Blu-ray Review: Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works

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The movie installment into the Fate/Stay Night saga is finally here within the UK, but whats included and what did we think of it? Well find out in our Blu-ray Review of Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works.

Synopsis:

Having spent the last ten years of his life studying under a mysterious sorcerer, Shiro Emiya has become a Magi, a sorcerer who has summoned a “Servant,” a mystical female warrior of incredible power named Saber, to stand together in the ultimate test of sorcery and magic: the Holy Grail War. But Shiro’s own feelings for Saber may conflict with their goal.

To win the contest means to take the risk of losing everything, even as he also begins to empathize with members of the rival battleteams. While seven teams will enter the battle, only one will leave, and the winners will receive the prize of the Grail itself and their greatest wish granted. Will that wish be worth the price Shiro must ultimately pay?

Our View:

Fate / Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works is the movie adaptation of the anime TV Series Fate/Stay Night which is based upon the visual novel game by TYPE-MOON, however unlike the original TV Anime series Unlimited Blade Works follows a slightly ‘alternate’ story.  Basically the visual novel had a multiple choice options and with the Fate/Stay Night TV Anime it followed one course, while in the Unlimited Blade Works movie it follows another storyline, both very different but extremely similar at the same time.

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In this version of the ‘Fate/Stay Night’ story we find ourselves given a brief overview of the Holy Grail Wars, whereby masters summon magical servants in order to take part in battles, with the victor winning the Holy Grail itself, a magical chalice capable of granting the owner a wish.  It’s been 10 years since the last war and after a fateful encounter with an unknown attacker, Shiro Emiya unconsciously summons Saber and defeats the unknown assailant, even though he has no idea what is taking place before him. Shortly after the battle Shiro encounters Rin Tōsaka, along with her servant Archer, who reluctantly agree to explain the siutation to Shiro, as well as everything their is to know regarding the Holy Grail Wars, and in the process the two groups decide to team up, even though Archer is constantly against it.

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For the first half of the movie the story follows closely with the original anime, except with improved visual animation and a ‘watered-down’ explanation into the story, with many enemies from the TV Anime (such as Berserker) quickly making their appearance. It’s not until around the halfway point where the movie deviates from the TV Anime and comes into its own, providing a new story with Shiro and Archer being the main characters with new secrets and backgrounds revealed, all of which have never been showcased within the original TV Anime. There is plenty of surprises to be had throughout this half of the film – not to mention the battles themselves are highly entertaining to watch, especially in the included DTS Surround Sound.

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The real downfall with the film is the fact that if you haven’t played the Visual Novel or watched the original TV Series then you may find yourself clueless as to what is going off, as within the first 25 minutes our main protagonists are finding themselves ‘thrown’ into battle against multiple opponents with no real explanation into what’s happening and why.  Relationships that were present in the TV Series don’t exist within the movie or were cut-short in order to move the story along faster, either way the first half of the movie feels extremely rushed and confusing, even more so when you are using the TV Series as a reference, but on a positive side the second half brings new meaning to the series and plenty of action-packed fights.

Extras:

None – There are no included extras on this UK Blu-ray release of Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works, which is disappointing considering a film like this would usually have ‘some’ extra features, such as a Japanese trailer.

Specs:

Media: BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 1:46:42
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow & White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Despite being on Blu-ray and including a 5.1 DTS Surround Sound (for both English & Japanese audio tracks) I can’t help but feel that this is a ‘Budget’ release, and that’s mainly due to the lack of any included extra features. It’s understandable that Manga Entertainment UK can’t always obtain extra features, but it is very rare to see a film not including any, as for example even Street Fighter II had a ‘trailer’ for another anime series included.

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That aside what you do get is a 106 minute long feature-film that partially re-tells the original TV-Anime series, with new twists and an alternate ending to the overall story – all of which is presented in a visually stunning 1080p High Definition picture quality that, when compared to the original, is vastly superior – especially considering it’s the same production team.

Those thinking of starting the Fate franchise with Unlimited Blade Works then be advised, as while it does tell a story it does leave out a variety of information that was explained in the TV Anime, such as the history of the Grail Wars and how it started, but more importantly the flow of the film feels unnatural and rushed and because of this it will mostly only appeal to the fans of the franchise, or to those who have seen the complete Fate/Stay Night TV Anime and want to see the ‘alternate’ ending that was featured in the manga.

Score: review-stars-2

Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works is now available as a Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack as well as an individual DVD within the UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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