Of my many problems with Fate/Stay Night, none irks me more than the fact it boiled down to be only superficially coherent. Yes, there is a loose central theme that drives the series; yes, the series does progress in a fairly linear fashion; ultimately, however, none of it makes much sense. While the series had a given premise and a pre-determined end, the actual content turned out to be utterly shallow and haphazard. Save the incomprehensibly retarded lead, Shirou, whose ignorance and stupidity remained consistent throughout, every other character's personality varied from scene to scene, which made it immensely difficult to acquire even the most trivial amount of sympathy for the entire cast. This resulted in an utterly pointless watch, as the complete lack of story-driven substance coupled with non-existent character development removed any inkling of my interest.
Perhaps the only intelligent aspect of Fate/Stay Night is its opening sequence, as right off the bat the story seems to take a bold stance. The basic idea revolves around an object of great power, known as the Holy Grail, materializes itself every few years in order to grant humanity a single wish. To decide the person worthy enough to make this wish, it binds the spirits of seven of the world's champions to seven humans and forces them to fight to death. When only one remains, that fighter and his spirit are given the right to make their request. Sounds interesting, no? Well, take out the whole "fight to the death" concept of the storyline, and you have Fate/Stay Night in a nutshell. Instead of fighting, our wonderful prodigy for a protagonist seeks to win his battles through friendship, and as such the whole concept of death gets thrown completely out the window.
That's not to say, though, that the series is devoid of action; on the contrary, there are actually quite a number of fight scenes. Most, however, come with more talking than swinging of swords and are thrown in just to fill space. One of Shirou's rivals generally just shows up entirely out of the blue, upon which Shirou ironically gives the obligatory "I will protect you!" speech to his summoned warrior and then proceeds to try to defeat the enemy with kind words. This is repeated over and over again ad nauseam, only it becomes progressively more abrasive as the series drags due to the remarkably predictable plot. While there are "twists" to these fights, they generally involve a completely random introduction of a side character who serves no real purpose other than to ensure Shirou emerges victorious. After the said fight sequence ends, that character vanishes faster than he or she was introduced, never again to be seen until the comically lame epilogue at the end of the series; not surprisingly, it ceased being cute after the first fight.
Looking back, Saber's summoning sequence was perhaps the sole determining factor in my decision to watch Fate/Stay Night all the way through. With the gorgeous, dual-source lighting of her character from the moonlight above and magic circle below, it easily takes its place as the highlight of the series. Fortunately, while the rest of the visuals didn't prove quite as splendid, this level of quality held true, which made watching twenty-four episodes worth of trash a more bearable experience. All in all the character designs are smooth and movements are fluid, resulting in a slightly above average production that's not too difficult on the eyes.
Oddly enough, Fate/Stay Night has an astounding soundtrack in lieu of its numerous other faults. There are quite a few awesome insert tracks that immediately caught my attention, and I made a point to grab the series' OST so that I at least got something worthwhile out of watching it. While not on the level of the music, the voice acting was decent save for Shirou's seiyuu whose constant, nasal screaming of "Saber!" got on my nerves relatively quickly.
If Fate/Stay Night serves no other purpose, it's to remind humanity that stupidity is contagious. Shirou, without a doubt, is quite possibly one of the worst male leads I've ever had to set my eyes upon, as his ignorance knows no bounds. Come the series' end his pestilence manages to spread to every other character, as even Saber regresses into an utterly shallow husk of her former self. To draw an apt comparison, liken Shirou to Raki from Claymore, only twice as naïve and thrice as brain dead, and make him the lead role. He somehow seems oblivious to the fact that he summoned one of the world's greatest swordsmen in order to fight his battles, and instead espouses that he, a random teenage reject, can take her place. Never mind that Saber also is armed with an invisible sword (which randomly becomes visible later in the series), full plate mail, and magical abilities - Shirou is going to protect her! His character grew increasingly more contrite with each passing minute, and I ended up having to fast forward through his speeches in the later episodes. Toss in his random romantic harem circle (after all, women dig stupidity) for good measure, and it's hard for me to fathom how I watched him idiotically prance around for as long as I did without vomiting.
I'd mention other characters, but none are even worth talking about; by the end they're all Shirou clones.
If I have one thing to say following watching Fate/Stay Night, it's that I want the eight hours of my life wasted on this crap back. Had the series even loosely stuck to its premise it might have been mediocre, but with such an atrocious cast of characters, there's simply no justifying even giving it consideration. If you somehow fancy watching a seven man deathmatch turn into a seven man friendship festival give it a shot, but remember that stupidity is indeed contagious, and you run the risk of infecting yourself if you attempt to view it all the way through. Ultimately, there are much better shows out there to watch due to boredom - Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, for instance, would be a good choice.
"The only people a superhero can save are the people he sides with."
An entire review of the Fate/Stay Night anime adaptation can be boiled down to a single sentence; Shirou Emiya fucking sucks.
