The Type-Moon ensemble of anime is admittedly a puzzling one to me. It seems to demand a certain amount of insider knowledge that I just simply do not have. However, that does not stop me from enjoying some of the series that are contained within it. I have given the Fate series a lot of slack and a lot of flack both due to it's nature on modifying history. I know what people would say "but it's based on a shady visual novel." Yes, but that doesn't change bad history. Here, we call spades "spades." With that being said, I really wanted to like Fate/Apocrypha as it had several of my favorite characters in the series. I was instead met with some things that left me struggling to comprehend the purpose of this entry in the Fate anthology. It also entirely ruined a character for me, which is really difficult to do. Some of the depictions of characters were based on their attachment to their historical origins, and anytime you do this with me, you risk adding demerits to your score. That happened in this case, mainly due to how four characters were depicted. Fate/Apocrypha isn't a "bad" show, but does it live up to the hype that it should have? We'll break that down in the paragraphs that follow.
The plot is somewhat characteristic of other entries in the Fate series, marrying a suite of "heroic spirits" to fight to the death in order to acquire the Holy Grail. Apocrypha adds another dimension to this concept by adding the "Greater Grail", a much more powerful incarnation of the Holy Grail. It also expands the number of heroic spirits to double of the original plus two others. Outside of this, the story had the opportunity to establish something great in the "discovering what it means to be human" department. However, that is quickly forfeited by the lack of foresight of the storywriters.
The show opens Quinten Tarantino style enough, with the main protagonist caught in an endless spiral of what I can only describe as his own subconsciousness. Moments later we're thrown into a ridiculous battle, that I'd only describe as a boss battle. While we aren't introduced to these characters yet, they are none other than both "Saber of Black" and "Saber of Red" duking at out (or Siegfried and Mordred, respectively, if you prefer). Just when it gets good, we get thrown into the past a few weeks. Ordinarily one would see that as just a screenshot of the epicness that is to come in a climax of carnage. (Sorry, I fell for that too, and that's not at all the case here.)
What we then discover between the first and second episodes is that there is a shady rogue organization that has already acquired this Greater Grail. The Mage's Association is busy trying to cover its own tail by dispatching other mages and "servants" to deal with the issue. This results in what we will see as the Greater Grail War. But if things were just that simple there'd be hardly any show, right? Among the "Black Faction" (Yggdmillennia) is friggin' Count Dracula himself; Vlad the Impaler. He seems really hell-bent on restoring Romania to its former glory under his rule, which seems to be a noble enough cause (especially considering other servants within this series). However, his rule is never really established for those who know little about him to determine. You're thus left with having to guess that he is probably a shady guy. Meanwhile, the "Red Faction" (Mage's Association) has corralled their own team headed by Shirou Kotomine (any of you UBW watches have alarms go off in your head yet?).
As if totally unexpected, Vlad's master effectively goes rogue on the Black Faction and forces his servant to go insane. Meanwhile, Shirou's up to some shady stuff about forcing the salvation of all mankind. It's widely established that is not a good thing, simply due to the fact that most people would lose their own free will. Wait a minute, I've heard of this before... ("RPG of Discovering Your Own Reasons to Live" - smells like Tales of Berseria in here).
The net result of all of this is, of course, bad man has divine object. "Good guys" want to steal it to prevent bad thing. Surprise, "Good guys" aren't really good guys either. Now other bad guy wants to rule the world. Leftovers from both faction must unite...or something. Please. This is as original as Taylor Swift's discography.
The story as it is was executed about as good as you could expect from a show that has twenty-five episodes and tries to do as much as Fate/Apocrypha does. As previously mentioned, the story has it's own plot twist, but I found that some of the twists in the character stories to be the most jarring. You don't really encounter the protagonist as a main sequence character until a few episodes in. A homunculus that later takes on the name Sieg, to be exact, is our main protagonist. How the story gets delivered, however, is more like the life of the protagonist start to finish. Because the show tries so hard to fit both of these stories into the one overarching saga (again, that's in twenty-five episodes), transitions are jarring to be polite.
