Anime Review: Fate/Grand Order - First Order

By Drew Hurley 14.05.2018

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Fate/Grand Order - First Order (UK Rating: 12)

Anyone downloading Fortnite on the App Store may be surprised to see a little gacha game regularly overtaking the battle royale behemoth. While it's not (officially) available here in the UK, Delight Works' gacha game based on Type-Moon's star franchise has tons of players wailing for waifu worldwide. It's not just the iconic characters getting players to open their wallets, though, as there's a surprisingly solid story at its core and now the prologue of that story is hitting the UK in the form of a 70-minute OVA courtesy of MVM, and it is available now.

Fans of the original Fate/Stay Night, or the prequel of Fate/Zero, should expect a story wholly different with this tale. Set in the far flung future of… 2017, the story follows an organisation known as Chaldea that has created an artificial miniature Earth from the planet's soul and uses it to try and identify any disasters that could lead to extinction level events. To deal with these, they implement a system known as Rayshift to send masters and servants back in time to avert any such catastrophes. Right now, it's tracking a singularity known as 'F' in 2004, which could bring about the end of civilisation.

The film opens on a new master who is awfully similar to old Emiya, but he's basically a run of the mill "Blank" for the audience to project themselves onto. This young boy is Riska Fujimaru; he's been brought to a secret organisation, along with 47 others as potential masters to bond with servants on a mission to save the world. That doesn't seem likely, though, since he can't even keep himself awake for the first mission briefing.

He's kicked out of taking part by a director named Olga who's quite reminiscent of Rin and that small piece of fortune may save more than just his life, it may save the world. While he's moping around and getting to know the support staff, an explosion rocks the headquarters to its core and leaves all other potential masters in critical condition. He rushes back to see if he can save his new friend, Mash, only to find her crushed beneath rubble and bleeding out. The Rayshift system fires up and propels the two to the heart of Singularity F, back to Fuyuki Japan to where the aftermath of a Holy Grail war brings some new versions of familiar faces.

Mash survived, in a form. A servant appeared before her and offered a contract to her, they combined, and she is now a demi-servant, something greatly expanded on in the story of the FGO game itself. This pair, along with Olga, tries to undo the horrors that have come from the conclusion of the dark Holy Grail war.

The Fate franchise has received some absolutely phenomenal adaptations from UFOTable, setting a heck of a bar for this series to try and live up to. In short, studio Lay-duce doesn't surpass or even meet the bar previously set, but that's not to say this looks bad. It looks fine and has some great looking battles that fans of the mobile game will be ecstatic to see, including a classic showdown taking a very different throw-down between Cu Chulainn vs. Emiya. Lay-duce is a relative unknown, but it has put out some decent series, and this latest shows it has got plenty of promise… although imagine if UFOTable had put this out, too...

This release has both the original Japanese dub and a brand new English dub. The English dub here returns Tony Oliver to the role of "Lancer," casts Erica Mendez as Mash - best known for her performance as Ryuko Matoi - and casts Griffin Burns as Fujimaru. Griffin is a VA with few credits to his name who is likely to explode in popularity soon thanks to landing the starring role in Masaaki Yuasa's Devilman Crybaby. These three voices take part in the only bonus feature of note on this release, an almost 20-minute interview that is rather enjoyable. Meanwhile, in the Japanese dub, there are some major names behind the new characters, some very familiar voices that fans will recognise. Fujimaru is played by Nobunaga Shimazaki, an actor with plenty of starring roles behind him, including Haruka Nanase in Free! and Shinichi in Parasyte. Tony Oliver isn't the only returning voice, as the original Japanese VAs for the servants return on the Japanese side, too, including Nobutoshi Canna as Lancer. Type-Moon has been fantastic in keeping the same voices through each and every version.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
It's downright criminal that more of Fate/Grand Order has yet to receive an anime adaptation, but while the fan-base waits with bated breath for Heaven's Feel to reach the UK, this is the next best thing. It's far superior to the mediocrity that is Apocrypha currently airing on Netflix but far below Fate/Zero and Unlimited Blade Works. It's a must-see for players of the game and will likely attract more players to the game… and closer to the poverty line. Gacha addiction awaits.

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