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Impressions: Fate/Grand Order: First Order

Jan 15 // Josh Tolentino
To get to the core of that assessment, we’ll have to drill down into why Type-MOON, and more specifically Fate and other associated works by lead writer Kinoko Nasu work as well as they do. At a distance, the so-called “Nasuverse” isn’t all that different from the many game- or light-novel worlds that have popped up over the years. Type-MOON’s various efforts may chronologically predate the light novel boom by a bit, but in many ways they’re the paragon of chuunibyou success, with their intricately constructed settings – always dense with obscure Kanji and idiosyncratic readings -  forming the foundation for a number of engaging, rich stories. In Nasu-verse stories, it’s comparatively easy to see the thematic bones at the core of each story. High-level concepts like Nasu’s notions of eternal, metaphysical conflict between humanity and the world itself lurk in the background of Fate and Tsukihime, there to be discovered by fans who read between the lines or fall deep enough down the wiki hole. In short, the absurd quantities of lore, trivia points, and little rules feel like they exist for a reason, rather than for their own sake, something that's not always as clear when viewing shows like  While flashes of that brilliance can be found in Fate/Grand Order: First Order, the special can’t help but feel far less necessary to the greater Fate canon than even the dopiest Carnival Phantasm skit. Its biggest problem is that it does very little to make the world of Fate/Grand Order – the game – feel like it’s a place worth visiting. That is a huge issue for a show ostensibly made to promote the game. Problems arise at the very beginning. The episode opens with our hero, Ritsuka Fujimura, lying on the floor for no clear reason. Was he sleeping there? Was he kidnapped and dropped in the corridor? Why is he on the floor? We’ll never know, because the story doesn’t bother to go into that detail, or perhaps because they wanted to copy Saber and Shirou's first meeting, but couldn't find a good enough reason for, well, anything to happen in  away that made sense. This isn’t just nitpicking, mind you. It shows how little care First Order has for anything beyond being something tied to the game. If it did genuinely feel the story was worth paying attention to, It’d try to make that connection, taking the game’s vagueness as a sign to fill that gap, or to deviate from the source. The hero then meets up with Mash Kyrielight and the game’s mascot, a Carbuncle knock-off named Fou. Mash is one of the few Fate heroines with about as little personality as your average male light/visual novel lead. She’s as much a cipher as the hero is, and beyond a vaguely deferential personality (like Sakura without the tragic edge), she’s a nonentity. The hero is soon enlightened as a member of Chaldeas, an organization dedicated to preserving humanity’s future. There’s one problem, though: The future seems to have disappeared. Their fancy simulation/time machine can’t see past a dark spot situated in the year 2004, right around the time of the Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City that backgrounds the events of Fate/stay night. A bunch of mooks with “Master Potential” - Ritsuka among them - are to accompany Olga Animusphere, Chaldea's Rin Tohsaka-esque administrator,   on a trip into the past to see what gives.  Ritsuka - again for no apparent reason - falls asleep during this briefing, and is subsequently ejected from the meeting by Olga. But rather than take this as a prompt to have something interesting happen, the show takes this as a signal to kick off another long briefing, this time at the behest of the company doctor. The drama that follows to set up the main thrust of First Order arrives with all the impact of a raindrop. A series of unfortunate events later, Mash gains a bit of prominence. She gets outed as "Shielder" the Grand Order equivalent of a Starter Pokemon. But rather than being a Fire-, Leaf-, or Water-type, she's "Shielder",  Just how much the show and game owe to Fate itself is quickly reaffirmed when its most compelling presence comes in the form of Caster. Or rather, it’s Fate/stay night’s Lancer, reimagined as a Caster-class Servant. He carries the rest of the episode, until the pair, rejoined with Animusphere, go off to defeat a corrupted version of the Saber we all know and love. Followed by a rather obvious heel turn, the hero and Shielder are left with one task: Save the world by hopping across time and space to participate in big ol’ grail wars against heavily anime-fied versions of history’s greatest heroes and villains. Gotta catch ‘em all! And that’s it. Look, it’s one thing for a free-to-play mobile game not to have much of a story. That's usually a given, all things considered, and there’s only so much one can expect from a transparent tie-in designed to spur downloads on the app store. But it’s hard to see the show as anything more than a damp squib. It adds virtually nothing to the larger canon of Fate lore, and doesn’t even make a very good case for the game itself. The story scenes in the game itself are far more compelling, and focus not on the absurd contrivances of Fate but on the franchise’s greatest gimmick, namely its superbly exaggerated takes on well-known figures of myth and history. That's why all the absurd terminology and trite rules work, ultimately, but First Order doesn't capitalize on that strength, thinking the people are watching to see a wiki entry come to life.  Of course, expectations must once again come into play, and it's not as if promotional tie-ins to mobile games are held to an especially high standard, but in the ways that matter most, Fate/Grand Order: First Order is a letdown.
Fate/Grand Order photo
Nothing happens in phone games, it seems
I have to admit that I was initially rather disappointed to learn that Fate/Grand Order: First Order was being planned as a one-off TV special, rather than a full-season TV series, as the rumors had originally state...

Gandalf x Fate/stay night photo
Gandalf x Fate/stay night

Here, let Gandalf lend some class to Unlimited Blade Works

I don't even care why
Jun 16
// Josh Tolentino
There are no words for this, besides "HOLY SHIT SIR IAN MCKELLEN JUST READ THE UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS INCANTATION". It's even funnier when you see the 77-year-old, award-winning British actor pause ever so slightly when he en...
Man at Arms: Reforged photo
Man at Arms: Reforged

Watch Man at Arms bring Saber's Excalibur to life

Servant not included
Sep 21
// Salvador G Rodiles
Ever since Man at Arms switched to a new group, I started to miss the old team's style, since their weapons were more accurate than the current gang. Nonetheless, the main thing that both blacksmiths have in common is that t...

