Fate/Apocrypha

Fate/Apocrypha

Fate/Apocrypha anime series cover art featuring Jeanne d'Arc and Sieg
Fate/Apocrypha Cover Art

Overview

Either I didn’t realize this week’s JoJo’s episode was going to be a recap, or I forgot. Either way, it’s a good thing I just finished Fate/Apocrypha last night so I can write about it today.

Fate/Apocrypha is generally seen as one of the worst anime entries of the series, and I’ll be the first to tell you that this isn’t actually the case. Yes, this Fate entry is set up a bit differently from the “classic” formula, but so is Prisma Illya, and that’s a great anime.

However, if you’re expecting this series to be like Fate/Zero or Fate/stay night: UBW, then sure, I could see how this entry might seem a bit off-putting. As I mentioned, it strays from the “classic” Fate formula of seven master-servant pairs battling it out for the Holy Grail, and instead features a whopping 16 servants split into two teams.

For some, all these characters are hard to keep track of, but if that’s your issue with the series, then it wasn’t meant for you in the first place. I’ve seen complaints which are all over the place in regards to the characters. Some complain that they’re too visually similar to each other, others complain that their designs are too “out there.”

As for the first type of complaint, I don’t know what anime they were watching, but none of the characters look alike in this series. Literally every one of the servants (which are the focus of the series) has an extremely unique design compared to each other.

For the latter complaint, this just seems like something people who are new to the Fate series as a whole might say. Fate has always been about depicting legendary and historic figures in unconventional ways, so why would you expect Apocrypha to be any different?

But, for some, the character designs don’t matter, it’s instead the sheer number of characters which makes this series daunting. To them, I’d say they’re not the target audience. It seemed clear to me that Apocrypha was pandering specifically to those who are fairly invested in the Fate series, and most likely play Fate/Grand Order.

Even though none of these servants have appeared in any of the other Fate series anime I’ve watched, I still knew who they all were from the start simply due to playing FGO. And, what makes it more clear to me that this series was meant for more “experienced” Fate fans is the fact that it didn’t take the time to explain much about what was happening or the servants involved.

It felt expected that anyone watching this anime was already familiar with the Fate universe, how the Holy Grail Wars work, what is and isn’t possible for masters/servants, and how servants work in general. And, that was pretty refreshing, because I’d rather have more action and less repeated explanation.

Basically, just like with any Fate anime, don’t go into this one expecting some profound plot. Yes, there is a plot, but the main focus is really on the action and being able to see some of your favorite Fate characters interacting with one another.

So, instead of explaining what happens in the series, next I’ll go through the servants present on both sides of the conflict. And, if you’re familiar with FGO, then you’ll probably notice that the Red team is pretty stacked.

Black

Saber – Siegfried, the hero who defeated the evil dragon Fafnir, is the Saber of the Black team, and yet he’s strangely not one of what I would consider the two main servants. Typically in Fate the Saber class gets the most time to shine because they’re considered the best, but this isn’t the case this time around.

Archer – Chiron, the Centaur who taught Greek heroes, is the Archer of Black. However, he doesn’t use his Centaur form in the anime, and instead looks like a pretty regular guy in armor other than his horse tail. As a teacher, he plays a mentor role for servants on both sides.

Lancer – Vlad III, also known as Vlad the Impaler or Dracula, is the Lancer of Black. While not the main servant for his team, he serves as the defacto leader of the Black team since this Holy Grail War takes place in his homeland of Wallachia, Romania. He’s also the antagonist for the first cour of the series.

Rider – Astolfo, one of Charlemagne’s 12 Holy Knights, is the Rider of Black and also the main servant on the Black team. It’s strange to see a Rider, and Astolfo no less, as a protagonist, but he has a more entertaining character than anyone else on this team, so it makes sense.

Caster – Avicebron, a Jewish philosopher known for creating golems, is the Caster of Black. Unlike most of the other servants who are taking part in this Holy Grail War, Avicebron has no wish he wants granted by the Holy Grail, and so doesn’t care about the outcome. Instead, he just wants to finish creating his magnum opus.

Assassin – Jack the Ripper, the notorious London serial killer, is the Assassin of Black. However, despite being a part of the Black team, Jack flies solo. She and her master actively work against the masters and servants of both sides of the war.

Berserker – Frankenstein, or more specifically, Frankenstein’s monster, is the Berserker of Black. She doesn’t really talk, only grunts, and yet she’s one of the more charming characters in the series.

