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FATE/ZERO #1 -- Watch & Learn

Good lord, did I need some footnotes for this one...

Now, I get this...
Now, I get this...

Well, here’s another case where a dub would’ve really helped out…

I read something a while back about how sequential art (manga, comics, fulmetti, etc.) is supposedly the only art form that requires the use of two parts of your brain at the same time - - one to process visuals and one to process text. Seeing as how I don’t usually get the opportunity to re-watch these, I’ll confess to having a tough time processing shows with as dense mythologies and narrative as this. It’s even tougher when the plot’s non-linear. I had the same problem with BACCANO and actually had an opportunity to do a honest-to-goodness experiment with a control to figure out what that problem came down to. Switching to dub in the latter episodes yielded an absolute night-and-day difference in intelligibility which I chalked up more to the aural memory being a lot more powerful than the visual one. I just had a much easier time holding all the intricate plot details in my head as it unfolded that way.

So, here we are with a show with a really fascinating mythology, and I’m sure I’ve only grasped about half of it. I’m sure it doesn’t help that this is apparently a prequel to some larger franchise I have no prior experience with. There are certainly plenty of intriguing scenes - - the “heretical” student getting humiliated about his theories on magic, the set-up with that poor girl in the worm pit, the vow in the fatal delivery room - - but I’ll fess up to having no idea how they tie together. There are a lot of faces here and not too many names I can put with them.

Which is a shame for me, because I get the sense of something really appealing, here. There’s a lot of build-up - - maybe too much, actually - - and, even while I’m not going to criticize the show too much (for once) for taking it’s time to set things up, I do think it could’ve benefitted from a less deliberate place. The notion of the Pendragon coming back as a young girl is certainly a clear enough of a hook; perhaps introducing that earlier might’ve offered a stronger throughline for me? As is, I've looked at about forty minutes of things happening even when I was rarely sure what was happening.

You know what? I'll put this on me. I just wasn't in the right mind set for this. One day, I'll delve back into this well of mages and conspiracies and spells and swim to its base where all the secrets lie.

Watch this episode, "Summoning Ancient Heroes" here and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

Turambaron Nov. 9, 2011 at 10 p.m.

The show assumes previous knowledge of Fate/Stay Night, and sets itself up as a prequel to that story without any of the older concepts explained. You're definitely not alone in finding it very, very exposition heavy for an episode that is suppose to grab a viewer's attention.

It only gets better as the episodes go on though. Best show of the season right now, hands down.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 9, 2011 at 10:11 p.m.

Yeah, Fate/stay Night is unfortunately not a great show, so it's a bummer that it expects that prior knowledge. Fate/stay Night IS a brilliant franchise, though, and the storyline executed in the original series is still really cool; in terms of execution, though, it's leagues behind Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, and I assume Fate/zero as well.

Darokion Nov. 9, 2011 at 10:13 p.m.

Tom, do yourself a favor and just push through that first episode to the second one. I had similar feelings to you after watching the first episode with the density of it's mythos, but when the action gets going, Fate/Zero's fascinating even without the Fate background (which I don't have either). The characters will fall into place with repeated exposure, and the ones that drift from your memory become nice surprises when they turn back up again.

Alamunon Nov. 9, 2011 at 10:20 p.m.

I'm also watching this despite no previous experience with the franchise. MAN this show is pretty, and the characters are great. When I saw the first big fight scene, I enjoyed their verbal interaction as much as the actual fighting (which also looked amazing).

mewarmo990on Nov. 9, 2011 at 11:06 p.m.

Not only does it assume the viewer is familiar with Fate/stay night, it's also based on a novel. As in, an actual print novel series, not a visual novel dating sim thing.

So lots of info is omitted even with the parts where characters are obviously explaining things they already know, for the benefit of the audience. But overall they're doing a mostly good job condensing the info so far, and a phenomenal job with the art and animatmion. Though, some of the more entertaining bits are getting left out (Waver and Rider aren't the only source of comedy!). But hey, novel-to-screen adaptations are like that.

