Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

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roriconfan's avatar
Dec 28, 2014

http://www.mediafire.com/view/dwva6g3pnwrpw8e/FSN.jpg#

Well, here we are once again with Ufotable adapting a Type Moon work. If it sells, why stop doing it; right? I mean have you seen how all related series sold? From the atrocious older version made by DEEN, to its prequel Fate/Zero, to its loli fan service spin-off Fate/Kaleid; this franchise is a goldmine.

And you need to be aware of what exactly you are getting yourself into in case you don’t already know. The Fate franchise is affiliated with the most famous porn game of all times, and has a ridiculous amount of fans who defend it to the death. For example, if one of them reads the previous sentence, he will go apeshit and explain in a wall of text how it is not a porn game; it’s a visual novel, the ultimate masterpiece of storytelling, with exceptional writing, amazing characters, complicating terminology, and intellectual battles. How many good books have these people read that are not shitty visual novels, and how many games have they played that are not erotic visual novels? 95% chance, the answer is zero. As it happens with all fandoms, they are filled with fanatics who are inflating whatever is going on, while being in denial. It has sex scenes, it has fan service, it has harem, it’s a porn game; you can stop trying to call it otherwise. It tries to be more, but eventually succeeds only into becoming a badly written battle shonen with fancy terminology.

If you keep your expectations low, you will enjoy it as a rule of cool type of show, filled with lots of flashy battles, extremely polished visuals, and poser characters you want to cosplay as, or have as your waifu. It’s a very fun show if you see it just as a spectacle. The problem surfaces when you DON’T see it simply as a spectacle and instead try to make it seem like it’s more than that. I said you should keep your expectations low but how is that humanly possible when the anime was hyped all the way to the moon as soon as its production was announced, and how can you possibly remain calm and reserved about it when it got an average score of 9/10 before it even began to air. I am not kidding you; it was placed instantly at the top ten highest rated anime of all times before the first episode was even out. The average dropped since then, but that doesn’t take away the power of its delusional fandom.

And let me prove why they are delusional, starting with the premise. Seven people get a super warrior each and fight each other because there can be only one. The winner gets a wish and becomes a puela magi. What complicates this one line of a story is how the tiniest and most unimportant of events needs to be stretched out to last as much as possible, and a plot that could have ended in 2 episodes if it was pragmatic, is instead stretched to last 10 times as much. How is that possible, you may ask? Is the show mostly made up of fillers? No, but it’s instead filled with lots and lots of extra fluff that do not allow the average viewer to realize he is watching something that has no progress.

It keeps you distracted with constant infodumps. Half of the whole show is people talking and explaining shit. And by explaining, I don’t simply mean they explain their strategies to the opponent or comment on everything that happens in case the viewer has his IQ lower than that of an ape. It does that too, but it is a drop in the ocean before the dreaded infodumping. Dear lord, they talk for hours about how magic works and what it can do and what are the limitations, and they use fancy words, and they explain it again, and then they go over it every time something new appears, and SHUT UP ALREADY!

This is what made the source material so famous. It’s a porn game with a complicated terminology you can talk about for hours, that makes you look smart and not like a ronery who faps to cartoons. And by the end of the day none of all that matters because IT’S MAGIC; IT MAKES NO SENSE. Even if it was science that for some reason the porn game managed to present it in a completely realistic manner, it would still not mean anything, since it still works in any random way the writer wants it to work.
- Rin needs to train for a decade, be fully aware of how magic works, and chant for a whole minute for something magical to take place. This is meant to explain why learning magic is a hard thing to do. And yet Shiro casts commands, summons super warriors, learns epic spells in seconds, and avoids death rays without having a clue of what the fart is going on, thus debunking the previous claim.
- They keep saying there are rules that make sense, and waste half the show explaining them, only to then reveal:
• Caster who has the power of Rule Breaker,
• Assassin who doesn’t run out of energy without his master around,
• Lancer who feigns death twice in five minutes, only to die the third time,
• Gilgamesh who jumps in the death game out of nowhere, and screws up everyone with a power nobody had any chance of surviving against, besides the bland MC and his constant asspulled power ups and plot armor,
• and Archer who stays alive, even when he was clearly killed.

