Note: I only spoil the very beginning of the movie, but I slightly hint at things to come.
Genres: Action, Dark Fantasy, Romance
Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel: Presage Flower (wow what a mouthful) is the first part of a trilogy of movies adapting the Heaven’s Feel route of the Fate/stay night visual novel. Emiya Shirou is pulled into a supernatural war, in which seven masters summon seven different servants to fight to the death, in order to win the Holy Grail, an omnipotent wish granting artifact. The last Holy Grail War had resulted in a devastating fire that burned down the entire city—in order to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, Shirou decides to fight in the war with his servant, Saber.
Yes, it’s been a year since this came out. But I’ve only just watched it recently, and it was pretty good, although you definitely should NOT watch this if you’re new to the Fate/series. The story can go by pretty fast at times, and the movie also skips a huge chunk of the prologue, which means that you need to watch Unlimited Blade Works (at least) to watch this movie. But well, I heavily recommend that you watch Fate/Zero as well, because it will help flesh out the story a LOT more, and also shed light on a lot of different things that are going on in the story. So basically, you don’t want to be watching this if you haven’t at least seen UBW.
It was interesting. I already knew what would happen, of course, but seeing it animated was a completely different experience. The movie also skipped past the prologue, which is the same among all of the Fate routes, so that we wouldn’t have to see the same things happen again, and the movie also barely gave any description about the Holy Grail War—also good, since I’ve sat through enough of those (but also another reason why you shouldn’t watch this if you’re new to Fate). However, there were some things that the movie did skip, that they shouldn’t have. For example, the movie should’ve added a word or two about Sakura going to and helping out in the Emiya household. It was kind of strange seeing Sakura go to Emiya’s house every morning and afternoon to cook with basically no explanation whatsoever, even if I did know the reasons behind it. There are some other scenes that don’t feel like they’ve been fleshed out, but then again, the Heaven’s Feel route is by far the longest Fate route and also the most complex. Since they have to fit it into 2 hours, it’s understandable that a few things might be lost.
I also had a very slight problem with some of the pacing. A lot of the movie sort of felt rather slow, with some awesome fight scenes fit between these parts. But I felt that some of these scenes sort of felt like they were being dragged out a bit too much, as if the movie wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of the allotted time slot for the scene.
This movie also felt a bit empty, as it didn’t really have a significant, thematic conflict. Of course, this was expected, since there are two more movies to come, and this first movie is very build-up oriented. It is setting up the characters and their relationships for the various, important conflicts to come, so it doesn’t ever reach a climax. The title of the movie alludes to this as well: Presage Flower. ‘Presage’ means means to warn or to be a sign of warning that something bad is going to happen. And indeed, things take a grave turn at the end of the movie.
So far the characters haven’t been fully fleshed out, but they’re getting there. Emiya tends to be dismissed as a bit boring and bland, but I’m actually quite fascinated with his altruism, his complete disinterest in himself and his own needs. I felt like the VN showed this side of him a lot better than the movie did. This altruism, this desire to be a completely selfless superhero is an important part of Shirou’s character and it’s very important in Heaven’s Feel later on, so I think the movie should’ve showed that side of Shirou a bit more.
Something the movie did well was the development of Sakura and Shirou’s relationship. This is good because, while Sakura is essentially a side story for the entirety of this movie, her relationship with Shirou is the catalyst for the most development Shirou is ever going to get as a character, and she will also play a major role in the story later on, so it’s good that the movie paid attention to building up the relationship between the two, preparing it well so that things don’t feel rushed later on.
Due to the nature of the movie medium being a lot shorter than the visual novel, we weren’t able to learn anything about Sasaki Koujirou (Fake Assassin), Caster, and Souichirou Kuzuki…all of which get a good amount of screen time in UBW, so I guess it’s okay.
In general, most of the main characters got a decent amount of development, and even if they didn’t, if you’ve already seen Unlimited Blade Works then it’s fine. But I think if you watched this movie without having seen any of the other Fate anime, then it won’t be as good of an experience.
What? Makoto Shinkai? WHO DAT?
Heaven’s Feel looked so amazingly good. Virtually every scene was wonderfully animated. I’ve always loved Ufotable’s smooth, crisp, vibrant animation style, especially from Fate/Zero and UBW, but Heaven’s Feel was truly amazing, especially the action scenes. The animation quality on those fights was top-notch, and I’m really hoping that I can see the next movie in theatres.
The sounds were pretty good. The OP really fit well with the dark fantasy theme of the movie, with it’s dark and melodic chorus, and all of the voice actors were great as well—which is expected of them, since they’ve legit voiced these same characters ever since the VN came out in 2004….that’s like, 15 years voice acting the same characters! They probably know them inside out.
My only problem was—and this might sound weird, but—the characters didn’t talk enough. Like, there was a lot of talking sure, but, idk, it just felt like there should’ve been more! Or maybe I’m just so used to Talk-no-Jutsu in anime that it’s somehow distorted my view of things, but there would be large expanses of time when the characters just didn’t say a thing!
The bright side of this was that I, being a reader of subtitles, was able to really take a lot of time just watching the beautiful animation instead of having to take time to read the subtitles, and this was great because usually when the characters weren’t talking, a really awesome fight scene would be happening.
The ED was Hana no Uta by Aimer, a lovely song by one of my favourite songs. The song would’ve been a lot more effective if it had followed a stronger moment of emotional impact in the movie, but it’s a really nice song nonetheless, and the ending of the movie was in no way a let down.
We have Ufotable to thank for an absolutely gorgeous and epic movie adapting the darkest route of Fate/stay night. While this movie wasn’t the best by itself, I think it was a good set up for the next two movies, which I am highly anticipating.
Overall Rating: 9/10
Source: Visual Novel
Length: 2 hrs
Rating: R – 17+ (violence and profanity)
(Info from My Anime List)
I don’t own the pictures – they belong to their rightful owners!