I’m finally getting around to a review I promised a long time ago, lol. The sad thing is, I’ve read quite a few other volume ones now that I need to review. Which are:
Haganai and Liselotte and Witch’s Forest. I’ve also read volume 3 of Your Lie In April recently, and Return to Labyrinth volume 3. Which I will not review here, because they are volume 3s, and I am only reviewing series I’m starting fresh on here. The reviews for those, if applicable, are on Goodreads.
First off, I should mention I am a HUGE fan of Fate/Zero. It is probably my favorite anime EVER, and I pretty much jump at the chance to get anything Fate/Zero. I still talk about it all the time. So, I will be picky with the manga, as it’s not the original source, and therefore I will compare it at times. Be prepared in the future for rants (for subsequent volumes, if I don’t like something), and long winded posts.
It has been awhile since I have read the book, so I am going off of memory. Please forgive me if I missed details.
To begin, please note that Fate/Zero takes place BEFORE Fate/Stay Night. It fills in a lot of the gaps that Stay Night doesn’t answer. So please take note of that. Also, if you know the Fate series, skip the next paragraph.
Before I begin the review itself, I will provide a synopsis of the setup. Because Fate is confusing as heck without it. Every so often, the Holy Grail chooses seven people (three of them being from the families of the founders, the Matou, Tohsaka, and Einzbern families) to fight for the right to be able to get one wish from the Holy Grail. The church acts as a mediator of sorts in this fight. The seven maguses/masters summon one of seven class types– Saber, Archer, Rider, Lancer, Assassin, Caster, and Berserker. These are known as Heroic Spirits, who are people of either historical value or are people of legend. Or are sometimes randomly STORIES, like NURSERY RHYME because reasons. FATE/EXTRA! But Zero sticks to the historical people thing/legends. And now that the basis of every Fate is known, I can begin the review.
The first volume is spent primarily setting things up. The grail war is stated to be happening soon, and we are introduced to only a few of the major characters in the series. We get to know that The Einzbern family hires on Kiritsugu Emiya, despite his reputation and their personal dislike of him. It turns out he is married to one of their ‘own’, Irisviel (for one of ‘their own’, she may as well not be. Look it up. Ugh. The Einzberns are nasty. But I don’t want to say it here because it’s a spoiler), so they can guarantee a win (I had to look this up again because the manga didn’t make it clear, and the first episode of the anime I had watched at like 3 am and I was super sleepy). They show that he has not just Irisviel as his wife, but a daughter, Illya. He summons Saber, a female knight that he actually doesn’t get along with well, and who he largely leaves to Irisviel to act as a bodyguard. Who may as well be her ‘master’, but through technicalities, Kiritsugu is. They leave (all, including Kiritsugu), and it’s revealed Saber not only has knowledge of modern day vehicles/culture (and even that she isn’t really supposed to go around in armor, because she doesn’t complain when Irisviel has her wear a suit), but that she can drive them. And it’s revealed that Irisviel had never left the Einzbern house. Like I said, they are total.. not nice words lol. And during this time, Kiritsugu kind of disappears until near the end, where he appears with a woman named Maiya, his assistant, who tells him to stop worrying (because he actually is until she does) about other things besides the mission. And how does she stop him? By kissing him. Yeah, he’s cheating on his wife with his partner. Nice guy of the year? YOU BET!
But between this, we get to see the secondary main character, Waver Velvet, and his Servant/Heroic Spirit, Rider. And unfortunately, Waver’s motives are actually NOT explained here. We just learn that Rider is a complete contrast to Waver’s personality, and the two don’t get along so well. But that Waver is interested in learning about Rider regardless, because he does go to a library and get books on him. We learn in this book that Rider is Alexander the Great, AKA Iskandar the Conquerer, because he straight up tells his identity. I think they might show Tokiomi Tohsaka, but if they do, I don’t remember what he does. I don’t really remember seeing Archer, but he may have been there. The stars of this book are mostly Saber, Irisviel, Kiritsugu, Waver, and Rider.
