Anime Movie Review: 'Fate/Stay Night: Heavens Feel II: Lost Butterfly' (2019)
Director: Tomonori Sudou
Distributor: Aniplex USA
Release Date: August 21st, 2019
Runtime: 117 minutes
Availability: on Blu-Ray, available on CDJapan, not legally streaming anywhere
Shirou Emiya lost his familiar, his Servant Saber, and is no longer a Master in the Fifth Holy Grail War. He still wants to protect the civilians in the city and grows closer to Sakura Matou as he learns more about her family history with Rin Tohsaka. As the war intensifies, his feelings for Sakura conflict with his ideals as a “Hero of Justice” and he faces a tough decision. What will he do to protect the person he loves the most?
This is the Most Character Focused Route:
While the Fate/Stay Night (2006) route mainly focused on world-building, character introductions, and exposition, it still gave us some character development for the main characters, with Saber receiving the most for that route because she was the main heroine. Then Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014) expanded on the characters, revealing more information and character motivations for some of the other servants. Rin got more development in that adaptation because that’s her route.
The Heaven’s Feel Trilogy focuses on the main characters, mainly Sakura and Rin. While Rin received more development in Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014), she still has development in the Heaven’s Feel anime movies as well. Saber got the backseat in this film besides her outstanding action set piece, but maybe she’ll get more development for this side of her personality in the third film, Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel III: Spring Son (2020).
Sakura received more character development in this middle installment and that made me happy because I felt like we didn’t get to spend as much time with her in Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel I: Presage Flower (2017) as I would have liked. This film did fix that problem for me. I still wish these anime films were longer so we could have more character development.
Fate/stay Might [Heaven's Feel] THE MOVIE II. lost butterfly Trailer 2
The Animation is a Spectacle!
Now I will let all the fans know that this is the least action heavy Fate installment of all the Fate anime I have watched. The writers and director decided to completely focus on character development between Shirou Emiya and Sakura Matou rather than on action heavy set pieces. The three action scenes that do take place happen earlier in the first third of the anime film. While that might seem boring to people who are into Fate just for the action set pieces, the action scenes they do have are magnificent.
The Saber Alter VS Berserker is just the animation team pulling out all the stops for the main highlight of the action sequences that I will say is literally the best animated action scene created by the studio in any Ufotable Fate adaptation I’ve ever seen.
I do not solely love the Fate franchise for its action scenes and the over-the-top fights, I know that a lot of fans do, and that’s a shallow reason to like this series. If you love amazing action scenes that make your mind spin, then this anime film will be a treat for you, because it has the most pulse-pounding action sequence in this entire franchise that doesn’t even feel like it spends the four minutes that the fight scene takes up!
The art style is nice to look at as always, and the backgrounds of the scenery are beautiful to look at. They also fixed Berserker’s wonky CGI from the previous film and he looks so much better now.
This anime film is pure eye candy and not just in the action sequences. It’s a stunning spectacle that takes your breath away and the fight scenes leave your jaw on the floor!
Audio and Subtitles:
Japanese (Revieed) (On blu-ray)
English (on blu-ray)
Engliish (Coming soon)
The Japanese Dub is Amazing!
I could gush on and on about the Japanese cast but I’ve already done that in my review of Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel I: Presage Flower (2017), you can read for more details on what I think of the Japanese and English voice cast.
I will say that everyone did an amazing job. This voice cast always gives it their best in these roles and they’ve all been voicing these characters since 2006 so they breathe life into these characters effortlessly. The Japanese dub is fantastic, especially if you’ve been with the voice cast for a long time.
If you enjoyed the Japanese dub for the other Fate anime you’ll really enjoy this anime dub.
I will review the English dub when it becomes available.
Aimer 『I beg you』（主演：浜辺美波 / 劇場版「Fate/stay night [Heaven's Feel]」Ⅱ.lost butterfly主題歌
I Love that the Soundtrack Uses Callbacks!
Yuki Kajura’s soundtrack is lovely as always. While the soundtrack uses a lot of familiar tracks from the previous film she does compose new tracks for this film as well.
The music is stunning and enthralling during fights, subdued and emotional in quiet scenes between characters. It is an amazing and wonderful soundtrack that I really enjoy.
The ending song is “I Beg You” by Aimer, and it’s amazing. It’s a very different song for a Fate title, but once you see the anime film, you’ll understand why it’s the ending song.
Yuki Kajura did use it as a musical motif in the soundtrack, but unlike the song “Hana No Uta” it is not a recurring musical motif throughout the soundtrack but plays during a pivotal moment in the film. Since I imported the ending song from Japan, I was able to recognize it immediately.
There is also the excellent use of a reprise of the song “Calm and Quiet Days” during an important scene between Shirou and Sakura. Using a reprise of that track was an absolutely brilliant masterstroke of Yuki Kajura and her use of the soundtrack in the film.
It’s an amazing soundtrack and it’s the reason I’m going to pick up the limited edition of Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel II: Lost Butterfly (2019) when the movie officially comes west with the English dub included along with the Japanese track.
Previous Knowledge of Fate/Stay Night is Required:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Knowledge of previous Fate adaptations is required for viewing. If you have watched Fate/Stay Night (2006) and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2015) you will have a better understanding of events and characters. Going into this movie trilogy blind is nigh impossible because of the films lack Shirou’s inner monologue to use as exposition. Unless you watch the film with someone who knows the other routes or read the visual novel yourself, you will be lost and confused with everything going on.
