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Fate/Zero – “Summoning Ancient Heroes” – Episode 1 Recap

by on October 3, 2011

Taking place ten years
before the events in Fate/stay night, Fate/Zero details the fourth Holy
Grail War- a battle among seven masters and servants to obtain the relic
that will grant any wish to the winner. The servants are divided into
seven classes (Archer, Saber, Assassin, etc) and feature the world’s
greatest warriors from history. The masters are magi in the present that
have been specifically chosen by the Holy Grail to participate. While Fate/stay night followed Emiya Shirou and his servant Saber (King
Arthur) on their quest to obtain the Holy Grail, Fate/Zero is centered
around Emiya’s father Kiritsugu- the mage killer.

following a series with mixed reviews, Fate/Zero comes with a healthy
amount of anticipation. Taking historical (mythical or real) figures and
turning them into powered fighters is an interesting concept, and the
battle royale-esque set-up of the Holy Grail War makes for an
entertaining storyline. Part of the fun with the first series was
watching Emiya grow into a capable master for Saber. This time around
Saber has been summoned by someone who is proficient in magic. For old
viewers it will be nice to see Saber’s abiltities used to the fullest.
In fact, this time around all of the masters involved seem to know what
they are doing. This will inevitably make for greater conflicts and
better battles.

New viewers have fortunately not been
forgotten, as the pilot episode, “Summoning Ancient Heroes,” had a lot
of explanation in it. Some may dislike the lack of action, but I thought
it was smart to cover all grounds and explain the set-up of the war.
The episode effectively established some of the masters, their motives
and the ground rules for the series to work with. A solid foundation is
always a good start, which Fate/stay night lacked. Another notable
difference between the two is the animation, with Fate/Zero looking much
sharper and giving off a darker atmosphere to the series. The eerie
orchestra music added to this tone and really took off at the end during
the summoning.

All in all though there isn’t too much to
discuss about episode one, as it was more or less a set-up to the
characters participating in the war and how the war works. There were
several characters with various alliances so it became a bit confusing
to discern who was working for whom. Among those characters are masters
Matou Kariya and Waver Velvet. Kariya became involved in the war to save
Matou Sakura from being tortured by his father. In an effort to reach a
mage level sufficient enough to compete in the war Kariya sacrificed
his life and now only has one month to live. Waver Velvet is a student
at a school for mages and wishes to prove that hard work and skill can
make up for having a short mage blood line. Out of all the mages these
two are the underdogs, so naturally I find myself rooting for them.
Tohsaka Tokiomi is another mage of interest, if only because he summoned
Archer. Those who have watched Fate/stay night know who Archer is and
how he contributes to this war, so his characterization will be
something to look forward to.

Though it isn’t required, I
would recommend seeing the first series before watching. The connections
between the characters in the two series benefit one another and the
differences in servants/masters makes for enjoyable comparisons. Fate/Zero could possibly make Fate/stay night a much better series,
filling in some of the character and plot gaps the first series had. It
also heightens the anticipation of the eventual relationship/rivalry
between Saber and Archer, with the details of their past finally coming
to light in Fate/Zero.

Though there is quite a bit of
exposition, the first episode of Fate/Zero moved along quickly and set
the bar for the rest of the series. It was good to get the information
out of the way now to make room for fighting later. The episode did a
great job in making the viewer curious and ultimately wanting to find
out which warriors were summoned and how the events of the fourth Holy
Grail war will unfold. The masters have been selected, the heroes have
been summoned, the alliances have been drawn and the battle to obtain
the Holy Grail has begun.

*Note: Unless I find it necessary for more the comparisons between Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay night in future recaps/reviews will be kept to a minimum.

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