Adding to all this mess is the very bad writing.
- If half the show is explanations, the other half is characters fooling around and not doing what they are supposed to be doing. I am not kidding you, none of the characters take their roles seriously; they are in a death tournament where it is “kill or be killed” and treat everything as if it’s an amusement park.
• Rin, who really wants to win in this death tournament, saves the life of another contestant, explains all it needs for him to survive in this war, and then proceeds into trying to kill him, thus rendering all that she did so far to be completely pointless, only to regret it and fall in love with him.
• Ilya lets her enemies escape because it was a fun game and wants to play more, while Gilgamesh is not killing his enemies because he doesn’t want to get dusty.
- Ilya and Berserker don’t have their backdrops reveiled, until they are one minute away from dying.
- Shinji and Caster’s first Master don’t even have much of a character or a backdrop story, and are there only as generic one-dimensional villains for the audience to hate.
- As if all that weren’t enough, there is also a significant amount of characters, such as Saber, Rider, Sakura, even Kotomine, who are not doing much in the whole show, even though they seemed to be far more important in their introduction. The reason for that? Because the anime wasn’t adapting the route of the game in which they were vital.

How do the fanboys excuse all that:
“In the visual novel you had options of what you would do, so it doesn’t seem that bad over there”.
I don’t give a damn about the porn game, and this is a review of the anime. Oh, there is also:
“How could we get to know the characters if they would be killed right away and the show would be over in a few episodes? That’s impossible to happen if the show made sense. After all, it’s dumb entertainment for shonentards, so it’s ok to... WHOOPS! I meant sophisticated storytelling for mature people such as myself; there is nothing wrong with this anime; it’s perfect.”

Ok, you are not convincing me, it’s still stupid. There is so much plot armour for the protagonist, and so much plot convenience when not killing people, even when they should normally do, to the point I no longer care about the characters because their conflict feels staged. I also can’t see this show as dumb action because they keep trying to trick me (and fail) into believing it is far more than just that. Hey look guys, it’s famous historical figures from the past, brought to the present to fight! And they talk about ideals and philosophies! Isn’t it amazing?

... No, it isn’t. It falls right into the pretentious territory, a thing which I happen to hate because it wants to make the viewer over-think stuff and trick him to believe he is smart for doing that. The illusion breaks when you get unforgettable quotes such as “people die when they are killed” coming from a guy who cheats death three times per episode because he is a bland shonen protagonist. There are also no consequences in a story where they keep telling you a wish can change the whole world, when the world is otherwise completely autistic to this war and its participants. Yes, they keep saying that they cover it up, but just what is there to cover when they cause a dozen explosions per episode, injuring or killing hundreds of people, and none in the city sees or hears the slightest thing. It’s as if the characters all suffer from chuunibyou and the battles take place only in their childish minds, with the adults walking by and shaking their heads upon seeing them doing all that make-belief nonsense.

So down to it, what is this show exactly? It’s a silly fighting shonen with very good production values that pretends to be intelligent by overcomplicating everything. It’s full of fan catering, wish fulfilment, and escapism, with a naive plot starring a bland shonen protagonist full of childish ideals, doing silly teen romance shenanigans with a plethora of female archetypes (Rin: Tsundere, Saber: Culdere, Sakura: Yandere), and a ton of bravado for the sake of giving importance to things that are otherwise shallow. It’s fun if you still like Naruto but not if you are past the age when you still like teenagers with superpowers and unforgettable quotes such as “the archer class is made of archers”. And don’t you dare say that just because I am correct, doesn’t mean I am right.

