“All For One” – Fate/Zero (anime) – 9/10 Streamers

The most persistent sound which reverberates through men’s history is the beating of war drums.  ~Arthur Koestler

Genre: Action/Fantasy/Supernatural

Review Status: Complete (13 Episodes/13 Episodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US, and can be viewed on Crunchyroll.com

Summary: Ten years prior to the events of FATE/STAY NIGHT, the War of the Holy Grail is a contest in which seven magi summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete to obtain the power of the “Holy Grail,” which grants a miracle. After three inconclusive wars for the elusive Holy Grail, the Fourth War commences. Kiritsugu finds himself deeply torn between family and duty – obtaining the Holy Grail. However, his greatest opponent appears in the form of Kirei Kotomine, a priest who cannot find any sense of fulfillment in his life and sets his sights on Kiritsugu as the possible answer to the emptiness he feels. (Crunchyroll.com)

Review: Well, as I was under the impression that this was one whole anime series, only 13 episodes long, I admit to being sorely disappointed. However, I completely admit that for the first half of a series, this knows how pique my interest. It starts out dropping the watcher right intrigue surrounding the Fourth Holy Grail War, with barely any character introduction for many, but the moments that they have are for the most part well-chosen in depicting what kind of person they are, from the homicidal Ryuunosuke and his equally brutal Servant, Caster, to the burdened assasin Kiritsugu and Saber. It can be a little hard to pick up what exactly is going on in the War because of teh terminology- it took me about two episodes to really pick up on what was going on and what the summoners were doing to get their Servants. But by that second episode, I was too drawn in to stop watching, regardless!

This anime focuses mainly on the actions of the Servants and Masters in order to win the Holy Grail, the thing that will grant their wishes, whatever they may be. The goal is simple- defeat all the other Servants. It’s everyone for themselves, unless there is a need to band together- and occasionally, there is one. Alliances are temporary, and fights happen as they encounter one another. Sometimes they are purposefully drawn into fights, sometimes it is by a purely chance encounter, and deception and intrigue abound in the ranks of the Servants and the Masters alike. They are very intense and well-done, with interesting powers and abilities that show up. You never know what move will be used next, and the weaknesses of the abilities are revealed very cleverly.

Throughout the anime, the characters are clearly defined as individuals with unique personalities by their interactions with each other. Some are given more focus than other simply by virtue of their personalities- Rider, Caster, and Saber are often the focus of the Slaves, while their Masters aren’t equally focused on- those tend to be the wife of Saber’s Master, Berserker’s Master, and Caster’s Master. Even those that aren’t usually focused on get a decent amount of characterization- easy to distinguish them even if there isn’t much depth to them. Some are easier to love than others- I think I have discovered a character that is second only to Johan (from Monster) in how downright terrifying he is. Others are highly amusing; I just want Rider and his Master to be best friends forever, because Rider is a teddy bear with a desire for world conquest.

There are also numerous wonderful moments that were highly entertaining, but managed to make me think. The scene where Rider gathered together Saber and Gilgamesh was the pinnacle of these, presenting different views on what makes a good ruler and leader, and why we believe those ideals- and what those ideals ultimately accomplish. Those moments added depth to a show that is an adrenaline fest- in the best possible way, of course. They brought new facets to characters, which was good; I’m willing to root for characters, but making me really feel for them? That’s something else.

An interesting note is that the end of every episode, there’s an intriguing countdown- what will happen at the end of it? Undoubtedly it’s when the Grail will be won. It’s nice that Fate/Zero keeps that in mind, and notes the passage of time. But of course, even though we know what will happen at the end of the countdown, the how and who remain a mystery. Until then, though, someone needs to hand Saber a map and tell her that Britannia worked out okay in the end. I can only sympathize so much since I do know something about the world.

Overall, this had some issues in the beginning with diving right in, but it’s a well-told show with great action.

Recommended: 16+ for the streaming version, as there is the implied torture and death of children. There is undetailed nudity for one character, which is very brief. 18+ for the Blu-ray version, since there are some rumors that some *very* gory scenes will be included in it- mainly, scenes where Caster’s Master tortures children in horrifically gruesome ways, such as playing their internal organs as an instrument while they are alive and can feel it. These scenes are depicted in the manga of this.

Other Anime You Might Enjoy:

Fate/Stay Night (anime and Visual Novel)

Kara no Kyoukai (anime)
Claymore (anime and manga)

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