About This Item

Preview Image for Fate Zero Part 1 - Collector's Edition
Fate Zero Part 1 - Collector's Edition (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000162693
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 23/4/2014 16:54
View Changes

Other Reviews, etc
  • Log in to Add Reviews, Videos, Etc
  • Places to Buy

    Searching for products...

    Other Images

    Review for Fate Zero Part 1 - Collector's Edition

    9 / 10


    Of all the big name, marquee titles to come to the UK, I’ve been looking forward to Fate Zero the least. That’s an opinion wholly predicated on my experience with Fate/Stay Night. That was a fantasy-action show about the Grail War, where magicians summon the spirits of historical warriors to help them do battle to gain control of the sacred chalice, which will grant the victor one wish. So all manner of historical figures were resurrected, all with unique powers, and with titles like Saber, Lancer, Archer, and Rider obscuring their historical identities, often leaving it to the viewers to work it out. And it was all buried behind the mundane tropes of high school harem romance, based on a visual novel of which it adapted one particular path. It managed by turns to attract and repel me, until I was left lukewarm with the whole thing. Then there was the Unlimited Blade Works movie last year, which adapted another path through the game for a feature film spin-off, but one which told its story in shorthand, assuming that you had played the game, and seen the Fate/Stay Night television series too.

    Inline Image

    So you can imagine that my whoops of delight when Fate Zero was announced for the UK were wholly sarcastic. I may have sneery-whooped too soon though, as it turns out that for one thing, Fate Zero is a prequel, telling of the previous Grail War that left Fuyuki City in ruins and Shirou Emiya an orphan, and as the recent third series of Hakuoki reminded me, prequels can be better than the original material. The second thing is that whereas Fate/Stay Night was animated by Studio Deen, Fate Zero is adapted by ufotable, a wholly different production team. (Incidentally, the reception for Fate Zero was so good, that ufotable recently announced that they are going to take a crack at Fate/Stay Night themselves, bring their approach to storytelling to the original series). The third thing is that when it came to releasing Fate Zero, it was Aniplex USA that released it in the US, in one of their ‘Oh my god, what happened to my bank account!’ mega-deluxe editions. That’s enough to get me to approach the prequel with an open mind.

    Inline Image

    You won’t be weeping to your bank manager in the UK though, as it’s MVM that have picked up Fate Zero. They’ll be releasing it on DVD and on Blu-ray (and having seen the quality of the animation on the DVD, you’ll want this show on Blu-ray, believe me!) And while you do get the basic release on disc, you also have the option of strictly limited Collector’s Editions of both DVD and Blu-ray Volume 1, which will come with a sturdy artbox to keep both volumes of the release in when you buy volume 2 as well.

    Inline Image

    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.

    Inline Image

    13 episodes of Fate Zero, including the double length opening episode, are presented across 2 discs by MVM.

    Disc 1
    1. Summoning the Epic Heroes
    2. The Fake First Shot
    3. Fuyuki City
    4. Spearhead
    5. A Wicked Beast’s Roar
    6. A Night of Schemes

    Disc 2
    7. Dark Forest
    8. The Mage Slayer
    9. Master and Servant
    10. Rin’s Big Adventure
    11. Discussing the Grail
    12. The Grail Beckons
    13. The Forbidden Feast

    Inline Image


    You get a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer for Fate Zero, and it’s really quite a nice one, presented in native PAL with the usual 4% speedup. The image is clear and sharp throughout, with strong, consistent colours. 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. It’s a great DVD transfer for an anime, yet seeing the level of detail that is apparent at standard definition suggests that the Blu-ray will be very much the preferred option.

    Inline Image


    You have the choice between DD 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. 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.

    The only flaw was a corrupted subtitle, 8:09 into disc 2, where a black speckled broad yellow bar appeared in the top middle of the screen along with the dialogue caption.

    Inline Image


    The discs present their content with static menus and jacket pictures. The only extras are on disc 2, and happen to be the ubiquitous textless credits. If you really want extras, you’ll have to arrange an overdraft for the Aniplex version.

    Inline Image


    If only the original Fate/Stay Night had been this good! Actually, watching Fate Zero, which I had originally shunned because of the Fate/Stay Night series, makes me want to watch ufotable’s remake of Fate/Stay Night coming out later this year. If they can do that story the same justice they did Fate Zero, I can see that original series rapidly being consigned to the dustbin of history, Fate Zero is that good. And with Fate Zero, MVM have a one-two knockout punch when it comes to anime this April. I loved Girls Und Panzer because it was pure, unadulterated entertainment, a show that inspired goofy grins on the viewer as it delivers its ambrosia of fun. Fate Zero on the other hand does the exact same thing, only to my intellect. This is a show that doesn’t insult the viewer; it doesn’t pander to fan service, clichés or the otaku pleasing anime tropes. Fate Zero’s strengths lie in the writing and the characters, and in these respects it may also vie for anime of the year status. And with both shows being released on Blu-ray as well as DVD, we are truly being spoiled this April.

