But it also presents the potential of the whole Fate franchise. Fate Zero stands for how much more a franchise can do so with its story. Many have are already familiar with the original Fate Stay Night series and the return of it with Fate Zero were welcomed news. F/SN was good, Fate Zero is even better by being a major step up for the series. It does so many things to make the whole franchise even better that these things ought to be said.
For one thing it has a story with a different setting. I, for one, am glad a prequel can really stay away from what it did in previous works yet retain some of what makes its series famous for. Sometimes there’s a different story but it happens in the same town, same school, and almost with the similar developments. Fate Zero does something different and stays away from its previous (and common) school settling. More of the same would’ve labeled the Fate Series as a less flexible story than it really is. That’s why Fate Zero having an entirely different setting is welcomed. In Fate Zero I prefer the more mature relationship between Saber and Kiritsugu (and the other masters) compared to the ones between Saber and highschooler Shirou. Before Zero I limited the Fate Series with high school settings and great fights with heroic spirits. Now I associate the Fate Series with any setting in which the Holy Grail could be possible. It is much broader where regardless of the setting, the Fate Series can easily adapt.
It’s about back-stories. With sequels it’s about where the characters are going, in prequels is about where they were before the sequel happened especially when the first series doesn’t cover much about those characters. We all know who they are and they are about. Being already familiar with some of the characters frees the writers from working on introductions and instead they can work more on their characters as the audience already knows them.
Back then I liked a number of the original F/SN characters while I was on the fence about others. It’s not that they weren’t bad it’s that there was so much that could have be done and shown about them, however it didn’t feel it was enough. There were still many unanswered questions about them and their motives. In Fate Zero doesn’t feel like I’m missing information about them, but it is a more complete experience of their characters compared to F/SN. In addition to that it also works its magic to make me more interested in some of the original characters more than I did the first time by working on actual back stories. Zero tells the stories of some of these characters which was so little known about.
The Fate Series could not look any better. Animation may not be the highest priority for a series but it sure doesn’t hurt to have such crispy animation when there’s already a solid story. It’s already great then, why not make it even better? Exactly. Another thing that makes Zero a better viewing experience is the off-the-charts animation it dishes out each week. It reminds you that there are still shows with great animation and on top of that a great story. The original F/SN animation was all right yet it still can’t compare to Ufotable super animation, especially when all episodes in Fate Zero look like the studio is blowing their budget handling the littlest details. Fate Zero is a new take on the Fate Series and how a franchise would turn out in the hands of other studio.
It is difficult to not mention how important main characters are for a story. Another of the main reasons why Fate Zero is more enjoyable it is because of the lack of Shirou. It may be just me but I’ve come to the further conclusion that a Shirou free Fate is a also a better Fate Series. There were many good things about the original series. I do think that F/SN would’ve been a better show with a different main character. Granted, the way the series is structured mainly requires Shirou yet his character (according to the TV version) could’ve been taken in different directions. It is because of this that also Fate Zero once again has the upper hand by being a better experience. In Fate Zero there are no Shirou speeches and the masters are determined of what they want, and when they don’t they still aren’t Shirou. I think that this is a way of telling everyone a Shirou free Fate is indeed a better Fate series.
Another thing that Zero has that F/SN didn’t is a larger array of open characters. Fate Stay Night had some great characters such as Saber, Lancer, Rin and Kyrie, however it somewhat lacked the appeal of more open and neutral characters which Zero has. F/SN was mainly divided into smaller groups of whoever had the most interesting Master or Servant to cheer for. There were two big groups in the story which was Shirou with Rin (and their respective servants) vs. everyone else. This worked, however, I wasn’t compelled to support the other teams because their stories never reached that level. They were antagonists by the end of the day and much of the main focus was always on the main character’s team. On the other hand, Fate Zero focuses more in the masters and the servants’ relationships than I remembered F/SN did. There is not much of the classic “good guys” vs. “bad guys” approach (some exceptions) as there was in the original series. It feels more real when it feels like a story where anyone could win and there isn’t necessarily “one” and “only one” side to support or expect one side to always win. Zero proves that it is possible to stay mildly neutral. That there is a way in which a Holy Grail can be experienced without being forced to take one or two sides but simply watch as the events unfold.
Definitely a better execution and better treatment. One of the issues that Fate Zero had not needed to deal with was a poor execution of its series. Fate Zero is a new project that hasn’t disappointed and one that had continued to surprise and with good reason. It shares no history that its sequel did (and likely it won’t) as its production is top-notch. It doesn’t share any DEEN’s attempts to milk the franchise by doing edited versions and whatnot. I stayed away from watching “Fate/stay night TV Reproduction” which was the condensed version of the 24 episodes series into two hours OVAs. A decision I do not regret. I also stayed away though with still some regret from the Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works due to DEEN’s history of bad adaptations.
On the other hand, Fate Zero is better planned out than F/SN possibly was. Initially making the series into two seasons months apart sounded, however, UFOtable’s attention to detail speaks highly of the respect they have for the projects they take. They thought it would be better for the show to be aired this way so the quality wouldn’t drop. Patience goes a long way, morose when quality is guaranteed. Fate Zero is proof of it. With the Fate Series’s new studio I can expect good things to come.
And what Fate Zero is mainly about: back-stories and see characters in different lights. Amidst of info dump new information comes forth. I won’t say that I remember everything about the original Fate but knew nothing about Rin’s father because the original series didn’t cover it, same for other characters. Fate Zero shows what happened to characters such as Kiritsugu, Irisviel, Kyrie or even the mage association who in the original Fate were only mentioned but were hardly or not covered at all.
In my opinion, one of the best things that Fate Zero does is answering questions about the characters by providing them with back-stories on top of making the audience view them in different lights. In the episode when Rin meets one of the Masters and saves kids from the local deranged slasher says plenty of her compared to the more selfish way she’s initially portrayed in F/SN. In F/SN she’s already a great magi but no one has any idea how hard she had to work to get there. Same for Kyrie’s conflicting story which was also one of the most interesting stories which wasn’t much covered. I also don’t remember Saber being conflicted that hard in F/SN in the same way that Zero did. There were arguments among masters but serious discussions about her character and ideologies with other fellow Heroes is something that makes a character like her be seen in a different light. Zero is a different experience. It offers a more solid back-story for these characters and how they formed their paths before F/SN even happened. These points makes Fate Zero a most satisfying experience. Zero provides a rare opportunity to show how they used to be in the past.
Looking at Fate Zero it also has something that F/SN didn’t. There is less favoritism and its system is more opened because one can see and understand the characters’ motives for fighting in the Holy Grail War yet not agree with them. It works better as it remains as a truer competition. I believe that’s the way the Fate Series work better. It’s a strategic, all-out fight, where everyone gives their best. Nothing ought to stop the audience from cheering for one team in some episodes and cheering for another in the next episodes depending on the events.
It is more than the classic good vs. evil classic approach than F/SN was and focuses more on its characters and their reasons which surprisingly despite being a prequel it builds on what F/SN did. Having watched and enjoyed the original series I can still say Fate Zero is a stronger experience than Fate Stay Night was. It is a vastly more polished execution of the series in all aspects yet Fate Zero makes both series better by showing what else the franchise can do. It provides a different experience by creating something new and actually showing the potential and flexibility of a franchise. A stronger experience.