I finished this series a while ago, but other posts sadly took up my time! No more though, and I’m eager to get back and wrap this re-dive up! Last time we left off I said Fate Apocrypha was a good series that had many great moments. But it absolutely felt the most like a spin-off compared to other series. Does that mean it is bad though? And has the remaining half of the show carried things forward? After the cut let’s take a dive into the back half of Fate Apocrypha and find out!
With the second half of Apocrypha, we find ourselves shifting gears from the grail war to what it was supposed to be, to what it actually is. However unlike with other Fate shows where the conflict takes a darker and more metaphysical turn, this time things just end up changing villains. The reveal that Shirou (not that one) Kotomine is not only behind everything, but is also the Ruler servant of the last war (summoned instead of the OG Avenger class which sets all of Fate/Stay Night into motion) has many of the cast changing sides. Red and blacks band together, and the surviving members realize that they must band together in order to stop Shirou (not that one) from using the grail to destroy all the evil in the world.
One of the strangest parts of a series like Apocrypha was that while the plot is a bit strange and has more than a whiff of ‘spinoff’ to it. The characters in the story are what make it. While the cast is quite large, the slim down version we see in the second half lets a lot of personality shine. Mordred and Astolfo are again too good for this series, stealing the spotlight from every scene they are in and are just begging to have more written about them. Atalante and Achilles get some great moments, and their respective fights with Ruler and Archer of Black are intuitive and fun. It is only the main characters Seig and Jeanne that feel lackluster. Simply put the two do not have the depth and chemistry that other Fate leads have. The inner turmoil of Seig and his struggles with the good and evil of humanity pales in comparison to Shirou, and Jeanne doesn’t have Saber’s presence, or Rin’s charisma. Many times I found that the Ruler was just there to react to things. Even her romance with Seig is lacking screen time and weight. There needed to be more about Jeanne’s conflict on whether she is allowed to love, or her confusion on whether her feelings are hers or her hosts. I know I just said that Mordred and Astolfo need a better series, but it is Jeanne who could really have a character arc similar in depth to Saber. What is there isn’t bad per say, I just wanted more of it.
Aside from all of that, there is a lot of good in this second half. It is a decent plot that trims much of the fat and focuses on delivering firework after firework. Full credit should go to the staff and actors, as they absolutely show up to deliver some amazing scenes. The last stand showdown between Seig and Karna is one of the best moments in the entire franchise, and surpasses even the best action scenes from the Ufotable works. (I mean fucking LOOK at this fight!) Atalante’s fight with Achilles is a great one, as her descent into madness of Jack the Ripper. Shakespeare is as crazy as ever, and the remaining masters each get moments that push their characters forward. A lot of them will show up in respective spin-offs for good and ill, and it was nice even in this alternate world to see those characters set on the path.
Fate Apocrypha is in the end, a spin off through and through. It doesn’t have the gravitas and weight of the original series, but it is never not entertaining. I enjoyed my time with the series, it’s characters and especially those who could have done better. If there is someone who wants to get into Fate but is intimidated by the depth of the first series, then Apocrypha is where I would send them. You can step in, enjoy the broad strokes of what makes this series so fun, and get out without feeling drowned by the expansive lore. I don’t know if I’ll come back to this anytime soon, but I was glad I did check it out once more. If only to prove that sometimes, it takes a real man to be the best girl.