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!