The Official MSBS Anime Review: Fate/Zero

ModernSpongeBobSucks I've heard of many great things that the Fate series has had to offer. And for Fate/Zero, this is definitely one of them. Originating as a series of light novels written by Gen Urobuchi, renowned for his dark and tragic writing and storytelling, it would eventually be adapted into anime by the phenomenal animation studio ufotable, going on to not only be the third anime adaptation installment in the Fate series after the 2006 anime Fate/stay night and the 2010 film Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, but also one of the most well-written masterpieces that the anime medium has to offer. Happy people of TheTopTens, I present to you the first anime review of Aniplex's August Lucky 7, a marathon of anime reviews where I will review some of the greatest anime series licensed by Aniplex of America that it has in store for fellow anime fans everywhere. For this anime review, I will be reviewing the anime series Fate/Zero, which consists of two seasons that comprise the entire series. Now that that's said and done, now we shall go to the beginning. To the beginning where it all started. To the beginning of 10 years before the events of the Fifth Holy Grail War. To the beginning of what all happened prior to Fate/stay night. I ask you, are you ready to go to the beginning to where it all started?

Now as I said earlier, Fate/Zero is set 10 years before Fate/stay night, taking place in the year 1994 during the Fourth Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. After three successive Holy Grail Wars with no clear winner of any of them, 7 Masters along with their respective summoned 7 Servants from 7 classes: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin and Berserker, will compete against each other in a free-for-all battle royal for the grand prize of obtaining the omnipotent wish-granting Holy Grail. Having lost consecutively three times in a row in these Holy Grail Wars, one of the original founding families of the Holy Grail Wars, the Einzbern family, wishes to win the fourth one by any means possible, enlisting the help of the notorious Magus Killer named Kiritsugu Emiya, bound by contract to them through marriage of their only daughter and the vessel for the Holy Grail named Irisviel von Einzbern. Representing the Einzbern family in the Fourth Holy Grail War, Kiritsugu, along with his servant Saber, must contend with six other Masters and their Servants, as they fight for the Holy Grail, each having their own unique motivations and ideals for winning the Fourth Holy Grail War.

First up, I will analyze the animation, art, and music for Fate/Zero. Again, the animation for Fate/Zero is done by animation studio ufotable. Known best for their work on the anime film series the Garden of sinners (also known in Japanese as Kara no Kyoukai) and the OVA series Tales of Symphonia The Animation, ufotable helps deliver outstanding action sequences, fight scenes, and a great mix between computer and traditional animation, with both styles of animation being executed so greatly to the point of being glorious perfection. There are so many beautiful battles that I could lecture on about how much I adore them, but then again, that would just give away major spoilers. Now as for the art, ufotable did a pretty great job with the character designs as well as the background and environment around them, representing some of the best of anime art that this decade has to offer for the anime industry. Also, I liked how they didn't just insert still shots in the anime and made sure that the camera had its eyes on the characters between dialogue and battle very often. Finally, I would like to discuss the music for the anime. The first opening song Oath Sign by LiSA and the first ending song Memoria by Eir Aoi were very beautiful and awesome to listen to. I know my sister usually likes to skip anime opening and ending songs, but being me, I like to watch the entirety of them all the way through. And Oath Sign and Memoria didn't hold back when their respective singers put all their heart into it to give the audience a contemporary historical atmosphere and tone for Fate/Zero's songs and what to expect from this anime. The second opening song To the Beginning by Kalafina and the second ending song Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau (also known in English as Up on the Sky, the Wind Sings) by Luna Haruna were pretty great as well, along with the special ending song Manten (also known in English as The Whole Sky) by Kalafina for episodes 18 and 19. As for the OST, it is done by the revered Japanese music composer Yuki Kajiura, who also composed music for other anime such as Sword Art Online and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. A few of my favorites include The Battle is to the Strong and The Sword of Promised Victory ~ Fate/Zero ver., which I really enjoyed listening to both when they were being used in the scenes they were used in and by themselves.

Second, I will now analyze the story of Fate/Zero. To repeat, Fate/Zero is divided into two seasons, with the first having 13 episodes and the second having 12 episodes. The first season opens up with a prologue that's about 1 hour long, introducing us to a majority of the cast of characters that we see over the entirety of the anime and what their motivations are for participating in the Fourth Holy Grail War. In just the first season only, a lot of events occur already as the Fourth Holy Grail War gets underway. That, and there's also an episode featuring Rin Tohsaka as a child who becomes involved in the Fuyuki City Kidnappings and shows off a lot of the many strengths and character traits that she retains 10 years later into the events of Fate/stay night. As for the second season, many events begin to further unfold and even intertwine with each other as the Fourth Holy Grail War reaches its climax and conclusion and most of the Masters are hellbent on resorting to any strategies necessary to achieving victory. In between the events of the second season, we even get two episodes dedicated to Kiritsugu's past. So over the entirety of Fate/Zero, ideology clashes, family feud, battle for glory, and taking down a sadistic serial killer all mix into one chess game complete with alliances and betrayals to finish off the final board game masterpiece to be on display for all. Plus, I loved how they didn't just try to make Kiritsugu a cliche shonen male lead hero who is the only one that's the good guy out of all the Masters in the series. They made sure that every Master and their Servant mattered and felt like they weren't just randomly assigned as good guys or bad guys, with most of them even having both heroic and villainous traits all in their own character. Not to mention that whenever a major event happened, it wasn't just for shock value only. They actually HAD a long-lasting impact on our characters and the plot. And being that this anime features tragedy, it does a great job of displaying tragic plot twists and deaths of most of the cast, living up to Gen Urobuchi's name.

