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Okay, I'm stupid, so it's time for another Fate-rant...

So I've watched Fate/Extra Last Encore yesterday evening and today morning by... just keeping it running in the background on one long binge. I guess there is no better way to watch this show because most of the criticism is valid, though admittedly, it is nowhere near as bad as expected. Admittedly, it kinda does help that I went in having read plot summaries of Fate/Extra, so maybe I can indeed appreciate much of what was attempted with this show.

Let's start with the setting, because that received a lot of criticism. It was advertised as an adaptation of the Fate/Extra video game, but reveals itself early on to be an entirely different story that derails pretty much immediately. Fate/Extra takes place in a virtual reality world called Seraph that is constructed in a ridiculously near future of an alternate reality where magecraft has died out and is replaced by computer science for some reason. It starts with an amnesiac protagonist finding himself or herself in a weird school setting that, as it turns out, is just the preliminary stage of a grim Grail War. 128 of the people living in this stage are supposed to become Masters, summon Heroic Spirits and fight each other to the death. Every time you kill one of your opponents, you advance to the next stage until at the final stage only 2 Masters are left alive to fight for the wish-granting device at the heart of the super computer...

... but that's not Last Encore.

Here the amnesiac protagonist finds out that the world around him has totally glitched out. The Grail War is over, the victor has claimed the prize, but like a broken machine everyone keeps getting revived and forced to fight the same battles over and over and over and over again. It's surely an interesting premise. And Studio Shaft does a good job highlighting just how terribly wrong, lifeless and broken this ruined world is. My personal favourite of course is the stage of Nursery Rhyme where Shaft dusted off their entire Madoka Magica repertoire and turned Alice's wonderland into a Witch barrier full of spiky alien looking paper cutouts. This really carried the narrative strength of that two-episode part where different iterations of the meetings with Alice were interwoven into each other, forcing the viewer to figure out which are current and which are past events, highlighting just how blurred time has become (not helped by Alice dropping them back to the beginning of the stage several times).

When it comes to atmosphere... Last Encore actually does a surprisingly decent job in my opinion. Of course, there are negative aspects. The jarring fanservice for one, but also the bafflingly obnoxious monologues that are nearly as boring as they were in Unlimited Blade Works second season. It boggles my mind how Nasu thinks that it is entertaining when the story comes to a screeching halt for villains to drone on and on and on about how they think the world works... and for protagonists to do the same bloody thing. All the bloody time...

The battles also vary in quality. Though admittedly, my personal favourite was still Nero vs. Gawain. The first time since Fate/Zero that the blows in a battle actually felt like they had some weight behind them, with the two Sabers using their skill to get behind each other's defence. I only had to completely shut down my brain to ignore how a sword rivaling Excalibur in strength was blocked by Nero. She should have been a charred smear on the ground several times over. The skills actually get a lot of highlight. Nero vs. Li Shuwen was also surprising, with Nero using Imperial Privilege to counter Shuwen's martial arts. You at least were able to see what they were doing, unlike UBW's mindless hacking at each other.

Anyway. Let's move on to the characters. The distinct weakness of Last Encore. It is pretty much only carried by the supporting cast of Fate/Extra, with Nursery Rhyme, Leo and Gawain, but also Dan Blackmore and Robin Hood as characters that stand out by bringing a lot of history with them. The way everyone's ambitions have been twisted into their opposites by the hopelessness of their situation adds a lot of thematic significance and therefore adds to the setting's suffocating atmosphere of a ruined hellscape full of broken people repeating their last mistakes over and over again. It's actually the protagonists where Last Encore falls flat on its face... but given Fate/Stay Night as a reference... does that still surprise anyone?

We have a lot of fun calling Daenerys in Game of Thrones Deadpan for her lack of emoting. So I couldn't help but chuckle when beginning from episode 2 Rin starts calling the protagonist Hakuno "Deadface". Presumably for the same reason, since for 95% of the show his expressions only range between gloomy and depressed. I can absolutely understand that many people find it hard to relate to him. Even though he keeps endlessly monologing about why is depressed at any given moment. But in hindsight... I can at least see what they attempted to do with him...

Spoiler

Hakuno is himself a glitch in the system. All the leftover regrets of the people killed in the Moon Cell have been given human form with the sole quest to tear down the broken system and when he meets Saber, he just claims the name of her previous Master for himself. He finds it hard to emote because he does lack emotions at the beginning. And... at least it seems that they were trying to convey that over the course of his journey he slowly develops his own personality, his own goals as he comes to terms with what he is and what his role in this deadly game is and finally even begins to emote more . A bit. For one or two scenes at least. The execution is a bit wonky because he just... very harshly switches from one state to the next and at the end disappointingly returns to his default gloomy face when stating totally deadpan that life is fun. While I did like the scene where he suddenly went manically depressed, ranting about how he is a Frankenstein monster who has never been alive with Nero exclaiming in response "So what, I've been dead for three millennia!"... it did come a bit out of nowhere and was resolved far too quickly despite seemingly being a pivotal moment for his character.

