Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works: The Motion Picture (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

June 1, 2012 by  

“Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works: The Motion Picture” is packed with action from beginning to end!  This animated film features plenty of battles, including wonderful animation from Studio DEEN… I have no doubt that fans of the video games, the manga, the anime series or the characters will enjoy this film!   Recommended!

Image courtesy of © TYPE-MOON/Fate-UBW Project.  2012 Sentai Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works: The Motion Picture

DURATION: 105 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, English and Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks


Release Date: June 12, 2012

Directed by Yuji Yamaguchi

Screenplay by Takuya Sato

Music by Kenji Kawai

Original Concept by Kinoku Nasu

Original Character Design by Takashi Takeuchi

Character Design by Megumi Ishihara

Art Director: Toshihisa Koyama

Anime Production by STUDIO DEEN

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayako Kawasumi/Michelle Ruff as Saber

Junichi Suwabe/Liam O’Brien as Archer

Kana Ueda/Mela Lee as Rin Tohsaka

Noriaki Sugiyama/Sam Regal as Shirou Emiya

Atsuko Tanaka/Tara Platt as Caster

Hiroshi Kamiya/Doug Erholtz as Shinji Matou

Jouji Nakata/Taylor Henry as Kirei Kotomine

Mai Kadowaki/Jennifer Sekiguchi as Illyasviel von Einzbern

Miki Itou/Julie Ann Taylor as Taiga “Tiger / Fuji-nee” Fujimura

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Lancer

Noriko Shitaya/Sherry Lynn as Sakura Matou

Shinichiro Miki/David Vincent as Assassin

Tadahisa Saizen/Michael McConnohie as Berserker

Tomokazu Seki as Gilgamesh

Yuu Asakawa/Kevin Strassman as Rider

Kazuhiro Nakata/Patrick Seitz as Soichiro Kuzuki

Rikiya Koyama/ as Kiritsugu Emiya

Having spent the last ten years of his life studying under a mysterious sorcerer, Shiro Emiya has become a Magi, a sorcerer who has summoned a “Servant,” a mystical female warrior of incredible power named Saber, to stand together in the ultimate test of sorcery and magic: the Holy Grail War. But Shiro’s own feelings for Saber may conflict with their goal.

To win the contest means to take the risk of losing everything, even as he also begins to empathize with members of the rival battleteams. While seven teams will enter the battle, only one will leave, and the winners will receive the prize of the Grail itself and their greatest wish granted. Will that wish be worth the price Shiro must ultimately pay?

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 release on DVD.  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.

At Anime Expo 2011, I attended a press conference which featured the release of a “Fate Extra” and once again, I’ve seen fans going crazy.  And now in 2012, here we are with the Blu-ray and DVD release of “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works”.

The film is directed by Yuji Yamaguchi (“Yami to Boshi to Hon no Tabibito”, “Angel Links”, “Fate/stay night”), screenplay by Takuya Sato (“Armored Troopers Votoms Case; Irvine”, “Mission-E”, “Ichigo Mashimaro”), music by Kenji Kawai (“Devilman”, “Eyeshield 21”, “Eden of the East”, “Dai-Guard”, “Blue Seed”), character designs by Megumi Ishihara (“Moonlight Lady”, “Kakyusei”) and art direction by Toshihisa Koyama (“.hack//Liminality”, “Halo Legends”, “Kiddy Grade”, “Outlaw Star”).  Anime Production is by Studio DEEN.

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, the latest in the “Fate” anime series titled “Fate/Zero” (which is set 10 years before the events of “Fate/stay night”) began airing in Japan and the second season is still airing on television.

So far, in the United States, the manga series, the first anime series and two of the video games have been released in America.

In 2010, Studio Deen released the film “Fate/stay night” in 2010 and now Sentai Filmworks will be releasing the animated film, “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” on Blu-ray and DVD in June 2012.

As for the storyline, I noticed a slight difference between the video games and the anime series compared to the film, so since I’m not a “Fate/stay night” erudite, I will focus on the film.

“Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” 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.

The film focuses on a young man named 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.  As Shiro, Saber and Rin are talking, they are attacked by Ilya 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 and this leads to Shiro wanting to learn more about his servant and his new friend Rin, but also wanting to protect them.  And as Rin tries to explain that his sense of justice is going to hurt him (as they are all supposed to be enemies), Rin continues on the path of justice and wanting to protect the people he cares about.

But Shiro will quickly learn that while he may have Rin on his side, he and Saber have now become a target for the other five magi and their servants.

Will there be a true winner for this latest “Holy Grail War” or will Shiro find a way to end it?


Before I get into my review on the video and audio of “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works”, its important to let people know that there is a Blu-ray that will be released on the same day of the DVD release.  If you want the best video and audio quality, you will definitely want the Blu-ray release!

With that being said, “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and in English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital with English subtitles.  Studio Deen has done a wonderful job with this animated film and while the TV series was release back in 2006, the film itself was released in January 2010.  The painted backgrounds look beautiful, the CG work is also well-done but there is a hint of softness.  Softness is typically seen on anime TV series, so not sure if certain animation was re-used in the film version or was intentional.

