Fate/Zero takes place 10 years prior to the events of Fate/stay night, detailing the events of the 4th Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. The War of the Holy Grail is a contest in which seven mages summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete to obtain the power of the "Holy Grail," which grants a miracle. After three inconclusive wars for the elusive Holy Grail, the Fourth War commences.
Founded by the Einzbern, Makiri, and Tohsaka families centuries ago, the Einzbern family is determined to achieve success after three successive failures, no matter the cost. As a result, they have elected to bring the hated magus killer, Kiritsugu Emiya, into their ranks, despite his methods and reputation as a skilled mercenary and a hitman who employs whatever he can use to accomplish his goals.
When it comes to reviewing I sometimes wish that I wasn't already a fan of things, Type-Moon being the thing in question this time. I can't help it though, the po-faced seriousness that all of their games, books and subsequent adaptations approach such a ridiculous and convoluted subject matter is something I find incredibly charming and I'll be damned if they don't do a good job of it too. This fandom, however, leaves me in a different situation to those of you who are either ignorant or unfavourable towards Type-Moon properties. When watching Fate/Zero, I kept my eye on how well it ran with the already established canon because that is what fans do when faced with a show written by someone other than the original creator, Gen Urobuchi (of Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom and Madoka fame) in this case. That said, let it be my first and last word as a fan that as far as consistency goes, Fate/Zero does very little to upset the canon purist and even more impressively, very little to put-off the layman either.
To put it simply, Fate/Zero is a very good show and probably the best Type-Moon based TV series around. For one it looks fantastic, whatever money the franchise has made so far has been well spent in making this one of the most visually impressive TV series to date, smooth animation and consistent artwork coming together to make crisp, evocative action scenes to get the heart racing. The character designs are simple for the most part but still appealing, as a legion of Saber-fanboys will tell you, and they have personalities to match. Probably the greatest and most interesting shift from Type-Moon's own style and the main reason why I really like the show is the time and effort that Urobuchi puts into the majority of the characters. Motivations are explored and contrasted, relationships grow and are expanded upon and all this gives the superb action context and meaning. Personal highlights are the Emiya/Kirei relationship that is somehow built up despite the characters barely conversing over the course of the show, the relationship of the three kings, Saber, Rider and Archer, and their opposing philosophies and beliefs as heroic spirits and the charm and charisma of characters like Iksander. The basic story also holds up well and connects the big set pieces in a more than adequate manner.
Overall, I cannot say I am disappointed. Beautiful and undoubtedly interesting, like a Christopher Nolan film, the series delivers an exciting and intelligent story that I'm sure even non-Fate/Stay Night fans can enjoy. Also like a Nolan film, the series lacks heart and fails to engage at the emotional level it may well have done with only minor changes. I have no reservations recommending this show though, it's blockbuster anime at its finest, and is well worth your time if you're looking for a smartly written action series with the visuals to match. However you feel about Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero is a fine watch.
If I were to compare Fate/Zero to SAO, I'd say F/Z is better in every way but one, I was never once bored while watching SAO, but I was a few times watching F/Z. With a brilliant opening and an excellent soundtrack to match it, F/Z is one of the best anime ever.
- Story- 9.3/10
- Animation- 10/10
- Sound- 10/10
- Characters- 9/10
- Overall- 9.6/10- Brilliant anime, everyone should watch it.