The Ruler class servant that is summoned for this Greater Grail War is Jeanne d'Arc, doing her best impression of The Exorcist by posessing a young French girl by the name of Leticia. We learn early on that the Red Faction is out to kill Jeanne, but those motives are never definitively explained. Nor is the reason behind why the Black Faction futilly attempts to recruit her. The show also injects arbitrary rivalry in amongst the characters, particularly Karna and Siegfried. It seems it only takes one encounter for some kind of weird bromance to break out between the two that can only be settled with pointy objects, fire, and blood. (Sounds like Saddam Hussein's orgasmic 1980s shindig parties.)
Later, in the story, after a series of twists, the other homunculus that the Black Faction has been experimenting with (did I mention that? Vlad was envious of Gene Wilder being a better madman than he was) are granted some ambiguous type of freedom. This is where the series attempts to again try and establish this notion of "finding what it means to be alive" (seriously, did Naoki Yamamoto write this shit?). No one is louder and more obnoxious about this than Ruler and Rider of Black - Astolfo.
As is typical of anime, an obligatory love story had to be injected into the mix. However, it has got to be the most uncomfortable, muddied, and downright annoying relationship story I think I have ever encountered. We'll talk about that more in a minute.
Lastly, missing a major train of storytelling was the hap-hazard regard for other entries in the Fate franchise. There are numerous references to the events that had unfolded in the Fate/Stay series, but none of those outside of Shirou's origin are ever tapped into. I might add that according to the ends of those series, many characters and servants seemingly continue to exist - and the implications at the end of those series would suggest that they would have some kind of thoughts on another war. Yet none of this ever occurs in Fate/Apocrypha, and it instead relies on inherited knowledge (banking on the viewer watching previous or additional shows), or hopes that it's dropping enough easter eggs that information can be inferred.
Needless to say, the storytelling was sloppy and haphazard, not at all indicative of what I'd consider to be a solid and airtight tale.
The progression in the series is a bit more technical. I'm under the impression that the entire series takes place in the span of one to three weeks. In that time, the series has to address several plot twists, delve into multiple backstories, and address the arc. We'll ignore the fact that the series is too short for that out the door. One of the most bizarre happenings in the series occurs when Ruler takes Sieg to be sheltered by a man that Leticia knows. I'm not sure if anyone has ever looked at a map, but they walk the entire way there. From Romania. To "presumably" France. Then for an undisclosed amount of time, but seemingly a day, Sieg opts to return to Romania where the battlefield is still hot. If that isn't enough, when the story opens for Ruler/Leticia, we see her making her way by car as the exclusive mode of transportation. For some reason then later, she remains entirely on foot (okay, so she also flies in on a Boeing 747-300 later on, don't get me started on how wrong that is). This all seems to be the sake for rapid progression, but it's never explained nor justified in any way.
There are only really ever two real battles between the two factions, which makes the reasoning for even introducing factions rather moot. There is a third, if you include the final battle after several defections between the factions. For some reason an extra story involving Assassin of Black (Jack the Ripper) is thrown in, but there's never any background given as to why her story unfolds the way it does (same goes for her master). The writers attempt to fully describe Jack's true identity (and totally demarble Archer of Red), but it's done so quickly that there are so many things left unresolved, it may as well not even have been included.
The character development is unbelievable, to be frank. I am supposed to believe that some angry Romanian guy with a Hitler-stache had a change of heart overnight and is now going to nurture all of the experiments he hated so much. (Shut up Persona fans!) I'm supposed to believe that in the span of a week, someone has learned to speak, walk, develop emotions, and be accustomed to physical combat. I'm also supposed to believe apparently that a holy saint who died for her country and faith can have that faith broken and her emotions invalidated in the span of a day to just a few minutes. None of the character development and progression was in any way believable or relatable, and it significantly hindered any ounce of redemption of the story's progression.
Arguably, the characters with the best development in the show seem to be the two remaining masters of the Red Faction, and Saber of Red (Mordred). The others may as well have not had any backstory at all.
