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Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set I (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 22, 2013 by  



“Fate/Zero” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series which I enjoyed much more over “Fate/stay night”.  The storyline draws you in because of the better storytelling but also has a bit of creepiness due to how much darker this series is in terms of violence is featured.  And once again, Aniplex Inc. has delivered when it comes to releasing a fantastic limited edition Blu-ray release with a good amount of swag!  “Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set I” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Nitroplus/TYPE-MOON, ufotable, FZPC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set I

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (330 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16×9, English Dolby Digital 2.0 and Japanese Linear PMC Stereo 2.0, Subtitles: English, Spanish

COMPANY: Aniplex, Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: November 5, 2013

Directed by Ei Aoki

Screenplay by Akihiro Yoshida, Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato, Takumi Miyajima

Music by Yuki Kajiura

Original Creator: Gen Urobuchi

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Atsushi Ikariya, Tomonori Sudou

Art Director: Koji Eto

Anime Production by ufotable

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Saber

Rikiya Koyama/Matthew Mercer as Kiritsugu Emiya

Akina Abe/Karen Strassman as Assassin

Akio Ohtsuka/Jamieson Price as Rider

Akira Ishida/Johnny Yong Bosch as Ryūnosuke Uryū

Ayumi Tsunematsu/Carrie Keranen as Maiya Hisau

Daisuke Namikawa/Lucien Dodge as Waver Velvet

Hikaru Midorikawa/Grant George as Lancer

Jouji Nakata/Crispin Freeman as Kirei Kotomine

Megumi Toyoguchi/Karen Strassman as Sola-Ui

Ryotaro Okiayu/Kyle Hebert as Berserker

Sachie Abe/Patrick Seitz as Assassin

Satoshi Tsuruoka/Dan Woren as Caster

Sayaka Ohara/Bridget Hoffman as Irisviel von Einzbern

Sho Hayami/Marc Diraison as Tokiomi Tohsaka

Takumi Yamazaki as Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald

Tarusuke Shingaki/Liam O’Brien as Kariya Matō

Tomokazu Seki/David Earnest as Archer

The story starts from zero: the beginning…

The Holy Grail War – in this ultimate battle field, in order to obtain the power of the “Holy Grail” that grants any unattainable wish, seven “masters” summon “servants” and fight against each other until the last one survives.

After three inconclusive Holy Grail Wars, the fourth battle has finally started. Hoping to win the battle, each master is heading to the new battlefield, Fuyuki. However, there is a man who is confused and struggling, unable to find meaning in the war. His name is Kirei Kotomine. He wonders why he has been appointed to this task, but without any answers, he encounters his archrival – Kiritsugu Emiya, a master who craves the miracle Holy Grail most of all.

The untold truth of the Fourth Holy Grail War that occurred 10 years before Fate/Stay Night – the truth of the battle fought by Shiro’s adopted father, Rin’s father, and young Kirei Kotomine – is about to be revealed!

When it comes to video games and its 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 and merchandise from video games, nendoroids, PVC figures, you name it, there are many “Fate” fans all over the world.

And of course, the “Fate” series has led to manga, anime series and animated films.

“Fate/stay night” was the first game that was released in 2004 and would lead to a 20-volume manga series from 2006-2012 and an anime TV series created in 2006 and would be condensed to an animated film titled “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works” in 2010.

Meanwhile, back in 2006, Gen Urobuchi (best known for his work on “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Psycho-Pass”, “Blassreiter”, “Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom”) would create a light novel series “Fate/Zero” and feature illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi and the four-volume light novel series would last through 2007.  The series would serve as a prequel to “Fate/stay night” and was a collaboration between Type-Moon and Nitroplus.

The light novel series would feature a manga adaptation and an anime adaptation which would last two seasons from 2011-2012.

The series was directed by Ei Aoki (“Ga-Rei-Zero”, “Hourou Musuko”, “Coyote Ragtime Show”), screenplay shared by Akihiro Yoshida, Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato and Takumi Miyajima, music composition by Yuki Kajiura (“Sword Art Online”, “.hack/” series, “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”), character designs by Atsushi Ikariya (“Harmonie”, “The Devil is a PArt-Timer!”) and Tomonori Sudou (“Coyote Ragtime Show”, “Garden of Sinners”) and art direction by Koji Eto (“AKB0048”, “Steins;Gate”, “IDOLM@STER: XENOGLOSSIA”).

And now the first season will be released in the U.S. courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

What is “Fate/Zero”?

“Fate/Zero” takes place ten years before the events of “Fate/stay night”.

