I said this in a post very early this year, but this is definitely the year for Fate. Fate Grand/Order was a movie that came out in January, Fate Apocrypha is a huge team battle death battle fate series that is still airing right now (though I am waiting for its appearance on Netflix), and the first Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel movie is appearing in movie theaters in the U.S. right now. There are also copies of the Fate death battle formula that came out this year as well. Re: Creators earlier this year and Zodiac Wars that is airing now. As much as I love certain elements of the Fate franchise, like Fate/Zero, it gets a little tiring seeing the same formula being used all the time with just some minor differences everytime. Seeing a refreshing takes on the one for all death battle formula really gives both Zodiac Wars and Re:Creators a comparative creative edge for me.
I know I have written a few things about Re:Creators already, but I don’t think it’s possible to say too much about it. As much of a mess that it was in terms of structure, there was so much strength to its execution. The Fate series has a lot of otaku culture and fan stuff in it, so Re:Creators went into that with full force. Meta, meta, meta. Read more of that on my post from a while ago. I would also like to point out a few more things here as well. In some capacity, Sota can be called a copy of Shiro, because both fill the main character and point of view role, but there is so much difference here. Sota never gets involved in combat, because he’s completely useless in that capacity. (So is Shiro, but Shiro eventually gains some useful abilities.) I really like that fact, because otherwise the story would get even more convoluted, more Fate like, and the series would be weighed down by too many ideas and confusing concepts. As much structural issues as the story has and how many big concepts that Re:Creators has, it’s a very straight forward story with high emotional appeal. Characters from anime, video games, and light novels appear in this world, some team up, and they fight for the fate of the world. That’s it. No complicated magic or story plots involving different holy grail wars or anything. I really like that fact.
Re:Creators, like a lot of Fate series still has a lot of talking in it. This is where the structure problems take place. As simple (or not as simple) as Re:Creators is, character backgrounds need to be explained in order to get a feel for them and the plot needs to be explained a lot more then how I put it. Why? Because the Japanese government gets involved too and somehow all of this is supposed to fit together somehow and make sense. RE:Creators choose to do that through clunky dialogue sections that have absolutely no flow to them what so ever. Doing that means everything sounds so much more complicated than it actually is. Static shots with people talking isn’t interesting at all either. Talking and dialogue is a major weakness that both stories seem to share, even if it’s for different reasons. Even the best of the Fate series for me, Fate/Zero, suffers from too much dialogue and not enough visual interest besides well-constructed shots. Anime is a visual medium. Telling is not as powerful as showing in anime and that is something that needs to be understood. This doesn’t mean that writing isn’t important, but writing needs to fit in with character dialogue and direction. Oh well, what can we do?
From the opposite perspective, there is Zodiac Wars. It’s set up has a lot less explanation to its set up, because it jumps right into this death game. The show features characters with different abilities based on the Chinese zodiac that appear together in one place to kill each other. Apparently, it happens every twelve years for some reason, so it has this holy grail war aspect to it that is very fate like. Besides dialogue, it defers from the Fate franchise in some other ways. For one, there are no “master” like figures in this show, it’s just “servants” that are fighting each other to death with nothing holding them back besides their personalities. The action and art design have been great throughout its short run so far and that was originally my reason for sticking with this show. As this show has progressed, my reasons for liking it have grown quite a bit.
I wouldn’t say that Zodiac Wars doesn’t have any dialogue or explanation for what is going on in the moment, but I would say it’s very natural compared to all of what has been seen in Re:Creators and Fate stuff. So far, each episode has given one character a spot light. Yes, these characters often end up dead, but what can you do sometimes? The reason why Zodiac Wars started out kind of bland and only action focused was because we knew only one character by the end of episode one. With each episode growing and developing the series more, Zodiac Wars is becoming a lot more refined in a better and more natural way for me. I’m kind of picky and my tastes may not make any sense sometimes, so whatever. The magic is that Zodiac Wars can somehow add in character backstory and focus on the current battle royal thing, which actually feels like one because there isn’t a main character, without feeling clunky at all. It’s amazing how that works. So yes, I highly recommend people to watch this show. It’s just great.
Franchises are beginning to feel too heavy to weld recently. I really do like the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and tv shows, but I am noticing that more things connect together, the more they feel the same. At this moment, I am finding that I like the more standalone movies in that franchise, like guardians, to be more interesting because they aren’t bogged down by doing the same sorts of things over and over again. This feeling continues with the fate franchise and the nasu verse. Yes, each fate/ series does something that makes the series feel special, but I am tired of seeing the same kind of characters and plot set ups being put into similar situations. Seeing some unique and fresh takes in fate series kind of stuff really feels good or me. If more things were to appear, I hope that they take the fate death battle kind of stuff from a different directions from Re:Creators and Zodiac Wars is doing right now.
And yes, before people say anything about it, I’ve never felt too weighed down by anything Gundam. For one, each series that even share the same universe focus on different characters and plot lines, so it’s always refreshing in some ways. Yes, some similar themes and technological concepts exists throughout Gundam lore, but it’s always different. Then again, I haven’t watched Gundam in a while, so I might not know what I am talking about.