Fate Apocrypha

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Hi guys, it’s Aavi once again and this time I’m doing a review of the anime Fate Apocrypha, that is part of the Fate series.

The anime revolves around a battle royale between 2 factions, the red and the black faction. The winning side of the battle royale stands a chance to duke it out for the Holy Grail, which basically is a powerful form of magic that can grant wishes. Each faction is made up of “Masters” who are human (for the most part at least) who form contracts with “servants” that are basically legendary warriors/heroes/monsters/Gods of the past. Masters can call upon these servants to do battle and a lot of other things.

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Overall, I would rate this anime 8 out of 10, and I’ll list and briefly explain 5 aspects that I liked and disliked regarding the series;

During the review, I’ll make references to other anime. Let’s start with the things that I did not like;

Who is the protagonist ?

In an anime like Fairytail, the character Lucy Heartfilia is introduced to us as the protagonist. However as the show progresses, the character Natsu Dragoneel is also firmly established as the protagonist. While Lucy does have a lot of screen time, plot armour and an abundance of “fan service”, one may argue that Natsu is given more screen time, plot armour and focus even if just slightly.

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In the anime Akame Ga Kil, a protagonist character Akame whom the show is named after, received extremely little screen time. Part of the reason for this is that she is so OP that she does not need plot armour. If she appeared in every battle, the anime would end much sooner than expected….and probably with fewer deaths. The other reason is that Tatsumi is introduced as the main character and is far more interesting as a protagonist from a perspective of plot and growth development.

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While an anime does not have to be as obvious to declare who the protagonist is as Naruto does for example, Fate Apocrypha does not employ the same theme of letting the viewers easily understand who the protagonist of the show is.

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Within the first few minutes of the first episode, we are introduced to the master, Kairi Sisigou, and then to his servant known as Mordred (Saber of red). Even though they are after the grail due to self interest, they appear to be the good guys. During the first few episodes, the anime focuses on them and they are as close as can be to the “good guys” of the show.

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And then we’re introduced to Rider, Sieg and Astalfos. Astalfos does not give of the main character vibe, and Astalfos lacks the presence of a main character, so we’re left with Sieg. However, Sieg is introduced in a very sloppy manner into the show. The anime intends for us to believe that Sieg is the main character. They do this in true anime fashion by giving him ridiculous over power, an effortless love story and plot armour. However, it feels like he was made a protagonist for the sake of having a protagonist.

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Protagonist development

In the anime Naruto and Bleach, both Naruto and Ichigo have to go through consistent continuous physical and mental tests to improve both as fighters/warriors and as individuals. In anime like One Piece and Fairytail, this is done less frequently and in as once off happenings. However in both scenarios, we the viewers can acknowledge growth has been made.

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In Fate Apocrypha, it feels like there is very little character development for the protagonist himself (Sieg). Sieg just seems to go along with things with little or no hesitation. While I do appreciate that they didn’t focus on him questioning the subject of humanity too much, he just didn’t show much personality. He felt bland especially among the majestic servants.

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Part of what makes a protagonist is plot armour, ridiculous levels of over power and development/growth, however Sieg only possesses the first 2.

Astalfos that eventually became Sieg’s servant had “Mikasa Syndrome”. I’m referencing Micasa from Shingeki No Kyojin. All Mikasa does is want to save Eren and Armin regardless if it’s right or wrong, even if it means letting titans eat all of humanity. Astalfos seems to do the same, and that makes it harder to like Sieg. Although many seem to like Astalfos.

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Love Interests

In anime like One Piece, Boa Hancock falls for Luffy simply because of the plot. The reason presented to us in the anime is that Luffy is supposed to be kind enough during the battle against her sisters and hides their former slave markings. However, I would never state kindness as a core characteristic of Luffy even if frequently displayed. Also, there are many warm hearted pirates and marines alike who would have probably done the same as Luffy. In fact White Beard was the pirate who rescued them, but no on fell in love with him… (Except maybe Ace, the Whitebeard pirates and the entire One Piece Fandom).