And before you fans chastise me for that last statement, don't worry your pretty little noggins. I do specially exclude Astolfo from that argument, simply because he is a pure goldmine for comedic relief and just demands that the story slows down - if even for ten seconds. Actually, if someone wants to write up an Astolfo & Friends anime, put me down as a Kickstart supporter.
This category was a rough one for me, because there were characters in this series that I wanted to like. As I said in the introduction, this is the first time watching an anime had ruined a character for me, and I'm still a bit bitter over it.
Overall the character design was decent. I didn't have any complaints about how they had drawn the characters, gendering issues notwithstanding. There are six characters I want to point out here.
The first character is the protagonist, Sieg. When we are introduced to him, he is suspended in a tube - a designer child. His fate inevitably is to die, but he is the anomoly that screws everything up for the Black faction. Through his interactions with other servants and characters in the series, he eventually gets some kind of self-identity. But there's not nearly enough time in the story for him to have developed the identity that certain other characters seem to think he should have. Likewise, Sieg serves as a convenient plot-relic. He is the culmination of servants and "perfectly created humans." What's more plot fodderish than that for a description? I can get the sense that his pointed attitude is genuine to the story, and in true his single-track mind may be the most authentic thing in the entire series.
Sieg is "rescued" in a sense by Astolfo, or Rider of Black. Astolfo undergoes some seriously questionable interactions between himself and his initial master in the show. It actually got to a point where I was openly protesting the intent because it frankly was not at all beneficial to the storytelling at all other than to perhaps lure an unsuspecting viewer into misidentifying him. Astolfo describes himself as useless for the most part, however from a storytelling perspective, he is arguably the only real reason the story actually goes anywhere or has any substance at all. Not only does he serve as the catalyst for the protagonist, but he serves as the primary source of comedic relief for the series - and it is much needed in an otherwise deadpan account.
The Master of Red that the story follows the most closely is Kairi Sisigou, a veteran mage and necromancer that is called upon by the Mage's Association. Sisigou is undoubtably the most interesting character in the series by far and has one of the most intriguing backgrounds - if not a bit cliche. He seems to have an outlaw attitude, but also preserves a very well defined sense of justice that keeps him well within the realm of being seen as "a genuinely good guy." I will not spoil his backstory here, because I believe that this is one of the story threads the show actually did well - despite it not being enough.
Sisigou is the master for Saber of Red, known as the traitorous knight of the Round Table, Mordred. She is arguably one of my favorite characters in the Fate franchise simply due to her angry and chaotic nature. She has little regard for life if it does not benefit her in some way - or at least that's how she begins. Mordred undergoes a marked change in demeanor between the start of the series and the end. In addition, her pairing with Sisigou is extremely well played. He seems to keep her well under control, a difficult task considering her childlike demeanor. There is a weird aura around their relationship that isn't exactly what I'd call either good nor bad, but it seems that they almost adopt a father-daughter relationship. There is of course plenty of irony in that considering Mordred's history with father-like figures.
Some of the tactical brilliance and advancing in progression comes from Master of Black's Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillennia. After being betrayed, she collectively regroups Yggdmillennia with the mission of stopping the Red faction. She isn't initially up to this task, and her brother makes it perfectly clear that she either must do what must be done or step aside. She fulfills that role and steps up, much to my surprise since so few characters actually have any kind of advancement in personality.
Lastly, I suppose I should bring up the bane of this series existence; Jeanne d'Arc; Ruler. Oh, where do I begin with this disaster? I think enough of us reading this know the tale of "Joan of Arc" that I don't need to point that out, so I'll work off of your presumed knowledge. Jeanne has a bad habit of constantly questioning and challenging Sieg's resolve. We learn that this is because she has romantic feelings for him, but she insists that it has to be Leticia that has those feelings and that they're being projected onto her. This starts after she has a vision of Sieg on the battlefield just after leaving him with Leticia's acquaintance. That's some real one-sided "love at first sight" bullpoop. She has the ability to override command spells and power of servants, yet she only uses this power once. She talks as you would imagine a "Ruler" to talk, but her actions are that of an indecisive child and borderline on an overprotective mother. Her distress for Sieg, coupled with her unrealistic rapidly developed feelings for him, totally discount any of the facts surrounding her past and totally ignore them for the sake of a love story. The writers should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for the character they made Jeanne d'Arc out to be and are seriously out of touch with reality.
