Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel: Presage Flower
Anime Studio: ufotable
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Action / Fantasy
Released: April 29th 2019
Length: 120 minutes
Extras: Promo Video Collection, Japanese Teaser, Japanese Trailers
A war to determine Destiny.
The boy wished to protect the girl. That was his thought. 10 years after the Holy Grail War-a battle waged by Masters and Servants over the wish-granting container, the Holy Grail-another war breaks out in Fuyuki City. Shirou Emiya-the adopted son of Kiritsugu Emiya, a participant of the previous Holy Grail War-resolves to fight, carrying out Kiritsugu’s dying wish. There’s a young girl by Shirou’s side who’s in love with him-Sakura Matou. Every morning, she goes to Shirou’s house to make breakfast and dinner for him, bringing kindness into the life of a boy utterly alone in the world. But once the Holy Grail War starts, there’s a change in the air in Fuyuki City.
Murders abound across the city, and the atmosphere grows ominous. Shirou decides to shelter Sakura in his home. Along with Saber, the Servant he summons, Shirou allies himself with the magus Rin
Tohsaka and takes part in the Holy Grail War. But the battle starts to go awry as secret manoeuvres by unseen forces are put into play.
So, Heaven’s Feel is the third story route in the Fate/Stay Night visual novel, and while the previous arcs have been adapted into series, this is being presented as a film trilogy. When this happens, there are two potential outcomes. One is that having the funding funneled into a shorter time span you get to see some awesome production values. The other is that it feels very rushed as the company tries to cram everything into a shorter time span.
As to what end of this scale Heaven’s Feel leans towards, we can’t be certain until all three films have been released. I will say that it does seem to be more closely aligned to the first option right now. While it could be argued that the character designs feel relatively standard, the animation itself is absolutely lovely. Whether it be hair flowing in the wind or the nature elements of the backdrop, it feels like a major production. The things that should be picturesque look beautiful, and the colouring on close-ups of the character’s eyes is stunning.
The quality doesn’t just extend to the subtle things either. When it comes to the action scenes, everything hurtles along at a blistering pace, yet loses none of the smoothness in movement. The blood is very well done too, never feeling as overblown as it can do in some of the more brutal anime. Where this is all especially impressive for me is that it’s quite clear when the animation switches from traditional to CGI, but it doesn’t feel jarring.
Praise should also be given to composer Yuki Kajiura, who puts forward an awesome soundtrack here. The score is absolutely fitting for a theatrical release and easily stands alongside other big budget productions. The music is used effectively too, enhancing scenes rather than sitting on top of the audio as background noise. Meanwhile, both the subbed and dubbed cast are strong here, with no one coming across as out of place in their roles.
The story is the point that may be divisive for some though. There are some points that are essentially rushed through, and I must confess, it felt a little confusing as a result. When I read into this further, I realized that this was due to certain scenes being present in previous adaptions too. If like me you haven’t watched the previous anime seasons or played the visual novel, you may find yourself at a disadvantage here. The production is absolutely aimed at those already familiar with the franchise in that regard, and you’re expected to have a little knowledge of the story going in. This does lower the accessibility of the release, which is a real shame. You can gain this with some simple research though, and it does make the experience more satisfying.
This being a collector’s edition, MVM have packed with some physical extras in the form of an art book and an animation material book. Given that the visuals are such a major selling point for the film, these are good choices for bonus material.
So, Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel: Presage Flower is well worth owning. The overall quality of both the production itself and the package that MVM has provided make it a definite must-own. Just make sure that, if you aren’t familiar with the franchise, you read up on it first. 4 out of 5.