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Jun 11, 2011

Anime Review: Fate/Stay Night

"I am the bone of my sword
Steel is my body and fire is my blood
I have created over a thousand blades
Unknown to Death, Nor known to Life
Have withstood pain to create many weapons
Yet, those hands will never hold anything
So as I pray, unlimited blade works."
-Archer, Unlimited Blade Works

During one lazy day at SM Megamall, I heard two of my Tekken friends having a conversation about an anime they were watching at the time. My "otaku potential" wasn't at a high during those times (I didn't even know a cosplay community existed during those times) so I didn't really watch that much anime with the exception of a few titles that I fancied. One of my friends was recommending that I watch the anime, and one day he lent me his DVD copy and that's where my interest in anime started to develop. That anime, and yes indeed is the namesake of my article today, is Fate/Stay Night.

In fact, since I wasn't that much into anime yet. I wasn't super ecstatic to watch it but since I wasn't busy at the time, I decided to give it a go during the evening of the same day my friend lent me his DVD. At first I thought it was another one of those cliche animes with a light-hearted theme to it with the magical blah-blah mumbo jumbo, but then the episodes started developing a darker theme than I expected which sorta piqued my interested eventually. Before I knew it, it was already the following day and boy did I need to catch up on sleep the next few days coz of it.

Fate Stay Night's 2nd Opening Theme
"Kirameku Namida wa Hoshi ni" by Tainaka Sachi

Anyways, Fate/Stay Night basically centers in on our hardworking and honest hero, Shirou Emiya, who has a knack for fixing things and is just basically your typical too-good-to-be-true, boy-next-door type of guy. It is revealed that Shirou was in fact adopted, having been taken in by a man named Kiritsugu Emiya who found Shirou on the verge of death after a massive fire that burned down a large portion of the city where he was in ten years ago prior to the story's present time. Our lighthearted hero is then thrown in into the dangerous "Holy Grail War" where humans serve as "masters" or magi to their "servants" that are Noble Phantasms of prominent Heroic Spirits. The purpose of this war was set in order to determine who eventuallys get to get ahold of what is known as "The Holy Grail," a legendary chalice said to grant the wish of the last magi standing. Along with his servant, Saber, and the aid of friends, he fights his way through the chaos in order to attain the "Holy Grail" while trying to keep himself, and to an extent his own servant, alive as the war spirals into epic proportions our hero never expected to happen.

The anime originates from an R-18 visual novel game for the PC that was eventually re-released on the PS2 to a version suitable for all ages under Type-Moon and Kadokawa Shoten respectively. Due to the success the whoe Fate/Stay concept saw, having garnered such a large fanbase, a number of spin-offs followed in support and continuation of the franchise which led to releases in further game releases, a manga, and what we are currently discussing being the anime adaptation.

Archer performing "Unlimited Blade Works,"
one of the show's most celebrated scenes out of all the occurences in FSN

What makes Fate/Stay Night interesting is it's twists and scenes that put you at the edge as to what may possibly happen from one event after another. The concept itself of which the story revolves around sets the anime apart from what you'd normally expect of an anime with a serious theme due to it's touch of medieval conflict put into a modern setting with it's own special tweaks to make it relevant and relateable to it's viewers. The story itself has a lot of conflict and strife and is generally darker than most animes in terms of theme, although not exactly to the extent of plundering to the eternal nightmare type of viewing pleasure (though for the characters in the story, that just might as well be what they are indeed experiencing). Fate/Stay Night is one of those animes that can be said to be appreciated by guys just a tad bit more than the ladies, but the anime is generally enjoyed by both parties from what I see considering the fanbase the Fate/Stay franchise itself has.

Aside from that, the anime has it's hints of inspiration drawn from different prominent figures found in history, however given a much more modern rendition to fit the story's theme and setting. Of course, I can't emphasize enough the number of conflict this story has that just basically keeps you busy going from what sub-plot to another, which all eventually makes up the main plot of the anime. The characters, most especially the masters/magi in the story, are just twisted, think your stereotypical character from an anime and then put him/her in a scenario where he/she eventually develops this warfreak urge, it's that twisted but that's what makes things all the more interesting having pushed those boundaries from what you'd normally see.

Coming to a conclusion, my rating for the Fate/Stay Night anime is 4.7/5.0 for it's dark, twisted plot and surreal setting that takes it's viewers to a whole different world where darker elements make their way to dominate. However, at times at a per episode basis having too much chit-chat that despite being relevant to the storyline, is just a tad bit too much for an anime where you'd want to appreciate the sword clashing and killing intent a bit more. Fate/Stay Night is the perfect anime for those that want to go a different route with their anime viewing pleasure and take on an anime that'll throw you into a world of dark intent and conflict.

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