Fate/Extra Last Encore

September 22, 2018

Another season, another Fate series adaptation. After the rather okay Fate/Apocrypha (I was satisfied with it although the general public or rather the hardcore fans were not too happy about it), I was wondering if they wanted to give the red Saber its due debut. The one in Apocrypha didn’t really count, okay. Fate/Extra Last Encore is another one of those alternate universes like Apocrypha that isn’t directly related to the original works so I thought there would be something new instead of reusing the same 7 Masters with their 7 Servants fighting each other to win the ultimate Holy Grail and get their wish, that tired storyline that probably has been done to death in the Fate universe. Probably. I’m not a fan of the Fate series and have only known and see them in their anime format. But this series involving the moon and digital format thingy? Oh no. Smells like a heap of confusion ahead. Hold my breath and take the plunge…

Episode 1
Wow. Starting off with Saber fighting Buddha? In space? And lost! We now go to the current scene. Hakuno Kishinami is a student of a school, the teacher talking about summoning of Heroes and other mumbo jumbo I can’t understand. After class, he hangs out with his friends, Shinji and his girlfriend, Misao Amari (this loser has a girlfriend?!). They talk about limbo and existence. Not that I understand again. They go watch a chess match that is won by Leonardo “Leo” Bistario Harwey. Popular enough to have his own legion of fan girls. The mind boggling thing is that the loser in chess got killed off! Even more so his body just left there after the crowd disperses! Hakuno examines it and is met by Rin. They take it to the infirmary as the school nurse has him ‘take out the trash’ at the incinerator as she has no authority. After dumping the corpse-like thingy into the abyss, some scientist dude tells him about the different layers of this world something about illusion and paradise thingy and the days repeating itself. WTF. Angelica Cage. Sea of the Seven Heavens. Don’t get it. Before Hakuno could ask for what it all means, he is told time is up and didn’t make it. Kirei announces 100 participants have qualified and because 28 spots remain, the remaining participants have to kill each other to qualify before the final purge. Hakuno meets up with Shinji as they run and hide. But Shinji betrays and stabs him to death, believing Hakuno has no desire to win this game like him so he should die for him. Yup, best friends alright. After the last spots are taken up, the purge begins. All those who failed to qualify are being killed by Terminator robots. Apparently Hakuno is still alive. He makes his way to the incinerator as some Archer clone tries to kill him. Apparently Archer clone is bad in dealing the lethal blow so Hakuno falls down. Deep enough until he reaches some area with a red sword in the middle. He slowly walks to pick it up. The enemy slowly walks to kill him. Eventually Hakuno picks it up and he summons Red Saber. To show how awesome she is, she destroys the clone with devastating strikes. At the end, she asks him if he is her Master. Kirei narrates about the Holy Grail War abandoned long time ago and hence the activities conducted in this paradise were a mere echo of the past. Things repeated and the results were the same. But with Hakuno as the 129th Master, a miracle has happened, his existence is his final task.

Episode 2
Hakuno and Saber ride the Moon Mile Ladder, a capsule that heads to the moon. Inside is a luxurious facility for them to recuperate as well as explain to us the things we need to know. All participants are to fight each other until one is left in Moon Cell (moon’s version of Holy Grail) and the winner gets to fulfil their wish. More mumbo jumbo about this is all just artificial spiriton world created by the moon’s mainframe. During the preliminary stages, participants’ memories are suppressed but will only regain them once they become a Master in the main tournament. Even so, Hakuno has not had his returned yet. Not that he cares. Participants are supposed to fight their way from the lower stratum to the higher one but it seems Saber is amazed with this festival-like atmosphere of this first stratum. Of course they go around not only to have fun but to find opponents. In this bar, Saber thinks the bar master is a Master but is told many Masters who reached here have sold their Servants to Central Tower because life here is too good so there is no need to fight in any Holy Grail War. Saber leaves disappointed but Hakuno is given a tip that there are some Masters in this stratum who haven’t sold their Servants yet. A bevy of hot policewomen take the duo to Central Tower as they talk about besides Masters, everyone else is NPCs and not humans. The mayor of this stratum is Shinji?! He explains this might be the lowest stratum of SE.RA.PH but it is liberated and has its own laws and government. Shinji buys the Servants to turn them into efficient resources to help provide comfortable lives for all Masters. Shinji wants Hakuno to sell his but after hearing this, his decision is easy: He will not sell Saber. Shinji takes his next action to eliminate them. He separates them and has Saber fight 3 Berserker Servants. Meanwhile Hakuno gets stabbed by the police babes. This is the second time he gets stabbed… But don’t worry. Looks like his intense hatred and again has him pull out their swords. Oh sh*t! Is his true form or memories some sort of monster he is? Dead Face?

