Thursday, January 8, 2009

Review: Fate/Stay Night (2006)

Fate/stay night (2006) is a Japanese magical fantasy series that takes place in contemporary Fuyuki City. There are altogether seven wizards (Masters) who can summon their respective spirits (Servants) from different classes. These spirits are also reincarnations of legendary and mythological souls from all across time. The Servants' true identities are hidden so that their enemy would not know their weaknesses. These chosen wizards must prove one should have access to the ancient relic, the Holy Grail; therefore, they must battle and eliminate each other in this ritual of war. It is said that the Holy Grail grants wishes to only one Servant left standing. The seven servants are: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin, and Berserker.

The story takes place around Shirou Emiya and his role in the Holy Grail War. A wizard, Kiritsugu Emiya, adoptsed him when Shirou lost his parents in a fire in his childhood. Shirou admires his adopted father and desires to become a hero of justice, a guardian who could protect the weak and innocent. Kiritsugu warns him that the life of wizardy could lead one to destruction, but if one truly sets on helping people, he should hone his craft privately. However, Shirou lacks the talent/power to become a wizard and becomes more frustrated with his progress. He could only do one magic spell despite years of training so he feels inadequate with how he could orient his magic to help society. On one fateful day, Shirou was drawn into the Holy Grail War and had to summon a female servant known as Saber in order to protect himself. In order to escape death, he contracts with Saber to become her master.

I was truly amazed by the plot and artistic development of this series. In a world where magic is only known by a select few, these seven individuals--destined to a path of destruction--must battle each other in the darkness. Their servants are legendary warriors in history who aid them in their quest for the Holy Grail. Traditionally, the Holy Grail was the cup that held the blood of Jesus Christ. It was taken to England where it was visible only to a pure individual. The Holy Grail is well-known in Arthurian and medieval legends. I won't spoil the identities of the servants, but I would say most come from European, Near Eastern, and Asian mythology.

This series attracted both male and female audiences. The female warriors will definitely attract some fan service. All the Servants have their own distinct personalities and use different tactics to fight each other. Since this story revolves around Shirou, he can be hard to swallow. His personality can be quite stubborn and heroic. He doesn't always want to summon Saber even though he's too weak to fight an opponent twice his size and power. The music was fantastic too. Fans of fantasy and medieval genres such as King Arthur and Lord of the Rings will definitely find this series an excellent addition to their collections. I also recommend this series for young adults (age 13+) and older. Keep in mind this is a serious and violent show. Not as bloody as Elfen Lied but definitely not suitable for young children because the show deals with dark magic.

This series is available to rent and buy on DVD.

  • Episodes: 24

  • OP Song: 1) "disillusion" by Sachi Tainaka (eps 1-14); 2)"Kirameku Namida wa Hoshi ni" by Sachi Tainaka (eps 15-23)

  • ED Song: 1) "Anata ga Ita Mori" by Jukai; 2) "Hikari" by Jyukai (ep 14); 3) "Kimi to no Ashita" by Sachi Tainaka (ep 24)

OP Song: "disillusion" by Sachi Tainaka

ED Song: "Anata ga Ita Mori" by Jukai

[UPDATE: 10/26/2010]: In January 2010, Fate-Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works was released in movie theaters in Japan. It is now available with English subtitles. While the original TV show follows the Saber/Shirou route, the movie follows the Archer/Rin route and what would happened in the Holy Grail War. Overall, I liked this movie. You can watch the trailer below:

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