There’s something about the Fate franchise that has such a Westernized influence. The show itself (along with its prequel Fate/Zero) is partially derived from a series of visual novel games, made for the PC and then later for the PS2 and PS Vita made by Type-Moon, but like many visual novel games, it didn’t left a mark in the Western part of the world and then in 2006, an anime adaptation was made into the fray as it would come to that eventually.
Shirou Emiya lost his parents in a fire when he was young and was later adopted by a sorcerer by the name of Kiritsugu Emiya. Although he was full of admiration for his adopted father and yearns to become an ally of justice, Shirou has limited powers and was unable to become a strong sorcerer like his father. That is until one fateful day, he was drawn into the Holy Grail War and had to summon a female "Servant" known as Saber in order to protect himself. It turns out that the Holy Grail War involves a series of battles among powerful sorcerers to fight for the possession of a relic that will grant one's wishes, the Holy Grail. There are altogether seven "Masters" who can summon their respective "Servants" from different classes known as Saber, Archer, Rider, Berserker, Lancer, Caster and Assassin. These "Servants" have to hide their names in order not to reveal their weaknesses to the enemies. The story revolves around Shirou and his entanglement in the Holy Grail War.
Well, after watching through the whole series and possibly getting into the movie, Unlimited Blade Works, I got to say that the show feels like most other shounen anime, meaning there are many epic fights, a plotline involving somebody’s life on the line, and the occasional magic. Albeit it’s been done before, but what type of story hasn’t? The execution of it was mostly on a medium note, as in it was tired, predictable but something you can stomach thru for the time being.
As for the characters in here, the range is either minimum to weak as the main character Shirou Emiya is the noble dumbass savant of the series, as if he wants to fight and protect the people he loves, but the one he’s protecting are overall better fighters than him and more invincible since the few times he tried to fight, he ended up dead….or very seriously injured. The rest of the Masters were hardly noticeable in the show or barely a standout, except for Rin Tohsaka, whose character is handle OK in the plot, despite sometimes being a damsel-in-distress and Illyasviel von Einzbern and she fills in the role for creepy little girl with white girl but in the second half, she rarely often used in the main plot much. As for the Servants, the two standouts are Saber and Archer, whom have more involved character development into the show than the other Servants, even if Berserker can kill you savagely and violently. I will say that some characters like Taiga Fujimura, English teacher and Shirou’s guardian & Sakura, who often is Shirou’s caretaker, didn’t really felt like if they were offscreen, they were to be noticed that they were missing although involving the latter in the main plotline seems way out of left field.
The animation by famed anime production company Studio Deen (Ranma ½, Hetalia, Higurashi: When They Cry) and it looks pretty impressive, considering it was in 2006. The battle scenes are animated excellently and the backgrounds/art are often utilized to their full extent. Plus, character designs are mostly basic, aside from the Servants, and it does have that Victorian classic feel to it. The opening theme (and even the 2010 version) was actually one of the better opening themes I have heard in a while, although the second opening was a downgrade to how too fast-paced it is, since the first one builds it up to that pace. The ending was remarkably decent but still something you can back up.
The dub by Geneon/Bang Zoom! Has more weaknesses than strengths, which is unfortunate since I happen to like Bang Zoom’s dubbing work (yes, even more than Funimation). The biggest weakness being Sam Regal and he wasn’t exactly as whiny as I pictured him as Shirou but his voice feels slightly off due to the appearance of him and comes off as a jerk to me. Mostly the biggest deal in this whole franchise as a whole is the English voice of Saber as of now, three voice actresses’ play the part of her while the Japanese counterpart is only played by one. Kate Higgins has the role of Saber for this time and she was rather decent in her performance. Mela Lee, Sherry Lynn & Liam O’Brien was also decent in their roles while Julie Ann Taylor annoyed me in her role as Taiga, considering how screechy her voice in her character is and Jennifer Sekiguchi (aka Stephanie Sheh) is good but is type-casted as the little girl character but more of a creepy vibe from her.
FINAL VERDICT: This series is mostly okay for the execution but in the end, ends up clumsy at the final result. I get some of the hatred or “meh”ness of this show and how it leaves some questions hanging about the Servants and Masters but on the other hand, I’m glad I watched this first, so that way when I eventually watched Fate/Zero, I would feel satisfied in some way. For that, I’ll advise you if you ever watch this or F/Z, either watch Stay Night first or just watch Zero and forget about this one.