There is one other aspect that miffs me about him: This is the first Fate story I can think of where, when given the choice between making a male or a female protagonist canon, they decided to go with the female one. The original Hakuno is revealed early on to have been female, with Deadface essentially just taking her name and her memories. As great as it is to have her canon... I cannot help but find it problematic that the whole story revolves around the fact that she leaves a legacy of failure. She failed to beat the final boss and everything went to hell. This goes to such lengths that Rin and Deadface even discuss whether it was a mistake of her to fight and whether she should have let Leo win. By all means, Nero should have beat them senseless at such a ridiculous notion, but the idea remains mostly uncontested, with the narrative only highlighting that Leo's wish wouldn't have been much better, maybe (but surely he would have won instead).

Okay, so that was Hakuno. His allies Rin and Rani... are there... that's pretty much the only thing I can say about them, since they have been given no background whatsoever. It is hinted that they have some past... but... nothing that involves the current story in any way, so it has been mercilessly cut out, reducing them to mere quest-givers who tell Deadface where to go and whom to beat up (with him never questioning their help in any way whatsoever, just silently going along). It's really weird that I'm finding a version of Rin that is just so... bland... This pointlessness of her characters even has a bloody climax...

Spoiler

... when Deadface decides in the final episode that Rin should get the Grail so that he could keep up a promise with Nero the original Hakuno made. I was actually surprised at that and looked forward ot Rin winning a Grail War for a change... but the Moon Cell refused her until Deadface caught up with her and took the Grail... leaving Nero behind and have her die alone, making his whole detour utterly meaningless.

So.. bland protagonist, bland secondary characters. But what about Saber?

Oh god Saber...

She shouldn't be there at all!

They had the choice between Nero, Tamamo and EMIYA as the partner of their protagonist, since those were the playable Heroic Spirits in the game. I agree that Tamamo would have been a mistake too, she would be too goofy for such a story. And Nero... ugh... so they did indeed acknowledge the history of the actual Nero to some degree... in a single scene where Nero narrates a puppet theatre in the style of how we got Kyouko's backstory in Madoka Magica. Which... I guess is kinda fine and Nasu tried to give her life a central theme, but one that is utterly disconnected to the story and barely matters afterwards. This story has nothing to do with Nero as presented and there was literally no reason for a genderbent version of him to be there... except of course copious amounts of fanservice. With the camera in many, many shots being deeply lodged in her ass. Either that, or she has no clothes whatsoever, because of course there had to be a bathing scene every two episodes and even in her last heroic bloody charge she of course gets her clothes blown off. What nonsense...

One other problem I have is her relationship to Deadface. She is basically framed as his "Manic Pixie Dreamgirl" that goes to any lengths to fight his gloomy attitude. But... given her flighty characterization, I often ended up wondering why she bothered in the first place. By all means, he should have bored her from the beginning, with the only good argument remaining there being the idea that they need to work together and therefore should have a good relationship (something Nero actually states at the beginning, but soon is dropped entirely in favor of her basically just having a crush on him for no reason whatsoever...

Spoiler

... and to make matters worse, the fact that this dipshit claimed the name of her beloved actual Master for himself. This one thing I also never got: Why does everyone go along with this? The only one raising his eyebrows and reacting pissed is Leo, something that made him instantly sympathetic to me.

I never thought I ever said this, but: It would have been thematically far more poignant if they would have included EMIYA. This whole grim world full of crushed and inverted ideals is a setting he would have really shone in. But of course they had to take the barely clothed Saberface instead, because they know that their franchise is just tits and special effects. Bummer.

Edited by Toth

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I'm enjoying durarara! a lot. I do like shows with a large cast of interweaving stories and i like how it mixes larger than life SF and supernatural elements into it.

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12 hours ago, AncalagonTheBlack said:

From the Emmy-winning creator of #SamuraiJack - Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal comes to #AdultSwim this Fall

 

Very, very promising.

Bet I'm not the only one who wondered if Jack has been sent back in time :)

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The second half of Durarara! was really disappointing. It just focused on gang wars for 12 episodes and essentially dropped the multiple storylines going on with all the characters. Then I saw there's a x2 show but I'm a bit torn - I'd like it if it was as good as the first 12 but I'll cut my losses if it's like 13-25.

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Hey, A Silent Voice just got released on Netflix in the U.S.

I haven't seen it before. But I remember someone on this forum saying good things about it last year.

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