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Fate/stay night has no idea what it wants to be. Low-key Urban Fantasy or High-key Ultimate Showdown Of Ultimate Destiny? Dark and serious story or Sengoku Basara-esque Rule Of Cool fest? F/sn tries to be both but, while I'm not saying it couldn't have ever pulled it off, fails miserably at it. The 'serious' stuff just ends up dreary and distracting, while the 'awesome' stuff just ends up childish and out-of-place.
I mean, King Arthur being a girl alone (for no real reason I may add) practically invites irony and sniggering, yet it's taken 100% seriously.
If the 'darker' approach was to work, then F/sn would need decent characters worth caring about. Characters it doesn't have. Shirou's dull, preachy and unrelatable (even in HF), Saber's even duller, Rin's just plain annoying, Archer only serves to make Shirou even preachier, and everyone else is either drowning in Deus Angst Machina, a stereotypical Complete Monster, or barely developed at all.
Even the servants, for all Nasu's 'research', come off as pitifully watered-down versions of their legendary selves (Cuchullain especially, and what's the point of having Heracles there if all he's going to do until his 'death' is scream mindlessly?). Oh, and special note goes to completely ignoring Gilgamesh's entire Character Development in the original Epic.
All the usual pitfalls of the Nasu Verse make their appearance here too, rigid, inflexible and utterly boring World Building, tons of Info Dumps and Purple Prose that read just as bad in Japanese as they do in English, an unhealthy overdose of Magic A Is Magic A (so it can be conveniently broken for the main character) and being too far up on The Roddenberry Line for its own good, and an adolescent focus on 'action' (albeit justified this time considering F/sn's premise) prevented from being any fun from how hugely pretentious the rest of the work is.
Oh, and when F/sn actually does try to be humorous, the results are... dire, to say the least.
I guess the premise alone was intriguing, and some of the music and artowrk was fairly good, but those are about the only positive things I can say about F/sn.
Final Verdict: Avoid. The Nasu Verse in general is in need of a serious overhaul (or a much stricter editor), and Fate Stay Night shows that more than anything else.
I'll open by pissing off a very-specific set of Type Moon fans: there's a very good reason this spawned a massive Cash Cow Franchise while Tsukihime is stuck being a well-known Cult Classic. It's just got a much richer premise.
Conceptually, this is more-or-less designed for me. It's something that combines my love of weird Japanese things with my love of world mythology, history, and literature. And it filters it through the terminology of tabletop gaming, complete with D & D alignments and "classes" with "skills."
It also has a well-detailed cast of characters, both human and mythological hero, almost all of whom have gone on to become company icons. Whether they're having fun battles, expressing conflicting or complementary ideologies and cultural viewpoints, or just hanging out and bouncing off each other, they really do manage to shine.
Plus, when it comes to the mythology, the writers really do their homework. Medusa, for instance, draws not just upon the Athenian version, but on a variety of other, older mythological sources, then stitches them together into a coherent story of a Fallen Hero. That's great!
Unfortunately, the work as a whole isn't particularly well-written. Nasu has always been a writer in the vein of Michael Moorcock, mediocre-to-bad but with great ideas hiding some of that. Far too often, the story grinds to a halt so that we can be exposited at, or so that characters can navel-gaze philosophically, and often at these times the text never says things once when thrice will do, never uses one word where three will suffice.
Worse, with the best heart in the world, translations often exacerbate these issues. Shirou in particular is seen as a bumbling idiot misogynist almost-entirely because of a few shoddy lines that make him look like a dunce.
I, personally, can engage with what works well enough to slog through what doesn't... but I understand how and why others might not.
Unfamiliar with Fate Stay Night, I went into this anime expecting a fair bit. Epic Heroes throughout myth and history clashing over the Holy Grail? I was looking forward to it. Even King Arthur being a woman interested me as I'm generally open to new takes on old themes.
What I got was disappointment, frustration, odd moments of disgust and even unintentional amusement. This anime was utterly terrible as a whole. I will say that the dub itself works rather well, even if Gilgamesh does have an odd Surfer Dude-esque accent. Beyond that though, there's little to praise the series for.
I know that some of the problems I have were probably addressed in the Visual Novel, but as a stand alone series, Fate Stay Night is just bad. The plot suffers from constant deus ex machinas, poor explanations and stuff that generally comes out of left field with few hints. Characters are introduced and are discarded with little fanfare once they're deemed unnecessary by the plot. It actually leads to an oddly funny scene where Sakura (Unbeknownst to her) is actually serving food to her brother's murderer and the people who know this fact don't feel the least bit awkward over it.
The characters themselves are the biggest failing of the entire series. Villains are brought in with Caster and her partner being the weakest of the bunch as they basically let the heroes live since, hey, the plot requires it. What motivation people get is poorly explained or generally not bothered with much with Kuzuki's motivation being explained by him as being "I'm evil... I guess."
