Fate/Zero – Manga Outshining Anime?

One of the best parts of the holiday season, for me, would be the random sales that occur in book stores. In my case, a local shop had a sale I couldn’t pass up, and I left with the first three volumes of the Fate/Zero manga that had an English release just earlier this year.

As you all probably know if you’ve been following my posts, I do have a love of the Fate series, and as the manga of most series tend to have more in-depth information, elaborated storylines, and even crisper artwork. I was curious how this series would pan out, and with volume four coming in the first quarter of 2017, I thought it was time to catch up.

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==The Pitch & What You Get==

Fate/Zero tells the story ten years prior to Fate/Stay Night (and related offshoots of Unlimited Blade Works and the soon-to-be-coming Heaven’s Feel) series. It’s a Holy Grail War, meaning seven mages are selected to summon Servants (heroic spirits from legend) to battle to the death over the right to claim the Holy Grail.

Fate/Zero primarily follows Emiya Kiritsugu and his journey with his wife, Irisviel von Einzbern, and his servant, Saber. In both the manga and the anime, we do bounce around to meet all of the other Masters and Servants, further expanding on the series.

Both the anime and manga are well drawn and tell a compelling story. I can’t say if one is better than the other, but again, as the manga is incomplete, it’s hard to judge.

==The Good==

One thing I always love about a manga over the anime is the increase in detail. For example, some detail is art oriented, such as the subtle touches that can be added to a still image that can’t be easily added in to an animation, such as various runes on the wrappings of a spear or minor touches to a costume.

These wrappings were rather indistinct in the anime (and the color was just a shade different), but have better detail here in the manga.
These wrappings were rather indistinct in the anime (and the color was just a shade different), but have better detail here in the manga.

We also see some expansions that wouldn’t make it to the cut to an animated series. Some of these are grisly, such as the experiments of Caster and his Master.

This creepy jerk is exactly like: creepy.
This creepy jerk is exactly like: creepy. Be grateful I’m not showing the R-rated things they’ve done.

Other details are those that would take a bit more to explain in an anime, but we get clear explanations and some behind-the-scenes details, such as more details on Kiritsugu and some additional thoughts of Kotomine Kirei. Some of these thoughts we witness in the manga include tactics, concerns, and actual thoughts of the characters. Always nice.

While some scenes are a bit different, such as Waver’s paper being discussed in person/one-on-one (manga) instead of in front of the class (anime), the writers tried to ensure little changed between the two. While many anime tend to get ahead of the manga and create a need for filler, and some take just the basic ideas and roll with it into something new, we do not experience that with this manga and anime combination.

==The Bad==

Like most manga and any comics with combat as a focus, it can get a bit “busy.” There are limits to black and white drawings, especially when the backgrounds are dark and the scenes take place at night. While the art is nice, some events and scenes do translate into the anime better than the manga.

Specifically, Fate/Zero has a number of scenes filled with action with beings that move at superhuman speeds, engaging in melee combat. In typical style for a manga, we are given sound effects, symbols, and more to help emphasize this, but this does, in turn, make the scenes busier and much harder to read and follow.

From a later issue, but fitting. If you've seen Saber and Lancer fight, you'll understand why it doesn't translate as well in still images.
From a later issue, but fitting. If you’ve seen Saber and Lancer fight, you’ll understand why it doesn’t translate as well in still images.

While the manga does add some additional background, it still feel as though something is missing. While the series is still in the early stages, I do wonder if this feeling will be alleviated, especially when we get to the end (which, in the anime, was a bit awkward to say the least), or will it only become worse due to trying to translate the story into thisform.

==The Verdict==

As the series is still incomplete, I won’t be giving an actual rating.

I will say, though, that if you are a fan of the Fate series, it is worth reading. We get additional details that don’t detract from the series while expanding on what we were given in the anime (which, in the USA, came first). It can get a bit graphic at times (the third volume came sealed due to the nudity and violence within it), but we see more of the backgrounds of the characters, the setting, and gain addition details for the overall story.

Some friends of mine who read the Japanese version have stated that it is true to the novels and is a great adaptation, further motivating me to continue with the series until it ends. Dark Horse, don’t you dare drop the ball on this!

If you enjoyed watching Fate/Zero, then reading the manga should be a no-brainer. Pick it up and see what gaps are filled as the series is expanded.

Fate/Zero is being translated and released by Dark Horse Comics, and is available through most major book retailers. Volume 4 is scheduled to be released on February 8, 2017.

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