Everything You Need to Know About the Fate/Stay Night [Heaven’s Feel] Trilogy
11/5/2020 • 4 min read
FATE/STAY NIGHT: [HEAVEN’S FEEL] is a trilogy of incredibly popular Japanese anime movies that have impressed audiences around the world since 2017. With the third and final film in the trilogy, SPRING SONG, finally hitting American theaters on November 18, 2020, we thought it would be a good time to catch you up on the series before it closes out.
The Source Material
The narrative focuses on Shirou Emiya, a teenager who becomes embroiled in a conflict called the Holy Grail Wars. During each arc of the series, he teams up with an equally gifted female mage and does battle with various villains.
All three movies are directed by Tomonori Sudō and written by Akira Hiyama based on the third and final story in the Japanese visual novel "Fate/stay night," which is essentially a graphic novel with a few interactive elements. Originally released for Windows computers in 2004, they were later ported, with a few alterations, to PlayStation 2 and eventually several other platforms. From there, the story has been adapted into four different manga and television series, but this trilogy is the first feature anime adaptation.
When these movies were first announced, back in 2014, the news received widespread media attention in Japan. (And the long production time shows in the detailed and dynamic visuals – more on that in a minute.) Clearly, you don’t have to know what a visual novel is to understand that this is an unstoppably impactful franchise.
They Are Big Hits
In Japan, the first film in the trilogy became the #1 domestic movie on its opening weekend, and also turned into a big hit in China, South Korea, and then later the United States and Canada. When the second film hit Japanese theaters, it found an even larger audience than the first chapter. Clearly, the fanbase is growing. What’s more, the films are warmly received by critics, who have responded to the visual storytelling, rich characterizations, and kinetic action set pieces. As a result, the second movie in the series was even better reviewed than the first.
It's a Good Idea to See the First Two Before the New One
As you might expect for a set of movies that grew out of a visual novel that is all about building relationships, there are a lot of interpersonal layers and more than a few mature themes running through the series. In order to appreciate the third movie, SPRING SONG, it is probably best to watch the first two beforehand. Fear not, however: We're showing them all! (And, in case this doesn't go without saying, the FATE/STAY NIGHT [HEAVEN'S FEEL] movies are not for younger viewers.)
This new movie picks up where the last film left off which includes, amongst other things, a traumatic attempted assault. So, while it does deal with otherworldly forces like magic and demons, it’s also heavily invested in very real, very human trauma.
Spring Song Looks Absolutely Wild
Just look at that trailer! Holy heck! If this third chapter is anything like the first two, it will be bold and unafraid to venture into provocative thematic material while pushing the boundaries of how animation traditionally looks and feels. SPRING SONG is made with a canny combination of traditional hand-drawn animation (still quite popular in Japan even as American animation has moved almost entirely into a digital realm) and 3D computer animation, the movie has a truly one-of-a-kind style that is seriously impressive.
Look at the way the camera is moving, how the characters are entering and exiting spaces, the nonstop assault of dialogue and music. This is what sets Japanese animation apart from the sleepy western efforts; a willingness to truly go there.
FATE/STAY NIGHT [HEAVEN'S FEEL] III. SPRING SONG opens on November 18!
All images courtesy of ufotable, Aniplex, and Fathom Events.