SuperWristBandson Nov. 9, 2011 at 11:36 p.m.

I watched about half of the first episode and it didn't grab me. It's a shame because I was looking forward to this anime. I was expecting all the characters from Fate/Stay Night (not knowing Fate/Zero was a prequel until I was already watching it). I get all those characters in Carnival Phantasm and that show is tonnes of fun, so I am good with that.

metalsnakezeroon Nov. 10, 2011 at 4:27 a.m.

Fate/Zero has a lot of build up and it set up of this world of Mages and servants of past heros is pretty interesting. It is very exposition heavy but it is meant to be since it helping new audience to understand what is going on.

I do question if reading subs is really that hard and that I'm able to process it better than others.

takashichea moderator on Nov. 10, 2011 at 6:08 p.m.

I need to watch this show, but I have to do it in the winter with Persona 4. It sounds like this series is doing better than Fate Stay Night anime. That's great. I love the original series for the romance part between Saber and Shirou, Saber's tragic story, and Archer's coolness. The original series talk too much and gets boring a bit.

As for Unlimited Blade Works, it's a great movie, but I felt it was rushed a bit.

Lurkeroon Nov. 10, 2011 at 6:24 p.m.

I watched Fate/Stay Night and I have no idea what happened. It's probly more my fault but I would be just as clueless as Tom and I watched the previous series.

AgentJon Nov. 10, 2011 at 7:25 p.m.

The identity of Saber was the big reveal in Fate Stay/Night, so it's weird to me that for everyone that starts with Fate/Zero, this is going to be common knowledge. Then again, it's really cool that newcomers will be totally familiar with Kiritsugu (Saber's master) who has a huge impact on the original series but is never seen in the current events.

Wandering_Idioton Nov. 11, 2011 at 4:25 a.m.

Oh man, the Nasuverse, much like .hack, is one of those franchises I've never gotten involved in just because the whole thing seems like such a convoluted mess. The exception being the Kara no Kyoukai movies, since they're fairly self-contained (they can be somewhat convoluted even within themselves, but that I can deal with).

zaldaron Nov. 11, 2011 at 9:48 a.m.

@metalsnakezero said:

Fate/Zero has a lot of build up and it set up of this world of Mages and servants of past heros is pretty interesting. It is very exposition heavy but it is meant to be since it helping new audience to understand what is going on.

I do question if reading subs is really that hard and that I'm able to process it better than others.

Where did you come to anime from mostly? I have a different hypothesis than our intrepid reviewer here. I think more than being an auditory/visual thing it is a visual/verbal thing. As our intrepid reviewer has pointed out he comes from the world of visual four frame comics. These are very visual, and really I would say not very verbal (not trying to start an argument here). I come from novels, sci-fi novels explicitly. I think this is why I like subtitles waaaay more than dubs. It makes watching the show like reading. I am much more of a verbal person than a visual one. Honestly I don't notice bad animation unless it is incredibly beautiful or bad animation unless it is incredibly bad. The lack of animation in the end episodes of eva did not bother me I LIKED it. And found it a very interesting artistic choice. I did notice the amazing animation in Raxephaon though (though if the story had been bad I wouldn't have cared). I suspect our reviewer is more of a visual than a verbal person....

Lets talk about this more though here or elsewhere (just point me to it) with all these short takes we haven't had a in depth discussion in the watch and learn for awhile and I miss it. (and I don't want to go back to the vampire bund topic...been purposely staying away from that one)

ThePoohon Nov. 11, 2011 at 3:18 p.m.

@AgentJ: F/Zero has its own " big reveal" :

" Who is Berserker ? "

==================================================

But don't forget F/Zero is a prequel, don't watch this show if you didn't see FSN. It's like watching Star Wars EP1 without knowing who is anakin skywalker :p doesn't make any sense

Dig Deeper into Fate/Zero

A prequel to Fate/Stay night that tells the story of the 4th Holy Grail war, 10 years before.

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