Fate Extra Last Encore- Episode 1: Let’s make an overly long prologue even more confusing

Finally back to covering a series, it’s nice. Let’s skip the pleasantries and get right into what a special occasion FE’s coverage is going to be. Most of the times a series I cover is usually a light novel adaptation with predictable plots or manga adaptations where I usually get impatient and just go ahead and read the source material two weeks in. In JJBA’s case, a series I’ve already read, Fate Extra Last Encore follows a similar pattern in that I’ve already played Fate Extra in its entirety and Last Encore is supposed to be a re-imagining of the events that went on in Extra. According to Nasu himself, this was meant to be accessible to people who haven’t played Extra, and I quote, meant to make people who played Extra go “what?”.

Without a doubt, I was definitely curious what the hell was going on. So let’s dive into this and see why.

First things first, it looks like FELE is doing one of those starts where they show the last boss first. More interesting in this case is that it’s the female protagonist with Nero fighting off Extra’s last boss, Savior and losing horrendously. After that, we return to the male protagonist, Kishinami Hakuno sitting in class in a lecture. We also see Shinji as well as his girlfriend, Amari. Shinji and Amari invite Hakuno to have lunch with them. They discuss what their teacher was lecturing them about some “Limbo” in an abandoned building in the school grounds. From the upper floors, they see a chess match between the chess club head and Leo, the representative of the Harwey Family Conglomerate. Leo soundly wins and the chess club head is seemingly killed. Hakuno goes to investigate the body, only to run into Rin and she helps him carry the body to the Infirmary where they meet with Sakura. The latter asks for Hakuno to dispose of one of the unconscious bodies into the Limbo where the “incinerator” is located because she doesn’t have the authority to enter. Hakuno does as he’s told and throws the body, then hears Twice speaking to him about how this entire fiasco runs off of three layers. First the abandoned building, then the “school”, and then a person’s deepest memory so anyone who comes to the lowest point will remember something from their past. The Moon Cell created this simulation to replicate Paradise but only in a way a machine would come to understand it. Twice describes it as a digital hell instead. If Hakuno wishes to know why this place exists, Twice directs him to the center of Moon Cell.

As Twice disappears, he mutters that Hakuno is “late again” and the latter hears a broadcast announcing that 28 spots remain to be filled and they will have to kill others to make the cut. Mere instants later, the number counts down to 9 and then to 5. Hakuno runs into Shinji and the two run off to find safety, until Shinji turns and stabs Hakuno so that he may qualify. Shinji runs off as the last qualified person while Hakuno bleeds out as the school is purged by mooks. Hakuno makes his way to the incinerator where he is stalked by a figure of Emiya/Archer and the ground beneath the incinerator breaks and Hakuno finds himself on a stage. Hakuno finds a sword placed in the middle and limps his way there and as he pulls it out, Nero appears and fights off the shade of Archer and asks if Hakuno is her master.

So first things first, let’s go over how much this differs from how Extra started out. If the title didn’t clue you in already, the prologue for Extra is a rather tedious task that tries to be repetitive on purpose. After sifting through what seems to be the exact same dialogue at least twice, you do the same thing where you follow Leo into a strange dead end by the hallway and enter the proving grounds. The first time through, you go through the combat tutorial and die by default against the last enemy. The second one skips the combat tutorial but the result remains the same except you lose again, but finally contract with a servant. The first run of this is done with a nameless character who is one of the many who failed to make the qualifiers while the 2nd is actually the player character who lucks out and is able to contract with a servant, once that is done, you make it past the prelims and enter the Mooncell War. Quite the mouthful right? Well any subsequent playthroughs after the first will give you the option to skip this ordeal, thankfully enough.

The elimination process was a lot more direct in LE, people were made aware that spots were limited and they had to force their way into being participants in the grail war to come. In the regular Extra, it was made aware but not to the player during the prelims, the protagonist simply followed instincts to survive. Shinji also never actively backstabbed the protagonist in the prelims either, despite his attitude certainly capable of doing so. In that regard, him actually doing that in LE didn’t faze me at all. The whole bit with the incinerator and limbo was certainly new too and Sakura isn’t even present during the prologue either. Veterans will also notice Taiga not being around as well as the homeroom teacher. The homeroom teacher and the subject they were going over during the prelims themselves were more direct as well. Homeroom with Taiga was just silly and the faux-school setting did exactly what it did, simulate a regular school environment without anything told about the Grail War.

Shinji acting as Hakuno’s only male friend and Leo being shaped up being someone really important, nothing brand new. Amari is, however, a completely new character and I suspect her to be Tamamo given the hair and eye colors. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong though, there’s so many ways they can change up the story. I already mentioned Sakura showing up earlier than she did in the game and Rin herself interacting with Hakuno is odd since as far as the game went, Rin didn’t acknowledge Hakuno’s existence until he actually entered the grail war. Twice, the guy in glasses who’s the master for Savior at the start shows up way earlier and Hakuno doesn’t even question who the hell he even is. Then there’s the purging event. I’m not too surprised as to why this happened but the reason for a figure of Archer chasing Hakuno down was what surprised me. The nameless mooks killing off the students look like they’re supposed to in the game but is the best they can do with giving Archer his screentime? To be a slightly tougher enemy? The absolute last thing to note is how momentous they made Hakuno contracting with Nero. In the game, you just made a choice between 3 servants but here, they really played out their meeting as if it was meant to be, which is even weirder because as we’ve already seen at the very start, Nero and the female protagonist already lost against Savior. The ruined stage of Nero’s Noble Phantasm and her summoning is definitely something they played up as and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I also pray that this Nero’s demeanor is like what she was in Extra instead of being the completely flanderized beacon of memes she is nowadays. Aside from that, that’s mostly the differences I’ve noticed.

One last thing to point out are the visual differences between the anime and game. I won’t be too critical about this at the moment but Extra’s aesthetic design incorporated the theme of the sea and rightfully called the Moon Cell’s “interior” as a Virtual Sea. I always enjoyed what scenery the Arena in the game would show with its underwater vistas but the visuals in Extra seem mostly empty and more focused on showing building outlines and the sky. The entire framework of Extra being confined into a single school building has been changed to become a massively sprawling campus within a city and the school buildings themselves have enormous windows like glass houses to show off the outside view.

All in all, this is still a pretty damn big departure from what Extra started from and I’m confused on how to take this. Nothing in my body is telling me this is going to be amazing nor is it telling me this is going to be an absolute shit-show but what is for certain is that I’m damn curious to see how this plays out. One worrying thing is that it seems as though the Week 4 opponents and Rani haven’t appeared at all while literally everyone else excluding the servants have already been hinted at. Speaking of servants, the existence of FGO really does sour the original experience of figuring out who and what each servant was but these days, everyone knows who Drake, Robin, Nursery Rhyme, Li, and Gawain are about. No mention of Ronnie/Vlad, Gatou/Aruceid, or even Rani/Lu-Bu is hinted at so knows how they’re going to treat the former air of mystery with the adaptation.

Huh and would you look at that, actual review-material at the end of my episode coverage.

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