Fate/Apocrypha | Worth Watching?

Is it worth? Who knows! I’ll let you decide, but first, you’ll need to give it a watch 🙂

I don’t want to jump the boat here but it felt like Fate/Apocrypha had to do a lot to please the viewers. Setting up a show with a story premise that involves two sides clashing for the ultimate prize sounds like a sensational attraction. It could really draw viewers, whether you’re a newbie or veteran of the Fate franchise. As someone in the middle like myself, it felt like a show that could really get viewers to really invest themselves more to what the Fate franchise had to offer. It’s sort of refreshing to see a war drama-like scenario rather than a battle royal. Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to expectations that made this show feel any refreshing. It felt like a formulaic story that I couldn’t feel attached to or appreciated. As more episodes progressed, it became a chore to watch. Before I get to the what, how, and why, it’s important to understand what Fate/Apocrypha really did wrong.

For a show like this, it obviously has a decent amount of characters it had to work with. Given the context that there are at least 7 masters and servants on both sides, there would be a minimum of 28 characters that gets involved in the main story. Then, there’s Ruler/Jeanne who serves as the mediator of the Grail War. With 25 episodes adapting a 5-volume light novel series, the main concern lies with the fact that the show won’t have enough time to spotlight all the characters. Indeed, this anime did omit characterization on multiple fronts with its cast. This applies to both sides that includes the masters and servants. What made it worse is that the characters’ roles and motivations didn’t seem interesting to begin with. It just felt like the characters are there like pieces of a chess game. Some characters such as Mordred, Atalanta, and Jeanne has their own background stories. Unfortunately, those are vaguely explored and really doesn’t do justice with the show’s characterization. At the worst part, we have mindless characters like Spartacus and Jack the Ripper that just felt disposable.

Now, we do have a main protagonist in the show despite the war-like drama going on. The show introduces Sieg, a homunculus that gets involved in the Holy Grail War. After a series of events, he gained the ability to transform into a servant in Siegfried’s form. To be honest, Sieg’s role in the show felt like a mixed bag for me. Compared to the other characters, he gets a lot of spotlight as he learns about himself, the world, and begins to act on his own morals. However, they are generic to the core and really doesn’t bring interest in terms of storytelling. On the other hand, his character chemistry with Jeanne is perhaps one of the better elements of the show as it makes them both look more human. Still, Sieg is portrayed too much like an average protagonist that just doesn’t stand out compared to the others.

Everything he says almost sounds the same and he has a rather uninteresting personality as a character by himself. The only occasional time he shines is through character interactions with others. It’s also sad to say but most of the characters in this show can hardly shine on their own. It’s mostly the character chemistry that sells more interest. They come in a variety of forms such as respect (Mordred/Kairi), greed (Siegfried/Gordes), parental (Jack the Ripper/Reika), among others. Unfortunately, I confess that most of the character relationships in the show ended up being dry and empty. It felt like a lot was missing including insufferable personalities, roles, and in general, characterization. Shirou Kotome is a character that people will begin to take notice more in the latter half of the show. Still, I can’t say his role in the show is impressive given his view on humanity and morals. Shirou’s personality in this anime is also easy to dislike and feels more like they introduced him as an antithesis of Sieg. The clash of ideals gets old fast and tedious. The only plus on this is that both he and Sieg makes the story flow better as their roles are more acceptable. Just be aware of that the show suffers from weak plot devices and doesn’t do justice at telling its story.

So Fate/Apocrypha did a lot of wrong. What did the show actually do right? For me, the characters themselves have rather distinctive personalities that can occasionally be entertaining to watch. Mordred is perhaps one of the more dynamic character with a prideful amount of charisma. Astolfo adds a big dose of comedy to this rather moody show. William the Shakespeare also shows a ton of energy through his philosophy and dialogues that can occasionally be amusing to watch. Even Frankenstein can occasionally have windows of moments that draws attention to viewers. Admitingly, I do miss a few of the characters after their demise. The story itself has a thoughtful premise despite the poor pacing at times and omitting/rushing certain content from the light novel. It’s very predictable at times but occasionally feels impactful when you see the plot being carried out. Unfortunately, these concepts are mostly scattered throughout the show and doesn’t connect each other in a balanced way. It’s like a broken toy that still has problems after being repaired.