Episode 3
Just in time, Rin. Her hacking saves the duo from whatever troubles. Rin is a Master without a Servant and is fighting as a resistance. As they recuperate, Rin explains about the situation. Masters who fear fighting and death all are stuck in this stratum. It is all due to the creation of that wheel in the sky, Chakravartin, the rules of the Holy Grail War has been broken. Each stratum became independent and Masters no longer have to kill. But there was one who won his first round but for some reason could ascend to the next stratum. So Chakravartin changed how SE.RA.PH works and as the only one left on this stratum, he became Floor Master. He used all this resources to create this city. Even those from higher stratum descend here to this city to live in peace. Angelica Cage is acting weird and the only way to find out is ascend to the highest stratum. You can only do that by defeating another fellow Master. Speaking of which, there is only one here who is no other than Shinji and he is the Floor Master. Hakuno gets his resolved to kill him. Payback time? Rin hacks her way and becomes the bait so the duo can ride up to the next floor to face Shinji. Flashback shows he killed another Master to win. Realizing he is the only one left, he feared killing again and will die with nothing to show for. To prove he is alive, he will create a city to house Masters who have given up on the Holy Grail War. If he can gather hundreds of spiriton hackers, he could accomplish something. Now Shinji gives Hakuno the right to fight him. The city is flooded as he summons his Servant, Rider whose real identity is the pirate, Francis Drake. Saber met her before as that bar master. Shinji activates her Noble Phantasm. Not sure if Saber can’t swim and is drowning so Hakuno swims down to kiss her. It’s his way of transferring mana to her. Yeah, she likes it. Because of that, Saber rejuvenates and with a great stroke of luck cuts down Rider. Shinji will not dissolve his contract with her and risk disappearing along for he doesn’t believe she has lost. Saber’s win was just fluke. Shinji regrets of being unable to do anything for a long time that he started going mad. He had nothing and stayed here because the thought of humanity would be judged as worthless if they disappeared here. Hakuno stops him, probably doesn’t want to hear his sorry story. At least he won’t hate him anymore. So are they friends? Shinji’s sarcasm says no. Hakuno and Saber take the Moon Mile Ladder up to the next stratum and Rin just manage to join them in time.

Episode 4
Hakuno ponders about Rider’s last words of why he wants to ascend. He has no memories and only hatred of wanting to ascend. Saber doesn’t care as it is human nature to be greedy. Just go for it! In the next level, Dan Blackmore’s wait has finally end with the arrival of Hakuno and Saber. He will defeat them and ascend to the next stratum. First he snipes at them but Saber being quick to deflect his bullets before they jump into the forest for cover. Dan sends Archer to eliminate them. Archer uses his invisibility to mask himself and his arrows and his poison mist in order to slow them down. Saber uses her body to protect Hakuno from an arrow when he fell into a trap. But before everything could be over for Saber, some miracle burns away Archer’s arrows and causes him to be visible. Archer retreats. It is hinted that Hakuno may have used a Command Spell to get out of this situation and their saviour is Rani VIII. She too is a Master without a Servant like Rin and is fighting the resistance on this level. She explains about Dan who became Floor Master and started hunting Masters who came here. Rani didn’t descend as she saw the stars that a Master who strives to ascend will appear. That was 50 years ago. More about Moon Cell constructing this place as an ideal environment for humanity’s soul to go. It could have been humanity’s utopia had SE.RA.PH been used correctly but is now facing destruction. Hakuno dreams of that scientist telling him about his Holy Grail War was just a means for Moon Cell to gather data on humans but people misinterpreted it and started helping themselves rather than its roots. He will choose one who is fit for the Holy Grail. Hakuno is more confused since he was killed by him and if he was kicked out from Angelica Cage. Later Hakuno sees Rani attending to the graves of the fallen Masters. He asked about that 50 years thing so she is disappointed he failed to notice it himself. The year is now 3020, about a thousand years since SE.RA.PH broke down. Earth’s population has dwindled far below 10,000 and reaching unsustainable levels. If you consider civilization to be the core tenant of humanity, those in SE.RA.PH are the last remaining humans. If SE.RA.PH is destroyed, so will humanity.

