Blu-Ray Review: Fate/Apocrytha – Part 1

The Fate/ franchise makes a welcome return in Fate/Apocrytha – Part 1 but how does it differ to the other Fate/ anime series in the franchise. Let’s take a look and find out.

Synopsis:

The Black Faction seized the Greater Grail for the sake of the clan’s most earnest wish to symbolize its independence from the Mage’s Association. The Mage’s Association gathers the Red Faction in order to thwart such ambitions.

Taking place in Trifas, Romania, the Great Holy Grail War that takes place between 14 Heroic Spirits summoned by the two factions transforms thanks to Shirou Kotomine, one of the Masters of the Red, who is also the Overseer for this Great War.

Our View:

Adapted from Yūichirō Higashide’s light novel of the same name, Fate/Apocrytha introduces a new type of Fate/ experience that neither relies on or requires knowledge of the original that sparked the franchise and, more importantly, is actually really good. As a result of this Fate/Apocrypha has easily become my favourite entry into the Fate franchise, also partly due to the bubbling personality of Astolfo, but mostly due to the story and battles that unfold within this first half of the story.

Taking place in a fictional modern day variation of the world two rival fractions, known as the Masters of Red and the Masters of Black, are tasked with fighting each other in order to obtain the Greater Grail; a form of Holy Grail that will grant the winning side any wish they desire as well as the survivors being granted entry into the next Holy Grail war.

Naturally the setup seems oddly familiar, especially those that have experienced Fate/stay night, but in this situation two teams of seven masters and seven servants battle it out with another servant, known as the Ruler, monitoring the progress of the war.

With this many servants and masters taking part in the quest for the Greater Grail, Fate/Apocrypha delivers a darker and more brutal storyline than other variations of the franchise; furthermore it doesn’t seem to focus on a single persons agenda or desire. Fate/stay night for instance saw Shirou Emiya as the central figure of wanting to become a hero, while Fate/Kaleid sees Illya become a magical girl capturing spirits.

As such the story within Fate/Apocrypha focuses more on the ensuing battles than actual characters but key characters, such as Ruler (Jeanne D’Arc), Rider (Astolfo) and Homunculus (Sieg), do play an integral part to the overall story.

It all begins, rather slowly I mind at, during first few episodes of the series which sees a Necromancer mage summon a Saber class servant, known as Mordred, in preparation for the war and sure enough the two encounter the enemy and do battle.  Taking place at around the same time rival faction are creating Homunculus in order to generate consistent mana for the servants doing battle; but when one Homunculus, later to be named as Sieg, breaks free the Rider class servant Astolfo choose to help him to which Jeanne D’Arc steps-in to provide help. Astolof, Jeanne D’Arc and Sieg soon spark a friendship and soon all three decide to live by their own desires; of which creates some repercussions for those involved.

In addition to this story of a Homunculus developing his own identity, and later being able to borrow the power of the heroic spirit Siegfried that saved him, we have the conquest of Shirou Kotomine, a master of Red who wishes to obtain the greater grail for himself in relation to a failed attempt that happened forty years prior. Unfortunately for Shirou Kotomine an enemy from the past is on the opposing scene; and both take matters into their own hands in order to secure the greater grail.

Fate/Apocrytha’s story is far from user-friendly, especially with all of the lore and character origins behind it, but the story it presents is simply one of destruction and violence and for this it has entertaining value that makes it more fun to watch than any other entry into the franchise.

Extras:

In this instance MVM Entertainment are using disc masters produced by Madman Entertainment and as such we receive a limited selection of supplementary content.

In this case Fate/ fans will find the textless opening and closing songs used within this first half of the series as well as trailers for Madman related releases, some of which have not been released by MVM Entertainment.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 2:22:30 (Disc 1 & 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Fate/Apocrytha – Part 1 brings the best elements of Fate/stay night while leaving out the worst to deliver a unique experiencing that focuses on war rather than the story related to the characters. In this first half of the Fate/Apocrytha franchise masters from two factions gather to summon servants to act as their representatives within the Greater Grail war; a war which will pit fourteen servants against each other in a ‘war-styled’ battle with the winner granting them the spoils of war and a secured place in the next holy grail war.

The highlights of this of course stem from the introduction of fourteen different servants, all of which have NOT received an appearance in other Fate/ anime series, and large scale battlefields that seem oddly reminiscence to the gameplay within Marvelous’s Fate/EXTELLA franchise, which sees one servant against hundreds of enemies. This occurs as a result of servants being able to summon stone based monsters or creating simple-minded Homunculus and as such battles see servants against servant as well as servants against hundreds of opponents.

The difference in tone, style and animation gives Fate/Apocrytha a refreshing vibe, even though the storyline seems non-existent. Is the story the introduction of a Homunculus being born into a servant, or the story of Shirou Kotomine winning the war and extracting the revenge, or perhaps it is the story of servants having their own desires adhere to. For the time being it is hard to tell; but all of these plot points are covered and as such it provides some thought provoking moments along with stylish battles that rivals the animation style of Ufotable.

From a Blu-Ray release perspective then Fate/Apocrytha delivers the visual and audio quality one would expect and features both English and Japanese audio options with English subtitles presented in the traditional aniplex font. Personally I found the Japanese audio track to be more entertaining than the English dub, but the dub has its own positive merits – especially if you want to focus on the action.

Overall it is a strong release that is only let down but its simplistic menu design and lack of supplementary content but Fate/Apocrytha – Part 1 is appealing to those familiar with the Fate/ franchise or completely new to the overall experience. Regardless this acts as a great introductory point to the chaos that Fate/ can deliver.

Score: review-stars-4

Fate/Apocrytha – Part 1 will be available on Blu-Ray from the 30th September 2019 via MVM Entertainment 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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