When I tell a lot of my friends I watch anime and read manga, their first thought is I watch series like K-On and such, that I spend my nights alone in a dark room watching animated teenage girls, often large breasted, go about their life problems while ignoring my own problems. I don’t watch these. The ones I watch are much, much darker. If you need an anime that might help turn one of your friends to the dark/anime side, Fate/Zero might be just what you need.
Fate/Zero takes place in 1994 in the fictional Japanese city of Fuyuki. Every 60 years the Holy Grail War occurs, where seven mages battle to achieve the said grail with the help of seven ‘Heroic Spirits’; heroes from legend, like Sir Lancelot, Robin Hood and Atilla the Hunn. When I say battle, I mean kill each other. There is no real main character here and the plot mostly jumps about between all seven mages and their Servants. If there is an identifiable main character, it would be Kiritsugu Emiya, an ‘Ends justifies the means’ mage turned hitman who’s competing in the Holy Grail War to end the violence of humanity.
Fate/Zero is bloody dark. For an example: one of the main characters is a child murderer and so is his Servant. Children die. You get to see it happen. Not in visceral detail, but you see them pulled off screen, a horrifying scream and then blood. The first time I saw this it legitimately made me jump.
And if you’re rolling your eyes at this cheap ploy to get edgy, then I can try and tell you how awesome it is. What other anime series can you give me that has Alexander the Great and King Arthur battling each other, destroying an entire highway in the process? Or Gilgamesh and Lancelot having a mid-air dogfight? Can you? I doubt it. Each fight scene feels fluid and organic, and theres a nice lack of blade spam, which keeps the fights looking well polished and original each time. Even during some of the few fights between humans there is a certain weight to how they fight, they aren’t just doing some cliche-anime style sword fight, there are moving as humans actually do, throwing weight and organic power behind their movements.
Action and edginess aside, the story is quite compelling. As you would expect, its mostly about the mages and how they plan to get the Holy Grail for themselves, and how they plan to kill all the other mages and Servants in the war, but as it doesn’t focus on a single main character it jumps around a bit and gives a nice freshness as you learn about each character’s goals and why they want the Grail for themselves. One thing I loved was the clashing ideologies of Kiritsugu and his Servant, King Arthur. Kiritsugu is an ‘Ends justified the means’ character, which relates to his overall goal of getting the grail and ending the violence of humanity. Arthur, on the other hand, is obviously not that, Arthur is the definition of valor and righteousness. Kiritsugu plans to bring the world out of darkness by killing the other masters by any means necessary, and his overarching goal is interesting enough to merit a watch.
Is this anime good? Hell yes. If you like ancient history then Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night will provide a good game for you along with a great show, as you try to guess each Servants identity, althought F/SN does a better job of keeping you guessing who eachs servant is. I liked it. Kiritsugu’s goal of his attempt at salvation and how it brought him ruin is admirable and tragic. The show is unique and interesting but at the same time not weird enough that it might provide an entry point for people new to anime, and for those who have been watching it for a long time prove interesting.
Originally published at valiantghost.com.