I’ve been sitting on this for a while now. Aside from hunting down a copy to watch, and deal with a bunch of other shows, this has fallen by the wayside. But now I finally have the time, and frankly I’ve been itching to get my thoughts out about it. So after the cut let’s talk about the final installment and last chapter of the Fate/Stay Night movie trilogy: Heaven’s Feel III. spring song.
It’s good. It’s not great.
After watching the final installment of this series, I couldn’t help but feel like spring song was Fate’s equivalent to Return of the Jedi, in that while the movie is chalk full of great moments, moments that will absolutely stand the test of time, and age wonderfully. It also can’t escape the same feeling that Jedi had, that is the third movie of a trilogy. For some reason, the third movie always ends up feeling bittersweet, as the film shifts from telling a story to being a sort of check-list on things. You are waiting to see the conclusion and how things are wrapped up, not watching to see how they ‘get there’, as was the case with the previous outing Lost Butterfly.
In the case of Heaven’s Feel, it is here where we see the choice to make a movie adaptation instead of a 25-26 episode series ala Unlimited Blade Works comes back to bite them in the ass. With so much of the first two movies spent on Sakura’s backstory and fall into insanity (the right move in my opinion) it made it so the rest of the Heaven’s Feel route, the story of Illya, and the revelations surrounding Kotomine, who ends up being the real bad-guy all along, was pushed to the side. It was still present of course, but it was a clear choice by the studio to make Sakura’s route be about Sakura, other stories be damned. With this final chapter, we see that come to fruition, as the film has to play catch up with explaining Kirei’s motives, Illya’s role in the story, everything involving Angra Mainyu, and the history of the grail itself. And while none of it is ‘bad’, it again can’t shake that feeling of “oh shit, we forgot this stuff, get it in there quick!”
However, if you’ve made it this far, chances you are a pretty big fan of the Fate series, and in terms of the payoff moments, spring song doesn’t let you down. Sakura and Rin’s confrontation is well done, with Sakura’s mind torn between wanting revenge and justice, and just wanting to be loved. Seeing Rin’s ironclad focus on killing Sakura get stripped away the moment she actually just looks at her sister is a great capstone to her character, and the sisters making peace was good to see. Illya’s final send off and sacrifice torn at my fanboy heart, (my baby!!!!!) but for fans of Fate/Zero, it provides a fitting end to her character. And of course, Shirou Emiya’s transformation into milquetoast naïve idiot to full on bad-ass is complete, and across all of the three routes, this is probably him at his best and most mature.
In terms of how the movie looks, I almost don’t want to give Ufotable points for this anymore, as their stellar work feels like the studio just showing off. However spring song has some absolutely breathtaking action scenes, with the fight between Rider and Saber Alter being everything fans wanted: flashing, fast paced, and again, Ufotable just doing Ufotable things. The last smackdown between Shirou and Kirei is also damn good to see, and you can feel every punch and hit both of the men take. If there is one thing that ends ‘kind of’ being disappointing, it is the scene of Nine-lives Blade Works, but I chalk that up to more of my personal expectations than what it actually was. The scene is still badass as all fuck, and the Emiya theme never lets you down.
I have plenty more to say about this film, and all of Heaven’s Feel in general. I plan on reviewing this movie two more times, once when it comes on Blu-ray (with the English dub) and then together with Presage Flower and Lost Butterfly to give my final thoughts on the entire experience as a whole. I feel that is the best way to talk about this film, and frankly Fate deserves it. What I can say now, is that Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel III. spring song is a solid, but not stellar conclusion to the trilogy. Rushed in some places, and remarkable in others. I have no doubt my thoughts will improve as time goes on, but I also won’t let me fondness for the series blind me to what I see. Good, but not great is the best way I can sum up my thoughts, at least for now.