The Black Faction seized the Greater Grail for the sake of the clan's most earnest wish to symbolize its independence from the Mage's Association. The Mage's Association gathers the Red Faction in order to thwart such ambitions. Taking place in Trifas, Romania, the Great Holy Grail War that takes place between 14 Heroic Spirits summoned by the two factions transforms thanks to Shirou Kotomine, one of the Masters of the Red, who is also the Overseer for this Great War.
Episode 1-12 Review I've never liked people who submit reviews for an anime before it's finished airing, yet here I am, reporting in after the first cour. Bear with me. I'm tired of in medias res intros. Opening episode one with a segment of the most exciting scene from the first cour comes across as more of a shallow business card from A-1 Pictures than anything else, a sort of plea to the audience of, "Look, we're gonna be dark and serious and flashy just like Ufotable!" It does not speak well for the quality of the writing you are about to present when your opening hook is the climactic duel. All this does is set us up for inevitable disappointment. We start the series proper in the Clock Tower, with some characters we don't know talking us through the world building and premise-setting for a bit. We're introduced to a very large cast at lightning speed over the first two episodes, with the brunt of the limited initial characterization going to Shishigou. The first couple action sequences are nice, but lack depth and impact. We're already desensitized thanks to the opening scene, and A-1 Pictures has killed off the notion of gradually building intensity. Two Servants trading blows and then retreating doesn't cut it when you know we're building up to a massive clash of mob armies while glowing heroes fire off Noble Phantasms. Which I mean, yes, this is Fate so to some extent we're expecting the story to go that route, but the difference here is that we've already seen it. Speaking of Shishigou, who exactly is the protagonist of this story? Shishigou is almost relegated to a side character after episode two. How about Mordred, who just glares and yells once every couple scenes? Maybe Jeanne, whose purpose is to gaze into the distance while muttering platitudes? Sieg, who's literally Shirou but without the backstory or harem (or airtime)? Kotomine, who just sits there smiling? It's certainly nobody from the Yggdmillenia side. Like, Darnic? Please. None of this is a spoiler, by the way. Despite AP's best attempts to disguise the characters behind their nebulous Servant titles of "Saber of Red" and the like, the writers kindly shotgun through everyone's "secret" identities in episode two. So, like, remember when even Studio Deen kept up some suspense by treating Shirou as the viewer surrogate, cloaking Excalibur in invisibility magic and using Servant identities as semi-climactic reveals? That's gone. The biggest question I'm tasked with answering is whether or not Shakespeare being unable to fight is good writing (and I argue it's not, as his abilities are poorly explained and he serves more as a Doraemon-style supplier of mystery tools than anything else). Either that or who the heck Semiramis is and why I should care, considering we're all so culturally hyped about ancient Assyria. (Or more like, in a well written story this may have been the writer's chance to pull us in with a creative portrayal of the extremely uncommon topics of ancient Assyrian history and folklore. Not this time, though.) With no protagonist, the story is driven by broad events rather than individual actions or motivations. Team X, consisting of a dozen weakly characterized individuals, faces off against a similarly comprised Team Y. The story itself is written with the reduced importance of each character as an individual. Even when we find one that breaks the mold a bit, their actions really lack any discernable impact on the narrative as a whole. This might work if the scale was large enough, but we're still only focusing on around 20 characters within a single small city. One character scouts for no reason, and with no plot impact. Another launches an attack, for no reason, and with basically no plot impact. A lone wolf kills a couple of nameless people, for no reason, and with no plot impact. One side has a significant portion of its screen time taken up by constant infighting...for no reason, and with little plot impact. The other side does literally nothing, presumably for no reason, and definitely with no plot impact. See a pattern? It's dull, and there's no feeling of weight the actions any character takes. I might have been more interested had the story not begun, once again, in media res. But since it did, I know in advance that most of what happens is insubstantive fluff building to a pitched battle between the entirety of each team. I think the most compelling character in the first arc was actually probably Frankenstein. She (thanks for the genderswap again, Nasuverse) actually gets substantive character interaction, which is already more than can be said for most of the cast. She's treated to a backstory via scattered flashback scenes, and there are quirks to her social interactions. What's impressive is that the writers managed to give a fairly complex personality to a Berserker-class Servant. Even while portraying an accurate Berserker lore-wise, she's one of the few characters to demonstrate an independent worldview built on her life experiences. More impressive is that the writers were able to convey these nuances through the grunts, yells and gestures intrinsic to the Berserker class. As a Fate fan, this seemed like a pretty big deal to me. As long as I'm complaining about the writing in general, however, let's talk superpowers. There's a commonality to long-running franchises where throughout the first couple of arcs characters have special abilities like flying, or healing, or seeing through objects, or summoning fire. Then by episode 700 new characters proudly spend half an arc describing how their ability allows then to alter a different law of physics depending on the current phase of the moon, manipulate the fate of every main character across multiple parallel universes, and fall back on shooting massive lasers if the writer is feeling particularly tired that day. The same dynamic is seen in this newest incarnation of Fate. I'm not sure even a single character (other than Frankenstein) is given a thorough exploration and explanation of their