In this article we will talk about Fate / Extra Last Encore. If you are not familiar with the concepts of the Nasuverse and the Fate / Stay Night franchise, we recommend that you retrieve these two articles first.
A new adaptation for a new spirit
The Type-Moon animated product we will discuss today is quite recent, although it still refers to the Fate / Extra package and, unlike the usual adaptation, stands out for the spirit with which it was conceived.
A year after a generic announcement of a Fate / Extra adaptation to the Fate Project panel in 2016, it was the Shaft studio, already known for Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the Monogatari series to announce that, under the guidance of Kinoko Nasu as a writer, they would produce the anime titled Fate / Extra Last Encore.
Immediately, however, the differences between the product in question and the typical structure of an animated adaptation are highlighted: with Last Encore, Nasu explicitly expressed his intention to create something distinctly anomalous regardless of the knowledge of Extra's premises, proposing a series that serves as a starting point for anyone approaching the so-called "Extraverse" for the first time and, at the same time, stunning everyone who is familiar with the original game with profound structural differences.
In this sense, Last Encore turns out to be more a piece of Extra than a simple animated version of it, as may have happened, for example, with Fate / Zero.
Key differences between Fate / Extra and Last Encore
The premises of the Moon Cell Holy Grail War remain unchanged compared to what was previously discussed, forcing 128 people to participate in a battle of survival in a virtual space located on the Moon.
However, the cards are immediately shuffled by some fundamental changes to the structure of the War, due to the use of Noble Phantasm by Saver, who has rewritten some conflict rules.
So Hakuno and Saber find themselves in a War that has been going on for a long time, in a world now far from what we know: in fact, 1000 years have passed since the beginning of the War of Moon Cell, and only one hundred humans remained on earth making the inhabitants of Moon Cell the last trace of humanity.
Following Hakuno, we will gradually unravel the knots of the mysteries behind the strange circumstances of the events in progress while the lively and eccentric Saber will help him face the obstacles that will appear before the duo.
An inconsistent product
Fate / Extra Last Encore is a rather polarizing series both among viewers more foreign to the Fate franchise and for longtime fans.
First of all it is necessary to specify that it is not recommended to approach the Fate franchise starting from this anime. If on the one hand Last Encore you actually take the time to explain all the specific features of Extra, such as the SE.RA.PH. system, the story takes for granted familiarity with the foundations of the Holy Grail War at the center of the whole franchise.
Beware of the info dump
Last Encore is also the first anime script written in the first hand by Nasu, until now used only to writing narratives for Visual and Light Novel.
This lack of experience on the part of the author is often tangible, especially in the first episodes, where the dense bombardment of detailed notions typical of Nasu can be confusing, leaving the viewer uncertain about which concepts have priority.
To this are added plot and often not very concrete characters: the dark reinterpretation of what was previously a linear Dungeon Crawler wants to show the viewer the entire system in decay, with the characters at the mercy of a virtual reality from which they cannot escape, at whose center of the narrative, as usual, is not the fighting but the riddles and oddities that pervade the events.
This is evident from the first episode, where several anomalous events are set which, however, rarely receive answers and explanations.
Goodbye attention to social dynamics
Even one of the most intriguing aspects of Fate, namely the intertwining of social dynamics with the rules of war, suffers a rather hard blow here. The "monster-of-the-week" format and the exasperated grandeur that generally characterizes the Last Encore Servants help to eliminate those dynamics, and while the secondary Masters are sacrificed in favor of the protagonist, Hakuno is the adaptation of a protagonist of an RPG with no personality, a trait that emerges as much from the character design as from his general attitude throughout the story.
This creates a strange contrast to Saber's lively, confident, eccentric, theatrical and joyful character, who often because of his strong personality steals the scene from his Master rather than complementing both sides of the contract for growth.
Despite this Fate / Extra Last Encore is a work that, in its particularities, can be very enjoyable although at times confusing even for those who know Extra and CCC well.