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I referenced One Piece for this point because that’s more or less how romance for the protagonist was handled in this anime. Sieg literally does nothing spectacular throughout the anime to win over Leticia/Ruler and yet he does. And let me just tell you that Ruler…. is a babe. Perhaps he played the “I’m dumb so I’ll get the waifuu” card. Jokes aside, Sieg does perform some feats and sacrifice quite a bit, even his life. However, perhaps it’s because he was cast alongside such awesome heroic spirits, everything he does just appears to be dwarfed.

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The romance between Sieg and Ruler/Leticia was suspected long by fans before it happened. However, it was too rushed and most of us only cared about them because they were attractive.

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This is supposed to be a battle royale correct ?

Yeah, this one was kinda a problem for me as well as many others according to the reviews that I’ve read thus far. The Holy Grail War despite it’s name was supposed to be a battle royale with 2 participating factions. The winning faction stands a chance to fight within the winning side to obtain a wish from the Holy Grail…

Except that’s not what happens. One look at Shirou Kotamine the priest from Fate Apocrypha is enough to tell any seasoned anime watcher that some heavy shit is about to go down. Everyone including Darnic, the leader of the black faction is preparing for a battle royale. On the other hand Shirou , the leader of the red faction is already preparing for a war to conquer the world and has already wiped out most of the red faction.

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For me it was kinda  disappointment to have the war without the battle royale. I did appreciate the war and I do agree that a full out war was the most suitable conclusion, but I feel a battle royale would have better displayed the abilities and skill of the servants in comparison to the war. And I feel a lot of the Fate animer viewers wanted that.

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In addition to this, there were too many instances where both the red and black faction had to “team up” to take care of a “much larger threat at hand”. Also, Ruler abandoned her post of neutrality too many times to get involved in the fight.One could argue that Shirou himself was to remain neutral, but part of not staying neutral was what made him the bad guy. Ruler who was against Shirou’s actions and beliefs eventually abandoned her post of neutrality. One may argue that she did this to save the world, but it seemed more like her bias towards to Sieg than anything else.

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The war setting instead of a battle royale downplayed the victories and battles. Often at times a win was circumstantial rather than based on the skill of the opponent. There were too many servants that changed allegiances when it suited them. In a lot of cases, we never really got to appreciate the true and full power of a character. Instead we saw a lot of characters self destruct or sacrifice themselves for something greater, and then they were gone.

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I’m harping on this point, because these were supposed to best of the best, the grand spirits.

Flow of the anime

Did you watch the anime Black Cat ? It had great story telling and was able to summarize the manga pretty well within 25 episodes more or less. But you know what it sucked at ? Separating arcs from each other. Within the last 5 episodes of the anime we have a completely separate arc that is thrown at us that feels weirdly mixed up with the arc that just ended. Everything is chaotic, rushed and just plain garbage. Which is a sad way to end a series that was excellent throughout….kinda like How I Met Your Mother.

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While Fate Apocrypha did not have a clash of arcs, it did have poor transitions from situations within the arc. The Jack the Ripper arc or situation is a prime example. I wasn’t sure whether the Jack the ripper was supposed to be a filler arc or part of the main story until much later in the story. Not much is ever explained about Jack the ripper, there are just random bits thrown in here and there. When we finally do meet Jack the ripper, it’s not really a major deal even though the anime makes it out to be.

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The anime just felt sloppy and it felt like the plot had been stretched to try and prolong the anime. Had the anime stuck with the simple plot and the battle royale scene, it might have fared better. Instead, we were given a numerous amount of subplots that littered the anime and made things hard to follow.

So now that I’ve kinda bashed the anime around, let’s talk about the good aspects of the anime;

The theme (Audio + Visual)

One of the first things about an anime that are noticed is the animation and character design. And Fate Apocrypha killed it with this. The way animation is done is enough to make me want to watch or enough to make me quit the anime within 5 minutes of watching. Character design is more important to me, and again Fate Apoocrypha killed it.

