Review: Fate/Grand Order (Special)

In Anime Reviews by fahcy0 Comments

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Fate/Grand Order – First Order – (Special)
  • Length: 1h 14min 
  • Studio: Lay-Duce
  • Adaption: Game
  • Aired: 31st, December 2016
  • Previous knowledge needed: Not necessarily 
  • Hashtag: #FateGO
  • MyAnimeList Entry: FateGO

It’s finally here, the Fate/Grand Order anime! Well it’s actually just a special but better than nothing. At first I planned to write a quick review to give you an idea of the anime’s content but in the end it turned out to be longer than I imagined. I’ll be roughly talking about the plot, characters, studio choice and its future. I didn’t play the game so I only have information I learned from the internet and community. Throughout the post I’ll be posting various series names, for reference I’ll be providing a respective MAL (MyAnimeList) link.

Fate universe – let’s get into it

There have been several adaptions of various Fate series in the last decade. It started with Fate/Stay Night by Studio DEEN in 2006 and had a great follow up with Fate/Zero by ufotable in 2011.  But as for FateGO – I’ll shorten it for convenience – you don’t need to watch the previous settings. It’s been adapted from the corresponding game and is being set in an alternative world. Watching the previous stories might help you to get a better understanding of everything though. Everything is being properly explained, the principle of the Holy Grail War might be hard to follow but a quick google search can help you out.

Studio choice and composition

So far most of the Fate universe has been adapted by ufotable, which I’m a great fan of. Really, the studio has been doing an outstanding work. Other works of them are Kara no Kyoukai (Garden of Sinners), God Eater and Tales of Zestiria X. I daresay that the studio got one of the most elaborate 3DCG animation techniques I’ve ever seen. In anime it’s always painful for me to see when 2D storyboards clash with CG movements. Most studios cover up this fact pretty well and other studios like ufotable managed to create something unique: particle VFXs. I don’t want to further emphasize this topic but whenever ufotable is using particle VFXs, you know it’s their doing. Complex action frames and subtle combination of 2D and 3D techniques create a unique atmosphere.

Now back to the actual topic. The studio Lay-Duce took on FateGO, other works of them: Magi Sinbad no Bouken, Classroom Crisis. There’s not much to say about their past work since they only worked on a handful series so far. I can tell you though, what I pay attention to. Sure the staff of the respective anime is to be hold responsible but they work for the studio so keep that in mind.

Some studios excel in great background design of scenes but fail at character design and interaction between characters and surroundings. Long-running series often run into this kind of problems, sloppy rubber-like action or no animation at all is another common problem. Lay-Duce did well in representing the FateGO character design. There’s also nothing bad to say about the background, action and color scheme, but a visible problem for me was the handling of 3DCG. It was just a short scene in the episode but it just hits you in the eye. The VFX was overall pretty simple, if you were to compare it with the VFX of the ufotable adaptions. Sound composition wasn’t special or goosebumps-worthy.

Plot and development

FateGO is set in 2016, core of the plot are the events in Fuyuki City in 2004. Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero watchers probably remember this name. Humanity is about to meet extinction, a few chosen people are supposed to travel back in time to Fuyuki City to prevent a disaster and save humanity. Due to unkown reasons the Holy Grail War at that time escalated and became corrupted. An „unobservable realm“ appeared. The protagonist, namely Ritsuka, of FateGO is one of the chosen people – humans with master potential. The Masters are supposed to summon their servants like in every other Fate series.

Comparison scene between FateGO and Fate/Stay Night

FateGO, Ritsuka and Mash

Fate/Stay Night, Shirou and Saber. Source: Twitter @AsagiKurosagi

Ritsuka, unlike most other people with Master Potential, doesn’t seem to have any affinity towards magic and is being put in the commoner section. At the beginning Mash meets Ritsuka lying on the ground. You will notice later that this was the fated meeting between Master and Servant. Different things lead to the Rayshift which eventually leads them to Fuyuki City – the First Order starts. They get to fight various corrupted Servants together with Caster who’s apparently been spared by the corruption. They thought to have found the source of the corruption but need to realize that someone else has been pulling the strings. Stunned and unable to do anything Mash and Ritsuka need to watch how everything is falling apart – they might have won the battle but the war is just about to start. It’s the start of the Grand Order.

One thing led to another but overall smooth pacing. Some parts could have been done slower but that’s fine. Conclusion didn’t hit me as hard as it should. Glad to see Alter Saber and Lancer being summoned as Caster. Expecting great things from the anime (there’s more coming, later more on this), afraid that the „short“ episode-length composition forces the staff to shorten various parts of the story later on.