But on DVD, the film really looks good when showcasing red and oranges and black levels look deep especially during the many darker scenes of the film.  While video quality does look good on DVD, for anyone wanting better clarity and detail will want to go for the Blu-ray version of this animated film.

As for the audio, presented in English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 and after watching this film with both soundtracks, both are well done!   While the action scenes (which there are many) sound great through the surround channels and also utilizing LFE, I can only imagine how much better this soundtrack would sound in lossless.  So, because of the huge amount of action sequences in this film, while the DVD sounds very good, I can imagine the Blu-ray sounding even better and much more crisper.

Also, the music soundtrack is wonderful and was quite surprised to see that legendary anime composer Kenji Kawai composed the music for “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works: The Motion Picture”.


Surprisingly, there are no special features but Sentai Filmworks trailers.

Finally!  I can understand what the “Fate/stay night” storyline is all about!

Having played the video games and having seen the large dedicated fanbase for the “Fate/stay night” series in Japan, America and all over the world…I don’t think I have seen a video game receive so much recognition by fans worldwide.  You just don’t see people going crazy for “Street Fighter” or “King of Fighters” action figures but look online and there are fans that just go crazy for the video games and action figures.  And while I do feel that the character designs of the characters of “Fate/stay night” are quite cool to look at, I was drawn to it because of the character designs and for the fact that I am a fan of Japanese fighting video games.

And I am very  happy that Sentai Filmworks have released this animated film in the US.  Primarily to satisfy those who are big fans, bring in curious fans but most importantly, with the release of this film, it should ease the minds of those who wanted to purchase the original anime DVD release but couldn’t because the out-of-print DVD’s are very expensive.

While I do know that Japanese companies that sell the merchandise have done a fantastic job in making “alter” version and just continuing to give fans these wonderful looking versions of the characters and detailed outfits with the dolls and figures in Japan, here in America, more and more people are jumping on the “Fate/stay night” bandwagon.

As mentioned earlier, last summer I attended the “Fate Extra” reveal for the video game and the crowd went nuts when they saw the announcement of the game.  And similar to the video games, there is also innovation by trying to release the video games encompassing various genres instead of fighting video games.  From the adult PC game to the recent strategy tactic PSP game, fans are really enjoying the “Fate/stay night” series.  May it be the action figures, the dolls or the games, this is one series that fans all over the world are passionate about.

And therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if fans go crazy for the Blu-ray or DVD release of “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works: The Motion Picture”.

I’m quite biased towards the characters already and to finally now the context of what the story is about and the war between the seven magi’s, it’s a rather enjoyable concept, not necessarily unique, but it’s the characters that make this worthwhile.  There is non-stop action and while the animated film tends to focus more on Shiro and Rin, Saber and Archer fans will also enjoy this series.

While I have not watched the anime TV series, I did look over the synopsis of the episodes and it looks like pieces of storyline are integrated into the film.  I can’t answer if animation was re-used or comment on differences of storyline but for my first time watching this animated film, I enjoyed the storyline although I’m not necessarily sure if the ending of the animated film is truly “the end”!

Afterall, we have seen many anime series inspired from video games and the endings for those films always differ from the storyline of a animated TV series  and also the storyline of the video games. I would imagine that with the TV series being 24-episodes long, there is much more to the story than what was featured in the 105-minute animated film.   There were times where I felt the development of Shiro felt rather rushed, especially when it came to him discovering his abilities.  But I suppose that is where the TV series is more appropriate in showcasing character development.

As for the film, I also enjoyed that along with the strong male characters, you have equally strong female characters.  And as mentioned, I covered many fighting game events and reviewed many fighting video game series to know the genre is primarily male-driven, but “Fate/stay night” is one of the few series in which I see a large number of female characters collecting “Fate/stay night” merchandise (which people can see quite easily on Danny Choo’s website

As for the DVD release, for a really cool animated film (especially with its cool red case), it was a bit of a letdown to not have any special features included.  Also, for those wanting better video and audio quality, the Blu-ray release is the way to go! But for those who are not picky about special features and have not upgraded to BD, then the DVD is definitely worth it, for fans of the action anime genre.

It’s important to note that this series is action-packed and does feature quite a bit of bloody violence.  So, for those weak at heart at the sight of blood, while the film is not too graphic, it’s definitely not a film to show around children.

I know I’m a bit biased towards “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works: The Motion Picture” because I own the video games and have familiarity of the large fanbase.  But while the film is very cool on action and visuals, as mentioned, there is only so much of that storyline that was featured in the 24-episode animated TV series, that can fit into a 105-minute film.  You miss out on certain character development especially when it comes to Shiro Emiya’s powers but other than that, I felt that Studio Deen did a wonderful job in the animation of this film and the voice acting for both English and Japanese soundtracks were fantastic.   Also, it’s a plus that the original staff that worked on the “Fate/stay night” TV series worked on the animated film.

Overall, “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works: The Motion Picture” is recommended!

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