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Fate Zero Part 2 (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000169895
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 13/8/2015 18:29
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    Review for Fate Zero Part 2

    10 / 10


    Yes, I’m double dipping again. I’m dispensing with a perfectly serviceable DVD in exchange for a bright and shiny Blu-ray, with all the graphical bells and audio whistles that the format promises. That promise isn’t always delivered when it comes to anime, sometimes because it’s an older show and animated at less than full HD and scaled up, or sometimes it’s because someone wet their pants at the prospect of reverse importation, and deliberately and contractually crippled the non-Japanese releases. But Fate Zero Collection 1 on Blu-ray turned out to be one of the good ones, even if it isn’t quite as good as the ridiculously expensive US release. I fully expect Collection 2, which completes the series to be just as impressive. Just the sort of thing to get me in the mood for the Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works series, which MVM have licensed, hopefully for the end of this year.

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    10 years before the events of Fate/Stay Night, the Fourth Grail War took place in Fuyuki City, but following three previous inconclusive conflicts between the factions of the magical community, fighting to gain the power of the Holy Grail; this would be a war with a difference. The biggest and most obvious change was that this time, one of the mages selected to do battle was actually other than a mage, rather one of the priests that would normally oversee the Grail War. And this time, mage Tokiomi Tohsaka would form an alliance with the priest Kirei Kotomine to take the grail. But at the same time, The Einzbern family have against all expectations allied themselves with the notorious mage killer and mercenary assassin Kirutsugu Emiya. As the grail war begins, and the mages summon their servants, Tokiomi summons the king of kings himself, Archer, a.k.a. Gilgamesh. At the same time Emiya calls forth none other than King Arthur herself, Saber.

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    At the end of the previous collection, Caster and his master Ryunosuke had been the first to make a major play in the Grail War, although against convention, Caster had opted for a grand display of power that threatened the secrecy of the Grail War, by creating a giant, immortal monster in the middle of the city.

    12 episodes of Fate Zero are presented across 2 discs by MVM. As usual, this double dip review looks at the quality of the Blu-ray, and if you want to read more about the series click on the review for the Part 2 DVD.

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    Disc 1
    14. The Mion River Battle
    15. Golden Shine
    16. The End of Honour
    17. The Eighth Contract
    18. Distant Memories
    19. Where Justice is Found
    20. Return of the Assassin
    21. Knight on Two Wheels

    Disc 2
    22. All the Evil in the World
    23. The Sea at the End of the World
    24. The Last Command Seal
    25. Fate/Zero

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    Fate Zero gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer at 1080p resolution, and it’s almost everything I could have hoped for. The added resolution of high definition really does bring out the show at its best, removing most of the compression issues that you get with DVD, and offering much more in the way of detail. Detail, clarity, the sense of depth and weight to the world all benefits from the Blu-ray format. It’s all for the best, as Fate Zero gets a rather splendid animation from studio ufotable, characters are detailed and the animation is fluid. The backgrounds and world design are very appealing, and the action sequences speak of a decent budget and a whole lot of work. With better colour, and progressive playback, the Blu-ray is the obvious choice here. If there is an issue, it would be digital banding, of which there is some, although not as much as on other shows, during darker scenes and scene transitions.

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    You have the choice between PCM 2.0 English and Japanese, with optional translated subtitles and a signs only track. I was very happy with the original language track, the dialogue was clear throughout, the show’s music came across well, and the stereo gave enough space to the action sequences to offer some immersion. Of course a 5.1 track would have been appreciated more, especially with a show of this quality. The subtitles are accurately timed and free of error, and for this second part, it looks as if the problem with flashing subs clashing with text translations has been solved. I gave the dub a quick try, and found it to be one of the quality dubs, with actors well cast, even for the minor characters, and performances that did justice to the story.

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    The discs present their content with animated menus, the textless opening sequence running full screen in the background, with a simple menu in the middle to choose from.

    The only extras are on disc 2, and amount to the textless credit sequences.

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    The show is even better the second time around. You’ve probably already taken a look at the review of the Part 2 DVD, where I scrupulously tried to avoid spoilers, so I’ll try not to repeat myself here. But it’s hard not to praise Fate/Zero for the quality of its characterisations, the depth and sheer ambition of its storytelling. This is a story where heroes from history are brought back as spirits to do battle on behalf of mages for the Holy Grail. It could so easily have been surface detail, just imagery and the odd bit of token lip-service to legend, just as occurred in the first attempt at telling Fate/Stay Night. But not here; here the characters are informed by their back story, what we know of them from history and through legend, and how they behave, interact, what their motivations are all comes naturally from that history. Fate/Zero is a fantastic show to watch, but it’s even more fulfilling if you read up on characters like Alexander the Great, King Arthur, Gilgamesh and the others.

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    It’s not just in the heroes that the characterisations excel. The writing for the other characters, the mages that call the heroes forth, is just as exemplary. These are people with rich back stories, and complex, layered motivations. It’s also refreshing to see a cast of adults, as opposed to the adolescents of the average anime show. It confers a degree of realism when it comes to characterisation that most other shows lack. The story that evolves naturally from these characters is all the better for it.

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    And once again this Blu-ray release is very good indeed, making the sublime animation look even better, offering a richer colour palette and more in the way of detail. When it comes to the average anime Blu-ray release, Fate Zero is one of the better ones, and normally I’d urge everyone to buy this release. It’s just that there is even better out there if you are willing to pay. Aniplex US’s release of this series might cost ten times the price or more, but it does split its episodes across more discs, potentially giving the show a better presentation, hopefully avoiding the digital banding that does show up on occasion here. Uber-fans of the Fate universe will probably opt for those. But everyone else who is on a more reasonable budget won’t be disappointed by this MVM release.

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