The remainder of the cast is a bit of an odd case. There's the obligatory loli character, the token shota, a musclehead that has no brains, and a tragic...monster (Frankenstein!) who apparently has some really twisted version of the actual story applied. There are some Bro-Sis moments between Rider of Red and Archer of Red, they actually are quite entertaining, but they're overshadowed by otherwise dull company.
There are also several characters that are introduced in the series in such a way that you'd think they'd be significant characters. However, many of these are single or token appearances, and you will never see them again. A waste of time and animation on the part of the studio.
The orchestral selection for the series was fitting if not a bit boring. I'll point out that it wasn't amazing enough to add anything or take anything away from any particular scene in the series. Frankly, it blended into the background noise most of the time, and I often wonder if there were really that many scenes that had a score to begin with. Of course there were, but that effectively defines the lack of anything interesting during the time that the episodes were ongoing.
The music that stands out for me is the opening and ending credits. There are two of each of these for Fate/Apocrypha.
I have never claimed to be an expert on Japanese music, but the first opening of the series really sounds like someone just threw up on a scoresheet and added lyrics to it. Sure there's a beat, mixed with some hybridized orchestra music - Eiyuu Unmei no Uta by EGOIST is what we're informed it is. I expected a show that was much more chaotic for the chaotic atmosphere of the opening that I was greeted with. The ending fits much nicer for the series than that opening ever will, Désir (or Desire if you're a heathen) by Garnidelia as it were. Though to say there's something special about it would be lying.
The best piece of music I found for the series was the second opening, Ash by LiSA. It seemed that by this time, the production team had figured out that you might want music that fits the series, and a storyboard that was perhaps a bit less cryptic. Thankfully there was at least one track that I found that I can associate with this series, and this would be the one. Unfortunately the second ending (Koe by ASCA) coupled with the imagery they selected for the credits sequence were laid out in such a way that you have to wonder if the Ruler is a prostitute. I really shouldn't have to be querying my brain for the answer to that, but the track and scene selection almost demands your mind go there.
All in all, while I describe the soundtrack as boring, it didn't distract me from what was unfolding in front of me, which is always a welcome thing. However, if it doesn't add anything to the storytelling then it serves little if any function other than to fill a silence that might be more telling than the music that has filled it. Certainly the weak link in the Fate series that I've seen so far in the category of music selection.
My last comment on the openings and endings is that, much to my dismay, this series has a very unhealthy addiction to Ruler. I'm not saying I'm a professional analyst who examines this stuff for a living, but it really makes out that they want to shove this character down my throat and appreciate everything there is about her. All this actually does is make me hate the character even more. You guys are aware there's like...thirty characters in this show, right?
What fascinates me still, however, is how you have Maaya Sakamoto - who can sing - voicing Jeanne in the Japanese release, and you don't pick her for an opening or an ending...but, what do I know...
