One of the most anticipated show of this season has debuted, but it isn’t exactly the best of debuts.
Deen, Ufotable, Silver Link and Lay-Duce have their Fate/whatevers and next year Shaft will have their Fate/Extra; this year we have A-1 Pictures giving us their Fate/whatever in the form of Fate/Apocrypha.
The episode starts with some serious fighting as we see a mage army battling a skeleton Monster army. They seem to be evenly matched as both sides suffer losses. We then switch over to two saber class servants battling it out, with the female saber giving the male saber a very tough time. They end the fight with both unleashing their Noble Phantasms.
We then move over to a blonde warrior with a spear (who is most likely the Jeanne D’Arc we see in the very beginning and very end of the episode) fighting a giant monster while laughing maniacally throughout.
These are the exciting parts of the episode and they all have some pretty neat animation. They’re hectic scenes with fast movements. Part of the mage army are people with spear and sword weapons and you can see some fast movements as one spear-wielding mage takes down skeletons all around. The fast moving spears are reduced to smears as the wielder spins it around at incredible speeds to take down the enemy.
The better scenes involve the servants which shows that the servant battles we’ll get to see later on in the show probably won’t be disappointing, unless A-1 runs into some production issues which they tend to do occasionally.
The saber battle is fast and feels slightly jittery and hard to follow at first. But if you were to observe the scene more closely you would see that each movement of the sword wielding warriors is animated; each swing, and each clash of their swords is animated, complete with smears, and sparks and rebounding upon contact as the two sabers move from the background to the foreground of the stage during their fight. It feels similar to a scene in the 12th episode of Granblue Fantasy (also by A-1) last season where a scantily clad kemonomimi is slicing up flying fish monsters at such a high speed that it’s hard to follow.
We have two distinct and opposing colors here (just like in Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu) with blue being the male saber’s color and red being the female saber’s color. Their blades emanate these colors as they swing around and we see sparks fly when they clash. The sparks aren’t as bright as the ones Ufotable does due to the overall colors used here, but they’re still good enough.
The entire battle takes place at night which makes the colors from the blades and the sparks stand out. When the two unleash their Noble Phantasms, the red and blue clash in the middle and you can see the two colors make a purple streak of lightning.
The scene of Jeanne D’Arc is probably the best fighting scene here. The big monster is likely the homunculus the Yggdmillenia Caster was making. The movements are fast here as well, but they don’t have that slight jittery feeling the Saber battle had. Jeanne’s movements are swift as she avoids the debris flying at her. The camera shakes as the homunculus smashes the ground. There is also a shot zooming in with the homunculus’ fist into Jeanne’s eyes which gives her a more badass feel. There are fast camera movements here as we follow Jeanne running around from the monster.
The movements in the Saber fight are fast but lack the degree of smoothness Jeanne’s fight has. Both have the intensity such fights need, but you can easily follow Jeanne’s movements without them being too slow, unlike the Saber fight which is hectic and has rather sharp movements.
This Fate/Apocrypha is off to a great start action-wise, and its opening scene proves it well. Watch below:
But this is where the excitement ends. The rest of the episode is info dumping as it’s filled with talking, talking and more talking. The gist of all that babbling is that Yggdmillenia has the Greater Grail and wants to start a Holy Grail War, and because of a system in the Grail which activates when one party has seven servants, there are now two teams of seven masters and their servants; Yggdmillenia is the black team and the Mage Association is the red team. When one team is finished, the remaining will have the Holy Grail War among themselves. The two teams are in opposition because Yggdmillenia separated themselves from the Mage Association and are now bad guys who need to be stopped.
We get the names of the seven red team masters, as if introducing some football team or something. Sisigo is the master of the red saber, Modred, and at around the same time, the black team summons their male saber along with three other servants.
First episodes are supposed to be attention grabbing and not sleep inducing with tons of information thrown at you. While they have gotten all that info out of the way and have jumped straight to the battle itself with the summoning of the remaining servants by the end of the episode, it still wasn’t good that they used the very first episode as an info dump. You don’t just bore the hell out of the viewer with the very first episode.
Showing an exciting scene from some point ahead in the story works to get the viewers excited and make them want to watch more to see when this fight happens and what is its result. It had a good effect here, but they ruined things with all that boring talking. They could have split all this information between two episodes at least. There is going to be some more talking too later on which is expected of a Fate/something show, and if those episodes are as talky as this one then we’re in for some boring episodes later on. But if everyone’s chit-chat is interspersed between some better character moments or some good looking action scenes then it might be bearable.
There is also a mysterious boy saying some weird stuff in the very beginning who is then approached by a blonde lady who takes his hand. In the very end we see the same blonde lady and possibly the boy, and the lady offers her assistance to someone and there is a glow of light. She is Jeanne D’Arc but what exactly is this scene in the very end needs some explanation.
All in all, this episode had some glorious action sequences and some overall good visuals, but loses quite some points because of all the tedious conversations between some people we don’t know (we weren’t even told the name of the blonde kid who might be important but doesn’t look like it). It isn’t the best of debuts but we do hope they stop being so excessively talkative and stop dumping loads of information on us in any of the coming episodes.
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