If one is to believe the masses, the original Fate/Stay Night anime was a successful VN-to-anime adaption. If one should have a strange brain-parasite telling them to believe me instead, it wasn’t. But debate about the original aside, Fate/Stay Night Reproduction tried to retell the 24-episode tale about magic and swords in a mere 2 hours, and seeing the original contained a bare minimum of “beating around the bush”, they failed miserably.
Let’s start by pointing out the big, ugly stain that bleaks all other weak spots in comparison: the pacing. Trying to fit in every important scene and plot twist the original had, Reproduction blatantly skips any form of explanation or development in order to squeeze in all the little conclusions. I can already sense the smile of delight on some of your faces by now, but no: the lack of development does NOT make Shirou seem like any less of a blockhead or idiot. Rather, it makes him seem like even more of a Yoshii with a death-wish, to keep the references up-to-date.
Pacing aside, it’s no secret that Fate/Stay Night’s story is no favorite of mine. Picking the least interesting of all 3 “Fate” stories, the 2006 adaption had a less-than-thrilling Romeo and Julliet story with fantasy and action. Fitting roughly 24 hours (out of a total of +- 72) of content into 7 hours, the story lacked brilliance, left out some of the more interesting scenes and had a boring narrative; even more the case with this 2 hour train wreck of incoherent animation.
While lacking the sheer power the latest TYPE-MOON adaption “Kara no Kyoukai” had in animation, it was anything but mediocre. The animation is clear and fairly fluent, resulting in some moderate eye candy. There is something about the TYPE-MOON character designs I like. They are basic, but distinct and lend themselves pretty well for fantasy stories like these. In short, if animation quality is a deciding factor whether or not you watch something, Reproduction won’t disappoint.
With a theme song worth listening to, the sound section in this anime is of very acceptable level. The OP is somewhat mellow and with emotion, but with a style that lends itself very well with the story. The soundtrack played throughout the anime itself is fitting and decent, but sadly, also fairly forgettable.
After the “Story” bashing, this should come as no surprise: there is no realistic character development to speak of. From Shirou agreeing to participate in a mortally dangerous game without any explanation whatsoever, to Sakura making her first real appearance only in the latter half, without any introduction, character development is blatantly skipped for the sake of flimsy story progression. Without any previous experience with the series, you’ll have no idea who half of the cast is, leave alone the purpose they serve.
Although not the worst story I’ve ever come across, Reproduction takes the cake when it comes to worst storytelling, ever. Horrible anime are often a form of successful car-crash entertainment with peculiarities like ignitable breast milk, lolicons in denial or questionable morals, but not the laughably bad story, but horrible narrative make for the fall of this one. With the sole purpose of being somewhat informative to those who have seen the original and want to refresh their memory, there is no-one I’d recommend this to as stand-alone. Your time is infinitely better spend popping plastic bubbles or playing with unicorns.
If you have seen the original FSN, this is a nice revival, nothing special, by since you know the background story, it's a good patchwork of the best scenes of the anime.
But for some reason the scene where Shirou and Saber "consolidate" their relation has been cut out... Shame...
And for those who have never seen the original one: while I have seen the original FSN, this review is made by taking this as a stand-alone anime, earning only what it's worth just by itself.
Of course the fact that 24 episodes have been compressed in 2 hours generated some constraints. And here we are faced with an half explained story that leaves many questions open.
Characters enemy at first become suddenly friends and vice-versa, choices made by the protagonist seems made without thinking, no reasons.
And while I know what actually happened, someone that sees the TV reproduction without the original one will probably just see "a bunch of fights one after another". Why are they fighting? What are their objectives? One can guess, but rarely it is even mentioned. It's ok to leave a few things to the phantasy of the viewer, but here is somehow too extreme...
Just the quality of the images are worth a 9. Even just the character design is very good. The battles have some great animations, especially when there is some magic involved. But this does not mean that a sword vs sword match has a lower quality.
Unluckily, the fights are so short and confused, that there isn't actually the time to appreciate it, so the score here drops to a 7...
The opening is good, I like it. It's one of those songs that actually has me watch (and ear, ofc) the whole opening every time, instead of skipping to where the anime actually begins.
About the voices, they're also very well chosen, each single voice reflects the personality of the character, and not just for what they say, but for how they say it as well. It's just an odd feeling when they speak english or german, but doesn't mean it's not appreciated!
But again, while the tech background and the seiyuu are actually really good, the scenes keep changing so fast that more than once the dialogues are compromised, leaving a feeling of incompleteness.
The story centers around 3-4 characters, and I must say that despite the confusion that we are faced while watching this anime, these 3-4 are actually sufficiently developed, not bad, but also not good. On the other hand, all other characters only make a minor appearance, they barely say a word.
Moreover, the emotional background is nearly absent, and there are personalities that change all of a sudden, just like that. Especially Saber's one, that is the main co-protagonist...
A score of 5 is still reached because some characters actually looks really cool, and despite the few things they say, these few are enough to lift them to a higher level.
If you have already seen the original FSN, it is a nice revival. It could be appreciated if watched some time (like a couple of years?) after seeing the original one. But sincerely, instead of watching these 2 confused hours, I'd rather run again through the whole 24 episodes.
If you have not seen the original one... Don't waste your time on this reproduction. Go watch the original. You'll be far more satisfied.
So here it's done. I tried to keep an objective point of view, but I am sure that the fact that I've seen the original FSN -that in my other review I judged with a 10/10, a score I've given only to 9 anime of all the over 200 I've seen- before watching this one surely influenced my judgement....
I will not analyze this OVA in terms of storyline, character development or animation/sound, since this is, in my opinion, just a recapitulative episode on steroids.
So, there are two possible situations in which you should watch these two OVAs:
1) for the sake of completeness
2) you don't have enough time/pacience to watch the original series and you need a brief summary because you want to watch Unlimited Blade Works or Fate/Zero or you want to play the visual novel (in my case :D)
As a recap episode, TV Reproduction does its job. However, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen the original Fate/Stay Night because, being only 2 hours long, the storyline is very fast paced. Like I said, it's only a recap episode and shouldn't be treated as a stand-alone.