Player: Oppo BDP-203
A/V Receiver: Denon AVR-X4200W
Route 1, HT Bypass: Parasound 200 Pre
Route 2, Stereo Amp: Parasound 2150v2
Driver Environment: Klipsch Reference II (Generation 1)
Array Arrangement: 3 Main, 2 Object, 4 Surround, 1 LFE (2-way)
Monitor: LG 49UH60 Series
Codec: Linear PCM
Amp Return: Stereo (2.0.1)
Amp Override: Neural (7.2.1)
Video Output: 1920x1080p
Output Environment: HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2
Sample Rate: 120 Hz (Video), 48 kHz (Audio)
Origin Audio: Linear PCM Stereo
Origin Video: 1920x1080p, 24 bit, 60 Hz
Type: Dual Layer Bluray Disc
The first half of the series is actually rather dark. Most of the action takes place at night or the very early morning - something that is explained in the series. The nighttime scenes sometimes make things a little difficult to follow, but in general they execute these scenes with few if any flaws. They daylight scenes tend to be much more vivid and warm. Most scenes tend to take place outdoors, however. The few interior scenes that are there have pretty typical shading and coloring for animation. The scenes that are supposed to incite horror tend to at least set the atmosphere, and if it weren't for other shortcomings they would have effectively sold it. Jack the Ripper's noble phantasm for example was effectively portrayed, but other factors prevented it from being quite as horrific as it could have been. Meanwhile the early scene where Mordred is killed by Arthur, the shading and atmosphere of the surroundings really sold that it was a dream rather than just a flashback.
The animation quality is about normal for where we are in technology. For someone like me, who came into these 2010 and later series from the early 2000's and 1990's, it's a massive improvement. From the stance of looking at one new anime to the other, it's about standard. The special-touch comes in the form of the special effects.
If Fate/Apocrypha is anything, it's a special effects gold mine. The CG and other effects that are used are many, and they are woven seamlessly into the environment that they exist in. I have seen so many anime over saturate things like water, lava, and fire - but in the case of this series - they managed to avoid that. The various attacks and explosions that are found throughout the show are extraordinary and well animated. Thankfully they aren't overdone either. The series seems to have understood well the nuance of the no-fire explosion as well. I can't say enough how much it pleases me to know that people realize fire doesn't come after every major impact of an object.
The only questionable items I have for special effects in the show come in the form of artifact selection. But that's not really important to the general rating here.
Video quality through the show was consistent. I've noted problems with mastering of video in other shows before, but there wasn't anything that really stood out. When running analysis on the BD output, it seems that most scenes averaged between 18.1 and 27.2 mbps for a video stream. The BD of course delivered 60 frames-per-second, but there weren't any noticeable blur artifacts generated when it spit out to 120 Hz. There were no artifacts injected either when the player pitched an upscale to 4K. However, the stream did bloat over 32 mbps, and in some instances might be rough for some players. Some interesting bit of information though was that one scene in episode 1 (the prologue) spiked up near 63.7 mbps. That was consistent regardless of how many times I ran back over it.
Overall, the graphics, visuals, and special visual effects were on par, and borderline beautiful. This is definitely something the show got right.
Anime has historically struggled with having the latest and greatest encoding when it comes to audio. It has been a bane of the genre's existence since the days of the DVD. That makes sense when you consider that - outside of Studio Ghibli films (released by Disney) - most anime studios are small and staffed with only a handful of people. The best you can ever usually ask for is Dolby. There are a few exceptions for feature length productions.
In the instance of Fate/Apocrypha, Netflix pushed the stream at 2.0 stereo. The Bluray released advertised LPCM Stereo. Both unacceptable on their own considering the visual components the show attempts to serve.
However, one of the good things about LPCM is that it tends to break fairly easily into multi-channel simulated formats. That again was not the case for Fate/Apcorypha's recording. By far, simply put, this was the worst audio master track I have ever heard (that even includes the cheesy budget "historical society" recordings with a digital camera recorder).
The sound effects that were used were amazing, but you couldn't get a real sense for them because almost every action that triggered any kind of response below about 140 Hz was clipped to hell. In fact, one scene where Mordred is battling Siegfried triggered clip protection on the line. It was a jarring experience to have to pause in the middle of the battle, mute the amp, play the disc for a few seconds, then pause again to unmute. All audio in the show itself that fell under 100 Hz clipped, as if the gain ran into a wall.
Running audio in a DTS:NeuralX format properly broke the dialogues into the center channel, however it worsened the LFE response, adding 3-9 dB of SPL to an already clipped frequency sweep. What's more, surround channels seem to have been reversed, with characters looking left when audio approaching from behind are coming from the right. This leads me to believe that clipping is actually in the original studio master, and that whatever sound engineer at Aniplex that was working on this project pushed audio to incorrect channels.
