The Visually Dissident Imagery of Fate/Extra Last Encore’s First 5 Minutes

The Visually Dissident Imagery of Fate/Extra Last Encore’s First 5 Minutes

I know, I know, I still owe you all 2000 words about the last few Star Wars movies, but goddamn this is something upsetting, and I need to have a good weighty rant about it somewhere.

So Fate/Extra came out today, and being that it is the second spin off Fate project released in the last year (I suppose 3 if you count Heaven’s Feel, but that’s part of the original Stay/Night Visual Novel so I don’t) there’s both a mixture of anticipation and dread going into this thing.

Firstly, the dread comes close off the heels off of the conclusion of A1’s shot at a spin-off, Apocrypha, and well that show… Was not good. And while I can’t entirely put that on A1, considering it is an adaptation and all, alot of the awfulness also bled into how lazy some of the animation was, which I’ve actually talked about previously, if only briefly.

(Sidebar, real quick, Apocrypha does have some genuine Sakuga moments, but they are so few and far between and none of the characters make me FEEL in that good ol’ Zero and Stay/Night way that, why do I even care?)

The anticipation, however, comes from the fact that Extra is being produced by Studio Shaft, who’s track record holds some of my favourite animated works ever put into motion, including one of my favourite works of all time, the Monogatari franchise, which is basically just entire series of characters talking to each other and working through their own, over-inflated sense of drama and ego. Over-inflated that at 16/17, everyone feels like their problems are almost mythical in size and also in the vein, that the problems themselves take on the form of the Supernatural, and by working through their issues, the phenomena surrounding the varied cast of characters are defeated.

20 odd minutes of talking heads would be boring on their own though, which is an issue that the series director, Akiyuki Shinbo understood intimately going into it, turning damn near 100 episodes worth of content into a visually stylistic wonderland of relevant, thematically imagery.

And he’s even working on Fate/Extra, and holy shit that shows in the first minute and 45 seconds, which is an in medias fight scene and goddamn, it impresses like most every other Shinbo directed scene.

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So much nuance and Poignancy in This one Shot

And then immediately after the title card fades away into nothing, bam, we’re in a classroom. where a teacher is blandly talking to a room full of generic brown haired nobodies and the Main Cast of Shinji, not Sakura (?) and not Shirou.

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Boring. Dull. Vanilla. Uninteresting. Bland. Empty. Lifeless. Even More Synonyms for Boring.

Who then go on to be really flat and boring as they talk ship about some sort of murder room in the school, which I mean, its a Fate/ production, of course there’s a murder stone.

Look, real talk, I haven’t actually finished the episode. And that’s actually a lot less of a chance I gave /Apocrypha before I started talking smack, but this just sort of railroaded itself into my brain, and I don’t think I can actually go on with the show until I’ve put some words to my hangup.

/Extra is playing into a lot of the pitfalls that the original Studio Deen adaptation of /Stay-Night, in that there a moments where instead of taking advantage of the new medium that the story is taking place in, some of the shots feel like a static image lifted directly from the video game, and placed onto our TV screens with little to no consideration of how the boring lifeless characters, giving out important exposition, risks losing that information because you’re just not that into it.

It’s why the walking in circles scene in /Zero’s first episode works so well. it’s visually interesting, the way the camera tracks the 2 people circling Kotomine gives us a very good look into how they infer his character and its got a unique charm to it.

But again, that first fight scene is gorgeously shot, framed and planned and it feels almost like 2 different directors worked on this show!

Oh wait, that’s exactly what happened.

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Fate/Extra Last Encore will be Streaming on Netflix…

Just do the Piracy thing if you’re not in Japan, because Netflix certainly doesn’t care about you and your investment into the series, so why should you care about their bottom line?

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Welcoming the Winter Hype

Welcoming the Winter Hype

It’s well into the cold times here in the Southern Hemisphere, and with a new season of anime already well into its stride, its time to talk about the shows I’m most pumped for in the coming weeks that aren’t a continuation. If we were to do that, this article would just be a rambling couple thousand words about the Monogatari series and how I need more Kizumonogatari, like, now.

Katsugeki_Key_visual_103 KATSUGEKI TOUKEN RANBU
The fate of the world is threatened as an army of historical revisionists are sent from the future to alter the course of history. In order to bring these forces down and protect the real history, two sword warriors, spirits who are swords brought to life by Saniwa (sage), rush to Edo with a lively gang of warriors to confront the invaders.