3/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
3/10 characters
6/10 overall
Noriko's avatar
Nov 15, 2014

Haiiii~ (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ ♥

So I have a brief history with Fate/zero. I remember Saber and one guy (not the red haired one) were in the church talking and I was not in the mood to listen to all of it, so I said screw this and dropped the whole show (oops?) 

HOWEVER

This show. Is on a whole another level (or it could be me just being in a mood to watch it)

Let's start off with theee...

STORY

Just to begin, this story is based on a freaking eroge. . . the show is family friendly tho. So basically this show is a non-explicit version of an adult game? Props to whoever for making a story this good. If a show has such a good rating WITHOUT porn, if my lil cousin from Poland can watch this and think these ladies are OFFICIALLY innocent... you know it's good.

So the story is based on Emiya (''people die if they're killed'') and Saber being more less in a battle royale with several more groups. And they all have to fight for a Holy Grail who grants wishes or something. Anyway. What you need to know is that this story is very well explained, it's quite in detail there's a lot of fighting and a bit of blood.

I also reviewed the second season. There are more episodes! So if you liked this story make sure to watch season two.

Very very interesting story, fun to watch and follow. 9/10

SOUND

Voice acting, the atmosphere, music, grunting, cutting, engrish. Everything is really well done. I have nothing bad to say about it, but yeah I don't really listen to the OP/ED songs.

All voices fit characters.

9/10

ANIMATION

*sniff* It's perfect.

Virgos appreciate perfect things. I'm a virgo. 

I'll say one important thing about this animation. You can pause any episode at any moment, it will still look 10/10. That's what I'm talking about.

Usually when I pause anime to do something there's an eye on their chin or something. Not with this show though. Therefore...

On a scale from 1 to 10 the animation is probably 25

The details, the environment, their expressions, drops of sweat dripping from his face while he does pushups. It's all there. I have nothing else to say.

Truly immaculate, most likely one of the best animated series I have seen so far.

25/10 10/10

CHARACTERS

Hmmm. So I'm not really fond of the main character, but I kinda like his enthusiasm. I'm not really fond of Saber as well but I also like her too. I like Rin and Archer. All of the characters are well developed and pretty much everything is explained. Sakura is okay, her brother is an asshole.

Glad that the characters seem rather realistic. There's no fake ass kawaii anti gravity hair flying sausage magical girls (not saying that's bad, but it most likely wouldn't fit the show)

I'll just give it 9/10. Boobs aren't needed to make the female characters likeable and male characters aren't stereotypical. Which is nice.

OVERALL

Eye candy anime. The story is great only if you pay attention. Don't get lost like I did in Fate/Zero. OBSERVE what the hell is going on.

I have only one advice for anyone who didn't watch this... sit yo god damn ass down and watch this shit (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

But in all seriousness. This show is great and I was a bit sceptical judging on the fate/zero issue, but I can say without doubt that this show is one of the best of Fall 2014 season.

I kinda feel a bit uneasy by writing this review since I never watched any Fate series anime *shrug*. But yeah I like this show it deserves an Oscar blah blah blah

K that's all I have to say about this.

Thank you for reading this review! I'd reccommend this anime to anyone... LITERALLY ANYONE.

Rate if you found this review helpful, funny, or just like it. I have more anime reviews so check them out if you want!

Thanks and have a nice day ^^

9/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
arachni42's avatar
Dec 26, 2014

This review is based on the first cour (up to episode 12) -- the rest of the series won't be airing until April 2015. If you are wondering how this anime relates to Fate/Zero, I explain below. This is a spoiler-free review (unless you count things that are explained in the first episode).

BACKGROUND

Unlimited Blade Works (UBW) is centered around Shirou Emiya, a high school boy and inexperienced mage who gets involved in an event called the Holy Grail War. This is a competition among mages for the "Holy Grail," a wish-granting chalice that usually appears every few decades, although it has only been 10 years since the previous war. Seven mages each summon a "Servant," the embodiment of a Heroic Spirit. (For example, the Irish hero Cu Chulainn.) Shirou summons a sword-user referred to as Saber. But Shirou is not interested in the Grail. His ambition is to save people, and he joins the war to protect innocent people.

