Fate/Zero (END) – 92 points

Fate/Zero has been the biggest and most popular show that has graced us this season and last fall. And with good reason too, since this was ufotable’s comeback to the TV screen after the success of Kara no Kyoukai in the movies. Everything was laid out to us: Amazing execution, Movie-like animation, and a point that the Fate franchise can actually be adapted decently (though Fate/Zero is a Light Novel and doesn’t have 30+ hours of game time). In all honesty, I just wanted to watch this to see Saber in a much, MUCH more justified form.

The question with all the hype of this series is definitely this: Did it deliver? Yes. YES IT DID WITH FLYING COLORS. Fate/Zero gave us a much darker tale than Fate/Stay Night with amazing character analysis, kudos to the writer Gen Urobuchi. It tackles different philosophies like what does it really mean to be a hero or how does someone actually rule. It gave us different opinions and ideologies while never actually adhering or favoring one or the other.

I think the turning point of this series was definitely the meeting of kings, halfway through Fate/Zero. I have to admit, even my concept of a what a ruler is was shaken because of Rider’s speech to Saber. I’ve always thought of a king as someone who serves but Rider showed us a different opinion on what a king is and made all of those who watched this, be convinced. Saber then was portrayed in a completely different light afterwards. From someone that has the skies shining on her armor, she became someone to be pitied. It became pure despair to her even up until the end where she herself accepted that she was wrong. I love how one of the last shots of her in the last episode was her standing in a pile of bodies, in the land that she could not save.

My favorite Servent-Master in this series is undoubtedly Rider and Waver. Many times in this series, I just wished that these two were the main characters and for a very good reason. These two were the light and hope in the dark atmosphere of this anime. Rider and Waver showed a contrast in the Servant-Master relationship and how it doesn’t have to be one controlling the other. Both showed respect to each other and treated each other as friends. I particularly liked how Rider’s ending, though very sad and depressing, was very honourable and true to what these two embodied in the series.

Kiritsugu is also another character I liked. His ideologies are twisted and we all knew that he was gonna break down his facade towards the end because of how human he is despite being so cold in the entirety of this series. He was someone who tried to be a hero but failed drastically even towards the end, with how the grail ended up killing a whole lot of people.

If I had a complaint in this series, it would be the lack of a catharsis. I guess in however awesome Fate/Zero is, it’s still a prequel to Fate/Stay Night. If you take the series as its own, characters like Saber never really got the proper end that she deserved. She’s still foolish on how hopeful she still is on having the grail while never really realizing while Kiritsugu ended up ordering her to destroy it. But of course all the loose ends of this series are answered in Fate/Stay Night but the thing is, I hated Fate/Stay Night and I will definitely never watch that crap again. Fate/Zero is amazing but it could have been much much more if it wasn’t a prequel (not that I’m hoping that they ended it differently).

This will definitely end as one of my favorites this year but to what extent, I still don’t know. For now this is how I’ll rate this series:

Execution: 37/40 (Damn fine amazing storytelling; almost in the sense as how Madoka did it.)

Engagement: 27/30 (While the first few episodes were very slow and wavered my patience, this ended up as one of the series I looked forward to each week and that 3 month hiatus almost killed me)

Characters: 18/20 (Very rich and diverse cast of adults with so much different philosophies, beliefs and ideologies. I definitely preferred some over others but that’s because those character’s way of thinking hitted my way of thinking. This is how Fate/Zero  works. Also Rider is awesome.

Production: 10/10 (Movie-like quality.)

Overall: 92/100 (One of 2012’s best anime)

Alimango island in Fate/Zero

Alimango Island is actually a real island in the Philippines. It’s located in Negros Occidental, in the middle of the Visayas. Now whether the island in Fate/Zero is really Alimango island, what we can technically be sure of is that they used a Filipino Island setting for Episode 18.

Alimango is Spanish for crab, but also Filipino for the same word. The whole island with the church, the houses, the roosters . . . it’s definitely a Filipino island. Fate/Zero probably used it because Philippines is one of the only countries in Asia with Christianity as its main religion. Also the whole Kerry thing feels very “Bisaya” (no racism intended).

Though I am worried that the only time Philippines is mentioned in anime is when zombies (Fate/Zero), assassins and terrorists are involved.

Fate/Zero – 18

So in short, Kiritsugu had a really cute nickname, lived in an island with his dad who starts an experiment which turned everyone into vampires/zombies. Feels very BLOOD-C/Shiki/Higurashi which really shows why Kiritsugu is so screwed up currently.

The last time I saw a back story this good was Kamisama Dolls. It really gives Kiritsugu a new face. You get to know him more and how his ideals started to slowly form to what it is now. Fate/Zero really took advantage of the whole episode, even going as far to skip the OP.

It’s hard not to gush about this series. It really is a story that’s executed perfectly with the right amount of story telling, narrative and dialogue without having to baby feed you too much. At the same time it presents ideals and themes that really questions the topic being tackled to the point that even I’m starting to question myself.

