Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (FSN and UBW from now on) is an action-fantasy series adapated from a visual novel by Ufotable and one of the most highly anticipated series from mid-2014 to mid-2015. This review will cover both seasons of the anime. I have not played the VN, so I'm writing the review based on just the anime itself.
P/S. The review is SPOILER FREE. For those of you who dislike reading, skip to the TL;DR section at the end.
For those of you who have watched FSN, proceed scrolling down; for those of you who are first timers, FSN is about 7 insufferable masters who will each summon their own servant through a catalyst, the proceed to participate in a battle royal and eliminate each other to ultimately achieve the grand prize: the holy grail, which will enable those greedy bastards to have their wish granted.
The story begins with our main character, Shirou, who has absolutely no clue of the so-called holy grail war, and is forced to participate in it as he unknowingly summons a servant out of thin air (though later in the series it is explained how he achieved such miraculousity - I made that word up). Throughout the story, it tries to explain how Shirou's ideals to be a hero is contradictory with his counterpart, Archer, a servant summoned by Rin.
-Shirou's ideal: I will save every-miserable-body.
-Archer's ideal: There's no point doing that and I'm gonna kill you.
Overall, the flow of the story was pretty good, easy for people to follow. Minor flaws here and there (especially at the end) could be overlooked. Ufotable did a good job with the pacing, making peaceful parts really serene, and increasing the tension when needed. On the minus side, the story beats around the bush and goes in circles A LOT. It happens when Shirou and Archer debate on their ideals, or when Shirou tries to explain why his flawed ideal is right, which is not the least bit convincing. It just goes on and on and on until at one point you'd just skip some minutes to save time.
Unfortunately, nothing in this series had me at the edge of my seat (except a little bit of Illya's part). No out-of-this-world fight scenes. No what's-going-to-happen-next moments. Nothing had my heart beating faster or gave me the adrenaline rush I was hoping for.
Art and Animation: 10/10
This has got to be the main selling point of the series. I'm sure a hell lot of effort is put into this sector alone. The movement of the characters are fluid, the CGI was God-like, the lighting was divine, the background was detailed, the color was rich, everything was brilliant! I really can't critique something that's near perfect now, can I?
Sound and Music: 7/10
The music was average. Many whom I've asked enjoyed the OP/ED from both seasons. OSTs were also played at the right moment for most parts. Just like the story, nothing really stood out for me. Nothing sounded outstandingly special. It'd be something that I'd listen a couple of times, then just forget about it a few days later.
The voice acting, on the other hand, was great! I'm glad the retained the original cast of the series. Rin's voice actress, Kana Ueda, had an especially important role to play because this series depended heavily on Rin's involvement, and she handled it pretty well.
This can be considered as the weakest part of the show.
Let's begin with ol' Emiya Shirou. Besides becoming physically stronger, his mentality remains at a halt. It's like the extent of his mental development is only 3 episodes, and once it goes to episode 4, it stops. He constantly contemplates on his nonsensical ideals, and uses no logic or whatsoever to try to further improve his flawed, toddler-like thinking. Shirou's just like a stubborn kid trying to break open a container of candy when you can just open the lid. He can come off as dumb, and occasionally spout stuff that makes absolutely no sense. On the plus side, at least there's some development between him and Rin.
Rin Tohsaka (some call here "Toosaka", "Tutsy" from now on) was arguably the best developed character in the series. Always on her toes and plotting for the victory, even after that little twist from her servant. There were stagnant moments, but it was necessary to improve her character. There was also too much moe culture inducted into Tutsy's behavior, which I, at most points, think it's completely unnecessary for a series with a supposedly series tone.
Archer's character fluctuates on the graph like Stan Wawrinka's performance on the ATP Tour. For those of you who don't watch tennis, just google image a sin x graph and you'll see what I mean. On certain occasions he plays the good guy, other times he's a complete ass. Just like Shirou, I do not understand the thought process of Archer. I guess some people just don't change no matter how much time we give them - You'll know what I mean when you watch the show. Archer was just poorly written.
