Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - Reviews

ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Dec 28, 2014


Well, here we are once again with Ufotable adapting a Type Moon work. If it sells, why stop doing it; right? I mean have you seen how all related series sold? From the atrocious older version made by DEEN, to its prequel Fate/Zero, to its loli fan service spin-off Fate/Kaleid; this franchise is a goldmine.

And you need to be aware of what exactly you are getting yourself into in case you don’t already know. The Fate franchise is affiliated with the most famous porn game of all times, and has a ridiculous amount of fans who defend it to the death. For example, if one of them reads the previous sentence, he will go apeshit and explain in a wall of text how it is not a porn game; it’s a visual novel, the ultimate masterpiece of storytelling, with exceptional writing, amazing characters, complicating terminology, and intellectual battles. How many good books have these people read that are not shitty visual novels, and how many games have they played that are not erotic visual novels? 95% chance, the answer is zero. As it happens with all fandoms, they are filled with fanatics who are inflating whatever is going on, while being in denial. It has sex scenes, it has fan service, it has harem, it’s a porn game; you can stop trying to call it otherwise. It tries to be more, but eventually succeeds only into becoming a badly written battle shonen with fancy terminology.

If you keep your expectations low, you will enjoy it as a rule of cool type of show, filled with lots of flashy battles, extremely polished visuals, and poser characters you want to cosplay as, or have as your waifu. It’s a very fun show if you see it just as a spectacle. The problem surfaces when you DON’T see it simply as a spectacle and instead try to make it seem like it’s more than that. I said you should keep your expectations low but how is that humanly possible when the anime was hyped all the way to the moon as soon as its production was announced, and how can you possibly remain calm and reserved about it when it got an average score of 9/10 before it even began to air. I am not kidding you; it was placed instantly at the top ten highest rated anime of all times before the first episode was even out. The average dropped since then, but that doesn’t take away the power of its delusional fandom.

And let me prove why they are delusional, starting with the premise. Seven people get a super warrior each and fight each other because there can be only one. The winner gets a wish and becomes a puela magi. What complicates this one line of a story is how the tiniest and most unimportant of events needs to be stretched out to last as much as possible, and a plot that could have ended in 2 episodes if it was pragmatic, is instead stretched to last 10 times as much. How is that possible, you may ask? Is the show mostly made up of fillers? No, but it’s instead filled with lots and lots of extra fluff that do not allow the average viewer to realize he is watching something that has no progress.

It keeps you distracted with constant infodumps. Half of the whole show is people talking and explaining shit. And by explaining, I don’t simply mean they explain their strategies to the opponent or comment on everything that happens in case the viewer has his IQ lower than that of an ape. It does that too, but it is a drop in the ocean before the dreaded infodumping. Dear lord, they talk for hours about how magic works and what it can do and what are the limitations, and they use fancy words, and they explain it again, and then they go over it every time something new appears, and SHUT UP ALREADY!

This is what made the source material so famous. It’s a porn game with a complicated terminology you can talk about for hours, that makes you look smart and not like a ronery who faps to cartoons. And by the end of the day none of all that matters because IT’S MAGIC; IT MAKES NO SENSE. Even if it was science that for some reason the porn game managed to present it in a completely realistic manner, it would still not mean anything, since it still works in any random way the writer wants it to work.
- Rin needs to train for a decade, be fully aware of how magic works, and chant for a whole minute for something magical to take place. This is meant to explain why learning magic is a hard thing to do. And yet Shiro casts commands, summons super warriors, learns epic spells in seconds, and avoids death rays without having a clue of what the fart is going on, thus debunking the previous claim.
- They keep saying there are rules that make sense, and waste half the show explaining them, only to then reveal:
• Caster who has the power of Rule Breaker,
• Assassin who doesn’t run out of energy without his master around,
• Lancer who feigns death twice in five minutes, only to die the third time,
• Gilgamesh who jumps in the death game out of nowhere, and screws up everyone with a power nobody had any chance of surviving against, besides the bland MC and his constant asspulled power ups and plot armor,
• and Archer who stays alive, even when he was clearly killed.