This story is not about the Grail War. This story is about the characters, their motivations, and their decisions.

I think it helps to understand that this story is based on the very involved, quite lengthy visual novel, Fate/stay night (FSN). A visual novel is a game that works like a choose-your-own-adventure story. The FSN visual novel has three major branches: "Fate," "Unlimited Blade Works," and "Heaven's Feel." Each branch takes place during the same 15-16 days, but has different events and themes. This anime is based on the second branch. They were originally designed to be played in order, meaning that players would have some background from the first branch. Still, it is a complete story that can stand on its own.

RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER FATE ANIME

The 2006 Fate/stay night anime by Studio DEEN was based on "Fate," the first branch of the FSN visual novel, although it has scenes from other branches. Visual novel fans generally consider it a poor adaptation and recommend against watching it. UBW is a parallel story to Fate.

The 2010 Unlimited Blade Works movie was also made by DEEN. It (attempts to) tell the same story that this series is telling, but in 105 minutes instead of 24 episodes. Also not recommended.

The 2011 Fate/Zero (FZ) anime is based on four light novels that were written as a prequel to FSN. Fate/Zero assumes background knowledge from the FSN visual novel, although it can also stand on its own (with some confusion about the ending). It takes place 10 years before UBW. UBW does not work well as a "sequel" to FZ; the arcs of certain characters that were in FZ (Saber, Sakura, Illya) are not really resolved in UBW.

The 2013 anime Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya is an alternate universe with the same characters, but the story and background are very much separate from UBW.

STORY: TBD/10

So far this has been a pretty faithful adapatation, but... I can't rate the story yet. Why? The majority of the story at this point is setup. The nature of this story is that it starts out straightfoward enough, but as it progresses there are some unexpected turns of events. There is lots of foreshadowing; groundwork has been laid; almost nothing has been included without a purpose. But the studio will really need to follow through on the later parts. (I fully expect that they will, but we'll have to wait and see.)

The situation ends up being that for those not familiar with the story might feel as though not a lot of actual progress has been made during the first cour (because if this is a "war," what's with the characters going to school and having all these slice of life moments?), whereas those familiar with the story may feel it's downright rushed (due to the things that have been cut).

This anime is very dense. There is a lot of attention to detail, so it is very easy to miss things, and some ideas are not fully conveyed. It is told mostly from Shirou's point of view, there are very few inner monologues. His thoughts and feelings depend heavily on visuals to convey them. The subtlety is interesting, though, and it's easy to discover new things and have new thoughts about it when re-watching.

ANIMATION: 9.5/10

This series looks good. Really good.

I would not call it artistically innovative. It feels very modern and flashy. Lots of eye candy, scenes where the studio is definitely showing its stuff... Listen, they animate the dust in the shed. They animate. Dust. And it looks cool. But more importantly, it's leveraged to set an atmosphere. They not only keep the visuals interesting, they use them effectively to tell the story.

The directing is excellent. There are a lot of interesting camera angles and shots. There is close attention to character expressions. The effects are integrated smoothly into the animation. CG doesn't look out of place -- except in a few circumstances when it is supposed to. A lot of simple character interactions use more fluid animation than most anime. They avoid the impression of, "Ah, here is the fight they spent 90% of their budget on." It looks more like they spent 70% of their budget on fights, and 70% of their budget on other parts. (And before you ask why that adds up to 140%, you need to understand the context... this is Unlimited Budget Works!)

SOUND: 9/10

The voice acting (Japanese) is impressive. Personally, I particularly appreciate when voice actors make the tricky, non-verbal stuff (the sighs, the exclamations, the grunts, the pauses) sound completely natural. But of course, actual sentences are done with skillful nuance, as well. You don't just hear emotions like "happy" or "sad" or whatever, you can pick up sentiments like "being good-natured about a friend's playful teasing but feeling somewhat self-conscious" and "believing it's important to show and feel cold acceptance of a tragedy, but failing."