Final Impressions: Unlimited Blade Works

Jul 16 // Josh Tolentino
Except here, by virtue of Unlimited Blade Works' big reveal, we know that the journey of Shirou Emiya has only just begun. Here, after the world has been saved from a big hole spewing red jelly, and a jerk with blond hair's been taken down a few notches, only here is where Shirou Emiya continues down the path to becoming his ideal self.  It's worth pointing out that that self, not even a day before, had been hell-bent on killing him, but Shirou doesn't care. He doesn't care that Archer, the man he would become, wanted nothing more in the world than to un-become, to kill his younger self before he could suffer the pain of learning the true cost of sticking so doggedly to his ideals. That's a price that, here in episode 24, Shirou Emiya is willing to pay. But we knew that already. Shirou's heroic resolve here isn't in question, and it's been the true ending of this scenario since its time as a visual novel. The boldest thing about 2015's take on Unlimited Blade Works is the very last episode, which is an epilogue, and as far as I can remember, is almost entirely new material.  Set months after the final battle, the last episode explores the rest of the "True End" scenario, where Rin and Shirou have graduated from high school and are studying at the Clock Tower in London, headquarters of the Mage's Association. There we catch up with Shirou's not-so-great fashion sense (ew, green cardigan?!), Rin's new hair, and Luvia Edelfelt, a side character from the not-quite-canon spinoff/expansion, Fate/hollow Ataraxia. Brief words are exchanged with Fate/Zero survivor Waver Velvet, and a visit is paid to the alleged grave of King Arthur himself at Glastonbury Abbey. That's all well and good, and frankly not enough anime series actually have a decent denoument, preferring to end things right after the climax and saving the cooldown for the credits. But the most important thing here is hearing Shirou opt out of enrolling at the school, instead opting to do...whatever it is he planned to do next in his quest to become a Hero of Justice. Rin not only expects, but supports the decision, allowing him to drag her around for a change. It's a Big Development because at the traditional end of Unlimited Blade Works, we're filled with hope that the future can be changed, that Shirou would grow up differently, and become someone other than the Archer that would die for his beliefs and spend a purgatory enslaved to an unfeeling cosmic force, every moment confronted with the impossibility of his dreams.  And yet here, we see him consciously, deliberately, rejecting that potential outcome. Here, he's choosing to take another step down the road to becoming the white-haired, dark-skinned, red-clad cynic that seemed to hate everything that he became. At the same time, though, that's where all the difference lies. Shirou himself, through the crucible of confronting his own future, has chosen to accept it, judging the consequence to be worthwhile. He knows how impossible his dream is: A world where no one will ever have to suffer. But he's judged the struggle to put it into being to be worth the pain it will cause him, and possibly the compromises he'll be forced to make. That might sound fatalistic, but contrast his self-awareness here to the essential tragedy of his father, Kiritsugu. All his life, Kiritsugu made those compromises while searching for a miracle with the power to undo the need for sacrifice. Finding out that that miracle didn't exist was what broke him. Shirou faced the same challenge, but thanks in part to seeing - and fighting - his own future, as well as knowing how it turned out for dear old dad, chose to accept that cost. It's an interesting contrast to other, similar stories, especially once you try reading it - as so many other anime can be read - as a parable on growing up and learning to live with the hypocrisies and compromises of adult life. So many heroic stories reward protagonists for never compromising on their ideals. The takeaway for the teenaged Japanese audiences is to highlight the virtue in sticking to one's own guns, and never to accept the old men who undermine one's resolve with platitudes about "how the world works".  Here, though, Unlimited Blade Works, and more specifically this particular adaptation of it, shows another side of that resolve, acknowledging the truth about ideals: That they come at at price, and are often impossible to achieve, and that the true heroism lies not in simply holding those ideals, but to seek them all the same in the face of that impossibility, and to judge the price worth paying. 
Unlimited Blade Works photo
The Life After
And so the hero's journey begins. That's actually the weird thing here, as in these kinds of stories, most heroes are "born" at the beginning of the tale. A Link To The Past's hero is born when a green-clad youth leaves ...

Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episode 19

May 17 // Josh Tolentino
But let's not blow things out of proportion: Six good episodes outweighs a seventh less-good one, but it's hard to imagine that anyone but a Type-MOON fan with an *ahem* an especially hard lore-boner would get maximum enjoyment out of this week's installment. Given the need for Ufotable to fill some time I honestly hadn't expected the show to move straight ahead to Shirou's showdown with Archer. In a way it hasn't, since the episode saves the actual fight for next time, but I had assumed from the epilogue of episode 18 that episode 19 would be shifting focus to some sideline event while the Rin Rescue Rangers™ made their way to Einzbern castle. This was not the case. Instead, we skip straight to the main event, or rather the opening to it, as the squad arrives to confront Archer, though the primary confrontation that occurs here is of the conversational variety. If Rin's dream-time monologue gave viewers an insight into Archer's state of mind, this installment's lectures get deeper into the facts of Archer's past - and by extension, Shirou's (possible) future. At this point it's been long enough since I first played Fate/stay night to know how much of what's revealed here is new or expanded information, but they certainly get into much more detail than the Unlimited Blade Works movie ever managed to, exploring the circumstances of Rin's summoning Archer, his nature as a "Guardian" (an unusual type of Heroic Spirit), and to hearing the motivations for trying to murder his past self straight from the horse's mouth. The results, while intriguing for the dedicated fan, delve perhaps a little too deep into the weird rules of Fate creator Kinoko Nasu's "Nasu-verse" than is productive, especially not for the more casual, Fate/Zero-originated audience Unlimited Blade Works seemed designed to cater to. It doesn't help that what's actually said doesn't really make it clear just what Archer is, either. I'll take a stab at it, though. At some point in his future (detailed in the cold open), Shirou made a deal of some kind wth a big ol' CG effect, agreeing to become a Guardian in exchange for the power he thought he needed to fulfill his ideal of saving people. Except that as a Guardian, Shirou (now Archer) was more akin to a force of nature, an agent of balance. And forces of nature are rarely known for their compassion and life-preserving qualities. The tension between the merciless mandate of Guardianship and the broken little boy that just doesn't want anyone to cry took its toll, leading to the Archer of the present, now possessed of the belief that things would be better had he never existed, or at least never stuck to his heroic ambitions. But of course, Shirou won't ever give up on his ideals. It's who he is, for better and worse, and Archer knows it. Hence, the goal of murdering his past self. Honestly, it's a powerful conceit, and gets straight at the heart of Fate/stay night's three scenarios and their exploration of one's relationships to one's ideals and dreams. Unfortunately, it's all too caught up in Nasu's love of esoterica and oddball fantasy rules, and the strong core message gets drowned out the way Ufotable's digital effects can sometimes drown out the nice 2D linework (I'm looking at you, guy who adds too much damn smoke to all the fight scenes!) We also catch up with Rin, who suffers quite roundly. First there's sexual harassment from Shinji, who's even more of a dipshit here than he was in any previous take on Fate, then the reveal that Kirei was not only alive, but also murdered her dad back in Fate/Zero. And she's tied to a chair, and her Servant turned out to be a real tool. Being Rin is suffering. If there's anyone who comes out ahead here, it's Lancer and his fanbase. Ufotable's been especially kind to the Hound of Culann, giving him no shortage of badass moments in recent episodes, and even laying the groundwork for a fun little Rin x Lancer ship. If you've ever wondered why Fate/Extra's version of Rin showed up to the Grail War with Lancer in tow rather than Archer, their interactions from the last few episodes should make that particular story angle a no-brainer. But, as many fun little asides there are in this installment, it's hard to avoid the impression that Unlimited Blade Works is trying to run out the clock a little. There's more elegant ways to go about conveying this information, but unfortunately, the show's scheduled for several more episodes. [Watch Unlimited Blade Works on Crunchyroll!]
Unlimited Blade Works photo
Where You See Yourself In 10 Years
Ufotable's take on Unlimited Blade Works may be in many ways the Fate/stay night adaptation fans always wanted, but it's not without its sticking points. Besides the usual caveats that can be attached to a prop...

Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episodes 4-7

Nov 28 // Josh Tolentino
When last we checked in with Rin, Shirou and the gang, Saber and Archer had fought Berserker to a draw in ufotable's epic expansion on the first duel. Even Rin got a chance to shine, tossing jewels about like they weren't hideously expensive. As we open episode four, it's revealed that Ilya's go a mad on for her red headed stepbrother as a way of getting revenge on poor Kiritsugu, who can't catch a break, even when long dead. Shirou recovers from the fight, and decides to...go to school, against all proper logic and Rin's own insistence. This doubles up as a "date episode" of sorts, introducing Kuzuki, who is obviously a Master, and reminding the world that Mitsuzuri exists, as she ends up a plot device of sorts in episode six. What never jived with me when it came to Fate/stay night was the proliferation of unimportant side characters, by which I mean the classmates, like Mitsuzuri, Rin's friends, and even Issei. For the speaking roles they have, they never seemed to carry much narrative weight, and Fate's core cast is large enough to handle the task of making the world seem bigger than Shirou, the many girls somehow associated with him, and his enemies. Further still, they're rendered even more superfluous by ufotable's ensemble approach to pacing and structure, which ends up strengthening the core cast even more. In truth, the classmates were a holdover from Fate/stay night's visual novel structure, where players rarely if ever left Shirou's perspective. From that view, all the world-building had to come from Shirou himself, or people he talked to, and ultimately the classmates served as those terminals, particularly the more mundane aspects of Shirou's school life. That's barely a gripe, really, but it's something that stands out in light of the series. Of course, the happy side-effect is seeing a few moments of domestic bliss before the action scenes take over. It's moments like seeing Sakura and Taiga demand to harem it up with Shirou stay over to keep an eye on Saber, and of Rin's reaction to Shirou's blithe insistence on acting like nothing's wrong with him going to school in the middle of a death battle that drive home just how weird the Fifth Holy Grail War is. This is, of course, speaking from the perspective of this show's hypothetical ideal viewer, one who watched Fate/Zero first (and never played the game), and thus sees Unlimited Blade Works as a sort-of sequel to that work. Compared to the Fourth Grail War, this one's chock-full of people who don't actually want to have anything to do with the Holy Grail itself.  Shirou wants to win so bad things don't happen, Rin wants to win because she likes winning, Archer doesn't even want to bother, and would rather kill Shirou (more on that in a bit), and Ilya wants a shot at Shirou, and by extension, dear old dead daddy. Not even Shinji seems to have a particular wish in mind. Everyone's just bumbling around and doing whatever. It's a whole Grail War full of Ryuunosuke-types, more or less. Of course, that's part of the charm of it. If Rin had a real reason to want the Grail, she's be much less likely to be so adorable about wanting to kill Shirou properly. On the downside, seeing the Fifth Grail War from the perspective of more of its participants really, really makes Shirou look bad. I'm not kidding. It's amazing to see just how much of a putz Shirou looks like from a newcomer's perspective. He's got a moral fiber second to none, but nowhere near enough resources, know-how, or even common sense to make anything happen. We're seven episodes in and he's practically helpless against everyone except the girl that kinda-sorta likes him. It's both hilarious and distressing, because this guy's supposed to be the hero of the story.  Of course, it's not a spoiler to say that this state of affairs will turn around eventually, so seeing him this way should make seeing him as a badass that much more satisfying...eventually. Let's just hope it doesn't go on too long, because absolutely everyone is showing poor Shirou up. Speaking of showing people up, episode seven delivers the goods in a way that puts most other shows this season, and more than a few movies, to shame, in a set of truly glorious action sequences featuring first contact between Archer and Caster, and Saber and Assassin. It's a thing to behold, and truly cements ufotable's ascendance to top-tier status (as if it wasn't already there). Even as I write this, I've been looping the bit where Assassin uses his super-move, Tsubame-Gaeshi, and I can't help but think it a minor tragedy that the blu-rays of this series are likely to end up as a hyper-expensive Aniplex USA box set rather than a more affordable, traditionally licensed release. Not that they aren't worth it, mind you, but that the typical price point of such things puts them out of reach of a lot of anime-buyers, and this is a thing that should be sold wider than the premium market. Returning to the plot, Archer shows his colors here, and while I shan't spoil his and Shirou's connection, it's obvious that Archer knows more about himself and about Shirou than he's letting on, or willing to tell Rin. In a lot of ways, his attitude strikes me as a more arrogant, cocksure version of Kiritsugu, one fully aware of how far he's fallen and embittered by that fact. That awareness is what separates Archer from Kiritsugu, and Shirou from Archer. But it wasn't that Kiritsugu was "unaware". In Fate/Zero, Kiritsugu was tortured by the fact that he knew how much he didn't know. He knew of no other way to live than by the grim calculus of sacrificing the few for the many, and the main reason he sought the Grail was in the hopes of using its power to find a better way to save the world. The reason he decided to destroy it instead was because the Grail, in its corrupted state, couldn't find that way, and would've only made his "wish" come true through the means that Kiritsugu knew - through unimaginable holocaust. Archer, for his part, sounds like a guy that's already been let down completely, but unlike Kiritsugu, who was broken and too powerless to do anything about his betrayal, he's in a position to do something about it, and that involves good ol' fashioned murder. Of course, Rin isn't about to take all that lying down, so we'll have to see what she plans to do about this rank insubordination soon. I for one can only hope that the show will be able to top itself by the time this is all over.
Unlimited Blade Works photo
Also, Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers, as well as you savvy non-Americans who've appropriated their holiday as an excuse to stuff your faces! You might be full of coma-inducing food right about now, but we've got a n...

Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episodes 2-3

Oct 28 // Josh Tolentino
Don't get me wrong, it's all still fantastic to watch, and that kind of exposition is important in a setting with as many weird rules as Fate's, but standing in a church while George Nakata mocks Shirou's self-righteous redheaded ass doesn't feel like the best use of the time. Thankfully, the next episode makes up for all of that by going beyond - far beyond the call of duty, adapting and expanding on Berserker, Saber, and Archer's first fight in ways that set this show above even the source material. It feels cliche to call episode 3 a visual tour de force, but it really does help establish Ufotable as a top-tier studio. And not just for smoothness of animation or the complex, handcrafted sequences that usually populate all those "sakuga" showcase videos, but a real consistency of craft, and some really well-integrated use of CG effects. A lot of anime fans treat CG as the devil, and they're not entirely wrong to do so. Anime CG is usually pretty bad, and is often the sign of production shortcuts or other unsavory crutches. But I couldn't imagine Unlimited Blade Works looking better for its absence, at least not with the way it's used here. Here the CG is integrated into every aspect of the lighting and coloration, making all the magic effects really "pop", and drive home the superpowered aspect of mage and servant combat. Beyond that, the lengthy fight scene, which as far as I can remember goes far beyond the original game text, helps emphasize just how nuts combat can get when Servants are involved, and how seemingly suicidal people like Shirou come across as when they vow to fight alongside their Servants. Incidentally, it also establishes how much of an incredible feat it is to fight on the level of a Servant, which certain people will do, eventually. That's not really a spoiler. Another notable aspect of the show is just how deep the callbacks are to Fate/Zero. Scenes involving Kirei and Gilgamesh, as well as really subtle bits like Saber's reaction to seeing Ilya introduce herself, connect Unlimited Blade Works to Fate/Zero in a way that makes the original Fate story look like the sequel. Perhaps the most interesting perspective to watch this show from isn't that of a Fate/stay night fan, but from a non-gamer whose engagement with the Fate franchise began at Fate/Zero. How would such a viewer react to this less dark, more conventional story? Would they be angry that this weird newcomer named Shirou took over for all these adults with dark pasts from the last grail war? That's a viewpoint I wouldn't mind hearing.
Fate: UBW photo
Talking and fighting
The more I watch of Unlimited Blade Works, the more I'm convinced that everyone would've been better off if each episode were an hour long rather than the standard length. It'd work, even if the show became bi-weekly because ...