Episode 5
Flashback 999 years ago when Dan was fighting as a Master and lost despite being far superior in ability and determination. Apparently he realized it is the quality of that will that gives one the strength to go forth that is important. He questioned his goal to win the Holy Grail to get back his dead wife. Normally that would be the end for him but due to some error in Angelica Cage, he is summoned back to this stratum with his Servant, restored. He took up the challenge to fight again. Rani discusses their battle plan. On Dan, we learn that he isn’t a real Master because he initially lost. That is why all the Masters he killed, Moon Mile Ladder will not appear. Hence he is fighting a futile struggle. Archer’s identity is Robin Hood but they must beware his Noble Phantasm that is triggered after you take a shot from his arrow. Poison will flow into your blood stream before finally exploding. To do that, he must reveal his name. The battle begins with Saber facing off with Archer while Rani takes Hakuno to the tower where Dan is supposedly based. But upon reaching the tower, Rani is sniped. She tells Hakuno not to save her. For Dan didn’t kill her outright so as to lure him back out to kill him. Hakuno is in a dilemma that his selfishness will kill and sacrifice her. Then he transforms into his Dead Face version to swiftly save her before Dan could even see anything. Archer thought he has Saber in his palms. His arrow has hit her and the poison spread throughout her body. All he needs is to use his bow and let her touch it to explode. However nothing happened and Archer is sliced. Apparently Saber drained her entire tainted bloodstream! Was there a character in history who could do that? With the explosion heard from the tower, it means Dan is also defeated. We see how Hakuno snuck in a sniped Dan. Uhm, that easy? Me no understand. Dan lies satisfied in his death as the sound of the bells reminds him of his happy days with his wife. With Moon Mile Ladder here, Hakuno wants to go back down to save Rani as the stratum is collapsing. But Saber reminds him that Rani hinted she never wanted to ascend with them. Her wish is to stay here with the dead and their dying wishes. So up they go. One question: If Dan isn’t a real Master and not qualified to ascend, how can Hakuno a real Master defeat an unreal one and ascend? Double standards? Rin who has been sorely missing since this stratum, pops up to hitch a ride with them again. Sneaky…

Episode 6
We start off by seeing Hakuno claiming victory over loli, Alice. I guess it’s not nice to see how a loli gets defeated. She doesn’t want to be left alone so he promises to come back after getting the Holy Grail before ascending to the next stratum. So okay, we get to see what happens. Arriving at this strange forest, the trio trek through as Rin explains about cyber ghosts. Yup, they can exist in this world. Hakuno thought he saw a loli. Indeed. Alice is happy to have found someone and has been alone for a long time. She admits she is a ghost. They play a few kiddie games together as she tells him once he leaves her, he will forget all about her. He wonders if this is a Servant’s ability. Alice explains her wish to be cured of her illness. After a war that killed everyone, she was alone in a hospital. The adults did things that hurt her. Eventually she died without being cured. She is happy to be in this level where her wishes could come true. Hakuno has had enough and leaves. When he reunites with his girls, he can’t remember meeting somebody although he could feel he did. As they trek further, Rin sees a vision of her confronting Amari on this level. Amari claimed to have cast away everything and came this far to win. She challenged Rin but was given a disappointing excuse why she would not. At the same time, Hakuno sees a vision of Amari and talks to her. Something about she hates her own name because it means unwanted. Her mom got knocked up by a bigwig and then abandoned. Amari was then also abandoned. Her wish is not to be laughed at so she abandoned everything in order to win. But the first few rounds was easy because in order to be stronger, she observed and used a weaker opponent to her advantage. At this stage, there were no weaker opponents. Alas, she had no choice and will still fight. Back to reality, the trio realizes this place is something off. Their sense of time is off and they have been seeing weird visions. After seeing the blood on the wall, Rin suddenly remembers why many Masters fled this stratum. There is a monster that cannot be killed. Don’t look now because it is here! Saber engages it but before they know it, they are back at starting point. Rin realizes the Servant has a Noble Phantasm that restarts the day when defeated. That way she can read all the stories she wants until she gets it right. The Servant’s true identity is Nursery Rhyme. Even a personification of children’s fairytales can become a Servant? Oh well, you don’t know how scary some fairytales can be. Although the motive of the Master is unclear, they continue to stay here and repeat this one day.

