Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV series)
|Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works|
Promotional artwork for the Bluray box of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.
|Genre||Action, dark fantasy|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Takahiro Miura|
|Written by||Akira Hiyama|
|Music by||Hideyuki Fukasawa|
|Original run||October 4, 2014 – June 27, 2015|
|Original video animation|
|Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - sunny day|
|Directed by||Takahiro Miura|
|Written by||Kinoko Nasu|
|Music by||Hideyuki Fukasawa|
|Released||October 7, 2015|
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (officially stylized Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]) is an anime series produced by Ufotable. It is based on the visual novel Fate/stay night produced by Type-Moon. The plot of the episodes is primarily based on the Unlimited Blade Works storyline in the Fate/stay night visual novel, in which Shirou Emiya, a high school student and amateur magus living in Fuyuki City, Japan, is dragged into the Fifth Holy Grail War, a secret magical tournament. In it, seven participants, known as "Masters", and their "Servants", reincarnated personifications of legendary heroes of history, fight in a battle royale for the Holy Grail, an omnipotent magical chalice that can fulfill any wish or desire for its victor. Shirou and his Servant Saber, are forced to team up with Rin Tohsaka, another Master in the Holy Grail War, but Shirou finds himself earning the strong dislike of Rin's mysterious Servant Archer, whose motivations are unknown.
The ideas for the "Unlimited Blade Works" anime originated from Hikaru Kondo who wanted to create a new anime adaptation based on the visual novel though many staff members were not on agreement due to Fate/stay night possessing three storylines. Eventually, they chose the "Unlimited Blade Works" route where they wanted to further explore the protagonist across his conflicts with Archer while also providing new scenes not featured in the original visual. The music was composed by Hideyuki Fukasawa, Yuki Kajiura, and NUMBER 201. The series was first announced in early 2014 while the 26 episodes were divided into two seasons that aired from October 4 to December 27, 2014. The second half ran from April 4 to June 27, 2015. The series was released in DVD and blu-ray volumes in both Japanese and English regions.
Unlimited Blade Works was a major success in Japan, selling multiple home media releases while being the winner of multiple awards from the magazine Newtype. The series received high marks from reviewers who called him even before the premiere on television the most anticipated anime of the end of 2014 against the background of the general popularity of the franchise Fate and the success of the previous adaptation of the studio Ufotable Fate/Zero. Despite finding the series not as appealing as its predecessor, most critics enjoyed the work Ufotable performed, most notably in the handling of Shirou and other characters, while also noting the animation was visually striking.
The story revolves around Shirou Emiya, a hardworking and honest teenager who unwillingly enters a to-the-death tournament called the Fifth Holy Grail War, where combatants fight with magic and Heroes throughout history for a chance to have their wishes granted. Orphaned and the sole survivor of a massive fire in Fuyuki City as a child, Shirou was taken in by a retired magus named Kiritsugu Emiya, who would die years later. His responsibility to those who died and his own salvation through his father formed a strong desire for justice and peace in him. Thus, he earnestly trains his body and minuscule ability with magic to someday greatly help others, even if at his stage people often abuse his generosity. One evening, after seeing two devastatingly powerful beings trading blows at his school with two warriors known as Archer and Lancer, he is attacked, as witnesses to the Holy Grail War are generally supposed to be eliminated. Archer's master, Rin Tohsaka manages to revive the nearly dead Shirou. However, few moments later Lancer attacks again. Shirou is about to be killed when he is saved by his own servant Saber. In her supposedly accidental summoning and the appearance of the marks on Shirou's hand, his entry as a Master into the Holy Grail War is formalized.
As Saber forces Lancer to flee, she engages in combat with Archer. Shirou accidentally stops her with his magic when seeing Rin, his schoolmate. Due to Shirou stopping Saber's attacks, both masters form an alliance to fight against other mages. Through the priest Kirei Kotomine, Shirou learns about the Holy Grail War's context and decides to participate to avoid catastrophes happening due to the Holy Grail. During the story, Shirou starts developing skills he imitates from Archer with Rin noting a striking similarities between the two. However, Shirou loses control of Saber when the servant Caster uses his guardian as a hostage. As Saber becomes imprisoned, Shirou still aims to fight with his own magical strength to stop the war.
Archer betrays Rin during a fight against Caster, but she reforms her alliance with Shirou. With Lancer's help, the duo manages to free Saber from Caster who is then killed. Archer then challenges Shirou to a fight hoping to destroy his story of being a hero, revealing himself to be a Shirou from the future who became a heroic spirit and regrets his the path he took. However, Shirou accepts his future regardless of the regrets and misery, deciding to stick to Kiritsugu's ideals of being a hero. Gilgamesh, Kotomine's former servant tries to kill Archer and Shirou, with the former sacrificing to protect the former. Having killed Kiritsugu's blood relative child Illya, Gilgamesh takes her heart and plans to use his other master Shinji Matou in order to summon the corrupted Holy Grail. In order to follow Archer's hopes, Rin passes Shirou her mana to fight Gilgamesh to replicate Archer's powers. As Shirou nearly kills Gilgamesh, Archer uses his last strength to deliver the final attack at their enemy while assisting Saber to destroy the Holy Grail. With the war concluded and the servants gone, Shirou and Rin move to London to learn more about magic although the former decides to also keep with Kiritsugu's ideal. In the final scene, Archer appears in a dimension as he remembers his past self's words, disappearing as a person with as a younger hooded person appears in the same field.
