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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fate/Stay Night 3: Master & Servant
Fate/Stay Night 3: Master & Servant
Geneon // Unrated // May 15, 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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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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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 tends to put himself in the path of danger almost constantly.

In the second volume Saber and Shirou rested up a bit before being confronted by the next Magi. Well, it was more Shirou who was confronted because he refused to summon Saber into battle. Tohsaka started a fight with Shirou but it soon ended when they discovered a collapsed schoolmate in a hallway. This lead way to an encounter with a Servant known as Rider and the teaming up of Shirou and Tohsaka to uncover who was behind the attack at the school. Towards the end of the volume we learned about a witch hiding in a nearby temple and Saber disobeyed her master's orders, running off to the temple by herself.

This third volume picks up at that very point in the story. Saber confronts an assassin class Servant at the top of the mountain temple. Her invisible blade technique tests his dimensional katana skill and the two trade some powerful blows. Shirou makes his way to the scene at the very moment an unknown watcher is attempting to view the Servant's secret techniques. They call the fight off and Saber passes out into Shirou's arms.

The complicated dance between Master and Servant continues between the show's main pair. Shirou insists on being involved in battles and Saber comes up with the compromise of at least training him in the ways of the sword. Needless to say Shirou is not only incompetent when it comes to magic but also where fighting with a blade is concerned as well. He gets schooled big time by Saber though she does admit to there being power and determination behind each of his blows.

The volume goes on to incorporate Shinji and Rider as villains once again. The two activate their deadly barrier around the school and Shirou goes to stop them. Things get a little too hot to handle for our hero and he winds up giving in and summoning Saber for some assistance. Some interesting things happen and Shirou actually holds his own with reinforcement magic and newly acquired battle skills. In the end Shinji and Rider escape and our heroes emerge victorious.

Throughout these episodes the show hints at a building relationship between Shirou and Saber. In one scene they shake hands upon an agreement and Tohsaka interrupts them. Saber who normally keeps her emotionless composure pulls her hand away in embarrassment. Shirou even stumbles upon Saber while she's showering and an awkward moment ensues. The Master/Servant relationship is an interesting one and though Saber appears to be robotic at times there are glimmers of feelings beneath her cold exterior. It isn't long before the action picks up again and the volume finishes off with an episode involving another Shinji/Rider and Shirou/Saber conflict.

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 third volume offered a lot more character and relationship development with plenty of action to satiate the palette. Fate/Stay Night is turning out to be an interesting, and dare I say epic, show. Three volumes in and the series is really turning into a must see.

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:

The second volume didn't have anything to talk about as far as bonus material was concerned but the third installment changes that. For starters there was a pair of live action music videos for music from the show. The meatiest inclusion here clocks in at just under six minutes and features a diary of sorts for the Rider character. She basically talks about various clips from the show and gives her perspective on things. It is certainly interesting because it gives insight into a character that has been underdeveloped to this point.

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 third installment improves upon the ideals set by the prior ones. All around these four episodes are top notch and with each one I felt myself being drawn in further.


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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