365 Days of Manga, Day 281: Fate/Stay Night

 

9781427812742.jpgFATE/STAY NIGHT • Tokyopop • TYPE-MOON (original story), Dat Nishiwaki (manga) • 13+
TYPE-MOON’s first major video game hit, Lunar Legend Tsukihime, had a great premise which degenerated into a bunch of not-very-well-drawn fight scenes. Fate/stay night is sort of like that, without the great premise. After his parents died in a fire, Shirou Emiya was raised by a modern-day magus who inspired him to want to become a hero. (Unfortunately, he didn’t actually teach Shirou any useful magic, and illogically, Shirou still seems shocked to encounter supernatural stuff later in the story.) Years later in high school, after his magus guardian has left and he is living with a normal family, Shirou discovers to his surprise that he is one of the seven competitors in the “Holy Grail War,” a secret battle between seven magi, accompanied by seven “epic spirits” who are the reincarnations of great heroes of history. And suddenly, Saber, a steadfast female knight in armor who is Shirou’s spirit partner, appears before him asking “Are you my master?” It’s a shonen-manga-meets-moe plotline–it’s like Pokémon or Shaman King, but the hero’s battle partner is a cute girl! Sadly, despite some decent fighting action, the manga is a shallow read. The character art is stiff and generic. The character relationships are unconvincing, the world-building and atmosphere is minimal. In the end, though, the biggest problem is too much exposition and too little visual storytelling–the characters stand around in the street for pages and pages explaining the rules and backstory of the Holy Grail War, but art-wise, all we get is badly-drawn people pairing off and fighting each other. (Review by Jason Thompson – originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
* 1/2 (one and a half stars)
Today’s winner is Jessica C. of Rhode Island, a state that always makes me think of H.P. Lovecraft. Congratulations, Jessica! (On the manga, not my free-associating!)

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