories come to think of it. I love the series but I can say that I don’t think any of them truly capitalised on the holy grail war concept. Often at the start of the series there’s a build up and promises that the series more often than not doesn’t deliver on. This is also why I am conflicted when asked to decide whether Fate/Zero is better than Fate/Stay Night. For while in many aspects Fate/Zero comes across as the superior story, I still believe that Fate/Stay Night had better climaxes and did things that Fate/Zero didn’t do. But how is that relevant to this episode you may ask and well it’s just that a conflict was resolved with everyone just deciding to duke it out later which happens to be the third time this has happened. This is followed by a buildup to what could be the biggest fight of the series yet and I find myself with a wariness over whether it will be truly satisfying. At this point characters and general plot haven’t engaged me as much as I would have liked them to so the final vanguard is whether I can see some cool fights. A prospect which is looking less and less likely when the animation per episode is getting rougher.

Still it really is nice to see interpretations of historical figures and their history does enrich their position in this war. It’s logical that Shakespeare wouldn’t take a combat role considering his vocation and he staying by the sidelines just so he can chronicle the whole war as a new work is a great take. Though to make up for his lack of real combat power the Assassin of Red is playing a dual role. There has been some rewriting of the rules a bit and Semiramis possesses double summon which means shes effectively a Assassin and Caster rolled into one. Contrived indeed but hardly the first contrived exception to the rules. This episode marks the rise of her noble phantasm which is a giant floating fortress by the name of the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon”. Exposition time: Semiramis did not in fact make the Hanging Gardens of Babylon but their creation is often mistakenly associated with her. As a result she needs to jump through some hoops to actually summon it but it is an example of a servant gaining a power based on popular association, something which should come into play later. Servants powers are in general amplified based on popular belief. In reality Excalibur wasn’t really able to shoot laser beams nor was Alexander able to summon an army at will.

Once again Seig proves that any moment he’s on screen is a moment this series becomes boring. His talk with his caretaker reminded me a lot of the talk that Waver and his fake grandfather had in Fate/Zero and I get the feeling it was trying to emulate it. However it was missing the real heart of that conversation as well as Gen’s masterful hand at writing exposition. Seig’s dilemma and ultimate choice just come as expected. Even within the narrative it was already decided that he would be jumping back into the fray. So really this isn’t some much a character development moment for him but rather a reaffirmation of him being pushed into a stereotypical role. My hope is that his role isn’t too big in this story as when he’s off screen this does become a better show.

Posted on 1 August 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

Seeings as we are five episodes in and my joyous period of fanboyism has subsided I believe it is time to admit something. I don’t actually think this show is that good and I am questioning just why that is. I don’t believe my assessment of the source material was wrong as it was indeed a strong narrative there which had my full attention. However here, something is off. I can’t quite pin down what precisely it is but something is killing this story. My previous culprit to blame was the pacing but in this episode they thankfully slowed down. Perhaps the animation? No, while A-1 is far below the quality one could expect from a Ufotable production this isn’t a terrible looking show. Still not gone on the character designs but animation wise it’s fine. No, perhaps the fault lies in how it’s adapted as there are some questionable choices at work here. Take for example Lancer of Black, aka Vlad Tepes. I say most would be surprised to see his leniency in punishing Astolfo in this episode considering his legacy in the common eye as a bloodthirsty tyrant. But in the novel this wasn’t much of a surprise as it went into detail on just why Vlad has joined this battle and I personally though his motivation was a stroke of creative genius. I can’t really go into it at that point as it’s bound to be brought up sooner or later but I think this is the problem with rushing the beginnings of this story. In doing so a number of characters have been left with one dimensional characterisation. I wouldn’t blame a fan of fate animated works being disappointed in this as I too find it much more underwhelming than its book counterpart.

My current state of thinking could be just a temporary thought as this was a rather weak episode in comparison to the others. Mainly because the focus was on Ruler and the newly named Homunculus, Sieg. These two really do drag on and I think that instead of rushing the cool battles we were supposed to get last episode we could have rushed this instead. For this is remarkably dull watching these two utterly bland characters. Ruler I will give a pass as it more or less is her sticking to the character of Joan of Arc and the role of the holy maiden. Still it doesn’t make for great characterisation and at times I am missing the interpretation of Joan from Drifters. She’s isn’t completely boring as she has the standing above all the servants and is badass in her own right but I worry that the main reason this episode got more focus than the last is due to her being prime “waifu” material. But if there is something I just find dreadfully boring with no upside it’s this Sieg fellow. You can give Shirou a lot of grief over his survivor’s guilt and superhero complex but at least it made him interesting. Sieg on the other have is a dull emotionless empty character who basically needs to learn how to live and grow a personality. He’s self insert material and I dislike that he has a role in this at all. He’s dangerously close to becoming the usual light novel protagonist and I even see signs of girls falling for him for no reason and with Siegfried’s heart he’s bound to get free power ups to show how “cool” he is. This kid is a chekhov’s gun that’s just ready to kill any potential this story has.

We get a small glimpse of Assassin of black and her master this week and yet again we have another servant who has been shafted by the anime. Assassin of Black actually has a short story detailing her summoning and the main book did dedicate time to showing just what went down. At the moment they are basically the Ryou and Caster duo in being chaotic evil. Now as it’s revealed in this show our Assassin here is Jack the Ripper and out of all the strange servants on Apocrypha this one is the one I have the hardest time suspending my sense of disbelief with. Personality wise I actually find it interesting to interpret Jack the Ripper as a child demon born from discarded babies from the positives of London. Her relationship with her master is equally interesting as they have a mother daughter relationship instead of a master and servant one. It was made a point in the books that when Jack calls her master she simultaneously says Master in a way that can also be interpreted as mother. But despite this concept being very intriguing and one I can get on board I cannot for the life of me take her remotely seriously based on her design.

I mean, Jack the Ripper, represented by a Lolita in dominatrix gear. It’s just really really dumb. There is in fact another interpretation of Jack the Ripper in the Fate Universe and that comes from Fate/Strange Fake which was written by Narita Ryohgo of Baccano/Durarara fame. In there Jack was shown as a shapeless being who could assume many forms as the real Jack the Ripper was never caught so his legacy is that of an anonymous serial killer. In the particularly quirky style of character writing that Narita has this servant was summoned as a berserker but due to Jack the Ripper already being insane, placing mad enchantment on him only ended up turning him sane. Both interpretations have there great points but in Fate/Apocrypha case I wish that Jack’s design wasn’t so obviously geared towards fanservice. So with the final moments of this episode we have pretty much established that the Red masters won’t be playing much of a role in this war, if the opening and character designs of the them didn’t tip you off to that already.

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