Fate/Zero is a prequel fantasy anime based on the prequel light novel of the same name, to the popular visual novel and anime series, Fate/Stay Night, and takes place almost a decade before. Having heard rave reviews from friends who have watched the series, I was certainly intrigued.
Having not read the light novel nor had any exposure to the Fate/Stay Night series, I began watching Fate/Zero without any prior knowledge or preconceptions. Sitting through the first episode quickly turned my interest in the anime into frustration as the opening episode dragged on and on and attempted to provide too much information at once, while introducing a myriad of characters. Needless to say, I was not impressed. Not only was I extremely disappointed by the data dump that the series gave, I was confused by all the names of the characters. It was challenging enough trying to understand the story and even more so when mixing up characters who all appear to have similar sounding names. Despite my frustration, I continued to watch the series as I was certain it couldn’t be that bad, having been recommended to me.
Fate/Zero encompasses themes of morality, honor and a clash between characters with various ideologies. While this provides some semblance of a story, especially with a plot surrounding mythology and a war dubbed as the ‘Holy Grail War’, it sadly wasn’t enough to really be engaging. The plot felt sluggish and appeared to develop at a slow pace, something which can be quite a challenge to sit through for someone who prefers fast pace action and/or an engaging narrative. The slow pace is in part due to the depth of the anime and its attempts to build lore and a backstory to tie in well with Fate/Stay Night.
Character wise, Fate/Zero was full of them, fourteen to be exact. With such a huge variety of ‘main’ characters, it was definitely difficult to really identify and feel a kinship with any particular one. In fact, it almost felt as if there was more to the characters in terms of their backstories, however, this wasn’t explored enough and I personally felt as if the anime didn’t do its characters justice in terms of truly explaining their characters and backgrounds.
Of course, I have to admit that each character definitely appeared to be somewhat unique, each with their own motivations behind their decision to fight in the Holy Grail War. Unlike most other anime, wherein the crux of the story revolves around a fight between good and evil, this anime provides a more middle-ground approach. Each character can’t be said to be either good nor evil, each possessing a certain level of ambiguity when it comes to their personalities and morals. In this way, the anime portrays each character as being far more realistic rather than the righteous heroes we usually see on screen.
Visually, I can’t fault Fate/Zero. The art style used is befitting of its dark and gloomy tale and certainly makes good use of its animations. It’s immediately apparent that each character is animated slightly differently, each with their own gait and style of movement. Overall, this only added to each character’s unique identities, which was appreciated.
As a prequel, I would have loved to have seen a bit more development go into the characters and into world building. Fate/Zero felt extremely lacking in the world building aspect, which is usually what I look for in fantasy anime of this kind. Unlike many others who seem to enjoy this series, I personally couldn’t. With a plot that develops at a tired pace, too many characters and an introduction to the series that felt like information overload, Fate/Zero isn’t an anime for me.
Year: 2011 - Present
Amount of Episodes: 25 MIN
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Director: Ei Aoki
Producer: Atsuhiro Iwakami
Production Studio: Ufotable
Distributor: Madman Entertainment