Adding to all this mess is the very bad writing.
- If half the show is explanations, the other half is characters fooling around and not doing what they are supposed to be doing. I am not kidding you, none of the characters take their roles seriously; they are in a death tournament where it is “kill or be killed” and treat everything as if it’s an amusement park.
• Rin, who really wants to win in this death tournament, saves the life of another contestant, explains all it needs for him to survive in this war, and then proceeds into trying to kill him, thus rendering all that she did so far to be completely pointless, only to regret it and fall in love with him.
• Ilya lets her enemies escape because it was a fun game and wants to play more, while Gilgamesh is not killing his enemies because he doesn’t want to get dusty.
- Ilya and Berserker don’t have their backdrops reveiled, until they are one minute away from dying.
- Shinji and Caster’s first Master don’t even have much of a character or a backdrop story, and are there only as generic one-dimensional villains for the audience to hate.
- As if all that weren’t enough, there is also a significant amount of characters, such as Saber, Rider, Sakura, even Kotomine, who are not doing much in the whole show, even though they seemed to be far more important in their introduction. The reason for that? Because the anime wasn’t adapting the route of the game in which they were vital.

How do the fanboys excuse all that:
“In the visual novel you had options of what you would do, so it doesn’t seem that bad over there”.
I don’t give a damn about the porn game, and this is a review of the anime. Oh, there is also:
“How could we get to know the characters if they would be killed right away and the show would be over in a few episodes? That’s impossible to happen if the show made sense. After all, it’s dumb entertainment for shonentards, so it’s ok to... WHOOPS! I meant sophisticated storytelling for mature people such as myself; there is nothing wrong with this anime; it’s perfect.”

Ok, you are not convincing me, it’s still stupid. There is so much plot armour for the protagonist, and so much plot convenience when not killing people, even when they should normally do, to the point I no longer care about the characters because their conflict feels staged. I also can’t see this show as dumb action because they keep trying to trick me (and fail) into believing it is far more than just that. Hey look guys, it’s famous historical figures from the past, brought to the present to fight! And they talk about ideals and philosophies! Isn’t it amazing?

... No, it isn’t. It falls right into the pretentious territory, a thing which I happen to hate because it wants to make the viewer over-think stuff and trick him to believe he is smart for doing that. The illusion breaks when you get unforgettable quotes such as “people die when they are killed” coming from a guy who cheats death three times per episode because he is a bland shonen protagonist. There are also no consequences in a story where they keep telling you a wish can change the whole world, when the world is otherwise completely autistic to this war and its participants. Yes, they keep saying that they cover it up, but just what is there to cover when they cause a dozen explosions per episode, injuring or killing hundreds of people, and none in the city sees or hears the slightest thing. It’s as if the characters all suffer from chuunibyou and the battles take place only in their childish minds, with the adults walking by and shaking their heads upon seeing them doing all that make-belief nonsense.

So down to it, what is this show exactly? It’s a silly fighting shonen with very good production values that pretends to be intelligent by overcomplicating everything. It’s full of fan catering, wish fulfilment, and escapism, with a naive plot starring a bland shonen protagonist full of childish ideals, doing silly teen romance shenanigans with a plethora of female archetypes (Rin: Tsundere, Saber: Culdere, Sakura: Yandere), and a ton of bravado for the sake of giving importance to things that are otherwise shallow. It’s fun if you still like Naruto but not if you are past the age when you still like teenagers with superpowers and unforgettable quotes such as “the archer class is made of archers”. And don’t you dare say that just because I am correct, doesn’t mean I am right.

3/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
3/10 characters
6/10 overall
Noriko's avatar
Nov 15, 2014

Haiiii~ (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ ♥

So I have a brief history with Fate/zero. I remember Saber and one guy (not the red haired one) were in the church talking and I was not in the mood to listen to all of it, so I said screw this and dropped the whole show (oops?) 


This show. Is on a whole another level (or it could be me just being in a mood to watch it)

Let's start off with theee...


Just to begin, this story is based on a freaking eroge. . . the show is family friendly tho. So basically this show is a non-explicit version of an adult game? Props to whoever for making a story this good. If a show has such a good rating WITHOUT porn, if my lil cousin from Poland can watch this and think these ladies are OFFICIALLY innocent... you know it's good.

So the story is based on Emiya (''people die if they're killed'') and Saber being more less in a battle royale with several more groups. And they all have to fight for a Holy Grail who grants wishes or something. Anyway. What you need to know is that this story is very well explained, it's quite in detail there's a lot of fighting and a bit of blood.

I also reviewed the second season. There are more episodes! So if you liked this story make sure to watch season two.

Very very interesting story, fun to watch and follow. 9/10


Voice acting, the atmosphere, music, grunting, cutting, engrish. Everything is really well done. I have nothing bad to say about it, but yeah I don't really listen to the OP/ED songs.

All voices fit characters.



*sniff* It's perfect.

Virgos appreciate perfect things. I'm a virgo. 

I'll say one important thing about this animation. You can pause any episode at any moment, it will still look 10/10. That's what I'm talking about.

Usually when I pause anime to do something there's an eye on their chin or something. Not with this show though. Therefore...

