Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Blu-ray Box Set 1 review

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By Xchel Monroy

It is not often when an anime comes along that excels in quality animation and plot. Few series do an outstanding job of delivering hefty doses of animation quality while still maintaining a coherent and elaborate story, and Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] does just that and more.

The Fate/stay night series is taken from the visual novels of the same name and follows the story of series protagonist Shiro Emiya and his involuntary participation in the Fifth Holy Grail War tournament; a fight-to-the-death tournament where combatants fight each other with magic and Heroes summoned throughout history to claim the Holy Grail, a legendary artifact with the ability to grant its user’s any wish.

Based off the Unlimited Blade Works storyline of the Fate/stay night visual novels, Unlimited Blade Works introduces new plot twists and original storyline that differs both in style and substance from Studio Deen’s 2006 Fate/stay night anime. Whereas the original Fate/stay night anime was based off the Fate storyline in the visual novels and main focus was on Shiro Emiya and his servant Saber, Unlimited Blade Works revolves around the story of Rin Tosaka and her servant Archer.

Rin Tosaka, intent on entering the Fifth Holy Grail War tournament, summons Archer, a Hero with an unknown past. Shiro Emiya, a boy from their high school, soon becomes involved in the war and through a series of events, the two work together to uncover the conspiracies of the Fifth Holy Grail War. On their path to uncovering the truth, Shiro discovers he has powers far beyond his understanding that could change his life and those around him.

Movie Rating5/5 atoms

NR 5 Atoms - A

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Packaging and Bonus Features

The box set contains 4 Blu-ray discs and an original Soundtrack. The box itself is pleasing to the eye; on the front cover and side, the title letters and symbol is a reflective red and silver in contrast to the white background. On the back is some lovely artwork of Assassin, Caster, Archer, Illyasviel, Berserker, Lancer, Saber and Shiro Emiya with Rin Tosaka in the middle.

Inside the limited edition box are 2 disc cases containing the 4 Blu-ray discs containing episodes 0 through 12 of the first season of Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]. Each disc case contains its own artwork, and an original soundtrack case with a seal symbol against a red background. Simple, but effective. On the back of each case contains episode lists for each disc, and on the original soundtrack’s case, the track list. It includes artists like Mashiro Ayano and Kalafina, which they did a great job for the opening and closing themes for this boxed set. It contains 27 tracks such as Two hearts, Face to Face and more you need to hear to enjoy. One of the main features that I truly enjoyed were some of the extras. They included all the Japanese promo videos for Archer, Rin, Saber and many more. Plus, you can view textless opening and ending themes which look great on Blu-ray.

In addition to the disc cases, there’s a limited-edition Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Weiss-Schwarz card from Bushiroad, an Aniplex survey card and Proof of Purchase card. Neat little additions to an otherwise already solid box set.

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Packaging Rating: 4/5 Atoms          

NR 4 Atoms - B

Video Animation & Quality

Visually, saying Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] “looks good” would be an understatement. Ufotable, the animation studio behind such works as Fate/Zero and Kara no Kyokai, really pulled no punches in delivering high-quality artwork and animation throughout the series. The attention to detail resonates throughout every fight and conversation. The use of dynamic lighting and shading brings much of the world of Fate/stay night to life. Every battle is fluid and intense; the use of screen panning and shaking really evokes the emotion and impact every sword clash and explosion has behind it. One could even say the animation quality outclasses their previous works in terms of fidelity and fluidity.

On the technical side, the video runs under an MPEG-4 AVC codec and supports 1920 x 1080p resolution. Subtitles are displayed both in English and Spanish. Subtitles are very clean and accurate to the context of the scene in both languages. All of this makes for a very pleasant viewing experience.

Video Animation & Quality Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Atoms

NR 4_5 Atoms - A-

Audio 

The sound is superb and the voice actors/actresses did a very good job of conveying the characters they portray. Both English and Japanese voice tracks match well with their characters personality. Every character’s interaction is believable and real; the world of Fate/stay night feels alive with raw emotion. Even the subtle nuances during fights like metal clashing or low-rumble explosions add to the experience. The Linear PCM Stereo sounds good even without surround sound.

Audio Rating: 3.5/5 Atoms

NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

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Final Reaction

Many anime studios face issues with animation or artwork quality due to budget cuts or strict deadlines to meet with production, but Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] seemingly has none of those problems.The story, as is, is great but this boxed set made it really stand out on its own. It’s action packed with many great fighting scenes, and every battle is white-knuckled action with some heart-pounding moments, great visual artwork and animation, and not to mention adrenaline-fueled eye-candy. Overall, sometimes too much of anything is never good, but Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] proves you can never have too much action.

The retail price for this boxed set is $219.98, contains 12 episodes in a 4-disc Blu-ray set. With all the bonus content that is included, not to mention its great story and the talent behind the Fate Stay Night series, it’s a set that is worth having.

Overall Rating: 4/5 Atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

 

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