Hakuno Kishinami finds himself in the midst of a Holy Grail war with no memories of how he got there. Through his confusion, he must fight to survive.
Fate/Extra, or how I like to call it: 'Fate/Exposition', 'Fate/Head tilts edition', 'Fate/Umu', or 'Fate/will they ever shut up and get to killing each other finally?', is yet another installment in the Fate franchise, a franchise that happens to be a gold mine, and anything with its name slapped on sells like hotcakes regardless of its actual quality, or even if it had absolutely nothing to do with what Fate is originally about (*Cough*Cooking spinoff*Cough). If you've watched any of the other Fate shows, or any other death royale-style anime, you'll know what to expect from this one, a bunch of masters summon spirits of old legendary warriors who are based on historical figures to fight for them, and the last one standing gets a reality-bending wish. What differentiates this one from the rest of the fate titles is it has head tilts the setting of which the battle takes place in a virtual reality world where instead of 7 masters and servants, we have a large 128 masters, with a battle taking place in a differently themed floor, and the winner will ascend to next floor where the next battle will take place. So it's basically a Fate/Shaft Art Online edition. The setting is supposed to be the main selling points of this series, but to be completely honest it's overly complicated, doesn't make much sense in how it's rules work, and barely matters to the plot, so not much is done with it, besides having the characters flapping their mouths constantly to talk about it of course. Every floor is visually unique and has some quite eye-catching scenery where people could chill as they fight to the death, it gives it an interesting video game vibe and it's one of the show's best points. Too bad that variety isn't reflected in the events that take place on each floor as each one seem to follow a set plot. Every floor starts with Hakuno and Saber getting ambushed by an unknown assailant as they arrive at a new floor, putting them at a disadvantage. They're miraculously saved from certain death thanks to a conveniently timed rescue from a third party or some other contrived plot device, giving them enough time to talk us to death, and then they go back to fighting the enemy and end up defeating them in an anticlimactic manner due to episode time constraints, then the enemy throws his entire backstory in an attempt to seem sympathetic but fails since miserably since you didn't know him long enough to care about him nor did his story sound convincing enough to earn that sympathy. Rinse and repeat 4 more times, you have yourself the script for Fate/Chuuni Saber. As for the masters besides the main character, they like to do completely unnecessary actions based on motivation that contradict them or just simply don't make any sense. For example, Shinji, having killed his own friend trying to look out for his own self-interest, is guilt-ridden and seeks to repent for that sin. How does he do that? by making his own dystopian city where he constantly kills everyone who refuses to bow down to him and trapping those who do with an endless night that repeats itself forever, as a true hero would do. Despite the simplicity of the battle royale plot, the story is a clusterfuck of chaotic nonsense, since there is very little care for the narrative. I spent most of my time tilting my head harder than any of this show's characters due to how confusing everything is, I would sit in front of the screen after every episode, dazed as I try to piece together whatever happened in it, how does it connect with everything else, and what're they supposed to amount for, the show fell apart from the very beginning and never managed to recover, or rather, it never made any attempt to recover, it just kept going, thinking that people still care. Puzzled, they all asked in sync. I was hoping they would explain, but apparently even the characters don't know. The main characters are not any better, Hakuno is an amnesiac apathetic person that does not exhibit much emotion, he has no personality or a motivation for why he's fighting, he's supposed to be angry hateful person, but we never see that in his actions or even his facial expressions, he has the depth of a cardboard cutout, an angry cardboard cutout. as much as I hated Shirou from the original F/S N self-righteousness and relentless stupidity, he's like the messiah in comparison, at least he has some kind of a personality even if it makes me want to bash my head against the wall until I bleed and everything goes black. Red Saber, on the other hand, acts like a hyperactive chuuni on drugs, she's the personification of an annoying "UwU" weeb style of speaking, and not much can be said about her as a character except for the shape of her butt crack. and by the end of the show the only thing you might remember about her is Umu, and how she seems to be getting closer to a full nude every episode Umu. Lastly, you have Rin and Rani, the only two characters who matter to the show besides the main two, and you can tell that by the fact that they last in the show more than two episodes. They also do nothing but talk or offer assistance to the main characters and their existence isn't justified until the last episode, and even then their existence still doesn't make any sense because by then the show had already given up on making sense. The animation style is the typical Shaft one that's been done to death, so if you've seen another shaft show before you'll know what to expect. They're still quite artsy and they're something to keep you occupied while the characters are still yapping their traps. On the other hand, they're a little too played out to the point they're a little too distracting from everything else. The character designs are just plain awful, they look like they've been drawn straight out from a very old shoujo manga, and they lack detail, making them look very plain, especially Red Saber. Action wise, the battles are conflicting, some of them are really great, dynamic, well animated and exciting, which is a lot to say given this is a Fate anime which is the only title somehow capable of making a bloated budget action scene boring, others are just anticlimactic and plain dull, but on overall they're quite lackluster and underwhelming due to many reasons such as Hakuno being practically immortal, since no matter how many times he gets stabbed or chopped he won't die, other times characters seem to pull some random power from their ass without explanations, or just get saved by random strangers in the last second. So what is left to watch the show for, is it the Umu counter? Is it for the head tilts? Is it because of the Fate in the title? Whatever the hell the reason was it wasn't worth it. you know you have a bad Fate show if even the fans of the show hate it. If you're still wondering whether to watch this or not, please note that the cooking spin-off is rated higher than this one, I'm sure that'll give you a better idea about it.
