Fate/Unlimited Blade Works

2014 Autumn Anime Season Retrospective

The 2014 autumn anime season had a few excellent shows with high production values. It also had a considerable amount of low profile shows that might not be worth your time.

 

The Best

 

Parasyte – the maxim

Parasyte - the maxim

 

The biggest surprise of this season comes from a rare horror guro show; The first in many ways that does these genres justice. Parasyte is cruel, gruesome and captivating. The thought of a brain-eating parasite that crawls into your room in the middle of the night is terrifying. Thankfully the series handles its assets well. Shinichi and Migi’s gradual bonding is interesting (at time funny, at time shocking), Shinichi’s physical and psychological changes are portrayed flawlessly and the series gets better with each passing episode. The shounen formula of a man who gradually becomes stronger and stronger is well suited for Parasyte, specifically because the stronger Shinichi gets the more scarier the consequences of his fights against the parasites become.

The cruel elements of the show are gradually added bit by bit. About halfway through Parasite you discover just how horrible this story can get, but by that time you’ll already be hooked. One thing I didn’t like is that virtually all the females in this series are in love with someone. I can understand one girl having a crush on Shinichi, but three? And then every time a girl is introduced she instantly falls in love with a guy. The girls in Parasite are far from stupid. They are clever and perceptive. So why make them so unrealistically infatuated with men? And if we already opened that can of worms, how come all the guy in Shinichi’s school are either total wimps or gangsters in the making?

Status: It’s hard to believe this series is based on a late 80’s early 90’s manga. Parasyte – the maxim is a shocking experience. The first 12 episodes are almost too perfectly told to be true. I have a feeling a lot of people skipped on this show due to its niche mix of genres. These people are missing out on the most intense series of the season.

 

The Good

 

Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works]

Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works]

The ending of the first season of Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works] angered many, and for good reasons. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start by saying that Ufotable’s version of Unlimited Blade Works is almost as good as the video game, which is a great compliment. It also managed to maintain the high quality standards it set in the beginning of the season. Some visual effects were outstanding, the few fights that were shown during this sesaon fantastically animated and the music really stood out. I haven’t heard such an amazing music compilation since the days of .Hack//Roots.

Now that we got the compliments out of the way let’s move on to the disappointing last two episodes. It’s here the series diverts a bit from the original game’s plot in bad ways. For exmple, Shiro’s is way too obsessed with Archer in this version and long. Fate fans will surely frown at this and other inconsistancies Ufotable unneededly appended near the season finale. The quality of the animation drops in this episodes too (very noticeable in the last episode). But most importantly, by the 14th episode it dawned on me that by trying to fit every little detail from the game they possibly could into the series Ufotable has made the first season of of Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works] excruciatingly long and eventless. By prolonging the epilogue of the Holy Grail war Ufotable made it so that the second season will be a series of endless battles with little space in between for idle talk. In other words – this series is being made in an uneven matter. This doesn’t surprise me, considering Ufotable pulled the same trick in Fate/Zero. But Fate/Stay has a much less calculated story than Fate/Zero. It relies on action in order to become meaningful, not on words. Bereft of this action Ufotable’s first season of Fate/Unlimited Blade Works was somewhat anemic.

Verdict: The best representation of Fate/Unlimited Blade Works this far, although not as balanced as the original Visual Novel was.

 

Psycho-Pass 2

Psycho-Pass 2

Psycho Pass 2 greatly improved the Psycho Pass formula. It forced the MWPSB (Ministry of Welfare Public Security Bureau) to fight on two fronts, with the Sibyl system itself becoming its enemy at certain points. Akane proved to be much more capable and at times unpredictable with her subjective law enforcement methods. Unlike the first season she is a great main character here. Psycho Pass 2 also has a satisfying ending that tighten loose ends left over by the first season. Unfortunately some of the things that haunted the original show lingered here. One of the villains is your typical “evil for evil’s sake” person who lacks realism. In a series where both sides are grey and each has its own unique ideology this particular villain sticks like a sour thumb. Character growth is also non-existent and Akane remains the sole character to ever feature in the spotlight.

Verdict: An improvement over its predecessor and a very good show overall. I can’t wait for the upcoming movie.

 

Trinity Seven

Trinity Seven

Trinity Seven has no plot to speak of and relatively zero character growth, but it sure is a fun watch. I love it when Arata genuinely enjoys seeing the girls in the nude, even to the point of thanking them and asking them to grace him again in the future. It’s a refreshing change from the usual wimpy-boy harem shows. Arata’s natural cockiness and the superb character designs are what kept this series enjoyable every week. There was a final battle in the end and Arata kind of accomplished half of what he set out do to, but nobody cares about these stuff in a harem show. Right?

Verdict: An enjoyable little magic harem show. Nothing less, nothing more.

 

The Bad

Akatsuki no Yona

Akatsuki no Yona

Mediocrity can be a foul trait, and Akatsuki no Yona can’t seem to be able to shake its mediocrity off. Even after 12 episodes the series is going nowhere fast.  There’s no hook, no spice. Nothing that would make me anxiously await the next episode. Everything is sterile. From the boring backgrounds (a forest, a village, a village within a forest) to the mundane characters and the oversimplified background story that ties everything together. Some of the character interactions are funny, but I watch Western cartoons for skits or better yet have funny skits with my real-world friends. I’m watching anime for that something special beyond simple stories, and Akatsuki no Yona just isn’t on that level of intellect, nor is it impressive in its presentation.

