Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (2010 film)
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Fate/stay night the Movie: Unlimited Blade Works (劇場版 フェイト/ステイナイトアンリミテッドブレイドワークス Gekijōban Feito/sutei naito Anrimiteddo Bureido Wākusu) is a 2010 Japanese animated fantasy action film directed by Yuji Yamaguchi. Unlimited Blade Works covers the events of the second route of the visual novel Fate/stay night by Type-Moon. The film primarily focuses on two young mages, Shirou Emiya and Rin Tohsaka, who participate in a conflict between other mages and their servants known as the Holy Grail War. During the fights, Shirou often crosses paths with Rin's servant, Archer, who seeks his death despite being an ally.
|Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works|
Japanese cover art
|Directed by||Yuji Yamaguchi|
|Screenplay by||Takuya Satō|
|Based on||Fate/stay night|
|Music by||Kenji Kawai|
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The film was produced by Studio Deen, few years following the release of the first Fate/stay night television series. The short length of the film brought difficulties to the staff members as they aimed to cover a story arc which requires far more time in the visual. The film was released in Japan on January 23, 2010 on 12 screens and grossed 37,699,500 yen. Critical reception was mixed. While the main character was noted to be unpopular in Deen's first series, his interactions with Rin and Archer are praised as Shirou's ideals are highly explored allowing for a greater understanding of the character's motives. The animation and other elements from the story received mixed feelings with critics comparing the fast pacing to movie clips though some fight scenes were noted to have been well executed. Type-Moon later collaborated with studio Ufotable to make a remake of the movie in the form of a television series, also titled Unlimited Blade Works, which first aired in 2014.
Shirou Emiya is an average student that is dragged into the Holy Grail War, a battle royale between seven magi. The magi contestants all use spirit servants to fight each other, however as Emiya is a newcomer and unskilled he must join together with Rin Tohsaka to survive the battles. This is only a temporary solution, as Tohsaka's spirit servant Archer greatly dislikes Emiya for an unknown reason.
|Character||Japanese voice||English voice|
|Saber||Ayako Kawasumi||Michelle Ruff|
|Archer||Junichi Suwabe||Liam O'Brien|
|Rin Tohsaka||Kana Ueda||Mela Lee|
|Shirou Emiya||Noriaki Sugiyama||Sam Riegel|
|Caster||Atsuko Tanaka||Tara Platt|
|Shinji Matou||Hiroshi Kamiya||Doug Erholtz|
|Kirei Kotomine||Jouji Nakata||Jamieson Price|
|Illyasviel von Einzbern||Mai Kadowaki||Stephanie Sheh|
|Taiga Fujimura||Miki Itou||Julie Ann Taylor|
|Lancer||Nobutoshi Canna||Tony Oliver|
|Sakura Matou||Noriko Shitaya||Sherry Lynn|
|Assassin||Shinichiro Miki||David Vincent|
|Berserker||Tadahisa Saizen||Michael McConnohie|
|Gilgamesh||Tomokazu Seki||David Vincent|
|Rider||Yu Asakawa||Karen Strassman|
|Soichiro Kuzuki||Kazuhiro Nakata||Patrick Seitz|
The idea of creating an animated film based on the story arc "Unlimited Blade Works" visual novel Fate/stay night appeared in 2005 with the producer Geneon Entertainment Mitsutoshi Ogura, who was at that time organizing the production of the anime series for the same game. According to Ogura, “Unlimited Blade Works” together with the arch of “Fate”, which became the basis of the series’s plot, were the most interesting in the entire visual novel. The director of the film ‹See Tfd›(in Dutch) from Studio Deen also adhered to the same view, who, after reading the original source, noted that “Unlimited Blade Works” possesses similarly to shonen manga a large number of bright scenes. He also made the assumption that the plot and the dramatic component of this storyline can be well conveyed in exactly the cinematic format. As a result, the film making project was approved immediately after the work on the series was completed, and another producer joined him – Norimitsu Urasaki.
According to Sato, the biggest problem was the limitation on the length of the film, within which he needed to fit in, which is why several times at his request meetings with producers were organized who approved an increase in the timing to 107 minutes. Yamaguchi understood that such a film was extremely short in comparison to the 2006 series, where a similar number of events was set out in 480 minutes. Therefore, he decided to try to create a balance between everyday scenes and battles by increasing the intensity and emotionality of the latter, which led to a significant reduction in the prologue shown earlier in the series. The director recalled that he originally wanted to demonstrate many everyday scenes between battles, and they were prepared in Sato’s drafts, but most of them never entered the final script. Also, at the initial stage, Archer was considered as the central character, but already during the work the main attention was shifted to Shirou.
