As the Fourth Holy Grail War rages on with no clear victor in sight, the remaining Servants and their Masters are called upon by Church supervisor Risei Kotomine, in order to band together and confront an impending threat that could unravel the Grail War and bring about the destruction of Fuyuki City. The uneasy truce soon collapses as Masters demonstrate that they will do anything in their power, no matter how despicable, to win.
Seeds of doubt are sown between Kiritsugu Emiya and Saber, his Servant, as their conflicting ideologies on heroism and chivalry clash. Meanwhile, an ominous bond forms between Kirei Kotomine, who still seeks to find his purpose in life, and one of the remaining Servants. As the countdown to the end of the war reaches zero, the cost of winning begins to blur the line between victory and defeat.
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord John Dalberg-Acton, 1837.
There are many types of power - financial, military, political, religious, etc - and at one time or another each has been used to further the goals of individuals, organisations, and even nations. The odd thing though, is that even though it has been referenced for thousands of years in everything from legends and myths to folktales and history, magic has rarely been placed in the same category. The problem is that people don't really believe in magic any more, and the subject has been relegated to the realms of fiction and
fantasy - even though it was often said that practitioners had the ability to wield primal forces, command spirits, and shake the foundations of heaven.
Everything has a price though, and in order to achieve or seize power of any sort you have to be willing to give up certain ... things. So the question is, what would you sacrifice for the chance to be a god?
The continuation of Fate/Zero opens with two F-15 jets that have been dispatched by the Japanese Air Force with orders to investigate the situation on the Mion River. Archer/Gilgamesh watches with disdain from on high as Sabre, Rider and Lancer continue their temporary alliance, and the pitched battle with the giant creature summoned by Caster/Gille de Rais rages on.
Little do they know that a new player is about to enter the field ...
One of the most noticeable differences between the first and second halves of Fate/Zero is the shift from preparation and planning to all-out action - something that is rather eloquently symbolized by the battle on the Mion River. With much of the preamble over, the storyline is able to place the kid-gloves to one side and ramp-up the tension between the combatants. This is most often achieved by drawing on the conflicting ideologies of each of the characters - with some thoroughly unscrupulous tactics thrown in to drive home the fact that the participants are involved in a war. The plot remains as focused as ever, but there's a palpable change in the atmosphere of the series, and many episodes have a less forgiving, more brutal air about them.
This shift in "attitude" has been handled extremely well by series director Aoki Ei and his writers, and a great deal of attention has been paid to the impact the numerous action scenes have on the characters - something that's becoming a rarity in modern anime. It's an interesting and effective usage of screentime that is markedly different from the patient build-up of the first half of the story, but crafted with the same care and attention to detail that have become a hallmark of Type-Moon/Ufotable collaborations. This prevents the show devolving into a legendary free-for-all, and allows for some very interesting confrontations - several of which have their roots in the layers of subtext that were added during previous series.
With the focus on action instead of intrigue, one might have expected there to be some differences in the visuals. Thankfully there are almost no major alterations present throughout the series - aside from a few cosmetic differences in clothing and apparel. The high production standards have been maintained and character movements are as sharp and crisp as ever. There are a few relatively minor issues with the blending of CG and standard animation, but these are pretty easy to ignore. What does stand out are the rather dazzling visual effects, many of which are bigger and bolder due to the shift from preparation to action. The choreography and timing of these - together with the quality of the character animation - make for some truly stunning combat sequences.
Composer Kajiura Yuki's all-female band Kalafina - the long-time muses of Type-Moon/Ufotable collaborations - open the second season with the operatic rock ballad "To the Beginning", while the main participants in the Holy Grail war are re-introduced in a well-choreographed montage that contains a few hints of things to come. On the other hand the closing sequence is a rather simple yet moving account - told through a series of still images - of the relationship between Emiya Kiritsugu and Irisviel von Einzbern - with Luna Haruna's pop ballad "Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau" adding an uplifting and slightly bittersweet tone. Kalafina also return with the martially themed operatic ballad "Manten" as a special closing track for episodes 18 and 19.
The first season of Fate/Zero featured a very high standard of audio production, and it's nice to see that sound director Iwanami Yoshikazu hasn't allowed anyone to rest on their laurels. The background music is as diverse and atmospheric as ever, and while there are a few tracks that may sound a little off-kilter, this appears to be a purposeful move in order to heighten the mood of certain scenes. That said, there are two areas where this series is arguably superior to its predecessor - both of which have been pushed to the fore by the move to action.
The audio effects are as sharp and clear as ever, but the increase in combat means that the production standards need to be pushed even higher and more diversity needs to be added. In addition to this the quality of the audio/visual choreography - which was already excellent in the previous series - often went unnoticed because of the focus on preparation and planning. Thankfully Iwanami is arguably one of the most experienced sound directors working in the industry, and his skills - developed over many years working on a variety of different anime - really make the difference. The superb effects and remarkable choreography really set the second series of Fate/Zero apart from other shows released this year, and mark it as a front-runner for any potential awards in this department.
Unlike many other anime, the move to an action footing hasn't caused the script to devolve into random shouts, grunts and screams, and the writers have done well to retain the maturity and intelligence of the first season. There is a bit of a change in the delivery though, as with the goal in sight, some of the actors appear to have been encouraged to add more emotion to their roles. This works surprisingly well with characters who were cold or aloof in the first series - Sabre and Archer for example - and the differences in their feelings becomes more pronounced as the story progresses and the battles take their mental toll.
One of the biggest criticisms of Fate/Zero is that it has tried to weave a coherent narrative from too many character and plot threads without relying on a lead role. Now this may seem like an anathema to those who prefer their development to follow a distinct linear progression, but those tales often suffer from an age-old problem in storytelling - every good protagonist needs an equally good antagonist. It's an issue that has affected anime for many years as - contrary to popular belief - creating and developing a good opposite (the antagonist doesn't have to be a villain after all), to a hero/heroine is not an easy task.
Thankfully Fate/Zero takes its cues from shows like Baccano!, and the lack of a lead role is actually a boon to the series as it allows multiple perspectives to come to the fore. Each of the participants in the war for the Holy Grail is effectively the antagonist of one or more of the other combatants, and all of the players bounce around the plot like peas on a drum - colliding into each other and changing their directions, alliances and enemies in the blink of an eye. It's a rarely used and fascinating approach to character development that highlights in particular the ever-changing nature of the battlefield. One big plus is that while the first season was rather staid in its portrayal of the heroes, the second half of the story pulls very few punches - showing clearly the lengths to which several of the combatants will go in order to win, opening the scars of old wounds, and ensuring that the viewer knows exactly what everyone has put on the line for the ultimate prize.
Over the years there have been many anime that have changed focus and tone from one season to the next, but rarely does it happen in the space of one series. The reason for this is because it's often extremely difficult to reconcile what may eventually turn out to be conflicting portrayals of the story and characters - and therein lies the greatest achievement of Type-Moon, Ufotable, and author Urobuchi Gen. The successful blending of two different perspectives has created a remarkable story that isn't afraid to show off its intelligence or maturity, and the second half of Fate/Zero successfully builds upon the carefully laid foundations of the first season - even with the increase in action and combat.
Prequels are often tricky to deal with as they are very easy to get wrong, which is one of the reasons why this series is a little bit special. In addition to shedding new light on the events that occur in Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero is also a singular example of just how good seinen action tales can be, and a testament to the quality that can be achieved through long-term studio collaborations.
From the mind that gave us works such as Madoka and Saya no Uta comes a tale spun as a predecessor to the wildly popular series Fate/Stay Night. Of course, anyone who has read or watched Fate/Stay Night knows the outcome of the fourth Holy Grail War, but only half the fun of a journey is the destination. Gen Urobuchi and studio Ufotable guide us through a magnificent world saturated with dynamic characters, a beautiful score, jaw-dropping visuals and fluctuating idealistic views, which all congeal into a compelling narrative. Mistakes are made by Ufotable, but compared to the grandiose story and execution they only serve
as minor annoyances.
The Grail War has been done before, but never like this. The same rules apply. Seven masters, seven servants, all fighting in a fierce battle royal in order to determine the rightful owner of the Holy Grail. However in contrast to Fate/Stay Nights cast of children struggling to accept the responsibility so prematurely forced upon them we have a plethora of adult men ready to sacrifice anything to achieve their goals. By Juxtaposing the series and its prequel it becomes evident that Fate/Zero is a darker story focusing on the ideals of each characters along with the suffering these ideals bring forth. The plot is essentially a catalyst that lets the characters tragically develop as they spiral closer and closer into despair.
But through its greatness Fate/Zero suffers from its link to Fate/Stay Night. As a prequel, its freedom was constrained by the eventual conclusion that loomed just beyond the horizon. But even as a predecessor limited to one conclusion Fate/Zero succeeded in producing a story that left you on the edge of your seat.