abilities. Like, Berserker of Red gets stronger the more he gets hurt. That sort of power made sense when it was quantifyable, such as when Hercules could "die" nine times or when Rho Aias had four petals, but now all we have is a poorly explained ability without knowable limits. Kiritsugu's Origin Bullets and Time Alter had somewhat complex but clearly defined rules, while Shishigou just shoots magic homing finger shotguns (of unknown ability) and throws weird organic gas grenades (of unknown ability). Another problem is consistency. Once upon a time Servants had invisible stats, magic resistances and ranks of Noble Phantasms. A C-rank offensive spell would never hurt a Servant with B+ magic resistance, no matter if you hit them two times or two thousand times. An A-rank Noble Phantasm would defeat a B-rank in a shootout every time, especially if their wielders (and the artists) set aside their respective gimmicks and reduced the fight sequences to firing light cannons at one another. And a Servant with B-rank strength would always win a fistfight against a Servant with C+ strength. Now there are no rules. Mordred can take a direct hit from the cataclysmic explosion of a Noble Phantasm and emerge with only some cracked armor, but a noncombatant can pick up a sword and wound her with a surprise poke from behind? One moment golems are blocking weapon attacks from Servants, the next they're being destroyed by blunt non-magical objects? This is only a couple of examples, but it demonstrates the writer's willingness to make sacrifices of the tone and the lore in favor of flashy action and random little twists. Deen had substance. Ufotable had style and substance. A-1 Pictures has style over substance. To summarize my gripes: Fate/Apocrypha is an exaggeration and caricature of the classic Fate style without any driving force to push the insubstantive narrative. At least it's pretty.
Where does one start with something of the Fate Franchise? Honestly, I have probably teh hardest time getting into any of them beyond the ones I found somewhat entertaining. Here's something for anyone who's going to get annoyed at me: Fate Experiences: I like Deen Stay night. I am not a fan of Urobuchi, and therefore am not the hugest fan of Fate Zero. I did not watch the UBW as well as others might by UFOtable, but it was rather pretty with a lot of things that didn't really entertain me. I really believe more in fate prototype getting an anime. So, I'll start with a plot. Basically there is an alternate universe where the grail was stolen and there's this sort of master servant army effort to get it back. Each team has a specific color and set of masters that are involved. However, there is a servant being the judge of this sort of Holy Crusade for the Grail. And thus begins the convolution of light novel alternate universe. Let's start positive. Positives: The animation is very nice and pretty fluid I guess? I can't judge it that well. The character designs are all very unique in that you can tell the difference. The characters have a personality, however bland they might be. The story is solid enough to allow someone to enter it. The animation and art is pretty, but that can't really be everything to a show. I like the designs and the characters don't all look the same. Even if they do look strange, you can tell who is who in this case. As for the characters, they do have a personality. However... It's only when the show cares to allow it any screen time. Like, for example, Frankenstein and her master are basically talking around flowers most of the time. That or breaking rocks I guess? Seigfried's is basically the butt or weak link of some sort of the other group? That's not even getting to the whole thing with the neromancer master and servant that basically keep staying in graveyards while waiting for a fight. Granted, they have more personality than some of the other characters... but they had more screen time for it. As for the story, there is a solid story. However, it's not one you can just get into without any previous knowledge. Knowing what a grail war is kind of is more important to this story, especially because it's... an exception to a normal one. Otherwise, the story does at least try to tell you what's going on, but it often feels fragmented and the pace of each side is often cut off for another. It may come together in the end, but Baccano/Durarara or any sort of "multiple plot" stories need to come together. Now for the negatives. Negatives: You really need FSN knowledge, especially from deen stay night or the visual novel to know what a grail war is. I guess you can look it up, but it won't impact the same way. There are too many characters to actually feel for too many of them. The music is there but it's... Just there? There's an air of just being boring along with strange pacing? Like I sort of started before, you really need the basics of a grail war to understand the first episode. I'm not saying this as an insult, but... This is one alternate universe that will confuse you if you just watch this. You could try Zero or the UFOtable UBW... but it won't have the same explanation. You could also just play the VN. I can't with my current tech, but maybe that'll give you a good explanation. That being said, there is a thing about character balance. Because of there being more than fifteen important people, there's not a lot of room for every character to be explored. I think that the masters of archer and Frankenstein are always given very short scenes. Darnic for all his crazy backstory, has yet to do anything more than sort of stand there and be evil. That and Caster is basically golem crazy? It's hard to tell. There's just too many characters. Then there's the music. Well, it exists and it's not bad. It's not amazing either. It reminds me of how I reacted to the openings of the Ufotable UBW. It is a nice song, but the endings and Kajiura's music felt like there was more there than this was an anime opening thing. As for the music outside of the openings and and endings, it exists and I can't really remember it. As for the last point... The story really does bore me a bit. There's a lack of care about what is going to happen. Now, perhaps I should have read the source material? However, this adaptation is nice for someone who knows fate enough to have the basics down. If you think it is entertaining, then stay with it. After five episodes, I just can't feel a reason to watch servant Ruler and Priest Kotomine Shiro any longer.