With the War of the Holy Grail being inconclusive, the Fourth Holy Grail War begins once again in which seven mages summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete in a battle of last person standing in order to gain the power of the “Holy Grail”.  For the pair that wins, a miracle will be granted.

Chosen to take part in the war are:

  • Kiritsugu Emiya/Saber and Irisviel von Einzbern – Kiritsugu is the main protagonist of this series who wants to end all conflict.  Known as the “Magus Killer” who is a master of firearms, he represents the Einzbern family in the Fourth Holy Grail War.  He is also married to Irisviel von Einzbern, a homunculus prototype created by the Einzbern family who are trying to create an ultimate homunculus.   When six or more servants are killed, she will manifest the Grail and lose her humanity which saddens Kiritsugu.  While Kiritsugu is the master of Saber, the King of England, he has no interested in the Holy Grail, while Saber wants to be granted the miracle of preventing the destruction of her homeland while she was a leader many years ago.
  • Kirei Kotomine/Assassin – Kirei is a priest who doesn’t seem happy when he does good deeds and commits many sins. He works for Tokiomi and is the master of Assassin.  When he has great hatred towards Kiritsugu and despite being a priest, like Kiritsugu, he is a master of weapons.  He has no true goal if he wins the Holy Grail aside from trying to find the meaning of life.  But his methods make him an antagonist of the series.  As for Assassin, trained at stealth and assassination and there may be more than one of them.
  • Waver Velvet/Rider – Waver wants to be a great mage by working hard, rather than one who is a mage by bloodline.  Waver steals an artifact meant for his teacher Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi and summons Rider, also known as Alexander the Great, The King of Conquerors, a huge, muscular man who has pride in battle.
  • Ryunosuke Uryu/Caster – Ryunosuke is a teenage serial killer who entices young children to his hideout place and kills them.  He also kills families of the children and summons Caster (Bluebeard), who also enjoys torturing children and is just as sadistic.
  • Tokiomi/Archer – The father of Rin Tosaka and Sakura Mato and the Master of Archer.  He is an arrogant mage and chooses Kirei Kotomine to be his understudy.  Archer is Gilgameshu, the first hero to set foot on Earth and has a dislike towards Saber and Rider who are also kings.
  • Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald/Lancer and Sola-Ui Nuaba-Re Sophia-Ri – Kayneth is a nobleman of the Magus Association, Lord of the house of El-Melloi and a prodigy of magecraft.  He is engaged to Sola-Ui as part of a strategic arrangement but she is coldhearted and is infatuated with Lancer.  Lancer is a Knight who is loyal to his master and has an agreement with Saber that the two would save each others in final battle.  And so they often help each other out to make sure no one spoils their agreement.  His birthmark is magical and attracts women.
  • Kariya Mato/Berserker – A member of the Mato family and looks at Sakura Mato as a daughter but is upset that Tokiomi allowed his child to be adopted by Zoken.   Despite having left the Mato Family out of disgust, he returns to make a deal with his father Zoken that if he wins the Grail War, Sakura will be free.  The more magic Kariya uses, the more his life will be eaten and the nerves in his body will die.  He is the master of Berserker, a servant who has the ability to use any object as a Noble Phantasm.  But because Berserker requires so much magic which Kariya is unable to match, it has caused Berseker to be in constant pain.

In the first season, each of the people get to know their servants well and partake in several battles.  As Saber and Lancer were to enjoy their fight, Rider arrives, as does Berserker.  But instead of killing each other, Rider ends up saving both Saber and Lancer earlier on.

Meanwhile, both Ryunosuke Uryu and Caster continue their killing spree and when Caster comes into contact with Saber, he believes her to be Jeanne d’Arc.  But as the two continue their killing ways, the war is put on hold as all masters and their servants are given a new order to destroy Caster due to the negative attention that has been created due to the children’s deaths.

As servants try to destroy Caster, someone is plotting to destroy Kayneth.

VIDEO:

“Fate/Zero” is presented in 1080p High Definition and because the series was created in HD, it looks much better than its older counterpart “Fate/stay night”.  Colors are vibrant, line detail is strong, I didn’t see any major banding or artifact issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Zero” is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo 2.0.   I felt that the Japanese version had a bit of clarity with its lossless LPCM track with a slightly better dynamic range.  Both featuring good voice acting on both soundtracks, but for the most part, people have a chance to choose which soundtrack they want to listen to, which is a plus.   But dialogue and music sound crystal clear from the front channels.

