Fate Apocrypha Episodes 1-12: Make the Grail War Great Again

While The Summer of Love has concluded, that doesn’t mean I’m done talking about Fate! Getting ahead of my previous house keeping schedule, I’ve been watching another in the long list of Fate spin-offs. Back when I started the blog I gave a quick overview of these series, but I have been revisiting them now that I’m more comfortable as a blogger. With that said, let’s take a dive into the first half of Fate/Apocrypha after the cut!

It’s gonna be so great. With blackjack, and hookers!

Out of all the Fate series, it is probably Apocrypha that feels the most like a spinoff. While Fate/Illya, Case Files, and even Grand Order are chalk full of their Easter eggs, and references to previous shows, it is Apocrypha that feels the most like a spinoff. That is probably because unlike the last two, this story concerns itself primarily with the things that makes a Fate series well, a Fate series.

There is a holy grail war, there are masters and servants, there are hidden agendas, big actions scenes and allegiances that are constantly changing. Set in a timeline where, during the third holy grail war, the greater grail was spirited away by a mysterious mage and (of course) the Nazis. We find ourselves in a time where with several different grail wars, but only one that is truly great. This great holy grail war pits the Mage’s Association and their allies against the family of Yggdmillennia who seek to use the grail for their own ends. Fourteen master, and fourteen servants prepare to do battle, all watched over by the fifteenth servant: Ruler, but as with all Fate series, things aren’t as they seem.

Apocrypha takes historical characters in cool directions, like with Jack the Ripper. Costume not withstanding.

If I could sum up the first half of Apocrypha, it is that is a Fate series without all of the monologuing and character development that was so prevalent in the main series. Oh it is there, you can’t have a Fate series without one or two characters going on about life, living, and doing what is right, but there is a considerable lack of it compared to say Unlimited Blade Works or Heaven’s Feel. Series lead Sieg does his best to have a character arc as he goes from newborn homunculus to person with a goal, but there isn’t enough breathing room for him to really come into his own. Further still are other lead characters. Ruler, aka Jeanne D’Arc has an iconic design, but none of the gravitas or endearment of Saber or Rin Tohsaka. While I won’t go as far to say that the series suffers from the dreaded “Bleach Problem” (where the secondary cast outshines the main one) but there is a lack of presence that holds it back, at least in this first half.

The ensemble cast is a large one and Apocrypha remains the only Fate series which really holds true to the idea of heroic spirits fighting each other.

Still there is still a lot of love here. Out of the large cast of master and servants there are many bright spots, some who will end up being better than the series they debut in. Most notably is Mordred, the Saber of Red, and her master. They fit into the Fate world like a glove stealing almost every scene they are in. The ‘son’ of King Arthur is everything one could have hoped for, giving the resident ‘Saberface’ a fiery personality, brutally awesome combat skills, and costume that could make any man pull at his collar. Jack the Ripper, the assassin of Black may raise a few eyebrows, but it is a cool take on the legend and she helps fill out the Assassin role. Then of course there is Astolfo who proves that sometimes it takes a real man to be best girl. He’s probably the story’s breakout character and helps bring the series together in a lot of ways in the first half.

Astolfo makes girl swoon and boys swoon harder.

Overall the first twelve episodes of Fate/Apocrypha is a good start to what ends up being a good series. The story moves at a quick pace and your enjoyment will depend a lot on how much of the Fate world you know. If you are a veteran like myself, the first half is a popcorn theme park ride that trades weight for action, but also doesn’t forget to tell good stories with its characters. If you are new to the series, this probably isn’t the best place to start, unless you don’t care for characters monologuing. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing it come to its conclusion and you can expect those thoughts in the next few weeks.

Presented without comment.

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