After watching the film a while ago it was time to jump into the show. I really like the idea of the company just giving people a choice on which arc to adapt. Instead of adapting the whole mobile game, just have the fans pick their two favorite arcs. One for the show and then one for the movie. Additionally, it’s not like it’s taking a different route or anything. The show literally picks up as if it’s season 7 of an ongoing series. There’s even flashbacks to scenes we’ve never seen and the characters just jump in with no recap or explanation. Technically there is an episode 0 which quickly runs through things as well as re-adapts the movie but it’s more of a general compilation. This is something I wouldn’t mind getting more mainstream. Your favorite manga never get an anime adaption and it’s over 20 volumes at this point? Quickly get a 12 episode anime to cover the final arc. It’s just genius because this also opens the door to adapting the older sagas at some point if the company really wants to.
After the recap of the previous 6 singularities, the show opens up with the heroes already completing the first 6 singularities and getting ready to complete the final one. This time they have to travel to the distant past in Babylonia where the age of the gods met its end. Their mission is to correct the timestream and locate the Holy Grail. It won’t be easy though as King Gilgamesh is already in a pretty big war with the three goddess alliance. These beings are immensely powerful and can’t be defeated so easily. Still, Ritsuka is determined to accomplish this mission and asks Gilgamesh if they are able to defeat the goddesses, can they have the grail? Meanwhile, you’ve got quite a few factions taking advantage of the chaos such as a being who claims to be the legendary hero Enkidu, although that hero should have been long dead by now. The heroes also meet up with a girl named Ana and Merlin, the most well known mage of all time. With their help, perhaps the heroes have a fighting chance.
The show manages to fit a whole lot into the 21 episodes. Pretty much every episode either contains a big fight or some kind of plot twist. You can expect each episode to never miss a beat as the plot moves forward. One thing you will be impressed by right at the start is the smooth animation. The show’s hand drawn style is definitely on point with a lot of great movement and high speed action. Every character looks like they can be a top tier threat with how they are dishing out the special attacks. The show also uses some CGI at times, particularly with Mash like in her opening fight scene but it’s handled really well. I suspect maybe they are trying to emulate Ufotable a bit with how they seamlessly meld the two together. This animation company certainly did a great job with this show. Some shows can make it difficult when you’re trying to find screenshots for the review like even Beyblade which has great animation but getting a screenshot isn’t always easy. This show has the opposite problem where there are so many great ones it can be hard to choose.
Naturally the soundtrack is also really good. It has that opera style feel for a lot of the bigger fights. I also liked the main goddess theme for Ishtar whenever she would appear for a fight. It definitely has that desert feel to it but with a lot of action so you felt like a big battle was about to come in. The technicals on the show were never in doubt throughout this. The opening is a little more low key next to the other Fate intros but it’s still very catchy.
As expected the dialogue is really good with each character being quite distinctive. There’s a lot of planning and strategizing going on throughout this war. Particularly since Gilgamesh and the humans appear to be on the losing side they have to do a lot of planning to try and make a comeback here. His very regal style of talking is always great. The guy embodies being a king through and through which keeps reminding me of why he is one of the greatest Fate characters of all time. I’d still ultimately say Archer is number 1, but Gilgamesh is a very close #2. This may even be his best portrayal yet although he’s great in all of them. His best design is still the casual design with the black shirt though.
With a series as intense as Fate you can always expect things to get a little violent though. You have characters being tortured and civilians slaughtered by the dozens. The most intense episode may be when the creatures show up in Uruk to dispose of the humans. They do succeed to quite a large extent as almost every human is destroyed. They’re either sliced to death or eaten and if you’re a human you’re probably hoping for the former. One of the heroes is captured and tortured a bit before being consumes which was definitely not fortunate for her. On the whole I wouldn’t say the show ever gets quite as up there as Fate/Zero or Demon Slayer in how intense it can get, the show is definitely not afraid to really blow people up.