Anime photo

Ufotable's take on Fate/stay night UBW looks hot

Oh, and so does Heaven's Feel
Jul 28
// Elliot Gay
In what can only be described as a "oh wait, really?" kind of moment, Ufotable revealed this past Sunday that their upcoming new Fate/stay night TV series would be adapting the Unlimited Blade Works route of the video game. ...
Fate stay night photo
Fate stay night

New Fate/Stay Night trailer features Taiga's lesson

This ufotable remake looks just like the other ufotable anime, color me surprised
May 08
// Jeff Chuang
Aniplex Japan has posted a new trailer for the remake of Fate/Stay night by animation studio ufotable. It's not really different from the first Fate/Stay night trailer shown from Anime Japan earlier this year, but it's worth...
Fate stay night photo
Fate stay night

New Fate/stay night anime cast announced, trailers, speculations

Everybody returns for the new Grail War, sort of
Mar 25
// Jeff Chuang
The new Fate/stay night anime remake featuring a newly written story showed off its second animation trailer over the weekend at Anime Japan 2014. If you haven't heard, this is a new TV anime in the works that will be produc...
Fate/Stay Night photo
Fate/Stay Night

UDON to publish translated Fate/Stay Night Artbooks

Unlimited Art Works
Jan 04
// Pedro Cortes
UDON is forever busy bringing fans delicious art books to this side of the Pacific. Adding to the huge list of titles they're releasing in the near future, Fate/Complete Material Volume 1: Art Material will be available June ...

Japanator Arena: Nrvnqsr Chaos vs Soma Cruz

Oct 27 // Salvador G Rodiles
In the Red Corner: This Dead Apostle is made up of 666 creatures, and each one has an appetite for blood. Due to his tendency to devour humans on sight with his animals, we'll need to clear the way for Nrvnqsr Chaos before he kills us all.  In the Black Corner: He is one of the Dark Candidates that inherited Dracula’s powers after the 1999 incident that ended the Count's resurrection cycle. With the Power of Dominance by his side, Soma Cruz has the power to govern the spirits of any creature that he has slain. Before we move on to the rules of the match, I would like to point out that Soma will have access to every soul and weapon from all of the Castlevania games that he has appeared in. While both fighters contain an overwhelming amount of abilities at their disposal, the votes and persuasion skills of the audience will be the key ingredient in deciding the winner. When you choose your side, make sure that you add a +1 to the fighter that you pick; otherwise, this battle will end in chaos. Nrvnqsr and Soma will fight to the death from today until Thursday, so do your best to vote on time. Once the battle comes to a complete stop, you’re welcomed to drop by during the beginning of the next match to see who wins. Hopefully, no one will get consumed by any wandering creatures before the match is over. If anything, I'll need to strengthen the Jtor Arena's security while both fighters are locked in combat.  *ding, ding, ding* Open The Beast’s Lair!
Japanator Arena photo
Things are about to get chaotic around here
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Even with Victor's immense strength and ability to harness electrify through his body, Stein was smart enough to void the creature's electrifying grabs-- including the butt one. After Stein used ...

Kara no Kyoukai figure photo
Kara no Kyoukai figure

A new Ryogi Shiki figure preorder is future good news

Hot preorder from Kotobukiya
Oct 01
// Jeff Chuang
Back in 2008, Good Smile Company released a figure of Shiki Ryougi from Type-Moon's Garden of Sinners. It was a hot purchase back then and one of the few re-released by GSC through their 10th anniversary popularity ranki...
Japanator Arena photo
Welcome to our first team battle!
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Toshiro's ice abilities have no effect on Kuzan, so he had to resort to his Kido skills. Unfortunately, Toshiro's non ice abilities couldn't damage Kuzan. After converting the J-tor Arena into a ...

First Impressions: Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA

Jul 16 // Elliot Gay
Fate/Kaleid Liner Prism Illya essentially utilizes every magical girl trope you can think of, mixing it with the DNA of Type-Moon's popular Fate franchise. What kind of monster did they end up with? Your guess is as good as mine. Illya is a young girl with a bit of a crush on her step brother, Shiro. She finds herself constantly hoping he'll fall madly in love with her, caught up in her own fantasies. If only there was some kind of magic she could cast to make things go her way. One night while taking a bath, Illya is shocked when a talking magical rod named Ruby smashes into the bathroom and knocks a naked Shiro out cold, offering her the chance to become a magical girl. Skeptical and untrusting, Illya turns down the opportunity, but ends up getting tricked into entering a contract with Ruby. Things escalate even further when she's forced into a transformation, becoming magical girl Prism Illya. Just when things can't possibly get any worse, a young woman named Rin appears, claiming to be Ruby's true owner. She demands that Illya give the kaleidostick back, and while our heroine certainly wants to, the stubborn magical item refuses to budge. Wacky hijinks ensue, and Rin comes to the conclusion that she might as well leave Ruby with Illya for the time being. Things are about to get crazy for the young magical girl. I wasn't super familiar with studio Silver Link before coming into Fate/Kaleid, so I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from the animation or art. While I still think the faces look odd, this isn't a bad looking show. It certainly doesn't go above and beyond the call of duty, but it's competent and the brief bits of action in this first episode looked fine.  Illya is an adorable protagonist, and much to my surprise she's not quite your standard magical girl lead. When faced with the opportunity to acquire magical powers, she immediately rejects them, throwing the offer back in Ruby's face. It definitely feels like a parody of the genre, and to that effect I think Fate/Kaleid actually works. The whole sequence in the bath, while certainly fanservicey, is also genuinely funny. Rin and newcomer Livia are fun additions to the cast, with the former bringing a familiar face to the show and the latter being a wild card. It's fun getting to watch Rin play off of somebody as proud as she is. This is a show designed for fans of the Fate franchise, and it shows it with every cameo, every reference, and even in the way character's interact. It's a window into a universe where Illya doesn't have a cursed fate, Shiro has a happy, somewhat normal life, and the world doesn't completely fall to pieces. That being said, as much as I enjoyed episode one of Fate/Kaleid, I can't recommend it to anybody that isn't already a Type-Moon fan. Much of the show's appeal comes in the form of familiar characters in an unfamiliar situation, and I can't imagine that changing much over the next few episodes.  So I guess I'll be sticking with Fate/Kaleid for now. It's not exactly high on my list of priorities, but I don't mind turning my brain off for a bit to enjoy some stupid fun.  [Watch Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA on Crunchyroll!]
FI: Fate/Kaleid Liner  photo
I don't even know who I am anymore.
As much as I've enjoyed the Fate/Stay Night franchise, I have to admit that I've always felt that something was missing. Last year's Fate/Zero was a fabulous series filled with beautiful action, lovely animation, and a grippi...

