Anime Review: Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel - Presage Flower

By Drew Hurley 22.06.2019

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Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel - Presage Flower (UK 15)

Type-Moon's magnum opus always had a solid fanbase since its original visual novel bust onto the scene in 2004, but since then its popularity has exploded, with numerous spin-off stories, anime, books, games, and so much merchandise constantly being expanded upon. That original Visual Novel had three paths to play through; Fate, which was the basis for the original anime adaptation in 2006, Unlimited Blade Works, which received both an anime film adaptation and a stellar series from Ufotable; and then there's the third route, Heaven's Feel. This is being adapted into a trilogy of films, again produced by Ufotable. Now the first of which is reaching the UK, courtesy of the wonderful people at MVM. Heaven's Feel - Presage Flower is available from April 15th.
The Fate universe has grown huge. Thankfully, this release requires no real prior knowledge of the series, though it's certainly enhanced by having experienced at least Fate/Zero. The basic premise of said universe is fairly simple: it's all based around the Holy Grail War. A battle royale that has recurred throughout history between magi known as Masters and their Servants, Servants being famous heroes from history summoned into present day. The Servants each falling under archetypes, with famous heroes being able to be summoned in different forms. There are many more layers and details to that premise, and anyone who gets the bug will find themselves delving in to find out just why there are so many girls with the same face, each representing famous heroes like King Arthur, Emperor Nero Claudius, and Joan of Arc.
For this film, much of that information is unnecessary. Though the start of it skips through much of the shared elements from each path in the intro of the film, and so anyone who hasn't seen the original anime or Unlimited Blade Works will find themselves somewhat confused. Suffice to say, the individual at the centre of this story is on Shirou Emiya; a young man who finds himself chosen as the seventh and final master in the Holy Grail War that has suddenly ignited in his little town. Emiya is inextricably linked with the Grail and the War. He is not much of a Magi, and yet he finds himself with one of the strongest servants of all, the legendary King of Knights, Saber, Arthur or rather Arturia, a female King Arthur of legend.

While the Fate path focused on Emiya and Saber, then the Unlimited Blade Works story focused on Emiya and Rin, this final path does so on Shirou and Sakura Matou. For much of the film, the story remains the same as previous instalments. There are some hints at major changes going on here and there, but the major story beats are mostly the same. Then things get… weird. This route leans hard into the horror elements of the series and just as the film is reaching its final quarter, the story branches. Massively changing Saber's role in the story.
There's a reason that you can't walk into an arcade in Japan without seeing UFO Catchers stuffed to bursting with Fate prize items; a reason why Fate Grand Order is regularly topping sales charts of the Android and IOS stores, on both sides of the ocean; why famous novels in Japan sell better by having their Fate counterparts grace the cover. Who could have suspected a battle royale with genderbent heroes from history and legend? It started to really pick up with the rather… adequate anime adaptation in 2006, but it was Ufotable's adaptation of the prequel Fate/Zero and their subsequent follow up with the adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works.
Ufotable has worked so long with the series, they've mastered it now. They know exactly how to show the very best of Fuyuki City and its inhabitants. The backgrounds and environments look gorgeous and the characters are the absolute best version of themselves. From little mannerisms to overall designs, the details large and small. As with their previous work on the series, it's in the action scenes where they excel. From the first fight in the film between Saber and the towering Berserker Heracles, the action scenes are unbelievably cool. Every blow shaking the screen with reverberating impacts. Every swing filled with kinetic energy. It's the first of a handful of battles, each improving on the last, from the little details like a character's eyes flickering to follow the motions of their opponent, to the absolutely stunning effects as special abilities explode.
The highlight of this film is a battle which transforms into an unbelievably high-speed chase through the city. It all looks just absolutely, absurdly, good. Fights that put even the showdowns of Fate/Zero to shame. Even the sections which include CGI animation - the bane of modern-day anime's existence - look superb. Easily some of the best battles seen in anime last year. The presentation is enhanced by a score from Yuki Kajiura, who previously delivered memorable themes in Fate/Zero, but missed out on Unlimited Blade Works.
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Heaven's Feel being the final adaptation is perfect in so many ways. First off, to experience this route in the original game, the other two routes have to be completed. Meaning fans who want to get the most from this story should really watch the rest of the anime adaptations first. The studio producing it and the staff linked, made their names with Type-Moon. They understand the source material and how to make the most of it. Director Tomonori Sudou delivers a dark, gripping tale, punctuated with some stunning action. However, most of this story is old territory, it's only towards the conclusion does the new content appear, setting up many hooks for what comes next. MVM have already confirmed they've licensed the second and third films, hopefully, they'll be arriving soon.

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