It’s important to note that Aniplex Inc.’s “Fate/Zero” does not use the same English voice actors that were featured on Sentai Filmworks “Fate/stay night”.  While the Japanese voice talent featured on “Fate/stay night” are the same on “Fate/Zero”.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/Zero” comes with the following special features:

  • DISC 2 comes with the promotional trailers featuring each servant and the Blu-ray/DVD promotional trailer featuring each servant
  • DISC 4 comes with “Fate/Zero” Staff Interviews shot in June 2013 at ufotable cafe, Koenji, Tokyo Japan featuring Hikaru Kondo (Representative Director, Producer/ufotable), Ei Aoki (Director) and Atsuhiro Iwakami (Chief Producer/Aniplex Inc.) (26:10)

EXTRAS:

“Fate/Zero” comes with the following extras:

  • Fate/Zero Original Soundtrack I – Featuring music by Kajiura Yuki (duration: 47:19)
  1. Point Zero    3:47
  2. let the stars fall down    2:03
  3. grief    1:53
  4. nervous    1:17
  5. confrontation    1:44
  6. the battle is to the strong    3:04
  7. evacuation    2:00
  8. the legend    2:05
  9. little drop of peace    1:58
  10. the beginning of the end    3:05
  11. if you leave    2:11
  12. rabble-rousers    1:36
  13. strategy    1:52
  14. unrest    1:23
  15. back to the wall    1:34
  16. secret maneuvers    1:58
  17. an eerie enemy    1:36
  18. assassin    2:38
  19. a chaser    1:42
  20. to be continued    0:17
  21. painful    1:53
  22. rule the battlefield    3:16
  23. forebodings    0:45
  24. tragedy and fate    1:50
  • 16-Page “Fate/Zero” art booklet
  • Bushiroad WeiB Schwarz English Edition card – Featuring “Beautiful King of Knights, Saber”
  • Rigid Slipcase box with illustration by Takashi Takeuchi

 

The Fourth War for the Holy Grail begins and who shall be the victor?

“Fate/Zero”, the prequel to the “Fate/stay night” series is another action-packed anime series that features a much more in-depth and darker storyline.

I have played the “Fate” games on my Sony PSP and I have watched “Fate/stay night” and the movie and as much as I enjoyed the anime series, there is something about “Fate/Zero” which I enjoyed so much more.

Part of which adds to the efficacy towards the prequel is the fact that it is a newer anime series with much better production and different anime production, this time with ufotable in charge, and the series released in HD on Blu-ray includes more additional scenes not seen in the TV series.

“Fate/Zero” also features wonderful music by Yuki Kajiura and most of all, it’s how much darker and violent this anime series is compared to “Fate/stay night”.

The storyline benefits from the fact that there is emphasis on character development as we get to know more about the goal or influences of a master but also some history of various servants such as Saber, Rider, Lancer, etc.

While there is violence in “Fate/stay night”, it’s nothing near the violence that I found with “Fate/Zero”.  Especially with the characters of Ryunosuke Uryu and Caster, as scenes of them massacring children is something I was not expected to see nor would you expect to ever see in an anime series.

And this is important for those who are parents who are “Fate” fans to know that this is an anime series that you don’t want to watch with children in the room.  Children are nailed or screwed on the wall, they are tortured, their heads are crushed, their eyes bleed out blood.  And despite the sadistic things this master/servant are embroiled in, they are not the primary antagonist which is a surprise.

And if you thought Ryunosuke is sadistic as a master, there are other people that are just as cold and sadistic and you can’t help but be surprised of how “Fate/Zero” manages to incorporate action, also a little adventure but a horror aspect as well.

And you can’t help but feel that there is some sense of impending doom that will befall many of these characters because of ego or naivety  but some who are just downright twisted.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is much better than “Fate/stay night” as it was made in HD and features vibrant visuals.  As much as I would have loved a 5.1 lossless track, you do get both stereo Japanese and English soundtracks.  Hardcore English dub fans may be upset that the voice talent on “Fate/Zero” is different from the voice talent on “Fate/stay night”, while the Japanese voice talent are the same on both series.

And like all amazing limited edition box sets released from Aniplex Inc., there is a great amount of swag included such as the “Fate/Zero Original Soundtrack I”, an extra DVD disc with Japanese staff interview, a booklet, a Bushiroad card and more!

Overall, “Fate/Zero” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series which I enjoyed much more over “Fate/stay night”.  The storyline draws you in because of the better storytelling but also has a bit of creepiness due to how much darker this series is in terms of violence is featured.  And once again, Aniplex Inc. has delivered when it comes to releasing a fantastic limited edition Blu-ray release with a good amount of swag!

“Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box Set I” is a must-see for those who enjoyed “Fate/stay night” and are fans of the “Fate” series!  Better animation, better and much darker storyline.  Highly recommended!

 

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