Welcome to another year of doing retrospectives on coolest moments that came out of Type-Moon in all of its various iterations. I should mention upfront that this is a personal list. These are the events, announcements, games, characters, items, and pieces of fandom that have made me happy this year from Type-Moon. It is not necessarily the best of Type-Moon but merely what reminded me why I love so much of what comes out of the company.
That means that if something is missing from this list it does not mean it was not important and/or cool. I am not an omniscient so there is a good chance lots of little pieces and even some major elements of the fandom may escape my notice. Also, I can’t read Japanese so that cuts me off from a lot of what is happening in Japan. It also means most of the Japanese fandom is a complete mystery. In the end, I just have my own tastes so what might be incredibly important to me might otherwise be trivial for you and vice versa.
Now that Type-Moon is a juggernaut of anime, manga, and games I have far too many choices for this list that I know what to do with. I could easily just make it a list of Top 10 Grand Order Moments without breaking a sweat but that would crowd out everything else that is Type-Moon and enough of the fandom already is a bit sick of how prominent it has become often at the expense of other parts of the franchise. So while I won’t ignore Grand Order I made sure to throw in a healthy amount of Type-Moon moments unrelated to the mobile game.
I will note that I consider anything that happened on New Years to be the stuff of 2020. So if you are wondering why anything very recent is not on the list despite being crazy amazing you now know the reason.
10. It Will Be FGOWarrior For The NA Release: FGOQuest
Type-Moon April Fools events have a very variable level of complexity and effort involved depending on the year. Sometimes you even get the insanity of Back Alley Satsuki – Chapter Heroine Sanctuary and other times you just get Koha-Ace: Chemical Maid Kohaku. But even the years they just did a bunch of in-character Twitter accounts they involve a fair amount of time for the staff to produce. They are usually very amusing but since they are only out for one day how much they get translated into English can be VERY variable. Most of the time we only get summaries of the event with some select translations when it tickles someone’s fancy. I’m still holding out hope that someone will translate all of Back Alley Satsuki – Chapter Heroine Sanctuary.
All that said I was fairly impressed by the fake Dragon Quest I app they made this year. It felt like a complete game albeit a small game. But since the Type-Moon April Fools apps only last one day it had to be something you could easily beat in a few hours anyway. I’m sure it was a fun little nostalgia blast for Japanese fans around my age especially. The graphics seem very cute and it extended the universe of Riyo drawn servants.
It might have been higher on the list but since this has a very low chance of being translated into something I can play it will always be more of an interesting oddity than anything else.
9. Games Were Every Heroine is a Devilish Kouhai: Studio BB
While we have not really seen anything yet from Studio BB the idea alone is worth getting excited about. Apparently, this will be a new subdivision of Type-Moon to work on new video game projects. The goal is small-scale in house 2D games and larger 3D games in collaboration with other companies. Their first title is going to be announced this summer. There is lots of speculation about some sort of fighting game or a more accessible version of the Fate/Extra games.
I’m not exactly sure what it is going to be but I look forward to seeing what we get. I feel like the Fate/Grand Order boom has really helped the anime side of the company I’m very excited to see what it does for their roots in games.
8. ‘Dat Ass The Anime: Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia
When you get anime based on wildly successful games that are just raking in the cash you tend to only get the wild extremes in terms of quality. You either get blockbuster affairs where tremendous amounts of time and money are poured into the production and everything shines brightly or you get rushed schlock that looks like the dog’s dinner even if there is a good deal of capital behind the project. The Babylonia anime is definitely the first case. Say what you will about where in the story they decided to start they certainly put their everything into what is on the screen.
The animation is gorgeous. It is different from the marvel that is the Ufotable anime but CloverWorks does their own brand of impressive. There is a fluidity and punch to the fight scenes that make you take notice. There is also just a good eye for knowing what from the game to show on the screen and knowing what to cut due to a difference in medium. The fact that they really have brought life and weight to Ushiwakamaru and Leonidas with anime original scenes is quite impressive. So far the whole anime seems like a master class on how to adapt a game without making it feel like a sloppy cut-scene compilation video.
It actually makes me think that in the proper hand’s someone could not only adapt but actually improve the Okeanos and E Pluribus Unum chapters of Grand Order. That would normally just be crazy talk but it might be possible if this anime is any indication.
7. Bronze is the New Gold: The New Bronze Servants
Cool new high rarity characters are pretty much the SOP of Gacha games. Games will occasionally throw out some new low rarity units but they tend to be basic and underwhelming. So it came as a huge surprise when one of the anniversary announcements this year was the fact that Grand Order was getting 7 new Bronze Servants. The thing is none of them seem cheap or throwaway. Now not all of them are top tier but all of them have a surprising amount of effort poured into them.
The animation on all of them feels really solid. In fact, all of them are better than any of the release Servants who have not gotten an animation updates including most of the golden release Servants. Jason sticks out the most impressive one-star Servant to date. Chen Gong is a Servant that has changed some people’s play styles proving they are not just pretty faces.
Also, Gareth is amazingly cute with a hint of tragedy and makes the whole thing extra special.