Lastly, there's Saber, who's presence in the entire series is solely dependent on that ONE scene at the end. Absolutely 0 development and no epic fight scenes from her, which is a let down. I understand the story revolves around Rin and Shirou, but the negligance of Saber is like an ungrateful son leavning his dad at an old folks home, running away without a word, then coming back to borrow some money only to disappear again.
Once again, UBW is one of the most highly anticipated series for the past year. but it didn't appeal to me as much as I thought it should. Even so, I did enjoy the series to a certain extent, and boy am I glad to have experienced such a level of animation. In short, DO watch the series, but keep your expectations low, and I'm sure you'll find it somewhat enjoyable.
Story: 5/10 - a lot of beating around the bush and merry go rounds.
Art and Animation: 10/10 - jaw dropping stuff.
Sound and Music: 7/10 - something I'd listen to, but nothing spectacular.
Character: 4/10 - a lot are not very well written, some just annoy you.
Final Note: This is my first review, so if there are any disagreements, critiques, good parts, or any form of feedback, please do leave a comment on my profile. Also, please be constructive when commenting/criticizing, as I'd like to use them to further improve my reviews when I write the next one. If you'd do that, then I'd very much appreciate your help!
DISCLAIMER: Massive spoilers. If you like this show, I have no ill will. Obviously, everything I say here is to make fun of Miura, because fuck Miura.
Employee: Sir, the first episode of season 2 has one of the most important scenes for Rin and Shirou’s relationship.
Miura: How about we make Rin sound like a tsundere, and have a lot more screaming and jokes. And then we get rid of the original soundtrack that means so much to the fans.
Employee: Miura-sama, we have 12 more episodes to fill, should we go in depth about some of the explanations in the VN?
Miura: Haha, silly boy. How about we expand Caster’s backstory, but get rid of the actual point of it? And all the foreshadowing about Caster and Kuzuki’s relationship? Yeah, don’t need that. And now that’s 3/4 of the episode. Oh and let’s have Gilgamesh be completely badass, and Shinji be a bitch, for set up.
Employee: What is that setting up?
Miura: That the next episode is going to be good, of course.
Employee: You’re a genius, Miura-Sama
Miura: Alright, now let’s take about 2 minutes of the VN and make it an episode. Oh, and after that super slow pacing, CRAZY RUSHING TIME. Archer and Lancer? They can fight for 30 seconds. Then, we can just not go into depth at all about the plan they had in fighting Kuzuki and Caster. Caster’s power level? It can just fluctuate throughout the whole show, who gives a shit? And now Kuzuki and Caster can go out like shitty fodder villains with no depth, because we changed their backstories. I know, I’m a genius.
Employee: It’s time for the legendary moment. Unlimited Blade Works’ first appearance.
Miura: Alright, let’s set the stage. Saber and Archer fight like One Piece characters, standing there, talking, then fighting. And let’s show the headaches, because that’s totally fine considering we haven’t shown any of the others ones. UBW can just be CGI, and we can use the budget on more Saber fan service shots.
Employee: We rushed the shit out of the past few episodes, so I assume we are going to go into detail about any future scenes that need it, and speed up unimportant scenes.
Miura: That could work. But here me out. The whole next episode, could be all Shirou and Archer basically having a “Is so” “Is not” argument for 20 minutes.
Employee: But this Shirou is a completely bland, cookie cutter protagonist, why would anyone care about his ideals?
Miura: Who cares, money money money! Alright, first, we do a great job with Lancer’s final moments. Then, we have Shirou and Archer stop and talk, instead of talk while fighting. So that way, instead of this being one episode, it can be 3. Also, Archer should cast UBW, because fuck power scaling. And also, projections can just kinda chip now, because we never explained in this version why they disappear when they chip. And even though Archer casted UBW, we can just use it as scenery, because he doesn’t use it at all. Let’s finally have a great moment, with a Aimer song playing in the background and everything, but it makes literally no sense if you haven’t read the VN. And even if the anime onlies figure it out, it doesn’t mean anything because of how bland Shirou is in this anime.
