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Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 1, 2015 by  



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If you are new to “Fate” or a fan who has watched the previous anime series such as “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/zero” will find “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” to be well-produced, much better in terms of honoring the original visual novel. But also an improvement when it comes to animation, character development and action sequences. Much better than the original, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © TYPE-MOON, ufotable, FSNPC All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 1

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 0-12 (300 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080pHigh Definition/16×9, English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 25, 2015


Directed by Takahiro Miura

Screenplay by Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato, Tatsuki Ichinose

Music by Hideyuki Fukasawa

Original Concept by Kinoku Nasu

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Atsushi Ikariya, Hisayuki Tabata, Tomonori Sudou

Art Director: Koji Eto

Anime Production by ufotable


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Saber

Junichi Suwabe/Kaiji Tang as Archer

Kana Ueda/Mela Lee as Rin Tohsaka

Noriaki Sugiyama/Bryce Papenbrook as Shirō Emiya

Atsuko Tanaka/Megan Hollingshead as Caster

Hiroshi Kamiya/Kyle McCarley as Shinji Matō

Jouji Nakata/Crispin Freeman as Kirei Kotomine

Mai Kadowaki/Stephanie Sheh as Illyasviel von Einzbern

Masaki Terasoma/Lex Lang as Sōichirō Kuzuki

Miki Itou/Julie Ann Taylor as Taiga Fujimura

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Lancer

Noriko Shitaya/Cristina Vee as Sakura Matō

Rikiya Koyama/Matthew Mercer as Kiritsugu Emiya

Shinichiro Miki/Todd Haberkorn as Assassin

Tomokazu Seki/David Earnest as Gilgamesh

Yuu Asakawa/Melissa Fahn as Rider


Fuyuki City, a city surrounded by sea and mountains, becomes the setting for an ancient ritual. Seven masters are given control of heroic spirits in order to realize the mythical Holy Grail, which is said to grant its owner any wish. These heroic spirits or servants represent legendary heroes of various classes: “Saber,” “Lancer,” “Archer,” “Rider,” “Caster,” “Assassin,” and “Berserker.” Each masters will enter into a contract with their chosen servants and battle the others to the death until only one pair remain… This is the “Holy Grail War.”

The young and capable mage, Rin Tohsaka, prepares for her long-awaited Fifth Holy Grail War to begin… With her servant Archer, Rin enters the Holy Grail War as the sole heir to the prestigious Tohsaka family after her father’s death. But when Shirou Emiya, a boy from Rin’s school, unwittingly becomes a Master and is fatally wounded in battle, she has no choice but to save him. With Shirou and his servant Saber, Rin sets out to strike down the conspiracies surrounding the Holy Grail War. Will the Holy Grail bless Rin and Shirou’s path toward victory or will they be cursed with defeat?


When it comes to video games and its characters, I don’t think I’ve seen a title derived from a video game, within the last decade, achieve so much attention than the “Fate” series from TYPE-MOON. This series has captivated people from all over the world, merchandise continues to sell very well (considering its price for importing) and it’s quite impressive to see how the fanbase continues to grow and are dedicated to “Fate”!

My first introduction to the “Fate/stay night” was just hearing about the original anime TV series. But it was the first PSP video game release (“Fate/unlimited codes” on the PlayStation Network that actually got me hyped for this series and made me learn more about the characters.

The more I researched, the more I started to noticed that a lot of people online were excited about this video game and discussing the anime series and while I never really understood the commotion of the series, I figured there were so many fighting games in Japan with characters that people go crazy for.

But then the Sony PSP game came out on the PlayStation Network and the huge number of posts on Danny Choo’s official website in regards to dolls or figures, may they be the release of Nendoroids from Good Smile! or FIGMA figures from Max Factory, suffice to say, I’ve seen the popularity for this “Fate/stay night” achieve critical mass not just in Japan but all over the world.

While “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/zero” were released first and the 2010 film “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” was released in the U.S. several years ago, in 2014-2015, the action/fantasy anime series, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” aired on Japanese television and is an adaptation of the “Unlimited Blade Works” storyline from the “Fate/stay night” visual novel.

It’s important to note, in order to prevent any confusion, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” takes a page out of visual novels in which you choose your adventure, this is the same for this anime series.  This is not a sequel, it’s not remake, it’s another route in which the story unfolds.

Where “Fate/stay night” focused on the character of Shiro, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” focuses on the character of Rin.

Before I go on about “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”, let’s first discuss “Fate/stay night”.

What is “Fate/stay night”?

“Fate/stay night” is a Japanese visual novel developed by Type-Moon and was originally an adult game for the PC and then later released for the PlayStation 2. The popularity of the video games led to a manga series which was serialized in Shonen Ace magazine and in 2007, a 24-episode anime series was released and a total of four video games. In April 2012,  “Fate/Zero” aired on television.  While the previous serious featured anime production by Studio Deen, the 2014 series, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”, features anime production by Ufotable.

While there are some differences between the various “Fate” storylines, the story of the Holy Grail War remains the same.

“Fate/stay night” takes place during a time in which a war is developing between the magi. For two centuries, seven sorcerers have gathered and engaged in a war known as “The Holy Grail War” in which the winner will be able to make their wish come true.

The Holy Grail War has occurred every 60 years and one war happened prematurely a decade ago.

For each of these magis, they will each be given a servant from one of seven classes: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Berserker, Rider, Assassin and Caster. And these servants must abide by their master’s request. And as the magi will be able to make a wish, so will the servant.