I've enjoyed the soundtrack. It successfully sets the atmosphere. No particular themes have stood out to me yet, although that may change over time.

Honestly I haven't paid any attention to sound effects, although the fact that they've been "invisible" probably means they're doing their job!

CHARACTERS: 8/10

This is another case where the score depends on how the rest of the series is handled, but I gave it a score anyway. UBW focuses on the characters Shirou, Rin, and Archer. Each has struggles that make them interesting.

There are many other characters, but they play a more minor role. Despite the large number of characters, this is not an ensemble cast. The story mostly takes place from Shirou's point of view, so you don't usually get to see what's going on with the other characters. And this is how it is supposed to be. UBW is only 1/3 of the FSN story. But, practically speaking, it ends up being a flaw with this anime as a standalone. There are characters that feel like they should have an arc but don't, or they have a little bit of an arc that's incomplete.

I have some comments below about the main characters in a non-spoilery way, to give you an idea of the themes involved... but if you want to discover the characters for yourself, you can skip the rest of this section and just go watch the anime.

Rin is the successor of her family's magic. The path of a mage puts being a mage ahead of being a parent, being a sibling, being a friend... her role means that cold rationality must prevail. But her good heart leads her to decisions that conflict with this ideal.

Shirou puts on the appearance of being a normal high school boy, but the trauma of almost dying as a child still haunts him. He has a strong desire to help everyone and save everyone, just as he was saved. But his ideals don't seem to include himself.

Archer, Rin's Servant, acts as both a parallel and a foil to Shirou. Archer insists that saving one person means not saving another. His identity and past are unknown, and his sarcasm makes him difficult to read, but it is clear that he dislikes Rin's hesitation to attack Shirou and Saber.


OVERALL: 9/10

Based on the series so far (up to episode 12): There are many interesting (and beautiful) scenes -- some action, some drama, some slice of life. The characters face external struggles, but there are clearly important internal struggles as well. Many details are included, although some are subtle and can be easily missed. It's a solid setup. However, the final verdict will depend on how well the rest of the story is handled.

?/10 story
9.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
blitzburns4's avatar
Nov 20, 2015

Greetings! Please note that this review is fundamentally tied to the prequel series Fate/Zero. Sorry for any inconvenience, but I do try to explain concepts throughout the review. The following review contains minor spoilers.

-----------------------------------------

Oh boy, here we go again.

Having been underwhelmed (is that the right word?) by Fate/Zero, I went into Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works quite skeptical. Now, I could understand why many anime fans, in particular TYPE-MOON fans, would be ecstatic about Fate/Zero. For one, it was a drastic "up" in quality for the franchise that was scarred by lackluster anime adaptations of Tsukihime (curtesy of J.C. Staff in 2003) and Fate/Stay Night (curtsey of Studio Deen 2006) and, to its benefit, Fate/Zero does introduce a lot of new ideas to the anime mainstream that I suppose many newer fans weren't quite used to. For example, liberally killing off nearly all of its characters- or introducing a deeper sense of morality and justification for different characters' actions whereupon previous "popular" anime series (like Naruto or DBZ) would skim over such dialogues or be content to allow antagonists to be black/white good & evil caricatures to most viewers; as they expected them to be. (A key difference owing to the fact this is an anime adaptation of a visual novel, I'm sure.) 

To continue this, Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works also push the envelope much further than that in other aspects. The two shows bring many admittedly awesome new concepts to the franchise: kickass animation and character designs, interesting set pieces, awesome action choreography. Watching both shows, it was easy to tell that this show is meant to be a high-end production. Ufotable, for their part, delivers to us four seasons of Fate that seethe the word "top-notch" all over it. The characters, too, are an incredible ensemble cast. King Arthur gender-switched? Alexander the Great? Lancelot? Bluebeard? As an astute observer of both epic poetry, fiction, and history: the very invoking of such characters' names gave me a massive burst of nostalgia. Even despite the fact I was disappointed with most of the characters' direction later on- that was one plus that never escaped me. 

