I went into Fate/Stay Night with no prior knowledge of the show's backstory, nor the games it was based on. wow, what a ride it's been.
The second project based on a game by TYPE-MOON, the team that created Shingetsutan Tsukihime.
Studio Deen is no stranger to killer ap programs. It had its dealings in Drama with Full Moon Wo Sagashite, and Fruits Basket in Fantasy with Kyo Kara Maoh, and Action with Rurouni Kenshin - Seisouhen. Fate/Stay Night is strong on all accounts.
After researching the other stories, Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven's Feel, some of the loose ends in Fate/Stay Night become more abudantly clear. It's a shame that one has to go researching to get the whole story. Despite this, it's still a truly enjoyable experience.
The pacing of the story was great. Things were well explained, and characters were introduced one by one with enough information to get a general idea for them. Episodes link to one another seamlessly, with very little filler.
F/SN also adds a bit of a history to its fantasy, making some of the Servants powerful figureheads from history, or mythology.
For as little time as they had to do such an ambitious story, the 24 episode length was enough to do what this show wanted to do, which was take bits and pieces from the games and make it into a full-length anime feature that gave you a general idea of the game's story, but also an anime with it's own feel, and closure.
To be fair, this story is incomplete, inconsistant, and feels forced, and that's because it is. The games give a "choose your own adventure" feel, with multiple endings, thus many relationships are not explained well enough, and many holes are created in the story. F/SN was obviously fan service, but to people like myself who had never heard of it before, I was baffled at alot of parts. I will give it a higher mark however, just because it had a perfect pace in its development throughout the show.
For the entire story of Fate/Stay Night, including the bits and pieces left out by the anime, check out wikipedia's detailed synopsis on each character: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fate/stay_night or http://www.fatestaynight.org/ for all the info you may require to fill in those blanks left by the show. (It'll also serve to give you a much, much more fulfilling experience the second time you watch the series, should you desire to do so.)
If you have not already seen F/SN, I do NOT recommend checking out these spoilers until you have seen it.
Fate looks amazing. Every character in this show was created in complex detail, without favoring either the males or females over one another. It seemed completely natural to have an armour-clad knight standing side by side with a casually dressed young man.
The Action sequences were pretty spectacular. It'd be hard for me to say if the action is the best part of this show or not, but the battle sequences were very entertaining. For example, in one sequence you see one of the stronger Servants attacking, he swings with such force, the air is cut by translucent gusts of air, leaving all traces of the material behind it intact, but blurry.
The show's Intro music is performed by Tainaka Sachi, with the 1st half opening with Disillusion a mellow and sad ballad. The 2nd Half of the show opens with Kirameku Namida wa Hoshi ni, a much more energetic song, which is fitting, because of the much more action charged second half of the show.
The Ending of the show - Anata ga Ita Mori from artist Jyukai is a slow paced love song that isn't quite as exceptional as the show's two intro's. A more moving song, perhaps, is the special ending theme song to Episode 14, Hikari also performed by Jyukai and then the final Ending [edited when I find the name and artist] (Ending for Episode 24) being extremely moving.
The Seiyuu were also impressive. Kawasumi Ayako (RahXephon, Onegai Teacher, Samurai Champloo, etc.) lent her talent to voice Saber, the main female protagonist, while the gruff and passionate Sugiyama Noriaki (Sasuke of Naruto) voiced the honest and perservering Shirou Emiya.
The addition of some German and English being spoken in the show was an unusual occurance. The English spoken from incantation by Archer was actually very good, while the German spoken in the show was pretty off. Luckily the other language segments were short, so you didn't have to deal with it for too long.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this show is the diversity in its characters, and the general detail to each of their designs. The characters have incredible potential, however, they fall short in the development category...
The creators didn't favor the males over the females or vice-versa. It is oh-so-common in anime that involve even a mild 'harem' theme to supercharge the female characters and totally ignore the males. Such is not the case in F/SN.
There is an abudance of interesting and complex characters in F/SN, however, outside the main duo of Saber and Shirou, you will find yourself very confused about some of their motives, and some are sorely underdeveloped.
Take for example, Rin Tohsaka. She could have been so much more in this show, but even before the 1/3 point in the show, she's already taking a back seat to Shirou's plight. There is other instances like this, but this is just a primary example.
Overall Rating: (7.5/10)
The potential of a masterpiece, given more tender love and care in the development categories.