Fate/Zero Review: Historical Figures Electric Boogaloo

by John Stokes
  • Length

    25 Episodes
  • Studio

  • Director

    Ei Aoki
  • Publisher

  • Writer

    Gen Urobuchi and Nitroplus
  • Music

    Yuki Kajiura

After about four rewrites, six months since I've watched the show originally, and an additional rewatch of the series. I think it's finally time I put the nail in the coffin on this one and finished up this review of Fate/Zero, a prequel to the visual novel/light novel/anime/radio play/musical/card game/mime performance of Fate/Stay Night. If you've any interest in Japanese Harry Potter, cool action scenes, badass bad guys, badass good guys, Gen Urobuchi, or crying yourself to sleep (or any combination of the above), then keep on going to find out what I think of Fate/Zero.

It's not just porn, trust me.

Like I mentioned before, Fate/Zero is a series of Japanese light novels that form a prequel to Fate/Stay Night. Fate/Stay Night is a visual novel originally released in 2004 by Type-Moon, a small studio that makes, well... Eroge. Porn VNs. Despite this, the game is known not for its risque content, but rather the interesting storyline and fantastic anime adaptations. (Except for the Studio DEEN rendition of F/SN. We don't talk about that). The storyline of Fate/Zero covers the Fourth Holy Grail War, a battle between magic users (fighting each other using summoned historical and legendary figures) to determine who gets to use The Holy Grail to grant their dearest wish. That's the gist of it. Really, it's much more than that, but I can't say more without spoiling the series, so that's what you get. The show is 25 episodes split over two seasons, and was written as a collaboration between Type-Moon and Gen Urobuchi, the writer of Madoka Magica and Steins;Gate. The series was adapted by the studio Ufotable, and the visuals are absolutely stellar.

  • Bill Clinton is far superior to Darius III, really.
  • Ufotable illustrate some gorgeous setpieces in Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night.
  • Average day at Anime Night.
  • It seems that assassins are sneaky, who would have guessed?
  • Alexander the Great receives some quality Japanese Levis!

I wish Alexander the Great was my father figure...

In addition to several Japanese GDPs worth of production value, Fate/Zero's value comes from the way that its characters (namely, the servant/master pairs) interact with each other and grow throughout the series. I can't explain much without the risk of going into spoilers for some of my favorite moments in the series, but many of the characters that last throughout the duration of the show show significant growth, with most of the individual character arcs and plotlines being wrapped up nicely by the end of the second season (save those who extend into Fate/Stay Night). Not only that, but the backgrounds of each character (save one) are elaborated on just enough to provide justification and impetus for their actions without extending long enough to be boring or annoying. The servants' backgrounds and the masters' personalities and prejudices mix wonderfully in each pair to create scenes and dialogue that are fantastic, whether it be inside of the master/familiar dynamic or just between different characters.

Despite the small flaws that it may contain, and the issues that plague any animated series, Fate/Zero manages to craft a wonderful world with an interesting, captivating storyline and fantastic scenes that keep the viewers watching if only for the next fight. Its production quality is over the top as expected of the studio that created it, and it is one of the better adaptations of written media that I've encountered. All in all, if you're looking for an incredible action show with excellent pacing and, gasp, actual plot development, make no mistake, Fate/Zero would be one of the best choices out there.


Article Summary

The Good

  • Absolutely sublime animation.
  • Fantastic characters.
  • Engrossing universe.

The Bad

  • Certain mini-arcs feel rushed or out of place.
  • Cliffhangers.
  • Spoils certain parts of Fate/Stay Night.

Fantastic Studio + Great Director/Writer = Good. Who could have guessed?

While it has a couple flaws, Fate/Zero is one of my favorite series of all time, and has a universe that I never fail to get invested in. Urobuchi and Ufotable have not let down the name of Type-Moon, and Fate/Zero is an excellent prequel to one of the best visual novels/anime ever. If you haven't already, definitely give it a chance.

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