In 2011, Type-Moon ported Fate/stay night to the PlayStation Vita. Type-Moon intended to include animated cutscenes for each of the routes for the port. Studio ufotable was tasked to animate the cutscenes. During production, Ufotable president Hikaru Kondo had an idea about the possibility of creating a full anime series - an adaptation of the visual novel, despite the fact that by that time, there were already two anime adaptations of the game, both of which were animated by Studio Deen. The two adaptations were the 2006 animated series and the 2010 Unlimited Blade Works movie. Kondo proposed the idea to Type-Moon CEO Takashi Takeuchi, and it was approved.
In the original visual novel, there were three routes - "Fate", "Unlimited Blade Works" and "Heaven's Feel"; they were distinguished by the different focus on the main female characters - Saber, Rin and Sakura. The production committee had differing opinions regarding the development of the new anime series - some favored the idea of following the source material down to the last detail, while others, such as Hikaru Kondo and Takashi Takeuchi, wanted to re-adapt the Fate route to emphasize Saber's character traits that were displayed in Fate/Zero. However, this idea was not met with unanimous approval with the rest of the production committee. As a result, the idea was scrapped, with the consensus that the Fate route serves as an introduction to the setting of the Fate universe.
Producer Atsuhiro Iwakami proposed that an adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route would be a logical continuation to the events of Fate/Zero. Iwakami was certain that the plot of this route would be better presented as a TV series rather than a full-length film. Ufotable said that they wished to develop the series in a dark tone similar to Fate/Zero with Shirou Emiya's characterization also being altered from the original visual novel. As a result, Miura pointed out that in future work he would prefer to focus more on revealing the character of Shirou as a character in his traits rather through women associated with him in contrast to the game. The CEO of Type-Moon believed that only Nasu himself was able to convey all the ideas he put into Shirou, and help them reflect on the screen correctly and deepen public perception of the hero. Another character that Miura requested Kinoko Nasu to expand was Illya through the second half when she learns the past of her father and is driven by angst as a result.
The characters were designed by Tomonori Sudo. He was handed materials and key animation for review. Being a Type-Moon fan he was conflicted in the expression each character was supposed to have. He tried to fix those expressions so when they appear on screen, they will match. In order to deliver the best product, trusted the screen and animation directors to do their best to work together. Before finishing the product, he reviews his work to see if anything else is needed. Nevertheless, he felt the team managed to achieve appealing fight scenes and animation throughout the television series.
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All the Japanese voice actors from the Studio Deen adaptation of Fate/stay night reprised their roles. In contrast, the English dub recast the roles of Shirou, Saber and Archer to Bryce Papenbrook, Kari Wahlgren and Kaiji Tang, respectively. Papenbrook felt that the story took a "different path in Unlimited Blade Works" and that the creators "wanted a different take on Shirou". He was told to play Shirou in a "real" way. As a result, Papenbrook had to get himself into a "deep mindset".
Noriaki Sugiyama noted that he was tense before he started recording for Unlimted Blade Works, since he had not been involved in the mainstream Fate series since 2010. Sugiyama expressed concern that voicing Shirou in comedic spinoffs like Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya and Carnival Phantasm would affect his performance for Unlimted Blade Works. Ayako Kawasumi, Saber's seiyu, noted that the characterization of her role differs in Unlimited Blade Works from the Fate route due to her lack of romantic feelings for Shirou. Consequently, Saber was portrayed with a more stoic demeanor, seeing Shirou as merely just her Master.
Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Original Soundtrack I was composed, arranged and produced by Hideyuki Fukasawa, Yuki Kajiura, and NUMBER 201. The vocals were performed by LiSA for "This Illusion". The album was first released in Japan on March 25, 2015 by Aniplex, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), with catalog number ANZX-11636, and was re-released as part of the North American Limited Edition Blu-Ray box set on August 25, 2015.
There were more than four hundred compositions for the entire Unlimited Blade Works soundtrack, which significantly exceeded the average figure for a 24 episode anime series, which normally range around 40-50 tracks. As a retrospective scene accompaniment, two revised compositions by Yuki Kajiura from the Fate/Zero series were used.