Employee: Yes master, what genius.
Miura: And instead of just getting rid of monologues entirely, let’s only give them to characters that don’t need them. Let’s have Saber, Rin, Archer and everyone else monologue, get flashbacks, etc, hell let’s give a fucking Grail a flashback, while Shirou remains blank slate. Let’s spend all our budget on pointless landscapes while we replace fights with sfx clashes and use poor CGI for Unlimited Blade Works. Everything that made the original Answer so magical, let’s just remove it for padding! Rin still caring about Archer because she loves Shirou? Removed, let’s just have her cry for no reason. And Gil’s shitty explanation for leaving? Let’s make it shittier. This is Shirou’s moment. What defines him. Yeah, say goodbye to that bullshit, Gil exposition.
Employee: What are we going to do with the next whole 4 episodes?
Miura: After skipping out on literally all the depth the whole show, lets waste a whole episode on fucking nothingness, have a random Saber monologue that means nothing. And, lets add the high jump scene, but take out the reason that scene means anything.
Employee: It’s time for the climax
Miura: Saber and Assassin’s fight. I have an idea! What if we get rid of the fact that Assassin only lost because of his sword being bent, and just have Saber win because? And Shirou not being shown to do any of the shit he does in this episode? Let’s add some lighting effects and screaming, because our fans are clearly idiots. And why not turn the grail into an arm?
Employee: But we’ve only shown Shirou to be a blank slate, how can we show this fight?
Miura: How about he tanks Ea face on? Genius, I know. Then, padding, padding, and more padding. Then, next episode, we give Shirou a 5 minute monologue that came out of nowhere, and no one cares about because Shirou is stupid. We could also have a hot blooded fuck you speech from Shirou and lighting and lasers and shit for UBW, without explaining what UBW actually does.
Employee: That’s only 50% of the episode, what else do we do?
Miura: Pointless Holy Grail filler of course. And Shirou vs. Gilgamesh? Let’s have Shirou jump 50 feet in the air and deflect all the swords by hand, instead of sword raining.
Employee: Final episode, what do we do?
Miura: Filler. Filler my young one. And let’s make this filler wrap up no loose ends, yet make it the most enjoyable episode of the series, for anime onlies and VN fans.
Employee: Wow, you nailed the 6th Kara no Kyoukai movie, and now this? True genius.
Welcome to my second season of UBW review! This show was a blast, and I mean it! But just because I'm correct doesn't mean I'm right...
If you didn't watch the first season, check out my S1 review and get to watching!
Ready for season 2? Ready to see how it all wraps up? Ready to see if people really die when they are killed? (ok I'll stop overusing that one)
So the first season was outstandingly well done. Great visuals, fun story and characters, excellent sound quality... Let's see if the second season lives up to that.
Let's get on to it, shall we?
Okay yall, Kirito called me and he wants to be relevant again. Too many ''archers''. I was expecting to see Legolas or Sylvanas Windrunner pop up anytime.
The story did start off well, a lot of fragments of the previous season came to place. But then so many unexpected things happen. And it all goes upside down and back up and ends up in a great-ish way.
What I'm trying to say, is that the whole story is pretty much well done, it's fun to watch and understand. BUT *perfectionism intensifies*, I do think that some parts of the story were paced in a wrong way. When the first plot twist came up I was like: ''AAAALRIIIGHT'', things started going in a really fast pace. Lots of things happened in short amount of episodes. But then, episodes became really slow paced, which is basically the only thing I didn't like.
What I noticed a lot of people said about this show (did my homework this time...ish), is that it features a different route than the standard Fate/Stay night, which some fans didn't like (because apparently Saber is hotter than Tohsaka). I'm not much familiar with this, as this is my first F/S title that I watched. . .
I'm not really a huge die hard fan of this show, but watching it feels like I'm watching an ''anime standard'', something that just has to be watched if you're a fan of anime.