Born directly from the father of Type Moon, Kinoko Nasu himself, Fate/Extra: Last Encore is a fascinating title in the franchise of Fate, and the Type Moon universe at large. Despite Nasu’s attempts to inform everyone about the intentions behind this anime and how everyone would be at an even playing field here, mass confusion broke out. It is only loosely based on the game, and due to the unique circumstances of the show’s narrative, it has been deemed unfit as a start. Perhaps this explains the disgustingly poor reception of this wonderful show.Such a shame, since this anime is a sheer, flooring spectacle. It does not stop. It explains as it goes along, showing the sheer brutality of its style and depictions of events. Regrettably the blitzed pacing makes us ask questions in order to connect how characters figure things out or otherwise do something important in terms of progressing the narrative. Thankfully it is the only severe problem with the narrative, as all other questions you ask slowly get answered. The anime should let itself breathe more, as its crammed tightly with exposition that moves at a lightning pace, whether that be exposition about the setting or about a character. It clenches you by your wrists and never lets go, as it flies off into the hellish world it wants to show you as it unfolds before your very eyes! A disorienting start that gives you an oppressive, dreadful vibe, and never lets that vibe escape. It is ubiquitous throughout this precisely crafted, chaotic spectacle of a series. The series gradually pieces itself together like a puzzle. The information we learn shows is that this is no ordinary Fate anime; this technological nightmare of a system the character's life in is equal parts bewildering and horrifying. The more you learn, the more crushing everything feels, as the setting is nothing more than an automation of atrocity in which mankind has no hope beyond one last chance at survival. Nearly everything makes sense in broken context of this ravaged, now disorganized world of the frightening future, despite how brisk the pace is and how convoluted things can be regarding the floors and the vile, disturbing setting. The visions Hakuno has are largely an exception, excluding visions of the past. Sadly, that alone makes this a daunting choice, no matter where you are in terms of Fate expertise, and what makes or does not make sense will not only be difficult to explain, but will likely be lost on you regardless. The excessive flashbacks do not mitigate this issue either.The scenery is a glorious feast for the eyes, and the directing conveys this omnipresent sense of dread masterfully. SHAFT and the main director, Akiyuki Shinbou, as well as an added director, Yukihiro Miyamoto, mastered their craft perfectly with the most brimming of creative architecture your ever-pleading eyes can consume. An interesting idea that helped sell the distorted and discomforting feel of the events and setting was how often times, certain parts of the images on screen would distort as if it were a static channel on a TV or a moment of poor connection. The fight in the opening alone is proof of their luscious visuals, even if the fights in the show itself are a bit more into the territory of clumsiness to an extent, depending on the fight. Said fights are certainly far superior to Apocrypha, however, as all of them have the lovely styles and kinetic movement to rival the 22nd episode of that series. The designs are wonderful as well; everything blends perfectly with the fascinating, layered, brisk, and intense nature of the show. It is every bit as beautiful as this show’s incarnations of Rin and Sakura, and Saber herself. The rose petals and all of the attacks look majestic and vibrant, almost as much as the aforementioned architecture. Locations like the school, and Wonderland, are distinct and mesmerizing for the eyes, with such beauty only being comparable to the uniqueness of it all. The only issue is the occasional tampering of brightness that has no purpose. Other than that, the visuals are beyond exemplary.The music, while not able to be as much of a pleasure to the senses as the visuals, is still wonderful and interesting. The Opening, "Bright Burning Shout" by Takanori Nishikawa, is fantastic, perfect for a series of action, given how adrenaline-pumping it is. The Ending, "Tsuki to Hanataba (月と花束)" by Sayuri, functions in mucha similar way, with a more emotional tinge to it, though the vocals may prove bothersome to some. The background music works well for whatever scene it is in, blending in wonderfully with the mind-bending environments and the crystal clear mood of every scene. Each smaller setting within Last Encore has its own music, so aside from the opening and ending, if you hear a track in one primary location, it will almost never be played anywhere else. Think of it like video game level music, almost. None of these tracks are absurdly memorable but are ultimately nice accompaniment.What is most raw of all is what it says. People are full of desperation. They cling to survival to the point where they forget what makes life meaningful in the first place, regardless of any conflict or glory or despair. People can lose a sense of purpose and identity, a sense of life. They can be swallowed up by hatred, by confusion, by pettiness and vanity. People must always have a drive to make their lives fulfilling, finding out the meaning in things and what purpose they wish their life to have. They cannot let fear or hatred hold them back, let alone consume them as they proceed to make pathetic and ruinous decisions. They must make their lives truly have value, even with the inevitability of death, as the dead leave a legacy of decisions and worth for the living to interpret. The protagonists and each master servant pair each convey this in their own fascinating ways, with standouts aside from the beautiful and boisterous Saber and the unnerving and interesting main protagonist with his nightmarish powers that haunt him most of all, including this show’s fascinating and visceral incarnation of Shinji Matou, and other masters. Each master has a strong desire, far more than the main protagonist, and it can be fascinating and even disturbing to know what they’re in for, particularly due to the magnificent presentation of each of these, courtesy of Shinbou whose directing is phenomenal. Other characters, such as Rin, are merely there for other narrative reasons, but are entertaining nonetheless. Saber, however, is the ultimate joy, and Hakunon is fascinating to see get pieced together.Fate/Extra Last Encore is arguably the most fascinating of the franchise's installments. It is a sheer spectacle in a completely different way to its brethren, and what it attempts to convey is far removed from what installments such as UBW and Zero wanted to tell, and what concepts works such as Apocrypha and Grand Order failed to properly explore. Does that make it the best? Not necessarily, but it is the most intriguing. It is the most terrifying and somber, next to Zero, the supposed holy grail of the franchise itself. Yes, UMU; it's such a fascinating work in so many respects deserves the respect it sorely lacks! Incomplete work or not, this work is a sight to behold. As I bid you adieu and await the continuation, I implore for this series to get the respect it truly deserves, as it is a passionate risk that pays off surprisingly well.
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