As the show is in the desert you can expect a lot of wildlife. Now, the monsters here are created using magic so you could call them more magical creatures than animals. Still, I’d say there’s less of a distinction. Going back to my Pacific Rim review, I would consider these creatures to be more like true animals. It’s not exact, but I wouldn’t say any fight scene with the heroes beating up on them was quite so fun. I was always eager to get the characters back to fighting each other instead. Also, it’s not like the creatures ever stood a chance so after a while it’s not as if it is super impressive to beat them anyway. I’d prefer the battle with the new human creatures.
Those monsters were quite deranged to be sure and since they can talk that did make them legitimately spooky. Now this is how you introduce a powerful enemy invasion force that can be feared. They may almost be too powerful in some respects as one of them was strong enough to overpower Mash so with an army it’s hard to see how the heroes can stay alive for long. We have some super OP fighters on our side but even the goddesses were taking some hits. It’s a good thing Ritsuka is around to refill their energy or things could get a little tricky.
On a final note for things holding the show back a bit, this one does indulge itself a bit more than the other shows with the fanservice. It can be a bit cheeky the whole time with a lot of specific camera angles while the characters are fighting. Mainly I’d say this tends to happen to Mash and Ishtar. As I’ve mentioned in the past, a character design alone I wouldn’t usually consider as fanservice. Even some of the crazier ones like say Quinella or Nami’s “battle suit” I wouldn’t say are too crazy on their own. It just depends on if the show decides to pay extra attention to this during the battle. In this case, that’s what happens whenever Ishtar fights. I wouldn’t say the fanservice ever gets crazy though. It’s consistently there but to a fairly low level. Only slightly notable because the main Fate shows never really have much of that but I suppose this is more of a spinoff.
One of the fun things about the various Fate titles is always seeing who these heroes are. If you’ve heard of them, their weapon, or if you can predict their noble phantasm based on that. I’m not the biggest scholar on classic characters of legend but Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors have helped quite a lot with at least being able to put a face to some of these names. Quite a few of the heroic spirits in this title like the guardians Gilgamesh sends to fight Gorgon appear in those games. In this one we get a bunch of big characters including ones not seen in Fate before now like Merlin and we even have Leonardo Da Vinci. The show makes good use of these guys.
In a power level context the show can be a bit tricky at times. Not because it’s hard to see their powers but because you can’t always be sure of their max limit. The heroic spirits are sort of like batteries. They naturally decay if they aren’t fighting for a while and they do need to be charged up either with rest or Ritsuka just using his amplification abilities. Ishtar for example looks consistently powerful but she isn’t able to use her most powerful abilities until the end of the series when Ritsuka is able to give her a boost. Since the same would be true for the other characters, it is hard to say who would truly be the strongest.
That said, you can usually work your way back based on who appeared first and who appeared last. One thing with this show is you can expect the main characters to get beat up quite thoroughly in just about each episode. Even when they recruit a goddess to their side they end up getting wrecked by the next one. At one point they get 2 and are still losing. They just have the unfortunate luck of recruiting the weakest one first or at least it certainly seems that way. The battlefield and even time of day are important in seeing who wins in a fate matchup though. I’ve been talking a lot about the general aspects of the show though so it’s time to discuss the characters.
Ritsuka is the main character here and he’s pretty solid as you would expect. He’s been through quite a lot by this point in the story but he hasn’t gotten jaded or lost hope. He’s always ready to lend a hand to the other fighters. He may not be able to fight all that much on his own but he still jumps into action. Definitely a good hero to keep everyone together. Then you have his main partner Mash. She is admittedly a bit on the weaker side but as a pseudo servant it does make sense that she would be relatively low tier in the grand scheme of things. Get ready to see her lose in just about every episode though. If you’re a big fan of Mash then that could get a little tough to watch but she always fights well. You can see that she has experience, it’s just that there isn’t a lot you can do when you’re physically outmatched like that.
Then you have Ishtar who gets a huge role here. She’s a lot of fun and one of the standout characters. Now she is weaker than all of the goddesses but that makes sense for a few reasons including the fact that she doesn’t have her ultimate weapon. She probably cares about humans more than the other goddesses as well. I like her aerial fighting style and the theme that accompanies her scenes is always fun. She has a hard time showing her feelings but she is willing to take quite the beating to defend the heroes. Her outright confidence and determination easily allowed her to surpass the other goddesses as a character.