“Shiro Emiya, like his father, he wants to be a man of justice.  While staying late at school, he witnesses a fight between two servants: Archer vs. Lancer.  And because Shiro witnessed it, he is killed by Lancer.

Archer’s master, Rin, comes to the aid of Shiro by bringing him back to life.  Shiro has now been made to a magi and has been given the servant named Saber, and with this new power, Shiro vows to end this war for “The Holy Grail”.

But while each of the seven magi are to be enemies, Shiro is not that kind of person.  He respects Rin for saving his life and considers her his friend.  She tells him that they must be enemies but he refuses.

What is “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” about?

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” begins with episode 0 and focuses on the character of Rin Tosaka and wonders why her clocks have been set an hour earlier.  While she often has dreams about her final moments with her father Tokiomi, Rin must now prepare for the Holy Grail War.

As she performs a summoning ritual and hoping to summon a Saber class, instead she summons a Servant of the Archer class, which she reacts with displeasure.

But as the two get to know each other, she eventually prepares to go to battle with Archer against other Servants, including an early fight between Archer vs. Lancer, which was viewed by Shiro.

But while each of the seven magi are to be enemies, Shiro is not that kind of person.  He respects Rin for helping him and Sabre considers her his friend.  She tells him that they must be enemies but he refuses.  As Shiro, Saber and Rin are talking, they are attacked by Illyasviel von Einzbern and her giant servant known as Berserker.

While Saber does all she can to fight Berserker and protect her master Shiro, Rin also tries to protect Shiro….but her servant Archer is not thrilled that she has teamed up with Shiro/Saber. Rin tells him that for now, it would be good to work as a team and fight the other magi/servants.

And during the process of fighting against Berserker, Archer aims a devastating arrow towards both Berserker and Saber, hoping to kill both.  But Shiro manages to protect Saber and take the brunt of the damage.

The following morning, Shiro has completely healed (thanks to his self-healing magical capabilities) and this leads to Shiro wanting to learn more about Saber, while Rin must make a decision to make Shiro her enemy or trust him and work together with him, despite the fact that the Holy Grail War is supposed to make them enemies.

While both “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” have similar stories, look at both to be different and similar to the visual novel, two different routes.  Also, the original Studio Deen series, “Fate/stay night” tends to add their own storyline not featured in the visual novel, handles characters a bit differently but also trying to incorporate other routes in the original anime series.  There is also more character development and a noticeable difference in how action is depicted in ufotable’s “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”.


 

VIDEO:

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” is much better than the original 2006 anime series.  May it be budget differences, but one thing noticeable in ufotable’s “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” is how much detail there is when it comes to background art, character designs and also action sequences.  Ufotable really went all out in creating an anime series in which the action is more developed and looks more effective.  Colors are vibrant, CG use is well-done but the detail for background artwork is magnificent!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” is presented in English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0. In terms of voice acting, both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done.  I actually prefer the voice acting in “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” versus the original 2006 series and it works considering there is much better character development in this 2014 series.  As for the lossless soundtrack, dialogue and music, including sound effects are crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 1″ does not come with any special features.

EXTRAS:

“Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 1” comes with a slipcase with package illustrated by Takashi Takeuchi, a 24-page booklet featuring an introduction, episode synopsis, character design, key animation and more.  Also, a Weiss Schwarz Collectible PR card.

Also, included is the “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Original Soundtrack I”.  The soundtrack is 1 hr. and 14 minutes long and features 27 tracks (26 tracks by Hideyuki Fukasawa, and “THIS ILLUSION” by LiSA).


 

It’s really interesting because I actually enjoyed the original “Fate/stay night” when it was released.

I went on and on about how much I enjoyed it in my review of “Fate/stay night” but since then, after having watched “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”, everything about this 2014 series is much more exciting, captivating and more intense!

For one, the character designs are well-drawn, well-shaded, while the art backgrounds are detailed and gorgeous.  A lot of work went into this series and there is a noticeable difference between Studio Deen’s 2006 anime series with this 2014 series in terms of artwork, in terms of action sequences.

With the original, while there are many action sequences, the battles were simplistic, while for “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”, the artwork is fantastic as there are many sequences involved in each battle.

But possibly what makes “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” even better is how this latest series handles the characters of Rin and Archer, Shiro and Saber and the amount of character development featured.   There is more emotion and a much better Shiro this time around!

And with the better development of animation, action sequences and character development, it makes a huge difference that I don’t even know if I want to recommend anyone to watch the original 2006 “Fate/stay night”.  Granted, this series and the original are to be treated as “different routes”, but considering not everyone is going to play the visual novel version, if you had to choose one, I would go for “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”.

I do recommend watching the darker and more violent “Fate/zero”, while I don’t really recommend the film version of “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” because they improved the storyline with this latest series.

It’s important to note that there are two seasons and “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 1” features the first 12 episodes.

As for the Blu-ray release, as mentioned, the animation and character designs look magnificent.  I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts and for the most part, I’m quite pleased of how this series looks in HD.  The lossless soundtrack are English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 and dialogue and musical score are crystal clear.

There are no special features, but you do get a slipcase, 24-page booklet, a Weiss Schwarz Collectible PR card and the first original soundtrack for “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]”.

Overall, if you are new to “Fate” or a fan who has watched the previous anime series such as “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/zero” will find “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” to be well-produced, much better in terms of honoring the original visual novel. But also an improvement when it comes to animation, character development and action sequences.

Much better than the original, “Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]” is highly recommended!

 






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