The Fall 2019 Anime Preview Guide
Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia
How would you rate episode 1 of
Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia ?
What is this?
The Chaldea complex has been undertaking a grand plan called Grand Order, whereby the world's last Master (Ritsuka Fujimaru) and his demi-Servant (Mash Kyrielight) have been transported back in time to six Singularities to recover the Holy Grails sustaining them and thus restore humanity's lost future. After many trials, Ritsuka and Servant are now ready to tackle the final Singularity: Uruk in ancient Babylon, circa 2,600 B.C. Upon arriving there they encounter first Demon Beasts and then a strange woman with incredible powers, one who won't even tell them her name before departing. They then encounter Enkidu, the legendary companion of Gilgamesh, who fills them in on the Three Goddess Alliance seeking to eradicate humanity and the last-ditch defense humanity has developed against the ravaging Demon Beasts: the wall called the Absolute Demonic Front.
Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia is based on a mobile game and streams on Funimation at noon EDT on Saturdays.
How was the first episode?
One thing must be made clear up front about this series: regardless of your experience with other branches of the Fate franchise, you must either be specifically familiar with the Fate/Grand Order mobile game or else have, at the least, seen the Fate/Grand Order: Last Order special (available on Crunchyroll) in order to make any sense of this story. The first episode is meant for established game players and does nothing to make itself accessible to newcomers. Its characters and concept are not introduced and the brief recap which happens early on only clarifies at what point in the game's story these events take place. Still, even if it is targeted specifically at game players, choosing to jump ahead to adapting the seventh and final Singularity, without previously doing any of the earlier content except for the introduction, is an odd choice.
Get beyond those set-up concerns and this is fairly standard franchise fare. It has individuals from throughout history popping up; Da Vinci is present in the future as a pretty woman, Gilgamesh is clearly shown in the intro in his proper context, and Enkidu, who by some accounts was the bosom companion of Gilgamesh, also appears and looks like he's going to be a major regular player. It also has a guest appearance from another part of the franchise, with a version of Rin Tohsaka garbed as a classical Middle Eastern dancer but sporting capabilities way beyond the original Rin also briefly popping up; I know what's going on here from seeing mention of it in other Fate-linked content, but since this episode doesn't give even a faint hint about that I'll refrain from mentioning anything for now. The episode also offers up plenty of CG-supported action, first with Mash getting to show off her stuff, then Rin in a mix of magical and physical attacks, and then finally Enkidu. This mauling of Demon Beasts can get quite graphic and also seems intent on occasionally tweaking its camera angles for light fan service shots, more so than in other franchise animation.
The story aspect is weaker, really just a shell at this point to allow for showing off all of the characters and action, but presumably this will develop more as events progress. Technical merits from CloverWorks allow for some nicely-designed backgrounds and respectable animation support for the fights, though the CG use in some places is a bit weak and the integration between character animation and backgrounds is not flawless. Overall, I have to mark the episode down heavily for its utter lack of set-up, but it otherwise provides all of the expected elements.
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