Spring 2012 Impressions + Early April Roundup

Lumped it in together because I’m not gonna repeat the same shit again next week.

Hold: Mouretsu Pirates

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LAND OF THE TERRIBAD

nada for now

FAULTY BUT WATCHABLE

18. Zetman 7.7

American stylized anime never works but I thought Zetman could pull it off. It didn’t and to make it worse, it proceeded with a very fast pace leaving you with, “what the hell did I just watch?”. Yeah Zetman’s pretty bad but it’s still slightly watchable.

17. Dusk Maiden of the Amnesia 7.7

I like the directional quirk of the first episode and I saw a little bit of Natsu no Arashi in it which is a good thing. Second episode killed the shit off my brains as it proceeded to terrible character interactions and very been-there-done-that fanservice. No, accidentally groping someone’s breast just doesn’t cut it in 2012 anymore. You need to be more creative than that (and that’s coming from SILVER LINK which is supposed to be creative). I’ll give it a few more episodes but seriously, episode 2 was horrendous.

16. Medaka Box 7.9

I’m leaving this while I still can. I remember the manga becoming way too conflicted and having too many “powers” after a while. Still these episodes I watched were pretty good.

GOOD

15. Accel World 8.0

Imaginative setting combined with too much technobabble and terrible main leads. Index anyone? Accel World does too much telling for its own good and it’s gonna hurt later on. Having a fat shoe as a main character makes it even worse. But hey at least he’s FAT. We’ve always wanted those useless main leads to be fat and ugly, well at least Accel World has a nerve to make him FAT.

14. Saki – Episode of Side A 8.0

The episode side A spin off misses a lot of points that makes Saki work. You do not just breeze through the mahjong part and keep building off. What is Saki without mahjong? Why are you building up so much yet fail to what you build up the episode prior? I’d really like to address more on what makes this spinoff “off putting” so maybe I should make a post about that.

Still building up IS still build up and it’s hard to shrug off the excitement even though you know it’s not going to deliver.

13. Kuroko’s Basketball 8.2

This is incredibly embarrassing to watch. Too much cheesy lines, too many weird techniques, and a sense of realism in the game is totally gone. At the same time though, this is incredibly fun to watch. Characters keep on thinking about techniques and how they’ll shoot and its incredibly stupid and laughable but at the same time incredibly fun. If there’s a plus though, Taiga and Kuroko play off each other very well (if you say no homo then part of this show’s appeal will weirdly be gone).

12. Lupin III: Mine Fujiko Onna 8.3

Truth be told, I’ve put this on hold. Recently I’ve been watching an anime called Hakaba Kitaro. It’s a different take on Gegege Kitarou, a popular Japanese franchise, and it aired on noitaminA a few years back. It sorta reminds me of this Lupin III. A different feel from the original, a different style, very artistic. The thing is, I couldn’t bring myself to marathon Hakaba Kitarou. I can’t chug it down. I want to appreciate the different visual styles it uses (or the different shit filters) and I really can’t just put a date on when I’ll watch it. Same goes for Mine Fujiko. I want to appreciate the different details in its styles much MUCH more slowly. I don’t want to put a date on it.

Besides the unique style though, Mine Fujiko is just your normal detective/thief story. The series is nothing special besides the amazing production values.

11. Shirokuma Cafe 8.3

It’s a hit or miss kind of series but when it hits, it really hits. I also love the laid back style of the jokes. It fits perfectly to Panda’s personality.

SEASON’S MEAT

(2) 10. Aquarion EVOL 8.5

Aquarion has been proceeding in fluctuating quality. There’s really boring, repetitive, scenes then suddenly they follow it up with amazingly weird ones like that Super Dimensional Punch back to the Original Aquarion scene after Zessica shouted “chuuki” in which everyone reacted in really funny ways. I love EVOL but stop fucking boring me from one scene then amazing me on another!

9. Hyouka 8.5

I hold off giving an impression from Spring because I was waiting for this show. I was relatively hyped up for this since I generally like most things KyoAni pop up. Plus I got a real treat last year when they tried something pretty different from what they do with Nichijou and its absurdist ways. Unfortunately Hyouka isn’t really trying much to set itself apart from its genre. It felt like a more subdued, realistic version of Haruhi . . . which isn’t all that bad.

Major complaint goes to characterization of the male lead. Stop repeating that he’s “low energy” we already got it when you first mentioned it! In fact you didn’t even have to mention it in the first place! The scriptwriting concentrates heavily on narrative which gives a few scenes WAY TOO MUCH BABBLE. Still that won’t be a bad thing anymore once they start tacking the mysteries.

The animation though is something you can never diss with KyoAni. This looks fucking amazing. It’s like the disappearance movie animation except its 21 episodes. Realistic fluidity + detailed backgrounds + detailed everything + a slight touch of artistry really equals the best animation this season. You can hate on KyoAni all you want, but I’d gladly defend them when it comes to their animation.