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I like how the characters are designed, they have this glossy majestic appearance to them. Added to that, the characters are purposefully drawn to be super attractive (No problems there). And all of this is super fine, because of the surroundings of the characters. The whole atmosphere and situation that surrounds the characters is one of doom and gloom. There’s almost always a pending sense of danger about and threat that a character may be wiped out. This seems to wonderfully contrast and complement the flashy way in which characters are designed.

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The battle scenes as well as other scenes of interest carry the flashiness of the battle. And this is to be expected, especially since this is a grand scale battle. You’d normally find this kind of animation in those anime where the protagonist is over powered on a godly scale, however considering how some of these warriors have the potential to slay Gods, it’s more than justified. The flashiness and splashes of colour are abundant and well placed and timed. Nothing feels too much or too over powering.

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The animation is almost similar to anime like Fairytail that place a lot of emphasis on the way the anime looks.

In terms of the audio, the OP and ED were both good, although nothing compared to OP’s like Tokyo Ghoul and Black Cat. The audio in the anime was excellent. What I particularly appreciated was that how an anime character appeared matched how they would sound. There are often times where this is not the case and it can be highly annoying. This may seem shallow but it’s important. Imagine having to watch and listen to anime character who you know could sound better for 25 episodes straight ? It would drive you nuts. Anime characters like Sagittarius who were wise sounded wise, ruffians like Spartacus conveyed their gruffness through audio and villains like Shirou had that masked calm but sinister voice…so it’s really great.

Yes there were some issues with the audio and visual but that has been rectified. So, no issues here really.

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The more the merrier

14 servants, 14 masters, 2 rulers, some homunculi and some more. There were a lot of characters in Fate Apocrypha, with the main focus on especially the servants and slightly less on their masters. I enjoyed the fact that there so many servants, because it meant that there other characters to fall back on appreciate instead of the one I really loved. It also meant that there was a greater diversity of personalities.

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The focus was never really kept on any servant in particular, it just kind of shifted from servant to servant depending on the situation. Granted some servants like Astalfos and Mordred received more screen time but this was justified as they were our alleged servant protagonists. Other servants like Sagittarius, Achilles and Atalanta received a lot of focus and development. Even though we never truly saw the extent of all their skills, we did see most of them at full power especially those who fought in the last episodes. And despite the lack displayed battle prowess, I was happy that the anime chose to explore their core characteristics as individuals rather than just focusing on their battle prowess, like how Vlad (Dracula) didn’t want to turn into Dracula or how Semiramis just wanted to be loved… (Which I don’t understand given how hot she is, heck I’d date her).

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The Mordred/Sisigou relationship

In the anime Mordred is a servant to the Master Sisigou and they have one of the best if not the best relationship out of all the servants, better than even Sieg and Ruler. A little back story, Mordred is the daughter of King Arthur and her desire is to apparently to prove her worth to be as great as her dad. She wants to accomplish this by pulling out the sword Excalibur. Sisigou comes from a cursed bloodline not able to pass down any more descendants. He tried adoption, but instead lost the little girl to curse (she died.). He apparently desires to end the curse that haunts his bloodline.

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Some may say that their relationship is of romance, but I would disagree. It felt more like a father and daughter relationship. It took me a while to realize this but when I saw their cigarettes side by side, I understood. Mordred felt like the daughter that Sisigou never had and Sisigou felt like the father that Mordred never had a chance to experience. And once you realize this, it adds a kind of depth and beauty to their relationship. I guess this is why I wanted to cry towards the end of anime…(I won’t give you spoilers).

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It is true Astalfos and Sieg as well as Frankenstein’s monster (FM) and Caules had good relationships in comparison to the other master/servant relationships, the Sisigou/Mordred relationship felt the best. And that’s because it felt more like a relationship than a contract summoning. Sisigou and Mordred both trusted each other’s abilities and strengths in the most dire situations. They had the trust and grit to call out each other. Mordred and Sisigou relied on each other, not trusting any one else and were willing to sacrifice themselves or their desires for each other if need be.

