Anime Review | Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Part One (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 17.04.2016

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Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Part One (UK Rating: 15)

As already seen with the review of the streaming release of Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Cubed3 is a big fan of the show, recently ranking its second part very highly on the Top 10 Anime of 2015, too. Now, thanks to MVM, a UK release is finally on the cards - arriving on 25th April in a three-disc set - so it's time to look at just what the company is bringing on top of the original stream. This release contains the first thirteen episodes of this phenomenal series, along with clean opening and closing, as well as some promotional videos and trailers for some upcoming titles and should be a definite purchase for any anime connoisseurs.

Image for Anime Review | Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Part One (Lights, Camera, Action!)

Originally a Visual Novel game, Fate/Stay Night developed a furiously loyal fan-base thanks to a great story, original and imaginative premise, and some superb characters. It already received a much-loved anime adaptation back in 2006 but after anime studio Ufotable put out a fantastic prequel, it was called back to see what it could do with the original story. The first game had multiple paths and so the team was free to tell a whole different story - the story of Unlimited Blade Works.

Everything is set in present day Tokyo and sees a competition of sorts between the most powerful Mages of the world, known as The Holy Grail War. Each Mage draws to them a servant, a legendary heroic spirit pulled from history, and each servant is assigned a class - Archer, Saber, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Berserker, or Assassin - based on the life and legend of the spirit. The Greek hero, Hercules, is assigned Berserker for his legendary strength, British terror, Jack the Ripper, is appropriately assigned to the Assassin class, and so on. The Mage does not know what class they will draw, nor what heroic spirit of that class they may get. They take part in a battle royale, very much to the death, with the last standing receiving the Holy Grail, an artefact capable of granting any wish.

The protagonist, Shiro Emiya, is thrown into the battle due to his father's participation in the previous Holy Grail War but Shiro has not been trained, nor wants any part of the war. Shiro's character is the quintessential Japanese "Hero of Justice." Having grown up seeing his father tortured by his failures and losses, he is dedicated to saving everyone and sacrificing no-one. He quickly finds himself throwing down against deadly opponents, some of which were previously friends.

Those who have seen the original anime will find Unlimited Blade Works is a significantly different story to the original anime, placing Rin and Shiro more in the spotlight instead of Saber and Shiro, along with having very different versions of characters. The characters are much better developed in this iteration, too, and this feels so much more like a character-driven story, with each of the main cast feeling very three-dimensional.

It cannot be stressed enough just how high the quality of this series is - every aspect is delivered spectacularly. The art and animation are one of the strongest elements, whether simply following Rin and Shiro as they walk through the classrooms of their school or circling the frantic melee battle between Archer, Saber and Berserker in a moonlit showdown, the series is beautiful throughout. The battle scenes, though, are where it breaks through from great into one of the greatest of all time. This is because it's not just the art and animation of the battle scenes, but the tremendous choreography and storytelling in the fights.

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Compared to the original streaming release, this version has upped the quality in localisation. Along with far superior subtitling, there is also an English audio option that has some signature voice actors, like Bryce Papenbrook and Crispin Freeman.

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
Simply spectacular. A compelling plot, likeable and relatable characters, amazing action, beautiful art and animation all make Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Part One a joy to watch. This is a series that every anime fan needs to see, and Ufotable has made its version of the story the finest one out there. This first part sets the stage and leaves viewers desperate to get their hands on the conclusion.

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