Verdict: Akatsuki no Yona is a kid friendly show with little substance. It fails to differentiate itself from other shallow shoujo shows. And for that reason I have decided to drop it after 13 episodes.

 

Terra Formars

Terra Formars

I never had any misconceptions regarding Terra Formars. I knew it was trying to present itself as a bad action flick parody on purpose. Of course, even if a series deliberately tells a lousy story it still doesn’t mean it’s any good. Terra Formars is a time-killer where monotonous characters fight even more monotonous bugs. Whenever a backstory is told it only manages to heighten the levels of ridicule this series has already reached. Worse yet, nothing interesting or significant happened during this season’s span. Some people died, a lot of bugs were squashed and I was left with the terrible feeling that I wasted countless hours of my life in vain.

Verdict: If you enjoy mindless action with no plot and a straightforward progression from one fight scene to the next you can still find many shows that do that better than Terra Formars. This series will probably be all but forgotten in a year or two.

AnimeReviews Turns One Year Old

Tired with Baloons

A whole year in anime reviewing has ended. Today AnimeReviews turns one year old! In celebration I’ve decided to write a little bit on the reviews of yesteryear, the few upcoming changed that will probably happen in the following weeks and my hopes for AnimeReviews in the near future. Come on in and enjoy the blabber. There’s cake! Continue reading »

The Fate/Unlimited Blade Works Blu-ray Review Is Now Available

The Fate/Unlimited Blade Works Blu-ray review is now available in the reviews section and here.

After watching Unlimited Blade Works I am genuinely weary of Sentai Filmworks’ upcoming Fate/Stay Night release. Sentai Filmworks clearly did a lousy job at translating and mastering Unlimited Blade Works, a fact that I mention more than once in my review. As a Fate fan who’s favorite Fate/Stay route was Unlimited Blade Works I feel bad for having to write such a bad review on such a promising product. Oh well. At least the upcoming Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya won’t let me down. Right?

Fate/Unlimited Blade Works

So what exactly is Fate/Unlimited Blade Works? (spoiler-free)

With Sentai Filmworks’ latest acquisition of the Fate/Unlimited Blade Works movie the entire line of Fate-related anime adaptations is now licensed in the U.S. In fact it is surprising that this movie wasn’t licensed up until now, considering that the original fate/Stay Night series (released by FUNimation Entertainment between 2006-2008) sold very well in the U.S. Even the obscure fighting game Fate/Unlimited Codes and the generic Fate/Extra made it to the west.
Arguably though, it was Aniplex of America’s decision to release Fate/Zero in the West that prompted Sentai to rise to the challenge and license Fate/Unlimited Blade Works.

But what is this movie really about? Is it a new story that takes place before or after Fate/Stay Night? Is it just a recap movie? Or is it something different altogether?
The answer is simple, and I’m going to provide it without revealing any spoilers. Fate/Unlimited Blade Works is the name of the second route in the Fate/Stay Night game. The original Fate/Stay Night game had three routes, two of which were not available when you started the original game. Upon playing the game for the first time only the initial route was available. This route was named Fate/Stay Night (big surprise here huh). This one plays exactly like the Fate/Stay anime, minus one obscene scene that was replaced by a roaring dragon in the anime…
Upon completing this route you were given the choice to start a new game in which several new optional scenes took place. If you made the appropriate choices during those scenes the story would then branch off from the Fate/Stay route and enter a different route called Fate/Unlimited Blade Works. This route was different from the initial route in three important ways: the outcome of some of the battles between the Servants was different, Shiro (Saber’s novice master) took part in the actual fighting instead of just playing a supportive role, and the story revealed who Archer (Rin’s servant) really is.

So while Fate/Unlimited Blade Works is part of the Fate/Stay Night timeline it is in fact a retelling with enough meat on it to appeal to those who know the original series like the back of their hand. The movie can’t really cram the story of the original Fate/Stay Night route, so those who haven’t see the anime will be lost in terms of plot and characters. This movie is all about battles and revelation regarding characters which you are already supposed to know and care about from previous Fate iterations.

 

The original game that started it all. Ironically Fate/Stay Night was
never released in the U.S. and has no legal English translation.


But what does the name Unlimited Blade Works mean?
Well, it certainly isn’t meaningless as Stay Night was (seriously, why give the game a name with no in-game meaning?). While the name Unlimited Blade Works has a meaning (and we are still in the spoiler-free zone here folks) it is also a little weird name to begin with. You see…there is no Unlimited Blade that Works. The developers of the game had “difficulties” in translating their thoughts into English. The name actually means Unlimited Bladeworks. Think about clockworks – the inner workings of a mechanical clock. Now replace the clock part with swords and make it work with unlimited swords. What you get is Unlimited Blade Works – a Noble Phantasm that only appears in this route of the game and gives it its name.

And that’s it really. I hope this information answers any question you had about this upcoming release. If, by any chance, you are interested in the third route of Fate/Stay Night…let’s just say you’ll have to play the game in order to see it. The third route is called Heaven’s Feel. Unlike the two earlier routes in the game Heaven’s Feel has zero potential to become an anime due to the fact that it is nothing but a gore fest filled with sex and crawling insects. Whether or not this is exactly what you wanted from the Fate franchise to begin with is none of my business.

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