Score: A+

I really should have expected nothing less from what Shaft would do with a Fate series property. Back when this show was announced along with the studio I thought we’d get something unusual and a bit weird. This was pretty darn weird in the best way possible XD. I think this is an episode that will have people unfamiliar with the Fate/Extra game and people who are familiar with it asking a lot of questions at the end of Episode 1. It definitely appears that they aren’t going with a straight up adaptation of the original Fate/Extra game. I had heard some things that hinted at that, but seeing is believing and this episode was full of surprises. Still, I won’t be dropping Fate/Extra spoilers here. People coming in fresh should be able to just jump in without worrying.

An interesting thing for those who played the original game…is that this isn’t playing out in the same way. So this should be a pretty fresh and unique run for even those people. I would of course tell people not to blast the comments with game spoilers. I will have a section at the very end talking about things from a game player point of view, so anyone fresh to this can just enjoy the majority of the post and skip over that. In the end we’re looking at another Netflix show so maybe there won’t be any comments to worry about.

Let’s get to the actual episode though XD. This has a lot of unusual elements to it. We’ve had Fate shows that pull away from Emiya and company, but this show goes well beyond even those. We’ve got a supercomputer in space called the Moon Cell. A much more magic/science kind of mix than the usual Fate shows. I guess the way to put it is that this setting is much more digital than the others in the Fate franchise are. Regardless this was a pretty bloody first episode. We start out early on with a girl who is severely injured and looking to be on the verge of death. Then we’ve got a female servant fighting against some powerful entity and not having the best time of it. But even outside of that we see the MC getting stabbed repeatedly (thanks Shinji) and others just straight up being killed.

A key part of this comes with the mysterious figure that approached Hakuno when he was ‘tossing that body.’ That place is a kind of artificial paradise created by the moon cell. But it is a place designed by what a machine would consider a paradise to be and perhaps more what people would consider hell. Those kids that have the capacity to become masters are apparently sent to this digital paradise and trapped there. Though regardless of whether the setting here is digital or not, people definitely seem to experience pain, suffering, and fear. No one being killed in this episode seemed happy or unresponsive towards it. Also apparently you can get away with a lot of violence so long as you only show the shadows of those people…

Shinji…

To say a lot of weird things happened in this episode would be putting it lightly. There are familiar characters or at least familiar faces mixed into this episode. Even in the early going things were quite odd, including that death chess scene. Talk about adding an extra layer of stress to that game…In a less deadly manner I’d have to say it is strange to see anyone called Shinji actually having a girlfriend XD. Overall it was an interesting dynamic with Shinji and his apparent girlfriend getting along with the MC for most of the episode. At least until the end where Shinji decides that the least his friend could do….is let Shinji stab the hell out of him. Shinji wants to win what he considers a game and is willing to stab his friend to punch his ticket.

Things don’t improve that much past the stabbing phase. Though it is interesting that it’s almost rage/revenge/hate that picks Hakuno back up again. But even with his desire to press on, he then has to deal with that almost broken stone attacker. Of course very much looking like the familiar Archer from Fate/stay night. What that is all about one can only guess, but Hakuno was very much a target for annihilation similar to the other students. One can give credit to the pure durability of the MC for keeping going after being stabbed repeatedly and shot with an arrow that bore through his side. But he kept going until he reached that sword and as a result the servant we saw at the very beginning appeared. It didn’t take her more than a couple moments to take care of things from that point onward.

What may be most interesting is that there was an unusual look on her face when she saw Hakuno. Maybe it was a sense of familiarity? Regardless there wasn’t much time for chit chat with that attacker moving in. All we got for the end was her giving that fairly familiar line asking if Hakuno was her Master. Though clearly she said it in a different way than the Saber we are more familiar with from Fate/stay night. This first episode ends with a lot of questions, but it does kick things off in a pretty intense way.

Another interesting element though was how Hakuno reacted to seeing that sword. He also seemed to have a strange understanding of it. Perhaps even a vague understanding of that scene we saw at the very beginning of the episode. The second time he picked himself up wasn’t to save his own life, but rather to fight to the end. In the presence of a sword that represents someone who fought to the bitter end and inherited the will of someone who fell, he had to pick his battered (but likely digital) body up.

This should be fun

I really wanted to get a First Look done for this episode. There is a lot of ‘what the heck’ to be had here. But I really like the visual style Shaft has going with this show. It really stands out against not only other Fate series, but even within the Winter season. The whole setting has an eerie look to it. But the limited action we saw also looked pretty good which gives me hope they’ll let us see some great fights along with the story it is telling. Honestly this episode gave me a lot to think about from the setting to how things unfolded. What does the early scene mean for the larger story? What is the connection to the current situation? It should be interesting to see where things go in episode 2.

Fate/Extra game perspective
I did want to talk about thing a bit from the perspective of someone who did play the PSP game in the past. Normally I wouldn’t even bother with a section like this, but they are going at it from such an unusual way that I feel this has value. If the intention was to give people who played the games surprises and a story they can’t as easily predict, I think they accomplished that with the first episode. Again if you haven’t played the game and don’t want any spoilers, just skip ahead to the comment section. If I pick up this show it probably won’t be a recurring section. If they are tackling this story in a different way from the game then we can all enjoy it as something new.

No need as well to talk about anything that didn’t directly relate to this episode either. What I wanted to focus on here was how the overall progression of the episode. A lot of things didn’t happen like this back in Fate/Extra. We certainly didn’t start out with a losing battle fought by Saber nor the female version of the MC looking like she was about to die. What the heck does that all mean? Is this some sort of NG+ similar to P4: Golden’s anime? Are we looking at some kind of time loop or alternate dimension situation? That opponent is pretty darn familiar from a game point of view.

Again how the episode unfolded just isn’t the same. In a sense there isn’t much point worrying about what happened in the Fate/Extra game. The elements look to be the same, but it appears they are telling the story in a different way. So how the specific fights unfolded or even how the game ended may not matter in the slightest here. Although I would still ask anyone who wants to comment to just talk about what happened in the episode. Let’s not even potentially ruin this for people just starting out with this anime.

I’ve got questions though. What is up with Shinji having a girlfriend here? Is there some deep purpose to it? Probably since I don’t think they’d introduce someone new like that without it turning into a plot point. There are elements that I certainly don’t recall like that incinerator room. And Hakuno has way more emotion than I expected to see at this point in the story. He has quite the anger and rage under that passive surface. It should be interesting to see how he evolves during this story.

The surprise factor is pretty good here. I don’t know what is going to happen. We can expect some fights to unfold in similar ways since the promo videos revealed those particular servants. But the conclusion and the story itself might unfold differently. I know some may simply want a straight adaptation of the game and not want something that just takes the concept and does something new with it. But I’m ok with it in this case. The game will always be there and if they do something cool with the story that could make this really memorable for everyone. Fingers crossed that it will turn out well. If nothing else I’m looking forward to seeing the familiar Red Saber kicking butt through this early part of 2018.

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An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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