Fate/Zero Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Price: $11.99
Author: Shinjiro
Format: 194 pgs., Black & White, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-6165-5919-9
Age Rating: 16+
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

The Fate/Stay Night franchise is easily one of the most famous among fans of Japanese pop culture.  It started as a visual novel in 2004 and eventually pushed forward into the worlds of anime, manga and video games becoming one of the most enduring franchises to ever come out of Japan.

In this series, the story is all about the Holy Grail Wars; a series of wars which are fought between mages who summon heroic figures from history and legend as familiars.  These heroes then fight to the death in a battle royale format all over Fuyuki City in Japan with the winning team getting the legendary Holy Grail which is said to grant any wish.  In one particular instance of the Holy Grail Wars though, a tragedy occurred which caused Fuyuki City to burn to the ground and Fate/Zero is the story of how it happened.

Serving as a prequel to the original story told by the visual novel, Fate/Zero first appeared as an anime in 2011 around the same time as the manga hit store shelves in Japan but is it "better?"

One of the primary complaints regarding the Fate/Zero anime is that it was a very dialogue driven series in which characters would literally walk in circles delivering long monologues filled with exposition that would drag the pace down to a crawl.  In this first volume, it is fair to say that this is not a problem in the least.  Those who are already fans of the franchise and those who are entering it for the first time will be very pleased to know that the pace of this debut moves at a very brisk pace and the story is delivered very well.  Not only that, but details that were glossed over before are greatly expanded upon while also delivering new scenes that keep it interesting even for those who already know the story by heart.

Sadly this expanded and well detailed story comes at a trade-off.  One of the primary compliments that was given to the Fate/Zero anime was that the animation looked absolutely amazing and sadly the artwork in this volume just cannot compare.  While the art in this book is passable, the smooth lines and beautiful designs that were present in the original source are nowhere to be seen within these pages which will prove to be a big turn-off for the established fans who have already seen the animated version.

Overall however this is still a solid book for both long-time fans and newcomers who have never seen or read a Type-Moon story before in their life.  The pace is exciting and the writing never feels like it is too heavy for its own good. If you've ever had any kind of inkling to pick up the Fate franchise and find out what all the hullabaloo is about, this will prove to be a solid introduction and guide into the universe for you.

--L.B. Bryant