Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Fate/Apocrypha Part 1
Anime Studio: A-1 Pictures
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Released: September 30th, 2019
Extras: Clean OP & ED, Trailers
“I chose to fight. From that instant, my hands were covered in blood.”
The Black Faction seized the Greater Grail for the sake of the clan’s most earnest wish to symbolize its independence from the Mage’s Association. The Mage’s Association gathers the Red Faction in order to thwart such ambitions. Taking place in Trifas, Romania, the Great Holy Grail War that takes place between 14 Heroic Spirits summoned by the two factions transforms thanks to Shirou Kotomine, one of the Masters of the Red, who is also the Overseer for this Great War.
I am not well acquainted with the Fate Franchise. By which I mean I have never played the game, or read any of the written works. I’ve also not seen any of the anime other than Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel: Presage Flower. So, in case you’re in the same boat as me, this is an alternate universe tale from the franchise where the Third Holy Grail War played out very differently. As such, while I’m sure there are plenty of nods for long term fans to pick up on, this never felt like you had to be familiar with the entire franchise to understand it.
A-1 Pictures handled the series this time around. With titles like FairyTail, Sword Art Online, Black Butler and Granblue Fantasy: The Animation under their belt, they’re far from newcomers to series with fantasy elements. It should be no surprise then that the series looks wonderful. From excellent character designs to fluid movements, it’s a visual treat. This is made clear from the very start too, with a dramatic intro scene featuring some decent, bloody action accompanied by key point summarizing voiceover.
In terms of audio, I’m certain that most will prefer the Japanese voice cast in this instance. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore the dub entirely though. The cast does a good job overall, and nobody stands out as bad at all. In particular, I was impressed by Allegra Clark who played multiple roles. What makes that so good is that I really didn’t notice until I was reading up on the cast to write the review.
The soundtrack was excellent. The opening theme, The Song of a Hero’s Fate by EGOIST really stood out to me, and the score by Masaru Yokoyama of Your Lie In April fame captures the feel of the scenes well. I wasn’t as fond of the closing theme, but again, it wasn’t bad.
In terms of story, this being a Part 1 release means we don’t get the complete tale. However, what we do get plays out well. The main story comes across as really complex, and there are plenty of plot elements that wind about and criss-cross as it goes on. The whole thing builds up to massive battle featuring all the major players as they call a temporary truce to battle the big bad. Where we leave off then at least like a logical point, and there’s plenty of intrigue to see where the story goes next.
By far my favourite part though was the mix of relationships on display between each master and servant pairing. The way each team interacts and develops together was a joy to watch, even in the cases where things were not necessarily as healthy. In particular, I loved seeing the interactions between Kairi Shishigou and his servant Mordred. That the designs for each character were all so different – such as loli Jack the Ripper and the androgynous Astolfo – really added to this too, and made it easy to pick up on favourite characters as you go along.
In terms of negatives, there weren’t too many to go into. The relationship between Astolfo and Celenike is awkward to watch. Their dynamic marks them as a clearly unhealthy pairing, which can make their scenes a little difficult to watch. At the same time, you do get the feeling it’s leading up to something else though. Meanwhile, as much as I like the design, knowing what Jack the Ripper did, in reality, makes them seem slightly out of place in terms of appearance here. Other than that, it all seems fine, bar the usual issue of a Part 1 not finishing the story.
Overall Fate/Apocrypha is a great release. The characters are interesting, both visually and emotionally, the story is fun, and the cast is great. As such, I give this an easy 4.25 out of 5.