This "Special" glorified advertisement has the most ironic anime name in history. A woeful way to cap off 2016. For anyone who saw this shortly after, what a horrible way to start off 2017.
*SPOILERS FOR FATE/GRAND ORDER: FIRST ORDER AND ONE SPOILER FOR FATE/ZERO SECOND SEASON*
Fate/Grand Order: First Order isn't grand in the slightest. The only thing "grand" about this special feature film is how much of a grand travesty it is. It simply doesn't GET how any of the intricacies of the Holy Grail War or the servants work. Instead, it opts to be generic and full of black holes (that's how gaping these plot-holes are), and as a result, this glorified mobile game advertisement fails as an addition to the franchise, and is the literal worst place for a newcomer to start. Why, you may ask. What exactly makes it fail to grasp the fundamentals of Fate? Well, let's find out, shall we?
Basically, this organization (Chaldea) sends people that can become masters, to the past in order to intervene in events that could damage the timeline as we know it (despite the fact that they intervene when the events happen rather than prevent it outright, so how the hell does that work?) SO, some generic MC (named Ritsuka) randomly ends up in Chaldea, unconscious, in which we don't know how he got there, and gets kicked out of an assignment (by the directer, Olga, for sleeping in the briefing) with 47 other members, and there is a sabotage. How did it get sabotaged, causing so many people to almost die? Why did the person who did it, do it? Well, hold on to those questions forever, for they are never answered! His new friend, Mash, gets trapped under a hot piece of wall, and when MC-Kun gets his hands burned, yet when he uses his uniform to help him, his hands and outfit aren't burned. This event causes the Chaldea crystals (or something like that) to leave, which will doom the human race if not fixed, and they fix it by going back in time. What even is this? These things are what make it possible for humanity to survive? How? We know literally nothing about these things aside from that, making the structure of this film a mess. Believe me, it gets even messier.
Just as Mash is about to die, she forms a contact with a mysterious servant, and with this, a plethora of new questions appear. How did get get here? Why is he a silhouette? If a contract is never formed like this, why is one being formed like this? How does he fuze with Mash to make her a demi-servant? Are those even supposed to be possible in Fate/? What is this shielder class? Are there any OTHER new classes that aren't a part of the main 7? Again, none of these are answered. So, they time travel into an event taking place in 2004 in Fuyuki (the same one that would get burned down at the end of Fate/Zero, and they can communicate with people in the future, and they are sent to stop this bad event from taking place by resolving it rather than stop it before it starts. Yes, that makes TWO gigantic plot-holes in how their time-travel works (since there ain't no multiverse theory here), and they are never patched up. Time travel is easy to screw up in a story, damaging it in the long run (which is why multiverse theory is a much more stable ground for time travel, which is why Dragon Ball Z gets this right), but linear time-frames are much harder to safely work with, as they are very fragile in what you can feasibly get away with without creating a big plot-hole. Guess which route they take, and guess what happens!
So, Mash and her "master" Ritsuka get sent to stop a singularity that is not given an explanation as to why it will mess with time. Is it because there are servants but no masters? Maybe. They never tell us. Also, how can there be a Holy Grail War with no masters? I mean, servants physically cannot exist in this world without a master supplying mana, How come this was never recorded. You'd think that the organization that is effectively meant to record everything in time itself (how else can they know when something could cause a time paradox at any given moment in history?) would've been able to do this. For some reason, the director, Olga, is here for some reason. They later explain that she was right above the explosion of the sabotage, but we didn't even see where she was, so we can only take this shady, untrustworthy anime's word for it. So, after the duo saves Olga's life, she is informed by the doctor (Romani) that they are here to stop this one singularity and that the sabotage critically injured all of the other candidates. Then they run into Medusa (Lancer this time, usually she's rider class), and they get their asses handed to them before Cu Chulainn (Caster this time, usually he's lancer class) shows up, and together with Mash, they kill her. Turns out, somehow, Saber went Alter, she killed most of the other servants and somehow turned them into alter versions, with their personalities altered as well, but we only get to see two of them for some reason. Caster killed one of them (assassin), he says that Berserker won't bother them unless provoked (which is why he isn't even here), but we see silhouettes of Gilgamesh and Medusa (who is probably rider class by process of elimination) and neither of them show up at all, so what happened with them is unknown.
We get our explanation as to how a Noble Phantasm works here: it is naturally triggered after a certain unexplainable feeling triggers it. This heavily clashes with how Noble Phantasms have worked in the rest of the franchise. They were simply a unique ace-in-the-hole trump card a servant had that could be activated at any time to really turn the tide of battle (like reviving yourself 12 times, summoning the wrath of Excalibur, ramming someone with a pegasus at extremely high speeds, or creating a reality marble to summon things or people in order to crush your trapped foe), but now, they can only be activated after discovering a random feeling?! NO! BULLSH*T!!! Well, they move on and then encounter Alter Archer, so Caster stalls while the rest of the group face off against Saber Alter (who is surprisingly much weaker than any anime incarnation of Saber thus far), and after two ok fights and plenty generic tropes and moments to truly sell this broken mess as trite, they finally defeat Saber Alter. Now, for one of the worst endings I have ever seen.
