Welcome to 2017, the year of Fate! I mean that in two senses. One is that after the dumpster year that was 2016, 2017 is the fated year to decide which way the world goes in its wake. The other is we are going to get a lot of material from the Fate universe this year. I’m pretty excited about the second one and much less enthused about the first. Okay, let’s move this in a slightly more positive direction by talking about this Fate/Grand Order movie thing. Just keep in mind that if you don’t know a lot about the Fate franchise, a lot of parts in this movie could be heavily confusing.
Fate Grand/Order has a simple premise for something in this franchise. In an alternate reality, some kind of anomaly happened in the present day that is slowly destroying the world far into the future. The world is running out of magic and the research facility of Chaldea is putting together different teams of possible masters to send to the past and save the human race. Simple enough right? Well not really, but the execution is. The characters are simple with easy to follow character arcs and the movie itself doesn’t try to over explain itself like a lot of the Fate universes material. I think that’s why I enjoyed it a lot more than some of the other installments.
When I say the characters are basic, I really mean it. The main protagonist name is Fujimara Ritsuka and he is your average video game character stand in. He has no personality and traits other than being defined as ordinary. There is also Mash, the female protagonist who sticks out from everybody else because of her hair color. She eventually becomes a servant (historical figure with amazing abilities) with Fujimara as her master. There is also the head of Chaldea by the name of Olga. She is a rich and entitled female master mage. Fate can’t seem to even breath without those somewhere in their series. Last but not least, there is Doctor Romani who is just an average doctor….apparently. He is the current head of Chaldea. You see what I mean by weak characters? None of them go beyond these traits. That’s okay though; the best part of this movie is yet to come.
If there is one thing about Fate:Grand/Order that is a massive stand out, it’s the art and the animation. It’s very clear that is where the focus of this movie was. Each set design from the Chadlea facility to the location where they are headed looks distinct and amazing. The character designs are basic a basic Type Moon affair, but there character designs are still great and distinct. Especially the servants because their armor is always distinct, interesting, and somehow ties together the culture of what they came from. They are great. Moving away from art design, the animation is stellar. The choreography is good, the movements are incredibly fluid, and special effects are just generally amazing. Fate/Grand Order is just a feast for the eyes.
When I talked about how I liked this compared to other Fate works, I was talking about the characters. Fate/Grand Order doesn’t have great characters, but these aren’t character that try to pound their stupid and forced beliefs into you with ongoing sentences that feel like they go on forever. This is the problem I had with Unlimited Blade Work’s second half. While the first half had good characters, it seemed like it dropped that aspect in the second half in order to pound the meaning of a true hero philosophy into you. Fate/Grand Order doesn’t do that and just goes straight into the action and fun. While I didn’t appreciate the action as much as I could have if there was strong characters, the world building took some of the load here by giving me a reason to care about circumstances behind the conflict. It’s not a perfect conversion by any means, but then I wouldn’t say that Fate/Grand Order is anything special either. I just had a fun time watching it.
This jumps into spoilers a little bit, but it’s interesting that they chose to start this year of Fate with a series that ends with the protagonists having to go into alternate universes. We will be seeing more alternate universes in the future with Heaven’s Feel, Apocrypha, and Extra Game. I look forward to them all. Even more Fate/Grand Order installments if they happen. Before you all ask, I have watched Fate/Zero and love it. It’s my favorite fate show, though it’s slightly pretentious too.