Originally, the series' second opening theme was "Last Stardust", composed by Aimer. However, the staff did not find it fitting for the video's sequences and instead used "Brave Shine". Writer Kinoko Nasu decided to use "Last Stardust" for the Heaven's Feel arc, but the staff instead found it more fitting to use it as an insert song in episode 20 during Shirou's fight with Archer. The vocals focus on the fire that destroyed Shirou's city while dealing with his acceptance of Kiritsugu's death as he decided to follow his dreams regardless of any regrets he takes in his life. Aimer also did research in the relationship between Jesus and his disciple Judas Iscariot while handling the relationship between Shirou and Archer with the latter often showing intentions to kill the former, believing he should have never been born; similar words were said between Jesus and Judas.
Original Soundtrack I
|Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Original Soundtrack I|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||March 25, 2015|
August 25, 2015 North America
|Label||Sony Music Publishing (Japan) Inc.|
NUMBER 201 (track 25)
Yuki Kajiura (track 26 & 27)
|1.||"Unlimited Blade Works"||5:30|
|5.||"Face to Face"||1:01|
|6.||"Souls to Fight"||3:39|
|8.||"Vortex of Fate"||4:29|
|11.||"A Sword, No Words"||1:52|
|13.||"Into the Battles"||1:26|
|17.||"Reason to Kill"||1:25|
|18.||"Fist of desperate～Awakening"||4:27|
|22.||"Shirou:Nowhere to go"||2:03|
|23.||"Each Choices, Each Steps"||5:39|
|24.||"Far Away from You"||2:11|
|25.||"THIS ILLUSION" (Season 1 Ending Theme. Vocal by LiSA.)||4:04|
|26.||"count it from zero" (Produced by Yuki Kajiura)||4:34|
|27.||"down in the zero" (Produced by Yuki Kajiura)||4:56|
The series was first announced in early 2014 while the official announcement about its cast and storyline was uncovered in July the same year. The anime is jointly produced by Aniplex, Notes, and Ufotable, the same studios that co-produced the 2011–2012 anime adaptation for Fate/Zero. It is also directed by Takahiro Miura, with music composed by Hideyuki Fukasawa; character designs by Tomonori Sudou, Hisayuki Tabata, and Atsushi Ikariya, based on the original designs by Takashi Takeuchi; and art, 3D, and photography directions by Koji Eto, Kōjirō Shishido, and Yuichi Terao, respectively. The first half of the series ran from October 4 to December 27, 2014. The second half ran from April 4 to June 27, 2015. An advanced screening online premiered on September 28, 2014, in several countries across the world, including Japan, the United States, France, Germany and South Korea. A total of eleven DVD volumes collected the series in Japan. They were released from November 26, 2014 to September 30, 2015. Two compilation Bluray disks were also released. The first disk containing the first season was release on March 25, 2015. The second disk was released on October 7, 2015.
Aniplex of America acquired streaming and home video rights to the 2014 series for North America. They released an English dub for the first half of the series on DVD and limited Blu-ray Disc on August 25, 2015. A ten-minute original video animation episode was featured on the Blu-ray release for the second half of the series, which was released on October 7, 2015; the episode was based on an alternate ending from the visual novel, titled "Sunny Day".
The series has been popular in Japan. The first Bluray sold 33,876 units, topping charts. By March 2015, the Fate franchise became the #1 franchise in collective CD, book, and video sales. 76,222 Bluray volumes in Japan by the end of 2015. In the same year, the series also won the "Best Work" award on the Newtype magazine. Theme song "Brave Shine" won Best Theme Song award on the magazine, while the general soundtrack was second behind Aldnoah.Zero. Takahiro Miura was also awarded as Best Director while the character designers were ranked third. Aimer's single "Brave Shine" appeared in the fourth spot of both Oricon and Billboard Japan Hot 100's charts.
The series was highly rated amongst critics; they liked the way Ufotable handled the main characters. Critics also praised the animation quality of the series. Kotaku reviewer Richard Eysenbeys noted the smooth transitions between individual frames and the chosen range of colors, creating a cinematic effect, which went beyond the framework of the anime industry templates adopted in those years and even surpassed previous works produced by ufotable. In addition to this, Nick Creamer from Anime News Network highlighted the computer generated special effects, which led to an increase in enjoyment.
Chris Beveridge of The Fandom Post enjoyed Shirou's characterization in the series, especially in regards to his contrasting ideals with Archer and Kiritsugu, Japanator found his decision in regards to becoming a tragic warrior as uncommon in storytelling, showing depths in the character. Seb Reid praised the television series produced by Ufotable more than the 2006 Studio Deen adaptation due Rin's larger role in the series alongside Archer. He believed that they are the best characters from the series. Beveridge shares similar sentiments with Reid; he also found Rin more appealing than Saber due to Rin's role in the series' finale. Japanator stated that Archer's betrayal towards Rin felt like a sad plot twist due to the duo's contract and bond in the previous episodes. This made Rin's development take a gloomier direction according to the reviewer.
The series' epilogue added a new scene where a person with a striking resemblance with Shirou is seen walking in Archer's dimension. This generated many questions from fans in regards to Shirou's destiny. However, Kinoko Nasu remained ambiguous regarding whether that person was Shirou or not.
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