I forgot that there was this one character named Lev Lainur. Then again, he only appeared in one scene and was introduced as the creator of this organization. Now, he's a villain. This heel-turn is extremely telegraphed and extremely horrible. And, surprise surprise, even less How the hell did he even get here. Why is he evil? Why did he sabotage his organization's major mission (he claims to be tasked with killing humanity, but by whom?)? Why did he wait so long (the organization was established an unknown yet probably long time ago) to do this? BAH! He kills Olga in a horribly mean-spirited and equally needless death scene (in which NOBODY DOES ANYTHING TO STOP THIS), and he somehow leaves. Everything collapses (for some reason), and they are sent back to the present just in time. Wait. Why didn't the guys in the present get them out of there in order to save their goddamn director?! A master has 3 command seals that he can use, and Ritsuka used one...despite it never being shown that he did so...ever! In fact, he literally does nothing for this entire movie. He is the most useless character in this goddamn film and he's the protagonist! J-J-J-...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry for that breakdown. Back to the sh*tty ending. So, Mash and Ritsuka bond more, and now they have to save humanity by doing the same thing they've been doing, but on a grander scale. So, we get to see glimpses of what will come in the future (for the characters, anyway) in a montage that is exactly like how a television commercial would play out, and this goddamn movie finally ends. Horrible writing, plot-holes up the ass, stuff that contradicts the very foundation of the franchise, and nothing of any value. As a Fate/ fan, I am borderline offended. Go f*ck yourself, movie! What's worse, we still got a long way to go! Yes, my sanity IS depleting!
As stated before, Ritsuka is not only a bland and generic protagonist (complete with the generic hair and look), but he is absolutely useless as well. Aside from failing to help Mash, he literally does nothing throughout this entire film. He is a horrible protagonist, not for his bland personality, but for the fact that he adds literally NOTHING to any of the major events of this film! I don't even know how an anime accomplished that! It's astounding. Mash is also pretty generic, with her generic insular personality warming up to Ritsuka and that being all there is to her. Olga is made out to be this tough directer who takes no sh*t from anyone, but is just lame, borderline useless, and whiny. She puts up one shield, shoots some magic at some goons, yells at Ritsuka to man up in one scene, and that's it. She adds almost nothing here. Her death meant nothing, which is sickening given how unfair and cruel the death is. Romani is comic relief for one scene and takes over an even less involved role later, and yes, he adds little in both personality and plot impact.
Cu Chilainn has always been a fun character in every incarnation in a Fate/ anime (excluding the Lancer in Zero, since he is a different person, Diarmund to be exact), and here, it's no exception. He's the only DECENT character in this movie, providing some witty lines against everyone and being a genuine badass (sad to think, this is the very first compliment I gave this film). He uses his Noble Phantasm (we can assume so, they never directly state it) a few times, as well as his wit to gain the upper hand against literally every foe. Yes, he is the one that kills every enemy servant, not any of the protagonists. Medusa here, thanks to the whole alter thing, is a completely different person than in any incarnation, and is just a generic sadistic villain for the sake of it, which is a crying shame for her heart-stoppingly beautiful self. Alter Archer is pretty bland here to thanks to the Alter. Saber Alter is basically a "fight me" villain, with no purpose besides being some final boss at the end without a personality to speak of. Lev is a horrendous villain. He shows up once and then is a cliche villain for the sake of it. He's exactly like Hans from Frozen in that regard, except he gets literally nothing done (except for horribly kill Olga), and the villains here were bad enough as it is. Talk about a horrendous cast. Only one good character out of like, eight...
Studio Lay-duce is fairly new here, only really being known for animating the two Magi Sinbad no Byouken anime. I won't cut them any slack since outside of one or two good character designs, lackluster --if sparse-- CGI, the LN style, mediocre colors, and ok at best artwork are still damning aspects of the visuals here. Conversely, the fights are alright and decently animated and some of the effects like Saber Alter's Excalibur Morgan look downright badass. Regardless, the visuals aren't very engaging outside of the fight scenes, which are the only times this disasterpiece doesn't suck or rend my soul.
There is no OP by the way...just putting it out there. The background OST here is beyond lacking, that at times, there wasn't any. Sure, the OST is unspeakably forgettable, but at least play the tracks more! As for the ED, Shikisai, by Maaya Sakamoto (I know you're thinking of Sakamoto desu ga? which came out last year), it starts off interesting but becomes a meh theme overall. There really isn't much of anything to any of the songs here. Fitting for such a generic and boring pile of absurdity.
This film is rather boring. It may be partially due to the robotic dialogue and how cliche everything feels, but the film is very un-engaging. Plus, the final 10 minutes are nigh-infuriating for how horrible the events are and how stupid and mean-spirited it all is. What's worse, the more I think about this movie, the more infuriated I became as I tried to process just how wrong the story was and how little it seemed to understand the Fate/ franchise in general. Being bored is one thing, but when you're bored and annoyed, or, God forbid, bored and angry, that simply makes for a torturous experience. A few chuckle-worthy mini-moments hardly make anything better either.
OVERALL: 2/10 RAW SCORE: 20/100
What even was Fate/Grand Order: First Order? A horribly made and painfully long, glorified commercial. Some of you will try to argue that it's a prologue so it cannot be judged like a full-fledged series, but the writing here is so damn awful that most full-length series fail to match it. The characters (barring one) are generic at best an horrendous and/or useless at worst, and nothing about the story worked in any capacity. It actively contradicts the Fate/ franchise's rules sometimes and has an insanely stupid ending. I get that this was first and foremost, a prologue to advertise the Fate/Grand Order mobile game, but that is no excuse for how horrific the writing here is. If I saw this when it came out, I would've immediately labeled this as one of the worst anime of 2016, but not only will I have to do that now in 2017, but I also have to name this the worst Fate/ anime in current existence, and I hope that no Fate/ series anime ever surpasses this. With all that said, I bid you adieu.