Fate Grand Order is a game you might have heard of that prominently features a drawing system for servants. They periodically release new servants and allow for draws like any card game might, daring you to play for an endless period of time in order to obtain rare servants. The Fate Grand Order OAV / OVA exists to summarize the story of the game, one which I was previously unfamiliar with. Grand Order serves as a great way to introduce yourself to the much more complicated entries in the series of Fate. While you might know of the original game and the subsequent storylines stemming from it the story does get a bit more complicated. With the release of Fate/Zero, a prologue of Fate from the demented and wonderful mind of the Urobutcher, the concept of bringing new more diverse entries into the animated series seemed more plausible. We even reviewed Unlimited Bladeworks here and the Heaven’s Feel Route will be getting a movie soon- so where does Grand Order fall to expand the universe?
The most prominent thing it does it really show there are mages and organizations that exist outside of the realm of the main Holy Grail War. The main story emphasized the Grail to the extent that it seemed like a small world, but this world features the organization that wants to ensure the survival of humanity for a hundred years. The OAV focuses on the protagonist, who is the placeholder main character meant to represent your part in the Grand Order game, and the demi-servant Mash. (Or Mashu, whichever way you feel like romanizing it) What seems like it might become a recruitment mission style anime really goes downhill quickly as everyone capable of being a master, and even the important leaders of the organization, are killed in a bombing. All except for the main character, who was deemed the most ordinary of the recruits and upset the Director, so he was kicked out before the bombing occurred.
Mash and the Protagonist (who is named Fujimaru) spend the entirety of the OVA getting into really exciting fights with dark Servants. Sadly, the best one really seemed to be the Medusa fight to me. The animation was so dynamic and by the time they fought Dark Saber it was reduced to dark Excalibur shots. The animation didn’t compare to Fate/Zero’s Excalibur use, but every fight was fairly interesting. When the big bad is revealed we see a character die without Mash or Fujimaru doing a single thing. . .which felt completely out of place for them to react to someone they had been traveling with being killed, even tortured!
I wouldn’t recommend watching this if you don’t know much about Fate, because it takes a lot of the mystery and fun out of guessing who each hero is. They make each identity obvious and they basically shout the premise at you over and over, even failing to surprise you at all with the big bad. The animation doesn’t hit the quality of Zero or UBW frequently but it definitely managed to be pretty at times.
What it doesn’t do right: pacing, connecting you to characters – by the end of it I didn’t feel much for most of the characters.
What it does do right: It introduces you to the lore of demi servants effectively and opens the door for more complicated Fate works to be understood better. There are a lot of potential fate works that I think can be understood far better now simply by having the story explain, hey, a demi servant is a servant spirit combined with a human spirit. This gives a human spirit the ability to control all of the abilities of the servant while having the will of someone who might be more agreeable or more sympathetic to your plight. There are many reasons to support the idea but ultimately I can see how it might be difficult given the servant’s own reluctance.
Overall Fate Grand Order’s first OVA episode is harmless. It does nothing substantially wrong or substantially right. It doesn’t quite capture the nature of the Fate we are used to as the deaths definitely feel a little less awful than normal and there isn’t even horrifying morbid lore yet! However, I will continue to cover the OAV as it comes out because it has the potential to be mildly interesting and might potentially examine other facets of the Fate universe. For now, only check out Grand Order if you’re a die hard Fate fan and don’t mind sitting around for an hour and 20 minutes watching characters who are slightly generic.
But hey, Cu’s back, and he’s still sexy, so there’s that!