Episode 7
I’m confused of the timeline here. Anyway, we see Alice walking around in search for Hakuno but to no avail. She doesn’t care about the challenge Amari throws to Rin. In her bit to replenish her resources, she turns into that monster. So when all the other Masters see her, they attack her out of fear and she kills them all. She knows Hakuno will not recognize her like this but will keep waiting nevertheless. The trio re-enter the place, prepared defeat that monster whom they believe is the Floor Master’s Servant. We see another scene of Hakuno spending time with Alice. After that Amari confronts him to tell him off that he is doing nothing as Alice is his opponent. One must kill the other. Hakuno asks Saber if there is anyone who has ascended without fighting. Surprisingly she says yes. If the opponent resigns, the other wins by default. They are attacked by the monster. As Rin puts up her barrier, the monster is too strong and breaks through. It would have killed her but Hakuno uses a Command Spell to restart again. This is when Amari shows Hakuno the truth. The real Alice is not this cute loli. She is just the dream of the real Alice who is a creepy mummified sick child hooked up to all the IV drips in a hospital bed. This Alice cannot do anything and is being left all alone. After all, saving her makes no sense as she is already dead. The trio begin their trekking again. This time Hakuno talks about this place being a cyber ghost and attachment of the past just like him and his hatred. It is so piled up here that it smothers the present. Saber adds that even if one reaches Angelica Cage and defeat Twice Pieceman, there is no guarantee Moon Cell will even grant that wish. Everything is questionable and uncertain and yet with that people still chose to fight and ascend. We replay that opening scene of Hakuno defeating loli Alice and going to ascend. Because she is dead to begin with, Moon Cell can’t kill her. After picking up the book, they start to remember. No one is really left here. Now the trio fight against the monster and defeat it for good. The book disappears and only leaves behind a bookmark. Hakuno at least now wants to ascend with hope. Alice’s ghost doesn’t think this is such a sad fate and bids goodbye to Hakuno.

Episode 8
The fourth stratum was probably so easily that we see them ascending to the next level! Maybe we’re running out of episodes too? In this next stratum, Rin explains there is no Floor Master and there is a ladder to ascend to the next stratum. Easy. But of course there is a catch. There is a maniacal killer on the loose and his equally insanely powerful Berserker. That maniac is Julius Bistario Harwey, Leo’s brother who is said to be the best warrior. Saber and her previous Master once defeated him but luck played a great factor then. As Rin scouts the area, Saber and Hakuno talk about one being a talented genius. It doesn’t take long before both sides start fighting each other. Saber has a hard time fighting Berserker but with Rin now able to transform and use some spear weapon thingy, she leaves it to her while she goes find Hakuno who is fighting Julius. Hakuno transforms into his Dead Face to fight on par with him. Julius can also do the same. Hakuno remember memories of him and realizes he was killed in the Holy Grail War. So is he a ghost? Julius laughs like a maniac. He claims they are both lower than ghosts. Hence this flashback of Hakuno talking to the scientist to explain more incomprehensible mumbo jumbo. Sighs… Apparently there is a difference between ghosts and Dead Face. Taken prisoners by death, they are curses acting as members of the dead to spread death. Something about death of body and death of spirit is separated in SE.RA.PH. When Angelica Cage closed and Holy Grail War ended, SE.RA.PH became a digital hell with the regrets of the dead stopped being purified and left as they were. He wanted to reform humanity but failed due to naivety. Hence he decided to stop the growth of all humans and killed all victors. Some were worthy heroes but neither were enough to bring salvation. With the regret and hatred piling up, someone who was not anyone awoke to bear those burdens: Hakuno. Thus this Hakuno isn’t the real Hakuno but a repulsive homicidal maniac given form simply from hatred towards living. He is a mass of death. He ascends in order to kill. Normally Hakuno would have died from Julius attacks but you know, he is already dead. With Saber coming into the scene, Julius backs off. However Saber soon collapses as she used her body to stop Berserker’s attack on Hakuno. Because Berserker’s Noble Phantasm kills the enemy in a single blow. Julius and Berserker go off to deal with Rin attacking them while Hakuno is filled with regret for letting this happen to Saber. So we see him walking and wallowing in that regret as the voice of Saber tells him to be positive. He enters a room where a movie is about to start.

