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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fate/Stay Night. Vol. 2: War of the Magi
Fate/Stay Night. Vol. 2: War of the Magi
Geneon // Unrated // February 20, 2007
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted July 30, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

Originally a visual novel style game released by Type-Moon back in 2004 Fate/Stay Night made quite the impression and garnered a following in Japan. Because of this, it should be no surprise that a manga and anime were released in the subsequent years. With 24 episodes under its belt the show was handled by Studio Deen (Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai Deeper Kyo) and has seen release here in America thanks to Geneon.

Fate/Stay Night tells the story of a war going on right below the edge of society. A show filled with magical beings, sorcerers, and intense battles is nothing new to anime but this one handles things a little differently.

For starters the lead character, Shirou Emiya, was not born into this magical life. His father who happened to be a Magi died when Shirou was younger and thus prevented the boy from learning all of the tools he needed to know in order to survive. Shirou knows some magic but it's limited at best. His greatest asset is a Servant (magical protector) known as Saber.

Using their magical abilities and Servants, the Magi fight each other in something called a Holy Grail War. That means poor Shirou is at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the field of new Magi who have been properly trained. Still, his tenacity and vigor for justice and protecting the weak keeps him going. He also possesses the ability to heal his wounds quickly which is a good thing considering he and Saber got their asses handed to them in the first volume.

In this second installment the show picks up where the previous left off. Saber is recuperating in Shirou's home and the two discuss the Servant/Magi relationship somewhat. Basically Saber wants nothing more than to protect Shirou at all times but considering he lives with two other girls that is going to be kind of difficult. After the duo gets past that hurdle they have to deal with the next one which is Shirou's acceptance of Saber.

Shirou remains defiant about Saber protecting him and is basically denying his birthright by doing so. She gets annoyed by this and orders him to summon her should he get into trouble at school. Well, he does get into trouble but his stubbornness and tendency to be a glutton for punishment keeps him from calling to Saber. After school he gets into a dual of sorts with a girl named Tohsaka who wants to take his Servant. Things take an interesting turn, however, when they find a collapsed girl in the middle of a hallway. It gives way to the presence of a nearby Magi whom Shirou goes out to find.

Instead of confronting the Magi he actually comes across a Servant named Rider who gives him quite the thumping. Lucky for him Tohsaka finishes tending to the girl and comes to his aid. When the dust settles the two agree to team up temporarily and find who was behind the attack at the school. Saber is rather ticked off at Shirou and berates him for not summoning her.

The two Magi continue to work together in the remaining episodes. They seem to become friends but Tohsaka constantly reminds Shirou that they are enemies once this task is complete. They don't exactly discover who the Magi is behind the school attacks but they do hear a rumor about a witch at a nearby temple. They bicker about the best way to proceed and in the final moments of the volume something happens that will have ramifications in the next installment for sure.

Even if you have never played the game Fate/Stay Night is a compelling and attractive show. It's essentially another superpowered teenager battle series but so far it has avoided clich├ęs and kept things interesting. The second volume features four strong episodes that offer a lot of character and plot development. It will be interesting to see where the show goes from here and there seems to be a lot of background to explore.

The DVD:

Video:

Fate/Stay Night receives a particularly vibrant and impressive anamorphic display on DVD. The show finished its run on Japanese television about a year ago so this transfer is about as hot off the presses as you can get. This is a dark series with a lot of deep shadows and it's nice to see that there is next to no blocking or artifacting that occurs. Grain is kept minimal as well though a few scenes feature heavier doses of it than others. Overall Fate/Stay Night is a very good looking program and Geneon gave the series an appropriate transfer that brings out its beauty.

Audio:

While the visual quality in the series impressed me I have to say that the sound quality didn't push the envelope quite as much. With 2.0 stereo tracks for English and Japanese a 5.1 surround mix is sorely lacking from this release. This is an action oriented show with some impressive sound effects and great musical direction. It seems only fitting that a series of this caliber would want to craft a greater sense of immersion. As it stands the presence on the soundstage is adequate as far as stereo presentations are concerned but the lack of rear channel support is disappointing.

Extras:

All you're going to see on this volume for bonus features are some Geneon Previews and a Clean Ending.

Final Thoughts:

Fate/Stay Night may simply be another anime inspired by a video game but it feels like much more than that. The characters are interesting and the premise is compelling enough to create a rich atmosphere. The writing is very good as well and with each episode I felt myself being drawn in further. This second volume offers some very good quality and I'm looking forward to future installments.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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