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.
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.
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.
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?