Think of the worst anime you've ever seen. Is it Mars of Destruction? Pupa? Maybe it's something more obscure, maybe it's some bland magic academy show, maybe it's something very popular that you just you don't like at all. Now be grateful, because if the show you just thought off isn't Fate/Apocrypha, it means that you haven't yet watched this abomination to the Fate franchise. Fate/Apocrypha is A-1's attempt at milking the cash cow that is Fate, written by the dude who wrote the script for the horrid Danganronpa 3 Mirai-hen anime cash in, and it is easily the worst anime I have ever seen. No, seriously, I am in no way exaggerating, out of all the awful shows I've seen, no show can even be compared to how bad Fate/Apocrypha is. I gave Fate/Apocrypha the honor of me finishing it, mainly because of how I wanted to see how bad it could possibly get. Now please, let me explain why you should stay the furthest away from Fate/Apocrypha as possible.Now surely if you're familiar with the Fate universe, or any other Nasuverse show or Visual Novel, you know the various themes Kinoko Nasu or any other of the writers who wrote anything for Fate like to put forward. Fate/Zero focuses more on the ambitions and ideologies of the various servants summoned, while also presenting one of the best dilemmas in anime for it's ending which focuses on the idea of "justice", something that Urobutchi tends to like to base his stories on. Fate/Stay Night serves as an introduction to the Fate universe, and arguably does it even better than Fate/Zero. Unlimited Blade Works presents the idea of "Original vs Fake", and this same idea is developed a lot of more in Fate/strange Fake. Even Fate/kaleid, the fanservice-y loli show eventually puts forward exhilarating battles and does justice to the Nasuverse magic more than any other Fate show. Fate/Apocrypha on the other hand, is empty. The only thing Fate/Apocrypha tried to pull off is some half-assed "justice" conflict, which you have already seen a million times if you're somewhat into anime. And even then, this "justice" conflict is basically "All humans are evil!!!", "Nooo!!! Good humans exist too!!!". I'm not even making a strawman out of what is said in the actual show, "So, please don't say that goodness doesn't exist in this world!" is a real thing that a character in the show said, that is meant to be taken seriously. Either this is intended to be some massive joke, either this show is targeted towards 12 year old kids.Boy is this far from all the problems with the plot in Fate/Apocrypha. While all the other renditions of Fate all have 7 servants which are developed during the course of the show, Fate/Apocrypha has 14. 14 SERVANTS!!! This means that Fate/Apocrypha effectively has 28+ characters it has to develop in the span of 25 episodes. As you understand, this is impossible to do, so obviously most servants are left out, and a lot of masters are sidelined. ...Sidelined. The most interesting aspect of Fate is sidelined and becomes mundane. The show mainly focuses on a few select servants and masters which leaves you wondering "Why do I have to watch all these secondary characters interact? They don't matter in the long run". This though is completely correct. Most of the characters are useless in the long run. The show would have honestly been better if the cast would be the classic 7, heck 5 servant-master combos.Heck, the plot in Fate/Apocrypha is basically sidelined. It's all just an excuse to have poor action play out. It can be resumed to "big shiny thing, me want. Reason me want? Me don't know".Although, the plot isn't really a strong aspect in any Fate anime (and it truly brings me pain to say this because I know that I'm wrong), what about the "strong" aspect of Fate, the characters? Well, the characters in Fate/Apocrypha are a shit show of their own.Not a single character is interesting. Not a single character brings anything interesting to the show. Not a single character serves any other purpose than just bad fanservice. I realised this fact by episode 3, and eventually started watching this show just for Mordred. Well, to my disappointment, Mordred ended up in the exact same situation as the rest of the cast. Her backstory was rushed, which of course it would be since there's barely any time for any of the characters, and her ambition and desire to get the grail ended up being a poor excuse to fight some people.Then there is Sieg, the walking definition of "Deus Ex Machina". Sieg is the puny homunculus you see in the beginning of the anime which *spoilers* ends up playing a major role in the show (He's literally on the cover of the show). The amount of plot armour Sieg has rivals the plot armour of Emiya Shirou. For no reason at all, every other member of the cast either has a mad crush on Sieg, either cares way too much about him. Even Jeanne D'Arc, the