Series Review: “Fate/Zero”

There once was a boy who wanted, from the depths of his heart, to be a hero. He desired nothing more than to save the world in the name of justice. But when the chance came to save many at the expense of one whom he loved, he couldn’t do it. And then everyone suffered, consumed by fire and blood. Years later the boy became a man whose heart was made of stone. To save ten people, he would be willing to sacrifice one. To save one hundred people, he would be willing to sacrifice ten. He lived by this creed for years, putting his life on the line to hunt dangerous monsters and even more dangerous mages even as he lost touch with his own humanity. And then, when he felt he couldn’t continue under the weight of all the lives he’d taken, he was offered the chance to achieve his greatest wish. A world without conflict. So rejoice, Kiritsugu Emiya! Here is your chance to achieve your dreams, should only you win this Holy Grail War!

Fate/Zero is the prequel to the popular visual novel Fate/Stay Night. Taking place ten years prior, it follows the tale of seven mages who summon seven Servants, powerful warriors from the depths of history. They will each fight for the chance to claim the Holy Grail, a magical artifact created hundreds of years ago that will grant any one wish to the victor. But something ominous is stirring in the shadows, and is the Holy Grail truly the miracle it is touted to be?

Fate/Zero was originally a light novel series created by acclaimed writer Gen Urobuchi. It was made into an anime which has recently concluded, and I wanted to offer a few of my thoughts on it. I enjoyed Fate/Stay Night, and I have to say I enjoyed Fate/Zero. It stayed very true to its source material, and Ufotable did a magnificent job animating it. The acting, as well, was superb. The main difference between Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night is that while Kiritsugu and his Servant, Saber, are arguably the main characters, everyone else is only slightly less important. It’s a huge cast, and everyone gets plenty of time devoted to them. The voice acting was very well done, and you could really get a feel for these larger than life characters from how easily they interacted.

One thing I didn’t like was how certain parts of the story were left out of the television airing in order to be put into the Blue-ray release. They did an okay job making the cuts, I guess, but for those who knew the story it would make a weird jump in why some of the characters did the things they did. Doings things this way also cut out some of the history between certain characters, which I didn’t enjoy. I really have to wonder just how effective of a marketing strategy this really is when it actually does interrupt ones enjoyment of the show, if only a little.

Aside from that, though, I absolutely loved this series. The story was compelling, the characters interesting and the drama was through the roof. The interactions between Kiritsugu and Saber was always an attention grabber, as was Kirie Kotomine’s search for why he feels his life is so empty. It’s a story of plots within plots, with bitter victories and narrow defeats. There’s blood, action and an epic tale to be had here, so I highly recommend Fate/Zero if you enjoy those things. Go give it a look.

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