That pales in comparison to the main character, Shirou Emiya. An annoying, self-righteous idiot who constantly refuses to learn from his mistakes and lead to traps so obvious, the only thing missing from them were giant neon signs saying 'THIS IS AN OBVIOUS TRAP'. There is absolutely nothing redeeming or interesting about him aside from a possible drinking game where you take a shot every time he's stabbed or mortally wounded.
Terrible writing, bland or terrible characters and mediocre animation all hamper a series I was really looking forward to. Maybe the Visual Novel or other parts of the franchise are better, it'd be hard for them not to be, but this anime has really killed my interest in checking them out. If you want to get into the franchise, check out something else from it first.
Just like Sword Art Online, this game had a lot of hype. In fact, to this day, it still has a lot of hype on it. But that's not to say it is perfect or "the best," as people often claim it to be. I know I said Hakuouki was the best I ever read, but I make no mistake on saying it's the best. I say it's the best I, as in, me, myself, the player, has read. Not the world.
Many have proclaimed how great this VN is, so I won't focus on what makes it good. This review is more of an anti-thesis that brings hating the game and loving the game into a mix.
Things that worked; humor. One of the definite strong points is the fact that there is a ton of humor. Not as much as F/HA, but still enough to lift away from the overall heavy atmosphere. Shirou's snarky commentary is a joy to read, as well as Rin's overall attitude and Saber's and Taiga's hilarious responses.
The overall feel of the game. Whenever there's a mood to made, it's made quite clear. Heartbeats, flashes, black and white. You know very well your end is neigh when Saber gets her "Evil Grin" on.
Characters. Let's face it. Most people probably came in for the characters. Iskander was proof of that in Fate/zero. They're all different in terms of personality.
Now for the bad; over-complicating everything. I think this goes without being said. When you need a material book to settle things, there's probably something going on with the world building. Oh, and info-dumps delux.
Rule Breaking to the max. I think it goes without saying that rules are meant to be followed, not broken every five minutes. If you do, then please use appropriate responses. Or make it the central theme of said story.
Timing is off. The pacing is very poor in the game. You get long strains of dialogue, then some fighting, and then some more dialogue. It seems rather uneven, especially when you compare routes.
Final verdict; it's a game you'll either love or hate. I try keeping to the middle ground, but I have mixed feelings for it. I think it mostly has to do with my overall view of Nasu's "methods." I will say give it a try, although you might want to dedicate an entire summer to completing it, as it is apparently longer than the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
There is no official translation, but the lovely folks are mirror moon got you covered.
The first thing I noticed is that I was extremely shocked to see that Fate Stay Night of all things had only a few reviews.
I know entire communities dedicated to it and I must have been referenced to TV Tropes at least 30-50 times and yet there are only 5 REIVEWS?!
Still I will do my part to make Fate Stay Night a little more well known.
First to me Fate Stay Night is a deconstruction of the Hero genre with multiple instances such as. (To want to be a hero you must wish disaster on someone)
It also really looks at what someone who truly wants to save everyone would have to do and just how the world would repay such a dream.
Second Fate Stay Night is an amazing love story, me and many other people care a lot about the Shirou/Saber pairing to the point where we might pay extra money just to see them paired together.
Third each character feels vibrant even the small characters who have at most 30 minutes to themselves manage to shine and capture fan attention.
...not that it'll stop me of course.
It's difficult for me to describe what I think of F/SN as a whole due to how wildly inconsistent its quality is. There would be moments were I was left raging at something (most likely an infodump or the protagonist being a tool) only to be immediately swept away in either a moment of gloriously entertaining stupidity, something genuinely awesome, or a sequence that was just plain fun.
But let me tell you, it makes for quite the experience. I can't recall one dull moment in the entire VN (well, other than all the incredibly overwrought and drawn-out Deus Angst Machina backstory parts in Heaven's Feel, anyway). Even the more slice-of-life parts usually either had some sort of tension in them or played a part in the world building, so I was invested nearly the whole time. That's quite a feat, seeing as it took me about 68 hours to read the entire thing.
That's not to say I appreciated all of those 68 hours, naturally. Some of the other problems I had with F/SN were that its characterization wasn't always the strongest (I often wondered whether Zouken was inspired by Captain Planet villains), that the Holy Grail concept still felt a bit vague to me even with all the infodumping, and that it missed a fair bit of potential (such as what might happen had Shirou decided to become a ruthless hero like his father in that one ending of Heaven's Feel, the lack of time given to just Berserker and Ilyasviel without outside intereference or Sasake Kojirou's character in general), though I'll grant that we got so much already that asking for more is kinda greedy.
Positives: Art, setting, premise, character interactions, all were pretty good in general. Not really sure what to say about them; 70 hours can't be crammed into 400 words. Music was a bit on the dull side; I can say that much at least.
As far as the routes go, Fate was, well... cute, I guess? The rest was like taking drugs: Unlimited Blade Works was my twenty hour high, and Heaven's Feel was the withdrawl symptoms that came after. It was draining to read until it picked up 3/4 of the way in.