Fate/Zero BD/DVD photo
Fate/Zero BD/DVD

Huzzah! Fate/Zero gets a NA BD/DVD release with the dub

Maybe this time you won't pay a bajillion dollars!
Jul 08
// Elliot Gay
I'm in love with Ufotable's Fate/Zero anime adaptation.  On a technical level, it's a beautiful looking show with fantastic direction, a great soundtrack, and amazing cinematography. In fact, I loved it so much that I bo...
Fate/Kaleid licensed photo
Fate/Kaleid licensed

Sentai Filmworks licences Fate/Kaleid magical girl series

All the Illya you can handle.
Jul 07
// Elliot Gay
Earlier today, I watched the first episode of Fate/Stay Night spin-off, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya. It's cute, a bit weird, and the faces seem kind of off. All told, I actually enjoyed it more than I was expecting to, so ...
Fate/kaleid Liner photo
Fate/kaleid Liner

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya finally gets a trailer

Surprise! It's full of cute things.
Apr 26
// Elliot Gay
A three minute preview for Silver Link's upcoming Fate/stay night spinoff anime, Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya has hit the web, and it's full of cute things. This should surprise approximately nobody.  The original man...

Go West! Week Forty-Four: Fate/Ninja Moon Types

Apr 02 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of March 24 - 30: Playstation Vita: Sei Madou MonogatariCompile HeartOnline Price: $74.90 Folks may not realize this, but Compile's Madou Monogatari series goes back quite a long way. The first game was released for the MSX back in 1989, and at the time was a first person dungeon crawler. The last full blown release was in 1998 for the Sega Saturn, so the fact that a new game hit store shelves is sort of a big deal for some people. Or at least it would be if the series looked anything like it used to. You see, Compile Heart is a completely different beast compared to the old Compile, and they're much more focused on the hardcore otaku market. As such, Sei Madou Monogatari is a much more moe-fied product than its precursors. Cute and scantily clad characters run through dungeons to collect ingredients to make curry. Sei Madou Monogatari abandons the first person perspective of the earlier games, opting for an isometric view of the field that's a bit more becoming of a rogue-like such as this. I personally haven't picked this up, though I hear it's quite a bit of fun, despite looking like a PS1-era game in some places. Most of Compile Heart's recent output has found its way west in some form or another, so I'd hold off on grabbing this one for a little bit.  Muramasa RebirthVanillawareOnline Price: $53.90 The other big Vita release for this week is a port of Vanillaware's 2D action RPG, Muramasa. The game is just as beautiful as it was on the Wii, if not more, but otherwise it doesn't add a whole lot to the original game. There're actually four new scenarios coming to Muramasa Rebirth, but all of them are going to be arriving in the form of paid DLC; undoubtedly lame considering there's pretty much no new content in this Vita version.  On the plus side, Rebirth does add a jump button, which fixes my biggest problem with the original Wii release. Having to press up to jump in a game like this was damn near game breaking, and I'm happy that I can finally enjoy the game this time around. As for why this release is important for the rest of you folks? Aksys Games will be bringing this one over to the west, and they'll be doing a full re-localization of the game. Ignition's terrible translation of the original Wii release felt more like they were paraphrasing each line, often leaving out interesting little details and quirks. It's an extremely shoddy translation for a game that's actually written quite well, so I'm looking forward to Aksys Games finally doing it some justice. Don't import this one. Playstation Portable: Fate/Extra CCCMarvelous EntertainmentOnline Price: $66.90 After countless delays, Fate/Extra CCC has finally hit store shelves. I was a bit concerned that overall interest in the game had died down due to the push backs, but according to the word on the street, it's been selling quite well. Fate/Extra CCC is the quasi sequel to Fate/Extra, in that rather than continuing right off from the end of the first game, it functions as an alternative scenario. Or at least that's what the developers have been saying for some time, though after playing four hours for myself, I have my doubts about the truth of those statements. In addition to Saber, Archer, and Caster, Fate franchise fans can now select Gilgamesh as their servant, which I'm sure will lead to lots of fantastic moments of Gil nudity.  Otherwise, this plays almost exactly like the first game, only with some minor adjustments here and there. Dungeons now have save points within them, fixing one of my biggest frustrations with Fate/Extra. There was nothing fun about spending an hour or two in a dungeon only to get unlucky and be killed by some random enemy, having to start over from your old save file. The story itself is a bit slow to get going; it took me two and a half hours before I hit the first tutorial fight and dungeon. That being said, the premise seems interesting, and if you're a fan of Sakura, she's already gotten more screen time in the first four hours than she did in the entirety of Fate/Extra. In fact, this is starting to feel a lot like the Heaven's Feel route to the original Extra's Unlimited Blade Works. A year ago, I would have told you that there's no chance that Fate/Extra CCC would ever make it overseas. Now? I honestly have no clue. Aksys Games has been picking up PSP games left and right, and it wouldn't really surprise me all that much if they went ahead and threw Type Moon fans a bone. Dungeon Travelers 2Aqua PlusOnline Price: $64.90 I still can't believe Dungeon Travelers got a sequel. What exactly is Dungeon Travelers, you ask? Well, it's a first person dungeon crawler that takes characters from the popular eroge, To Heart, and throws them into an RPG setting. Each female character is dressed in as little clothing as possible, and everybody finds themselves in hyper sexual situations in which their clothes fall off. Even monsters take the form of attractive, scantily clad anime girls! Wacky hijinks for everybody! I'm sorry, I just can't take this game even remotely seriously. I'm totally cool with fanservice, but this is just a big ole bag of 'what the hell.' I suppose you could import this if you're a big To Heart fan, but wouldn't you rather read the superior visual novels instead?  Megpoid the Music SharpParaphreOnline Price: $64.90 I honestly don't know much about Megpoid.  I know that it's a rhythm game not entirely unlike the Project Diva series. I also know it stars Gumi, a popular Vocaloid created by INTERNET, but powered by the Vocaloid2 tech. I've seen her albums around all over the place, but I don't think it ever registered that she's popular enough to get her own music game. Honestly, it looks like a kind of low budget Project Diva knock off. I could be completely off the mark on this, but unless you're a massive Gumi fan, I'd recommend just grabbing any of the Project Diva games instead. Those are proven rhythm titles. Geten no HanaKoei Tecmo GamesOnline Price: $66.90 Our heroine is a young ninja who has lived in a small village all of her life, training for her next mission. One day a letter arrives from Oda Nobunaga's castle, requesting her presence. As it turns out, his generals want to 'keep' her. Surrounded by Oda's closest men, and forced to pretend to be a princess, just what are the feelings building inside of her heart? ... Huh. That's not exactly what I expected. The premise sounded interesting at the start, but left me feeling cold by the typical 'she falls in love with everybody' direction. I'd love to see this scenario done well, but that'd require the romance to grow organically. Still, if you're an otome game fan and you dig Japanese history, this could be a wise pickup. Just make sure your Japanese is up to the task. Gakuoh -The Royal Seven Stars- + MeteorAlchemistOnline Price: $74.90 The setting? The super high class Genesis Academy, a school city for rich, famous, and talented youngsters. The main character, Hiroto, is the prince of a tiny world far off from planet Earth. Unfortunately for him, he's not even close to being next in line for the throne. Wanting to flee from the tedium of everyday life, he looks to study abroad at Genesis. His mother gives her blessing, but on one condition: he must conquer Genesis and become its absolute leader! Attractive classmates, bonds of friendship, and lots of love making later, will Hiroto be able to conquer Genesis Academy?! I got nothing on this one. It sounds generic. It looks generic. Just writing about it makes me feel generic. Pass! Princess ArthurIdea FactoryOnline Price: $64.90 No, this isn't Fate/Stay night. I know, that makes me sad too. There once was a holy sword. It was said that whoever could pull this sword from its place of rest would become the next king of the land. Many would step up to the challenge, but only one individual would able to unsheathe the blade. That person would not be of royalty or of wealth; she would be an innocent young girl. Forced to live the life of a king, the young girl would go on to receive instruction from the legendary wizard, Merlin, and even meet the Knights of the Round Table. The young girl would stand on the battlefield holding the holy sword, tears streaming down her cheeks as she wondered why she was chosen. This young girl would go on to know love. And through her love, she would take up her sword and cut open destiny with her very own hands, so that she might change the destiny of her beloved. Idea Factory, I gotta hand it to you. This week you've managed to stand above the rest of the crop. I'm a huge Fate/Stay night fan, and this really doesn't sound half bad. I'll probably never play this game, but I can at least nod my head and pretend it's worth playing. Otome game fans might want to look into this one. King Arthur lore is always a blast. Rebellions: Secret Game 2nd StageYetiOnline Price: $72.90 Fourteen young men and women are trapped on an island, bombs wrapped around their necks in the form of tiny collars. Each are given a PDA with a specific mission that they must fulfill in order to progress in the game. Anything goes; murdering your fellow game players is even encouraged. If a player does not complete his/her mission, the bomb around their next explodes, killing them instantly. In order to survive, will these young men and women make new allies, or will they pick up a weapon and put it all on the line? A new game begins. So basically, this is Battle Royale? Because that's certainly the impression I'm getting from the synopsis. If the art style were less generic, I'd actually be pretty interested in picking this one up. Anybody play the first game? Shinigami Kagyou: ~Kaidan Romance~QuinRoseOnline Price: $68.90 The average person may not realize it, but there are spirits wandering towns all over the world. The main character of this story is a fairy with a special job: she's a grim reaper in charge of taking the lives of the living. At night, she leaves her company to do the dirty deeds. One day, a man she was supposed to have killed has reportedly come back to life. Confused and unsure of what to do, our heroine finds herself mixed up in events that will go on to completely change her everyday 'life.' I can always count on QuinRose to deliver a interesting premise, despite how unappealing the artwork is. I like the idea that the heroine just goes around killing people everyday, as it makes for an exceptionally dark setting from which the narrative can grow out of. I know there are a few QuinRose fans reading this column, so you folks'll have to let me know if this is as cool as it sounds. [And that's it for this week, romeos and juliets. It was a significantly more packed edition of Go West! than I was expecting, but what can you do when companies release their PSP visual novels all at once? The release schedule should be slowing down for a bit, but there's still some good stuff on the horizon. Make sure to leave your questions below, and keep an eye out for Go West! 45. Catch you all later!]
Go West! 44 photo
Fate/Extra CCC finally hits stores.
Salutations, and welcome to Go West! 44, your [sometimes] weekly column about the latest games to hit store shelves in Japan. I'm your host, Elliot, and I'd like to take you on a magical journey into the deepest, darkest abys...

