By God_Spawn 10 Comments
And I just recently finished watching Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works, which will just be referred to as UBW for the rest of this review to save my fingers and brain from having to type the entire title again. With that out of the way, I said I would be kind of working backwards in these reviews so here is number 2. There will be spoilers, so stop while you're ahead. And as a reminder, this is coming from a guy who has NOT yet played the VN but I'm working on it. This is all based the Netflix series and some wiki reading.
I'll keep this as short as possible because A LOT happens, a little less than Fate Zero, but a lot nonetheless. So, we fast forward 10 years after the original series and we are reunited with the kids that are now in their late teens and prepping for another Holy Grail War. The story follows Rin Tohsaka and Shirou Emiya and their heroic spirits while they must battle for the Holy Grail and unravel the mystery surrounding it and whatever the heck is going on their town. Last warning for spoilers.
I have a lot to say here. So I'll probably break up a lot of the characters into their own sections.
Integration of the Spirits: One thing I felt was a big difference between this series and the prequel in Fate/Zero was that the human/mage characters in Fate/Zero were one of many subplots that just went along with the main plot. You can take the humans only and get rid of the spirits in Zero and have a really good series with a few alterations. The servants and such just added another layer to an already great show. The plot in this series I felt there was more of a connection and integration with the spirits. They were all necessary for plot progression and I don't think either way that is a bad thing. They managed to weave the spirits more integrally into this series and I felt they managed to have more connections between the spirits and their respective masters in the plot for this series. So I felt a little more invested in the summon spirits in this series and the plot because of it.
Plot: The plot is awesome in this series. The plot has a good balance of fights, twists and turns, sweet revenge, character interactions, and mystery, deep philosophy and meanings too. The stories that it tells I felt invested in, it makes you think a lot and I managed to get behind it relatively quickly. It's not a mindless show and you have to pay attention to mostly everything that is going on.
Mages: The human characters. I think the voice actors do a really good job at making you invested in the characters and you feel for them. I found myself really getting behind Rin as a character and I enjoyed watching her progression. Mela Lee does a phenomenal job making her seem totally bitchy and stuck up one second and then you feel for her with her motivations. I kind of found Shirou irritating at first but I did enjoy his progression overall. His contrast with Archer and their philosophical differences and I understood his importance and I also liked his power progression as well because it took time and they explained it all. He was also voiced by Bryce Papenbrook, sooo, that helped. Shinji was made a cowardly dipshit. Kuzuki was awesome. I liked we got more with Sakura this time around and Kirei was as despicable as ever. The human cast for the most part was done really well and they had a really good voice cast to go along with them.
Servants: I will go and just straight out and say that this series also holds my all around favorite batch of servants. I'm a huge UBW Archer fan, Kaiji Tang made him a straight badass, he hit his tones and quips and his anger and frustration. He is my favorite servant period. Cu Chulainn was a fantastic lancer. I loved Berserker in this series. Saber is always badass and Kari Walhgren is a gem. Gilgamesh being a full heel was great. Assassin was also straight badass and I'm glad they made the assassin class into something powerful this time around. Caster was cunning and intelligent and I think she was a good villain for the first and into second half of the seasons.
Animation: One thing I have given so much credit to Ufotable is the animation in this. They upped the animation a bit from the 2012 Fate/Zero series, which already has beautiful animation, and it is amazing. All the characters look amazing and smooth. The backgrounds are beautiful. The fights are really well done. Kudos to Ufotable for what they did here. And the noble phantasms are just jaw dropping to look at.
Fights: Just piggybacking off of the animation section, one thing I really like what they do here with the fights is the fights are intense. They are bloody. You hear the impact of the blows and feel the weight behind the strikes. The fight scenes are really intricately done and from visuals to noise is all covered and meshes incredibly well.
Soundtrack: And credit to the soundtrack for this series. I think the music was done very well and blended well with all the moments. It captured the intensity of the fights, it captured the solemn moments when needed.
In-depth: I will say I've seen some people complain about the dialogue and stuff and a lot of the characters talking, but I will say I think it did well to explain things. The show went out of its way to explain noble phantasms, mana, spells, reality marbles, summonings and all that. With how big the nasuverse is I'm glad the show actually explained things.
Fujimura: I know anime usually has a character like this, but I hated her. I found her irritating, annoying, and added virtually nothing to the show. So I didn't care for the scenes she was in.
Wasted Characters: I will say one of my biggest cons in this series is that the cast seemed a lot smaller in scale than Zero. And they wasted some very important characters and did little with Kirei, Illya and Berserker and Rider. I felt with how important they were to the series, they would have done a little more with them.
Final Rating: 8.5/10
So my final rating is 8.5/10, and maybe even 9/10 with my own personal love of the series. But objectively speaking as much as possible, I think the show was amazing. Where some people might find flaws with too much dialogue and such, I found there to be purpose behind them. And when there was longer discussions I still found myself invested. The plot is great. I think it was a good mix of twists and turns, deception, redemption and good character progression. I found the ending satisfying and I loved how it ended with Shirou and Rin. Accompanied with rich characters, amazing animation and music, I give UBW an 8.5/10.