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Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2(TV) (2006)
There is a war going on between masters and servants in order to attain the Holy Grail. Each master can call up one servant each, and their task is to eradicate the other servants, either by defeating them or killing their master. When there is only one master or servant left, he or she is granted the Holy Grail, and any wish they desire will come true.
For more about Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2 and the Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2 Blu-ray release, see Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 18, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Noriaki Sugiyama, Liam O'Brien (V), Sam Riegel, Kate Higgins, Mela Lee, Junko Noda
Director: Yuji Yamaguchi
» See full cast & crew
Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2 Blu-ray Review
Will this night never end?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 18, 2013
Anime doesn't have to be repetitive and derivative, but the sad fact is it often is. Case in point: some of the arcs in the second half of Fate/Stay Night, which with just a few changes of mythology, verbiage and character names could have been lifted straight out of any number of other anime like, say, Shakugan no Shana (and, no, that isn't a joke or typo). As Episode 13 (the first episode in this set) kicks off, we have Saber suffering from the after effects of a vicious battle, and there's ample evidence that she's about to disappear into the ether due to her mana (which might be thought of as an analogue to a Flame Haze's torch in the other series) having been depleted. Sound at least a little familiar? Fate/Stay Night is a middling anime that has some good elements, but which often seems kind of warmed over offerings that many anime fans will swear they've seen before (often, in fact) in other shows. Those wanting a little background on some basic story elements may want to spend a few minutes poring over our reviews of previous Fate/Stay Night releases, which can be found here:
Fate/Stay Night: Collection 1 Blu-ray review
Fate / Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Blu-ray review
The series actually does have a rather interesting basic premise, and it works in elements of various myths and historical figures in a reasonably entertaining way. Its conceit of a sort of Battle Royale or The Hunger Games fight to the finish might seem to invest this series with more visceral impact than many anime, but the series never fully exploits this opportunity, so that it more often than not plays kind of like an old Yu-Gi-Oh! or Dragon Ball Z outing, with antagonists summoning various powers and duking it out with few if any ultimate consequences.
The Saber arc continues through the next handful of episodes, as Shirou has to figure out exactly how far he's willing to go to make sure his partner survives. In the meantime, there's an interesting little tidbit revealed about Saber's back story, one which neatly ties into the whole Holy Grail element of the series while perhaps giving a new twist to certain Arthurian legends. You have to give Fate/Stay Night at least a little credit as it goes along, for it does ultimately end up dispatching several characters as the combatants attempt to gain the prized Grail.
The relationship between Saber and Shirou is of course the most important focal element of the series (despite a lot of supporting characters), and the good news is there's considerable development given to the duo's interrelationship, especially in the last couple of episodes, where their nascent romance is sparked along, albeit in typically unconsummated fashion. That in turns allows the final episode, which is otherwise pretty victorious in terms of certain Grail-centric plot points, to have a rather bittersweet quality, once the characters have dispersed. There's a particularly effective coda of sorts that finally gives Fate/Stay Night some real emotional effect which has too often been buried beneath the kind of mindless action that filled up the bulk of earlier episodes.
Fate/Stay Night does work up some significant momentum in this second half, much more so than in the first half, as the remaining pairs of combatants whittle each other down to a perhaps questionable prize. This is a series that really could have used a bit more character development, though, for we're left to almost intuit what various characters are all about due to this or that quirk. In fact that's one of the reasons the opening Saber arc is so effective Śwe finally have a hook giving us an entrÚe into that character. Sadly, it's an approach that is largely lacking with regard to many of the other characters in the series. What tends to happen instead is small character beats followed by epic battles, a gambit that is obviously a time tested one in the world of anime, but one which Fate/Stay Night tends to give short shrift to, leading to a kind of lurching quality, with the result probably being that those who want the "slice of life" sequences are going to be annoyed by the fighting, while those who want "all action, no filler" (to borrow a famous quote) are similarly going to be upset that there's anything other than those battles.
There is one kind of significant cheat toward the end of Fate/Stay Night which in fact reminded me of a similar sleight of hand that occurred in Shakugan no Shana: Season 3 Part 2. Without giving away any major secrets, it has to be upsetting to fans who invest a lot of time and energy in a show's premise and mythology only to be told in the closing moments, "Oh, that element? Well, no biggie, it turns out no one really cares." It's an oddly off putting way to go about business, setting up a whole mythology and then discarding it (or at least salient parts of it) without a second thought. To be fair, Fate/Stay Night draws back from this initial discarding to reveal a little more information in the aforementioned coda, but my hunch is some people will not be pleased when a quest lasting so many episodes has a somewhat destructive finale.
Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fate/Stay Night Collection 2 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks with an AVC encoded 1080i transfer in 1.78:1. As was mentioned in my Fate/Stay Night: Collection 1 Blu-ray review, this series is old enough that we may be dealing with a native standard definition source, and so those wanting the pristine clarity of more contemporary offerings will probably be at least a little disappointed with this release. The best part about this high definition presentation continues to be the well saturated color, which is often quite nicely robust and vibrant looking. This second half of the series continues to suffer, however, from both overall softness as well as some issues like very noticeable banding.
Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As with Fate/Stay Night Collection 1, this second collection features DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes in both English and Japanese. Again as with the first collection, the Japanese track offers quite a bit more amplitude and overall aggression than the English track, a reverse of the usual situation. Fidelity is excellent, with dialogue, effects and score all cleanly presented and well prioritized. The battle scenes probably would have benefited from a fulsome surround offering, but what's here presents everything very clearly, if narrowly.
Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only so-called "Supplements" on this two disc set are trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases as well as disc credits page, neither of which I officially score in the ratings above.
Fate/Stay Night: Collection 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There's nothing really horrible about Fate/Stay Night, but a lot of this anime is fairly reminiscent of any number of other offerings. That said, this second half is at least a marginal improvement over the first half. We've at least met most of the major players, and the Saber arc that starts off this second half is among the best elements in the overall series. But the series never really develops any emotional attachment, which is what almost always drives the most successful anime. Those with some time to kill might still find enough worthy elements here for an okay experience, but Fate/Stay Night is a fairly lackluster effort that remains pretty hard to get very excited about.
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