Anime Review: Fate/Grand Order: First Order (2016) Special
Director: Hitoshi Nanba
Distributor: Aniplex USA, MVM Entertainment
Runtime: 72 minutes
Availability: On blu-ray in the U.S.A., on DVD and blu-ray in the UK, streaming subtitled on Crunchyroll
The organization of Chaldea is charged with protecting humanity’s future. After discovering the light of civilization has vanished, Ritsuka Fujimaru and Mash Kyrielight must save the future by rayshifting, or time-travelling back to the past and fixing “Singularities” or anomalies in history as a novice Master and Demi-Servant.
It’s A Fun But Incomplete Story:
I enjoy Fate/Grand Order: First Order a lot, but it has the major issue of just being a brief adaptation of the prologue of the Fate/Grand Order mobile game. It doesn’t have any direct sequel adaptations to follow up this one, so if you want to see what’s going to happen next, you’ll want to download the free-to-play mobile game on the Apple app store or the Android app store. This is not something you can watch just by itself, but it’s basically a giant add for the mobile game.
Not that it isn’t fun if you’re a Fate fan already, but it’s mainly fanservice for fans of the game as this was originally released to celebrate the mobile game doing well in Japan long before it became available to North America.
It’s incomplete as an adaptation because there are no animated adoptions for the other Singularities from the mobile game, so if you want to see the story continue, you have to play the game, there isn’t a complete “anime of the game” like Persona 4 and Persona 5.
Fate/Grand Order: First Order Official Trailer:
The Animation Is Nice:
Studio Lay-Duce animated Fate/Grand Order: First Order and they did a nice job with it. The character designs are good and the fight scenes are very well choreographed and directed.
It’s not super amazing; the CGI stands out a little too much and sometimes looks bad and awkward. It’s inconsistent between the 2D and the 3D, but overall, it looks pretty good.
The animation could be better, but it’s not bad at all. It’s not the best looking Fate property, but it’s not the worst either. The 3D animation is still jarring at times though.
Audio And Subtitles:
English (Available on Crunchyroll)
English (Reviewed) (Available on DVD and blu-ray)
The English Dub is Great:
The Japanese dub of Fate/Grand Order: First Order is great so if you prefer Japanese over English, you’ll enjoy the anime. I have watched the subtitled version because it’s the only version with legal streaming on Crunchyroll.
Erica Mendez did a god job as Mash Kyrielight. She gave Mash an adorable personality and made her an interesting character. I enjoyed her in this role a lot.
Griffin Burns did a good job as Ritsuka Fujimaru. He feels a lot like an expy of Shirou Emiya even though he isn’t Shirou. He does have a little development, but we won’t be able to see the rest of it because the other singularities haven’t been animated. He is a decent character. I liked Griffin Burns’ performance as Risuka Fujimaru.
Abby Trott is adorable as Fou. There’s not too much to say about her performance because all she has to do is make cute noises. She did a good job being cute and making Fou adorable.
Jalen K. Cassell did a great job as Leff Lynor. He showed all the different sides of his character and I liked his performance in this OVA. He was a good choice for this character.
Kaiji Tang returns as Emiya, and he did a great job voicing his character. Although I prefer Liam O’Brien as Emiya, he’s not a bad voice actor at all and gave a great performance.
Kari Wahlgren is once again voicing Arturia Pendragon (Alter). Saber Alter is a huge spoiler for Fate/Stay Night: Heavens Feel I: Presage Flower (2017) but American audiences got to see her early in this OVA. If you’ve played Fate/Grand Order, you’ll see her there too. She did a great job and I love her in this role and I’m really looking forward to the Presage Flower English dub.
Kira Buckland did a great job as Olga Marie Animusphere. She gave an excellent performance and I liked her in this role.
Melissa Fahn keeps getting the short end of the stick as Medusa. Fortunately, she’ll get her time to shine in the Heavens Feel trilogy, but she was great in this role, even though it was ridiculously short.
Tony Oliver did a fantastic job as Cu Chulainn. He gave a great performance that I really enjoyed. He sound like he was having a blast and he put a lot of effort into this role.