Story wise, lots of development, lots of plot twisting as I mentioned, well done scenes where everything is so easy to follow, especially battles.
So in conclusion, I like the development and I like the story in general. I do feel some parts of the story were paced in the wrong way so I will give this story a warm 8/10 *gets hit by tomatoes*
Before I say anything, I'll feature a little educational piece right here. IF you have a friend that you think would enjoy watching anime and IF you are persistent enough to succeed into persuing them to watch something, show them THIS (first season tho). Once they see this they're gonna think it's a movie. Once they see this they're gonna think 1/3 of Japan's population worked on this (depends on how dumb they are). Once they see this... there's no coming back (AKA then you can show them KissxSis, Yosuga no Sora and Bakemonogatari)
Jokes aside, animation is just as good as the first season, and I'm so glad it is. Everything is well animated and detailed, especially the battles which made me become ONE with the computer.
So much effort and work is put in the visuals. I do hope ufotable will animate more shows as well as they animated this one. *AHEM* God Eater *AHEM*
There's not really much to say. A lot of bling bling involved and that's visible. I'm so glad they recreated this anime this way. I mean imagine if they re-did Pupa or Mahou Sensou with such stunning visuals... or even Aldnoah Zero... *gets hit by tomatoes*
I can't be cruel to this one. So I'll give it a magnificent, golden 10/10
Great sound quality, love the new OP/ED music.
Music and voice acting are just greatly done. There's nothing bad I can say except that it's not perfect. Still a lot of ''engrish'' which is nothing unusual but my eye still twitches every damn time.
So, basically it's a really high quality voice acting/music/background sounds etc. Very well done and blends well with the flawless animation. 9/10
*resting b*tch face*
I hope yall are ready for this one. I always get REKT in my reviews when it comes to characters.
Although I still stand by anything I said in my first review, I do feel like some characters are plain idiots. Which is very realistic, HOWEVER:
What the friggigy fraggidy was Archer thinking like, the whole second season. I literally can't relate to ANYTHING he has done. I do understand what they tried to do, but I don't understand WHY. So yeah pretty much the only thing that I CAN'T EVEN is Archer. No...Sorry...Next...
Emiya... is still an idiot. But he's like, a permanant idiot you know. And no matter what happens he's right! Even though he's not correct! I just feel like everything he does breaks logic but it somehow works because he's an idiot. I feel like watching some parts of the show were like:
Archer: ''I keel u. I am the boner of mah swoord''
Emiya: ''ERMAHGERD LOOK''
Saber: ''Um Emiya don't do that you will die''
Emiya: ''I MAEK SWERDS''
Saber: ''Emiya seriously stop, you will hurt yourself''
Emiya: ''NU SEBUR LEWK AT MAH MAEK 3000 SWERDS''
Emiya: ''UNLEMETED BWADE WERKS''
I only have one thing to say: ''Good luck Tohsaka''
I am joking. Emiya is smart and has a great future. I do hope he becomes right and correct at the same time (I'll stop).
And I did expect more from some other characters, but I don't mind the way it all wrapped up in the end.
Now seriously, I do love almost all of these characters and they did a great job developing them. 8/10
Definitely one of the better titles in Spring 2015 season. Great visuals, great sound quality, story that's fun to follow, nice characters so it's very easy to enjoy this show.
I did not like some aspects of this show as much as I liked them in the first season, however I can't deny that this show is amazing. It may have been me that had even greater expectations for it, so I won't be an asshole and I will give this anime an 8.5/10 because I really think it deserves it. I did hope to give it a 10/10, but I'm glad that I still enjoyed the show despite not liking some parts of it.
ERMAHGERD this review turned out to be a rage fest ;A; But I really don't hate this show, I just mainly pointed out the negative things... as usual.
Thank you for reading this review! I'd recommend this anime to anyone! It's incredibly easy and fun to follow and it's not explicit so get your best friend, brother, sister, boyfriend/girlfriend, your cat, your butcher or even all of them! And get to watching!
