Anime Review: 'Fate/Apocrypha' (2017)
Director: Yoshiyuki Asai
Runtime: 620 minutes
Availability: Streaming exclusively in Japanese and English on Netflix, available on blu-ray in Japan
Fate/Apocrypha is an alternate retelling of the Holy Grail War. Instead of the Holy Grail War being held in Fuyuki, Japan, the Grail was stolen during the Third Holy Grail War and was taken to Romania where 14 Masters and 14 Servants will battle each other for it.
The story is interesting and it’s not just a rehash of Fate/Zero, although it seems to pull some plot elements from that series without being an identical copy. But because it does pull some plot elements from there, it can feel like it’s just imitating something else. Fate/Apocrypha came out after Fate/Zero was published in 2006. It doesn’t really mimic the earlier series too much as it has a different tone to it and it’s not just grim, dark, and depressing.
A Large Cast Means There is Less Character Development
There are a lot of characters to remember, 28 of them, and because the cast is so large, they can’t dedicate episodes to character development for all of them.
The writing mainly dedicates characterization to the Masters and Servants who are getting into the big set-piece battles. The secondary characters barely get any development unless they serve as a plot point.
And while some characters do get more development during the second half, they still have some underdeveloped characters in the anime.
The Animation Had Production Woes
A-1 Pictures had been plagued with production woes while making Fate/Apocrypha. Episode three had a lot of visual and sound problems that surprised the animation staff when it aired. They’ve told fans to buy the blu-ray because all these problems will be fixed later.
While the animation isn’t as flashy as the animation from Ufotable, it still looks good. The highlights are the action set pieces. The animators use their well-known technique of sacrificing detail for fluid motion, similar to what they did when they animated Birdy: The Mighty Decode.
A-1 Pictures has done great animation, but they’re overshadowed by the digital animation of Ufotable. The fights are great and the character designs are nice. Type-Lunatics are complaining about the story and the animation, saying that Fate/Apocrypha is worse than Fate/stay night (2006) by Studio DEEN. This is something I find to be ridiculous.
From a technical standpoint, Studio DEEN’s Fate series is the worst adaptation because it hasn’t aged well. The decision to combine aspects from other routes have also caused the never-ending debate of over the watch order.
The Fate/Apocrypha anime is an adaptation of a light novel that has never been licensed in the United States. Since we don’t have legal access to the original source material. Fans are complaining because the anime doesn’t match up to the fan translation of the light novel, but fan translations aren’t as good as fans claim they are. From what I can tell, the changes are small or something that they’ve made a big deal out of when it isn’t or it’s and is typically done to help with the narrative.
The animation isn’t super flashy, but the fights are exciting and fun to watch. A-1 isn’t trying to be like Ufotable and they don’t do their fights the same way. I like the fast-paced action that is exciting and stunning in the second half of the anime.
There are some fights that are truly stunning and amazing to look at because of how fluid it is, it might not be aesthetically pleasing, but it's truly amazing. Fans were angry at Kinoko Nasu praised the anime for its stunning animation and made Karna VS. Sieg's fight a fantastic spectacle.
The Sound Effects Are Weird
I usually don’t think about sound effects in an anime, but Fate/Apocrypha has some very jarring and weird sound effects. I recognize some of the sword sound effects because they recycled the sound effects from Ufotable’s Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014) and Fate/Zero.
The sound effects sound so jarring, they feel kind of cheap. There’s also this weird use of subwoofers that is just strange. I can’t really describe it, it’s something you have to hear and see for yourself.
Audio and Subtitles
English (Reviewed) (Streaming exclusively on Netflix)
English (Streaming Exclusively on Netflix)
The Dub Is Good, but Not Outstanding
The English dub is good, it’s something I liked but it’s not a dub that wowed me and made me think, “This is outstanding!”
It’s not a bad dub, not at all, but it’s not one that will top the Ufotable dubs, which were amazing.
Erika Harlacher is great as Jeanne d'Arc/Ruler. I really liked her performance. She was great as Ruler and she was a good choice for the character.
Zach Aguilar is good as Sieg. He gave a good vocal performance for the role and I do like him, but this dub wasn't one that I loved a lot. I did enjoy it, but it’s not quite top-tier English dubbing.
Max Mittelman is also excellent as Shiro Kotomine. He did a really good job in this role and I liked his performance. His character is also an interesting one that keeps surprising me.
Allegra Clark as Semiramis/Assassin of Red, Atalante/Archer of Red, and Reika Rikudō is really impressive because she changes her voice a lot and doesn’t sound the same for any of these characters she’s playing. She did a good job.
Chris Niosi is really good as Karna/Lancer of Red. He’s an interesting character but he has very little development in the story so far. His performance for this character was fantastic.
Erica Lindbeck is great as Mordred/Saber of Red. She voiced this character perfectly and she did a stellar job. She’s just having so much fun playing Mordred and you can tell she’s a Fate fan. She put her all into this role and it shows.
Patrick Seitz is great as Kairi Sisigou. He doesn’t sound as serious as Matthew Mercer’s Kiritsugu Emiya. The character is like an expy of Kiritsugu, but he’s not as grim or serious. I like his dynamic with Mordred and they make an interesting team.
Ray Chase was awesome as Lancer of Black/Vlad III in the anime. He was perfect for this role and he did a great job.
I have to make special mention of Michelle Ruff, who reprised her role as Arturia Pendragon. She's improved a lot since Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works and she no longer sounds like a robot!