6. The Belly of the Whale: Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel II. lost butterfly
Not that much to say about this one other than Ufotable continues to just keep killing it with their Fate adaptations. The movies continue to be gorgeous and captivating. The pacing is amazing and knows exactly how to fit the longest arc of the original game into three movies while still conveying everything people loved about Heaven’s Feel. That fight with Berserker is worth the price of admission alone.
I just wanted to note that the movies are still awesome and have to be acknowledged on any list for this year.
5. Hooray for Denpa: Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family
I know that I put Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family getting licensed on the list last year but a lot can happen between the licensing of a book and when it finally appears on shelves. If it ever gets on shelves in the first place. Thankfully we already have three volumes of Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family and they are wonderful. TAa’s take on the Fate characters is always so warm and comforting. The books are well done and look great. I’m really looking forward to seeing Fate/Grand Order: Chaldea Scrapbook from Denpa as well.
4. A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces: Katsushika Hokusai (Saber)
Katsushika Hokusai is already back on the list from last year which is quite impressive. They took a great character and then made her a wonderful free Servant so everyone could have a kick-ass single target Saber. She really just looks amazing and plays really well too. Despite being a tongue-in-cheek Summer servant they still manage to work in a good deal of the historical art of this Father and Daughter team. She really is a great example of how to do a swimsuit Servant perfectly. And on top of all of that, she was free. Amazing.
3. Birb is the Word: Beni-enma
She is the katana-wielding yokai version of Gordon Ramsay. That alone should be enough to convince anyone that she was one of the best servants to come out in 2018. The fact that she is the long alluded to but never seen a member of the Yokai SNS network is really just icing on the cake. It really seemed like there was no topping Katsushika Hokusai last year as the New Year’s Servant. While there are solid arguments on both sides for who is the cooler Servant is I can easily say that Beni-enma is a solid successor if nothing else.
Her design by Harada Takehito is adorably cute without straying too far into loli territory like some of his art. The gameplay mechanics are unique, powerful, and most importantly tied to her mythological origins while still having a very Type-Moon twist. Also, her animation is just top-notch.
But most importantly she is just a fun character. She is a great mixture of acidic snark and earnest warmth. The way that she looms over Tamamo, Kiyohime, and Osakabehime as a cruel but secretly loving taskmaster is just great. I already loved that trio but her addition is just perfect. She really just adds to any story she is placed in.
Spoilers for next year: I know she is a good Servant and popular with the fan art community but Yang Guifei did not blow me away like the last two New Year’s Servants.
2. Slaps Roof of Car: Anime NYC 2019
Holy Moly! Anime NYC 2019 was jam-packed with cool stuff this year already but the sheer amount of Type-Moon events went above and beyond. Without anything else, the Fate/Grand Order USA Tour alone was enough to make this list. Being able to sit on Kintoki Rider’s Golden Bear motorcycle or see the Gudako mascot causing havok was simply amazing. When the US tends to get Japanese style events they are far too often only on the West Coast. Seeing the East Coast get some love was fantastic. Also, the fact that there was the US only merchandise like the famous/infamous Wassap my Homies shirt was extra cool even if we don’t the full grandeur of a Japanese style event.
Then there was the surprise The Lord El-Melloi II Case Files panel. While the audience did not really get to ask any questions I felt like we got a good amount of insight into the show thanks to the director, producer, and character designer all being at the panel. They each added a different angle on a piece of the production and really showed how it was the whole staff as well as the original novels that made the show what it was.
And last but not least was Denpa’s massive coup in bringing over TAa. I am a huge fan of Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family so getting to meet the author was a real treat. She was very charming and you could see that much of the appeal of the series comes from her skills and warmth. Her presence at the convention kicked it up from amazing to unforgettable.
It would easily take an appearance by Koyama Hirokazu in 2018 to even match this year’s levels of shock and awe.
1. The Anime Made For Me: The Lord El-Melloi II Case Files Anime
The only thing that could go in this slot was The Lord El-Melloi II Case Files Anime. It is such an odd niche show even for this franchise. A murder mystery novel series that is based around solving cases using the mechanics of magical systems. It is a show that is so based on my very specific tastes I could not even imagine such a show as a joke before it was created. The fact that the novels were written in the first place was shocking. The fact that they turned it into an anime is doubly bizarre. I’m a 1,000% percent sure thew only reason this show got animated was the rabid Waver Velvet fandom and the actual premise of the show got dragged along for the ride. I’m not complaining. I’m just pointing out that I realize that Type-Moon is not specifically targeting Alain Mendez of Brooklyn, NY and I just happen to occasionally get a bit of area of effect luck from other people.
But an Alain targeted premise alone does not a great show make. The anime itself is fantastic. It has some powerful visual, bewitching music, and skillful composition. It is definitely one of the Type-Moon properties that define this modern era of top tier Nasuverse anime. But it is not just a pretty face and no substance. The plots are engaging and the mysteries feel substantial. Magic can easily make mystery shows feel utterly empty but the writing is smart enough to grab a hold of the viewer even though Knox’s Commandments are immediately thrown out the window with the premise. I also really enjoy the mixture of references to old Type-Moon material while also adding much more to the universe.
It really is a special show and one of my favorite pieces of the Type-Moon universe not only this year but overall.
So that was my list. Did you have any moments I missed? There were quite a few that I left off that might have even been more special to you.