Fate / Stay Night Vol. #6 (also w/limited edition) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fate / Stay Night

Fate / Stay Night Vol. #6 (also w/limited edition)

By Chris Beveridge     October 03, 2007
Release Date: October 09, 2007


Fate / Stay Night Vol. #6 (also w/limited edition)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The mysterious eighth Servant attacks, seeking to dominate Saber in order to claim her as his own. How will Shirou protect her? If they should ever win and obtain the Grail, Shirou and Saber would still have to choose between their own conflicted feelings and their self-imposed obligations, but will they even have that chance? Meanwhile, another figure lurks in the shadows biding their time for when they can once again make an attempt for the elusive grail!

Limited Edition includes Saber clock and 2 translucent mini pencil boards

The Review!
The final battles are underway and the revelations of intent are made as Shirou and Saber must bring the Grail Wars to an end.

Audio:
For our primary viewing language, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both tracks for this release are done in a good solid stereo mix that comes across very well here. The show has plenty of moments of useful forward soundstage directionality to it when it comes to the dialogue and action effects. The somber and quiet atmosphere is also very well served throughout the show. The series has a very distinct mood to it with the soundtrack it wants to use and the in show pieces by Kenji Kawai build it up perfectly. In listening to both language tracks, we didn't notice any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Similar to other moody and atmospheric shows that Geneon has released recently, the transfer for Fate / Stay Night is in excellent shape and looks fantastic throughout. Beyond a couple of very minor moments of some shimmering when at least a medium range distance shot is occurring, there isn't anything to really take issue with here. The colors look very good, generally maintaining a very solid feel without much in the way of break-up or general background noise. The dark colors are very good looking while the vibrant areas shine just right. Cross coloration and aliasing are basically non-issues as well here, which leaves just a few areas of gradient visible but that's entirely a source issue.

Packaging:
The final volume runs with one of the better moments of the finale in which Saber and Shirou are standing together against the oncoming darkness. The villains of the episode are behind them, somewhat softer and indistinct, but still easy enough to figure out with a bit of looking. The colors are bright and attractive but overall there is a general softness to the artwork. This volume's reverse side has the same style as the Japanese covers that features Lancer. The back cover is similar to the front in that it's a dark and stylish piece that features a wheel image that has images from the show along the way, one for each episode. Topped off with some character artwork it helps to maintain that really atmospheric feeling to all of it while providing the summary in the middle of it. The bottom portion is pretty standard though with a listing of the discs extras and basic features as well as the production information and a technical grid. The insert included has a new piece of artwork that features Shirou and all the women from the series that are part of his household while the two panel interior has a great illustration of Saber looking happy.

Menu:
Not really pushing the boundaries of creativity much, the menu goes with the simple design of a lighted magic circle in the center of the screen while other more obscured ones rotate in the background. The foreground circle has the logo along the top and provides your basic set of navigational points, including my disliked combination of extras and setup. Individual episode access is here though which is a plus. A bit of vocal music plays along with the menu but the way it all comes together it feels like it slows down in an odd fashion before it restarts. Seamless menus continue to elude most designers, though more from technical barriers than anything else. Access times here are decent but I dislike that the setup doesn't allow for choosing English with subtitles. The disc played according to our player presets though.

Extras:
The two music clips included for this volume are for Saber and Archer. Each of them runs just under three minutes and has a mixture of stylized clips from the show with some other inserted graphics to tie it all together to the music. Each of them is pretty appropriate to the character and the action shown.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The finale for Fate / Stay Night brings this incarnation of the Holy Grail Wars to a close as it pits the final people involved against each other. Though in some ways it's certainly predictable, it also plays to some of the strengths of anime by not having an entirely happy ending that wraps it all up in a neat little bow with everyone smiling. The choices that the characters have made in their lives, past and present, haven't always been easy ones but they are ones that they all have to live with.

With the introduction of Gilgamesh in the previous volume, having a fabled epic hero like him in play brings something rather new to all of it. With a larger game plan in motion combined with his intent to make Saber submit to his will, Gilgamesh has no qualms about doing whatever he needs to. That of course is what separates him from a "real" hero like Shirou who continually thinks of others and tries to not cause harm. Gilgamesh is rather fun to watch though since he has at his disposal an immense number of swords. The visual associated with it give him a truly epic feel as he's in command of such a vast field of weapons. Unfortunately, Gilgamesh also ends up with a personality similar to that of a fairly spoiled teenager in some ways which makes him a terribly uninteresting villain.

That makes the far more underused villain of Kotomine all the more frustrating as his role in all of this is really quite fascinating. As Shirou has befriended him well over the years, his seeming inside knowledge of what's going on has been put to good use as Kotomine has brought in people like Lancer in order to stir the pot. The things that Kotomine went through in the previous Holy Grail War is given more time in these episodes when the confrontation and revelation is made to Shirou and it goes a long way towards explaining his position on things. Kotomine being done up as a priest is particularly slick as it gives him a great presence when combined with the voice that's used. What is even more evil is the way he explains to Shirou that his father died believing he had done good and fulfilled his mission but in the end failed completely. He's so easily able to tweak and toy with Shirou that you can't help but enjoy it.

While the action makes up a good chunk of these last four episodes, there is a good deal of character material as well. The majority of the focus is on the restrained relationship between Shirou and Saber. With both of them having gotten closer since the start of the series and much more so in recent episodes they've still managed to keep things rather restrained between each other in terms of expression. Shirou has been a bit more expressive and this comes out even more for him and some for her when the battles against Gilgamesh start to become strained. The ties between the two are even stronger than has been talked about before and it provides for some really interesting connections that add to the replay value of the series.

As the series gets to its final episodes, Fate / Stay Night provides some serious money and it shows on the screen. The first half with the battle is simply exquisite for most of it with very fluid and smooth animation, lush colors that just pop on the screen and a real sense of presence and intensity. Though the series has always looked good, the last couple of episodes punched it up a fair bit and then tops it off with a beautiful piece like this. It's even visible afterwards when you see Rin for the first time after the battle. The richness of her simple red outfit stands out strongly in comparison to everything we've seen of her before. It's enough to make you wish they could animate this way all the time.

In Summary:
At its conclusion, Fate / Stay Night proved to have a really solid ending done in a manner that shows the strength of anime in having closure. The closure may not be particularly positive or happy, but it's provided in a firm enough manner. Looking at the series as a whole, it's one that was enjoyable and had some good tension, action and character moments. What it left me with though was a certain unease in putting it all together as very little of it was truly memorable. Some key scenes stand out as do some characters, but as a whole it feels weak. When watching it in a volume by volume format, I had found that each individual volume was quite engaging and held my attention, but there was no feeling of connection to what had come before. It's a series that I can still easily recommend, particularly to Type-Moon fans, but in the end it feels like it was close to reaching a great level but never quite achieved it. Perhaps it'll play better in a collected form with no wait between volumes.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Saber Music Clip

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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