29 Jun 2012

Fate/Zero (Anime) Review

Fate/Zero (2012)
Format: TV Series, 25 episodes
Studio: ufotable
Director: Aoki Ei
Original Creator: Urobuchi Gen
Music: Kajiura Yuki
Score: 4 stars
Summary: ufotable does an incredible job animating this dark world and Urobuchi Gen writes some really inspired dialogue. Fans of the Fate universe will love how intricately this prequel is crafted, while people new to the series will still enjoy the visuals and strong writing.

First thing that sticks out for this series is the heavy use of CG and uniquely saturated colours. The colours really put the dark surroundings (and story) in stark contrast to the fantastical characters that populate the roster of competitors vying for the holy grail. It totally works here, and I can see how this is just an evolution of the visuals in ufotable's quite popular Kara no Kyoukai (Garden of Sinners) movie series. Off the top of my head, I can only name 3 studios with such a distinct style, and ufotable is one of them (the other 2 being Shaft and KyoAni).

The CG is prevalent but not too obvious, and used to great effect. A brilliant example which I mentioned in the first episode impressions is the lighting and dust in the library scene with Waver. This attention to details is seen in several scenes throughout the entire run and definitely make it so much more atmospheric and movie-like. It also allows the fight scenes to be animated smoothly. Those scenes do not completely eschew traditional animation; the CG is just used to enhance those scenes and make the fights much more dynamic.

Although Urobuchi Gen was not involved in translating his light novel into an anime adaptation, most of his intentions were there. Some gore was understandably cut from TV, and honestly I prefer it this way. If they had remained true to the original, this show would have a few too many blacked out parts. Its not like the story isn't already dark enough. Between Caster's crazy killings, Sakura's torture, and Kiritsugu's flashback, the story is plenty dark already. Whose idea was it to air the episode where Kiritsugu kills his "mother" on Mother's day? That's some dark irony...

Usually the dialogue isn't exactly Gen's strong point. He spins some beautiful yarn, but when it comes to speech, it can be a little awkward. That's not saying that its outright bad, its just so mediocre compared to the quality of the rest of the writing. HOWEVER, there is quite a large amount of exquisite dialogue in Fate/Zero. Rider's speech on kings and leadership will go down as one of the most inspiring speeches in anime. No hint of irony or awkward idealism. He forms a coherent and very convincing argument that not only shook Saber's conviction, but also make the audience question the meaning of being a king. We need more anime that doesn't treat its audience like idiots.

It's hard to argue against the notion that Fate/Zero is a damn good adaptation for the fans, but its by no means perfect. Any new viewer would be confused by all the jargon being thrown around, especially at the beginning of the series. It also doesn't help that a lot of the references and intricate details would just fly over their heads. I have to admit I am one of those new viewers, but I did some research into the setting. Fate/Zero definitely sold me on the series though, so I'll be checking out Fate/Stay Night soon. But until then, this remains a pretty damn good show albeit not quite what the fans made it out to be.

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