SPOILERS FOR PRESAGE FLOWER AHEAD. THIS REVIEW IS WRITTEN FOR THOSE WHO’VE READ THE ORIGINAL VISUAL NOVEL, SEEN FATE/STAY NIGHT: UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS, AND FATE/ZERO. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN OR FINISHED THEM YET, TURN BACK NOW!
Ufotable is back baby, with another installment of the Fate anime. This time…. they’re going all out with theatrics!
The visual novel video game released worldwide back in 2004, and Studio Deen made a horrible adaptation of the first route in the series. However Ufotable took the reins in 2014 and created Unlimited Blade Works, an amazing masterpiece. This weekend, we were treated to the first part of the final installment of the original Fate/stay night series, Heaven’s Feel 1: Presage Flower. To treat the fans of the original series in America, the film had its North American premiere in Los Angeles earlier this month, and we fans got to see it this weekend nationwide.
The film doesn’t go easy on it’s fans, at all. You’re basically screwed if you haven’t seen Unlimited Blade Works and Fate/zero, which Presage Flower relies on most of the prior knowledge from the previous works to be able to understand. From the beginning of the film, it cuts out a lot of exposition in the characters that was already shown in both Unlimited Blade Works and Fate/zero. Considering the fact that Ufotable is planning on cramming 18 episodes worth of content into three 2-hour movies, this is actually a very good move on their part. The movie gets straight to the point, having cut out explanations of the Holy Grail War, the heroic spirits, and the masters.
The films are structured into different arcs, each with a different name to it. Movie 1 was titled Presage Flower, which is actually a very decent name for the film, aside from how smart it sounds. Presage means something that warns us of something that’s going to happen in the future. The “flower” refers to Sakura, which in Japanese, her name means “cherry blossoms”, which is a type of flora. The title is basically referring to Sakura who warns everyone of the upcoming horrors, and I feel the film did just that. Sakura herself has been in that underground basement where Zouken “tortures” his victims by infusing them with magical powers via insects. She knows first hand how terrible the Holy Grail War is, and wants to keep Shiro out of it because she loves him. This was only the first film, and we’re in for more development in Movie 2, Lost Butterfly.
Since the scripting stage, we all knew going in that the battle between Lancer and Assassin was going to be a highlight of the movie. – Director Tomonori Sudo
All of the fight scenes were beautifully animated, movie-quality. While it’s Ufotable and they have animated the UBW TV series, it’s still unlike any other type of animation they’ve ever done for the Fate series. If you ever seen Kara no Kyokai (The Garden of Sinners), it’s basically that but gone up a notch. Battle choreography was amazing as well, especially between Cu Chulainn (Lancer) and Hassan-i-Sabbah (True Assassin). During this fight there were a lot of references to Fate/Grand Order here if you ever played it. At one point, True Assassin tried to surround Lancer with projectiles, only for them to fail. This is a reference to Lancer’s special ability in FGO, Protection from Arrows, which allows him to evade any type of projectile thrown at him, and he himself states projectiles don’t work on him. If you’re a big fan of the Fate series, then you’ll know that the Noble Phantasm is the ultimate technique of the Heroic Spirit. If you’re really that hardcore of a fan, you’ll understand that when Lancer’s Gae Bolg had missed True Assassin upon contact…. well it’s up for the fans to understand this.
One character that was introduced, but left unnamed throughout the entire film would be Assassin, or rather by his true name Kojiro Sasaki. During that one scene where he is killed by True Assassin from his insides, only those who have their prior knowledge would know his identity and what was going on that the time. Like I said before, you don’t watch UBW or Zero, you’d be so confused at this point, so please watch them before watching this movie, I beg of you.
I think one of the highlights of this film would be Saber’s battle with True Assassin, which she is defeated and turned into Saber Alter by the shadow, thus severing her contract with Shiro. Serving as the perfect cliffhanger for this film, visual novel fans would know that she never reverts back and Shiro is the one to put her down himself, which probably won’t happen until at least the third film. It was also smart to have Saber not use her Noble Phantasm, Excalibur in this film because that would destroy any climax that was left of Saber, and it’s always in good interest to leave the best for the end.
The film also inserts some humor into the film that people may not understand if they didn’t see Zero or Unlimited Blade Works, such as Kirei Kotomine’s contrasting behavior while eating mapo tofu, and his words to Shiro which the latter has become a worldwide meme.
The soundtrack is amazing this time around, having been composed by the all famous Yuki Kajiura, who is a veteran composer for a whole bunch of popular anime. She’s done work for Sword Art Online, Madoka Magica, and The Garden of Sinners. Not only is she amazing but the music she’s made for the movie as well is also a well-done addition to the film. The music is distinct enough from her other works and they’re well thought out to distinguish between a warm feeling to the heart-wrenching battle and death scenes.
This film is the perfect combination of sound, animation, voice acting, and various other references to the FSN fandom. Presage Flower was amazing. The first of the Heaven’s Feel trilogy served as an excellent prologue and ended at exactly the perfect moment, which has fans anxiously waiting until summer of 2018.