Without a doubt, that was one (of the few) aspects that in my opinion was a downgraded going from Fate/Zero to Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. The characters, with few exceptions like UBW's Caster, remain mostly undeveloped and nameless. Another major downgrade was, though UBW clearly was meant to act as a sequel to Zero, it didn't per se feel like many of the plot lines were resolved or even continued coming from Fate/Zero. Perhaps this warrants a separate review of Fate/Zero (proper) in the future, but one of my biggest gripes (amongst many) with Fate/ Zero was the ending. Despite being told repeatedly that Fate/Zero, as a prequel, is meant to be witnessed after having experienced Fate/Stay Night- having now witnessed Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works; I'd say even more now that Fate/Zero was the show that seemed most retconned out or breezed over, rather than supplemented, by the creation of UBW. (Call me crazy?) Would my experience have been more positive having seen Unlimited Blade Works first? Again, doubtful. The two shows appear to gravitate around each other much more than they seem to interact as a cohesive unit of a single story.

An interesting point of comparison to "Get" this idea would be comparing the relationship between Fate/Stay Night: UBW and Fate/Zero with Ga Rei and its short prequel Ga Rei Zero. (Hey, I get to name-drop my profile picture!) Like Fate/SN:UBW and Fate/Zero, the prequel is much more "bloody" and gruesome than its sequel. (Though in Ga Rei's case the manga proper was never adapted.) Unlike Fate, however, going from the prequel to the manga improves the overall experience rather than correlates to it as a pseudo-separate entity or something akin to that idea. With Fate/Zero and Unlimited Blade Works- the hype really does do both shows a lot of disservice. Had I gone in expecting Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works to contain such mediocre writing this review would have probably been much more positive- as my expectations would have been exceeded and not eluded.

Which (finally!) leads us to Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. 

I'll say it flat-out. The writing of both show, while not bad, is a far far cry away from where it should be as such high-end productions--and, most surprisingly, for completely opposite reasons as each other. Now, I'm not usually one to say underdevelopment is a worse crutch than overdevelopment; mostly because overdevelopment is practically a nonexistent issue for most anime or Japanese media. However, keeping in mind the level of production as a primarily action-based anime series- there is an argument to be made that the amount of info-dumping and monologues by the cast of characters, of both shows, (which do see development at all) is a much worse crutch for the likes of both Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works than it would be for most other anime series.

The basis for this argument is (mostly) other successful action anime. For example, Hellsing Ultimate or Mardock Scramble- which serve as the perfect shows to draw the appropriate comparisons of underdevelopment vs. overdevelopment in anime. As for the writing itself, particularly in Fate/Zero, the writing was downright confusing...Which, granted, may warrant a re-watch on my end as a responsible reviewer- but the simple fact is as a fan I don't really want to even try speaks volumes to Fate/Zero's lasting impact. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, on the other hand, is too goddamned simple for its own good. Also granted, I had accidentally spoiled what was probably the shows' biggest plot twist upon examining a TYPE-MOON wiki article (which I shall kindly avoid spoiling here) but, once I understood said concept, I really must say it wasn't something that took numerous episodes and (what felt like) minutes of info-dumping to articulate or build up...Yet said concept dominated the majority of the middle part of the series to relay to its viewers. Like it was some kind of awesome shock that warranted such a soliloquy by the main character whereupon he himself realizes he's contradicting himself.

What? Yea. Same here. Weird directional decision on Ufotables' part.

