Fate/Grand Order is a mobile game that expands the Fate universe and brings together new and established characters from the myriad of Fate stories under the control of the player. With its strong and dedicated fanbase, the game has proved extremely popular. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an English version for those out there who can’t read Japanese. Fortunately, they now have the next best thing.

This past New Year’s Eve brought us Fate/Grand Order -First Order-, an anime special based on the Fate/Grand Order video game. The special runs over an hour long and covers what is essentially the prologue chapter to the game’s main story.

In an alternate world where magic is real and mages periodically battle over a holy grail by summoning legendary heroes from history and lore, a secret organization called the Chaldea Security Organization that is devoted to monitoring the future of human civilization makes an alarming discovery when their equipment estimates that civilization will cease to exist in the year 2017. In hopes of preventing this, individuals are gathered who have the magical potential and compatibility to “Rayshift”–a time travel mechanism to send users to certain points in history to repair alterations in time. One such individual, chosen from the general population, arrives at the Chaldea, only to lose consciousness after initial testing. He awakens to a strange furry animal licking his face and a young girl standing over him…

As stated previously, the plot of Fate/Grand Order -First Order- covers the initial prologue of the game. There are a few changes that have been made to more cohesively fit with the current date and probably for time constraints:

  • In the original game, civilization was said to end in July of 2016, something that obviously wouldn’t fit with a December 2016 air date.
  • While the protagonist of the anime is the male version from the game, the female version is actually visible as a background character in one of the scenes.
  • The number of enemy encounters and battles is much, much lower in the anime than in the game.
  • The character designs of certain characters have been changed, reflecting elements that arise later within the game. This is more of an Easter egg for fans who are established players.

The event portions in Fate/Grand Order take place in a visual novel manner, with still character portraits appearing on screen and a text box for dialogue. While the events within the story and indeed much of the dialogue remaining unchanged–and even knowing the fate (heh heh) that awaits characters further on in the game–it was refreshing and exhilarating to see it all in motion in the anime. I’ve been a devoted player for the past 498 consecutive days (the game keeps track) [Editor’s note: It’s been a mere 450 for me] and know the story through and through, and I still couldn’t help but get excited watching the action sequences.

Fate/Grand Order -First Order- is in itself both a love letter to established fans of the game and an introduction for those who are unfamiliar with its source material. Thanks to the game being available only in Japanese, I have conversed with numerous people who either can’t get into the game or can only understand the story through a translated synopsis. Fate/Grand Order -First Order- serves not only as great entertainment, but also as a starter pack for such people hoping to find some way to bridge the language barrier gap.

Fate/Grand Order -First Order- can be viewed with English subtitles on Daisuki, Crunchyroll, and AnimeLab.

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