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This I feel speaks volumes, and it’s why it’s levels above Sieg/Astalfo and FM/Caules. Astalfos displayed Mikasa Ackerman syndrome throughout the anime prioritizing Sieg’s safety above all else even her original master’s commands. While this “blind goodness” is highly welcomed to some, to be it’s extremely annoying and one dimensional. It makes Astalfos seem narrow minded oblivious to the bigger picture. FM and Caules had a good relationship and Caules was kind to FM, however their relationship never truly felt like it transcended that of servant and master.

At the end of the anime, the true desires of Mordred and Sisigou are expressed between the 2. If you’re a seasoned anime weeb you would have seen it coming. Again this just adds another layer of depth both to their relationship and anime and once again makes it hard not to cry.

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The villain is shaded in grey

I mean this is more than one sense. Firstly, it’s very difficult to select just a single villain especially at the start of the anime. Darnic does seem like a pretty good candidate, but he is killed almost halfway into the series. The next bet could be the rest of the black faction given how they are depicted at the start of the anime with a proud uncle ready to whip his noble servant and homunculi or a disabled sister willing to kill a brother not willing to do the same.

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Or perhaps like me you’d label Shirou as the main antagonist. Most of the red faction’s masters as never revealed and we aren’t told why until later in the series. But again, it’s not hard to guess why as the anime almost purposefully wants us to draw our own conclusions regarding their current predicament. What may throw people of from stating that Shirou is the outright villain at the start is the fact that his desire is salvation. And he appears to be extremely sincere about this. He goes as far as to express frustration when the ruler of black questions his intentions. This would make you want to believe him more as he is usually expresses little or no emotion. There are also no cut scenes or monologue so support his villainy.

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But as we have learned from anime, “salvation” or a “world of peace” can often mean the “mass genocide” of a planet or the “sucking of souls” of people. In Naruto, Madara’s dream for peace inadvertently leads to people entering an eternal slumber, where a tree feeds of their life force to sustain itself as a source of energy.

And ding dong, Shirou’s plan for salvation is basically absorb peoples energy/magic. However, the intention of an act can be more important than the act itself. Shirou still believes that this is the way to save humanity. Even though he is committing mass genocide, it’s done not out of hate but more as if he is cleansing the world. It’s very similar to Astalfos’s intentions to save Sieg but the actions end up inconveniencing every one.

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Karna

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Yes, one person is enough to write a blog or not, to love an anime or not and change a life for better or worse. I’m a Hindu! I’ve seen #marvel trash the name of Lord Sri Krishna. I’ve seen a great show like #supernatural undermine and monumentally misrepresent Kali Matha. So when I saw Karna, the famous hero (yeah damn straight I said hero !), I was immediately worried.

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Karna is the embodiment, the concept the very core of what makes a tragic hero. In no matter what literature or media, whether it’s western, religion, eastern, series, movies, Hollywood, Bollywood etc and infinity, Karna is a character that many have tried to recreate knowingly and unknowingly. Little have had success, I would say Masashi Kishimoto came the closest with Uchiha Itachi of the Konoha.

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Karna’s life was filled with nothing but grief. Everything that could go wrong for Karna….most likely already went horrendously stupendously wrong for Karna. From the time of birth, before he could even perceive the unfairness of the world, Karna was already being served it in doses.

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Karna’s mother (Kunti) prayed to the Sun God for a son and that’s how he was born. He appeared in splendor, decorated with Gold, earrings and austere markings…So guess what his mother did? She floated him down the river out of fear shame and misjudgment from people. This is the very same mother of the Pandavas, the famous heroes of the MahaBharat, brother of Arjuna, the closest devotee of Lord Sri Krishna.

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Karna possessed the qualities of all 5 of the pandavas as well as the humility to rival all 5. Karna was raised as a common man instead of the prince that he was. Some time during his life he put on a pretense to learn from a Brahman teacher. One day while Karna’s teacher lay his head on Karna’s leg and slept, a worm entered Karna’s leg and caused him immense pain. However, out of respect for his teacher he did not move his leg and allowed his teacher to sleep. When his teacher awoke, he found out Karna’s identity and cursed him that at a time when he most needed the knowledge, he would forget it. Karna humbly folded his palms with no anger and accepted the curse.

