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Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel I. Presage Flower Limited Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

A new take on familiar events.

What They Say:
10 years after the Holy Grail War—a battle waged by Masters and Servants over the wish-granting container, the Holy Grail—another war breaks out in Fuyuki City. Shirou Emiya—the adopted son of Kiritsugu Emiya, a participant of the previous Holy Grail War—is leading a peaceful life with people dear to him. Especially close to him is his underclassman Sakura Matou, who brings kindness into his otherwise lonely life. But once the Holy Grail War starts, Shirou’s peaceful life is sundered.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this film brings us the original Japanese language track along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The 5.1 mix is a really strong part of this film as the audio design is great with how the action flows across it. The dialogue side is solid throughout with what it does as it works the highs and lows in a clear way but most of it is pretty straightforward. The showy points of it the whole mix is the action as the fights move around with the camera well and it has a great feeling to it as we get elements thrown to the rear channels and some strong bass sequences as well. It’s a film that knows what it wants to do and it handles the quiet scenes very well but knows that it has to go all out in the big scenes and does it in a crisp and clear way that shines.

Video:
Originally in theaters in 2017, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by ufotable, the film looks gorgeous from the first frame to the last as one would expect for a project of this caliber. The color design is just beautiful throughout and the big sequences where the animation is very fluid is fantastic. It has a great smoothness to it that with the rich colors comes to life wonderfully. I love the look of this film as I have other ufotable projects and it really is the kind of thing where it gets hard to just say it looks as near perfect as can be. The encoding here is great with solid colors throughout that really makes it come alive with its vibrancy but it fleshes it all out with wonderful detail as well. It’s just fantastic throughout and made it incredibly easy to get absorbed in the story itself.

Packaging:
The packaging for this limited edition release is pretty fantastic as we get a heavy chipboard box that uses one of the key visuals for the film with the core cast together set against the falling snow. It’s a chilling piece in general but with the black wrap that has the hints of purple in it and the layering of it all it comes across really well. The back cover gives us an all-black piece with just the logo symbol in the middle done as a silver embossed piece that’s very striking. Within the case, we get a digipak that’s very glossy looking that continues the darker tone and purple shading with Assassin getting some prominence at first and opening up to more characters. The main interior doesn’t have artwork but the film disc and CD soundtrack look great within. The first booklet we get is an animation material one that has a lot of interview material and a copious amount of small shots as it goes into the production. But the really big inclusion is the hardcover art book which is filled with gorgeous pieces on high quality paper. The interior also has some really great textured pages at the front and back while the cover goes for a purple embossed element that really brings it out in a striking way.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is one that’s simple but effective in what it does. The main design uses clips from the film itself but it does it with a moving and sliding format that has various clips playing at once in different boxes and shapes that come in and out. It gives it some variety after starting simple with the logo itself. The navigation is kept simple along the bottom with a thin strip in purple with a white border that holds the basics. It expands well for the extras in showing what’s there and all of it is easy to read even with the smaller and thinner font that they use. It’s easy to navigate and it works well both as a main menu and as a pop-up menu during playback.

Extras:
The extras for this release brings us a few familiar pieces with several promos and commercials with the trailers to promote it. We also get a nine-minute piece of English cast interviews that were recorded for the Fathom Events theatrical showing as a bonus for them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Fate/stay night animated realm expanded starting in 2017 with Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel, a three-part film series that has ufotable giving the project a new spin as it works this particular route from the visual novel. As I found recently, I’m still a big fan of the property overall with what it does and the quality of the work produced to bring it to life but I’m in that place where I’m not a “big fan” that follows the routes and all the little details and nuance. I’ve found myself lost on many occasions as trying to remember what really happened or didn’t happen or how it happened seems to change with each project (which I get, it’s the routes). But that sense of repetition but not is something that can get frustrating if you’re a more casual viewer like me with it.

The Presage Flower film is the one that I suspect may feel the most familiar as it delves into the introduction of this world to Shirou Emiya. He’s stuck with disturbing dreams of events that happened years earlier in Fuyufki City that he imagines are tied to when he was orphaned in all the chaos of the fire. What he doesn’t realize is that the event was because of a Holy Grail War that went on with the various mages and players in the game to control it fought. That period, which was animated in the Fate/Zero series, is probably my most favorite of all the Fate anime projects at this point. Seeing this storyline brought to life with this kind of animation as opposed to what we got in the 2006 TV series is obviously radically different and following the route here as we see Shirou starting to learn the truth of what happened and gaining his own Servant in Saber works well. But it also does it in a very slow and steady way, spending more time with Shirou and Taiga as Sakura starts visiting his home a lot in an effort to help him out after an injury.

What the film wants to do is work this into the narrative in a quiet way that bonds them together, especially with Sakura seeing Saber staying there and being wary of it all and her own seeming attempt to claim Shirou, but it also does this with the expansion and understanding of the Holy Grail War itself. Some of this may simply be the whole “I’ve seen this a few times” element but it felt like this aspect of the film wasn’t exactly superficial but it wasn’t quite the reveal that we got in previous iterations. It’s accepted more quickly and easily and Shirou ends up with his command seals in an almost anticlimactic kind of way. There’s also a sense that Saber is reduced in importance here as is her relationship with Shirou doesn’t develop in an engaging way as Saber almost feels like a background character.

While these elements don’t click for me as much as I’d hope, and again I think it’s simply because this is a repetitive element over the years, the film succeeds in a huge way with its action. I love the way these scenes come together as the settings are all strong in design and layout so that the action unfolds across it in a really engrossing way. It’s dynamic and powerful with the visuals really taking it to a whole other level. But it has some great impact in general with how it drives the characters forward with rich emotional scenes throughout. The Servants all look fantastic with their designs given more richness in detail over their TV iteration and the sense of presence is great as they stride in confidently and own the scene. The visuals and animation are what’s really driving this first film forward for me, though I’ll assume there are plenty of little changes in terms of story through this route that I’m blanking out on some but as I said, I’m not that level of fan with the routes. What I do get here is just a great looking film that has ufotable showing again why they have such a strong following when working on high-profile projects like this.

In Summary:
Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel I. Presage Flower is a fantastic release. While the story may not captivate me in the way that some others do within the franchise there’s just a whole lot to like here. The film series has a lot going for it with its incredible animation and detail and such a rich color design that takes it to a whole other level. This film does the heavy lifting of getting everything moving again and I imagine those that are much stronger fans than I are really enjoying all the differences and details of it. Aniplex USA put together a fantastic release from start to finish and delivered something that will make fans love it with what it brings them.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, PV & CM Collection, English Cast Interviews

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: November 20th, 2018
MSRP: $79.98
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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