In addition to Fate/Zero Ufotable is also the studio responsible for the Kara no Kyoukai series; a powerhouse in the visual arts department. No corners were cut in producing Fate/Zero, either. Ferocious battles, twisted emotions, and familiar yet exotic settings are illustrated beautifully with the use of hair-raising choreography, movie quality animation and god tier CG. Now, CG is a turn off for most viewers, me usually included. However the CG in this series is so stunningly well done that I can't imagine it would be animated half as well any other way. In addition to CG, Ufotable has once again incorporated a beautiful contrast between neon colors as seen in Kara no Kyoukai. The warm orange glow of a streetlamp beating down on the lifeless world bathed in the hue of moonlight really gives the show a sharp look that is pleasing on the eyes. Fate/Zero also houses THE most amazing fight in anime I've seen to date, I won't spoil which fight it is, but those who have already seen the anime will know.
A beautiful orchestrated soundtrack is the icing on the cake. The music accompanying the series is a kaleidoscope of melodies invoking emotional responses when needed; happiness, despair, tragedy, splendor, evil, conflict, etc. The opening and ending songs both intertwine with the story effectively as well. The opening has an emotional feel to it as compared with the upbeat actiony sequence present in season one. It adequately inspires a sense of foreboding in the viewer. Now onto the ending. It serves to flesh out our protagonist Kerry by presenting us with how he and Iri came to be a couple and have their child. Teasing us with Kerry's past and how happy the two lovers were during the short time they spent together only serves to harden the impact of the finale.
These are what makes this show shine so brilliantly. There are no exceptions; every single character is quirkily unique, each one sheltering an array of conflicting emotions, and impossible ideals. Labeling any character as an antagonist, protagonist, side character, or otherwise would be insulting as almost every person is artistically created with personalities astonishingly fleshed out and consistent. Gilgamesh for example was once the ruler of pretty much everything on earth. By standing above everyone else figuratively and literally for his entire life, he has fostered an incredible superiority complex. Infinite weapons fill his treasury, and he only expends four on an enemy that is about to destroy the entire city before retreating saying that he "Does not wish for the weapons to be returned because they touched that filthy creature". That is beautiful characterization right there.
I enjoyed the shit out of this. There's nothing more to be said.
One episode was filler, some others were rushed because of it, and a certain track wasn't included in the score, but this does not stop Fate/Zero from being one of the best anime in a long time. With a bravura of directing, animation, plot, character development, sound, choreography, and dialogue, Fate/Zero exceeded all my expectations and got better every single episode. Fanboyish as the review may seem, a wonderful story is a wonderful story, no matter which way you cut it.
“Glory lies beyond the horizon. Challenge it because it is unreachable. Speak of conquest and demonstrate it.” - Rider
The Holy Grail—an omnipotent wish granting device which grants the owner any one wish of their deepest desire. For generations, the Holy Grail Wars were held every 60 years to decide who would be worthy to yield an item of such immense power; seven Masters coupled with seven Servants duke it out in a battle royale to the death, but only one Master and Servant can be victorious.
Fate/Zero is a thrilling, engaging, intellectual and mature anime with
Fate/Zero is about the 4th Holy Grail War, which takes place 10 years before the events of the Fifth Holy Grail war, and is set in Fuyuki City. Seven magi are chosen by the Grail as Masters, and by the power of the Grail, they have the ability to summon Heroic Spirits brought forth as familiars to come and fight by their side, which are their Servants. Each Servant that’s summoned is put into one of the following classes, which include: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin and Berserker; each with their own skills and benefits.
The Story is masterfully done and kept me engaged throughout the entire series. You never know what’s going to happen next or what plot twist is going to take place. Watching it is almost as reading a masterfully crafted literature epic; it's that good.
This anime is heavily focused around dialogue, and for that reason there aren’t many battles, but when a battle arrives it’s just so amazing that it’ll keep you at the edge of your seat. This isn’t to say that the dialogue isn’t entertaining though, as I personally enjoyed every last bit of it, even if it does sometimes drag on for awhile. The dialogue also tells a lot about some of the characters backstories.
Throughout there are some comedic scenes here and there, most of which pertaining to Rider and Waver, though for the most part it mainly stays in a serious and dark atmosphere.
The production quality for this anime is just amazing—it really shows how great Type-Moon's productions are, and when they’re mixed with ufotable, EXPECT GREATNESS! The art and animation in this anime are done SO well it’s just breathtaking, to say the least. Every image is animated so well, there were very few animation errors, and everything was just so smooth. And the art was just beautiful! It was so good that in some scenes my jaw was literally dropped for 1-2 minutes. I also really liked the character designs; all of them were just awesome. The art and animation is just masterfully done, not much more I can say about it. Go check it out for yourself if you don’t take my word for it.
One of my favorite aspects of this show has got to be how it portrayed the characters. I’m not sure if it’s not entirely focusing on one main protagonist and rather showing all the characters and how their stories eventually unfold, or if it’s the masterful way Gen Urubuchi conveyed how each character thought and why they took the actions that they took, but I loved it. Character development is also very good; you mainly notice it with Kiritsugu Emiya, as there are even 2 whole episodes about his back story in season 2. But my favorite character, like many others, is definitely Rider. Some of the feels you get when he gives his speeches. I also love his attitude and how he acts, one of my favorite characters of recent times.