Rate if you found this review helpful, funny, or just like it. I have more anime reviews so check them out if you want!
Thanks and have a nice day ^^
To get this quickly out of the way, I am judging Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (2014) as a stand alone work. I have not played the visual novel and I am not planning to play the visual novel anytime soon. I do not believe that I should have knowledge about the source material to, understand the adaptation. That like saying that I have to read the bible to truly understand the movie version of Noah. So if I didn't understand something from an adaptation that I would understand in the source material, then the adaptation fail to properly adapt the material properly. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, on with the review.
The Fate series generally revolve around a simple premise of seven mages who summon seven servants, who are reincarnations of legendary historic figures, to fight for them in a battle royal with the goal of obtaining the Holy Grail, which can grant the wielder any wish conceivable.
While the premise is fairly simple and kind of silly sounding when you think about it, with proper handling, it can work. While I have my gripes with Fate Zero, it served the series well and presented some interesting ideas and conflicts. So with good execution, this show can work. But unfortunately, Unlimited Blade Works execution is rather sub par and fail to do anything interesting with the material.
When I first start watching this show, I was under the pretense that this show was suppose to be like a battle royal, with each of the master trying to get the upper hand on each other. However, it instead feels more like a 3rd rate battle shonen than an actual death tournament. All the major events that transpire throughout the show always feels unbelievable forced and contrived. I think a big factor that comes into play is how the anime heavily relies on “plot convenience”. Plot convenience is a tool that a lazy writer would use to move a plot in the direction he/she want it to go without necessary making sense in the context of the story. This happens multiple of times over the course of UBW. At one point, the main villain Gilgamesh was ready to face off the main heroes Shirou. Rin, and Saber. But Gilgamesh decides not to fight them for absolutely no reason. The “plot convenience” makes the entire show feel forced and unnatural breaking any of the suspension of disbelief that the viewer might of had.
The anime try to gives some justification to these conveniences, but most of them come off as weak and silly at best. For example, Gilgamesh excuse for not kill the Shiroe and Rin is because of his extreme arrogance, That is like the most used excuse for why the main villain doesn't kill the main villain. And who really buys that argument? No one I know would be that stupidly arrogant to let an enemy go and think that it won't be any repercussions. And it doesn’t help that Gilgamesh level of arrogance is taken to such an extreme that he might as well been a James Bond villain.
Also, since this is a Type Moon adaption, there is a slew of magic terminology being used. Without any context of these terms, many of the plot twists fall flat on their face. I know the fans would excuse this by telling me “go read the visual novel”, and I would point them to the first paragraph I typed.
As for the characters, there isn’t actually that much to write about most of them. Most of the cast except for the Shiroe and Rin get very little in terms of characterization. Caster and Lancer, who have a fairly big roles in the story, only get a some flashback as the extent of their characterization. Some characters don’t even get this treatment. Rider, for example, was just there and ended up just to be killed off screen some randy. Archer, Saber, and Gilgamesh, though received more than the rest, characterization can be summed up in a few words. So that would leave the two main characters, Tosaka Rin and Emiya Shirou.
Rin is suppose to the be primarily love interest and partner for Shirou. Bizarrely, she is the best character in the entire show. Yes, her motivations make no bloody sense ( i have no idea why she decides to help Shirou in the Holy Grail war since I am pretty sure she knows that she have to eventually turn on him since it is a death tournament ), but she has the most characterization out of the entire cast and actually change as a character ( though it is quite dragged out). And she is a character who actually takes an active role in the story. She isn’t necessarily a great character, or even a good one. But one thing I will admit I prefer Rin over mentally impaired Shirou Emiya.
