[Light Novel] Fate/Zero – Sharp Review

For a long time, I’ve been meaning to do reviews for various works. Now, that I finally set up this site, it’s a good opportunity to begin. Rather than an in-depth analysis, I prefer to summarize why (or why not) you’d want to try the work and how best to approach it.

I’d like to begin with the light novel Fate/Zero by Gen Urobuchi. If you want to read my in-depth review about the novel, then you can check it on MyAnimeList.

fatezero_cover

Fate/Zero

Genres: Light Novel, Action, Fantasy, Supernatural

Volumes: 4

Status: Completed & Translated

Author: Gen Urobuchi

Link: Baka Tsuki

Description:

The Holy Grail War is a bloody ritual. Seven chosen magi are pitted against each other and the victor is promised the omnipotent, wish-granting Holy Grail. Each of the participants yearns to win the Holy Grail for personal reasons… expect for one man.

Kotomine Kirei never had a wish of his own. His life and soul are filled with nothing but emptiness. As the war goes on, Kirei develops a strong interest in Emiya Kiritsugu, the infamous “magi killer”. Kiritsugu is ruthless, merciless and he yearns for the Holy Grail’s miracle stronger than anybody else. Before long, Kirei and Kiritsugu both realize – they’ll become each other’s worst nemesis.

 

Before You Begin

Fate/Zero is a prequel for the highly acclaimed visual novel Fate/Stay Night. However, it was actually written AFTER Fate/Stay Night itself and contains huge spoilers for Fate/Stay Night.

If you wish to properly experience the complex Fate series, then you should first familiarize yourself with Fate/Stay Night. Here are your options:

  1. Read the visual novel of Fate/Stay Night. This is the best way to experience the whole story. It’s been fully translated to English.
  2. Watch anime adaptations. Regrettably, all anime adaptation of Fate/Stay Night suffer from adaptation decay. It’s by no means a favorite of mine, but Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works does a passable job of delivering one of the story’s routes.
  3. Read manga adaptations.

 

Fate/Zero Has an Anime

Studio Ufotable made a brilliant anime adaptation for Fate/Zero. It recaptured all the great scenes from the novel, emphasized the epic moments and omitted many of the novel’s flaws.

In other words: go watch the anime! I’d say the light novel was born for one and only purpose: to be adapted into an amazing anime.

I recommend reading the novel only if you prefer novels to anime, or if you are curious about how this story feels with a written narrative. In case you want to read the novel in order to learn more about the setting or the characters, then I’ll discourage you; the novel doesn’t add much on top of the material covered in the anime.

 

The Good & The Bad

  • A very slow beginning.  The story involves many characters and builds up slowly as it introduces them all. The first two volumes are effectively just “warm up”.
  • Sloppy writing on occasions. Excessive info-dumps and nerdy skill naming make the novel feel like cheap fan fiction at times.
  • Superb Action. When the pace picks up and we finally get some action, then Gen Urobuchi delivers. Look forward to sophisticated and breath-taking combat scenes.
  • Ambitious and colorful characters. Each character has a strong personality and a believable wish. The bold clashes between their goals and desires are the highlight of the story. Not all characters receive as much attention as they could, but that’s understandable when dealing with such a big cast.
  • Written with the ending in mind. Unlike many other light novels, Fate/Zero was envisioned with a clear ending. The story is framed around the Holy Grail War and it escalates beautifully into the action-packed climax… that is, if you can get through the long “warm-up” of the first two volumes.

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