Third and lastly, I will analyze the characters of Fate/Zero. Since it would be too much information to cram every single character into their own individual in-depth discussions, I'll just sum up most of them and only deeply analyze the ones who appealed to me the most. First, there's Kiritsugu, who we already know as the notorious Magus Killer. An anti-hero whose motivation and intentions were heroic, but methods were merciless and villainous, going by the ideal of saving many by sacrificing the few, Kiritsugu is a character that one should not simply label as a straightforward good guy. Then, there's Saber, the Servant of Kiritsugu, who is the Heroic Spirit known as King Arthur, aka Arturia Pendragon. Those who are familiar with Fate/stay night would know that she is also the Servant of Shirou Emiya. Now in Fate/Zero, she is shown as a steadfast, chivalrous, determined, strong, and independent woman who is focused on obtaining the Holy Grail. In addition, Saber speaks very resolutely and maintains a code of honor in her battles with other Servants. Now what's really interesting is that Kiritsugu and Saber acted as character foils to each other due to them having contrasting ideals and methodologies. In fact, there's quite a few character foils in the anime as well, including between Kiritsugu Emiya and Kirei Kotomine, Tokiomi Tohsaka and Kariya Matou, and Waver Velvet and Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald. Now as Saber's ideals and methodologies contrasted with Kiritsugu, Irisviel had to act as her proxy Master. I must say, for a female homunculus, take the elegance of a grown woman and the innocence of a little girl and combine it with a resolve to protect those she loves including Kiritsugu and Saber, and Irisviel is already certified as one strong-willed female lead. Moving on, we have Kirei, who acts as the main antagonist of Fate/Zero. He initially starts out as a guy who is without happiness and wishes to find his purpose in life, instantly becoming the biggest enemy to Kiritsugu as he has a purpose in life unlike himself, and eventually grows with character development to become a malevolent villain. As for the other characters, I liked seeing the close relationship between Waver and his Servant Rider that they had, with Rider not only acting as some comic relief for Fate/Zero, but also as a mighty King of Conquerors whose bond with Waver would make them one of the greatest duos in the Fourth Holy Grail War. For Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald, let's just say he's one of the many antagonists for the first half of Fate/Zero and is the Master of the Servant Lancer. Being an arrogant and cruel man, Kayneth wishes to win the Fourth Holy Grail War for glory, believing he will fight his opponents with honor. His Servant Lancer maintains great loyalty to him along with a code of chivalry as he wishes to please his Master, even if Kayneth doesn't display his appreciation back to him. Then, we have Ryuunosuke Uryuu and his Servant Caster, who are the antagonists for a majority of the first half of the anime. To me, on the outside, they may seem like sadistic murderers, but while I hated them for actions, I also liked them at the same time since it seemed they were just misunderstood. Also, there's Tokiomi Tohsaka, an arrogant and manipulative man whose only desire is to achieve Akasha, the root of all knowledge, and Kariya Matou, a determined and kind man at heart who wishes to save Sakura Matou from the hands of Zouken Matou and reunite her with her biological family (which I will not disclose the name of for the sake of avoiding spoilers), even going as far as to put his own health at risk to be the one to win the Fourth Holy Grail War in order to save her. Finally, we have the the Archer-class Servant of Tokiomi named Gilgamesh, a badass arrogant narcissist donning golden armor and a vessel of Noble Phantasms at his command to use for combat and shooting at his opponents, and Berserker, the Servant of Kariya, who acts without sanity and can use anything around it to make it its own weapon to use to destroy its opponents. Now if it's one thing that I loved out of all these characters, it's how all well-written and well-developed many of the characters were. Every character got their time to shine, with none feeling like they were just completely put right to the side for nothing.

Fortunately for me, there were little to no flaws to me that I found in the anime other than that I occasionally found some of the dialogue to either be too long or boring. However, those were overlooked by me, as I think that in exchange for such things, some of the dialogue was very thought-provoking and felt necessary to the story and development of the characters.

All in all, I really enjoyed Fate/Zero. It isn't just your average mainstream anime where good always prevails over evil. We as an audience get to see from the perspectives of every Master and Servant participating in the Fourth Holy Grail War and how they feel. Wrap that around with state-of-the-art animation and music along with a dramatic story that will have you on the edge of your seat every single episode, and Fate/Zero may just be one of the few anime that are on the level of perfection, right up there with other well-written masterpieces such as Code Geass and Cowboy Bebop. It's no wonder many people say Fate/Zero is better than Fate/stay night. Now I present my final score for Fate/Zero:

10.0 out of 10.0 stars

Next anime review: The Official MSBS Anime Review: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014-2015 T.V. series)

Until then, peace!


Good review, this marathon is called Aniplex's August Lucky 7, and this anime has 7 servants from 7 classes too. - Skullkid755

Intriguing coincidence, isn't it? - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I am the seventh son of the seventh son of the seventh son. - Skullkid755

Part two is better I give part 1 a 7-10 - visitor

Yeah, I think what ufotable does is that they try to take things slow in the first season, and then when the second season comes, things start to really come together. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Great review! And hey Kitsada! What do you think of my Gilgamesh profile pic? - visitor

I meant Saber profile pic. Sorry - visitor