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Anime Review: Fate/Apocrypha (2017)
Director: Yoshiyuki Asai
Runtime: 620 minutes
Availability: Streaming exclusively in Japanese and English on Netflix
Fate/Apocrypha is an alternate retelling of the Holy Grail War. Instead of a Grail War in Fuyuki Japan, the Grail was stolen during the Third Holy Grail War and taken to Romania where 14 Masters and 14 Servants will battle each other for the Holy Grail.
The story is interesting, and it’s not just a rehash of Fate/Zero, although it seems to pull some plot elements from Fate/Zero without being the same story. But because it pulls some plot elements from Fate/Zero, it can feel ike it’s just imitating something else. Fate/Apocrypha came out after Fate/Zero was published in 2006. It doesn’t really mimic Fate/Zero too much and it has a different tone to it and it’s not just grim, dark and depressing.
There are so many characters that none of them have extensive Development:
There are a lot of characters to remember, 28 of them, and because the cast is large they can’t dedicate episodes to character development for all of them.
The writing mainly dedicates characterization to the Masters and Servants who are getting into the big set piece battles. If there is a secondary characters they barely get any development unless it’s a plot point.
The Animation Had Production Woes:
A-1 Pictures has been plagued with production woes while making Fate/Apocrypha. Episode 3 had a lot of visual and sound problems that surprised the animation staff when it aired. They’ve told fans to buy the blu-ray because all these problems will be fixed later.
While the animation isn’t flashy like Ufotable, the animation still looks good. The highlights are the action set pieces. The animators use their well known technique of sacrificing detail for fluid motion, similar to what they did when they animated Birdy: The Mighty Decode.
A-1 Pictures has great animation, but they’re overshadowed by the digital animation of Ufotable. The fights are great and the character designs are nice. Type-Lunatics complaining about the story and the animation, saying that Fate/Apocrypha is worse than Fate/Stay Night (2006) by Studio DEEN, which is something I find to be ridiculous.
From a technical standpoint Studio DEEN’s Fate/Stay Night (2006) is the “worst” adaptation because it hasn’t aged well. Along with the decision to combine aspects from other routes which have caused the never-ending debate of “watch order”.
Fate/Apocrypha is a light novel adaptation and the light novels have never been licensed in the United States so we don’t have legal access to the original source material.
Fans are complaining because the anime doesn’t match up to the fan translation of the light novel, but fan translations aren’t as good as fans claim they are, and from what I can tell, the changes are small or something that they’ve made a big deal out of when it isn’t or it’s done to help with the narrative.
The animation isn’t super flashy, but the fights are exciting and fun to watch. A-1 isn’t trying to be Ufotable and they don’t do their fights the same way, I like the fast paced action that is exciting and fun to watch.
The Sound Effects are Weird:
I usually don’t think about sound effects in an anime, but Fate/Apocrypha has some very jarring and weird sound effects. I recognize some of the sword sound effects because they use the same sounds for Ufotable’s Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014) and Fate/Zero (2011).
Still the sound effects sound so jarring, they feel kind of cheap. There’s also this weird use of subwoofers that is just strange. I can’t really describe it, it’s something you have to hear and see for yourself.
Audio and Subtitles:
English (Reviewed) (Streaming exclusively on Netflix)
English (Streaming Exclusively on Netflix)
The Dub is good, but not outstanding:
The English dub is good, it’s something I liked but it it’s not one that wowed me and made me think, “This is outstanding!”
It’s not a bad dub, not at all, but it’s not one that will top the Ufotable dubs, which were amazing.
Erika Harlacher is great as Jeanne d'Arc/Ruler. I really liked her performance. She was great as Ruler and she was a good choice for the character.
Zach Aguilar is good as Sieg, he gave a good vocal performance for the role and I do like him, but this dub isn’t one that I love a lot, I do enjoy it, but it’s not quite top tier English dubbing.
Max Mittelman is also excellent as Shiro Kotomine. He did a really good job in this role and I liked his performance. His character is also an interesting character and keeps surprising me.
Allegra Clark as Semiramis/Assassin of Red, Atalante/Archer of Red, and Reika Rikudō which is really impressive because she changes her voice a lot and doesn’t sound the same for any of these characters she’s playing. She did a good job.
Chris Niosi is really good as Karna/Lancer of Red. He’s an interesting character but he has very little character development in the story so far. His performance for this character fantastic.
Erica Lindbeck is great as Mordred/Saber of Red. She voiced this character perfectly and she did a stellar job. She’s just having so much fun playing Mordred and you can tell she’s a Fate fan, she put her all into this role and it shows.