Even with the concept spoiled- the entire idea shouldn't have felt underwhelming as it was. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. But still. The best way I can articulate it is that, in my opinion, in Fate/Stay Night: UBW's own way this issue wasn't too altogether different from the "evil plan" trope you'd find in most superhero movies: where the bad guy takes it upon his/herself to explain every articulate detail. Even if you, the viewer, didn't have the plot spoiled and didn't know the particulate details of said plan...If you were nonetheless underwhelmed- would it really make any kind of tangible difference? As a double strike against Unlimited Blade Works, this series takes it upon itself to reveal this "plot twist!" the worst possible point of the series: what is (presumably) supposed to be the shows' most climactic fight scene- the very scene that defines the "Unlimited Blade Works" in the title and, presumably, in the visual novel. Here's an idea: leave the viewers hanging during said scene (at least until it ends) and reveal some details to us after the dust settles. (Which is how real life works, no? Maybe this is a horrible example to use- but Al-Queada didn't go out of their way to explain how they performed 9/11. We figured that out ourselves...Terrible example, but am I making any sense?) Anyways, while Fate/Zero abandoned us on a deserted island- UBW dragged us by the neck like a over-aggressive dog chasing a squirrel. 

From that point to the end of the series (and after) this was an issue I couldn't bring it upon myself to forgive. While I do highly appreciate development, and plot twists, in my opinion...let's call it "B-Arc" really does show how the story was drawn from an alternative path in the visual novel. With a few key exceptions, a lot of what followed the beginning episodes was downhill for me, and I felt the show went especially downhill in the final episodes. It simply felt too forced and too out-of-place: like a different writer came in and took over the story halfway through production. (It wouldn't surprise me if that were the case for the visual novel.) 

Don't even get me started on the ending, either. This is a plot point I have no problem spoiling: Gilgamesh becomes an almost laughably archetypical villain with his "I'm going to watch the world burn!" plot arc. As a reviewer, I feel a strong responsibility to tell any interested viewers that the ending (pre-epilogue episode) episodes were laughably bad. A complete 180 from Fate/Zero which, though was also disengaging for the simple fact it was confusing and convoluted, at least showed promise to the franchises' hardcore fans. Unlimited Blade Works? Lets just all take a minute to thank god (Ufotable) that the creators had the foresight to give us an appropriate post-ending epilogue episode that does much to get rid of the cringe-worthiness Gilgamesh’s' arc gives to viewers such as myself. Had the show ended on that note, the score you see would have been significantly lower.

In any case, deciding to give the franchise a whopping fourth chance wasn't easy for me. (I had watched the after mentioned 2003 and 2006 adaptations of Tsukihime and Fate/Stay Night--the later of which I dropped around episode 20 or so.) I will say, however, that the issues facing each series are interesting to analyze and articulate. Like I said, in many ways, Fate/Zero is drastically ahead of most other anime in the medium. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, in my opinion, represents a couple steps forward and a backward at the same time. The animation is improved, and there is definitely an upgrade in choreography to what was already easily one of the best-animated action series. (But not, mind you, best action series.)

When I went ahead and jumped into Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. It had been a solid six months since Fate/Zero- so I still clearly remembered most of the story and my gripes with said story. (Key points outlined above.) Right from the first episode, I was surprised by the staggering differences between, not only the original Fate/Stay Night, but also Fate/Zero! The show starts (first episode is a double-length, and called "prologue") from the perspective of Rin Tosaka. By far, one of my favorite parts of my entire experience with UBW was the beginning. For one, I thought it was very clever by Ufotable's part to insert a 60 minute opening episode depicting the events from not one- but two perspectives. I was like, "Hey!, That's a handy trick a novel would use!". The animation --which I hadn't thought possible-- was many levels above even Fate/Zero's and ten minutes of watching the first episode proved that. I like Tosaka and Shirou as a couple- even if the harem-type layout of the earlier episodes was something I felt should have been adjusted in this television adaptation. 