Episode 9
This video is supposed to help Hakuno remember the important thing to become a Master. Great. A motivational video? We see Saber’s ex-Master being berated by Julius for not being up to par. Even so Saber came to her defence. She was also shocked that she was an NPC but Saber lifted her up with her positivism. She took Saber as her Servant but misinterpreted she had a joyous life. Hence Saber told her true identity that she wouldn’t at first for fear of learning her bad repute. She was a Roman Emperor, Nero Claudius who loved everything. She too had her enemies and they plotted her downfall. When the Senate put her on trial, she thought the people would be by her side but none did. In the end, she killed herself never ever knowing what true love is. Despite all that, she continued her positivism. Hakuno may have called her out due to desperation but to her, that calling was irreplaceable. After a few last motivating words about himself from the ex-Master, Hakuno wakes up. Apparently Rani still lives and is treating him and Saber. Saber is glad they’re both okay and wants to go take on the enemies. But Hakuno is still filled with guilt and doesn’t deserve to be her Master. She slaps him and tells him off he got the order of things wrong. He fought because he didn’t want to die. He ascended because he didn’t know anything. He didn’t awaken to be another person. Even if things change, the foundation doesn’t. Hakuno is Hakuno. The person with the same feelings and heart. Saber’s ex-Master is also Hakuno. But now he exists with a different face and gender. With renewed motivation, they vow to stay by each other side and defeat their enemy. Saber lets him know her true name for she needs to unleash her Noble Phantasm. Saber does so in her fight with Berserker. She kills him in her grand Coliseum thingy. Now Hakuno faces off with Julius. The latter laments he is like a recurring nightmare that can’t be killed. Hakuno claims he isn’t the Hakuno he knows and won’t share his nostalgia trip. Eventually Hakuno defeats him and Julius warns the dead cannot change things. He will soon become just like him. Uhm, can Julius also die because I thought he was the same like Hakuno? With that, the duo ascend to the next stratum. It is revealed that Rin and Rani are in cohorts to lead the duo as proper Master and Servant before the next Floor Master. Their role is over but Rin still wants to stick around (claiming she is worried) and follows them. She parts ways with Rani.

Episode 10
Flashback shows Rin and Rani as the only 2 Masters left. They propose a truce and form a plan to get out of their predicament of finding another Master and drag them up here to the sixth stratum. Hakuno dreams of a conversation between Rin and Rani back on Earth. Rin worked as a wizard but from her position, she is considered a terrorist by the government. In her fight against the Harwey Conglomerate, she followed Leo to the moon. He might be heavily guarded on Earth but on the moon she has a chance to take him out. You see, with the dwindling resources on Earth, if the people from Harwey wins it, the conglomerate will control everything. The future will be screwed. Hakuno wakes up as Saber brags about how she defeated Berserker. Now that Hakuno is aware of what he is, he theorizes he is able to pull off battle experiences from dead Masters as well as their weapons. Arriving at the sixth stratum, it is a foggy land of nothingness. They are attacked by, uhm, Rin? Oh here comes giant Rani. But Rani kills Rin? But Rani killed by Rin clones? Who are then killed by Rani clones? Rinse and repeat. Hakuno and Saber run for it as they witness this never ending loop as well as the unlimited corpses of Rin and Rani. As they theorize about the situation, the real Rin pops up to refute it all. Although, she claims some of it is true. She admits she and Rani are the Floor Masters here but refuse to elaborate more. It is also true they were trying to kill them. Because their objective of having them reach here has been achieved, Rin doesn’t care if they live or die so she takes them to the safest place around: The dome. But right before they enter, Rin breaks up and disappears. I guess inside the dome they’ll find their answers.

