Jul 20, 2011
Reckoner (All reviews)
There are many times in anime where I've been left dry simply because I was out of the target audience. However, there is a time, rare that it may be, that an anime is created with absolutely no target audience in question. Unlimited Blade Works is lucky that I don't consider it a movie because it would be one of the worst, if not the worst anime movie I have ever seen. Unfortunately compiling a slide show of random fights without any well established context, background information, plot, scene transitioning, and character development does not qualify as an actual movie.

First thing's first though and for an animated film, Unlimited Blade Works has pretty poor production values. This should not come as a shock, seeing as this is studio DEEN who are notorious for budget cutting anime, but it is nonetheless disappointing. Several times through the anime there is a constant abuse of distant still shots and camera rotation. The designs were mostly alright, but the worst issues are around Archer and Shirou's UBW, and Gilgamesh's Gates of Babylon where it initially renders the swords properly, but then turns them into glowing sticks flying across the screen. Personally, this is not appealing and is yet another corner costing by DEEN.

The true problems of the movie are definitely the direction and content. Whoever thought that adapting a 10 plus hour long visual novel route, longer than the Fate route adapted in the original anime, was a good idea is extremely naive. It was clear from the onset that this movie could only ever serve to be a taste of this story to the original anime watchers, and/or a treat to the original VN players with the animation of many of UBW's few key scenes. But the execution of this entire film by DEEN was just horrible.

Frankly, for any newcomer to the Fate/Stay Night universe, I'm not even sure how this film was in anyway comprehensible whether it be the plot, the characters, or even just the action. Many of the events of the first episode or two of the original Fate/Stay Night are quickly glossed over in but a mere few minutes, and to exasperate the problem, the plot never slowed down, if even for a moment. Each new scene began with a new character showing up, followed by a fight, concluding and then doing the same thing all over again in the next scene. There was no real established context, and each fight was fought for vaguely defined reasons at the beginning of the film (That one would only understand if they saw the original anime or played the VN).

This is in no way, shape or form to show a movie. This is but a slide show of events. And what's worst, these events are not even a treat to the VN fans since they muck up so many of the plot details, that one cannot help but feel enraged. Whether it be how they disproportionately stronger Shirou is in the movie compared to the VN, the way Shirou and Archer fight, the quick conclusions of the battle, or especially the last fight in this movie, everything was so off detail from the VN that no VN player would be able to truly enjoy this anywhere near the level of their respective scenes in the VN. Not to mention that if you were a Rin fan before the movie you would have been severely disappointed by how much interplay between Shirou and Rin was cut out in this film as well.

Perhaps some of the original anime waters could have managed to find some enjoyment in this film (Without any VN knowledge), but I can't imagine it can be seen as anything but a huge fan service movie with many random fight scenes between their beloved characters. It is my opinion that no matter what, this movie has to stand up on its own, and it is clear that it doesn't.

Now before I finish, let me break down all the possible target audiences they could have went after, and why in the end, it was for none of them. You have people who have played the VN, people who have seen the original Fate/Stay Night anime, and then you have the people who are entirely new to Fate/Stay Night.

A newcomer would find this movie utterly incomprehensible. An anime only viewer would find this film extremely confusing, borderline incomprehensible as well, but might enjoy the fights to a degree. A VN player would be utterly disgusted with this trash adaption.

In any case, I think it is impossible to view this in anyway as good story telling, or top notch anime productions. DEEN is good at wrecking franchises for sure, and it seems they are no different with Fate/Stay Night.