Adapted from an interactive visual novel of the same name, “Fate/Stay Night” maintains the same rich, saturated colors and elegantly attractive look. The character designs are simple yet appealing, and action scenes are vibrant and energetic, for the most part, although animation shortcuts are also used. The story, though, is quite slow to get started, with nearly an entire episode on the first volume spent on straightforward exposition, explaining the rules of an age-old supernatural battle between seven different Masters and their respective Servants for the chance to obtain the Holy Grail, with the individuals involved changing each time. The Servants are the ones who actually do most of the fighting, as they are legendary heroes pulled from throughout time with unique abilities.
The main character, Shiro Emiya, unwittingly becomes part of the struggle and a master of one of the most powerful Servants, one of the Saber class. All Servants’ true identities also reveal their potential weaknesses, so most Servants are only called by their class names. But because Shiro wasn’t prepared to be a Master, he has no knowledge or real ability to participate in the battle, and Saber is unable to manifest her full potential.
What follows are the occasional incredible battles with a lot of slow, moody planning in between. There are some awkward attempts at humor, but it seems forced and out of place. Shiro himself is unbelievably na’ve and chivalrous to the point of stupidity, but it counterbalances Saber’s cold nature, and the seeds of a deeper relationship can be seen developing. Unlike the fast-moving “Basilisk,” at the end of two volumes, “Fate/Stay Night” hasn’t narrowed down the playing field at all, and most of the Masters and Servants haven’t even been revealed yet.
It looks really good, but the pace might be too off-putting for many. The tense mood and haunting music will be enough to keep many viewers interested, but those looking for a straight-up action show might be disappointed.