Characters
Mash, Mash, Mash and Smash

For over a year I’ve seen a great growth of FateGO’s internet presence. Be it either on Twitter or various artist communities (e.g. pixiv) – there’s been tons of FateGO content. Shielder – real name Mash – was one of the great characters that’s been drawn by artists, which I’m really happy for. I just love to see good artworks. She’s more the silent type, slight airhead but lovely and kind. Thing that totally annoyed me was her calling out ‚Senpai, Senpai‘ all the time. It’s her character asset I know but please, couldn’t they just have replaced it with ‚Master, Master‘?

  
Due to a yet unknown reason a fire is wreaking havoc and Mash is getting smashed (hit me for this bad pun) by debris. Ritsuka unable to help her stays by her side for her last minutes. There’s no escape for them anymore. All he can do is hold her hands.

   

After this scene, which seemed like a bad end, both wake up in a visibly destroyed Fuyuki City and need to defend themselves against unknown monsters. Mash awakened to a demi-servant after fusing with another servant. Shielder has been born. Various heroes make their appearance from here on.

Lancer ready for battle

Caster getting  in touch with Mash (Shielder)

Caster – easy I’m here don’t be so stiff

Caster – who’s usually known as Lancer from Fate/Stay Night – helps out Ritsuka and his group. He appears to be experienced and self-confident in what he does. He is slightly perverted since he’s trying to approach Mash which is actually just part of easing up the atmosphere. That’s how he is. He usually uses magic spells to defeat his enemies but in the fight against Archer he showed off his melee skills. Holding his staff like a lance is not a coincidence. He leaves the battlefield with one last wish which he entrusted to his comrades.

Lancer – feel free to slice me up

Surprise for me and personal gem was Lancer – I think she’s actually Medusa who’s usually being summoned as Rider (see Fate/Stay Night).
Excellent design with a usual scarce outfit to fill the fan service gauge and to satisfy the male audience. She doesn’t hesitate to slice up everything that stands in her way. I’m not sure if she has the same VA (Voice Actor) as in other series since she usually doesn’t talk at all. Anyway as a corrupted servant she attacks the main group but yet another servant appears.

The remnants

The remaining corrupted servants Archer and Saber appear, Berserker and Assassin have only been mentioned.

Conclusion and score
Future of Fate

It’s undeniably the year of Fate. Several series have been announced for 2017, like: Fate/Extra, Fate/Apocrypha, Heaven’s Feel, Fate/Kaleid Movie and second part of FateGO. Talking about the future of FateGO, the studio choice was in my eyes a let-down. I’m trying to be objective here but ufotable taking this on would have been definitely the better choice, sadly that’s not the case. What I really miss is the complex action animation. After every action scene there was just nothing, no aftertaste, it just ended there. Good point though: They share the same key visuals with the actual TypeMoon game. Series like Fate/Kaleid, a spin-off to the Fate series with Illya being a magical girl, and Fate/Extra (I didn’t confirm it yet) have a different character design, so I’m really happy to see that they didn’t touch this realm. Same goes for the VAs (Voice Actor). Most characters who appeared in other routes keep having the same voice. It always hurts to hear different voices even though it’s supposed to be the same character. Minor problem I know but noteworthy in my opinion.

Did I like FateGO now or not?

So is there any future to FateGO? It’s definitely not the best adaption, as I tried to explain composition-wise there are better choices. I don’t know how much they covered from the game but as of now there’s nothing announced for the anime. For the game there’s been an announcement for mid-2017. I hope to see other characters like Scathach (Lancer) in animated form, preferably by another studio.

When watching Fate/Zero or Fate/Stay Night I was barely able to sit, I can’t say that I had the same feeling for FateGO. It was rather mediocre and seemed like every other action anime, its name is the only thing that makes it special. It’s not bad but comparing to the usual input it just loses in every aspect. So I was rather disappointed but my love for the Fate universe pushed me to the following score:

Enjoyment: 7/10, Animation: 8/10, Design: 7/10, Music: 7/10, Story:7/10

Final Score: 7.2/10

Don’t misunderstand, this is totally a decent score but my score for this franchise is usually way higher. Which was planned to be a short and shallow review turned out to be really really longer and deeper than I expected, I’m sorry. If anyone managed to reach this point, thanks a lot! There’s been a lot fanboying but I hope you could take it. I had my problems writing this review, I think I’ll get better over time. Look forward to my next entry, I promise it won’t be as long as this one … really. Have a nice day guys :)

About the Author

fahcy

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Male student, 20 years old from Germany. Wants to share his thoughts on anything anime- and manga-related. Follow me on Twitter and get to know me, if you can handle it!

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