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When the hand of the Princess Draupadi (later wife of the Pandavas) was being competed for, the mere second that Karna picked up arms to compete, Draupadi protested slandering Karna as a peasant/ farm boy thus preventing him from entering and simultaneously shaming him publicly in front of many kings including the Pandavas. In another instance at a school for teaching weaponry and the like, their teacher Dronacharya constantly favoured Arjuna despite Karna being equally skilled if not more superior.

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Arjuna was probably the only person that Karna hated or disliked. Maybe it’s because he saw in Arjuna everything that he have been, which was rightfully his in a way. And I don’t mean the fame or glories that accompanied Arjuna. I mean the love, repsect, adoration, the affection of Dronacharya and Bhishma and family. I don’t think Karna had any issues with the other Pandavas.

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Karna was notorious for performing charity. If anything was asked of him, he would immediately give it away without a moment’s hesitation. Prior to the start of the war, Kunti his mother who had done literally nothing for Karna except maybe birth him a lifetime of nothing but sorrow approached him. She requested that he spare her sons, even she knew how powerful really was. Karna agreed he would spare all but Arjuna. And this is a hefty promise because the Pandavas were powerful warriors, with Bhima and Arjuna having the most renown as warriors. Also it meant they could go all out on him while he was handicapped. But wait it get’s better…

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Just like how Surya the Sun God was Karna’s father in a way, Indra was Arjuna’s “father” in a way. And if you know Indra the King of Gods, he has no shame. Prior to the war, he disguised himself as Brahman and went to Karna to ask for invulnerability armour that was fused with his skin. It made Karna invincible. Karna told Indra that he was aware of his true identity by regardless tore from himself the skin armour and presented it to Indra asking nothing in return. Even the Heavens could not stand such treachery and a divine voice demanded Indra give something in return. Indra gave him a powerful universe scale weapon, however it had a one time use. Even with more than his power reduced by 50% due to Indra, he still honoured his agreement to fight in the war and spare the Pandavas.

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There are many stories, but let’s leave it for now. You may be thinking, but what about his battle prowess ? It was legendary to say the least. He was just as powerful and wise if not superior to the Pandavas. Mastery of archery, the lance, the sword and divine arts made him terrifying. At no where near full power he could stand toe to toe with Arjuna who had defeated Bhishma in a fight previous to the war.

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But Karna’s greatest feat in history, is greater than any warrior in history. Arjuna was praised by Dronacharya and Bhishma, but Karna was praised by none other than Lord Sri Krishna himself. Karna was able to push back the chariot upon which Arjuna and Lord Sri Krishna was seated, a feat that was impossible. Of course, it was only because the Lord is so compassionate that he allowed it, but no other person that I know of was allowed to do that by the Lord. And this is Lord Sri Krishna we’re talking about, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is often called by his original form Lord Sri Vishnu. The same Lord who conquered all, who is not just the very centre of the universe but is the universe and cosmos itself. This was the chariot that Karna pushed back, that seated the Lord Himself, no other warrior to my knowledge has achieved such a feat. At the end of the war Lord Sri Krishna got of the chariot and it crumbled to pieces.

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This is how great the Hero of Charity, Karna really is. The Hero who truly had nothing, yet gave away everything, can there be said a greater hero ?

Which is why his depiction in Fate Apocrypha was so important and appreciated by me. It seemed as if the anime creators had carefully studied his character and meticulously portrayed him. They made sure to do him justice both with regards to his personality and morality but as well as to his battle prowess. I was terrified that they would ruin him, but my fears were calmed.

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Karna appeared in about 3 major fights during Fate Apocrypha, and dominated in all. Even when they took him out, it took more than 1 servant to do that, not even the broken OP Sieg could take him out. He is praised as both the powerful and noble servant not just in Fate Apocrypha but in the FATE series itself and rightfully so….(That part where he goes “Oh Agni”)

So that’s my likes and dislikes for this anime, as you can tell, I like it mainly for Karna, but it still is a great anime.

Ciau

Aavi

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