This review will heavily incorporate events that occurred in other works by Type-Moon, so I am going to assume that you are familiar with their other works.
I am pretty sure vast majority of the people who wants to watch this film are familiar with the original visual novel and have some general idea where the story is headed, but just in case you haven't figured it out, Sakura is going to become full yandere by the end of the film. Not the Gasai Yuno kind of yandere. The good kind of yandere, where the film properly explores the events that gradually transforms
Sakura's fall from grace and makes her character believable. And that is in fact the key triumph of this film; it is raking in all the emotional weight accumulated from Sakura’s love for Shirou from the first film by crashing her world down slowly. The film does make use of some classical yandere tropes like “confine your boyfriend in the house to protect him from danger” and the “smiles of insanity” to make Sakura’s deadly transformation clear, but it was more effectively told through visually like the static interference happening to Sakura’s body, the ominous shadow that keeps following her, and that one scene where Shirou fearfully tried to ignore the dark presence following Sakura.
If you are familiar with the collaborative works between Type-Moon and ufotable, then you cannot help but draw the comparison between this film with Kara no Kyoukai chapter 3. KnK came long before Fate/Stay Night was published, so you can tell that Sakura is inspired from Asagami Fujino. They have very similar hair color, extremely similar build, and both are incredibly timid girls who later on go on a rampage, but that is about where the similarity ends. The difference is that in this film, we had an entire 2-hour film prior to this to make us feel invested in Shiro and Sakura’s love story, and also that Shirou has a large influence on Sakura’s humanity, and the outcome of the story depends entirely on Shirou’s decision. There was a certain scene near the end where Shirou had to make a decision about Sakura’s future brought tears to my eyes, because it was a perfect illustration of how much Shirou and Sakura are dependent on one another. Once you realize what Shiro had been up to, it suddenly hits you just how much Shiro is conflicted by his own emotion and his sense of justice.
That scene also revisited the single key dilemma that characters from Fate series have to explore endlessly. Will Shirou stick with his sense of justice and forsake Sakura, or will he forsake his hero complex and save the one he loves? From the perspective of us audiences, Shirou doesn’t only have his love for Sakura to consider. Abandoning his hero complex means abandoning the legacy that his father (Kiritsugu) left for him, which at this point defines his entire existence. Ten years ago, we saw that Kiritsugu’s sacrifice saved countless lives by preventing the Holy Grail from being fully complete, so Shirou should follow suit, right? It is not an easy decision for sure, but I love it that the film brings new perspective to this theme of justice and sacrifice that Nasu Kinoko has consistently tackled from multiple viewpoints from intertwined characters from different works. I must also applaud this film’s production staff for clearly communicating this theme and dilemma by trimming the fat from the visual novel and treating key thematic scenes with the respectful grace they deserve.
Now, regarding the technical merits, I will say that the film definitely had large amount of budget to work with, almost to the point of making the producers value quantity over quality. I forgot exactly what happened in the original visual novel, but it felt like the only things happening in the fight scene were explosions. Saber and Berserker also spent a lot of the time jumping from place-to-place and performing mid-air kicks like Rock Lee with five gates opened, so there wasn’t much opportunity to explore the mental state of the fighters. Don’t get me wrong, the animation was certainly gorgeous and fluid, and it also featured this insane sakuga where the camera showed the background of a natural scenery changing from following the movement of a character while showing beautiful animated explosions happening in that same background (the staffs of this film were boasting about this particular scene being the pinnacle of Japanese animation). But these fights feel empty unless we can feel the emotional stake of the fight, which it had none. There was also this scene where Sakura was confessing her secrets near the beginning of the film where Sakura was making so much facial and body movements that it seemed incredibly unnatural. I think this is what animators do when they have nothing better to animate but still want to make the scene look impactful. I am not a huge fan of this. However, not everything was overdone. Ironically, I felt that the art shined the most when there was not much to animate, when the characters were living their daily lives, when silence and calm conversations tells a better story. The music suffered the same problem as the animation. There were a lot of explosive choruses during fight scenes (no pun intended), which sort of distracted me from the fights, but it was haunting and beautiful during gruesome and emotional scenes.
So in conclusion, this is a film that is made for Type-Moon x ufotable fans through and through. You will especially get a lot of out of this film if you have already read the visual novels and have seen all the previous main Fate franchise anime. Ironically, the core hook of this film is its story and characters, which I didn’t think was going to be the case because I just simply didn’t think they would go in such depth in exploring the themes and characters in a humanistic way. The film is gorgeous to look at, but I question some of its animation directions. Like mentioned before, this is a story-focused film, so the best parts come from scenes that don’t involve actions. I will briefly mention here, that the highly anticipated sex scene was given the proper treatment. It was not overdone and it properly articulated the love between the participants. I just thought that you might be interested.