By far, in my opinion the first half of the series was much stronger than the second half. Certainly, it featured the most fighting. The plot of both Zero and UBW is a Battle Royale or Hunger Games-type premise whereupon a number of mages and their summoned "servants" (epic heroes from throughout time) duke it out to the death for the Holy Grail which, theoretically, can grant any wish. There are numerous classes of servants too: with archer and saber being the companions of the main hero and heroine. The first chunk of the series details struggles against other mages and their respective counterparts: Lancer, Rider, Berserker, and Caster. The numerous fights between fateful main characters was ingenious as well as engaging. Beyond that, however, the show starts to slump. Both Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works both go out of their way to turn the contest into a "greater" conflict/conspiracy--to predictable results. In Fate/Zero's case, mix in a lot of philosophical and moral mumbling and you have your final product. In UBW's case, mix in a laughably bad two overarching antagonists and a anti-hero/hero dynamic which, though it had potential, suffers from ridiculous clichés and tropes. I myself preferred the later- but only just barely. Both series definitely dragged at times.

The ending of the UBW, thanks to an epilogue episode, is much more satisfying. The good news ends there. in order to pander to a wider audience, any kind of meaningful (mature) romance is completely excluded from the audiences' eye. Also, no kind of lasting trauma? One of the few high point connections I really enjoyed coming from Fate/Zero was seeing how haunted Kiritsugu was--a plot point I was dismayed to see wasn't expanded. On a serious note: what's the problem with continuing the show for a number of more episodes detailing the main characters' lives after the war? If Ufotable is to create the new adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin they better do a better job of depicting the peace following the aftermath of war. The very existence of an epilogue at all, however, is certainly a step in the right direction. Tosaka herself is one heck of a great character. Very reminiscent of reliable and identifiable female protagonists from other series like Steins;Gate and Spice & Wolf. It’s a shame the main cast had such poor writing- if nothing else there was real potential for an amazing romance.

Overall, I'd say my entire experience with the Fate series has been just as mediocre as my previous experiences- for varying reasons. Which is, again, an interesting analysis and conversation of itself: Tsukihime in my opinion had the strongest story potential of any TYPE-MOON series. The original Fate/Stay Night route depicted in Deen's adaptation, too, has its merits. In my opinion, the one aspect DEEN does a better job than Ufortable is that they "tried" harder translate the visual novel to TV- even despite their inherent limitations. I still have yet to start watching Kara no Kyoukai- perhaps I'll update my review (or write a new one) upon watching that. Until then, however, I reserve my final judgment of Ufotable and Type-MOON. As Horatio of Hamlet would say: "More Matter, Less Art." Lots of flashy scenes and dialogue with either convoluted (Zero) or fundamentally paradoxical/simple (UBW) rambling. In both cases the results is a complete disengagement from the story. I will say, on a final note, that I still nonetheless think every anime fan should experience both shows- if for nothing else to formulate their own opinion and promote discussion. Just be careful in falling for expectation, I think that me having such a grand expectation for Fate/Zero affected a lot of how I enjoyed both it and its sequel Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works.

Thanks for reading,

-Blitzburns4 

6.7/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
7.8/10 overall
KThxBye's avatar
Sep 3, 2015

I try so hard to like this, but I literally cringe every time I watch an episode. It's like I'm sitting around hoping for the story to develop, but it's a bunch of nonsense and irrelevant flash backs. There is so much to work with but nothing ever happens. Yet I stubbornly soldier on through the series, hoping to see why it is so highly rated, and becoming more frustrated every time I get the nerve to sit and watch it.

When you think there's going to be an action scene, it's actually the start of a fight, 10 minutes of flash backs about the person fighting, and then the end of the fight where something happened but you're not sure what because it didn't show it. Like, seriously. Every battle is pretty much irrelevant anyways because all the characters have comebacks or loopholes that keep them from dying. Oh, your servant is gone? Here's another literally 3 minutes later. Oh, you're hopelessly outnumbered and mortally wounded and have no chance of surviving? Well, we didn't see how you got there because it was covered by a bunch of flashbacks, so you can actually go. No big deal, have a nice day.

I feel like the entire series is me waiting around for something to happen. Such incredible build up and excitement, then nothing. BUT despite that, I keep going back to it. I guess that says something about it, right? Or maybe I'm just dumb. Whatever works.

3/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
4/10 characters
5/10 overall