Set in a parallel world to the original Fate/Stay Night, where the Holy Grail was moved from Fuyuki City to Romania after the Third Holy Grail War, the story focuses on the conflict between two factions, Red and Black, each summoning seven Servants to battle in the Great Holy Grail War. In this alternative reality, the events of Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero never happened. The battle between mages and servants for the Holy Grail begins once more, with a new cast of characters and very different circumstances.
I feel it’s only fair that I make my thoughts on this dearly beloved franchise clear as early in this post as possible: I don’t like Fate very much.
To be completely honest, outside of a few cool and memorable moments from Fate/Zero and the abandoned awesomeness that could have been Fate/Prototype, I can’t stand this franchise at all.
I get what people see in Fate. It’s got some super intricate lore and history behind its narrative and the story itself focuses on super powered Anime versions of famous historical and mythical figures such as Alexander the Great, King Arthur and Gilgamesh. And this is all takes place in a world of magic with complicated rules behind how it all works and an insane amount of fictional terminology that could probably be made into an entire fictional glossary.
But I find it all kinda boring. I’m not the biggest fan of Anime that focuses on real historical events and myths, and a large chunk of this franchise relies heavily on these historical/mythical characters. They’re a large part of the appeal, and if you’re someone like me who doesn’t really care for those kinds of things, then you lose out on it all.
On top of that, the magic system and overabundance of technobabble doesn’t interest me in the slightest. This is a death tournament where people are fighting over a mystical cup, but they spend 90% of the time standing still and explaining how a fireball spell or magical sword works instead of just getting to the point and killing each other. And sure, the superbly animated fights are cool, but they’re not long enough, and the flow is often broken by the lengthy dialogues of characters explaining things that I just don’t care about.
So due to all this, I wasn’t particularly excited for this spin-off series.
And unfortunately Fate/Acoprycha looks like it’s going to be suffering from all the same problems.
I’d hoped that with this alternative setting or storyline or whatever, that we’d be given something that was a departure from the overly complex lore and painful info dumps, but apparently even if it’s taking place in a parallel world Fate is still up to its old, tired tricks.
Much like its predecessors, Fate/Apocrypha’s first episode consisted mostly of set up and long, expository dialogues between the characters. This isn’t inherently bad in itself, but it’s an indication that just like the other entries in the series, it’s going to be followed by more of the same, and that’s something I just can’t see myself getting excited about. Ever.
I will however give the series credit where it’s due. Unlike the recent Fate adaptations we’ve been given over the last several years, Apocrypha wasn’t produced by ufotable. It’s being produced by A-1 Pictures, and I’ll be honest, I was pretty concerned when this detail was first announced. I’m not one to buy into the whole “everything A-1 makes is garbage” meme that a certain notorious Anime YouTuber decided to make a thing, but when it comes to production quality, they’re certainly nowhere near ufotable’s level.
However, in terms of visuals, Fate/Apocrypha actually looks fantastic. It’s probably the best looking A-1 show I’ve ever seen. The art style is a nice departure from what would be considered typical of the majority of their previous works and the animation, so far, has been pretty spot on. There’s even some great directing thrown in there. It’s not quite “Unlimited Budget Works”, few shows by other studios are, but it’s good enough and it does a great job at emulating the majestic, cinematic style of the previous entries in the franchise. It’s the best part of the entire show, and I look forward to seeing some beautiful fight scenes down the line, even if they’re always going to kept horrendously short, which I’m sure they will be.
And of course, the voice acting and soundtrack are spot on. This is Fate, and both those elements have always been superb. I don’t really have anything to complain about there.
It’s early days, so there’s a slight chance that Apocrypha could prove me wrong and win me over, but based on my previous exposure to this franchise, it’s looking like this is just more of the same. And while that’s probably great news if you’re a fan of Fate, I’m not. I never have been, and it’s safe to say that I likely never will be.
Despite all my negativity though, I will be seeing this through to the end. I give everything a fair chance, even if it’s clearly not my cup of tea and Apocrypha still has the chance to brew into something I can enjoy.
Will this wind up being the Fate series for me? I sure hope so.
I guess time will tell.
What are your First Impressions for Fate/Apocrypha?