Me before Lost Butterfly: "Yeah I have seen all anime related to fate/stay night, pretty much know all about it at this point."
10 minutes into the movie: huh?
30: WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE
Mild spoilers follow.
No tedious philosophies nor pretentious dialogue that solely exists to postpone the battles and extent the awful battle tournament shonen storyline because of pride or other equally laughable reasons. No. This time it's all about Sakura being too horny to stand and Shirou holding hands with every girl imaginable. Literally sex scenes and masturbation. Now this is what I always wanted from Fate. Finally understand why Heaven's Feel is the best
The pacing can be a problem to some viewers because it is seriously fast and scenes change at ridiculous tempo. There is constantly something happening, twists actually in goddamn fate and people die. Why the earlier anime were even made when something this good was already written I do not know. As a whole, the story is insane and completely fucked up in a good sense.
No 'master this master that' bullshit from the servants. They powerful and have their own will this time around. Sakura literally too horny to stand. Haven't seen anyone in such heat in the animated medium before, excluding hentai. The countless scenes where she said "senpai" and "humu humu" finally confirmed who is the best girl. Shirou is not afraid of anything I swear and Shinji got owned to hard they should cut him off from other routes. The feelings stuff is neato and for once the series feels genuine thanks to the characters who for once are not either living 100% slice of life or other times throwing some pseudo-intellectual horseshit one-liners no one cares about.
Slow motion hugging scene in the rain by goddamn ufotable. Prettiest shit I ever saw. Literally can't wait to see Berserker vs. 2B Saber in blu-ray such badassery and perfect fight. The color pallet is glorious as ever and those animated tentacles piercing ppl's hearts amazing. And just when I thought it couldn't do anything more brutal they hit it with mutilation scene by Gilgamesh. The gore is seriously impressive.
Glorious as hell. Flamboyant and atmospheric. Absolutely served the movie. Great decisions were made. Ending song beyond catchy can't wait for part 3.
Once again Ufotable x Type-Moon did not disappoint. Watching it in the cinema (in Japan) with proper loudspeakers can enable me to experience the thrill of this fantastic display of animation choreography. The amount of time and effort by Ufotable once again demonstrates its class in perfecting high-quality animation and its visual arts. The unlimited budget work studio took time off from anime series and dedicate all their resources into this project and came out in fruition, and I could not be prouder for them.
The movie itself was breathtaking, astonishing and spectacular to watch. I was lost in words walking out of the cinema
as this was one amazing movie adaption to its visual novel source. Despite cutting out, or twisting the moments from its origin was well dealt with to make it as original as possible. The amount of detail dedicated to the colourisation of the background scenery was aesthetic and blends well into the climate of the moment.
Regarding the fight scenes, the amount of detail to each moment and time-lapse of the fight was well constructed to demonstrate the fluidity of the animation. Not to mention the sounds and background music incorporated fantastically to illustrate the intensity of the battle. I enjoyed the fight scene more compared to all moments.
The story building near the end was speechless as the unexpected happened, and demonstrated that Ufotable is willing to go beyond and adapted to the essential character development moment in this movie. Providing us with a much darker twist to the story than the previous routes. My view on Sakura for the past two routes changed entirely after this movie and will play a much more significant role in the final movie.
Finally, Ufotable did well with the changed in the tone of the last part of the movie from very lively/family oriented moments, and turns into dark/suspense moments, giving us a rollercoaster of feels. But by far, Heaven Feels is now regarded as my most favourite route compared to all routes.
Hope this convince you to watch the movie.
Feel free to watch my review on YouTube:
I am the tool of the Matous
Violated is my body, and corrupted is my blood
I have been infested by over 1000 worms
Craving death, yet clinging to life
Have withstood pain to be with my Senpai
Yet his hands hold other women
So as I pray
Stay by my side forever…Senpai
Heaven’s Feel: Lost Butterfly is probably the most sinister and vulgar representation of a survival game that I’ve seen yet. Its structure is completely different from the other two Fate routes. Instead of showcasing that fantastical and epic feeling that the other arcs so expertly portray, the tone of Heaven’s Feel is much more despair inducing and grounded in reality.
Characters don’t give grand speeches about their beliefs among other things and don’t always get moments of grandeur, and instead often find themselves dying in abrupt and grisly ways. Primal human emotions like lust and envy are amplified in this adaptation, showing off the impurities of the characters. Despite being a movie embedded with magic and mythological heroes, it never felt wondrous or magical. It instead instilled feelings of misery and dread into me, like a world devoid of the warm caress of light from the heavens.
Which is exactly how a death battle royale featuring broken characters should make me feel. And I loved every second of it.