All the other cast members are good too, but I can’t talk about them all because it would take too long.
It’s a good dub. It didn’t blow me away like the entire English cast did for both Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works or Fate/Zero, but it’s still an enjoyable dub to listen to.
Will you watch Fate/Apocrypha?
The Music Is Fantastic!
Masaru Yokoyama composed the music for Fate/Apocrypha. It’s an excellent soundtrack and but doesn’t stand out to me quite as much as Kenji Kawai's Fate/Stay Night soundtrack for Studio DEEN, or Yuki Kajura's Fate/Zero soundtrack. It might not be on their level but it’s still an excellent music score that I enjoyed a lot.
The openings are "Eiyū Unmei no Uta" (英雄 運命の詩; The Song of a Hero's Fate) by EGOIST and "ASH" by LiSA. The endings are "Désir" by GARNiDELiA and #02: "KOE" by ASCA.
The soundtrack is available with the limited edition of the blu-rays in Japan, the blu-rays have not been released in the U.S.
I like the Relationship between Fiore and Caules
There aren't many sibling mages in the Fate universe because they usually try to pass magecraft down to one child. So seeing a pair of sibling mages was fun. It's a nice change of pace compared to Fate/Stay Night.
They also have nice interaction together and it's an interesting part of the story that I really enjoyed. We won't be able to see sibling mages interacting again until Heaven's Feel is completely released in the U.S. so this is a nice aspect of the Fate franchise that wasn't really explored in the main Fate/Stay Night series.
Now to Address Jack the (Ripper) Loli and Astolfo, the Boy Who Looks and Sounds Like a Girl
The Nasuverse has plenty of gender-flipped characters but there is Astolfo, who looks like and is voiced by a woman in both English and Japanese. He regularly confuses viewers and makes people awkward when they find out the character is male rather than the cute female they assumed him to be.
It’s just all sorts of awkward because his Master is obsessed with him in the creepiest way and his whole situation is awkward for everyone, the viewers included.
Then there’s “Jack the Ripper” who is portrayed in-story as a little girl in a skimpy outfit, now there is a reason for it, but the portrayal is really disturbing because the real “Jack the Ripper” murdered prostitutes in London. While the origins of Jack the Ripper in the story is supposed to be tragic and sad, it just comes off as a plot point for Atalanta to fight Ruler.
Decisions with writing and character designs can make things awkward for viewers when it comes to this anime, and it’s just one of those things you’ll have to decide on for yourself.
The Romance is Rushed
I do think that the romance between Sieg and Jeanne does feel rushed. The problem is, it doesn't quite feel natural, despite being hinted at throughout the anime. It's not quite the same as Shirou and Saber who spend a lot of time together because they're Master and Servant, while Jeanne does spend time with Sieg a lot, the emotional attachment she feels for Sieg doesn't feel like a natural part of the story.
I do think it is really sweet at the end of the story, but it's not quite as well done as in Fate/Stay Night.
Fate/Hype Strikes Again!
With Ufotable’s adaptations, people have high expectations of anything related to the Fate franchise. With these expectations comes unrealistic hype that can cause viewers to be letdown because it doesn’t live up to their unrealistic expectations because it’s not the same animation studio, writers, or staff working on the anime.
It has become popular to mimic Ufotable’s camera angles and shots, A-1 made their own interpretation of a Fate property, and it’s not like previous entries from Ufotable or Studio DEEN.
Don’t let hype give you unreasonable expectations; it will only make you feel disappointed.
On the other hand, don’t let the negative things people say about this anime stop you from watching it either. People saying that Fate/Apocrypha is the worst adaptation are excessively exaggerating their disappointment in the series.
It's an Enjoyable Anime, See It for Yourself
This anime is controversial among fans, but not nearly as controversial as Fate/Stay Night. It’s an anime that is good on its own but is overshadowed by Ufotable’s adaptations.
If you go in just expecting a fun Fate story in the Nasuverse, you’ll enjoy it. I’ve enjoyed the first 12 episodes (I’ll revise this review once I’ve finished the anime) and I recommend it if you liked any of the previous Fate adaptations.
What Does Work:
What Doesn't Work:
Interesting story, characters, and world-building
Production woes plagued the animation, will be fixed on blu-ray
Good English dub
Questionable character designs and writing
English dub isn't as good as other Fate adaptations
Final Grade: B+
I loved Fate/Apocrypha. The story is interesting and it kept me wondering what would happen next.
The animation is good, the English dub cast did a good job, and the music was very good.I have a good impression of the anime so far. If you loved the other aspects of the Nasuverse then you should check it out.
The series isn’t without controversy, as questionable character designs and backstory can feel really uncomfortable for the audience. Some aspects of the series seem like they were just trying to find a way to appeal to the fans via fanservice instead of just focusing on a good story.
I still enjoyed the first half of the anime and I look forward to the rest when it’s completed.
Fate/Apocrypha hasn’t been released on home video yet, but I will update this article when it is announced for home release.
It’s definitely worth watching if you’re an anime fan and you have a Netflix account, although being a Netflix exclusive annoys anime fans since the service doesn’t simulcast anime in the U.S. I didn’t mind the wait and it was totally worth it. Check it out for yourself if you have a Netflix account.
If Type Lunatics wanna whine and cuss me out for no reason I will delete your comments, you stupid idiots! Go write your own negative review for Hubpages, I don't want your toxic comment crap here!
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