Next up is Enkidu or I should probably call him Kingu. It’s not like he is able to keep the charade up past episode 2 anyway. The real Enkidu is long gone but this guy looks just like him. I won’t spoil why that is but he makes for a pretty intense villain. Maybe a naive one though as he really doesn’t tend to think a few moves in advance at all. This results in him getting surprise hit and overwhelmed quite a few times. You’ll see his face twist with shock a lot. Considering that he is one of the strongest fighters in the series, he really doesn’t contribute much when it counts. He does give us some of the most dynamic fights in the series though. So I’m a bit torn on him on how much I like the character but his strength is the real deal.
Merlin is more of a hype character. He gets a lot of hype from everyone but never really does much. As someone who exists everywhere but will cease to exist everywhere if he dies, it’s an interesting predicament. He has a lot of confidence though and is good at dodging so he has that going for him. Ana is much more fun as an ally. She has a deal with Merlin involving things you won’t get to learn til the end but until the deal is fulfilled she will be helping the heroes. Her power level isn’t very high but she is a valuable ally to have since every person counts here. I liked her savage fighting style as well, it definitely comes in handy.
As for Gilgamesh, what can I say that hasn’t already been said? The guy is very regal and an excellent ruler of the kingdom. He understands his people and how to best utilize them. This isn’t a Gilgamesh that has grown overconfident or discarded humanity. He serves as King and believes in giving everyone their proper role in society. It’s easy to see why he is such a beloved king. his strategies may not always pan out but he’s a really fun guy and whenever you see him on screen you’re sure to be in for an entertaining scene. He has a good working relationship with everyone and the way he is always laughing fills you with confidence.
His most loyal employee is Siduri who is a nice person. She’s probably one of the only people who would dare talk back to him. She is able to understand what he is really saying beyond the bravado which is important. Then in the darker corners of the city you have a mysterious being of shadow. There’s not much I can say about him but while his role is pretty small, it’s also a critical one. He gave the show a solid fight scene as well.
Ushiwakamaru definitely has a big role here that’s for sure. She’s a fun character and I like how much speed she uses in her fights. She’s definitely not a fighter you will be forgetting anytime soon. Alas, this is Fate so don’t expect everyone to have a happy ending. From all of the characters she probably has it rougher than most. At least she never allowed the villains to break her. I’m not sure I buy her going down when the speed advantage was so great but I suppose if she decided to never run away eventually she would tire, although I expect it would be days later.
Then you have Benkei and I really didn’t like him. There aren’t a lot of bad characters in the show, up til now they’ve all been good in fact. This one is an exception though. He chickens out when it counted and that caused quite a lot of grief and casualties. Ultimately he just wasn’t abe to make it up to the characters. Leonidas gets a smaller role but at least he did charge in when it counted. The heroes probably would have fared better if they had teamed up instead of going 1 on 1 but at least he slowed the villains down.
Jaguar Warrior is an interesting character because initially she is so strong that she wipes the floor with all of the characters but then slowly but surely they don’t take her seriously. It’s not like she can do anything against the goddesses I suppose. She’s a fun character to have around though. Probably not someone I would trust to be honest but if you have absolutely no other options then she is not a bad ally to have.
There’s also the Mage King but he doesn’t technically appear here outside of flashbacks so I don’t think there is much to say about him. He seems like he is going to make for a great final boss though. Back at base you also have Da Vinci and Roman but they don’t do much. Roman is still hiding a lot of secrets to be sure so the heroes are going to have to be careful with him. Da Vinci seems safe but you never know. They’re usually here just to give us some quick moments back at present but more often than not they don’t have any ideas for how to deal with the villains.
Now lets talk about the three goddesses and the main villain. First up is Gorgon who is pretty powerful. Not only does she have a whole lot of poison thanks to her snakes but looking directly at her is a bad idea. Cursed eyes are always lethal in any anime, but especially in Grand Order they’re given a lot of significance. I’ll give her some props for being so powerful. She has a bit of a 1 track mind with how she wants revenge on humanity and doesn’t get as much character as the other goddesses but makes her presence felt with how long she remains as the big villain here.