Garden of Sinners WOO photo
Garden of Sinners WOO

The Garden of Sinners Mirai no Fukuin has a new trailer

Apr 01
// Elliot Gay
Garden of Sinners. Type Moon is at it again. Can't wait for summer.

Wait, what? Neon Alley to summon Fate/Zero's English dub

I guess this is sort of a good thing?
Feb 06
// Salvador G Rodiles
I didn't think that I would live to see Fate/Zero and English dub in the same sentence, since many of us assumed that Aniplex's release of Fate/Zero's import set would nullify the possibility of seeing a release wi...

Fate/Extra CCC gets another character introduction video

Jan 31
// Elliot Gay
It's hard to believe that Fate/Extra CCC is finally hitting Japanese shelves in March. I'm still looking forward to seeing where this quasi-sequel goes, though I have to admit that the Sakura lookalikes have ridiculously stu...

Friday Night Fights: Homura vs Kiritsugu

Jan 25 // Salvador G Rodiles
Friday Night Fights photo
Will the gun wielding Puella Magi triumph over the Magus Killer?
*ding, ding, ding* It's over! Red XIII is taking quite a blow from Repede's swift knife attacks -- very impressive, Repede. And right as Repede readies one of his Artes, Red XIII attacks with Cosmo Memory. Luckily, ...


The new Tsukihime remake is looking great in this trailer

Pretty pictures for everybody!
Jan 16
// Elliot Gay
I guess at this point all Type Moon fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief. It would appear as though TM is actively working on their Tsukihime remake. Huzzah! The above trailer is only a couple minutes long, but it sh...