The voice of Rin and Rani’s consciousness explain to the duo about this dome being the centre of this stratum. They fought as Masters on this floor but neither won. Neither winners nor losers, they cannot die nor ascend. At the same time, the Holy Grail was suspended and their original bodies became installed in the centre as supplementation devices. Their souls went into deep sleep and themselves refined. Hence each time they dream of fighting and killing each other to ascend to the next stratum but each time they regenerate new avatars. Thus their meaningless battles and the endless numbers of their corpses. So they thought of an idea if Moon Cell put down a verdict, this endless slaughter will end. Therefore their plan to find another Master to reach this stratum. They found one who didn’t give up on the Holy Grail. They hope he would defeat one of them in hopes that one would be freed. In the centre where their bodies lie, Hakuno has to make a choice who to save. Rin wakes up. So did he choose her? She sees Hakuno by Rani’s side. Her body on the verge of disappearing. It seems he wanted to save both of them. But Rani’s body was somewhat complicated and he failed. Rani doesn’t want him to regret and thanks him. At least she now has a proper chance of saying goodbye to him. Rin realizes that had Hakuno killed one of them, the results would have been still the same but it was a path that would at least let one of them rest in peace. Before ascending to the last stratum, they even have time to make a proper grave for Rani. Rin vows to support the duo as long as she lives.

Fake/Extra Bad, Last Straw
I would say that this is the worst Fate series that I have watched. One reason for me to attribute that is that there is no real ending. All the Fate TV series that I have watched have some sort of ending. And they were 2 cours. This one doesn’t even last a dozen! Oh, that Illya spinoff was somewhat ‘incomplete’ but it is ongoing. So we are left hanging and the final fight on the final stratum is not shown. Couldn’t they just have this season a dozen episodes instead of the same amount normal people have as fingers? You see, there was an extra episode released months after this season ended. However I saw that its running time is 2 hours!!!! FREAKING 2 HOURS!!!! Holy (Grail) sh*t!!!! That’s like watching a movie. Watching just 24 minutes of an episode in this one feels like an eternity and you expect me to sit down for that special for 2 hours? Forget it. I’d rather be disappointed and confused now than risk be confused even more. Yeah, if I was a Master taking part in the Holy Grail, I would have been the first to sell my Servant, give up and live the luxurious life in the first stratum.

Hence I will never know if the final extra long special (pun not intended) would really give a closure and a proper end to this series. Because while watching this series, it also felt like as though there are many other parts cut out or missing. For example, the fourth stratum. I mean, out couldn’t be that easy for our main characters to advance to the next level without any sort of fight, right? What about that Leo kid? It’s not proper to ‘introduce’ him and then for the rest of the season for him not to appear at all, right? But his brother got a shot? Plus, I saw the promotional poster for the special, Leo’s face is on it so I suppose he is going to appear there after all. Remember that big conglomerate Rin was trying to take down? Can’t turn that into a red herring, can we?

So I thought perhaps the special episode would like in this series, pepper throughout its duration some flashbacks as part of this series’ trademark to fill you in and piece the puzzle together. I’m not a very smart guy so trying to understand what the hell is going on is already confusing. Yup. Trying to comprehend this series is my hell and dystopia. I guess it wasn’t going to be as simple and cliché as Master and Servant pair fight together stratum by stratum until they reach the final level and defeat the final boss to get their wish fulfilled or whatever answers to their question. We learn about the opponents’ struggles, we learn more about the characters, add drama and tension, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, and voila, there you have it. An end to another mediocre Fate series.

