My first impression of Kiznaiver after finishing the first episode was that, regardless of whether it was good or bad, it would definitely be interesting. The premise was unique, albeit convoluted, Trigger has a strong style and writer Mari Okada (Anohana, Toradora) has written a lot of highly regarded anime before. The first episode also made it very clear that Kiznaiver wanted to explore complex themes about human connection. As it turns out, I was right.
If you’ve been involved in the anime community at all in the past five years, you’ve probably heard two things about Sword Art Online: it’s the greatest anime ever and it’s the worst anime ever. It was hugely popular when it first aired in 2012, and the backlash that inevitably comes after that much popularity was just as intense. It’s almost popular to hate it now, and I can’t say that SAO’s detractors don’t have plenty of good reasons, but it’s nowhere near as bad as they say, and there are plenty of good parts as well.
Warning: this editorial will contain unmarked spoilers for the Evangelion Rebuilds, especially 3.0.
It’s impossible to talk about UBW without mentioning the hype surrounding it. Fate/Zero was a massive hit, and people were talking about UBW months before Ufotable even announced which route they were adapting. Ufotable’s reputation and Fate/Zero’s popularity meant that expectations for UBW couldn’t be higher, which ended up being its biggest downfall; nothing could live up to those expectations and please everyone.
Spoiler Warning: There will be some small spoilers from Fate/Zero here since the two are so closely connected. I won’t spoil anything major, but there will be some small details here and there.
Even though Fate/Zero was the first popular Fate adaptation, it wasn’t the first to be released. That honor goes to the 2006 adaptation by Studio DEEN, which has a somewhat dubious reputation. It wasn’t good enough to garner mainstream attention, and it made too many changes to have any appeal to fans of the source material. That said, it’s not a bad show and is still worth watching.
Fate/Zero has a lot of backstory, both in the show itself and regarding its origins. It was originally a novel series by Gen Urobuchi, but that series was a prequel to an existing visual novel by Kinoko Nasu called Fate/Stay Night. That means that it has to both tell its own story and connect it to Fate/Stay Night, since the events it covers take place directly before Stay Night and play an important part in that. That places a heavy burden on the show, which somewhat weakens an otherwise strong story. The Fate franchise has been especially popular lately and Zero is what started all of that (at least outside of visual novel fans).