Shirou is one of the most repulsive character I have ever seen to date. He have some sort of complex where he put lives of people around above his own life. This isn’t bad on its own, but the anime take this complex to such a degree that it comes off as idiotic. He’s an annoying, bland , obnoxious character who is sadly the spotlight of the entire show. But the most frustrating part of his character is his idealism. At first, show seem to know where to take ideals. In the second season, Shirou fell under the criticism of Archer, who calls out on Shirou’s bullshit and try to convince Shirou to abandon his unreachable ideals and bring up convincing points like how contradictory his idealism is. Archer saids these exact words to Shirou "Fighting for others, but not yourself, is nothing but hypocrisy." And there is Gilgamesh who calls Shiroe a “fake”, since he claims tha Shirou inherit his ideals from his foster father Kiritsugu. For some time, the show actually look like its trying to make a point. Normally, one would expect Shirou to realize how naive his ideals are and gasp* actually abandon his ideals and develop as a character. Sadly, that was too good to be true. Instead he just have some random epiphany out of nowhere that some how his ideals are right despite all the evidence against his ideals. I guess the thought “ Just because you are correct doesn’t mean you are right.” Unlimited Blade Works is mediocre show at best. It’s has a extremely linear plot and lackluster characters polished up with good animation and music. If you simply want to watch an anime for good animation and music and nothing else, I would recommend UBW. But if you are looking for more than that, I would urge you to look else where.
This is merely season two of Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works. It is slightly better than season one due to the unveiling of various mysteries and forshadowed events dealing with one or two of the primary characters. The action intensifies a bit from season one as well. Shirou finally starts coming into his own value with respect to the efforts of those around him. One of the best sequences deals with him suffering a huge setback but he still pushes on. Shinji gets even more atrocious that it will probably make you want to vomit every time you see him onscreen. Ahab and the Whale have nothing on this obsessive nut job. The characters get a tad richer with a bit more depth and background tacked on to what was there in the previous season. It is amost disturbing though that only one adult essentially serves as a master. Rin represents a paradox, by season two she has come around to developing into a decent and important character but early in season one she was barely any different than Shinji or Kiriei or Kiritsugu (the latter two from Fate/Zero). I just found it irksome how little regard she had for life early on. Oddly and ironically enough, Shinji had more character and integrity at the start of season one. So these two characters sort of do a 180 by midway through season two. The style is the same high level quality as described in review of season one. Once again though, it suffers from contraditions to high quality art and animation such as: occasional dog face side profiles; razor sharp chins; oversized eyes (I know common in anime but that's mostly older style, now it looks antique or overly toddler age level entertainmentish, plus that doesn't fit well with certain types of anime like this one); or occasional too thin limbs. The coloring, shading, detail, depth, and perspective are among it's animation style artistic merits.
In general, the show is a bit cliched and more problematic that it is too carbon copied from Fate/Zero. The Fate series does make a few language/term goofs. For example, Lancer is technically a rider/horseman. No one uses a lance off a horse, but a spearman fights on foot. Saber might be termed a sword in general but is usually associated with certain types of swords of the lighter variety. In Fate/Zero, Rider was one of the best and strongest characters. In this series, she is not even technically a rider and she wears a blindfold as well. With the exception of Kiritsugu and Kiriei, most of the characters in Zero were a tad better than the support secondary characters in Fate/Stay. But once again, there are too many similarities like in essence how alike character's backgrounds (or at least in essence how they came to be masters) in both series are. The similarities widen a bit in season 2 over season 1 especially toward the last few episodes. It puzzles me that for a contest that is supposed to have rules how often they are ignored. I wonder if we will see a Fate series where we don't have: rulebreakers; unfulfilled servant slots; and a master/servant swap. Though some characters or powers were better in Fate/Zero, the main characters were better in Fate/Stay. Too many characters have a virtual emotionless character for much of the series. The following spend part or all of the anime with nearly no heart or passion: Rin, Kuzuki, Emiya, Rider, Assassin, Archer, Saber, and Kiriei.
Overall Fate/Stay executed the story better so one might almost think it was a rewrite/redo of Fate/Zero. Or perhaps it was done intentionally to emphasize the connections from one to the other. Fate/Stay is a much more solid story and delivered way better than Fate/Zero, but because of so many similarities it suffers.