REVIEW: Fate/Apocrypha: Unbirth

Written by Yuichiro Higashide, Illustrated by Taketo Sanada

TYPE-MOON Ace (2011)

Summary: The next Great Holy Grail War is about to begin, but Sagara Hyouma needs to summon a “Servant” to fight with in order to participate. But to summon the “Servant” of his choosing, Jack the Ripper, Hyouma needs to give a live sacrifice to the spirit. When the summoning goes awry, Jack the Ripper still appears but not as Hyouma intended. What will Hyouma do in order to participate in the next Great Holy Grail War?

Review: There are a few anime series out there called Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero, and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works centered around the concept of the “Holy Grail War” where mages summon spirits of well known historical figures under the guises of “types” such as the “saber type,” the “berserker type,” and the “assassin type” for example. These spirits can take opposite gender forms, as well are generally given supernatural powers in order to do battle in style.

The Holy Grail is an item that can grant a single wish of any kind that the winners of the war may desire, and this is a war that happens every so often throughout history with the time span between each war always in flux. – Fate/Apocrypha is an alternate reality light novel version of these anime series, and to make it even more confusing Fate/Apocrypha: Unbirth, which focuses solely on Jack the Ripper, is an alternate reality, single chapter version of the main Apocrypha series. Originally posted in TYPE-MOON Ace Magazine as a preview for the Apocrypha light novel series, by the time the main series was published the chapter had been reworked, effectively making this story it’s own thing. So, how does this story stack up as a simple, single story all on its own?

Well, if you can get past the fact that Jack the Ripper is – ironically – a little girl in this story, it’s actually not that bad. I mean, the story is nothing special and you can tell that it was meant to be just a preview as the story is never finished, but I found this interesting enough that by the end of it I wanted more. I would totally read a series based on Jack the Ripper as a little girl. Because despite that intriguing dynamic, he’s actually quite the bad-ass. He needs to feed on the souls of terrible people and murderers to get stronger, and I just think that’s so awesome.

Hyouma is a pretty 1-D character who’s evil because why not? However I did find his manipulative dynamics pretty interesting. In the story he uses a woman that he falsely grows close to – her name is Rikudou Reika – in order to summon Jack to help him in the Grail War. But the summoning goes awry when Reika’s one wish becomes stronger than Hyouma’s, summoning Jack the Ripper as Reika’s “Servant” despite her not being a Mage.

Reika is a little more interesting than Hyouma, getting to spend one chapter with her we get to learn that she’s pretty selfish and will do anything it costs in order to remain alive. It then becomes fitting that Jack is now hers to fight with, because Jack is very stealthy and can keep her safe from both close-up and afar. I like Reika, and I want to get to know her better and see just how far she’s willing to go. If she can cope with losing her humanity and how it will be for her entering this world of Magic.

Taketo Sanada’s art style isn’t incredibly different than most moe-centered art styles out there, so it doesn’t stand-out from the crowd very much. But it isn’t displeasing either. Jack is pretty cute, but both Hyouma and Reika are very generic in how they look. There aren’t that many illustrations for this chapter, but there’s a great shot of Jack after she just finished slaughtering an entire room of people that’s incredibly fitting for the character and awesome to look at.

Unbirth is a pretty cool little story in and of itself, it’s not perfect and its flaws are mostly tied to the fact that it was meant as a teaser and not its own story, but it still works. It also helps that because it is so short it’s easy to digest, and it also acts as a nice little introduction into the world of Fate/ and all incorporating stories tied to it. I really enjoyed this chapter, and now I feel ready to tackle the main Fate/Apocrypha series. I definitely served its purpose as preview well.
Final Score: 3 Little Girl Assassins out of 5

DERRICK-imageDerrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.
You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net
@KazekunForever

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