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.