    Inline Image

    The problems that I had with Fate/Stay Night were predominantly with the way that it handled its characters, most of who were of high school age. You have a great set-up about the Holy Grail, and mages doing battle through historical heroes and villains summoned as servants, and you bury it beneath the usual high school antics and harem situations. The show was more concerned with who ends up with whom, than the actual story itself, and by the time that story did take focus; I had long since stopped caring.

    Inline Image

    Not so with Fate Zero, a prequel story set some ten years prior. Its characters are adults, past the age of consent, and old enough to vote. I doubt that you’d see Kirutsugu Emiya tripping over and accidentally grabbing Irisviel Einzbern’s boobs by mistake, and then both blushing furiously. In fact by this point, they’re already married and have a daughter, a familiar face from Fate/Stay Night. I can’t tell you just how refreshing it is to get away from the constancy of teen protagonists in anime, even if it is for just one series. These are adults, with complex motivations behind their desire for the Holy Grail, and its one promised wish. The story goes into quite some detail into setting up these characters, exploring their motivations, and while the battle for the Grail is in many ways immoral and dirty, most of these characters have shades of grey, their callous sides and their redeeming features.

    Inline Image

    Then there are the servants, who in this iteration of the Grail War are at least recognisable figures from history, which wasn’t always the case for the Servants in Fate/Stay Night. King Arthur is still the very female Arturia, but then Caster shows up, Gilles de Rais, who promptly mistakes her for Joan of Arc. There’s Gilgamesh, Alexander the Great, all recognisable from history, and presented in such way, with such intelligence and depth, that it makes you want to pick up a history book or two after watching the show.

    Inline Image

    Fate Zero’s Grail War is very much structured like a chess game in this half of the show, with the participants in the game testing each other, probing defences and trying feints and sly attacks like an opening gambit. Action there is, but there’s no haste in getting to the endgame where pieces get taken from the board. It’s just a joy in seeing these characters acting, and interacting, the dynamics and relationships are fascinating. Kirutsugu may be Saber’s Master, but Saber has much more interaction with Irisviel, but that dynamic has been specifically planned for by her and Kirutsugu. While Gilgamesh may be Tohsaka’s Servant, his most interesting interactions are with Kirei Kotomine, Assassin’s Master, as he debates the priest on the nature of joy and sin. One of my favourite scenes in this set is just a conversation between Arturia, Alexander and Gilgamesh, as the three discuss just what it means to be king, the differences between sacrifice and loyalty. The wounds inflicted by this exchange of words are far more damaging than any graphic exchange of swords.

    Inline Image

    Then there is Waver and Alexander’s relationship. Waver is the token child character, who takes up the Grail War because he wants to prove his teacher wrong, and the weakest, most childish character summons forth the greatest conqueror of them all, large, bold and outgoing Alexander the Great. They are the comic relief of the show, and after some heady moments of drama, we are liable to cut to Alexander buying a real time strategy game and a console, while Waver researches history, but it turns out that the two develop a rather touching father son relationship. At the same time there is Caster and his Master Ryunosuke. Ryunosuke is a serial killer, who the Grail inexplicably chose to take part in the war, and he summons one of history’s most notorious child killers, Gilles de Rais. If Waver and Alexander are on the good-guy side of the spectrum, Caster and Ryunosuke are the dark-hearted villains, and the show doesn’t shy away from showing the nasty extremes of their depredations. Yet even they can engage the intellect, with another scene where they debate the nature of God and divinity.

    Inline Image

    With all these fascinating characters, depicted with such strong, considered and challenging writing, it’s almost easy to forget that the show is about the Grail War. It’s easy to just take pleasure in the experience of a story being told without pandering to the audience, a story that requires the viewer to engage the intellect. But there is the Grail War as well, and in this half of the series or Fate Zero Season 1 as it is called, the various characters vie for position, and test each others’ strengths and weaknesses. It isn’t until the halfway point that a major move is made on the part of one of the players, and it is Caster and Ryunosuke who leave the first series on a tantalising cliff-hanger. Fortunately we’ll only have to wait a month for Part 2, previewed at the end of this collection as Fate Zero Season 2. Confidentially, I already have the review discs. It’s with no little annoyance that I have to review a bunch of other discs first.

    Your Opinions and Comments

    Be the first to post a comment!