What They Say:
The story is set in the year 2016, during the final era over which magic still held a strong influence. The humanity survival and security organization, Chaldea, was established to observe the world that can only be seen by magic and the world that can only be measured by science; as well as to prevent the final extinction of humanity.
Thanks to the efforts of many researchers, the path of human history has been ensured for 100 years into the future. However, without warning, the realm of the future that was under constant observation by Chaldea vanished. The apparent cause — Fuyuki City, 2004.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
There are two words in the anime industry capable of making me jump any time they are mentioned — one of these is Fate. That being said, I’m going to have to strap myself down for the duration of 2017 because, thanks to a few like-minded people across the web, this year has been donned ‘The Year of Fate’. And what better way to kick that off than an hour long adaptation of Fate/Grand Order — the ever-popular Type-Moon mobile game. Before you watch it, though, there are a couple things that need to be noted.
Fate/GO isn’t necessarily in any direct relation to the Stay Night/Zero universe. Instead, Fate/GO delves into an alternate timeframe in which something got really messed up during the 2004 Fuyuki Grail War. In addition to that, the series isn’t animated by ufotable, who has gained tremendous popularity in recent years due to their rendition of the Fate franchise. Instead, Grand Order is brought to us via Studio Lay-duce — IE: The dudes behind Classroom Crisis. Even with these things in mind, though, Fate/GO still manages to bring us a plethora of familiar faces that even those unfamiliar with the series will recognize (Cough, Saber, cough).
In the early stages of this half-movie, half-OVA, we discover that an organization comprised of the world’s top scientists and mages have banded together in order to form a machine capable of predicting the future of humanity (Because science). The gist of how this machine works is as follows: Light is good, dark is bad. That being said, when Chaldea’s light starts to dim, things start to get real. Our protagonist for this story is yet another Lawful-Good and blindly obedient dude, this time named Ritsuka Fujimaru instead of Shirou Emiya. (Sidenote, Fujimaru sounds a lot like Fujimura — the last name of Taiga-sensei who went on to Shelter Shirou in the original Fate series). Anyway, after a fire breaks out in Chaldea’s central terminal, Ritsuka and some doctor who looks like the unmentioned fifth member of Motley Crue are tasked with essentially saving the world. One thing leads to another and, after discovering the half-crushed corpse of his new crush, Mash (AKA: Shielder), Ritsuka and company are teleported to good ole’ Fuyuki City. Unfortunately, the city is in ruins and there are skeleton pirates all over the place. That’s right — skeleton pirates.
It’s immediately apparent that the only people who were able to make it into this dimension were Ritsuka himself, Mash (Complete with lower body), and Olgamally Animusphere (The new, downgraded version of Rin Tohsaka). Mash, being magically turned into something known as a demi-servant, now has a noble phantasm of her own. The only downside is that she doesn’t know how to use it. But that’s okay because due to the unspoken Fate series rule of having Rider as the first boss, Mash doesn’t really face any actual threat. Oh, by the way, Rider is Lancer now — which, may I add, is awesome. Ever since the Fate VN went over how various heroic spirits can be summoned as others should they meet the qualifications, I’ve been longing to see some of them brought to life. That being said, we all know why everyone really watched this series.
BOOM. Shirtless Lancer.
Lancer, being summoned as Caster this time around, is actually extremely important to First Order. In a callback to the original series, he teams up with our protagonists in order to fight the biggest threat to everyone. This time, however, that threat is none other than Saber. After being corrupted by the Grail and going on to slaughter several of the other servants (Only to have them corrupted as well), Saber seems to be the cause of Fuyuki’s destruction in 2004. Luckily for us, Mash’s noble phantasm is a shield and she basically spends this entire OVA just holding the damn thing up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool and all, but if you’re going to have her stand there for forty minutes, at least put her damn glasses back on.
One thing ultimately leads to another and Mash’s shield winds up turning into a larger shield once she’s able to uncover it’s hidden potential. Her job then becomes simply holding out until Cu shows back up. Where is Cu, you may ask? Oh, he’s just out fighting against the protagonist of the last Fate series. After finally being able to defeat Archer/Shirou, Cu provides the much-needed backup for Ritsuka and SLAMS SABER INTO A GIANT WICKER MAN. Who cares about how half-assed the Wicker Man CGI was? That thing was the most badass magical creature I’ve seen since Bluebeard summoned Cthulu way back when. Needless to say, Saber is defeated and the day is saved.
Or is it?
Earlier in the episode, we were introduced to a man by the name of Lev Lainur — the creator of Chaldea itself (But I’m just going to refer to him as Slash because come on). So, Slash isn’t who we’ve imagined him being up to this point. In fact, after Saber is gone, he straight up comes out and says, “Yeah I’m kind of just going to usher in the end of the world right now, LOL” and then force-chokes Olga’s body and throws her into the sun. After establishing himself as the most badass antagonist since the aforementioned Bluebeard, Lev vanishes and demands that everyone ‘Try and stop him’. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. There are seven effing more dimensions just like this one that Ritsuka and Mash are going to have to combat WITH JUST TWO COMMAND SEALS. Yeah, okay. Good luck, guys.
After Lev vanishes, Rituska and Mash return to their normal world and find Chaldea’s base pretty much smashed to pieces. But thanks to Doctor Motley Crue, at least some of their friends are left alive. We end the day with some nice, G-Rated hand holding and high hopes that the next installment of the Fate series might be a little more composed than this one. Regardless of its shortcomings, however, Fate/Grand Order – First Order serves as a solid appetizer for the ‘Year of Fate’. Thanks to a few new likeable characters and Lay-duce’s most impressive artwork to date, Grand Order becomes just one more title to add the always-expanding Fate universe
Now, onward to Heaven’s Feel!
Being what is perhaps the least Fate-ish of the Fate franchise (Not counting Prisma Illya), Grand Order definitely comes off as quite different than what we’re used to. That being said, seeing many of our beloved servants from the past several years reimagined in new classes easily becomes a much-needed trip down memory lane. Grand Order highlights many of the facets Fate fans have grown to love over the years and adds several new ones that fans of the game will absolutely adore. Mash and Ritsuka have some solid, only slightly forced character chemistry that is still enjoyable overall at the end of the day. The ending, remaining completely open-ended, allows for a probable continuation of Fate/Grand Order that I will most definitely add to my watch-list. All in all, it’s an entertaining seventy minutes that starts off Fate’s busiest year on a good note.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll