Fate/Apocrypha

TV (25 eps)
3.747 out of 5 from 5,338 votes
Rank #2,383
Fate/Apocrypha

There was once a Holy Grail War waged by seven Mages and Heroic Spirits in a town called Fuyuki. However, a certain Mage took advantage of the chaos of World War II to steal a Holy Grail. Several decades have passed, and the Yggdmillennia family, who took upon the Holy Grail as its symbol, defected from the Mages' Association and declared their independence. Furious, the Association sent a force to deal with the Yggdmillennia, but they were defeated by the summoned Servants. With the Holy Grail War system changed, war at an unprecedented scale, with seven versus seven, breaks out. And so, the curtain rises on the epoch-making Great Holy Grail War.

Source: ANN

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Reviews

RickNoel
6

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.

CodeBlazeFate
4

Fate/Apocrypha: A Postmortem Review Now that 2017 is drawing to a close, we can certainly say Fate/Apocrypha lived up to its name, given that this is an entirely unnecessary installment to view due to its poor quality. It is arguably the blandest, most forgettable installment in the Fate series, notable only for current memes and trends in the community, such as traps and the meme of lewding fictional characters, as well as for what it tried and failed to accomplish over the course of its run. Now before I delve into the review proper, allow me to answer some burning questions: “Can Fate/Apocrypha be watched as a standalone?”Yes, but I wouldn't recommend doing so, as you want to know the rules of the main Holy Grail Wars first that way you know how this deviates. It doesn't explain all of those rules either nor does it explain all of the new stuff it does despite some attempts. You should at least watch the main timeline installments to avoid possible confusion with this one. So no, do not make this your first, let alone only experience with Fate/ anime. “Should I watch Fate/Grand Order: First Order beforehand?”No. Pretend that abomination doesn't exist. It will not give you any insight into Apocrypha’s deviations either. All the entry does is cause confusion, not explain anything it adds or amends, and advertises a mobile game that contains all of the servants in the franchise. “I'm a guy. Is it gay if I like Astolfo as my waifu?”Yes it is and yes you are unless you're bi. Thankfully for you, he's bi too. Fate/Apocrypha, otherwise known by me as Fate/Steak Sauce, was animated primarily by Studio A-1 Pictures, and to be honest, I feel it may have utterly destroyed itself under its lofty ambitions in a variety of ways, resulting in a relatively dull mess full of improperly explained new mechanics, logical errors and holes, a cornucopia of characters that are as bloated as they are uninteresting to the point of even beating out last year’s juggernaut dumpster fire Re:Zero, and lastly, arguably the worst production values ever given to a major A-1 Pictures show. It simply spread itself too thin, leading to a disappointment in nearly all aspects. Before we really delve into why this show manages to be relatively disappointing in retrospect for me (as I was conditioned by footage and reception over the course of 23 weeks prior to my viewing of this failure to correctly assume this anime would be hovering around the subpar range at all times), how about we look at the one area Fate/Steak Sauce manages to somewhat excel in, that being the music. The composer, Masaru Yokoyama, did a rather decent job with the tracks present here such as its namesake track “Fate/Apocrypha”, among a few other catchy and epic battle tracks. Some of these tracks are rather memorable, for right and wrong reasons. Simply put, these standout tracks get played way too much, particularly “Fate/Apocrypha” and “Jack the Ripper”, the latter of which plays in over ⅔ of the scenes Jack the Ripper and her master, Reina RIkudou, are in. Another issue is that sometimes the music just gets cut off, and while that may work once in a blue moon like in episodes 6 and 17 when a character saves another from a deadly surprise attack, the rest of the time it comes off as sloppy and jarring. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the first OP, where it just cuts off instead of ending and lingering for half a second like it probably should. Speaking of OPs, while OP1, "Eiyuu Unmei no Uta" is one of the weaker songs done by EGOIST, it is nonetheless as pretty good OP that works well given the nature of this show’s “Great Holy Grail War”. OP 2, "ASH", is one of LiSA’s strongest, rivaling, probably surpassing the band’s immensely popular SAO OP 1. This one feels like the perfect 2nd OP of a Light Novel action anime adaptation, which happens to be what LiSA’s songs are primarily used on with the likes of SAO, Mahouka, and Qualidea Code, and quite frankly, this is easily the catchiest LiSA OP to date for me. ED 1, "Désir" by GARNiDELiA, is a pretty decent track by this group as well, and of all the tracks I heard from her this year, this is arguably my favorite, but it certainly isn’t among my favorites she’s done. ED 2, "KOE" by ASCA, is absolutely astounding! If nothing else, Fate/Apocrypha has easily the best ED theme in the franchise to date, because this song is phenomenal, especially the full version! It fits perfectly for this kind of show as well in its 2nd cour too and the vocals are fantastic. I cannot wait to hear more songs from this group, and with this same studio releasing Grancrest Senki soon at the time of writing, I won’t have to wait too long it seems. Of course, you cannot properly review an anime without taking the actual visuals into account and woo boy was it...rocky. For starters, it seems like A-1 Pictures tried their own spin on the Ufotable face and