Then you have Quetzalcoatl who has the toughest name to spell. She is all about combat and likes fighting people 1 on 1. There are some twists that help with redeeming her character. She is quite strong as you’ll see when she easily wrecks the main cast. Her final fight is also quite the spectacle as she unleashes some pretty crazy attacks on everyone. She is definitely a memorable character to have around for sure.
Finally there is Ereshkigal. Here’s the thing, she seems like a very nice character in the present. Someone you can sympathize with and all. But the flashback is hard to ignore where she repeatedly tortured Ishtar for a while before stripping her of her decrees and leaving. In the show they don’t explain it too much but decrees and orders are part of your power level. The higher your divine right and the more authorities you have, the harder you will be to defeat. Ereshkigal really put Ishtar in a dangerous spot and you don’t just torture someone without being a psycho. So I liked Ereshkigal in the present but she seems like a completely different character than what we know of her.
Finally we have Tiamut, the big boss of the season. I have to say that she was handled really well. It’s pretty much a trope for a show to always end off with a giant monster or just a giant enemy in general. I see even Fate went this route. Usually I’d be rolling my eyes at this but this may be the best example of how to handle it. Tiamut is more intimidating than the villain from the latest One Piece film, My Hero’s first film, Godzilla: all 3 Netflix films, etc. The reason is because Tiamut is effectively portrayed as a god and her invincibility is absolutely crazy.
The way the show is able to pull this off is because of how stellar the animation looks. Each cut is just crystal clear and she feels like a walking disaster. I also liked how her eyes have actual stars in them. I just love anime eye effects like that where the colors are really crazy and vibrant. Having symbols is an added bonus. So Tiamut was just a real threat as she took the final attacks of so many fighters and just kept on going. I haven’t seen another giant type fighter look so impressive, maybe ever. Her design is memorable, her durability is some of the best I’ve ever seen, etc. This is just the proper way to handle a giant opponent. I won’t go as far as to say it would beat having a humanoid sized opponent at the end but I can appreciate the angle here. You could make a case for Tiamut maybe even being the strongest Fate character of all time since she is invincible in the real world and even in the underworld she is almost impossible to stop. 1 on 1 who could stop her?
It’s no surprise that the show would have an out of this world climax though. The show just has such high standards for the soundtrack and animation that you knew they would go all out. It’s also easy to see why fans would vote for this one to be the big arc to get an anime adaption because I wonder if the others would have such a grand spectacle to end things off on. Surely this one can’t be topped right? I suppose we can’t rule it out but that would be difficult. I fully expect the climax of the book to have something big with the Mage King though. Maybe summoning a bunch of other heroes to come in and help would be ideal.
As a final note, the show also has some pretty good humor. There’s a lot of solid banter throughout. Gilgamesh and Ishtar both tend to have a lot of the best scene with regard to this. The writing is on point so it almost goes without saying but I did want to give the humor a mention. It helps give you a breather from when things are getting so deadly although there isn’t much time to rest in the second half once the new humans start showing up to eat everyone. The first half is more low key in that respect as we’re introduced to the characters and see the heroes lose a bunch as they slowly get used to this world.
Overall, Fate/Grand Order -Babylonia arc is a pretty fun show. It’ll definitely take you on an emotional rollercoaster with all the epic fights as both sides keep trying to gain ground in this war. Grand Order seems to really go all in with bringing in so many different characters from the franchise. This one seems to be definitely gotten the most high tier with crazy stakes but I’d still look forward to seeing the older arcs at some point. With the season ending on a huge cliffhanger for the climax of the first main arc of the game, hopefully that gets adapted at some point. The animation is definitely top tier. I would still say Ufotable is the best but CloverWorks absolutely establishes themselves as a top tier contender with this title. Pretty much every episode has a huge fight scene and the animation is always excellent. Not just in motion but a lot of the still shots if you pause the scren. Yes, that even includes the CGI which is better than most competitors. If you’re a big Fate can then you definitely need to check this out if you haven’t already. Also if you just enjoy action then this will still be a pretty big title to check out. The animation is absolutely on point and the characters each have their own distinctive fighting styles. We’ll see what the Fate series has in store next.