Check This Out: Type-Moon / The Nasuverse

Jan 08 // Irothtin
Tsukihime Tsukihime was more or less the first Type-Moon work to receive critical acclaim; the original eroge visual novel was released in 2000, and you could argue the company hasn't looked back since. It focuses on Shiki, son of the high-class Tohno family, who gets into a nearly fatal accident as a child. He miraculously survives, though when he wakes up he has no memories of the incident and can see strange lines over everything: his hospital bed, the doctors, even himself. Shiki discovers that if he cuts along these lines, then objects simply fall apart, no matter how sturdy they were before. Confronted with the fragility of the world, Shiki only manages to keep sane thanks to the efforts of one Aoko Aozaki, a strange woman he meets in a park near the hospital. She claims to be a Magician, despite her bohemian demeanour, and gives Shiki a pair of seemingly magic glasses that hide the "lines of death" he is forced to see. She tells him to be responsible with his abilities - his "Mystic Eyes of Death Perception" - and then vanishes just as quickly as she appeared. Ten years later, Shiki is a high school student, returning to the Tohno estate for the first time since the accident. Walking home, he sees a beautiful foreign woman, and is suddenly overcome with intense bloodlust. Using his powers, he kills her in an instant, cutting her into seventeen pieces. Shiki is understandably a bit shaken up about this, even more so when she's waiting for him on the way to school the very next day. Her name is Arcueid Brunestud, vampire, and she expects Shiki to take full responsibility for killing her. Things only get more complicated from there on, really. For one, the original Tsukihime has five separate routes, as you might expect from an eroge visual novel. Arcueid has her own route, as does Ciel (Shiki's schoolmate), Akiha (his younger sister), as well as one each for Hisui and Kohaku, the two young maids who serve Shiki and Akiha in the Tohno mansion. Infamously, there was another route planned for Shiki's other classmate, Satsuki, but it was cut from the final release. Isn't it sad, Sacchin? Related to Tsukihime are also Kagetsu Tohya, which is a sequel of sorts with a bunch of short stories, and Melty Blood, a fighting game that takes place a year after the original story, involving Sion Eltnam Atlasia, a mysterious magus and alchemist from the Atlas Association in Egypt. She's searching for a cure to vampirism, hoping Arcueid will be able to help, and otherwise hunting a very dangerous vampire known as Tatari, whom she may have ties with... In the wider Nasuverse canon, Tsukihime makes a good starting point. Unlike, say, Fate/Stay Night, which introduces multiple concepts rapid-fire (and which we'll get to, I promise), Tsukihime is comparatively simple for the most part: it introduces the concept of vampires, which are split into two categories: True Ancestors and Dead Apostles. That's about all you really have to remember, and even that much is arguably unnecessary for getting enjoyment out of this series. Tsukihime has both an anime and manga adaptation, and if you've been around a while, you may have heard of the anime's absolutely terrible reputation. Let me assure you that this is completely true, and you should avoid the Tsukihime anime at all costs. The manga, on the other hand, is an excellent adaptation of the VN's first route, while also folding in pertinent information from the other routes. I recommend any newcomers to the series to read the manga, since it's the most easily accessible of the three versions and captures the main bits perfectly. Also notable is the remake of the original VN, which is in the works, though there's no set release date. Don't expect it for another few years yet; go for the original VN if you're interested. Kara no Kyoukai Also known as Garden of Sinners, Kara no Kyoukai is the story of Shiki. Shiki Ryougi, that is: a woman, and entirely unrelated to Shiki Tohno of a couple paragraphs above. This was originally a series of novels, but in the late 2000s, studio UFOtable made a series of animated films based on them. Also notable is that the novels were written prior to Tsukihime, and this is more or less considered the prototype for it, sharing many concepts and character archetypes. That said, vampires are uninvolved and it is way more confusing, even for an initiate like me. Bear with me here. Shiki Ryougi seems to be the odd girl out in school. She's part of an old, prestigious family, one with strange traditions where they train children from birth to possess multiple personalities: one male and one female. Despite Shiki's general weirdness and her penchant for knives, all-around nice guy Mikiya Kokutou still wants to get to know her better. They get closer and closer, until... well, I won't spoil it. Shiki wakes up from a coma some time later, with bandages around her eyes. She feels disconnected from her own memories, like they're from somebody else. In her mind, where the male personality she's had since birth once was, there is now nothing. Not just normal nothing, but complete void. Emptiness. Shiki tries to gouge out her own eyes, eyes that somehow now see the Death of things, but a mysterious woman stops her. She claims to be a magician named Touko Aozaki, and tells Shiki that it would be too wasteful to get rid of the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. Shiki and Mikiya eventually end up joining Touko's freelance detective agency, and deal with all sorts of strange happenstance around the city: rogue mages, psychics, ghosts, serial murderers... and all the while, we come to understand a bit more about Shiki's circumstances and about the strange world she lives in. And if that sounds boring, I suppose there's a lot of killing involved too, so don't worry. As I mentioned above, Garden of Sinners is pretty darn complex. A lot of the concepts that are important in a wider context - such as Akasha and the Counter Force, which frankly play huge roles behind the scenes of the verse - are introduced and explored in here, but it's hard to grasp them unless you have the understanding from other works. Hell, even if you have the understanding from other works, it's still hard to grasp. Expect to be utterly lost during your first viewing of the movies; don't worry, a bunch of us still are too. Mahoutsukai no Yoru Alright, I admit I'm cheating here. This is Type-Moon's latest visual novel, and there isn't any English translation patch out for it yet, so all of the info (and by "info" I mean "half-assed plot summary") that I'm listing here is second-hand. But it's relevant! I swear! We just won't be spending very much time on this one. Mahoutsukai no Yoru is the story of Aoko Aozaki's high school days. If you've been paying attention like a good little reader, then you should recognize that name as the woman who gave Shiki Tohno his magical glasses back up in Tsukihime. Here, though, she's just an amateur magus, training under her far more experienced friend, Alice Kuonji. Things get a bit complicated when a naive country bumpkin named Soujuurou Shizuki arrives in town, shacking up with Aoko and Alice. Although, that's nothing compared to Touko Aozaki showing up with magical familiar in tow, looking for her little sister... I believe the original print novel for this was the first thing Nasu wrote way back when, and it never really got published. The visual novel (not an eroge this time) was infamously in development hell for years before being released, and apparently there are a couple sequels planned. Commie Subs are working on a translation patch, as is Cokesakto, the one-man translation team who did most of the Garden of Sinners novels. Fate/Stay Night Alright, here's the big one. Fate/Stay Night is by far the most famous Type-Moon / Nasu work, originally released in 2004 to overwhelmingly positive response. If you're heard of anything Type-Moon related, Fate/Stay Night is probably what you've heard of. I first got into the whole universe via the anime adaptation, which is... not great, but passable. The manga adaptation is unfortunately pretty bad, and I have to warn against checking it out. Also notable is that F/SN has all manner of spinoffs, from light novel to video game to anime. We'll be getting into most of them, but we have to start it all off with the original story here. Fate/Stay Night focuses around Shirou Emiya, an amateur magus. His adoptive father and magic teacher died a few years ago, but Shirou still practices his (frankly shoddy) magecraft every day. One night while returning from school, he witnesses two strange men fighting, having unwittingly stumbled upon what is known as the Holy Grail War, or "Heaven's Feel": an ancient magic ritual where seven souls of legendary heroes ("Servants" in the forms of seven different classes: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Assassin, and Berserker) are summoned to battle in the modern day over the Holy Grail, which can grant any wish. The War is supposed to be carried out in secret, however, and so all witnesses must be killed, including our hero. Shirou's about to get a spear through his chest for his trouble, but he somehow manages to summon a beautiful young woman; specifically, a Saber class Servant, considered to be the most powerful of the seven classes. Shortly afterwards, he finds out that his classmate and the school idol Rin Tohsaka is also a participant in the Holy Grail War, as the Master of Servant Archer, and she informs him of the situation: Shirou is now a Master, and that means he and Saber have to fight the other six teams for possession of the Holy Grail. Unlike Tsukihime, the F/SN visual novel only has three routes: "Fate", focusing on Shirou's relationship with Saber (also providing the source material for the anime adaptation), "Unlimited Blade Works", which concerns itself with Shirou's own past and his relationship with quintessential tsundere Rin, and "Heaven's Feel", which is about the history of the Holy Grail War itself and involves Shirou's mysterious underclassmen and friend, Sakura Matou. I could go on and on about Fate/Stay Night but I'm cutting it short here for brevity, since we have a whole laundry list of spinoffs and other material to cover, and that's not even including pseudo-sequel Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, which centers around the supposedly-dead Bazett Fraga McRemitz and her mysterious Servant Avenger, or Fate/Unlimited Codes, a fighting game for the PSP. Suffice to say that if you're at all interested by what I've outlined above (and come on, with legendary heroes fighting it out, who wouldn't be?), you owe it to yourself to check out F/SN, whether it be the original visual novel or the anime adaptation. And first on our Fate spin-off list is... Fate/Zero If you've been following anime at all over the past year, you've probably heard of this one. Fate/Zero is a prequel, taking place ten years before Fate/Stay Night and focusing around the Fourth Holy Grail War (the Fifth taking place during F/SN). It centers around Kiritsugu Emiya - the man who adopted Shirou - as the Master of the very same Saber-class Servant we all know and love, and his journey to claim the Holy Grail to save the world. It started out as a multi-volume light novel by Gen Urobuchi of Saya no Uta and Puella Magi Madoka Magica fame, and was adapted as an excellent 25 episode TV anime by Studio UFOtable in 2011-2012. Keep wary of this one, though. Yes, it's a prequel, but it was written after F/SN and thus kind of expects that you're already familiar with what's going on. Spoilers for the first work are all over the place in Fate/Zero, other concepts from the verse (like the Mage's Association) are expanded upon in ways that only a fan can appreciate, and certain plot elements make no sense unless you already know they're coming. Even so, it's filled with awesome action and great characters, and Fate/Zero is absolutely worth your time. Fate/Extra Fate/Extra is a PSP game released in 2010, and it takes place in an alternate universe from the normal continuity, where the power of mana has drained from the earth. So, instead of having a Holy Grail War between seven Masters and Servants in Fuyuki City, the war takes place in an enclosed area of cyberspace called the Moon Cell, waged tournament-style between 128 Masters and Servants. You play as an amnesiac, male or female and named by you, and can select to use either a Saber, Archer, or Caster class Servant at the start of the game, changing the way you fight your battles drastically. For example, while it's fine to just bash your way through the game as Saber, Caster is much weaker physically, and thus requires careful management of skills and MP. Battles are fought via a simplistic Rock-Paper-Scissors system, where getting three correct shots in a row leads to extra damage and where memorizing enemy patterns is the key to victory. At the start of each in-game week, you meet your next opponent, and you have the rest of the time to grind your way up in the dungeons of the Moon Cell and try to discover the true identity of your opponent's Servant. Since all Servants are figures from story and legend, knowing their true name also means you know their strengths and weaknesses, which translates into seeing which attacks they're going to use when. This might sound a bit lame, but there's a good story going on here too. While trying to piece together information about your enemies is top priority to avoid dying miserably in the Arena, you have to do the same for yourself. Who are you? Why are you participating in the Holy Grail War? For that matter, who exactly is your Servant? And, as you may expect from anything set up as an elimination tournament, you have to deal with fighting the same people who were your friends and allies. Aksys licensed the game and brought it over to America in late 2011, and you can find it rather easily on Playstation Network. Coming out later this year (in Japan) is Fate/Extra CCC, which is a sequel of sorts (are you sensing a theme here with Type-Moon stuff getting odd pseudo-sequels?), presumably starring some new enemy Servants and with a new plot involving this universe's version of Sakura Matou. Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILYA I don't really want to talk about this one. Suffice to say that it's a spinoff manga about the character Ilyasviel von Einzbern (aka Ilya) becoming a magical girl who uses powers themed off of the different Servant classes. It's slated to get an anime adaptation later this year by studio Silverlink. MOVING ON! Fate/Apocrypha Fate/Apocrypha was first revealed in 2011, along with a whole bevy of new Servant designs, stated to be plans for a cancelled online game of some sort. But, apparently it ended up becoming pretty popular, since it was announced only a few months afterwards that Fate/Apocrypha would be revived as a series of light novels penned by Yuichiro Higashide. Apocrypha takes place in yet another alternate universe, one where the Holy Grail in Fuyuki was stolen after the Third Holy Grail War and taken to Romania, where the Yggdramillennia family (yeah, I know it's dumb) plans to summon it for their own purposes. The Mage's Association sends their own group of Masters to stop them and the Holy Grail War begins again, this time as a battle of seven "Red" Servants versus seven "Black" Servants, with a special Ruler-class Servant overseeing the battle. As of this writing, only the first volume of the novel has been released, and new information is still trickling out as fans are scrambling to translate it. I believe Commie Subs is currently planning on doing so, and a separate translation of a preview chapter released last year is floating around the internet somewhere as well. And, lastly, we have a very special spin-off, one that involves Tsukihime as well... Carnival Phantasm This is a highly-enjoyable comedy OVA by Studio Lerche released over the tail end of 2011, based partly off an official doujin called "Take-Moon". As you may expect from comedy anime, it takes all the characters from their super serious normal settings, turns all of their silly character quirks up to eleven, and plays it all for as many laughs as it can get away with. Carnival Phantasm is funny if you're familiar with Fate/Stay Night and/or Tsukihime, but I particularly like it because it rewards the more hardcore fans of the universe. A lot of the jokes refer to obscure trivia or little-known characters, and it does it all without missing a beat. You get the feeling it was made by real fans of these works, and Carnival Phantasm is all the better for it. Also included as a bonus feature of the last volume was Fate/Prototype, which is a fake trailer based on Nasu's original notes for Fate/Stay Night that he wrote in high school. This includes Saber as a man with a female Master, and several other differences in the plot. It's worth checking out, if only to see what could have been. Whew. That's sure a lot, isn't it? I could get into other stuff like Decoration Disorder Disconnection (which I haven't even read yet) or Angel Notes (which involves The Ultimate Ones from other planets such as Type-Saturn, Type-Venus, and yes, Type-Moon, invading Earth), but I'll leave those for the more curious of you lot. I don't want to scare you off, after all, though I imagine listing everything like this may have done that already. Any one of these works is worth checking out on their own, but together they form a crazy web of amazing; a fascinating, comprehensive universe that deserves to be watched, read, and experienced. I hope that by writing this I've convinced at least one person to check out at least one of the works I've listed. and I sincerely hope you enjoy it if you do.
A promoted article from Irothin!
[Hot on the heels of the last promoted story, here we have the first of many in 2013! Our good friend Irothin has stepped up to the challenge of this months blogging topic, and wants to introduce you guys to Type-Moon. If you...


