The timeless question.
Right, so I was debating about whether or not to review this series because as much as I am a Fate fan, I don’t have a lot of free time. Then I saw the first episode and found out that its not so much a bland copy-paste for the PSP game (I’m fond of it, actually) but a retelling with original content and so it should be fun to watch. So yeah, I’m on this now.
As per usual, I’ll try to keep potential future knowledge out of it unless necessary. So let’s get into this review of the first episode of Fate Extra: Last Encore.
The episode opens with a girl on the school rooftop, dying as Red Saber (revealed in Carnival Phantasm) goes toe-to-toe with what looks to be a Buddha. She doesn’t fair so well, getting wrecked by his attacks as he looks on with a smug smile. She then takes a wound that mirrors that which the girl has and the two exchange a glance before they both pass away.
Then we cut to a white backdrop covered in blood as the protagonist, Hakuno Kishinami, daydreams of laying in the blood of his classmates while thinking his true nature is that of rage and anger. He then wakes up in class to get a lecture on the Moon Cell, Servants, and SE. RA. PH before being told not to go near the incinerator called Limbo since a good deal of the students commit suicide there. Then class ends and he walks throughout the halls to go to Lunch with his best friend Shinji and Shinji’s girlfriend, Amari.
On their way, Hakuno can only wonder why he feels hatred for some reason he doesn’t know while Shinji gives an exposition of Limbo that leads to Hakuno asking why the school exists in the first place. Of course, that question ends as a boy name Leo Harway beats the head of the chess club, who collapses afterwards like they’d played a shadow game from Yu-Gi-Oh. Since everyone else seems to be non-bothered by this except him, Hakuno decides to check on the student when he runs into this setting’s version of Rin Tohsaka.
Rin and Hakuno take the boy to the infirmary where Sakura Matou is the nurse and lays him down. That’s when Hakuno has another change of perception as the screen goes black and red and he’s asked to give the body a burial at the incinerator. You know, the place where he was warned not to go, while Rin likens giving the student a burial to be a waste like a registry without the associated data.
There he gets a vision of cities burning when he dumps the body in unceremoniously and wonders what sort of things he’s seeing before a man with glasses pops up behind him and tells him that they’re on the lowest floors of the Moon Cell and that what he saw was a vision of a childhood memory brought when he entered into the Moon Cell, relating it to a digital hell meant to be paradise. Anyone with even a little Master compatibility are dragged into it and suffer a hell of constantly living the same day and lives over and over. Hakuno wonders why such a place was built and the man tells him to seek the truth at the center of the moon.
Or at least he could have if he hadn’t come so late and he’s out of time again. Then there’s a flash where we see Rin’s name on a monitor and its announced that, for all intents and purposes, the remaining Masters have only a limited amount of time to get a slot by killing the other Masters before they die and get purged with the rest of the NPCs and the world. They wasted no time in getting to that as names start clearing up.
Hakuno goes to find Shinji, who tricks him into following him and then proceeds to shank the man in the gut and then stab him in the back. Several times. As Shinji rants he’s going to be the game’s champion . So Hakuno is seemingly killed and Shinji gets what looks to be the last slot before a bunch of mannequin-like robots come out and start killing the rest of the people inside horribly. We only see the silhouettes, but you can tell its brutal.
This is around the time Hakuno hears voices and sees flashes where countless other people are wondering if this is happening again and comes to a realization of some kind. He wakes up, drags his bleeding body towards the incinerator and refuses to die without getting vengeance and bliss, wanting to destroy the Moon since he hates everything about it. He’s chased by a stone version of EMIYA, who takes his sweet time in trying to kill the man.
Hakuno ends up in what looks to be an abandoned theater or stadium after a missed shot. That’s when he spots Red Saber’s sword as light shines down on it from above, standing like a monument to someone who fought here to the bitter end with their head held high. He picks the sword up, summons Red Saber who greets him as though she once knew him, and then proceeds to disarm and then destroy the EMIYA replica… that smiles as he breaks apart, before asking the iconic question that all Sabers seem to ask their beaten and near-dead Masters.
We then cut after the credits to Kotomine Kirei stating that what happened was a miracle and that Hakuno is the lucky 290th Master. He wishes him well before fading away as the episode ends.
So, it’s safe to say that for a first episode this left quite an impact. They cut straight to an opening of what I assume to be was a previous war, where we see Red Saber getting into a fight with someone far above her strength-level while the only person we see dies silently.
While I do have some idea who that is… okay, I know who that is, you can go to the wikia and get the information if you really want, but I won’t really say anything because… well, it’s too anime-original. I mean, I know they say its based on Extra, but given that Extella and CCC exist, they likely changed up a lot of what’s happening to where I’d make a wrong statement and mislead my readers.
What I will point out is that it should be pretty clear that when Leo won that game and his name appeared on that large monument, he was killing another potential Master and securing his slot in the War. Rin did so as well some time after Hakuno left. A couple of other names mark potentially important people, so take note of it.
What I like is that they establish from the beginning that this is a virtual world where the souls of the Masters on earth were pulled up to the Moon and turned virtual like SAO. And Hakuno actually stands out since he wants to destroy Moon Cell for one reason or another. They don’t tell us explicitly what his visions were, but they were enough that he seemed to grasp that he wants vengeance for those who died and if they weren’t going to pick up the slack he’d do it himself.
That’s a contrast to Shirou, and a goal I think EMIYA would approve of given that smile he had at the end. If you know about EMIYA then you know what he was doing was something he hated, so for someone to survive and stand up again to live and stop him was probably something he was grateful for. That being said, I’m looking forward to what comes next.