I’d thought that I was allowed a long break after the end of ufotable’s Unlimited Blade Works TV Series adaptation. I literally bat my eyes on both Apocrypha and Extella which came after it because I had a massive hunch that if not by ufotable, chances of the adaptations being lawfully faithful to the source material would have been much closer to zero.
This is where the Grand Order movie comes to prove that if not first place, it will stay close second. That said, when talking about faithfulness and ‘adaptations’—especially with Fate series—it is impossible to do so without mentioning the very source of inspiration; the birth and boom of all things that make Grand Order possible:
Type: Special (Movie)
Genre(s): Action, Supernatural, Magic and Fantasy
Source of adaptation: Mobile Game
The time it was aired: Fall 2016, December 31
Studio responsible: Lay-duce
In 2015, the Chaldea Security Organization draws on experts of both the magical and mundane fields to observe the future of mankind for possible extinction events. Humanity’s survival seems assured for the next century—until the verdict suddenly changes, and now eradication of the species awaits at the end of 2016. The cause is unknown, but appears to be linked with the Japanese town of Fuyuki and the events of 2004 during the Fifth Holy Grail War.
In response, Chaldea harnesses an experimental means of time travel, the Rayshift technology. With it, Fujimaru Ritsuka, a young man newly recruited to the organization, and the mysterious girl Mash Kyrielight, can travel back to 2004 and discover how to save humanity. A grand order to fight fate has been declared—an order to change the past and restore the future.
This is going to be a condensed review.
And the reason is actually quite a lame one.
Fate/Grand Order — First Order can jokingly be called an hour-long advertisement for the source material; the action packed mobile game. Mostly because of how the entirety of the content adapted from the prologue of the game — same kind of deal with ufotable spending 45 minutes on the debuting episode of their Stay Night adaptation, except that the series actually got followed up to its completion. This leaves First Order a much desired name to be used in the title since there are absolutely no signs of any follow-ups in the future.
The Fate franchise has come a very long way since the original visual novel. As such, diving into Grand Order and expecting anything to ring your taste bell will most likely do the opposite. It does not take a lot of thinking to realize this very adaptation is tightly aimed at those who have experienced the mobile game. I am luckily one of those people who’d waited years before Aniplex officially unlocked my country (Thailand) so I can genuinely play it without means of pirating.
As far as the story goes, there is not much to add because the prologue actually takes us back to the altered timeline of Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel. The difference however…
Spoiler for Heaven’s Feel alert!
…is that the protagonist, Mash and Olgamarie from Chaldea have come into a “singularity”. Not taking its definition from an English dictionary, in Grand Order it means a timeline where abnormalities occurred. In the time they have arrived into, which is 2004 Fuyuki city when the Holy Grail war took place, every servants but Cú Chulainn (who is then a caster instead of lancer!) were tainted by the so called grail.
So yes, like I have mentioned, you would need to have watched Fate/Stay Night (specifically Heaven’s Feel) beforehand to catch those differences without being mind-blown.
Their goal is to correct the timeline, and by that it means to go the same route like every other ones in Fate/Stay Night visual novel — end the holy grail war. With abnormalities however, their approach would have to be different. They definitely cannot just go find Sakura and stab her to end in a shortcut.
Overall it is absolutely pointless to review this hour-long special while pinpointing its strengths and weaknesses when considering every other anime shows in existence as basis of passing/failing criteria. If Lay-duce really had massive profit in mind when adapting a Fate IP then this would be the one mistake they probably never make again in the future.
By staying almost faithful to the original source material, they have at best managed to adapt a part of the game where there are LOTS of introductory dialogues but little to no story and character developments, let alone the sheer number of characters themselves.
Please Lay-duce. Do not let the reception of this movie stop you from following up or it would be all pointless. After all, First Order really is just a prologue.
Now let me talk about the things that I am more than happy with upon seeing it.
This is not the first instance and it will not be the last for Fate franchise. People flock over to anime adaptations because they wanted to see their visual novels/manga/light novels/games animated. A simpleminded reason like this is what keeps Fate flourishing all day and every day.
Grand Order is definitely indifferent. If reading the dialogues in a mobile game can have me ‘feel’ something, I could only imagine folds more expressions when animated. That clear advantage had to be put to use and I am hella glad they did that part right.
Like majority of the game players in the world, I came into this movie looking for nothing else but a live, moving Mash…u.
I am such a simple man. I see Mashu — I like. With that in mind, there are other places you can find her animated, such as the actual mobile game advertisements, mostly animated by A-1 Pictures.
Like all Fate series, you can’t be easily let down by fights choreography. The number of fights does not make a great show but rather how well those fights look individually. Lay-duce is not really well known in my books so I am more than impressed when they pulled some punches here and there.
I am also sure of one more thing.
Being so used to ufotable animating the franchise, I have adapted to the majestic aura displayed by each and every one of the characters despite knowing all too damn well that some of them are not even close to being majestic.
Damn the power of animation.
That said, for the parts that are not action-packed, Grand Order can feel a little emotionally lacking. Some scenes really do lack character expressions and they just do not make me feel as much as I did when I read the dialogues in-game.
The change in Mashu’s voice actress from Risa Taneda to Rie Takahashi is probably one of those happy accidents. I just cannot imagine Taneda sounding all young and submissive while on other hand, having heard Konosuba’s Megumin a million times over, I am more than confident that Takahashi is going to once again, bring a waifu status out of the main heroine.
Geez, what am I saying?
She has already, practically done that. Just go look all over the world wide web and you will see nothing but MASHU BEST KOUHAI.
I only just want to get this out of the way first since it has a tight relation to the mobile game, which frankly is the sole reason as to why I have not been writing any posts. I have however finished the fifth singularity (sadly that is the stall point for English version) and I am more than ready to write about the game itself.
That will be my next stuff. See you there!