Frankly, I'd be embarrassed to claim this Bluray as a product of my own simply because it's a demonstration of what happens when you don't QC your product. Honestly, I'm surprised Netflix even would allow this, since they seem to be an advocate of at least somewhat Hi-Res audio. Fate/Apocrypha has anything but High Resolution Audio, and that's truthfully unacceptable on a Bluray.
Any potential to really enjoy the action scenes is ruined by the fact that you can't hear them in a way that is meaningful.
The voice talent for the series was impressive. Anyone who knows me already knows that I'm a big fan of both Erica Lindbeck and Erica Mendez. The selection of the voice cast was indeed A list, and I was pleased that they didn't skimp on the talent. There wasn't really much need for the use of background characters or "disgruntled townsfolk 2" in the show, which made it easier to determine who was doing what voice.
Lindbeck's performance as Mordred is, by my definition, absolute. She effectively brought out all of the different dimensions to the character, and it really shined through in her performance. While not speaking on the character of her person (if we were talking to her on Twitter, I'm sure she'd have a comeback for this), she delivered a performance that had immaturity, yet tact. There was also a great sense of tenacity and feral-ness to the character that was absolutely required, and I felt that all of those points showed in her performance extremely well.
Mendez voiced Jack the Ripper, and I really shouldn't have been surprised. She has a history of voicing younger characters - I guess it's good to have a specialty. Jack's insanity, however, is a far cry from her work as Ryuuko Matoi or Eleanor Hume. While I am of the opinion that such insanity could have been better delivered, I also feel that the delivery Mendez put on voicing Jack was unique in its own sense. Rather than what an adult perceives as madness, Jack's instability is reflective of not only her childlike nature, but her true self. She literally is a child that doesn't know any better, and for that reason, I feel that Mendez delivered on the part splendidly.
Lastly to mention is our protagonist being voiced by Zach Aguilar. I do not know much of Aguilar's work, admittedly. However, while I was constantly groining about how deadpan the voice was, I also had an aha moment that reminded me that was purposeful. He was voicing someone who had only just learned what it is to be alive. The deadpan and benign nature of the voice talent there simply demanded that work. That being said, there were times that were borderline monotone, and it really caused me to space out on those particular scenes.
Two honorable mentions here, also, is Erika Harlacher voicing Jeanne d'Arc. While I was not a fan of Jeanne's character, I feel that Harlacher delivered in full the tone of the character she was voicing. I'd be remiss to not mention Astolfo's actress, Faye Mata. Again, another name that I'm not familiar with, but these two deserve props if not for anything else, the wonderful scene where the holy maiden gets forever scarred. (Read: All of Episode 19.)
Elsewhere in the series included some stellar work from Max Mittelman, who has singled handedly become the go-to actor for the jack-wagon characters. (That's a compliment, I promise.) Jalen K. Cassell, showing us that there is at least one character in the show that can actually go batshit crazy, lose all of her marbles and never be able to recover from it. Lastly, Ray Chase, I dunno, because it's Ray Chase. Do you need a reason to cast Chase for anything?
Outside of the good listed in the previous sections, I don't really have a lot to say when it comes to added credits. The series did not go much in the way of reaching over the top for the most part. Still, there were a few things that I particularly enjoyed that I had to give them a little extra credit for.
As previously mentioned, the show is gorgeous. I was fully expecting to see that it was a Ufotable production and was surprised when that name didn't appear. The graphics take full advantage of simulated HDR, which was a welcome sight considering it is anime - something that naturally uses a lot of colors and shading. It's shortcoming with this is that over half the series was in darkness or drabness.
Another thing that I wanted to give credit for is that while he is far from being my favorite character in the series, Astolfo provided virtually every single delivery of comedy in the series (when Mordred or Achilles weren't present anyway). I felt that was quite a feat to do for a single character, and somehow the writers managed to pull this off. If only one thing worked for them, luckily it was this, as otherwise there'd be little motivation to pursue the series outside of watching for favorite characters.