Check out the Tsukihime remake's new character art

New Tsukihime news? It's a miracle!
Dec 13
// Elliot Gay
I know, I'm surprised too. How often is it that we actually get new news on Type Moon's upcoming Tsukihime visual novel remake? Images have leaked of the brand new character designs, which I've included in the tiny galle...

Friday Night Fights: Tenchi Muyo's Tenchi vs Saber

Dec 07 // Salvador G Rodiles
[embed]27418:1907[/embed] [embed]27418:1908[/embed]
Who wields the greater sword of power?
*ding, ding, ding* It's over! Poor Dragonar-1 Custom, he had the proper weapons to obliterate Lancelot Conquista, but not many folks on here got to experience his show. Lancelot Conquista wins! (5 > 2) Two i...


These Fate/Zero cushions are manly as hell

So much man action
Dec 05
// Elliot Gay
There's no hiding that Fate/Zero filled me with all sorts of happy feelings. It's one of my favorite shows from the past five years, and I go to bed every night while caressing my BD sets.  Ok, that last part isn't true,...

Fate/EXTRA CCC's Gilgamesh is as arrogant as ever

Nov 15
// Elliot Gay
I really dug Fate/EXTRA for the PSP. Despite its many issues, I found the story to be an engaging take on the Fate/Stay night mythos. I was pleased as punch to read that a sequel was in development, and then disappointed as ...
Only one will survive.
*ding, ding, ding*  After a long hiatus, the J-tor Arena is open again for Friday Night Fights. And until things move on to the next phase, JT has left me in charge of picking out the participants for each new fight. Bef...

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