Since during the production of the series between the original author Kinoko Nasu, who was the main consultant of the picture, and Yamaguchi, a conflict occurred, when creating an animated film Type-Moon only a secondary adviser on the overall course of the process was assigned, and his opinion was taken into account only on general grounds. The director refused the complete exclusion of Nasu from the production team only because of fear of an excessive departure from the canons of the Fate franchise. The head of Type-Moon, illustrator Takashi Takeuchi, retained the role of character design consultant. The only wish expressed by the creators of the visual novel to the producers was that in the scene picture of battles they should not become the dominant element. However, Urasaki did not approve of this approach, as he feared that the audience might get bored during the sessions, and gave the right to finally determine the direction of Yamaguchi’s work.
Shortly after the screenplay was approved, the Studio Deen staff prepared a storyboard that was approved without major changes in the same 2008. Since the project budget exceeded the previously allocated for the 2006 series, it was decided to collegially perform more detailed images using the tools to create special effects in the battle scenes. At the same time, special attention was paid to rendering, since the creators sought to ensure that all the characters were equally well distinguishable in the frame and did not contain errors in the position of the shadows relative to the light sources. The very staging of battles between masters for giving them entertainment was performed by Tsujitani under the influence of tokusatsu Kamen Rider and Metal Hero in which the director tracked the movement patterns of the characters.
Also, contrasting with the series, it was decided to change the color gamut of the images, adding shades of red to it, which, according to the director, should have “added to the film entertainment and adult atmosphere”. Due to the intense work with the script, Yamaguchi, he admitted, did not have enough time to track the accuracy of the transfer of the original character design, and this part was completely given to Takashi Takeuchi and studio staffer Megumi Ishihare.
The position of the recording director, as well as in the series, was given to Koji Tsujitani, who decided to trust the experience of the previous adaptation of "Fate/stay night". All the voice actors selected in 2005 for the series retained their roles and were notified before starting work on the animation part. According to Junichi Suwabe, it did not reveal that it was the screen version of the Unlimited Blade Works storyline that was to be played, and only the Saber Ayako Kawasumi role played through producers managed to find out the exact information. Suwabe and his partner Kana Ueda, voiced Rin, said they wanted to participate in the film version of “Unlimited Blade Works”, where their characters are the main characters, and were happy to receive the invitation.
The actors recalled that they were surprised by the abundance of dialogues in a relatively small film – in total, the entire script describing the scenes took up about a thousand pages. The dubbing itself took place over four days in the fall of 2009 and lasted continuously from morning until late evening, during which, according to Ouedy, the tired seiyū made a large number of errors. However, according to Suwabe, the entire cast quite easily coped with their work, because for three years since the release of the series, they almost continuously participated in voicing the visual novel and other games of the franchise “Fate/stay night”. Also, Sayu noted that this experience, obtained through familiarization with the original source material, gave them a more complete picture of their characters, which they tried to reflect in this film. Nevertheless, Tsujitani was dissatisfied with his own work, because, as it seemed to him, he could not request something fundamentally new from the voice actors, and seriously thought about a complete rewriting of the voice track. However, after listening to the final version, Yamaguchi rejected this suggestion of the recording director and considered that the play of the seiyū exceeded his initial expectations.
The DVD and Blu-ray version was released on 31 October 2010 in Japan, with Sentai Filmworks releasing the DVD and Blu-ray to North America on 12 June 2012. Manga Entertainment released the DVD and Blu-ray on 30 September 2013.
The composer for the film was re-nominated Kenji Kawai, who re-wrote the entire soundtrack, leaving nothing of what was previously in the television series. The only exception to this number was the composition “Emiya”, which was already present in the original source, and at the request of the producers a new arrangement  was made for it. Compared to the series, the composer decided to increase the number of tracks with chorus a that were performed by Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, and also used more digital sound processing. Compositions were created according to the already finished visual series, since Kawai noted his own inability to work with the storyboard without feeling the clear time frame of the melodies. The use of the compositions was jointly approved by Tsujitani and Yamaguchi, but the composer’s opinion was also taken into account by the producer, with a number of key decisions on the choice of tracks made by Kawai paired with Tsujitani . So, the recording director decided to impose leitmotifs of the servant characters on the main melody of the scene composition, in order to emphasize references to the history of these characters at the right moments.
It took one month to create the entire musical accompaniment of the film, and Kawai spent only one week directly on writing all 27 tracks, and the rest of the time was spent on negotiating, fine-tuning and recording, for which the Dolby Digital system was used. The most difficult, according to Kawai, were the compositions for the scenes in which the dialogues of the characters overlapped the battles between them (as in the battle between Saber and Assassin (servant bound by contract with Caster), because the composer had to accurately select the rhythm so as not to destroy atmosphere of the action. Kawai emphasized that the main thing for him was to get as close as possible to the pace of what was happening, so that the viewer would not have the feeling that he was listening to music, and not watching the movie. Nevertheless, Kawai estimated the final result of his work on this painting as “the work of an artisan, not an artist”.
