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A small thing I should mention: For my first impressions, I also put up images from the series with "funny" little captions when I write them for leetNEET. While it doesn't affect the review, I thought I'd at least offer the option of a link to the review with images in the description box below in this and my future first impressions. Now back to the review.
The fourth Holy Grail War is approaching; a battle between seven magi, competing for the chance to have their wish granted by "the Holy Grail". The magi summon forth seven Heroic Spirits throughout history, becoming "Servants" to their "Masters" and aid them in their fight for the Grail. To keep their true identities hidden, the seven Servants are called by one of the seven Servant classes assigned to them: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Berserker, and Assassin. With each defeat, the Grail grows stronger, until one remains and the Grail is ready to grant the winners' wishes.
Fate/zero is a prequel series to Type-Moon's immensely popular visual novel Fate/stay night. The original light novel series was written by Gen Urobuchi, which I'm sure many of you are familiar with for his work on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the smash hit anime of the Winter 2011 season and my personal choice for best anime of the year. The anime is being produced by Ufotable, which also produced another Type-Moon work Kara no Kyōkai; and its music composed by Yuki Kajiura, whom also did phenomenal work for both of the previously stated series. So as you can imagine, this anime is carrying a lot of hype. And with the release of the special hour-long first episode, does Fate/zero seem to be on the up-and-up?
I would be remiss to not first talk about the animation. Simply put, I was shocked by the quality displayed here. This was a television series? The animation was movie-quality levels. Every single frame of this series was beautiful drawn, with magnificent and varied backgrounds that range from wintery castle landscapes to somber cathedrals.
With that said, this first episode didn't feature a lot of well, movement. Oh, sure, you see characters walking a little and their mouth flaps moving, but otherwise there was very limited actual animation. You could just as easily have mistaken the series for the visual novel with how much they move. However, I have high confidence in saying that it's more than likely to save up for the awesome action scenes to come in the future episodes, so it didn't bother me in the slightest.
Most of the first episode was dedicated giving the series' backstory and exposition in order keep new viewers in the loop rather, the whole hour was dedicated to giving it. The episode was more of a prequel for the series than anything. Heh. A prequel to the prequel.
The entirety was mostly setup for the series proper, while still giving enough time to introduce the many characters and their motivations and managing to keep the viewers' interest the whole time. Despite the episode being about exposition, it was able to keep my attention the whole time. Its story was so captivating that you can't simply look away. You had to know what was happening; and when the episode ended, you want to know what will come next.
For a series that manages to capture a viewer's attention the whole time despite just giving exposition in its first episode, I give Fate/zero a Highly Recommended.
While a prequel, the series gives its backstory so newcomers can easily jump in without fear while still sustaining interest. Fate/zero fulfilled its initial hype. Let's hope it keeps it up.