Ani-Column: So How Will Fate/Stay Night Impress Us This Time?

Fate

So if you guys weren’t paying attention on Friday, apparently there’s going to be another shot at adapting the Fate/Stay Night series by ufotable, who I think have become what KyoAni used to be with Key in that they really like this one VN company’s work. Therefore, I’m going to have to give it a try once it comes out and see if I can get into it. Apparently, it’s going to be adapting the Heaven’s Feel route, which is Sakura’s story in the original game, as well as the final route to complete after the Fate and Unlimited Blade Works arcs (which have been adapted by Deen and were incredibly shit). I didn’t know much about it besides that, so I took a quick look at the Type-Moon wiki page and whilst I didn’t read the entire summary because spoilers aren’t cool, it definitely feels like it could work.

Thing is, said stuff looks cool on paper and the pieces are all there, but will it work in practice? Fate/Stay Night, assuming it’s only adapting that one arc like I’ve been told, has one thing in its favor compared to all the other VN adaptations in that it doesn’t have to be too all-encompassingly fan-pleasing. But if that was the only requirement to get a good anime, the other adaptations (as well as many anime in general) would have been actually good. And yeah, ufotable’s Type-Moon adaptations (let alone the others) haven’t exactly had the best record with me because of how they take forever to go anywhere and when they do go somewhere, the results don’t always impress. Which is really my problem with a lot of anime series: they can’t seem to get the pacing right in regards to their ideas. And before people get on my nuts about this, no I don’t care if the actual source material isn’t to my liking or if it’s terrible or anything like that. Just because the source is bad doesn’t mean the adaptation has to be.

FateStay

I’m not sure I’ve said this before, but I don’t inherently hate Type-Moon. Of course, the same could be said for every goddamn anime on the fucking planet so that’s not exactly the greatest confirmation I’ve ever given, but I don’t. I hang out with a bunch of peeps who are into nasu (although I haven’t lately due to time and the fact that I refuse to sit through any more of Prism Illya). I check out what they’re doing on occasion. I’ve never played the games or read the novels the anime adaptations I see of them are based on. I wouldn’t even be bothering writing this post if I didn’t care somewhat about them. The concept of secret battles taking place within the modern world is pretty cool and I sort of enjoyed Fate/Zero. My big problem though is that their material is given to directors who just aren’t creative enough. Yeah I know Type-Moon is famous for that wordy dialogue the same way Zack Snyder is all about slow-motion, but can’t they throw in some dynamic direction or visual aids to carry the thing? I know ufotable has creative directors, although I’ve never seen Futakoi Alternativeand even Fate/Zero had its moments when the direction was dynamic for entire episodes. I’m not saying it will help me care about what’s going on, as despite being pretty and well-directed and all, Moribito never talked about things I could get invested in. But it’d be a start.

And another thing, going back to the pacing issue I mentioned earlier. I don’t know how long this series is going to be, but please make it one-cour. Judging by what I know of the material, it seems there’s a lot to cover, but I doubt that all of it is necessary. In fact, if I had my say, I’d make this thing a series of really well-directed OVAs, cut out some of the characters and plot details (especially that long slog in the beginning that all VN adaptations seem to have), and accentuate the vital stuff. It’s true that the very basic structure of the Holy Grail War requires seven teams and all, but if Osamu Dezaki can remove the main character getting turned into a crow in Air, then I’ll believe you could have removed Rider’s useless ass in the UBW movie. I’m not saying you have to change the core of what people love about F/SN, but the very least you can do is not do what M. Night Shyamalan did with that Airbender movie. Also, if the series is that short, it’d be able to spend its money more freely on creative animation, unlike what’s been happening with Monogatari Second Season, which seems to be suffering from the two-cour format animation-wise (amongst other problems).

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That’s the thing that bothers me most about Type-Moon adaptations. They could work. But they just don’t because of “not-that-easy-to-fix, but not-that-hard-either” problems getting in the way. But then again, this is what I say about most anime, so again that doesn’t carry as much impact as it should.

I guess what I’m saying here is that in order for this F/SN anime to impress me, I’d want a reinterpretation. Not just a straight adaptation. Which of course they’re not going to do, because anime industries are kind of fucked up like that, so I probably won’t have a good time with this. But to my colleagues at Metanorn who love ufotable’s adaptations and are looking forward to what I know the anime is going to be like rather than what I wish the anime is going to be like, congrats. Either way though, I am sort of looking forward to this, if only to see how Type-Moon will try to impress me this time. Not exactly the best motivation, but it suits me just fine.

