Predicting Sentai Filmwork’s Upcoming Fate/Stay Night Release

Fate Stay Night

Sentai Filmworks have acquired the rights to release Fate/Stay Night in the U.S. and will be releasing it on Blu-ray in January. That’s great! Unfortunately little else is currently known about the upcoming release and there are many burning questions to be asked. How will it look? How will it sound? How much will it retail for? And will it sell?
We try to answer these questions using some handy facts and educated guesses.

How will it look?

I addressed the native HD version of Fate/Stay Night a couple of times in the past. Suffice to say it exists and looks beautiful. But will Sentai use the native HD master for their Blu-ray release? Most probably yes. However there does exist a slight chance they’ll use an upscaled version of the SD master even if an HD master is around. In December 2009 FUNimation Entertainment released an upscaled SD version of the first season of Spice and Wolf even though a native HD version was available. The reason why they did this? Who knows. Maybe they didn’t have access to the high definition master. Or maybe it was just much much cheaper to upscale the SD master. Sentai could go the cheap way and upscale the SD version of Fate/Stay Night, but unlike FUNimation they don’t have a history of doing so. Our guess is that Sentai will bring us Fate/Stay Night in glorious native HD.

How will it sound?

According to the press release in which the title acquisition was announced Fate/Stay Night will have both a Japanese and an English dub. The question is: will Sentai use the English dub from the old Geneon Entertainment release? Well, that’s a hard question. Clearly Sentai will be receiving the Fate/Stay materials from the Japanese studios and not from Geneon, so unlike FUNimation they will not be receiving a “free” dub along with the rest of the materials. They could opt to buy the dub from Geneon (or whatever’s left of it) but there’s also a possibility they’ll invest in an entirely new dub using the same cast they hired for their Fate/Unlimited Blade Works English dub. You see, when Sentai dubbed Unlimited Blade Works they retained some of the original voice actors and actresses that dubbed Fate/Stay for Geneon but left others out. Noticeably in Geneon’s Fate/Stay Saber is dubbed by Kate Haggins while in Sentai’s Unlimited Blade Works Saber is dubbed by Michelle Ruff. We are inclinced to believe Sentai will use the old dub if they can to speed up the localization process. But we might be surprised yet.

How much will it cost?

Now’s the time to mention that Sentai didn’t say they will release Fate/Stay Night in January 2013. They said they will release Fate/Stay Night Collection 1 in January 2013, which implies the series will be split into two parts with a “Collection 2” coming out sometime in the near future. So how much will the pleasure of owning Fate/Stay cost us? Fate/Stay is 24 episodes long and Sentai tends to sale such series in the 90$ retail price point. However, the series will likely be split into two parts with 12 episodes each. Sentai tends to sale series with 12 episodes at a 70$ retail price point. So our guess is we’ll be looking at a price of about 140$ for the entire series. Of course realistically you are probably planning on buying this series from a speciality retailer like RightStuf! or Amazon, where it will cost you approximately 100$ to buy the entire series. A 100$ price point may sound a wee bit high but is still a far cry from Fate/Zero, which in its entirety will cost you an unbelievable 700$ (more if you live outside the U.S.). Suddenly 100$ sounds like a pretty attractive price to pay.

But will it sell?

This is probably the hardest question in the bunch. Fate/Stay Night sold pretty well for Geneon, but Geneon paid a steep licensing fee for it and in the end didn’t make a profit on it. It was also one of the titles that were released through ADV’s infrastructure and Geneon presumably couldn’t market it effectively (they had bigger problems at the time). Later on FUNimation’s rerelease of Fate/Stay sold out super-fast. But they did a very limited rerelease of Fate/Stay and didn’t bother to make more copies once it sold out. Fate/Zero was also released in limited quantities in the West but due to its bloated price hasn’t sold out yet. Will Fate/Stay do any better? Maybe yes, maybe no. Fate/Stay Night certainly is more accessible and streamlined than Fate/Zero was. It is also less obscure in the West this time around thanks to last year’s localization of Fate/Zero and Fate/Unlimited Blade Works. On the other hand it is targeting a very specific audience and will be sold in two not-very-cheap parts. Moreover even among the Type Moon fans there are those who brush the Fate/Stay anime aside as a not very successful attempt at animating their beloved visual novel (P.S. I’ve heard that U.S. Type Moon fans do exist somewhere on the internet. An interesting fact considering that a whopping 0% of Type Moon’s visual novels are available in English). So it seems Fate/Stay Night is not a guaranteed hit but has some chances of becoming one. Of course native HD visuals, an English dub and an attractive price point can do wonders for a title’s popularity.

What do you think of Sentai’s acquisition? Will an upscaled version prove to be a deal breaker for you? Do you want the old or new dub cast? And most importantly: Do you plan on eventually buying it?


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