artstyle and it often doesn’t work that well. The models quite frequently look off, and I can’t count the number of scenes where a character (or multiple characters) not horribly far from the foreground doesn’t have a face. There's also that time in episode 9 where Frankenstein’s arms and face became a slinky and turned an emotional scene into unintentional hilarity. The CGI is brief here though sometimes it just looks egregious too (Saber plane from episode 19, anyone?). Hell, the character designs pail massively in comparison to those of Zero and F/SN by a mile. The outfits range from meh to absolutely hideous, with some of the worst offenders being Shakespeare and especially Siegfried, who is easily the worst designed character in the franchise to me. Everything about this design feels ugly and wrong, especially the armorless glowing chest. Other bad designs include Jack the Ripper, who is a little girl (or little girl body that happens to carry the spirits of a plethora of souls of unfortunate children) with an outfit that TV tropes would define as “stripperific”. The fights are probably the most hit and miss aspect. Sometimes the fights look absolutely abysmal with ruthlessly horrendous choreography and shots that are entirely disconnected to the point of the fights becoming beyond incoherent and incomprehensible (see Karna vs Siegfried in episode 3). Not to mention that the frame rate of the fights can be immensely choppy, such as in the main fight of episode 21. Other times, however, many of the fights would actually become tolerable, if not downright wonderful to look at sometimes, such as anytime Karna busts out his fire moves starting from his fight with Vlad the Impaler in episode 8 and pretty much the entirety of episode 22 (yes, the art is less detailed but the animation is bombastic and dynamic, with absolutely wonderful looking flashy art and animation for the imaginative and stellar attacks and newly constructed environments). The actual choreography of nearly all melee is truly terrible, with some of the worst fights this studio has produced, but then we get those exemplary aforementioned examples on occasion and the fact that a lot of the time the flashy visuals are done effectively, and it all sorta averages out even, all things considered. There are two interesting plotlines in this series, both of which directly involve the main characters, Sieg, Jeanne (and technically Leticia), Astolfo, Shishigo, and Mordred. Those are his journey of learning what it’s like to live and have freedom, and what it really means to be good and find salvation. Over the course of the series, this homunculus, with little knowledge of the world, asks these questions and becomes part of an overarching dialogue with these characters who ask the same and end up coming to their own conclusions of at least one of the two answers, with heartwarming and heartbreaking circumstances and great, terrible, and far more morally ambiguous people fueling or at least playing some influence on said answers, especially for Sieg. He tries to help other homunculi gain freedom just like a select few did for him, and by the end of the series, he comes to his own conclusions just in time to help someone he cares about regain resolve. This, in essence, is one of the two main, interweaving plots of Fate/Apocrypha. To be nice for a moment, Apocrypha does this admittedly well to a degree, and there are a few reasons for this. For one, Sieg starts off weak and with physically no developed personality, as some characters are quick to point out. While he does grow into a more archetypal character akin to what Shirou Emiya from Fate ends up reconstructing in UBW, it is still appreciated development, even if he grows little afterwards, only developing a sense of hate most of his contemporaries (with exception to, oddly enough, Kirito from Sword Art Online), never come close to exhibiting. Another reason this all works is that despite many of the characters not being that well written, more than ⅓ of this sizeable cast plays a major role in his journey through these questions and his final decision towards the end of the series. This means, at least structurally, this all works fine and dandy to some extent, as there are many defining moments in the series for Sieg that influence him in a positive or negative way. There is one problem with the structure to be brought up later but even still, this all sounds pretty good, right? Oh, if only... If that were the case, this series would’ve actually been rather poignant and compelling. For one, as mentioned earlier, not that many of the characters are actually well-written, as they don’t have good chemistry with Sieg in the first place, and they’re not interesting in their own right anyway. Given the immense size of this show’s character ensemble, with a grand total of over 30 characters in a 25 episode series with only 23 minutes per episode, inevitably only few would stand out as worthwhile characters. That is, of course, assuming that any character in such a cast was to do so at all, which is unfortunately not really the case here. Sure, thanks to a few spoiler-based reasons, we only actually need to follow around 24 of them. But that’s still too many for such a series to handle. A lot of them are immensely forgettable in their own right, with a few such as Celenike and Atlanta becoming increasingly, crushingly terrible as the story went on. The main 5 mentioned earlier are the closest we get to well-written characters. This, along with the lack of time to really sell the drama related to some of the more minor characters, makes the deaths of some less emotionally impactful than the people behind this show wanted them to be, especially in the second half of the show, where the majority of the characters are