One of the big titles that graced the anime world last year was Fate/Zero, the prequel to the popular Fate/Stay Night series. Originally created by Nitro+ and produced by ufotable and Aniplex, the anime is split into a 13-episode season which ended in December, and a 12-episode season which will continue this April.
Set 10 years before Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero details the events which took place during the 4th Holy Grail War, a battle between 7 magi and their summoned hero servants for possession of the Holy Grail. A magi is defeated if his summoned hero is killed or if he is killed, and the last one standing gets a wish granted by the Grail. Magi from various walks of life, including assassins, priests, teachers, scholars, and serial killers are all a part of the war and their servants represent the greatest legends in human history.
Unlike Fate/Stay Night, which was mostly focused on action, Fate/Zero exchanges a lot of action scenes for more character development and an in-depth story. That’s not to say that there is no action though. While there isn’t a battle every other episode, when there is one, you can be sure that it’ll have some jaw-dropping moves with brilliant animation and special effects. I would not recommend showing it to a young audience due to extreme violence and sounds that suggest mutilation.
Most of the season is spent introducing the characters and exploring their background. Since there are 7 magi, each with a servant, participating in the war, that makes at least 14 characters with backstories to fill. Some may say that it’s a waste of time and that the series should just get to the good parts, but I think knowing each character’s desires and purpose for seeking the Holy Grail makes it all the more exciting when they’re forced to fight to the death.
One of the plot points that is presented early on is the battle of wits between two of the magi: Kiritsugu Emiya and Kirei Kotomine. Even before any fighting begins, these two characters identify each other as the greatest threat to their success without having ever met. Kiritsugu is a magi assassin hired to win the Holy Grail War for the Einzbern family, but it torn between completing his job and protecting his family. Kirei is a Christian priest who questions his purpose in life. While seemingly devout to God, he shows no remorse when it comes to murder and sacrifice. The skirmishes between these two show that battles do not have to be fought with guns and swords to be good. Other characters have similarly intriguing backgrounds that give each a purpose and puts much more on the line when a battle between servants occurs.
A true war is fought with brains and not just brawn, and Fate/Zero manages to portray that perfectly. It might bore an audience looking for senseless bloodshed, but it will certainly captivate anyone who enjoys the finer aspects of a battle royale.