So, who here remembers Shaman King? Because the whole sword spirit thing is giving me giant Spirit Equip flashbacks.

So yeah, shifty people travel to the past to forever change the course of history within Japan, and its up to a couple of wacky dude’s with talking swords to travel to Edo to stop them. Plus it’s being produced by ufoTable, and I suppose if they aren’t working on the historical fanfiction of Fate/ this year, at least they’re working on this other historical fanfiction.

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02 KAKEGURUI
Hyakkaou Private Academy. An institution for the privileged with a very peculiar curriculum. It’s not athletic prowess or book smarts that keep you ahead. It’s reading your opponent. What better way to hone those skills than with a rigorous curriculum of gambling? Here, the winners live like kings, and the losers are put through the wringer.

I really, really enjoyed Kaiji. Bad Luck Brian but Anime had some of the most hard hitting drama of both 2008 and 2011, and a lot of that came down to the tension built up by the high stakes nature of Kaiji’s situation.

By transplanting the life shaking stakes into a high school, where grades don’t matter but how well you can bullshit crafts the design of your future? Well, damn, how can I say no to that?

0d73cdc99578b6d9557d4027b4c9665201 VATICAN MIRACLE EXAMINER
Centering on Hiraga Josef Kou, a genius scientist, and Robert Nicholas, an archives and cryptanalysis expert. The two work as a team as the Vatican’s “miracle examiners,” traveling the world to investigate the authenticity of claims of miracles.

I’m in this one explicitly for the premise. Scientists, in the employ of the Vatican, going around looking for the holes in supposed “Miracles.” It’s the kind of stupid kitsch that I get off on, and there isn’t a single bikini in sight. Feels pretty good man.

The biggest hurdle for me is that its being produced by JC Staff, who have only managed to make two and a half series to date that I actually enjoyed. (The Eccentric Family, Food Wars and the like half of Shimoneta)

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Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU is available to stream, RIGHT NOW, on Crunchyroll

Kakegurui will Eventually be Streaming on Netflix.

Vatican Miracle Examiner is available to stream on Amazon’s Anime Strike
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Murder Death Kill XTREME: My One Major Hang Up

Murder Death Kill XTREME: My One Major Hang Up

Wooo, its time for a brand new season of anime. Most everything from last season has now concluded, and we’ve got ourselves a brand new line up dropping. Hell there’s even a new Fate/ series on the docket, to tide us over until the Heaven’s Feel movies start dropping. Based on a video game for the PSP, Fate/Apocrypha is coming to us from the wonderful hands over at ufoTable, the studio that breathed new life into the franchise with their adaptations of Fate/Zero and Unlimited Blade Wo… What? What do you mean ufoTable isn’t handling this?

Who is then?

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Oh.

Oh no.

Okay, think positive J-Dawg, it’s okay. So what if A-1 has released some of the worst shows of the last few years, it’s okay, it’s fine. It’s an adaptation of a Fate/Story, the people involved in writing them out are pretty good at what they do. It isn’t like they’re adapting a Light Novel, hahahahaha.

Huuuuurrrrrrr.

Okay, look, I’ve watched the first two episodes and I enjoyed them thoroughly. Character designs aren’t nearly as awkward and same-facey as most A-1 productions tend to be, which is probably down to these characters already having a pretty well defined designs prior to this production, and the voice acting is pretty solid all around, especially Shirou, taking a turn at being a scheming priest over his usual schtick as a Hero of Justice.

The cinematography is, adequete. There’s some awkward camera angles, mostly in the fight scenes, but its not bad for an A-1 pictures production.

Even if there’s some pretty… A-1y things in here.

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I wonder where they’re trying to draw my eyes?

Even with that said, at the very least its MILES ahead of the Studio DEEN adaptations of /Stay Night and /Unlimited Blade Works, so there’s that I suppose.

But, surprisingly enough, my biggest sticking point with this isn’t actually in any of the A-1isms, although I do have a few minor nitpicks such as the fights looking a bit subpar after half a decade of /Zero and /Unlimited Blade Works 2014 licking my eyes with all of the pretty, pretty particle effects and fluid as balls choreography.

No my issue is with the fact that, come the end of episode 2 we know the identity of every single servant that we’ve met up to this point. Which is 12 of them, and that, for me, is an issue.