P.S. The second part of my anime history post is getting pushed back a week due to the recent news.

P.P.S. I know Shinbo will probably fix the animation problems on the Blu-ray release, but seriously, this season’s animation is a huge step down from what I remember of Nise.

8 responses to “Ani-Column: So How Will Fate/Stay Night Impress Us This Time?

  1. Your complaints about adaptation have been making me do a lot of thinking lately. I can only come to the conclusion that you’re much more sensitive to the strengths and weaknesses of the visual format than I am – and, for that matter, quite a few other anime fans that I know. I often find myself forgiving sloppy pacing or bland visual direction if the inherent idea behind the work grabs me. I’m watching anime like I read a book, which I know I shouldn’t do. Well, I don’t think there’s any incorrect way of watching anime, but when you’re judging a work on its own terms and not on how it contributes to a larger body of work, I think a lot could be said for your method of critique.

    I’ve been doing some thinking about how best to think about adaptations and what you call a need to reinterpret the source material so that it best fits the screen. I think it’s a lot like translation. A literal translation will always suck because it fails to convey the essential flavour of the original. It’s basically a copy and paste – I find such prose to be unreadable. I suppose adaptation, just like translation, requires reinterpretation and recasting of the material so that its message does not become diluted through the shift in medium.

    It’s another story altogether if the original was never any good to begin with. I’m not opposed to radical reinterpretations of anime that I like, but in the end, I find their merits to be on the level of very good fanfiction. It’s another person’s story, not the author’s. (The Rurouni Kenshin OVAs were a really good example of this.) Ultimately, I think the best adaptations are the ones that understand the merits of the original and aim to bring that to life, not the ones that feel intrusive. (This is how I generally how I feel about Shaft adaptations.) I don’t think there should be any burden on the director to actively improve on the script; if he’s done his job distilling its essence in visual format, the sense of improvement over the original should come naturally.

    Anyway, I rambled on about this without even mentioning Fate/Stay Night, lol. Well, about that, I have no opinion one way or the other, since I don’t consider myself a particular fan of Type-Moon. But anime is always cool, so I look forward to it, I guess?

    • Just realised I typed up an ambiguous sentence. What I really think is that Shaft adaptations suck and that they feel intrusive, not that they are good adaptations.

    • I’m just mad at how Fate/Zero’s first episode was nothing but walking around in circles saying exposition for five minutes. What idiot came up with that idea? 😛

      Anyways, I used to be an ideas kind of guy until I started this blog and saw more anime like Rahxephon, SSY, Simoun, Monogatari, Kokoro Connect, Kimagure Orange Road and a bunch of noitamina shows. They all had really cool ideas, but instead of utilizing them effectively, they wasted it on poorly paced, repetitive personal stories that could have been told in less than a third of their length. Penguindrum was the final nail in the coffin for me regarding that kind of stuff. I loved Utena. And I hated how Penguindrum spent so much time on a stalker girl and her teacher crush rather than the actually cool mysteries it was building up to.

      • That was, without a doubt, a mistake. Most viewers must have known about FSN and it’s Holy Grail War already. There is no need to retell all of them in one hour long 1st episode. Ufotable certainly isn’t perfect, if I were to speak objectively. They make Rin’s adventure episode, which is totally pedobait and useless. They make Kiritsugu’s flashback into two episode, which is also unnecessary. What I like is their CG battles. They are totally cool.
        🙂

        Let’s hope they will be smarter this time. Who will be the director anyway?

      • Actually, I liked the Rin episode. Yeah it was useless to the story, but Rin was a way more interesting character than any of the dull adults F/Z gave us. And no, you shouldn’t assume most viewers would know about FSN and the Holy Grail War when it comes to F/Z, b/c all anime should be stand-alone. What you shouldn’t do though is give your audience a fucking glossary.

        And I don’t know who the director is. Too early to tell.

      • But Fate/Zero can be considered a prequel story/anime, right? Thus, the standalone rule should be taken with a grain of salt. I sure don’t want to see another exposition to what a Holy Grail is in this upcoming anime.

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