Type-moon is a company that seems to have found a good formula of success with its anime and manga becoming increasingly popular among fans. Starting with the Fate/ Stay Night anime, it seems that the developer has been releasing hit after hit. Today, we preview its latest offering: Fate/Zero.
Fate/ Zero is a prequel to Stay Night, and is set ten years before its story. It is the story of the Fourth Holy Grail War, and what happened before and during it. In its story, Emiya Kiritsugu, also known as the notorious Magus Killer, is hired by the Einzbern family to be its champion in the war. Kiritsugu is the ultimate anti-hero; quite willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants.
At the same time, the other two magic families- Tohsaka and Matou- are also getting ready for the war. The Church is also a part of the struggle, but their representative in the war is hidden in the Tohsaka household: Kotomine Kirei.
Fate/ Zero may seem like a run of the mill action anime, but this isn’t true at all. The series is very different from all the previous Fate installments, and achieves a very dark and brooding tone. It has a much more detailed plot than that of the previous installments, and combined with the acute characterization, the story is made quite beautiful. You will need a bit if familiarity with the other Fate anime to fully understand the plot of Fate/ Zero.
Fate/ Zero is set apart from the pack by its mature storyline that is actually a pretty good representation of the real world. The characters seem to be real people with real motives, and you’ll rarely see two people fighting pointlessly.
Truth be told, Fate/ Zero reminds me of Game of Thrones. Both shows are realistic, beautifully made, and mature. Alliances form and shift, and others form and shift alliances to counter them. The lines of battle aren’t clearly marked, and even when characters form alliances, those alliances aren’t strong because everybody suspects everybody. Both shows focus more on strategy and tactics than on brute force. Both plots are wide and all-encompassing.
The anime has also been produced beautifully. It looks so great that even a cynic would love it, and it is animated superbly. Even the visuals add to the dark tone of the show, which is quite an achievement.
There are many new characters in the show, but the design of main, recurring characters really steals the show. Characters like Saber don’t look any different than from how they originally did, but if you look closer, you’ll find them sharper and more precise.
The anime also has had great work done on the audio side. Each episode starts with “Oath Sign” by LiSA, and the ending theme is “Memoria” by Eir Aoi. You’ll also find dozens of scores in the series, as there is music to fit any scene. That is something which really adds to the appeal of the show, since whatever happens on-screen is perfectly matched with the background score. Audio effects also have high quality, and every sound seems perfectly rendered. From lighting booming to swords clashing on shields, it all sounds very realistic.
The dialogue in this prequel is as close to perfect as it can be. There are a few times when conversations continue for too long, but the quality of the dialogue makes up for that. The lines are well written and evocative. If you listen to the show, you’ll quickly realize how much effort the voice actors have poured into this project.
Saber’s character (and voice actor) has changed in this installment. She sounds and behaves much more coldly and before, and she always seems to be on the brink of violence, ready to cut down someone with Excalibur. Even Gilgamesh, from the class Archer, is prouder and more arrogant than before. But the real star of the show is Iksander/ Rider. His blend of wisdom and temper is amazingly shown, and he is one of the pillars of the show.
There are very few series that have a large cast and each character has a well-defined role and a powerful impact on the viewer, but Fate/ Zero is one of these. Even the minor characters have well-defined roles, and their presence adds to the depth of the story. All the characters are extremely detailed and have distinct personalities and attitudes, which makes the show that much more relatable.
In more ways than one, the series mirrors real life. It talks about things like betrayal, love, honor and manipulation. The Masters are like chessmasters, planning their approach while also preparing themselves to defend from any blow from the other ‘Masters’. It’s not like a huge number of series which are just about a hero bashing goons into pulp; Fate/ Zero has a complexly woven story where morality is surprisingly important. You’ll quickly realize that there is nothing that is pure evil or pure good in the show.
Unfortunately, there are also a few problems with the series.
There are more than a few scenes in which it seems that characters have just been added in because they are also present in Fate/ Stay Night. Tohsaka Rin, in particular, seems to have been given a lot of unnecessary screen time, even though some argue that her presence was necessary. Personally, I don’t think that her role fit in very well with the rest of the characters’. It just seemed a clumsy attempt to ride on the success of Fate/ Stay Night.
As you can see, Fate/ Zero isn’t perfect in any aspect. However, it is an ambitious project, and in some ways, it fulfills its ambitions. It has a tight storyline, great characters, well-written dialogue and fast-paced action scenes. The great thing about Fate/ Zero is that it has so many good points that it’s not only anime lovers who’ll be able to enjoy it; even lovers of drama shows will become totally addicted to it.