#TBT Anime: Fate/Stay Night Review

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By: Justin Jasso

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you brought many of the mythical heroes and enemies from across time together to battle it out to determine which warrior is supreme? I know they did something like this with the show Deadliest Warrior, which was great, but we have now been privileged with an anime treatment for our viewing pleasure. Released by FUNimation, Fate/stay night pits many a hero against each other in an epic tournament to obtain the ultimate prize.

For the past two centuries, the Holy Grail War has gone on, occurring around every sixty years. During these wars, magi (known as masters) compete in a tournament along with a servant, a reincarnation of a hero from some point in time. Only one servant can be summoned in each war from one of seven classes: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Berserker, Rider, Assassin, and Caster, each representing their distinctive role in battle. Servants battle it out until only one servant remains, thus being declared the winner of the Holy Grail War and winning the Holy Grail itself, which will grant one wish to the winning servant and the winning master.

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Shirō Emiya is a hardworking and honest student at Fuyuki High, whose parents died in a fire around the time of the conclusion of the Fourth Holy Grail War. Late at school one evening, Shiro stumbles upon two servants doing battle on the campus. Shiro tries to escape being detected but is eventually tracked down by Lancer and gravely wounded. He is later saved by the master of Archer, RIn, who uses concentrated magic to restore him to health. Later on, after being attacked by Lancer again, a mark begins glowing on Shiro’s hand and a young woman clad in armor with an invisible sword appears in a flash of light and blocks Lancer’s attack. After driving Lancer away, she introduces herself as Saber, and formally announces her intention to fight under Shirō for the Holy Grail.

The story primarily focuses on the characters of Shiro, Rin and Saber, with Archer being slightly behind them. When it comes to the big three characters, their development is great. Whole episodes are dedicated to Saber and understanding her backstory and why she is the way she is. Rin goes from allying herself with a person she knows she’ll have to kill in the future to putting her friendship with Shiro ahead of her goals, while Shiro learns to find the inner strength inside to protect those he loves and cares about. The other characters in the series, particularly the servants, are all very interesting and one wishes more time would have been spent developing their backstories as each are fabled heroes in their own right (Berserker is Hercules, Assassin is Sasaki Kojiro, Rider is Medusa, etc.). This could be seen as a downside to this series, but there are only so many episodes to get a whole story into, thus not every character can be fully developed as we would like in such a short period of time.

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The tone of the series is a little dark and sullen, and this theme continues throughout. Fate/stay night is a fantasy action drama, high on the action and high on the drama. And while there have been plenty of other anime series with a similar genre, Fate/stay night is one of the darker. It can be a little too sullen at times, especially with how the voice actors deliver their lines, and one gets the feeling that there can’t be any happiness in this world, but war is never good and everyone loses in a war, so the tone matches the underlying theme and really brings us into this world where there can only be one servant left alive in the end, one winner.

Down and dark feel of the series aside, Fate/stay night contains great character development and wonderful action sequences through the course of the series. You really get attached to these characters and a satisfying ending concludes a wonderful storyline. Plus, how awesome is it to have King Arthur fighting against Hercules or Gilgamesh going up against Cúchulainn? Yes, you may need to look up who some of these people are, but you’ll be glad you did, especially when watching the series and putting it all together.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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