The soundtrack for both seasons was done by Yuki Kaijura, and if you’ve ever heard any of her other awesome soundtracks (most notably SAO and Madoka Magica), you should have a pretty good idea that this one is just as great. Most of the pieces have heavy orchestra and are very powerful; this track also contains some very emotional pieces, like my personal favorite from it, Tragedy and Fate.
I absolutely adored the first opening Oath Sign by LiSa, and I doubted the second one would be better than the first… But oh boy was I wrong about that (for my tastes). “To the Beginning” By Kalafina (Yuki Kaijura’s all-female band) quickly become my favorite OP of ALL time. Strong vocals accompanied by a strong orchestra make this piece a pleasure to the ears. I really liked the EDs. Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau by Luna Haruna really set the mood for the end of each episode, and it also quickly became one of my favorite EDs.
I watched the dubbed version and it was just great--leagues above many other dubs I've heard. I don’t think they could’ve even picked a better voice actor for Kiritsugu Emiya than Matthew Mercer, and Freeman Crispin (also Alucard from Hellsing), as always, did an amazing job. His deep tone really suited Kirei Kotomine.
What can I say? I absolutely love this anime. It will keep you thrilled, engaged, and satisfied by the ending. It has really high production quality, and a great soundtrack. My highest recommendation for you to watch this truly exceptional anime.
One thing I also admire about it how mature it is—it doesn’t need fan service or overused/unoriginal comedy to be successful (not that that's always a bad thing, though). It is truly an original as well as unique anime, and in my opinion, a must watch for fans of the Fate series.
The Holy Grail War: A war fought between seven selected masters and their servants to determine a sole victor, who will then bless one miracle upon the world. The Holy Grail War can either bring about an ideal wish that saves innocent lives or lead to chaotic destruction in the process. Or both. The Fate Zero series' plot circles around the Holy Grail War, its history and its future. The previous season focused on the characters' backgrounds, and in this season it is now all-out war.
The Holy Grail War also involves several sets of conflicts between various supernatural families. All the families for one
wants glory for winning the actual war, but the one miracle wish that's blessed by the holy grail is what personally drives the contestants. Would you sacrifice the whole world for the rebirth of your dead, loved ones? Is it worth it? These dark themes are the bane of many of our protagonists and side characters as they approach their psychological breakdowns.
Then there's Saber, and all other Honored Heroes.
All the characters in the fate zero series have multilateral background stories, but most things are left unexplained in the beginning of the series in order to create a mysterious atmosphere and aura around even the main protagonists. This leaves the audience thirsting for more every upcoming episode, so that they can learn the true intents of each character. And, why they desire the Grail so badly. These essential traits of Fate Zero characters are made to appeal to worldwide audiences, and are elevating at times
On another note, the season two of fate zero definitely involves more action than last season. Yet at times, this series still explores some dramas of all proportionals in depth, while being consistent in the flow of its overall plot. Thus, the tension the 2nd season creates a heavier, more intense atmosphere than what someone would usually be used to, partially due to the graphics involved in making this series.
Since I brought it up, I must talk about it. The graphics and music in fate zero needs to be pinpointed to an Oscar award soon or there's no hope for future anime franchises. The graphics in fate zero definitely exist as one of the best out there. The artistic aspects not only illuminate the detailed/general setting very well but seems to depict each character's personality as well. Ever since I've seen fate zero, there hasn't been any other series (with a few exceptions) that I have considered a 10/10 when judging its artistic qualities. The music in this series is also nicely executed in fluency with the sound acting and special effects. Most of which raises the level of fierceness in a specific action scene or just makes the actual animation showing on the screen more engaging.
Although it would be cool to participate in the Holy Grail war and grant myself a wish, a possible dilemma could result in having to hand over my family, job, and all other responsibilities. So on second thought, I'd rather just be a spectator. And that's exactly what fate zero gives us the opportunity to do, and in the most appealing and qualified graphics possible. That's why, although it's not a perfect anime, the series proves itself to be considered well executed and deserving of all the attention it's getting. All in all, though it really saddens me that the Fate Zero series has finally concluded on a fixed, amiss note, it's very likely the deftly devious creator Urobuchi may provide us with a better and more ideal series sooner or later.
Fate/Zero is a brilliantly constructed anime that deals with the complex themes of morality and the justifications of violent actions. Each episode reveals deep insights through its intense character development and storyline, but the opening is also a statement in and of itself!