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Why You Should Be Watching: Fate/Apocrypha

Fate, Fate, Fate. Everyone knows the series if they’ve been anywhere near the anime fandom for any amount of time, and this latest in the franchise is more, more, more of everything you loved and hated from the first series.

Fate/Apocrypha takes place in an alternate reality where Fate/Stay Night never happened, and instead of the Free For All of 7 Servants and their Masters of Fate/Stay Night, there’s a 7v7 Holy Grail Team Deathmatch.

Check out my thoughts on the anime below on Why You Should Be Watching it!

What I’ve Seen: Episodes 1-3

You like Servants? Here’s more than you can shake a stick at. You like battles? They’re bigger and badder. People dying when they’re killed? Boy howdy does the first episode deliver on that.

Not only is there more of everything in this show, but the key part is that all the Servants are different from the main series of Fate/Stay Night, Unlimited Blade Works, Heaven’s Feel, and even Zero to an extent that we’ve been familiar with for so long. This is the first time in anime that we get to see how an entirely new cast of Servants fight alongside all new masters.

With two sides working against one another and a possible third party appearing in the form of Ruler and her master, there’s no shortage of new Noble Phantasms to marvel at, Masters and Servants to connect with, and brutal deaths to behold, though unfortunately without Ufotable’s impressive animation work this time.

A-1 Pictures is criticized by many, but so far the animation still retains enough oomph in its movement to be at least palatable, though the lack of heavy, focused shots on combat is sorely missing from the show’s fight scenes. Similarly, though to a lesser extent, the sound design attempts to mimic the hard clanging sounds of metal on metal and explosive force that Ufotable does so well.

But combined with the less than stellar animation, the sounds just don’t have that je ne sais quois and the overall effect is somewhat diminished. All told, the anime will never hold a candle to what we can expect from previous Ufotable fair, in my opinion, but it’s serviceable, especially compared to the unfortunate DEEN adaptations of Fate stories that preceded it.

On a similar note, the opening and ending are forgettable both in their choice of songs as well as the imagery provided, as even after three episodes I can only conjure up one segment of the OP that attracted my sense of aesthetic, which is the outlines of the servants with the filler of the masters inside, a stylish bit of animation that reminds me somewhat of Cowboy Bebop’s illustrious opening.

As for the ED, reflecting Jeanne and her Ruler form is appropriate to the tone of the song and her path through life, and I can only assume this anime, but is ultimately boring to watch unfold and thus will ultimately be forgotten with the rest of the substandard endings and openings in anime.

So far, the detail that sticks out in my mind the most is the cast we’re presented with on both sides are all intriguing to examine and think about their motivations. There is no clear good or evil inherent in either Black or Red teams, so the allegiance of the viewer may well instead fall to specific Servants and their Masters, or even just individual characters in a mashup that doesn’t reflect the sides drawn in the anime.

Mordred, Jeanne, Frankenstein, Chiron, Siegfried and Astolfo are the most interesting of the characters, in my opinion, with Mordred sticking out as the clear winner in motivations, history in both the real world and in the Fate universe, and design out of armor, though the armor itself is overly complicated for my tastes.

By the same token, the Masters present thus far are also interesting so far as we’ve been exposed to them, with Red Saber’s Master being the most prominently given screen time; a pragmatic anti-hero and necromancer, Sisigou is a lot of what I like in a character put into a situation like a Holy Grail War: he will do almost anything to win, but holds civilian casualties as generally unacceptable.

Many of the Masters are still only caricatures as the moment, but moments like Frankenstein’s possibly romantic scene with her Master in Episode 3 speak to the tragedy inherent in the passionate brutality of war that will no doubt result in scenes that will tug on the heartstrings. Shirou Kotomine, a member of the Black team, also is beginning to show himself as much the manipulator as the Kotomine we know from the original Fate series, though his motivations aren’t as clearly defined as of yet.

Overall, if you like the Fate series, this will not disappoint your expectations, at least so far as the plot goes. As always, anime can stumble and fall later, but Fate/Apocrypha starts out strong and has continued an even keel toward its eventual destination, even if the animation isn’t as good as the previous Unlimited Blade Works.

There will most likely be more battles, more Noble Phantasms, more death, more soliloquies, and more everything than we’re used to in the free for all brawl that Fate has been so far, so you can buckle yourself in for that wild ride.

On a side note, while many of the characters might be familiar to those who play the Fate/Grand Order mobile game, especially in Ruler’s case, there is still an air of mystique about each character that calls to me personally; your mileage may vary, but if you’re a new Fate fan, you might steer clear of the game for awhile since a lot of the secrets and reveals of the series are stated plainly in character descriptions there.

Additionally, if you are new to the series, Fate/Apocrypha is a perfectly acceptable point to jump into, since it’s unrelated to anything that’s come before it since it takes place in an alternate timeline. You will get more from the show with its references and relationships to other Servants through the one’s we’re introduced to here, but overall, no prior knowledge is needed to hop in here.

I’m liking the series so far. Hope it sticks it out.

If you enjoyed this look into Why You Should Be Watching this anime, take a look at my last one on Knight’s & Magic! And if want something a little more verbal, you can take a look at my YouTube channel where I discuss issues, ideas, and more through the lens of anime while giving insight into why I enjoyed the show.

If you want to talk to me, you can always leave a comment down below or catch me @Croswynd on Twitter anytime.

And, as I always say, remember to enjoy the way you watch anime, because as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that really matters.

See you next time!