Fate/Grand Order: First Order

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“Who are you callin’ a foo?”
What do we have here? A Fate/stay night spin-off involving a time-travelling, future-saving organization. The first fifteen minutes are full of interminably dull introductions and info-dumping, including those of the supposed two leads, Fujimaru and Mash, who are also dull.

There’s also Fou, a weird white squirrel thingy that wears clothes, makes awful high-pitched sounds, and generally doesn’t need to exist, and Director Olga Aminusphere, who aside from having an obnoxious name, seems like a low-rent Tousaka Rin.

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When the doctor’s the highest-ranked officer left in your compound, time to start worrying
First Order essentially blows up that dull beginning by putting Fujimaru and Mash in an emergency situation that has them travelling back to 2004 where the outcome of a standard Fate-style Holy Grail War has ended up suspended for some reason.

Mash becomes a demi-servant prior to dying, with the inexperienced “commoner” Fujimaru becoming her master, to the chagrin of the aristocratic Olga.

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Dark Saber – Almost worth the price of admission
The two dull protagonists must, with the limited help of Olga and a lot of help from a particularly helpful (and badass) Caster, take out the remaining “dark” versions of Archer and Saber, in order to end the Holy Grail War and correct the singularity that is dooming humanity’s future.

If that sounds a bit vague, it is. And while there’s a bit of a thrill seeing the heroic spirits back in action, albeit on different sides, it’s all a bit bloodless. No, not literally; there’s plenty of blood, but the dead, empty city isn’t the most exciting stage for otherwise cool-looking battles.

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“Look Mash, I’m helping!”
Mash’s transformation into demi-servant may have been a sign of her inner courage and toughness, and her new dominatrixy outfit is pretty boss, but neither she nor Fujimaru manage to ever make me care all that much about them or their sudden newfound friendship, as they’re less actual characters and more combinations of character traits. Takahashi Rie and Shimazaki Nobunaga try their best, but simply don’t have enough to work with here.

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And aside from a few nice images and some competent action, the most striking thing about this Fate spin-off is its lack of the same distinct visual sumptuousness of Unlimited Blade Works (to date the only other Fate property I’ve watched), due to this not being a ufotable series, and clearly having a smaller budget to work with.

Placing the fate of humanity’s future on the shoulders of two barely-there, uninspiring characters we barely got to know in over an hour-long special just doesn’t provide the gravity or stakes it should. As we’re between seasons, I had time to check this out, so I did. And it was…okay. In all, it feels like a superfluous wade into the shallow end of the Fate franchise pool, rather than a deep or meaningful dive.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

7 thoughts on “Fate/Grand Order: First Order”

  1. (blockquote> The first fifteen minutes are full of interminably dull introductions and info-dumping, including those of the supposed two leads, Fujimaru and Mash, who are also dull.

    Im not even remotely surprised with this. Considering that the source material (a jJapan-exclusive mobile game) has the male lead as a generic character that the player can name whichever way he likes, you can’t really expect a lot to be written for him. Heck, even “Ritsuka Fujimura” is a tacked on name that was only mentioned once or twice in the entire film.

    They could have at least done a bit more for Matthew’s (yes, that’s the official romanization for the girl’s name. I have no idea why the subs kept referring to her as “Mash”) character, but eh. On the other hand, Olga is pretty much a Rin Tohsaka stand-in with her Tsundere personality (the real Rin actually appears later);

    Info-dumping is an issue in pretty much the entire Fate franchise. The lore is often too overly convoluted and Type=moon seems to have an unwritten rule that requires all of these to be stuffed into every adaptation. I am a fan of the lore, but they could have at least weaved it in better.

    The animation also honestly average. Like you said, this lacks the visual flare of ufotable’s work.

    Overall, this one is more of a lower tier offering that is meant to promote the game, as well as whet the appetite of the fans for the Fate franchise’ bigger offerings later this year like FSN Heaven’s Feel.

    1. Re: the romanization to “Mash”, looks like the “u” in “mashu” was presumed to be silent by the subs. For the record she’s mash on MAL, the Type-Moon wiki, and Crunchyroll, so it’s definitely out there competing with Matthew.

      The infodumping almost made me switch the show off. I know it’s kind of a cornerstone of the franchise, and is likely what drives away quite a few people, but it was particularly egregious here, probably because in addition to all the existing Fate lore, the whole Chaldea milieu had to be covered.

      The moment all hell broke loose was a good one, but not necessarily earned; despite 15 min of dumping, there was still far too much to cover, and we only got broad strokes. The whole compound looked like there were maybe 10 people, plus the potentials (none of whom we meet).

      It was less “we’ll just give you the brass tacks” and more “oh shit we’ve got to fill you in on all this stuff quick and hope you care when we destroy it.”

  2. Yeah, in the mobile game Fate/Grand Order proper, the protagonist is very specifically a completely blank self-insert for the players to project themselves onto, so he was never gonna be that interesting. Matthew’s more interesting qualities also don’t come into play until later, so they’re certainly not the best of leads.

    As I figured, the primary appeal, and why I recommended watching it, was seeing our old friend Lancer from UBW again, if under a different Class this time. I remembered you liked him a lot in F/SN, so it was like =w=b

    Saber Alter and the shadow EMIYA were also a fun time~

    If you ever find the time, I’d of course highly recommend ufotable’s Fate work prior to SN, Fate/Zero, which of course holds the visual flair sorely missed here (plus Urobuchi of Madoka and Psycho-Pass fame is the writer)

    1. While a generic protag can (and does) work in scenarios in which we’re dropped into the middle of a big mess, it just didn’t work for me here.

      I’m sure one day I’ll sit down with Fate/Zero, as I’ve heard nothing but good things, but that’s up in the air for now.

  3. The “protagonist” is more some sort of witness. The real protagonist that the story is orbiting around is another (not even joking because the yet to be introduced main antagonist isn’t even a foil to “Fujimaru” to to that other character that opposes him). It’s not obvious first to catch on who that is, but you can see some hints here and there. Also cute animal is more than it seems and actually has more character development than Mashu.

    FGO is… a very polarizing entry to Fate/. Even to those who enjoy it like me. We all acknowledge is a gacha scam, but the story, once Nasu starts writing it himself in the later half is legitimately good. The problem is that the prologue, Orleans and Rome are seriously garbage and awful beyond some couple of good points, because that’s it gets for getting written by different authors.

    I’ll also recommend Fate/Zero as entry of the franchise (if you won’t play the VN) or Fate/Strange Fake manga/LN by Baccanno author Narita.

  4. I really enjoy your Fate reviews–I’m neck-deep in the franchise, so it’s actually quite interesting and refreshing to see the adaptations judged as standalone pieces of fiction by someone who doesn’t have any background knowledge (or loyalty–meaning you have no qualms about tearing it up, which I appreciate a lot :P). Because by all means they SHOULD be able to impress and engage a viewer who doesn’t know any of the backstory, but often they’re so convoluted or similarly flawed that they fall flat for viewers who aren’t pre-established fans… which is not good practice at all. You shouldn’t need a squadron of fans explaining and justifying everything in the comments section for a show to make sense, you know?

    1. RABUJOI is an anime (tv/movies/ova)-only blog, so we rarely if ever go into a show having consumed the source material. As such, shows must stand on their own merits, whether that’s fair or not.

      That being said, comments from readers and viewers of every level of involvement in a franchise are and have always been welcome (as long as there’s no spoiling going on).

      It also makes things interesting when an anime original shows up, since there’s no source material with which to pre-build an audience; everyone’s on the same page.

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