Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Fate/Zero Review.

Have you ever loved someone who turned out to be related to a person you hate? You know that family with two completely different siblings, one who is an angel and another who was spawned straight from the depths of hell?

Kinda like Tard and Pokey.
If yes then that's basically the relationship between Fate/Zero and Fate Stay Night.
FSN was an anime I accidentally watched one day while tv browsing, it sounded interesting and it did have a decent first episode, plus the concept of the show was cool, 7 mages facing each other using famous heroes from history sounded awesome.

Sadly the show never really felt like it took advantage of its concept at all, instead of showing us the 7 masters it instead was made into a pretty bad harem genre of a show, with the main hero living with 4 women who loved him. The show only focused on the story long after it wasted too many episode at which point it just wasn't important anymore.

Oh sure it had some action and an actual story but they all felt like a side-story with a horrible love triangle being the focus on the show, the show might have been better received if it had better dialogue but we don't even get that in FSN.


With all this in mind, I wasn't expecting much when I started watching F/Z, I was worried it would take an impressive concept and then ignore it like FSN before it, so I had low expectations from the start.


Man was I wrong, F/Z does everything right, and by that I mean everything, its incredible in everything it does, so I'm just gonna praise it in different categories.

Animation.

The animation in F/Z is truly remarkable, I've never seen an anime as visually impressive as F/Z, the anime has 25 episodes and all of them are just beautiful to look at.

Even an image of books looks good in this series.
The animation in F/Z usually has a dark tint to it as most scenes take place at night or in dark places, which gives the show a suitable vibe as it is quite dark show as well, its a very fitting combination where the art is perfect for the story it tells .


The animation also does something quite innovative by adding in 3D technology into scenes, its not exactly the first show to do it but it adds a lot to some scenes, particularly the character of Berzerker who is fully CGI,  the CGI sometimes looks amazing and sometimes seems very awkward ( and I am being kind here by replacing the word bad with awkward).


Still despite occasionally bad CGI and a few off-model shots, the animation is amazing for this show, words cant really do justice to the animation so here's a video of what you can expect to see ( This is a battle from the fifth episode, its a good peek of of the animation quality).


Story

The story in F/Z is quite simple, every 60 years the Holy Grail materializes in the world and picks 7 mages to fight for it, the Holy Grail grants a wish to the winning mage who is able to defeat or kill all the other mages.

To aid every mage they are granted a Servant, and every Servant is from a famous legend like King Arthur or a historic figure like Alexander the great. These Servants also get to have their wish granted for them if they win along with their master, so everyone enters the Holy Grail war intending to win.

FSN did the story horribly by not focusing on the war between masters, but luckily F/Z learns its lesson well and shows us all the masters and their servants with the story being incredibly character driven, nothing happens just out of luck or for no reason, the story moves along because the masters come up with new tactics to use so that they may defeat their enemies.

The story is very well written I must say and its amazing to find a show that talks about what is right and what is wrong in such a way, can you kill a thousand people to save a million? whats is the price of victory? would you sacrifice all you have to win? 

F/Z has a lot of action scenes but even more scenes where characters simply sit around and talk to each other about their thoughts, dreams and how they feel. In fact one episode is simply 3 servants sitting together discussing what it means to be a king, with each one thinking they know the right path to ruling.


The cool thing about having different ideologies and beliefs in the world is that none of them are treated like they are wrong or right, every person justifies what they believe in and the show doesn't try to tell us what we should think in, it only shows us and allows us to judge for ourselves, quite deep for an anime.

Characters.

What makes the story in F/Z work so well is how it uses compelling characters to tell it, all with very distinct personalities and motivations. Despite a large cast of characters though the show gives each enough time so they all feel like they are telling their own story, although some characters get much more development and screen time than others.


Rider is one of my favourites, possessing a huge body and an even bigger personality, he is summoned by Waver who is just a small boy learning magic and wants to prove himself, Rider and Waver develop one of the most interesting relationships on the show, with Waver learning to follow Rider more and more as time goes on despite the fact that he is the master and Rider is his servant, because of his funny personality ( which stands out a lot in this very grim show) and the way he plays a father-figure to his master, Rider is easily a fan-favourite, although he shares my spot of favourite servant with...


Berserker is perhaps the exact opposite of Rider in every way, while Rider is the most talkative Berserker is the quietest ( except when he's yelling of course), Rider tries to guide his master to be a better person, Berserker drains so much life-force from his master he is actively killing him.
Berserker is another favourite of mine simply because he is incredibly awesome every time we see him, he is always pulling of an impressive feat, plus he has an amazing design, another thing that helps him is the fact that his master is my favourite master of all.


Matou Kariya has perhaps the most selfless reason to enter the Grail War, the daughter of the woman he loves has been taken and the only way to free her is an exchange, the Grail for the girl and for that he enters the war to try to win it and perhaps along the way win the heart of the woman he loves.

Kariya is a fascinating character who is forced into bad situations a lot, his unrequited love for a woman who married his rival is fascinating to watch, its sort of like friendzone level 99 really but its played out incredibly tragic.

F/Z benefits greatly from a wide variety of characters so everyone will walk away with their own set of favourites.

Sadly its not perfect. 



F/Z is amazing yet it does have its share of flaws, minor flaws but they are still there, perhaps the biggest flaw of the show is the pacing, the anime is split into 2 seasons, with 13 episodes in season 1 and 12 in season 2, however because the studio wanted to end season 1 on a cliffhanger they slowed the story down a bit and made the pacing a bit slow, even adding one filler episode that doesn't do anything for the show, because of that season 1 while very amazing, tends to feel a bit slow and dragged out at some points.
Not sure if this counts as a flaw for the show but its quite short, at only 25 episodes it leaves you wanting more, unlike other shows that have over 100 episodes, F/Z's modest number feels quite sad, especially since more episodes could have added some extra characterisation to some characters who really needed it.

Due to the pacing issues the studio also ultimately decides to cut one characters backstory completely which hurts him quite a bit, apart from that though the show doesn't do much wrong, with occasional bad animations being the worse.

While not exactly a flaw of the show, its best to remind people that this is quite a violent and bloody show with quite a few graphic images, whether this is a flaw is up to viewers though.

Conclusion.

Overall though F/Z is the perfect anime and the best I've ever seen, the show is extremely well done and everyone should check it out, not just anime fans but everyone else too.