Image source: 橋本しのぶ on Twitter
The main story of the smartphone game, Fate/Grand Order, is currently ongoing. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room to explore other possibilities.
[Note: This article contains spoilers for the main story of Fate/Grand Order.]
Grand Order/Alternative – Resurging 8th Singularity: Bakumatsu Isolated Country <Re: Rome> Part 1 is a fan-written doujin novel that explores an “alternative” possible Fate/Grand Order story. The story takes place after the 7th Singularity and right before the final showdown to save all of existence. However, before the location of their enemy is discovered, a new 8th Singularity is discovered sending the protagonists, Ritsuka Fujimaru, and his companion, Mash, on an unexpected extra adventure to investigate. The Singularity is located at a previously visited location, 60 A.D. Rome. Upon their arrival, they encounter a new Avenger class Servant, Mash Alter.
Image source: 橋本しのぶ on Twitter
Written by the author, Shinobu Hashimoto, Grand Order/Alternative is a “What if?” story. There are several differences in how things have turned out than what players will experience in the game. First off, Olga Marie Animusphere, the director of the Chaldea whose existence was erased in the game’s prologue, is alive.
Likewise, the seven Singularities are all slightly different—appearing at different locations with different Servants. The story does an excellent job playing off the reader’s expectations while creating a convincing world that someone who has played through the Japanese version of the original game’s story can dive right into (the English version of the game is currently only at the 2nd Singularity with the 3rd set to be released on September 28).
Plot-wise, events play out very much like one of the Singularity adventures from the game. The book even goes as far as to give the protagonist, Ritsuka, no actual dialogue, instead, implying his words through the text. There’s an overarching seriousness to the task at hand, spliced with moments of lighthearted humor to deflate the tension. While a few of the jokes can feel a little niche, overall, it works as an entertaining story.
The story also introduces some very interesting and compelling new mysteries, like the existence of an Alter version of Mash who appears to work for their adversary, and the fact that Olga Marie is alive. There are also some other twists in the story that can really catch you off guard in a good way.
As a fan story, Grand Order/Alternative‘s greatest strengths lie in its differences from the original game. However, these strengths also rely on the reader having knowledge of the original game, severely limiting the book’s audience. Also, while the book also reads very much like a Kinoko Nasu written story, that also means that it’s peppered throughout with extremely difficult terms that do not appear in your average Japanese-speaker’s vocabulary.
Despite being a unofficial fan work, the book goes all out in its writing and look to the point where it literally feels like it could be an official side story or something. The book itself is also designed to look like a Type Moon novel so that it fits right in among other Type Moon novels on a bookshelf and even the artwork is done by the illustrator, lack, who has also done some of the official artwork for the original game itself. Even the homepage for the book has an intro sequence that mimics the game’s format. All in all, Grand Order/Alternative is a wonderful exploration of the Fate/Grand Order world from an author with an obvious love of the source material written for fans who share in that love.
Currently, only the first half of Grand Order/Alternative – Resurging 8th Singularity: Bakumatsu Isolated Country <Re: Rome> is out, with the second half scheduled for release at this winter’s Comic Market. As a fan made doujin work, the book is only available in Japan, in Japanese, and can only be purchased through doujin retailers like Melon Books or Toranoana.