Ruler – Jeanne d’Arc, savior of France, isn’t technically on the Black team, but since the Red team has a Ruler of their own, she tends to stick with the servants of Black. And, since she’s not technically a servant of Black, she doesn’t have a master of her own, but is rather her own master in a sense.

Mordred vs. Frankenstein from the anime series Fate/Apocrypha
Mordred vs. Frankenstein

Red

Saber – Mordred, the son and killer of King Arthur, is probably my favorite servant in all of Fate. In fact, she’s the only Fate character I have a figure of, and I even have a second figure of her coming soon. Unlike Siegfried on the Black team, Mordred is the main servant for the Red team, even though she works independently from the other Red servants.

Instead, Mordred and her master, Necromancer, go off on their own to take the Holy Grail for themselves, not unlike Jack the Ripper on the other side. However, just because Mordred doesn’t work with her teammates doesn’t mean she works against them like Jack does.

Archer – Atalante, a huntress from Greek mythology, is the Archer of Red. She and the Rider of Red, Achilles, have a quasi-romantic relationship going on which was interesting to watch. She also has a severe mental breakdown later on and turns into Atalante Alter.

Lancer – Karna, son of the Sun god, is probably the strongest servant on either side of this Holy Grail War. Considering he essentially has the power of the Sun (like Escanor from The Seven Deadly Sins) as just one of his abilities/noble phantasms, it’s easy to see why this is the case.

Although I never cared about him in FGO, I really liked his character in Apocrypha because he just wants to have an all-out battle against Siegfried as heroes. He doesn’t care much about the Holy Grail, but he does care about his honor and the honor of his opponents.

Rider – Achilles, the hero of the Iliad, is the Rider of Red as mentioned previously. As someone who’s essentially immortal, Achilles is a pretty powerful opponent. However, the Archer of Black, Chiron, was his teacher and so knows all of his strengths and weaknesses.

Caster – Shakespeare, the famous playwright, is the most useless servant in Apocrypha. He really doesn’t do anything at all in the series until the very end, and even then he doesn’t fight, he just tries talking Jeanne into giving up. I guess he’s here to even out the fact that the Red team is pretty overpowered otherwise.

Assassin – Semiramis, Queen of Assyria, is the Assassin of Red and works in a similar capacity to Vlad III. While Vlad III is the king of his domain, Wallachia, Semiramis is the Queen of her, the hanging gardens of Babylon, which is the mobile base of the Red team.

Berserker – Spartacus, leader of a gladiator rebellion, is the Berserker of Red. He’s almost as useless as Shakespeare, but not quite because at least he can fight. The only problem is that he’ll fight servants from both sides as he sees fit, because he views them all as oppressors he needs to break free from.

Ruler – Amakusa Shirou, leader of a Japanese Roman Catholic rebellion, is the Ruler on the Red team. Like Jeanne, he’s technically not a servant of the Red team, but is instead his own Master. However, unlike Jeanne, he has a clear side because he makes himself into the master of all the Red team servants except Mordred.

Conclusion

Overall I actually rated Fate/Apocrypha an 8/10, which is higher than I expected when I started the series. If you’re not that into Fate, then this probably isn’t the best anime for you out of all the Fate entries, but if you’re interested in any of the characters I listed, then I think you’ll enjoy this series.

But, remember, it’s more about seeing the characters interact with each other and the action than the actual plot. So, if you can think of the series like that, I think you’ll find it very enjoyable.

Episode 22 in particular was basically all action and included major fights between a lot of the characters. It reminded me a lot of the Naruto vs. Pain fight from Shippūden in which the animation quality was bumped up and they decided to forgo sticking to the character models.

As a bonus, the OPs and EDs for this series are also really good, though the first OP and ED are my favorites, considering I’ve had those songs downloaded on my phone for months before even seeing the anime. I just love the music of both EGOIST and Garnidelia.

Have you seen Fate/Apocrypha? Or do you play FGO? If so, who’s your favorite servant? While Mordred is my favorite from probably both a character and design perspective, I love using Tamamo no Mae in FGO, so I plan to watch Fate/Extra Last Encore next.

If you enjoyed this, slightly different, review, let me know by clicking the like button ❤ down below. And, give me a follow over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content.

And, finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you can become a supporter of this blog and the benefits it entails, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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