By the film itself, it was decided to make the opening and closing songs, the performance and composition of the texts to which, as in the series, were entrusted to the singer Sati Taynaka. To create the texts, Tainak specifically acquainted herself with all the works of the Fate franchise that existed at that time and tried to show the connection of the original source’s ideas with the real world, which, according to the singer, made the work for this film the most time consuming in her career. As a result, two songs “Imitation” and “Voice ~ Tadoritsuku Basho ~” were created. In the first one, Tynaka tried to reflect the feelings of the protagonist about the need to have a loved one, and in the second to emphasize the emotionality of the entire storyline. The producers also asked Kawai to write music for the third song, which was planned to be included during the final battle between Shirou and Gilgamesh, but the composer refused, saying that “he cannot write three songs in a row about the same thing”. As a result, the composition “Emiya” was used for the second time during the film.
|Voice ~Tadoritsuku Basho~||Sachi Tainaka|
The perception of the picture by critics was restrained. The main claim to the film was its relatively short duration, which strongly affected the development of the characters 'characters, as the total screen time was reduced by 80, relative to the series, Anime News Network Theron Martin. According to the reviewers, this aspect was strongly affected by a decrease in Exposure, which was shortened to three minutes, and the first 25 minutes were repeated plot of the whole eleven episodes of the TV series. Various critics emphasized that the story progressed very hastily with the jumps from one scenario's scenes to another without any explanation and with the loss of cause-and-effect relationships, which Todd Douglass Jr. of DVD Talk said resulted in a "rushed, incomplete feeling as the story jumps from one scene to the next and one fight to the next." According to John Rose from The Fandom Post, the tempo of the narration “balanced on a thin line with complete incomprehension”, irritated and did not allow to immerse into the atmosphere of the work, and during the culmination scenes the observer considered that the creators implicitly recognized this fact and therefore diverted significantly more time battle demonstrations. Some reviewers even noted that by the end of the picture the audience’s misunderstanding was accumulating and there was a feeling that the entire chapter was missed in the history. For this reason, critics for the most part did not recommend the film for viewing for viewers unfamiliar with the original source or the television series, and refused the picture in the right to be considered as a completely independent work in isolation from the franchise. Ross Liversidge in the review for the UK Anime Network went even further and limited target audience only to fans of colorful fighting scenes, as he considered the story "completely broken". However, Theron Martin and Chris Beveridge from The Fandom Post still thought that the newcomer, though with difficulty, would still be able to understand what was going on.
Other aspects of the story work deserved more positive feedback. Theron Martin noted that, compared to the TV series on Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, there is not even a hint of conformity to the harem genre genre, but the revelation of the romantic line between Shirou and Tosaka Rin was significantly affected. Chris Houmer of The Fandom Post in this regard noted that Shirou's unpopularity, the film he is still trying to stay clean and act only humanely, but thanks to Rin, he is able to learn from his weaknesses and maintain his “hero's ideology”, even giving lessons to Archer. Homer also stressed that he believes Archer is the best character in the entire Fate franchise, and called him "the main star of the picture", and his opposition in this film with Shiro successfully and very dynamically shown. Theron Martin also singled out Shirou’s idealism as the main theme of the film adaptation and found interesting the parallels between Archer and the main character Ami Kiritsugu with the idea of “how to become a hero and not turn out to be [a] cynic”. However, The Fandom Post reviewers noted that a different disclosure of the characters could both attract and repel fans of the television series, but welcomed the end of the movie and expressed the wish that they would like to see the whole story without script notes.
Compared to the series, a significant improvement in the visual part of the work was noted, and it was emphasized that the picture corresponds to the cinematographic format, which is traditionally superior in quality to the television. All critics gave high marks to battle scenes between servants, the most spectacular of them recognized the battle between Saber and the Berserker. Chris Beveridge, however, emphasized that although against the background of the 2006 television series, the film looked advantageous, it is visually inferior to the later Fate/Zero series produced by Ufotable in 2011. Theron Martin explained this by the fact that multipliers used typical TV format moves, such as fuzzy drawing of characters, an abundance of long-range plans and weak smoothness of the animation of a number of scenes. For this reason, Martin called this picture by visual elaboration “rather a high-end serial than a film”. Ross Liversidge commented positively on the color scheme of the film. The original character design Type-Moon also received high marks, but it was noted that when transferring it in the film, there are several blocky, like computer, character models. John Rose negatively reacted to replacing the image in the intimate scene picture with “inappropriate neon inserts”, which also knocked the viewer out of the flow of the story, although they were made because of fears about the age requirement of the work. Also, critics considered Kenji Kawai to be quite successful at playing.
Chris Beveridge said that by itself “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” is quite good, but compared to the screen version of “Fate/Zero”, it remained much worse in the memory of the audience and looked “just ridiculous”. This work was the last joint project of Studio Deen and Type-Moon management, which just two years after the release of the film entrusted Ufotable to make a television adaptation of the “Unlimited Blade Works” storyline after their previous successful adaptations of Fate/Zero and The Garden of Sinners.
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- Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (2010 film) (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works on IMDb