Manga of the Month: Fate/Apocrypha

Fate/Apocrypha (フェイト/アポクリファ) by Akira Ishida

hisui_icon_4040_round I would just like to mention that July is the month of my birthday so I would kindly ask that everyone take this Manga of the Month as a bit of a gift to myself.

In a different time line than the one that leads to the world of Fate/Stay Night, the key to the Holy Grail War is taken from Japan and installed in Transylvania just before WWII. This leads to a very different 4th Holy Grail War. Now instead of seven pairs of Masters and Servants fighting each other, there are two teams each made up of the seven classes of Servants. On one side of the conflict is the Yggdmillennia alliance of magi. Standing aginst them is a coalition the Mage’s Association and the Holy Church. The fourteen pairs of Servants and Masters are kept in check by Joan of Arc who is summoned by the Grail to act as the Ruler over the conflict. If it is not amazingly clear by now this is a very different version of the Holy Grail war than what has ever been seen before.

I would like to consider myself someone who has an informed opinion about Type-Moon. I don’t have enough hubris to consider myself a Type-Moon expert. I say that because as I am unable to read Japanese it  that I am highly dependent on translations of Type-Moon materials. While the high-profile projects like the Fate/Zero anime or the Fate/Unlimited Codes fighting games get professional translations those are not even half of the material that Type-Moon produces. There are still a wealth of manga, sound dramas, games, magazine articles and other assorted works that never get official translations. The fact that the visual novels that are the core of the franchise have never been officially licensed keep much of the nitty-gritty information in limbo. This leads to all sort of minor fans wars where one group accuses another group of mistranslating key points in the lore. Any major discussions of the Type-Moon Wiki will almost invariably lead to mudslinging because of this.

That means any Type-Moon title that gets an anime is greatly aided by the adaptation because it not only becomes more accessible to casual fans but it often clears up some, but not all, of the longstanding lore wars. Speculation about what Type-Moon title gets an anime has more weight than it might otherwise have because of how information is gained by the fandom after an official release of whichever property gets adapted.

I bring this up because the Type-Moon title that has been getting a good amount of buzz is Fate/Apocrypha. It was an attempt to do something with lots of the ideas and production work that went into a proposed MMO RPG. When the game was canceled much of the soul of the project was converted into light novels. Some major tweaks were made from the story and characters that were going to be used for the game but the core concepts are carried over. This lead to a fairly well-received series of books that chronicles the fight between the Red and Black factions in a very different version of the Holy Grail War.

The new Servants and Masters gained a good deal of fans. The main problem is that since these are Light Novels they take a godly amount of blood, sweat, and tears to translate. While there are fan translations and summaries of the novels they are sort of obscure and generally contested. Therefore while the general gist of what happens in the series is well-known the details are mostly only the purview of those who read Japanese.

While it is not as helpful as an anime release the manga release of Fate/Apocrypha has a good chance of making the tale a piece of the wider English-speaking Type-Moon fandom. It is easier to translate, much more likely to be read by fans who are not utterly hardcore, and has a far better chance of getting licensed by an American manga company.

But all of that would be utterly unimportant if Fate/Apocrypha was hot garbage. Thankfully Fate/Apocrypha has everything that makes the Fate universe popular. Cool historical and mythological figures with super powers teamed up with morally gray mages in grand scale battles. Now there is the added bonus of  having two characters of every class. Fate/Apocrypha allows two different Sabers or Casters to clash in battles that would not be possible in the original. It also makes team-ups far more likely since people are naturally working together thanks to the team based system. There are still fierce single combat battles but they are no longer the main type of battle.

Also, thanks to Fate/Grand Battle many of the Servants (and one or two of the Masters) have very strong fan followings. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers for the more casual fans but at this point, you probably have seen Saber of Red (Not to be confused with Red Saber) if you are any sort of Type-Moon fan. And she is just one of over a dozen Servants. There is undoubtedly some Servant for you to take a shine to.

If you’re any sort of Fate fans you have to check this out.

– Alain

By the way just as a follow-up to my choosing Fate/Strange Fake as the Manga of the Month.  I would like to double down on my recommendation of the title. I think one of the recently spoiled characters fulfills one of the oldest dreams of Fate/Stay Night fans. I won’t mention who it is but I know it will make LOTS of English-speaking fans very happy when they found out who it is and what class they are.


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