Title: Fate/Zero (2011-2012)
Director: Aoki Ei
Writers: Hiyama Akira, Yoshida Akihiro, Urobuchi Gen (manga)
Country of Origin: Japan
Original Language(s): Japanese
Genre: Action, Contemporary Fantasy, Drama, Horror, Thriller, Tragedy
No. of Episodes: 25 episodes
The story of Fate/Zero takes place ten years prior to the events of Fate/Stay Night, detailing the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. The Holy Grail War is a contest, founded by the Einzbern, Matou, and Tōsaka families centuries ago, in which seven mages summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete to obtain the power of the “Holy Grail”, which grants a wish to each member of the winning duo. After three inconclusive wars for the elusive Holy Grail, the Fourth War commences.
The Einzbern family is determined to achieve success after three consecutive failures, no matter the cost. As a result, they have elected to bring the hated magus killer, Emiya Kiritsugu, into their ranks, despite his methods and reputation as a skilled mercenary and a hitman who employs whatever he can use to accomplish his goals. Though Kiritsugu had once wanted to become a hero who could save everyone, he has long since abandoned this ideal upon realising that saving one person comes at the cost of another’s life. Thus, this is the source of conflict, which he once sought to eliminate, due to finite resources/abilities. For the sake of humanity, he will ruthlessly destroy anything and anyone who threatens the peace of others.
However, Kiritsugu finds himself deeply torn between the love he has found with his new family—his wife Irisviel and their daughter Illya—and what he must do to obtain the Holy Grail. Meanwhile, Kiritsugu’s greatest opponent appears in the form of Kotomine Kirei, a priest who can only find enjoyment in the suffering of others, but who has spent his life struggling against his monstrous nature. He sets his sights on Kiritsugu as a kindred spirit and possible answer to the emptiness he feels.
Towards the conclusion, the limitations of the “Holy Grail” are found to be in the fact that, while omnipotent in its wish-granting abilities, it is not omniscient, and therefore depends on the victor’s knowledge and methods to determine the way by which the wish is carried out. And, to make things worse, the last war fought over the Grail has left it corrupted.
Fate/Zero is the prequel of Fate/Stay Night (2004) or Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014)—whichever it is. I don’t know which one I like more, Fate/Zero or Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, but I find it difficult to find the real good guy here. Seriously, I am confused. One time I thought he/she was good then he/she turned out to be bad. It’s confusing. I find it hard to choose my favourite character. However, I like Irisviel von Einzbern. She’s a homunculus prototype and Kiritsugu Emiya’s wife. It seems like Kiritsugu is the main character but I am not trying to spoil anything here, but the number of Emiya’s appearances are too rare. Well, I don’t particularly fancy him, so I don’t mind either, even though he looks pretty cool at some point. I like his wife more anyway. Irisviel looks really beautiful even though she’s just a homunculus and a proxy master. Other than her, I don’t think I like the other real masters. Perhaps, Kiritsugu is the better but then again he’s not as good as I thought, even though I know why he did what he did. But the understanding comes a bit late and therefore my dislike grew faster. The number of villains in Fate/Zero is rather a lot. Seriously, it’s hard to find which one is better than the other.
As for the servants, they are more friendly and noble than before—or after or whichever do you prefer—like for example, Rider who got more part this time and he’s definitely more powerful and kinder than the one in Fate/Stay Night. Lancer is still as noble as before. Archer, who is Gilgamesh, is as cool as ever. He is really indeed a very powerful servant. I don’t think anyone can beat him. Well, I guess Archer-class servants are always the coolest thus far. The fact that the name is ‘Archer’ and I like archery makes me like the Archer-class servant even more. Berserker has a surprising true identity, truly. As for Saber, she’s still the same one as in Fate/Stay Night. Nothing changes. But now I knew who is her previous Master because in Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, it was mentioned that she has a previous master, but I never knew who it was until now. Nonetheless, all the servants are powerful and pretty cool in some way. Aside from more friendly than before, I think the fact that the servants’ past were mentioned more in Fate/Zero has made me understand about them more. They have a past that has made them who they are now and that makes them more understanding, instead of just a tool to win the war anyway. Let’s just say the servants look more ‘human’ in Fate/Zero than in Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. They only fight with each other because of their masters, unlike before. Even the fights between them are fairer and more honourable.
Fate/Zero is still about the Holy Grail War. Although the overall story is different. They have different purposes and different story line. However, it is still about the Holy Grail. I have to admit that the fourth Holy Grail War is indeed more intense than the fifth. They are more thrilling and more complicated than the one in Fate/Stay Night. It is still brutal or perhaps even more brutal than before. More intense, I must say. So yes, I think in terms of battle and the servants, Fate/Zero is definitely excelled Fate/Stay Night. However, there are some things that I like in Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works more. Tōsaka Rin is, of course, one of those things—or characters, to be exact—that I like. There are many unresolved matters by the end of Fate/Zero. No need to worry, because those matters will be discussed in Fate/Stay Night if you haven’t watched it already.
“I don’t think it’s possible to save everyone. I just want to save as many as I can.” – Kiritsugu Emiya
The biggest difference between Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night aside from the battles are the masters. In Fate Stay/Night, the masters are nearly all teenagers. But here, all the masters are adults, or I should say nearly all. Therefore, the conflicts are more of an adult story rather than a high school teen problems. So if you prefer a high school student’s story, perhaps you’d prefer Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works because the main characters are high school students, unlike in this anime.
I do suggest if you watched this anime first then Fate/Stay Night next. However, if you did it vice versa, I don’t think it’s a big deal because I did watch Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works first and Fate/Zero later, and still find the anime enjoyable. In my personal opinion, Fate/Zero is better than Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works in some ways, but in other ways, Fate/Stay Night is better. Still, both anime are enjoyable and pretty much entertaining.
And after much considerations, I give Fate/Zero 8 out of 10 stars.