Seinen anime can easily be tanked by a terrible lead, and Fate/Stay Night is obviously no exception. The burden of Shirou Emiya is like wearing a full suit of armor while trying to go for a swim, no matter how strong a swimmer you are there is no chance of you keeping your head above the water. And no matter how good some of Fate/Stay Night's individual parts may be, it can't be saved when Emiya is constantly dragging it down. Then again, if you strapped Shirou in a suit of armor and tried to drown him he would inexplicably survive anyway since he is already wearing impenetrable and indestructible plot armor. Dude catches more certain death than Rasputin and just shrugs it off while being one of the most consistently stupid, selfish, and unlikable characters around. And that is his final form! At no point does he improve, learn anything, or develop.
The Emiyalbatross is a double shame, because Fate/Stay Night is a fantastic concept at its core. In the story, the Holy Grail appears every so often and some of the mightiest heroes in the history of our world are summoned to fight for their human masters in order to gain control of it. This leads to some really fun battles and great character designs that, if it weren't for the massive amount of missteps, would have been enough to make this an easy recommendation. Some missteps are on Studio DEEN's part due to how drab a lot of the animation gets outside of the battles, but most come as the plot is further revealed in the second half of the anime when the pace slows down considerably and twists are dumped on the viewer in some very unconvincing ways. Unconvincing twists are nothing new in anime, but when so much of Fate/Stay Night's second half revolves around the "romance" between Sabre and Shirou, oh boy does that second half drag.
The nature of Fate/Stay Night also works against itself. Considering it starts off in a hole by being an adaptation of one of those visual novels but with all the sex scenes removed - which leads to some painfully awkward scenes like "the place where the threesome probably went" and "the place where awful Shirou probably makes Excalibur puns while guilting Sabre into sex because he is just the worst" - it is just too much for the anime to recover from thanks to how truly terrible Shirou is as protagonist. I think I'm being generous by giving this an average score, but I don't think saying so is as controversial an opinion as it would have been when this was at the height of its popularity. The far superior, and completely Shirou-less, Fate/Zero did a lot to overshadow Fate/Stay Night while shining a light on its shortcomings.
WATCH if you have a unique form of blindness that renders you incapable of seeing any of Shirou's scenes. DON'T WATCH if you can just Youtube the two opening themes because they are pretty solidly the best part of every episode.
Fate/Stay Night is a Type-Moon VN adaptation from 2006, about the Holy Grail Wars, the wars in question being the 5th, thusly providing a story with plenty of revelations throughout the series, providing a richer story than would otherwise have been achieved.
Story - 7.5/10
The Fate/Stay Night story is a above average story, providing enough twists and revelations throughout to keep the viewer engaged for the length of the series. Sadly though, a rather void patch in the middle of the series does detract from the series, not enough the put someone off finishing the series but enough that its noticeable and disappointing.
The ending is also somewhat disappointing. Only a few series should have sad, almost anti-climatic-romance endings like this and this certainly wasn't one of them. The romance is only brought together in the last few episodes and never establishes a good enough atmosphere and back-story to justify such an ending, which is a real shame as a simple happy ending would have maybe been a little cliche but it would have been a fitting ending to the story.
Animation - 8.5/10
For a 5-year old series the animation is of high quality, and would pass if it aired now, even given the vast improvement in animation quality in the past couple of years. There are some points (particulary where the light coming from windows into rooms) that the animation becomes somewhat hazy and unclear, which is disappointing given how the animation for the most part is prety good.
Overall, the soundtrack is great, the op's and ed's are good, although the first op isn't really a fit and feels out of place. The lack of any cheesy moments created by the music is a joy, as too many series tend to use cheesy/cliche music at big moment during a series and it can detract from the overall feeling.
Characters - 7.5/10
A good cast, although some characters aren't developed enough. Sakura and Taiga in particular aren't really developed at all, and given how they make frequent appearances, including one large part in one of the final "arcs", a little more development on these characters would do wonders for the scenes they appear in.
Unfortunately, Shiro is a "save everyone, no matter what" protagonists, which isn't really to my liking, saving Saber and the other cast members isn't the problem, its saving everyone in the whole town that can wear thin as the series progresses.
As a whole, the Fate/Stay Night is an enjoyable series, lacking in a totally solid story,ending and cast, although these points don't devalue the series to an unwatchable mess, they do detract from what would otherwise be a far more highly regarded series.
(I am looking at Fate/Stay Night from purely its content, and NOT from other sources such as the visual novel or sequels)
Pretty easy to understand and get into. The plot twists are handled well enough, but could be developed a lot better.
Fight scenes are the defining animation strengths throughout the entire series. But during less active events can be weak sometimes.
Brings in tension and serenity properly. No distracting sound elements.
Transition between characters are very distracting and can cut off from intended character developmental moments. All of the characters have the potential to be likable had not every other element interfere at bad moments.
It's still okay despite the gripes, but rough edges from animation and (the biggest letdown) characters leaves this show tons of room for improvement.
SOURCE MATERIAL MISJUDGMENT:
Review statements pending..............................................................