This is the first of the Fate series that i have watched
I was definitely not baited by Astolflo. I enjoyed it, but as a story and how it flows, I have a huge problem with its progression. Also, this is my first review, so cut me some slack yeah?
The first half is literally a game of cat and mouse with nothing achieved from it.
A common trend that I realized in Fate Apocrypha is that a lot of episodes tend to end up with one character saying "Next time we fight, we're gonna end this once and for all!" Yes, while I understand that while it is to ensure that the final episodes have a massive final fight, but seeing Assassin bail after a fight or seeing Shiro call back his servants while being a "tactical move" in context of a Holy Grail War, makes each episode tiring to watch as the viewer knows that not all the servants are going to die until the final fight.
2. Fight Scenes come across as glorified light shows with no real depth
Fight scenes involve a lot of laser beams and sword explosions that seem like it came out of a Michael Bay film. In the Sieg vs Karna fight in Episode 22 that while being amazing to see, ultimately boiling down to Which servant has the largest laser beam to destroy their opponent? . A number of fights in the show boil down to just a show of power, whereas it would be more interesting to see how a character uses their skills at their disposal to outwit their opponent based on their character. Fights, like Mordred's final fight against Semiramis is resolved by Modred's master using a command spell plus drugs to boost her power, which just seems like a easy way out to resolve a fight.
3. Characters are poorly made and are shallow.
This is a massive gripe I have with the show, considering that it made me almost want to drop it. Its understandable that in a 25 episode span, it is tough to fully cover all the servants and masters, their motivations and characters, but even the main cast are just... ack.
- Spartacus is a prime offender of this, serving no real purpose in the story other than being a destructive force that is but a hindrance to the characters.
-Avicebron's desire to "create the perfect golem to create paradise" is out of place, and his episode where he dies for the golem serves no purpose in the entire episode other than even out the fight between the Red and Black faction.
- Karna, despite being one of the characters who had so much screen time, especially near the end, did not have much depth other than being an extremely powerful servant who has a heart of gold.
- Celenike (Rider's former master) is a sadistic woman who gets off torturing Astolflo in her Victorian torture chamber, which was pretty unnecessary and her being taken out of the Holy Grail War
- Not to mention characters like Roche, Darnic, who had no effect on the story other than being plot drivers, which in that case they're better off not existing and that screen time spent on developing the others.
I especially enjoyed the dynamics of some characters, especially Mordred and Sisigou's, Achilles and Chiron's rivalry was more interesting than Jeanne and Sieg's romance, which wasn't very emotionally engaging and I did not get invested nor did I care about the end. Mordred, despite having little screen time, had a better development, wherein her wish to become King, as well as her hatred for Artoria is challenged and culminates into her realizing that she just wanted to help her father and relieve her burden.
4. The conflict of ideals could have been so much better.
The examination of the dilemma between achieving salvation at the cost of human individuality and removing the entire point of living/experiencing the human condition could have been more interesting should it have been more well developed. Amakusa Shirou's desire for salvation against Jeanne's wish to ensure that humans experience life, regardless whether they suffer despair under evil while seeing the good appear in others is a good concept, but wasted by poor execution with exposition, with the characters debating in the last episodes about their ideals when it should have been explored throughout the series. Amakusa Shirou acted as a shadowy figure in the beginning, only appearing in the second half to take over the faction of red.
Maybe I'm rambling, but ultimately Fate Apocrypha had potential to explore themes of the human condition, or the characters that were much more interesting such as Mordred or the other masters, instead of Sieg, who is arguably a boring MC who took up too much screen time.