On a scale from 1 to 10 the animation is probably 25

The details, the environment, their expressions, drops of sweat dripping from his face while he does pushups. It's all there. I have nothing else to say.

Truly immaculate, most likely one of the best animated series I have seen so far.

25/10 10/10


Hmmm. So I'm not really fond of the main character, but I kinda like his enthusiasm. I'm not really fond of Saber as well but I also like her too. I like Rin and Archer. All of the characters are well developed and pretty much everything is explained. Sakura is okay, her brother is an asshole.

Glad that the characters seem rather realistic. There's no fake ass kawaii anti gravity hair flying sausage magical girls (not saying that's bad, but it most likely wouldn't fit the show)

I'll just give it 9/10. Boobs aren't needed to make the female characters likeable and male characters aren't stereotypical. Which is nice.


Eye candy anime. The story is great only if you pay attention. Don't get lost like I did in Fate/Zero. OBSERVE what the hell is going on.

I have only one advice for anyone who didn't watch this... sit yo god damn ass down and watch this shit (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

But in all seriousness. This show is great and I was a bit sceptical judging on the fate/zero issue, but I can say without doubt that this show is one of the best of Fall 2014 season.

I kinda feel a bit uneasy by writing this review since I never watched any Fate series anime *shrug*. But yeah I like this show it deserves an Oscar blah blah blah

K that's all I have to say about this.

Thank you for reading this review! I'd reccommend this anime to anyone... LITERALLY ANYONE.

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 ^^

9/10 story
10/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
arachni42's avatar
Dec 26, 2014

This review is based on the first cour (up to episode 12) -- the rest of the series won't be airing until April 2015. If you are wondering how this anime relates to Fate/Zero, I explain below. This is a spoiler-free review (unless you count things that are explained in the first episode).


Unlimited Blade Works (UBW) is centered around Shirou Emiya, a high school boy and inexperienced mage who gets involved in an event called the Holy Grail War. This is a competition among mages for the "Holy Grail," a wish-granting chalice that usually appears every few decades, although it has only been 10 years since the previous war. Seven mages each summon a "Servant," the embodiment of a Heroic Spirit. (For example, the Irish hero Cu Chulainn.) Shirou summons a sword-user referred to as Saber. But Shirou is not interested in the Grail. His ambition is to save people, and he joins the war to protect innocent people.

This story is not about the Grail War. This story is about the characters, their motivations, and their decisions.

I think it helps to understand that this story is based on the very involved, quite lengthy visual novel, Fate/stay night (FSN). A visual novel is a game that works like a choose-your-own-adventure story. The FSN visual novel has three major branches: "Fate," "Unlimited Blade Works," and "Heaven's Feel." Each branch takes place during the same 15-16 days, but has different events and themes. This anime is based on the second branch. They were originally designed to be played in order, meaning that players would have some background from the first branch. Still, it is a complete story that can stand on its own.


The 2006 Fate/stay night anime by Studio DEEN was based on "Fate," the first branch of the FSN visual novel, although it has scenes from other branches. Visual novel fans generally consider it a poor adaptation and recommend against watching it. UBW is a parallel story to Fate.

The 2010 Unlimited Blade Works movie was also made by DEEN. It (attempts to) tell the same story that this series is telling, but in 105 minutes instead of 24 episodes. Also not recommended.

The 2011 Fate/Zero (FZ) anime is based on four light novels that were written as a prequel to FSN. Fate/Zero assumes background knowledge from the FSN visual novel, although it can also stand on its own (with some confusion about the ending). It takes place 10 years before UBW. UBW does not work well as a "sequel" to FZ; the arcs of certain characters that were in FZ (Saber, Sakura, Illya) are not really resolved in UBW.

The 2013 anime Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya is an alternate universe with the same characters, but the story and background are very much separate from UBW.


So far this has been a pretty faithful adapatation, but... I can't rate the story yet. Why? The majority of the story at this point is setup. The nature of this story is that it starts out straightfoward enough, but as it progresses there are some unexpected turns of events. There is lots of foreshadowing; groundwork has been laid; almost nothing has been included without a purpose. But the studio will really need to follow through on the later parts. (I fully expect that they will, but we'll have to wait and see.)

The situation ends up being that for those not familiar with the story might feel as though not a lot of actual progress has been made during the first cour (because if this is a "war," what's with the characters going to school and having all these slice of life moments?), whereas those familiar with the story may feel it's downright rushed (due to the things that have been cut).