killed. There are a few decent character dynamics such as Jack and Reina, Shishigo and Mordred, and Shakespeare and Semiramis, but not enough are explored well enough for me to truly feel for when some of these characters start dying. This also means that characters whose confrontations with Sieg are key to his development are far less effective given their lack of focus or proper characterization in a dismal, bloated roster that gets shredded off over the course of the war. It effectively means that the main plotline of Sieg's story, and the war at hand, are not blended well together. Speaking of Sieg, he somehow comes out as the best character of the show, having to develop into a more archetypal character, which is immensely bizarre and interesting, even if, once again, he doesn’t become that exemplary of a character. There is some nice banter between some of these characters but banter doesn’t automatically make ok at best characters suddenly good and compelling, despite the ambition and drama displayed with many, especially with the main antagonist. I’ll leave it at that though before I go too far. We still have one major subcategory of reasons the writing failed, that of course, being the narrative. To avoid spoilers, let’s just say there are asspulls galore and many things that just appear out of nowhere only for them to appear from a portal the next time in an attempt to make up for not explaining anything beforehand and causing confusion. One of two nasty exceptions is what a certain female character acquires out of nowhere in episode 21, as there is no explanation as to how or where she got it. This instance actually gets somewhat repeated in episode 23 with a serum a certain important duo used to win a major fight. Everything related to Noble Phantasms is wrong, from the fact that they don’t establish the amount one can have here, or the fact that there are legally many one can weird for some reason (they simply show it and only later do they explain after all the confusion caused). A certain character gets struck by the effects of a servant’s Noble Phantasm in episode 10 that was effectively an electric suicide bomb, and then manages to use all of the noble phantasms the servant who accidentally zapped him with hers had, in episode 24. I understand that the holy grail war this time is different and that there are new rules created specifically for this spin-off entry, and they do a reasonable enough job explaining most of these. However, with instances like the above, they still managed to drop the ball. Sometimes the story claims that a character used more command seals than he or she actually did (or at the least, they don’t show all of them being used). Sometimes it seems like characters just teleport from one location at the end of an episode to another that was far away at the beginning of the next, in an instant (not including the times servants actually do). Other times, time seems to have passed by tremendously with nothing having happened during the fights whatsoever (especially in episode 3). I could keep going on, piling all the small details that really tear up the narrative from the inside, as the first half alone gave me 2 whole pages of errors and holes to list, but I think I’ll stop here. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed with this entry, not out of the fact that it didn’t meet initial expectations, as it kind of did, but because I saw the potential it ended up having, and found that in an effort to do so much, it failed to make the best out of much of anything. I didn’t even go over the fact that Sieg has a myriad of roles to play in such a short time, including being at the center of a love triangle with Astolfo and Jeanne. I could still list a ton of errors made in both halves, and try to more manually show how this series could’ve been better other than maybe suggesting an increase in length which would obliterate this series’ relatively decent pacing. I didn’t talk about how surprisingly absent Leticia is, or even try to delve into this giant and subpar cast. However, I did expect this series to crumble underneath its own weight, and for what it's worth, it did surprise me at times, and leave me with some enjoyment, intentionally or otherwise. I didn't expect a show's emotional core and its backdrop to be at odds with one another and come up short as a result. So, with all my negative views on it, and the fact that I advised against viewing it, I still didn’t try to spoil Fate/Apocrypha. For those of you who know how I operate, particularly with bad shows, this must be at least a little baffling. Well, it’s because for all intents and purposes, I really can’t stop anyone from watching it, especially given that it did some interesting things. Though, you shouldn’t expect this to become very common. That said, Fate/Apocrypha is ultimately a sadly dismal entry, both in terms of its contemporaries, and in terms of an anime in its own right. It tried so hard and got so far, but as the lyrics go, in the end, it doesn’t even matter. The fights range from great to terrible, and the narrative, for all it tries to tell and do, manages to be riddled with holes, structural issues, and an inability to properly combine its main storyline with its backdrop. Barring its noble intentions and occasionally impressive fights, the only real saving grace for this anime is the music, which tends to get overplayed in this anime, unfortunately. It merely ended up like a Lancer in any other Fate/entry, out of luck and doomed to fail. So, goodbye Fate/Apocrypha, at least you tried your best, and sparked a new life with some current anime trends, for better or worse…

Helbaworshipper
7

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.

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