People straight up just say the names of their servants, or the servants themselves announce to the world who they happen to be, which isn’t exactly the way things tend to go in these stories. The identity of the servants not only add to the intrigue of the story, they can also be used to craft some beautiful moments of drama and character depth. Concealing Beserker/Zero’s identity right up to the end makes for a gut punch of a reveal, and gets us crying and screaming at the screen, sympathising with the characters on the in front of us.

Its just good story telling, you guys.

Here in Apocypha, nope. Everyone’s names are given, the probably-good guys-and-shifty-Shiro are already aware of the enemy Lancer’s identity and there’s just no drama to these reveals. People are having a conversation, and just randomly blurt out their servant’s identities. That or the servants themselves will just tell people who they are, and that’s just… Just no fun.

Mordred though, now she’s Hella Fun.

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Quick Side Note while I’ve got you. Fate/Apocrypha will be officially streaming on Netflix from November 7th, 2017, and while I don’t like advocating piracy, unless you live in Japan proper there’s no legit way to watch it just yet outside of living in Japan and watching it on TV, I’m not going to condemn anyone for going the less than legal route.

Even so, I highly advocate supporting the official release once Netflix pulls the finger out and puts up the first 13 episodes at the beginning of November.

Also if, for some reason, a staffer from Netflix is reading this; (Unlikely) anime viewers want to watch this stuff on release, guys. We exist as a community that likes to discuss these things week to week, to compare and contrast our opinions on the shows as well as positing up some theory crafting on the side. By holding the shows you get the rights to hostage until the entire thing is released (And sometimes not even then *Cough* Little Witch Academia *Cough*) you drive people to a state where they’re more likely to pirate simply because they want to join in on the discussion week to week, like I said. Not everything needs to be released whole seasons at a time. Sometimes its okay to just release shows on a week to week basis.

 

Stand By Me: Future Fantasies

Stand By Me: Future Fantasies

So the Episode Prompto DLC for Final Fantasy XV dropped a few weeks ago, and I figured what better time to talk about the DLC structure. That in mind I’m not here today to talk about the perceived quality of Square-Enix’s latest entry in its flagship series, that’s an entirely subjective point. Although, considering I have sunk just over 150 hours into this video game as of my completion of Episode Prompto, I feel like for me, it’s been worth the money spent.

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What am I Doing With My Life?

But Square is doing something curious with XV, in that it seems to have a plan in place to provide long term support to the game, to keep players returning for months, if not years, to come.

This is already evident in the releases of Episodes Gladiolus, Prompto and the to be released Ignis, story based DLC being slowly released over the course of this year as well as the survey they had up for June, asking players exactly what kind of DLC they would like to see in the future.

Which is cool, I like that a company is looking to support a single player game for a while, it makes me think that this might even be the only mainline Final Fantasy title we get this generation, telling stories within the world of Eos for most of this gaming generation.

And unlike with XIII, that statement doesn’t fill me with dread.

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It Hurts So Good~

But at the same time, I look at the provided list, and a lot of that story content doesn’t seem supplemental, in fact it seems almost essential. Which is also the issues with Episodes GPI. They tell stories that occur DURING the main narrative of the story, with consequences within that impact the narrative being told.

 

Lunafreya’s place in the story always felt more than a little truncated, but in that survey list is an option for “Story Content: Lunafreya’s Activities” which, I’m sorry, but most of the middle part of the plot hinges on the comings and goings of everyone’s favourite Oracle. This feels like it should be in the game to begin with.

The adventures of Cor “Mother-Loving” Leonis on the other hand, can easily slide in as something supplemental, same with Ardyn’s backstory, which we get enough of in the main game to tell us exactly what is going on with him, but to add on a buttload of additional scenes and perhaps even a Founding-of-Lucis playable segment, that feels like something that adds to the world, without feeling like it SHOULD have been in the main game.

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Stealer of Crystals and Hearts.

The best thing in all of the online content that’s currently available though, probably has to be the Timed Quests, offering up unique creature encounters for you to murder your way through, as well as unique prizes to buy with points earned from the quests, including a Great Sword in the shape of a mother flippin’ mixing deck!

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Looking for a Beatdown?

I still think that this method of continued support could ultimately be a good thing, so long as the extra content provided really feels like its EXTRA content. For now I’m enjoying the stuff that XV has added so far (With the exception of Snow Mobiles and the Score Attack in Episodes Prompto and Gladio respectively) and I look forward to seeing what Square decides to give us in the months, and potentially, years to come.