Xander Mobus did great as Romani Archaman. He’s a liable and entertaining character. Xander Mobus is a great voice actor and he was a very good choice for this role.
Overall, the English dub is pretty good, not like the best Fate dub ever, but I really enjoyed it.
The Japanese dub is also fantastic, so if you prefer Japanese, you’ll enjoy the Japanese, if you like the English dub actors, you’ll probably enjoy this dub. The sub is the only version that’s legally streaming so you’ll probably end up watching it in Japanese.
The Music Is Fantastic:
I really enjoyed the soundtrack in Fate/Grand Order: First Order. Ryo Kawasaki created a wonderful soundtrack that I really enjoyed a lot. It’s not the best soundtrack for a Fate property, but I really enjoyed the music a lot.
It’s definitely a nice soundtrack and one that made Fate/Grand Order: First Order memorable to me. If you enjoy soundtracks in the Fate franchise, you’ll enjoy this one.
Fate/Grand Order: First Order Soundtrack: "The Shield of Chaldeas":
They Have Announced More Adaptations, But It's Still Incomplete:
I know that this anime technically has a sequel Fate/Grand Order: Moonlight/Lostroom but that takes place after the main Fate/Grand Order storyline that is only found in the mobile game.
If you’re an anime only watcher, you will feel like there should be more for Fate/Grand Order, and they have announced more adaptations of more ingularities from the game, animated by Cloverworks and Production I.G. Order VII: The Absolute Frontline in the War Against the Demonic Beasts: Babylonia will be animated by Cloverworks and Production I.G. will animate Camelot: Wandering: Agateram and Camelot: Paladin: Agateram. Type-Moon and Studio Lay-Duce have not animated all of the main storyline that comes right after this special, so you do you have to play the mobile game, but it is free-to-play so that is a plus, Gotcha Hell on the other hand, is something else entirely.
Will you watch Fate/Grand Order: First Order (2016) Special?
It’s Fun if You’re Into The Fate Franchise:
This anime is a lot of fun if you’re already into the Fate franchise as a whole. It’s just another fun Fate property. If You’re looking to get into the Fate franchise you should start with the original Fate/Stay Night (2006).
Fate/Grand Order: First Order was created to celebrate the success of the mobile game in Japan, but this is not where you should start if you want to get into this franchise, it’s a lot of fun if you are a fan and you will enjoy it a lot.
It’s fun for fans but confusing for newcomers. It’s one that is enjoyable but you’ll wish there was more to watch. If you want the rest of the story, you’ll have to play the mobile game.
What Doesn't Work:
Interesting story and characters
World-building is lacking because the story is incomplete
Nice looking animation most of the time
Jarring 3D that looks bad in places
Great Japanese and English dubs
It is not a standalone project
Requires previous knowledge of the franchise
Final Grade: B:
Fate/Grand Order: First Order might not be the best that this franchise has to offer. The fact that it’s incomplete as an anime is rather disappointing. It can’t really stand by itself because it’s an advertisement for the mobile game and not really a standalone project.
It’s not really one to add to your anime collection either, it’s just one that you’ll stream one and then go watch something else, and since it’s legally available in Japanese with English subtitles, you don’t have to buy it at all.
It’s also very expensive to own the blu-ray unless you have a region free blu-ray/DVD player because Aniplex USA’s prices are very expensive. I would recommend just streaming it in Japanese because it’s free and you don’t have to pay for it.
I enjoyed this anime special a lot, but I can’t recommend everyone buy it, because it’s not a mainline Fate story that fans will feel that they have to own it for their anime collection. It’s worth your time to stream it, but only buy it by importing from the UK if you have the means to play it in your house, it’s much cheaper to import it instead of buying it domestically.
The Fate/Grand Order story is continuing in two new anime, an anime covering one of the later Singularities, Fate/Grand Order: -Absolute Demon Front: Babylonia- and the anime film Fate/Grand Order: Divine Realm of the Round Table Camelot will be released in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
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