Fate/Stay Night will be my first anime review. If you are actually planning to watch it, I warn you; this will be full of spoilers.
It was no coincidence that we met,
For it’s a fate arranged long ago.
Like most fantasy animes, this one has rules of its own. A war is going on among seven masters in order to attain the Holy Grail. Each master can summon a servant for themselves, and these servants are spirits of epic heroes from the pages of history (here history means legends, since this is a fantasy anime). The sole duty of a servant is to protect his/her master at all costs and help him win the Holy Grail. In case you’ve been wondering, the ones (the master and the servant) who win the Holy Grail will both have one wish fulfilled. The reason to fight, for most of the servants, is to amend something about their own life which they regretted after their death or to get a second chance at living, whereas the reason for the masters vary greatly from each other. In any case, though it is called a war, it is actually an organised tournament where a master has to kill other masters to win.
The lead character, Shirou Emiya, is painfully stupid and has an extreme talent of getting himself into trouble. He is always striving to seek out the most noble solution and flushing practicality down the drain. Whereas the main supporting character Rin Tohsaka with her no-nonsense type of attitude is quite more entertaining to watch. This brings us to the starting of the story. Shirou accidentally witnessed the battle between two servants. According to the rules of the Grail Wars, all witnesses must be executed immediately. So Lancer, one of the servants, kills him. But he is revived instantaneously by Rin. When Lancer came to know about this, he decides to kill Shirou for the second time. Out of self-defence, Shirou unintentionally summons Saber, a servant of his own, thus becoming the seventh master of the war. (Saber is female, by the way. Servants use names of their clans and Saber is not her real name.) Saber turns out to be the second lead character of the story.
Bloody battles follow, as one master after another fall prey. Rin loses her servant, Archer, in a battle. Archer is the most interesting character of the story in my opinion, though his past identity never came to light. As the spiritual bond between Shirou and Saber gradually increase, Shirou starts visualizing Saber’s past and discovers that she is the manifestation of none other than the great King Arthur of England. Yes, legends hint that King Arthur might have been female (see page: “Was King Arthur female?“), and this anime has grabbed it. Personally, I loved this anime mainly because it made me aware of few legends which I found quite interesting.
There are subtle references now and then about Rin being in love with Shirou. But true to her character, Rin never utters a word about it. Another girl, Sakura, who has a significant side role is also in love with Shirou, but that is more of an immature possessiveness. The characterization is the main thumbs down, as each character is totally predictable and not one-of-a-kind in any way, thus ranking this anime far behind the likes of Death Note. Further, it lacks the refined actions of Bleach, and this anime is no good when it comes to catchy dialogues. What it is good at is keeping secrets. Make sure you read about the characters from various websites, after watching the anime, and you’ll be surprised at how many hidden facts you’ll find.
Coming back to the plot, Saber reveals that her wish on attaining the Holy Grail will be to redo the selection of the king. She regretted pulling the sword Excalibur out of its stone, as ultimately she could not fulfill her duties. But by this time, Shirou has fallen in love with her (predictably), and wants her to use the wish to remain with him after the Grail Wars end. Saber is obviously also in love with Shirou, but her royal ego forbids her to act like a “love-struck young girl out of a fairy-tail”. In the end, she sees the futility in changing the course of history, and Shirou realizes that he can’t make a legendary being stay with him. So they decide to destroy the Grail, which has been the cause of lots of bloodshed and dilemma. They do so after defeating the other masters, thus ending the war along with Saber’s existence in Shirou’s world.
I felt the best part of the entire anime was that King Arthur’s past life was actually affected slightly by all this, in spite of no wish being made. All these battles and incidents of the Grail War, and Shirou, flashed by her mind in her last dream (my interpretation, could be wrong). When she woke up, it appeared that she had fallen off her horse during a battle and passed out. She summoned Bedivere and handed over Excalibur to her, asking her to throw it into a lake which lied across the battlefield. And then she breathed her last breath.
The overall music and lighting of the anime is great, and brings out the scenes efficiently. For people of my age, it might be a little hard to digest all the thick, magical beams striking each other, which this anime had in store for the battles towards the end, much resembling the old and familiar Dragonball series. But the animation being good, most of the battles are nice to watch. Though there was an awful 3D scene somewhere in the middle, which stuck out like a dark blotch.
I say this would be a really good watch, though it probably won’t be for you if you have read this far. My advice: don’t judge it by this review; I just blurted out points, the anime tells you the story in a much more interesting fashion. Recommended to almost everyone, though there’s obviously some blood violence and dark imagery.
“You also get to see Saber’s naked back for about a second. This show is the work of Satan.” – http://www.themanime.org
Oh yes, one more thing. This anime was actually developed from a video game and follows one of its many story lines.