Fate/Apocrypha: The Great Holy Grail War (Episode 1 Review)

Since getting into anime I have quite quickly become a bit of a Fate fanboy, and that’s an understatement. My favourite ever anime is Fate/Zero, I really enjoyed Fate/stay night in all of its forms, and I consider Rin, Irisviel and Iskandar some of my favourite characters in all of anime. So I was naturally interested in a new Fate anime, even though it hasn’t been done by my favourite Fate studio ufotable and instead has been picked up by big business A-1 Pictures, who have some good anime under their belt but unfortunately a lot of trash too. With it being released through Netflix, meaning that I unfortunately have had to resort to fansubs to follow it weekly (as is most exciting to do with all anime but especially one of Fate’s thriller genre), I was worried that my favourite franchise in anime was being mishandled with this release. I’m not certain that it’s going to be finished well but let’s just say that after the first episode I am feeling so much more confident about the series and I am hyped to be following my first new Fate series as it comes out, with much fewer potential spoilers lurking than when I watched Zero & UBW (which I mostly avoided being spoiled on but, it’s the thought).

Because it’s the best way to go into any Fate series, I went in not knowing or researching a thing about the situation (the Grail War) that the series will present us, and I think that the key thing to take away from this is that from being unsure about this newest branch of Fate, the show has delivered me a lot of promise that makes me excited about watching more.

Firstly, the art doesn’t seem to be too bad in quality and it is already avoiding my worry that A-1 would just draw many characters looking the same, though we only got a brief glimpse of many of them, they all look rather distinctive, enough for me to be excited for the episodes where we’ll learn more about them. And the willingness of the show to be brutal is already clearly shown in the deaths of the nameless humans and elite mages impaled on stakes throughout the episode. It may even be more brutal than Zero at this rate.

More importantly, I am blown away by the scope of this. I love alternate timelines in any form and it should be one of the principal reasons why I love Fate but I haven’t gotten into a Fate that’s an alternate version of the main Zero & Stay Night universe yet, I tried the first season of Prisma Illya and it wasn’t really my thing to go on to subsequent seasons as much as it was cute. The fact that much of the episode was spent on an information dump didn’t bother me as it just increased the detail I was able to pick out of this alternate timeline. A timeline that diverged around WW2 when the Germans got involved and spilled the secret of the Fuyuki City all over the world, causing lots of people to try their hand at fake Holy Grail Wars whenever they felt like it. Except now, one big powerful family in Romania has decided to use the Greater Grail that they got when they broke the rules of the Third War. The biggest thing that means for the story is that instead of it being a seven-way freeway for the grail, there are now TEAMS. Teams of black and red, each trying to eliminate the other before apparently then turning on each other to fight a ‘proper’ Grail War. If that goes to plan then that could be the landscape of the 2 cours we’ve been promised for this show. But that effectively means double the masters, double the servants and double the fun!

Very early to pick out a main character and like in Fate/Zero, it seems that we will be getting the perspective from all sides, as several Yggdmillenia family members got a chance to show off their summoning, while if there is a main pair at all it will be the physically imposing Kairi and his Saber, Mordred. Two important things about Mordred that I got from her reveal, firstly she looks very cool, like Saber with a teenage girl attitude, and secondly, because she is Mordred, rather than Arthur, we can’t expect her to be as moral or as resolute as the Saber we’re all used to. So already this feels like a very dark version of even Fate/Zero and that fills me with excitement.

We got a lot on Kairi and for a MC (even though he probably isn’t really), I’m very pleased with him, he seems to know his stuff and is very prepared for what lies ahead. On the Yggdmillennia side, though they seem like a cult and their name is very weird, it seems like there’s potentially some areas for grey within them and that Team Black will fight just as hard as Team Red to win this. If I had to make a prediction (and I will reinforce that I know nothing and haven’t read the source material nor read any spoilers), I am 75% on Team Red being the victorious team because of the presence of Kairi and Mordred but unlike with many stories, I am not even sure that that will be the case, or if there will even be a victorious team.

Apparently that was a grown up Waver on screen which I didn’t twig until after the episode having seen the end of UBW quite a long while ago, but I definitely caught the reference to Shiro. I look forward to seeing where he fits in in this alternate universe.

Excuse my Fategasming, there is a lot of information to digest and I am very ready to see where this newest war takes us.


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