First Impressions – Fate/Extra Last Encore

Goddamn it, I thought I had Fate covered this season.

For real, this new non-cooking themed Fate anime did slip my mind yesterday. Part of that is admittedly the fact that I could care less about this franchise but it’s also just hard to keep up with all these new anime installments. At this point, Type Moon is just milking this cow like crazy. It also doesn’t help that Fate/Extra Last Encore premiered pretty late into Winter 2018. This far into a season, you’d normally stop paying attention to any new premieres and you probably have your watch list finalized as well.

I did not play the original Fate/Extra game. All I really know about it was that it was Type Moon’s attempt at mooching off of the success of Persona 3 and 4. And considering that the game was a dungeon-crawler and you do have high school students using familiars in a supernatural world, I can see where the comparison comes from. For the sake of fairness, I am judging this anime adaptation on its own merits. That said, I don’t know if familiarizing with the game would’ve helped because this premiere was incredibly confusing. Seriously, what even happened in this episode?

To be fair, I got the impression that the show is meant to be like that. There is something uncanny seeing characters from Fate/stay night show up and act like nothing is out of the ordinary when it so clearly is. There’s some hints pointing towards this world being a virtual simulation and I have to admit that there is potential to having that twist in the Fate mythos.

At the same time though, I would also argue that a lot of the confusion simply stems from Nasu being a really bad writer. I don’t know him as a person (obviously) and to be fair, his voice and creativity is so distinctly his own. But to be frank, his writing style really holds this mythos back. Let’s use the main character, Hakuno, as an example. Nasu has him say he is full of hate and that’s the only way he conveys this to you. There’s almost no use of “show, don’t tell” here. Nothing’s elaborate here. Why does this guy hate stuff? What exactly does he hate? It’s not really explored but Nasu says he hate stuff and we’re expected to buy it because he said so. And the character just keeps saying he hates stuff as if the viewer is too stupid to not learn that the first time. On top of that, I think Nasu also just outright refuses to worldbuild properly. He seems too obsessed messing with his continuity and withholding specific details about the mythos just so that his stories seem deeper and more intriguing than they actually are. Yes, Fate/Extra‘s first episode is probably designed to be confusing but it’s probably for both good and bad reasons.

As far as visuals go, I do have to admit that Shaft is an interesting choice for this project. Considering their repertoire, including Madoka Magica and 3-gatsu no Lion, this studio has gotten stylism down to a science. This show certainly takes a strip of acid but it does suit this strange premise and it’s at least a different direction from past Fate stories. Some shots did look really rough but then again, I’ve kind of been spoiled by ufotable much like the majority of Fate‘s fandom.

If you think it sounds like I didn’t like this premiere, well you’re right, I didn’t really care for it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I prefer to try most new anime, I probably would’ve passed on it in advance. I suppose I also was hoping for another Fate/zero but that just feels like a desperate dream at this point. Granted, there’s enough interesting stuff in Extra to maybe merit one more chance but I’m being honest, I think I’m more likely to watch more of “Cooking with Fate” than this.

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