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Anime review: ‘Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works’

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Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works


This week, on June 12, 2012, anime publisher Sentai Filmworks releases “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” and we took the opportunity to review this additional story arc focused anime feature.

As a little bit of background I should tell you this about “Fate/stay night”. The series is based on a visual novel from Type-Moon and follows a young man with magical ability named Shiro Emiya, who is suddenly dragged into a dangerous conflict called the Holy Grail War when a woman named Saber suddenly appears before him and claims to be his servant after saving Shiro from being killed by Lancer. With the help of Rin, a fellow master, Shiro learns that each master is given a servant, who is actually a legendary hero, and is pitted against one another in order to gain the Holy Grail, which is said to be able to grant any wish.

“Unlimited Blade Works” follows one of the visual novel’s multiple arcs in which Shiro and Rin play the main roles. As Shiro learns more about the Grail Wars he wants nothing more than to put an end to them and eventually become a hero himself, but the two come under attack from Caster and her master, who are manipulating other servants to do their bidding. This includes kidnaping Saber and attempting to get Archer to betray Rin by changing sides.

All of the previous TV series’ characters make their appearances, but instead of having Shiro and Saber grow closer to one another more time is spent on Shiro’s dream and his relationship with Rin, as well as Rin’s servant, Archer, whom we learn a lot more than expect about. While the story arc is entertaining to see unfold due to the length, roughly an hour and forty-five minutes, there just isn’t enough time to develop the story the way that it needed.

The feature does manage to get the story across, it just felt rushed as the characters jump from one battle or major event to the next without any downtime. There are also many questions that are left unanswered by the end, which did hurt the story a little. This actually feels a bit strange to say but maybe due to the TV series’ length I was expecting a bit more filler. Many of the great battles are there, though a bit shorter than I would have liked to see.

Visually “Unlimited Blade Works” looked great, Studio Deen did a great job with the battle scenes and the overall animation was smooth, bright and had a nice amount of detail. The characters also had great designs, they looked much like their appearances in the TV series, though everything seemed to have just a bit more style, Berserker especially seemed to look much more impressive.

Between the two dub options, Japanese and English, the Japanese voice cast offered the best option as they matched their character better and seemed to sell their character’s emotions. There was something about the English cast that just didn’t sound right, the voice actors didn’t sound too far off as far as matching their characters but it felt way too forced when they had to get their feelings across. The English subtitles all read well and have nice flow while also remaining on screen for a fair length of time. If you are going to watch the feature I would recommend the Japanese dub first.

“Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” comes in either a Blu-ray or DVD case on one disc and features a nice looking image of the four main characters on the cover. Aside from trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases there were no extra features to speak of.
All-in-all “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” is an entertaining film that provides a retelling of the TV series with some interesting plot changes. The length of the feature hurts the character’s development and does leave some plot holes in the story, but as far as action goes there is plenty to keep fans watching.

If you enjoy action packed anime or are a fan of the original “Fate/stay night” TV series then “Unlimited Blade Works” is worth a watch. There is one major drawback about “Unlimited Blade Works” that will definitely hurt the experience for those new to the franchise though, if you haven’t watched at least the TV series then you will feel lost as the characters don’t really get introductions.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
: Sentai Filmworks
: 105 minutes
Number of Discs
: 1 DVD (also available on Blu-ray)
: English, Japanese with English subtitles
Age Rating
: TV14
Release Date
: June 12, 2012

(A review copy of “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” on DVD was provided by Sentai Filmworks.)