This anime is very dense. There is a lot of attention to detail, so it is very easy to miss things, and some ideas are not fully conveyed. It is told mostly from Shirou's point of view, there are very few inner monologues. His thoughts and feelings depend heavily on visuals to convey them. The subtlety is interesting, though, and it's easy to discover new things and have new thoughts about it when re-watching.


This series looks good. Really good.

I would not call it artistically innovative. It feels very modern and flashy. Lots of eye candy, scenes where the studio is definitely showing its stuff... Listen, they animate the dust in the shed. They animate. Dust. And it looks cool. But more importantly, it's leveraged to set an atmosphere. They not only keep the visuals interesting, they use them effectively to tell the story.

The directing is excellent. There are a lot of interesting camera angles and shots. There is close attention to character expressions. The effects are integrated smoothly into the animation. CG doesn't look out of place -- except in a few circumstances when it is supposed to. A lot of simple character interactions use more fluid animation than most anime. They avoid the impression of, "Ah, here is the fight they spent 90% of their budget on." It looks more like they spent 70% of their budget on fights, and 70% of their budget on other parts. (And before you ask why that adds up to 140%, you need to understand the context... this is Unlimited Budget Works!)

SOUND: 9/10

The voice acting (Japanese) is impressive. Personally, I particularly appreciate when voice actors make the tricky, non-verbal stuff (the sighs, the exclamations, the grunts, the pauses) sound completely natural. But of course, actual sentences are done with skillful nuance, as well. You don't just hear emotions like "happy" or "sad" or whatever, you can pick up sentiments like "being good-natured about a friend's playful teasing but feeling somewhat self-conscious" and "believing it's important to show and feel cold acceptance of a tragedy, but failing."

I've enjoyed the soundtrack. It successfully sets the atmosphere. No particular themes have stood out to me yet, although that may change over time.

Honestly I haven't paid any attention to sound effects, although the fact that they've been "invisible" probably means they're doing their job!


This is another case where the score depends on how the rest of the series is handled, but I gave it a score anyway. UBW focuses on the characters Shirou, Rin, and Archer. Each has struggles that make them interesting.

There are many other characters, but they play a more minor role. Despite the large number of characters, this is not an ensemble cast. The story mostly takes place from Shirou's point of view, so you don't usually get to see what's going on with the other characters. And this is how it is supposed to be. UBW is only 1/3 of the FSN story. But, practically speaking, it ends up being a flaw with this anime as a standalone. There are characters that feel like they should have an arc but don't, or they have a little bit of an arc that's incomplete.

I have some comments below about the main characters in a non-spoilery way, to give you an idea of the themes involved... but if you want to discover the characters for yourself, you can skip the rest of this section and just go watch the anime.

Rin is the successor of her family's magic. The path of a mage puts being a mage ahead of being a parent, being a sibling, being a friend... her role means that cold rationality must prevail. But her good heart leads her to decisions that conflict with this ideal.

Shirou puts on the appearance of being a normal high school boy, but the trauma of almost dying as a child still haunts him. He has a strong desire to help everyone and save everyone, just as he was saved. But his ideals don't seem to include himself.

Archer, Rin's Servant, acts as both a parallel and a foil to Shirou. Archer insists that saving one person means not saving another. His identity and past are unknown, and his sarcasm makes him difficult to read, but it is clear that he dislikes Rin's hesitation to attack Shirou and Saber.


Based on the series so far (up to episode 12): There are many interesting (and beautiful) scenes -- some action, some drama, some slice of life. The characters face external struggles, but there are clearly important internal struggles as well. Many details are included, although some are subtle and can be easily missed. It's a solid setup. However, the final verdict will depend on how well the rest of the story is handled.

?/10 story
9.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
KThxBye's avatar
Sep 4, 2015

I try so hard to like this, but I literally cringe every time I watch an episode. It's like I'm sitting around hoping for the story to develop, but it's a bunch of nonsense and irrelevant flash backs. There is so much to work with but nothing ever happens. Yet I stubbornly soldier on through the series, hoping to see why it is so highly rated, and becoming more frustrated every time I get the nerve to sit and watch it.

When you think there's going to be an action scene, it's actually the start of a fight, 10 minutes of flash backs about the person fighting, and then the end of the fight where something happened but you're not sure what because it didn't show it. Like, seriously. Every battle is pretty much irrelevant anyways because all the characters have comebacks or loopholes that keep them from dying. Oh, your servant is gone? Here's another literally 3 minutes later. Oh, you're hopelessly outnumbered and mortally wounded and have no chance of surviving? Well, we didn't see how you got there because it was covered by a bunch of flashbacks, so you can actually go. No big deal, have a nice day.

