In an attempt to spice up my blog entries and provide more content, I decided to start reviewing and giving thoughts about different show's that I'm currently watching. I promise that some of these will be more in-depth, while others will be brief skim-throughs and highlights. As I'm not a high-quality writer by any standards, I'm doing this as a way of helping improve my more literary side. It also helps my conscious reconcile all the ridiculous show choices and movies I've been watching recently. Anyways, here we go.
For those unfamiliar (As I was before my more Japanese - cultured friends explained to me) Fate/Zero is an anime based off of a light novel, which served as a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, a visual novel game. The series follows the fight for an ancient relic, the "Holy Grail", which can grant the wish of the winner and his summoned companion. So far this is the 4th Holy Grail War, which was created and presided over by the Einzbern, Makiri, and Tōsaka families, which are prominent mage families. The 7 competitors are chosen by the major families, as well as randomly by the Grail, and are required to summon a servant of the 7 main classes: Caster, Archer, Rider, Lancer, Berserker, Saber, and Assassin. They then proceed to fight until the Master and Servant are removed from the battle. If I lost your interest or confused you by this point, I'll try and win it back by giving you some interesting points on the series.
The show itself deals with a lot of deeper emotional conflicts, such as saving the world from pain, what it means to be a great leader, and the choice between good and evil. The Summoned servants themselves are historical and mythological figures, so they bring in some of their perspectives and conflicts to the field as well. The series does not come up short on emotional conflicts, and that's one of the things I loved about it.
The show starts off with some flash backs, giving you a bit of back story on the masters and letting you know where they come from and some of their motives for fighting. Kariya want's to save a girl from a dark fate. Tokiomi just wants to win and bring glory to his house. Kirei wants to help his former master (Tokiomi) win the grail. Ryunosuke is a sociopathic serial killer (it gets really dark with him.. he kills children and is quickly set up as one of the main antagonists of the other fighters.) Archibald wishes to win the grail for his house, and Waver wants to prove to him that he's a strong mage and can compete as well. And lastly, Kiritsugu Emiya wants to win the Grail to grant world peace.
Each character acts almost as chess pieces, and has their own strategy to the game. It's not as simple as this character fights this character, and their are twists and turns that make the series more interesting. Each historical figure brings out their own motives as well. Some have goals, while others are just in it for fun or entertainment. Personally this series grabbed me with the historical aspect; I'm a sucker for all things ancient history, and it was awesome to see alternative portrayals of Gilgamesh and the Hassan-i Sabbah that brought an artistic twist to them, as well as providing historical foundations for them. Another interesting but dark pairing was Gilles de Rais with Ryunosuke. For those unaware, Gilles de Rais was a knight and lord from the Hundred Years War and fought along side Joan of Arc. He was also known as a man who dabbled in dark magics and sacrificed hundreds of children in his life. Quite a vile match, and they become a villianous combination for the other characters to deal with.
On that note, one thing that I loved about this series was how it truly grips you emotionally and doesn't let go. A lot of this show is a pure tragedy, and it's something that Japanese animation does so well that it almost disappoints you when viewing American shows. The choices are so real and dire that you can't help but feel for the characters. Kariya's motive is to take the place of a little girl, Sakura, who he cares for like a daughter, by sacrificing his body and fighting in the Holy Grail war. He get's his magical abilities from worms that are destroying his body, and over the course of the story, he deteriorates more and more. This man, who only wanted to do good, falls apart, and you can truly feel it.
The show also does a great job at fighting sequences. The fight scenes don't happen every single episode, but when they do, they're brilliant. From Alexander charging his entire army to battle, to Gilgamesh and his ability to shoot spears from portals, this series does not disappoint. Paired with that, the visuals and animation is done incredibly well, and is gorgeous in terms of TV shows. On a personal level, no matter how good the show, I can't really get into it unless it's animated and created in a quality way. This show does not disappoint in that department.
I suppose this goes with the writing and characterization as well, but this show does likeable-characters very well. Waver and Rider (Alexander) were one of my favorite duos in the show, and not a single scene of theirs went by where you wanted it to end. Rider is boisterous, valiant, comedic, and honorable. (One could even say admirable.) You instantly get attached to him, and he's everything a great conqueror and king should be. There's also the charming and adorable Irisviel (not pictured above. She's Kirisuga's wife.) and her interactions with Saber. She's compassionate and understanding of Kirisuga, and stands by his cause no matter how dark it seems. And of course Berserker (the Black Knight), whom destroys in every battle he's in. There's no end to his badassery (if I'm aloud to make up words) whether he's using a metal beam, a jet plane, or a machine gun. There's something about nearly all the characters that I enjoyed, and that's hard to come by in a lot of series these days.
Overall, I really enjoyed the series. It's two seasons of 12 episodes each (half hour episodes) and it's quick to get through; and on Netflix! Since this is my first review so far, I don't really have a rating system, but I would definitely say that if you get a chance, and you're a fan of anime, quality artwork, great fight scenes, awesome characters, and emotional storytelling, please give this show a watch. Comment below with your thoughts on the review, whether you agree or disagree, or even suggestions for what I should watch or review next.