8. Space Bros. 8.6

Space Bros. is very inspiring. They continue showing off Mutta and his battle to finally get back on track in his life and follow what he has always wanted to do which is becoming an astronaut. The sense of realism like sibling love and being the older one is really played well here.

7. Jormungand 8.7

I really haven’t watch that much war dramas but from the little that I did (Phantom), I absolutely loved. Jormungand is completely different from Phantom though, and I love the stylish, sexy and fun way of delivering its plot. Koko is fucking loco. Her personality is indefinable (kinda like Johan from Monster). You just know something weird is gonna happen once she puts on an evil smile.

6. Eureka Seven AO 8.8

I really need to watch Eureka Seven. It’s one of those anime you absolutely need to watch because it’s apparently a definition of what anime is. I kinda got a glimpse of it here on AO and if there’s anything I can say, it would be that I’m really excited for this. If they do it correctly, AO could reach heights that I have not seen in a mecha anime before. Also the animation is glorious. 2D mecha done like this really is the way to go.

5. Tsuritama 8.8

The level of creativity in its animation is amazing in itself. Kenji Nakamura is a genius. Sure [C] was a bit of a fail at times but its premise is really great and its unique take on economics surprised me. Tsuritama is far from what C is though. It’s more close to Kimi to Boku except it isn’t boring. There’s aliens, ducks, mind controlling water guns. Plus there’s great characterization and they actually feel like actual teenage boys (Kimi to Boku’s boys felt like those genderbent characters fans like to make).

4. Sanakarea 8.8

One of the two big surprises this season, Sankarea’s first three episodes were really solid. Nice exposition, clever directing, incredible visuals . . . it’s a complete package for an introduction! Really though, hat’s off to the directing. This wouldn’t be nearly as good if the directing wasn’t top notch.

The only thing detracting it now is some fans.

3. Sakamichi no Apollon 8.9

Really, really solid first two episodes. It delivered on what I expected (and I expected a lot) and even gave a bonus on amazing instrument playing scenes. Seriously, ANIME ISN’T SUPPOSED TO DO THAT!

If I did have a complaint, it would be the OP. This was the anime comeback of YUKI for me and it presented itself too. . . healing. I did read that Yoko Kanno composed it so maybe it’s her fault. I really just wanted to hear that girl who sang on Honey and Clover. Heh.

LEGENDARY

2. Fate/Zero 9.1

Amazing comeback. First they topped Ionian Heratoi with Saber’s Excalibur as the most visually stunning Noble Phantasm yet. Then they proceeded to question Saber’s morals and what chivalry really is. Is a battlefield better than hell or is it hell in itself?

1. Mysterious Girlfriend X 9.4

This is the second big surprise of the season. I really just can’t put to words on why it’s good. Certainly the directing is top notch (reading a fair bit of the manga myself), also the production quality, especially the music. MGX is really best served experienced. You need to watch it, get past the saliva and be amazed on how big of a throwback this is.

ALL TIME FAVORITE

MGX is really really close. . .

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I’d say this season is really good. It could even beat last spring’s bonanza and I already have one series that I LOVE (MGX). It really started off with a bang, with Space Bros. premiering early, then Fate/Zero, Sankarea, Mysterious Grilfriend X, Jormungand . . . noitminA added 2 more then Ao and then last but not the least, Hyouka. And even then, there’s still good series below the really good ones like Shirokuma Cafe, Lupin III and Kuroko’s Basketball. Heck Accel World and the Saki spinoff ain’t so bad.

If last season everyone’s praising how there’s so much good directing that terrible premises ended up to be good shows, much more so this season. We have Watanabe’s comeback, that doraemon movie director blowing everyone’s hats off with Space Bros and MGX, the Sankarea director who has a false name and apparently worked with SHAFT, FMP director, Kenji Nakamura . . .

It’s a good time to be a anime fan. Everyone should soak this up now while they can since Summer’s looking sorta bleak.

side note: I lost at the first round of the Aniblog Tourney. Oh well Trzr23 is a great blog (and weirdly people have been saying our blogs are identical) and since it beat me, it should proceed to win the entire thing (or else I’ll be shamed!). I actually thought I’d lose badly and people would criticize my blog heavily, but I didn’t (even lead the match for a few hours) and apparently PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKE MY BLOG.

Fate/Zero – 15

EEEEEKKKSSSUUUUKAAALLLIIIBAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Just when I thought they couldn’t top Ionian Heratoi. . . they did. ufotable is putting god-mode effort these past 2 episodes. I also love how they portray Saber as a really lonely king with Iskander mentioning how pitiful she is when she used her move. Also Gilgamesh is starting his stalker love on Saber.

Well with that out of the way. . .

I’m dropping on blogging Chihayafuru and Fate/Zero. I’m just totally dissatisfied with the few posts I’ve made with these two series. Maybe with this I can concentrate more in actually making a proper Penguindrum post; which admittedly is a lot of fun to talk about.

Don’t get me wrong though, I love F/Z and Karutashoujoanimu.