Part of the Fate Franchise
Genre(s): Action, Magic, Drama, Fantasy, Supernatural
Age-Appropriateness: 16+ (Violence, Gore, profanity, brief Sexuality)
Episodes: 25 (+2 recap episodes according to Wikipedia, but Netflix doesn’t have them, and I didn’t miss them)
TheAwersome Rating: 8.4 / 10 (Excellent installment in Fate Series)
Premise: In an alternate timeline, the Greater Holy Grail is stolen following the third Holy Grail War. Many years later the Yggdimillennia family announces that the Greater Grail is in their possession and declare war on the Mages Association. This triggers an unusual “Greater Holy Grail War” in which each faction summons Servants of the Seven Classes to fight those of the opposing party, resulting in 14 Master/Servant pairs battling a coordinated war.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: I enjoyed this piece a lot more than I expected to. Alternate timeline/spin-offs tend to leave me wanting but not in this case. There’s much more of a traditional Fantasy feel to this vs. the Modern/Urban fantasy of Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night, as we move to the fields of Romania for the war rather than Fuyuki City, Japan. With over double the cast size, we don’t get as much of an in-depth exploration of each of them as we did in Fate/Zero, but I feel it’s still more than we got in UBW. Apocrypha does a good job of bringing back the questions of the nature of Good vs. Evil in the context of perspective and war and delivers a strong life-affirming message despite the many atrocities and evils that abound in life. I also really enjoyed much of the dialogue surrounding the nature of suffering and its value and merit vs. life that’s carefree and easy. The ‘sexy’ scenes are only in the first few episodes and are brief, if you were wondering.
TLDR: Better, richer, dialogue than in UBW, much more of a Fantasy feel than previous Fate installments, but a solid piece with some outstanding artistic, bone-chilling, and emotional moments.
Apocrypha does commit the anime sins of “If a female character is powered up her outfit is skimpier” and “Let’s gender bend TONS of characters into girls!” And I don’t just mean King Arthur. No no, Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Arthur’s son Mordred all get turned into waifus.
Except Jack is like, a 9-year-old girl, but isn’t technically because SPOILERS (classic anime loli justification) which I initially thought was just stupid anime Lolification, but they did work being a child in to her story very well as opposed to the tired excuse of being some ancient 300+ year old spirit, etc. Honestly, Jack’s arc was the most chilling, terrifying, and hair-raising aspect of the show, and one of my favorite parts about this installment overall, very well executed. You do have to wait for the second cour for her arc to kick into gear, however, so give it a bit.
Edit: Yes, the main main protagonist is pretty bland/boring, but there were enough interesting other characters that it didn’t detract too much for me. Plus, it’s that “learn to be human” trope that I’m a sucker for. It wasn’t done particularly well, but it did at least soften the blandness for me that many others complain about.