Patrick Seitz is great as Kairi Sisigou. He doesn’t sound as serious as Matthew Mercer’s Kiritsugu Emiya, but the character is like an expy of Kiritsugu, but he’s not as grim or serious. I like his dynamic with Mordred and they make an interesting team.
Ray Chase was awesome as Lancer of Black/Vlad III in the anime and he was fantastic. He was perfect for this role and he did a great job.
I have to make special mention of Michelle Ruff who reprised her role as Arturia Pendragon. She's improved a lot since Fate/Stay Night: [Unlimited Blade Works] (20110) and she no longer sounds like a robot!
All the other cast members are good too, but I can’t talk about them all because it would take too long.
It’s a good dub, it didn’t blow me away for the entire English cast did for both Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014) or Fate/Zero (2011), but it’s still an enjoyable dub to listen to.
Will you watch Fate/Apocrypha?
The Music is Fantastic!
Masaru Yokoyama composed the music for Fate/Apocrypha. It’s an excellent soundtrack and while it doesn’t stand out to me quite as much as Fate/Stay Night (2006) by Kenji Kawai or Fate/Zero (2011) by Yuki Kajura, it’s still an excellent soundtrack that I enjoyed a lot.
The openings are "Eiyū Unmei no Uta" (英雄 運命の詩; The Song of a Hero's Fate) by EGOIST and "ASH" by LiSA. The endings are "Désir" by GARNiDELiA and #02: "KOE" by ASCA.
Now to Address Jack the (Ripper) Loli and Astolfo the Boy who looks and sounds Like a Girl:
The Nasuverse has plenty of gender-flipped characters but there is Astolfo, who looks like and is voiced by a woman in both English and Japanese. He regularly confuses viewers and makes people awkward when they find out the character is male rather than the cute female they assumed him to be.
It’s just all sorts of awkward because his Master is obsessed with him in the creepiest way and his whole situation is awkward all around.
Then there’s “Jack the Ripper” who is portrayed in-story as a little girl in a skimpy outfit, now there is a reason for it, but the portrayal is really disturbing because the real “Jack the Ripper” murdered prostitutes in London.
Decisions with writing and character designs can make things awkward for viewers when it comes to this anime, and it’s just one of those things you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Fate/Hype Strikes Again!
With Ufotable’s adaptations, people have high expectations of anything Fate related,. With these expectations comes unrealistic hype that can cause viewers to be letdown because it doesn’t live up to their unrealistic expectations. It’s not the same animation studio, writers or staff working on the anime. Although it has become popular to mimic Ufotable’s camera angles and shots, A-1 made their own interpretation of a Fate property, and it’s not like Ufotable or Studio DEEN’s.
Don’t let hype give you unreasonable expectations; it will only make you feel disappointed.
On the other hand, don’t let the negative things people say about this anime stop you from watching it either. People saying that Fate/Apocrypha is the worst adaptation are excessively exaggerating their disappointment in the series.
It’s an Enjoyable Anime, See it For Yourself:
Fate/Apocrypha is an anime that is controversial among fans, but not nearly as controversial as Fate/Stay Night (2006). It’s an anime that is good on its own but is overshadowed by Ufotable’s anime adaptations.
If you go in just expecting a fun Fate story in the Nasuverse, you’ll enjoy it. I’ve enjoyed the first 12 episodes (I’ll revise his review once I’ve finished the anime) and I recommend it if you like d any of the previous Fate adaptations.
What Does Work:
What Doesn't Work:
Interesting story, characters and world-building
Production woes plagued the animation, will be fixed on blu-ray
Good English dub
Questionable character designs and writing
English dub isn't as good as other Fate adaptations
Final l Grade: B+:
I loved Fate/Apocrypha, the story is interesting and it’s a good story that keeps me wondering what will happen next.
The animation is good, the English dub cast did a good job and the music was very good. I have a good impression of the anime so far. If you loved the other aspects of the Nasuverse then you should check it out.
The series isn’t without controversy, as questionable character designs and back-story can feel really uncomfortable for the audience. Some aspects of Fate/Apocrypha seem like they were just trying to find a way to appeal to the fans via fanservice instead of just focusing on a good story.
I still enjoyed the first half of the anime and I look forward to the rest of the anime when it’s completed.
Fate/Apocrypha hasn’t been released on home video yet, but I will update this article when it is announced for home release.
It’s definitely worth watching if you’re an anime fan and you have a Netflix account, although being a Netflix exclusive annoys anime fans since Netflix I doesn’t simulcast anime in the U.S. I didn’t mind tit out he wait and it was totally worth it. Check it out for yourself if you have a Netflix account.
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