I feel like the entire series is me waiting around for something to happen. Such incredible build up and excitement, then nothing. BUT despite that, I keep going back to it. I guess that says something about it, right? Or maybe I'm just dumb. Whatever works.

3/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
4/10 characters
5/10 overall
StevenSAKUJO's avatar
Jan 9, 2015


Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (UBW) has some references to previous fate zero but for the most part, you do not need to watch them to understand this anime. For those of you who are familiar with the previous series then UBW is esentially the next holy grail war with the masters being desendants, more or less of the main characters of fate zero. For those unfamiliar the general idea is that there are 7 contestants for a powerful artifact "the holy grail" which is earned only when 6 other contestants are defeated or dead. Contestants are mages with the ability to summon heroic spirits, who will fight for their masters. 

The story follows a very familiar pattern but lacks the same substance as its predeccessor, ambigious moral ground has been replaced with good vs evil and powerful mages with pride and ambition have been replaced with sniveling kids who think they're tuff shit. The main drama of the fate zero came from the differing morals, philosophies and classes of the characters while UBW relies on characters simply knowing eachother. The way that UBW excites the viewer also seems to betray the status quo of fate zero, such as hyping battles between mages and heroic spirits, which was an inconcievable concept in fate zero as every heroic spirit seemed to think a battle with a mage would be over in 2 seconds. 

The storyline itself really is simply masters fighting each other + some slice of life scenes, there's not a whole lot to talk about here.


Animation gets better every year but the question will always be whether to use it to reach new levels of realism and complexity or to become the ultimate eye candy. I have no idea what UBW was going for but I dont think it achieved either, characters have huge eyes, odd looking mouths and dont even look particuarly different from what you'd expect to see in other anime. The scenery can be impressive but other than that it recieves the same criticism ive given in at least 5 of my reviews. Having big eye'd cutesy characters merely robs them of any chance we had of taking them seriously. Their lectures, speeches and ideas all seem a little dumber because they're coming from a character that looks more like a doll than a human being. Magic is also extremely uninspiring and yet is supposedly quite powerful. Yet in Fate zero, magic was portrayed as rather weak and characters mostly relied on heroic spirits and yet it was far more creative and nice to look at than in UBW. 

Sound: [7.5/10]

Extremely similar to Fate Zero, mostly aimed at "being epic", the OST can either sound awesome or make you feel like you are being coaxed into being amazed at something which is actually fairly mundane (the scene the music is being played to). I am a personal fan of the kind of music within the OST and the OP/ED captured the more young and free feeling to UBW. The OST never felt without purpose and I think thats commendable. Voice acting is such a personal opinion, I wanted the characters to be more serious and believable but you could just as easily say that the anime was taking a different direction from fate zero and the voice acting reflected that in a positive way.

Characters [2/10]

The anime might've been interesting if they had waited another 30 years but instead of having fleshed out characters with interesting pasts, dark secrets and a layer of philosophical intrigue if u will that we saw in fate zero, we have a bunch of teenagers who dont take the war seriously and whos identity and past is entirely focused on their parents/guardians (who are characters from the older series). In Fate Zero the masters battle wasnt simply a fight between masters who desired the grail, everyone had their own reasons for fighting and ideals, morals and classes clashed between the different characters which led to somewhat interesting battles, speeches and all of that good dramatic stuff. 

The Cute, Cool or Funny Syndrome (CCFS) is a serious condition affecting the stale and tender characters of this anime, rendering their audience incapable of liking them for any other reason than for being cute, cool or funny. They are so devoid of any real substance that it is not possible to like them for any other reason. With laughable and vague objectives like our incredible protagonist wanting to become a "hero of justice" and half the serious dialogue in the anime revolving around whether thats actually a doable thing or not, there arent any concepts you couldnt explain to a 6 year old in this anime. 

Heroic Spirits also seem to be far removed from reality, rather than being obvious and relatable, heroic spirits seem alien and futuristic, rather than heroes from the dark ages and prior. None of them really have fleshed out dreams or ambitions, they dont talk about their pasts or what they think, just boring strategic talk about plans which is really just filler. 

Overall: [5/10]

This anime is garbage and yet im going to watch the 2nd season for sure, why? Despite all of its short comings its a good waste of time. If you want to watch this and you've seen the fate zero, you know what to expect. If you want to watch this anime and you haven't seen fate zero, go watch that first. If you dont like that there's no way ull like this and some of the references in the anime wont be understood by somebody who hasnt watched fate zero. While you can watch it regardless without missing much, what I said before should be a good enough reason for you to watch it first. 

Sorry for garbage review but thats how it goes. 

5/10 story
3/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
2/10 characters
5/10 overall