Anyway, as for my thoughts on this, I did like it. Fate/Zero is my favorite anime, after all. It made some things, like the beginning, make a bit more sense. But that was probably only because I watched the anime so late. Other than that, it was pretty faithful, when it involved Kiritsugu, Saber, and Irisviel. The only thing the manga made me realize even slightly differently was that Kiritsugu is a horrible dad, and a bad person in general. Illya doesn’t call him dad, daddy, or Papa. Just by his first name. This is actually kind of heartbreaking, because it shows how little he interacts with her. And even when she says goodbye, it’s only basically because Irisviel tells her to. I already did know he was a jerk, but the manga just reminded me of that with the kiss between him and Maiya. As I said, Kiritsugu is married to Irisviel, has a daughter with her, but he still seems to be involved with Maiya. Sexually, more than likely. Who knows that Kiritsugu is married.
When the story involved Waver, though, it wasn’t faithful. This volume gives Waver NO introduction, just kind of throws us into the action. Which would be OK I guess, but I KNOW Waver has an introduction. It doesn’t show us that Waver is a student at an English magic school, and that his teacher doesn’t think his theory had merit. It doesn’t tell us Waver gets Rider’s cape by stealing it from said teacher. Unfortunately, I can’t say WHO it is, because as far as the manga is concerned, it’s a spoiler. A spoiler for an event that is in EPISODE ONE.It doesn’t say that Waver joins the Grail War to basically prove he is, in fact, a genius whose talent goes unrecognized by his school. NO. It’s just like. here’s Waver, and he’s got this bulky guy called Rider as a Heroic Spirit, and he pretty much doesn’t want to be in Japan but has to. And he’s kind of a coward. The anime focused on him so much that I actually thought HE was the protagonist. Maybe the novel does what the manga does, I don’t know. But it makes sense the way the anime presents it better.
And as for the rest, I don’t even remember the rest, so unfortunately, that shows how little of an impact it had. I do think Tokiomi, Archer, and Kirei Kotomine do appear, but I don’t remember what they do. I think too much of this book was spent on the other characters to the point where I didn’t care as much. Even though I actually like Archer and Tokiomi more than Kiritsugu.
So, as you probably can guess, I like the plot. But the missing piece of the puzzle does take away from it some. The presentation is just fine. Dark Horse did a nice job with the print quality, I think. The translation seems good. But I don’t know about that kind of thing, so that’s a guess. The art in this is.. not my style. Whatsoever. Everyone looks right, but the style is odd to me. If I hadn’t seen the anime, and I hadn’t heard that Fate/Zero was good, I might have passed this up based on the style on the inside. The COVER is nice. The inside, not so much. I mean, it’s passable. But the faces are so weird sometimes. I can’t find a clear example on Google images (the clear ones are from later volumes.. later ones that involve Caster and everything involving Caster and Ryunosuke is full of graphic violence), but there are some times when Irisviel’s face looks weird. Really weird. See the.. not clear image below
Irisviel almost looks like a different character. Granted, anime and manga are two different mediums, but there’s not much of an excuse for her to look this odd other than they let it go. This is her determined face in the anime. Similar, but something is OFF about the manga.
Because the art is weird at times, and the pacing isn’t that good (the whole thing with Waver being just thrown in throws it off for me.. and the other magus’s not appearing was odd because they were there at the end of episode one, but that’s probably a ‘manga is a book, therefore it’s slower to do than animation’ thing, so I’ll forgive that), I can only give the manga version a 3 of 5 stars. Which stinks, because it’s advertised as being faithful. I’m hoping it gets better.
My next review will likely be in a few days, when I get this month’s Loot Anime crate. Because I actually got it this time. :). I’ve briefly seen some things, and I think I’m going to be disappointed.. again. One of them is cute, but it is in NO WAY exclusive. :(. But I’ll just have to see.