Speaking of favorite characters (character, after this series), I had to give some props of course for Mordred's appearance in this show. It was just frosting on the cake that Erica Lindbeck was the actress to take her on in my book. "Stoked" defines my thoughts on that combination.
As a historian, the Fate series altogether is difficult to reconcile, simply because of its revisionist approach to history. That could range from the fact that characters are genderbent in the show, to having totally incorrect history injected into the character's story for the sake of having more discussion on their past. While I'm all for the discussion of history, incorrect history is just plain dangerous at times, and Fate certainly flirts with that notion in each and every one of its entries. That being said, the history of characters in this particular run of Fate was not what I had to question the most. In fact, the only real historical issue I had here was with Jack the Ripper's historical recount.
The biggest issue this series had with characters was that their characters did not embrace nor reflect their historic origins. The one most faulted for this was Jeanne d'Arc. The writing of the character was done in such a way that it created a flimsy love story rather than reflecting on something true to character. That being said, it would have made more sense if the character's insistence of emotional projection was true, and I would have encouraged the writers of the story to have taken that route. Such a route would have explained what was happening in that tale, as well as preserving the legacy of the character and not tarnishing it with twenty-first century smut. However, that was not the route taken, and instead the writers opted to tarnish a character in the entire anthology. Before you jump on me for this with "how do you know she wouldn't have been like that", consider this: Jeanne d'Arc is one of the Great Saints of France. She is arguably one of the most iconic female figures in middle-century history and her resolve is well documented and reported. Why do you think that three days around some blank-slated boy would make her totally change her course and ideology? Are you really that dense? Type Moon seems to think so. Unfortunately, as much as I had loved Jeanne d'Arc's character prior to watching the show (as her history was also the most truthful), her present and future totally ruined her for me. She now is one of my least favorite in the group.
Other problems to point out include some simply physics issues. I understand that Fate is centered around magic, but there are certain things that are just simply absolutes. In the last episodes, several servants are seen riding on (that's on top of, not in) Boeing 747-300 airliner aircraft. The sheer pressure of wind at that speed and altitude is such that anything of this sort would crush anything living for a prolonged period of time, yet the animation in the series barely shows any of those servants being afflicted by the wind or pressure at all. That's animation even. Elsewhere, in one scene, Sisigou and Mordred launch and aerial assault on the Flying Gardens. They fly into this giant fortress by way of a Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbed (I am guessing it's an MF-75 variant). What is so fascinating is that the impact of the aircraft causes no explosion, interesting considering the lightly plated gas tank and combustible engine. Another missed opportunity at effectively deploying effects - or rather - another example of poorly researched physics and history.
While I really wanted to enjoy Fate/Apocrypha there were so many glaring errors and problems that it was difficult to focus on the story. That's especially an issue when the story is whirring through space faster than the planet is. Each time something cool happened, it always seemed to be accompanied by terrible sounding audio that really drives a stake through your ear. Several things happen in the series that I can not explain as to why. The writers clearly were betting on the fan watching to have seen some previous Fate material, but even that was executed poorly.
Some characters aren't even alive long enough for you to establish any kind of connection with them, and it demands you ask why they were even mentioned in the story in the first place. Others get just enough of a story where you start to get interested only for them to die too. It was really a testing of patience to get to the end of this series for that as well. Other times there were references to character deaths where I thought it was one person but turned out to be another altogether. Imagine my surprise when the person I thought was dead is actually still alive and running around. Yet the cast reaction was such a way that your hunch should have been right. Again, it was a very confusing and tangled web that was difficult to follow and understand.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, while this is of course an entry worth some attention by Fate fans, it's one I'd skip if you aren't a fan. Even if you are a fan you could probably do without this one. It certainly isn't what I'd consider high quality, and the gems within it sadly do not outshine the dullness and ugly surroundings they share. Sorry folks, wouldn't recommend this series to anyone.
Originally posted on 3 January 2020 at 15:56. Post entry backdated to maintain primary content visibility.