Blu-Ray Review: Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel Movie 1- Presage Flower

The Holy Grail War returns with a few familiar faces; but this time a different story is being told. Enter the world of Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel with this first feature-length-film release “Presage Flower” which is being brought to us on Blu-Ray (and DVD) via MVM Entertainment.

Synopsis:

Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel I. Presage Flower contains the first of three theatrical features directed by Tomonori Sudo and is based on the record breaking visual novel game “Fate/Stay Night” the final route, a.k.a. Sakura Route.

10 years after the Holy Grail War—a battle waged by Masters and Servants over the wish-granting container, the Holy Grail—another war breaks out in Fuyuki City. Shirouu Emiya—the adopted son of Kiritsugu Emiya, a participant of the previous Holy Grail War—is leading a peaceful life with people dear to him. Especially close to him is his underclassman Sakura Matou, who brings kindness into his otherwise lonely life. But once the Holy Grail War starts, Shirouu’s peaceful life is sundered.

Our View:

It’s been more than a decade since the visual novel fate/stay night received its first anime adaptation by Studio DEEN and since then the fate/stay night brand has continued to deliver exceptional story-telling with twisted dreams of obtaining the Holy Grail through the use of magic and heroic spirits. Whether it is Studio DEEN’s “fate/stay night” or Ufotable’s “Unlimited Blade Works” the story continues to expand and in this latest outing, once again animated by Ufotable, the story dives deeper to explore completely new elements of the fate/stay night universe.

Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel adapts the visual novels third arc across three feature-length-films with this first film, known as Presage Flower, acting as the starting point. Being the first film of the franchise one would expect the story to repeat previously seen events before diverging into new territory; but surprisingly that is not the case. Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – Presage Flower begins by introducing viewers to the protagonist, Shirou Emiya, several months before the events of previous incarnations of fate/stay night began, whereby Shirou is training in the Archery club and becoming close friends with Sakura at school and at home.

This bond of friendship between Shirou and Sakura is the ‘backbone’ of Presage Flower and it makes sense that the focus would be on these two characters right from the start. In this case it reveals how Shirou and Sakura ended up being in the same household and why Sakura was acting as caretaker for Shirou. In previous incarnations of the franchise Sakura being friendly with Shirou was the norm; but here it is explained how that friendship came to be and what it could potentially mean for the future; especially when Sakura’s brother, Shinji, is involved.

Friendship aside the story rejoins the timeline we are all too familiar with, with Shirou acting as a handyman around the school and as such the chance encounter with Lancer and Archer appears – with Shirou’s death, revival and summoning of Saber being the end result. Fortunately this entire event is glanced over with a simplistic montage and it implies that you need to watch Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works to understand what happened. It is a bold choice from the directors; but at the same time is a welcome relief of not having to see the same scenes again for those who have previously watched the other fate/stay night adaptations.

In truth this is the beauty of Presage Flower; it glances over the events featured in alternate adaptations, with the exception being the rules of the Grail War, and focuses solely on the topic at hand. That topic being the mysteries surrounding Sakura and the mysterious servant that is killing other servants. Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – Presage Flower is not without its problem but these problems do not relate to previously seen events being repeated (such as the alliance between Rin and Shirou or the explanation of the Holy Grail War) instead it’s problems lie within a slow pacing of the story as despite being two hours in length it does feel so much longer. Additionally understanding the events of fate/stay night: unlimited blade works helps further refine the story that is being told; this is not a simple “jump-in and enjoy” movie.

The positives far outweigh the negatives. Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – Presage Flower delivers a refreshingly new story with a familiar cast of characters; but more importantly this is not the fate/stay night story we have come to expect. Sure enough the same cast of characters are here, and the objective is still to survive and win the Holy Grail War; but this time a different type of enemy is lurking and it has the power to corrupt servants with a single touch. Oddly familiar, beautifully animated, but refreshingly new.

Extras:

Surprisingly this Blu-Ray release of Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – Presage Flower features an acceptable selection of supplementary content in the form of Japanese promotional materials that were used to promote the film in Japan. It’s also worth noting that the Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray also includes an artbook, which features an extensive amount of artwork, and a materials book that features interviews with the production team.

Naturally the selection of content on this Blu-Ray disc is limited but it is nice to see these original promotional materials being included as they could have easily been left off.  Whether you decide to watch them or not is your choice; but they are well worth checking out if you are given the chance.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50
Region: B
Running Time: 2:00:49
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 5.1 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – Presage Flower is the first of three feature-length-films that adapt the third story arc from Type-Moon/Notes Visual novel Fate/stay night and this time things are slightly different. Taking place several months before the events of the first two story arcs, known as fate/stay night (arc 1) and fate/stay night: unlimited blade works (arc 2) in anime form, we explore how Shirou and Sakura became close friends as well as the reasoning for Shirou backing-out of Archery practice at school. This starting point of the film sets the groundwork for future events with Sakura (who is Shinji’s younger sister) being at the centrefold.

Introductory phases aside the film quickly glances over the death and revival of Shirou as well as summoning of Saber and instead goes straight to the rules of the Holy Grail War. For the most part the first portions of fate/stay night are glanced over in order to deliver the new content; something which I am incredibly grateful for as no-one likes a recap movie. In this case the new content seems to be the arrival of a “true assassin” within the assassin class warrior that was summoned within Holy Grail War; except this time this assassin is out for blood and ends up killing both humans and servants in order to feed. This results in some deathly intense battles and a new type of alliance formed between Shirou and Rin in order to take down this unexpected foe.

This isn’t just a story for the Holy Grail, nor is it a story of becoming a Hero for Justice; it is a story of survival and protecting ones you love from harm… or that was my impression of this first film in the trilogy at least. Presentation wise then Ufotable delivers another strongly animated feature that looks stunning with its creative uses of mixing CG backgrounds with traditional animated characters; unfortunately despite this praise the sound effects are the same old sounds used in the past and they don’t seem to deliver that desired impact, but they still sound great in Surround Sound. Audio presentation is another great experience with both returning cast members (in English and Japanese) reprising their roles; even if momentarily (Illya for instance). Overall it is great to see the continuity both in animation presentation and audio quality. It’s also worth noting that the Blu-Ray disc has been authored by Madman Entertainment and that the subtitles (and sign tracks) can be removed.

Overall Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – Presage Flower is a well crafted and beautifully articulated piece of cinematic content; sadly its not on the same ‘immersive’ experience as other franchises but it delivers what it sets out to. Unfortunately fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – Presage Flower is a film tailored to fate fans and to those who have seen previous adaptations of the fate story; especially fate/stay night: unlimited blade work and as such newcomers will find it difficult to enjoy. Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – Presage Flower is a well crafted beginning to what is surely going to be an exhilarating trilogy of films, and a bloody one at that.

Score: review-stars-4

Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel Movie 1- Presage Flower is now available via MVM Entertainment within the UK as a Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray and Standard Edition DVD.

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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