One of the obvious things I noticed first when I set sights on this series is how the art style and animation is so Shaft-like. Yup, it definitely wasn’t Ufotable handling this Fate series. Hence all the Shaft trademarks from the bizarre angles and their trademark head tilt are ever present. It is so permeating that I won’t blame you that you would first see this as a Shaft series instead of a Fate one. Heck, when I watched the first episode, I was starting to think if I was actually watching a Monogatari series! Not joking. The art style and presentation are so similar that I was thinking they may even do a crossover. Even that episode involving that Alice monster, I thought it was taken inspiration from another anime series Shaft produced: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The monster especially reminding me of that Gertrude witch. You know… Scissors? Yeah… But other than the Shaft-like features, the art style just feels rather normal because when you talk about this segment for this series, you cannot help but compare it to the very superior quality of the Unlimited Blade Works TV remake and its prequel, Fate/Zero. This one is just okay.

On a side note, I just want to note that some of the female characters, Saber and Rin in particular, they look more cute than they are to mature. Just a few more modifications, they can be in their chibi format. Really. But looking at them sometimes had me thinking if they are dolls because they really looks as cute as one. Seriously. I also want to comment on Saber’s outfit. While even the original blue Saber’s battle outfit isn’t really practical for battle and more for aesthetic purposes, I find that this red Saber’s outfit to be a little of a wardrobe malfunction. Although her outfit is made out of a few separate layers, I can’t help if there was a design flaw or because some horny dude decided to design it so as you will notice there is an obvious hole at the back, just enough to see her butt! Yes, she wears some weird one piece swimsuit to cover her boobs down to her tummy and ass (but leaving her back wide open naked) but still it is an odd ‘fashion design’. And of course, Saber’s outfit is also to flaunt her delicious boobs. Yummy.

After watching this Saber for a while, it had occurred to me that she has a more bratty personality despite her sunny and positive disposition. In a way, she sounds more like Shinobu of Monogatari series than Saber! Another reason why I thought this might be Monogatari series. Yeah, I thought Saber’s true identity was that vampire girl! Haha! It would have been mind blowing had that really been true. Compared to the original Saber who has more of that arrogant pride, sure they both Sabers are different Heroic Spirits but this bratty Saber makes it feel like as though she is a kid and her reeking bubbliness sometimes makes it annoying. There is a limit to how positive one can get. Or maybe it is just me being a gloomy otaku loser :’(.

Hakuno himself is a big mystery. It is understandable at the start that he isn’t supposed what he is supposed to be but as the series progresses and bits of his identity is revealed, the more confused I get. By the time the series ended, I am still confused if he is the reincarnation of the female Hakuno or as stated, an accumulation of hatred from all the fallen Masters. Because with all that talk about being ghosts even in cyber space and everything, it just made it more baffling. I mean if you die in cyber space, can you really become a digital ghost? Heck, you already exist in digital format but then you ‘die’ so technically if you’re a ghost you’re still in digital form, right? Argh. My brain is so hurting now.

Hence Hakuno having no clear intention except for the fact he moves on based on the sole emotions of hatred and anger might sound like lazy writing at first because well, plot convenience. Then at every level you start noticing that some characters ask the same thing to him, why he is ascending. Ah, there must be a reason. They might have explained it but my mind was already going haywire so I probably didn’t understand well. So if Hakuno actually wins this Holy Grail War, will he himself get the wish or all the mass he is made up? Unlike Saber whom I thought felt like Shinobu, I don’t feel Hakuno is in anyway a counterpart to Monogatari’s Araragi. He lacks the sarcastic punch line the latter has. And he has got no harem. No, Rin and Rani don’t count.