I find it appropriate to start with what I found to be a big highlight of this movie, which would be Sakura Matou, the female protagonist. Heaven’s Feel completely deflowers the typical depiction of an anime heroine. Saber from Stay Night and Rin from UBW are prime examples of ideal heroines. They’re strong, attractive, kind, yet still have some issues that they get over with the help of everyone’s favorite idealistic protagonist Shirou. Plus they’re pretty excellent waifu material if you ask me. Heaven’s Feel takes an entirely different approach with Sakura. She’s much more realistic in that she’s far from perfect and pure. We actually see her masterbate on screen and express her desire to have sex with Shirou, while being disgusted with herself for having such impure cravings. She’s incredibly possessive of Shirou and is clearly agitated at the thought of him being with another girl, most specifically Rin. Her yandere tendencies led me to compare her with the famous yandere from a different survival game that I’m sure every anime fan knows: Yuno Gasai. And although Sakura is like at least 10 times less popular than Yuno, I’d say that she’s a far more engaging and fleshed out character than Yuno is. And that’s all thanks to the excellent portrayal of Sakura’s character.
Sakura’s story is hella depressing. I’ve always felt bad for her, especially after watching Fate/Zero. Yet my empathy towards her was highly amplified in Heaven’s Feel thanks to her finally taking the spotlight. Her relationship with Shirou was done excellently. It was one of the most legitimate relationships that I’ve seen in an anime. Both characters are broken in their own way, and they rely on each other to keep going. Shirou even gives up on his hero of justice ideal just for Sakura, which I found to be some great development on his part. Though what I find to be the best part of Sakura is her underlying dark nature. I think it was made pretty apparent from the previous movie, but in order to avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that she isn’t as innocent as she seems. Though it’s not really her fault.
In fact, my absolute favorite moment of the anime would be Sakura’s dream sequence and the aftermath that immediately followed. Using some creative visuals that rivaled the unique animation techniques of Studio Shaft, Ufotable presents a happy dream that Sakura is having where she’s a lovely fairytale princess in a kingdom of wondrous creatures. Yet the entire sequence is quite eerie, and kept me on edge. It culminates with her turning some of the creatures into candy after they were being naughty, and she happily unwraps a piece and eats it. Pretty harmless, right? But the scene that follows is simply chilling. And it was absolutely brilliant. It’s moments like these that made me really appreciate Sakura as a character. In fact, she was excellent in every scene she was in, and I could go on and on talking about her role in Heaven’s Feel. I had honestly never really given Sakura much thought since she was always outshone by the rest of the amazing Fate cast in my opinion, but my views immediately changed after watching this movie. Sakura is a criminally underrated heroine, and she deserves more love.
Most of the Fate cast hardly get any screen time, especially when compared to previous instillations, and like I said previously, usually just end up dying in gruesome or epic ways after going down fighting, as true heroes should. Since Heaven’s Feel is a group of movies and not a two season anime, I’m perfectly content with this approach. This way the movie can focus more strongly on its core cast of characters. So Saber, Gilgamesh, and others, I love ya, but you need to move over. You’ve already had your time to shine. Aside from Sakura and Shirou, the other character who gets a decent portion of focus would be muh fav loli in all anime (no I am not joking), Illyasviel von Einzbern.
Illya has a funny, and now that I think about it, only, comedic moment in the anime before everything goes completely crazy. She just never fails to make me smile. I love her relationship with Shirou in this film, and the two of them holding hands was pretty frickin kawaii. There’s also a really great moment where she overhears Taiga talking about how Kiritsugu would constantly go oversees in a desperate attempt to find someone who he dearly cherished, who would of course be his daughter Illya. It’s pretty heart-wrenching because Illya was led to believe that her father had abandoned her, but that was not the case at all. Dem unlimited feels tho.
I don’t think I need to discuss how amazing the visuals and sound quality are. Ufotable’s animation is the cream of the crop. Fight scenes are done beautifully. The slow motion hugging scene in the rain was one of the most visually appealing things I’ve ever seen. Everything just looks so damn good. And Yuki Kajiura once again composed a heavenly soundtrack. Plus the ending theme song by Aimer is pure epicness. The voice actors are amazing as always.
Fate has always been one of the most entertaining and well made franchises for me. Yet out of all of the Fate media I’ve watched, none have been quite like Heaven’s Feel. It’s a different experience from what I’m used to, but I absolutely love it. It tells a truly compelling yet tragic tale, and my eyes were glued to the screen while watching. After it ended, I found myself staring at my blank computer screen with unblinking eyes, an accelerated heartbeat, and numerous emotions flowing through me for a minute or two. Yeah, I know that sounds cringy af, but it’s true. I don’t believe that I’ve ever felt the same way after completing another anime then I did with Heaven’s Feel: Lost Butterfly. And let me tell you, I enjoyed every second of it. Can't wait for movie three!