So yeah, I'm not sure this told you anything about the work, or whether that's even possible in such a short space, but whether or not I liked it, I don't think this is something visual novel readers should pass up.
One thing that catch me is the originality of this series... it's pretty straightforward in general, wizards competing over wish granting machine. But it become interesting when comes to character's background story...
Yeah some character is not nicely characterized unlike other characters, especially secondary character we barely know but still...
Shinji and Gilgamesh are jerks, but considering their background... it's just realistically human. Shinji was actually used to be a proud sweet kid that grep up become a jerk he was when he realized he was not special and all he did for mastering magic was all for nothing.
Gilgamesh... he is a demigod, not half but two third so... and he is suppose to be like that according to his original myth.
King Arthur is a girl? No prob? Married to a girl? Okay, no choice there. She had a son with his step-sister when Merlin decided to play prank on her and give her a penis? Another thing that's too muchSakura's apparent miserable life
Maybe this is things that too complicated so we better ignore it.
Archer's identity is a brilliant plot and really realistic,you have to admit Shiro's ideal with fat chance would land him there~ All of us is irritated with Shiro's ideology and stupidity at various degree, at least the writer didn't hesitate to show the result of what if Shirou screw up in the future.
On the surface, Fate/stay night is a story about an annoying and arguably misogynistic teenager named Shirou who teems up with a sword-wielding heroine named Saber in order to defeat six other "Servants"—great heroes of history summoned into the modern day—and win a competition of magi known as the Holy Grail War. The writing style is pretty terrible, a whole ton of exposition is thrown around and there are occasional scenes of badly written sex. So far, so iffy.
Here's the thing: like the best visual novels, Fate/stay night isn't about what you think it's about. The Servant fights, while stylish and interesting, are ultimately window dressing. The Holy Grail probably isn't the Holy Grail you know. Shirou's rampant idealism is quickly exposed to be something a lot more interesting—a pathological desire to put other people in front of himself, which ranges from inspiring quality to tragic flaw. The story isn't so much about the Epic Battles to End All Epic Battles as it is about the ideas swimming under the surface. If you don't come to terms with this than you probably will hate Fate/stay night.
Because for all the explosions and kinetic battles and magical weapons, Fate/stay night is ultimately a multi-part examination of heroism. Every facet of the story is used to explore the central message—from the main character's actions, to those of his friends, to the existence of the Servants themselves. Each consecutive route further develops Shirou's martyr complex, from the idealism of Fate to the utter demolishing of Heaven's Feel. What initially appeared to be leaden and occasionally stupid is revealed to be remarkably complex and even remarkable. It's not profound or even intellectual, but for a piece of pop philosophy/fantasy/horror Fate/stay night is arguably a masterpiece.
Granted, it is infuriatingly slow-paced and probably overlong. But when in motion, firing all cylinders, it is a beautiful thing to behold. Kinoku Nasu, the writer of Fate/stay night, is a pretty terrible writer; but when it comes down to it, he's a great storyteller. Fate/stay night might be his best story. Just be aware that it takes a lot of patience to see it through.
(Also the sex scenes only take up around half an hour of thirty-five, and can be skipped. So don't let that turn you off! The game's pretty cool otherwise)
Fate/Stay night could have been one of the coolest and most epic shows ever - it certainly has the setup for it. An ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny between (heavily re-imagined) legendary figures summoned into the modern world? Where can I buy tickets?
But, a few interesting fights aside, the anime fails to live up to its potential. (The visual novel is better, since it actually reveals the whole backstory.) The anime felt listless to me, with a main character that I frequently wanted to strangle. Its main crime was simply not being epic. It was a solid show, as shows go, but not particularly impressive. Archer's motivation is never explained. Any series where you have to read a wiki (or tvtropes) to get a plot-important piece of information is a bad show. (Unless its attraction is its mindscrew.) Oddly enough, it seems more awesome when reading about it on a wiki than it seems while watching it.
The legendary weapons were very cool, and the servants were (mostly) likable and fairly well-realized characters. (Except for those that got short shrift in the anime.) The route picked for the anime was the most straightforward 'giant contest we must win' route, as opposed to the 'abuse the loopholes of the rules to kill my past self' route (awesome) or the... ...actually, I have no idea how to describe HF.
And then there's the way the bowdlerize the sex scene. They replaced the act itself with a shot of a dragon ripping the main character's arm off, but didn't bother to rewrite the scene leading up to the act, or try to make the morning after look like anything other than, well, the morning after. Completely ruined the tension, which was quite a feat, considering that one character had recently died and the remaining ones were about to go up against the same foe.
Visually, it's usually a nice-looking show, but that couldn't make up for its bad pacing. I felt like I was waiting for something to happen the entire run of the show, but whatever I was waiting for never happened. This anime never really created much suspense or got very intense. And it managed to do that while having one of the most epic concepts I've ever heard of.
I recommend reading the LP of the game. Some parts are cool, some parts are actually funny, and then there are the parts that the LP's author mocks.
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