Rin feels like a sneaky scheming little rat rather than someone prideful. Probably she had no Servant so this is what she is reduced to. But it confuses me as I am not sure if the entire event is repeated again, although it is likely it is so. Because Rin remembers something like that. Heck, everybody remembers something like that. It is said that this Holy Grail War repeated itself many times with the same results but only this time (this series that we are now watching), Hakuno somehow broke that cycle and is now part of the happening. Unprecedented? Hence Rin is like the mysterious guide to lead the duo to where she and Rani are in hopes to find an end. And Hakuno being the good guy despite the irony he is made out of mass hatred, tried to save them both.

I don’t really understand how the Holy Grail of the Moon Cell works but assuming it is all digital and there is a winner, wouldn’t any wish be very much feasible because you know, the internet is capable of creating anything! You want to live forever? Sure. In digital format. Forever. You want riches? Sure. Have unlimited amounts of Bitcoins. You want a harem? Of course. Dating simulation for all eternity! Whatever you want, the internet can provide! Hence the thought of people’s souls being trapped and locked down here and the only exit is if somebody wins the whole thing (plus if you die here, your real body also dies) feels like a rip-off from Sword Art Online. Too freaking similar… After all, this series came out a year later after Sword Art Online which debuted in 2009 – almost a decade ago!

The action stuffs are just okay. Just enough to satisfy your thoughts that since this is a Fate series and it involves the fight for the Holy Grail, therefore there must be some fights between Masters and Servants. So the usual Noble Phantasm that is used once because you know it’s not a good thing to always spam your trump card. I think it would have been a little more awesome if we get to see the format of all 128 participants fighting each other for the next stratum. You just need to kill 1 opponent for the next stage. Or at least a battle royale in the early stages. Like PUBG or Fortnite. I suppose with Hakuno as the 129th one, it screws up the perfect elimination format. Heck, it could just mean that somebody may get 2 kills or an unlucky participant gets left behind forever stuck on the first stratum. But instead for some plot twist, we have our main heroes fight a boss of the floor instead. Yeah, it feels like they’ve been put there waiting for this very sole reason.

Some of the old seiyuus of familiar characters were retained such as Kana Ueda as Rin, Hiroshi Kamiya as Shinji and Jouji Nakata as Kirei. New ones are Sakura Tange as Saber (Jack in Fate/Apocrypha – damn if she was voiced by Maaya Sakamoto, I would have continued to make my assumptions how Saber is indeed Shinobu reincarnated), Atsushi Abe as Hakuno (Touma in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Asami Sanada as Rani (Kurumi in Date A Live), Ayaka Imamura as Amari (Angie in Princess Principal), Urara Takano as Rider (Maria in Sakura Wars), Mugihito as Dan (Wombat in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love), Kousuke Toriumi as Archer (Mercurius in Dies Irae), Ai Nonaka as Alice (Kyouko in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), Wataru Hatano as Julius (Gajeel in Fairy Tail) and Romi Paku as Leo (Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist).

The opening theme is Bright Burning Shout by Takanori Nishikawa. Hard rock music which feels suitable enough for the theme of this series even in its entirety it is not action all the way. If the ending theme, Tsuki To Hanabata sounds freaking similar to you, then you must have seen the anime series, Kuzu No Honkai. Yes, the same singer, Sayuri sings both songs and you can tell how freaking similar Tsuki To Hanabata is. Damn, I thought it was the same song! I suppose this must be her trademark singing style like how Ali Project is to mischievous gothic and that out-of-tune-voice is to Nano Ripe. Yeah… Fortunately because I like Heikousen, this piece also doesn’t sound too shabby.

Overall, not one of the best Fate adaptations and only hardcore fans can either appreciate or hate it to the core with disgust. Or both. But I have a feeling it is more of the latter. Ordinary viewers like me would just be so confused since it is very much assumed that you would have read the Fate novels and played its games to have some very basic knowledge. With Shaft handling this spinoff, it feels more like a Monogatari series than a Fate series from the way the complexity story is told and its visual angles. Having a Holy Grail War and a Fate series in a virtual world sounds like a bold and fresh attempt. But I figure there is a reason why this series has to be the original physical format of Masters versus Servants. At least magic by default looks and sounds more acceptable unlike digital hacking and cheating. You might get banned from the server but cheaters will still find a way to come back and continue cheating. Not even the Holy Grail can ever stop that from happening.