I recommend watching Fate/Stay Night (2006) and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014) beforehand to have all the knowledge you’ll need for going into this anime movie trilogy. This is not a newcomer-friendly experience and is mainly for longtime fans of the franchise.
The Second Installment Slog Hits this Film Too:
Many film trilogies that I watch seem to have what I call “Middle Installment Slog Problems,” where the middle installments of film trilogies don’t really know what they’re doing and they just try to get through the middle film so you can be hyped up for the end.
This middle film does get bogged down in pacing issues and not because of whatever route content they cut from the film due to time constraints. It's because the writers used the trope of “Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene.” I feel like the pacing is bogged down by the quiet drama scenes. While the quiet scenes are good, some audience members might be bored because they want more action scenes.
It Shows Mature Subject Matter While Not Truly Being a Mature Story:
Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel II: Lost Butterfly (2019) deals with a lot of mature subject matter without actually being a mature story in terms of its storytelling.
It shows physical and emotional abuse in a family setting without truly going into the emotional aspects of it for a certain character. It’s all very surface level in how it handles these topics mainly due to the romantic relationship between two characters.
This anime film covers so many mature topics and then settles some of them in a ridiculous manner that I won’t spoil for you. But it’s not at all the mature story the film’s trying to make itself out to be. It’s got mature content but lacks a mature story. I don’t think it gave a great resolution in how it handles some of the subjects, but it was satisfying, but not the best resolution to some adult content and topics in the film.
Parental Content Warning:
I usually don’t put these in too many of my anime reviews, mainly because most TV-MA anime or R-Rated anime movies are just for blood, gore, and violence. But this anime movie does have a sex scene and while it’s tastefully done compared to a live-action movie, it is quite obvious that Shirou and Sakura are having sex and not some weirdly censored ugly CGI dragon like in the Fate/Stay Night (2006) adaptation where sex was implied but not shown twice or like the CGI dolphins where they never implied anything but it wasn’t clear if Shirou and Rin did have sex in both adaptations of Unlimited Blade Works (2010 and 2014).
The reasons for Sakura’s sex drive aren’t explained very well in terms of the film and only having knowledge of the visual novels explain it better and it’s that the crest worms Sakura had inside her since Fate/Zero (2011) make her horny and yeah that’s a weird explanation, but the sex is not just thrown in there like the visual novel routes for Fate and Unlimited Blade Works.
While the sexual content is minimal compared to other R-rated movies it is still there and important to the story so this is still not for younger kids or teens that aren’t mature enough to handle adult content and themes.
The Film is A Fantastic Middle Installment that Leaves you Wanting More!
While Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel II: Lost Butterfly (2019) isn’t a perfect anime film by any means, but it’s still enjoyable and takes a darker turn than the other routes in Fate/Stay Night routes.
The movie has its highs and lows and it’s a roller coaster of a ride. The slow drama scenes might drag the pacing down a little, but it’s still a well-made anime movie with an interesting and emotional story to tell.
It does have the problem of being the slow middle installment of a trilogy, but when the action scenes hit, they deliver breathtaking fight choreography and cinematography.
The Japanese dub is excellent and the soundtrack is top notch. Ufotable did an amazing job with this anime movie.
Overall, I had a blast watching this movie and I enjoyed it just as much if not more than Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel I: Presage Flower (2017).
Will you watch "Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel II: Lost Butterfly" (2019)?
What Doesn't Work:
Amazing story, interesting characters and good world-building
Requires previous knowledge of other routes to appreciate it
Left out some much-needed explantions that are only in the visual novel
Excellent Japanese dub
Uneven pacing, some might not like lack of action set pieces
My Grade: A
Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel II: Lost Butterfly (2019) tops the previous film when it comes to the presentation in both the cinematography and animation. The story is excellent and keeps it from feeling like the same story over and over again.
Even though the story changes in every route, Heaven’s Feel is what inspired Fate/Zero’s edgier aspects. It’s a story for mature adults, even if the story isn’t as “mature” as fans would have you believe it is.
It does have adult content, but it’s not mature storytelling. It’s still a fun ride, it does deal with some mature subject matter, but it’s not truly a mature story. It’s not some deep and meaningful story that makes you philosophize, but it does try to be, and I feel it tries a little too hard to sound more mature than it is.
It’s still a fun ride and I’m looking forward to seeing more of one of my favorite franchises for the third installment Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel III: Spring Son (2020).
Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel II: Lost Butterfly (2019) is worth your time to watch and worth adding to your anime movie collection. It’s going to be expensive but it’s worth the price of buying the movie and not just because of the jaw-dropping visuals, but the story is very well done, but it’s not perfect.
It surpasses its predecessor in many aspects but it’s not a perfect story either and requires some knowledge of the original visual novel to help explain certain things that the anime film doesn’t explain very well.
It’s an amazing film for a fan of the Fate/Stay Night franchise and if you’ve watched the other anime adaptations or read the visual novel you should really love the film.
I love it and I look forward to adding it to my anime movie collection. It’s worth every penny to me and I can’t wait to see how this movie trilogy ends in the final anime film Fate/Stay Night: Heavens Feel III: Spring Son (2020).
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