supposed "judge" who should remain neutral until the very end of the war develops a crush on Sieg. Why? Because it's Sieg. Without getting into spoilers (in case you want to watch this shitty show), the amount of times Sieg escaped death is insane. By "escaped death" I don't mean "came really close to dying", I mean "should have been dead".Fate/Apocrypha also ruins some of my favourite historical figures. In Fate/strange Fake, Jack the Ripper is presented as a mysterious incorporeal Berserker, a spirit of madness, which makes a lot of sense since Jack the Ripper literally had origin stories that claimed that the man who committed the crimes was possessed by a cursed watch. In Fate/Apocrypha, Jack the Ripper is a loli in a thong with mommy problems, and no, I'm not making this up, that's literally what she is. In one of the episodes Jeanne D'Arc takes out her sword, which is supposed to be a symbolic piece of rusted metal that she used to boost her troops morale. In Fate/Apocrypha, the said sword is a suicide magic wand that casts fireballs.As a side note, there is also a particular character which I despise that goes by the name of Astolfo. Astolfo is easily the worst thing to ever come out of Fate. Astolfo is a trap, a character type that recently became popular in anime. Astolfo, just by existing in the show, lowers the seriousness of the show by a lot, further implying that Fate/Apocrypha is just a poor fanservice show.What about the """miscellaneous""" parts of Fate/Apocrypha? As in, the Sound and the Art? Well, they're both terrible.Both of the openings of Fate/Apocrypha are boring and uninspired. The first opening is a terrible performance by EGOIST in which the vocalist sounds like a siren. The second opening is the most generic LiSA song ever. The endings are also boring, but hey, I wasn't expecting the endings to be remarkable.The worst part is the sound design. On multiple occasions the loud bass used for literally every single sound hurt my ears. Bullet being shot out? Loud bass. Fire burning? Loud bass. Swords clashing? Loud bass with 2016 Berserk clanking. Oddly enough, the person responsible for the sound design, Iwanami Yoshikazu, has done a good job in his previous works. It's as if he just gave up and used the same sound for every single thing in Fate/Apocrypha. The sound design being terrible heavily ruins the immersion.Fate/Apocrypha has one OST along with a few remixes of that OST. It's loud, it's bombastic, it's annoying, it doesn't fit, and it made me want to stop watching the episodes every time it played.As an insult to injury, my favourite voice actor of all time, Hayami Saori, does a terrible job voicing Atalanta.Finally, the art and animation. The art style is bland. It looks like a cheap knock off of ufotable's artstyle. But the art style isn't the worst part of the visual aspect of the show.The animation, IS AWFUL. I have no idea how a studio can fuck up this badly. Most of the time, nothing is shaded. There are loose keyframes every few seconds. The show abuses still frames, and on one occasion I had I to sit through a poorly drawn still frame that played for at least 10 seconds. The main purpose of this show being clearly to deliver fanservice to the fans of Fate is completely ruined by the god awful actions scenes that completely lack direction. The animators were probably told to just draw something that "looks nice".Episode 22, the """good looking episode""" looks awful. If you believe it looks good, you are wrong. Episode 22 was mainly webgened, which would be a nice effort from A-1, if the final product looked remotely good. The problem with this episode is, yet again, lack of visual direction. Taken separately, the various clips may look good, but put together they become a mess of conflicting art styles and ideas. One second you have a well drawn still frame of a character, and on the following second you can have some "sakuga" explosion which ends up being completely out of place. The animation suffocates the viewer. There is a clear lack of visual clarity. A-1 focused on "flashy" scenes rather than well orchestrated fights. Compare Fate/Apocrypha to any other Fate show by ufotable. The difference is striking.Obviously, I did not enjoy watching this show. It's a train wreck. A train wreck that I finished watching purely because I wanted to see how bad Fate/Apocrypha can get. There isn't a single redeeming quality in Fate/Apocrypha.Please don't watch this show.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TL;DR:Pros:-nothingCons:-Complete lack of a story-Pointless characters-Empty of any thought provoking themes-Uncharismatic characters-Sieg and Deus Ex Machina-Astolfo-Ruined historical figures-Bland openings and endings-Ear-hurting sound design-Boring art style-Awful animationFinal score: 0/10
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