Fate/Grand Order is by far the most successful part of the Fate franchise in recent years, taking the original concepts and adding as many new characters to the fold. One of the most well-known stories in the mobile game is the Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia.
Babylonia is a game adaptation of one of the most popular characters from the game, following Chaldea's efforts to stop a catastrophe in 2655 B.C. Mesopotamia. It's a bold claim surely given their recent work on Spy x Family, but the production of this show is truly outstanding.
The Anime Production Hierarchy
Ever wonder who are the most well-known anime directors who have recently risen to fame, only to realize they are just fantastic for someone approaching 50 years old? That's because, in anime, the directors often began as between animators and key animators for decades.
Toshifumi Akai may be 40 years old, but that's still young compared to most directors of his ilk, and make no mistake, Akai's work on Babylonia makes no mistake. Without the flexible production schedule, it might easily become a waste of talent.
It's easy to overlook the unfortunate realities of the industry, namely overwork and underpay, when talking about a show this stacked with action. Even the biggest studios cannot always afford to have a better timetable to work on.
Babylonia's Storytelling Trick
Given the industry standards, this adaptation feels like a miracle and one that has its finer points. Again, consistency is one thing, but having a top-tier animated fight every episode feels like stretching. And considering the source material, it's also fairly appropriate.
FGO is a mobile game, after all, one in which visual novel-style dialog scenes and combat encounters propel the narrative through. It is likely not only a creative decision, but a necessity to adapt from a conventional medium.
The series gets off to a good start (not a pun) and rarely slows down. Yoshikazu Iwanami's sound design provides a bass-boosted symphony.
This series is all that one would want from an action anime, and it deserves to be praised for the breadth of the animation staff's effort. However, many would likely not consider the time commitment worthwhile. Because unfortunately, this isn't a Fate story, it's a Fate/Grand Order.
Fate/Grand Order's Complexity
Fate isn't a series that is free of flaws, except for its overabundance of parallel works that aren't connected yet insist on making connections between them. Yet, Grand Order is one of the most perplexing of all the films to achieve immense popularity.
The idea is clear from the start: the world is coming to an end, and a group of individuals is formed to travel at different points in history to prevent world-ending catastrophes. The goal is to find a holy grail to prevent the world's destruction.
These time periods aren't in our world, but rather pockets of knowledge that have a strange connection to ours. Plus, in the anime, it isn't clear what purpose the grails serve in preventing these terrible events. This franchise isn't entirely accessible to new viewers because much of the lore relies on knowing the original Fate/Stay Night and the significance of terms like "Masters" and "Servants."
Babylonia is itself an isolated arc among many, even when all of the basic building blocks are understood. Between episode 0 - the prologue - and episode 1, six different arcs have taken place in the game's story, of which only a few have received adaptations after the fact. The protagonists are somewhat stagnant and unchanging characters through which mobile players might easily self-insert.
The expectations of the narrative are presented in simple terms, but the criteria by which the heroes' mission is deemed successful is unclear. The grail isn't as important as it's a familiar term that invokes Fate; rather, the end seems to be indicated by some main antagonist's defeat.
Fate/Grand Order has a lot of things that boggles the mind, yet despite its narrative flaws, it is still a fairly enjoyable series under the right circumstances. Not just because the action and animation are excellent, but also because the characters - or some of them - are quite interesting.
Pushing The Right Buttons
The media is all about pushing people's buttons, eliciting stronger positive or negative responses, and making it easier to overlook flaws depending on what is done well. In Babylonia, the servant characters are often funny, heartwarming, or highly charismatic, and the exchanges between characters are where the series shines brightest.
Fate/Grand Order might be a victim of the growing amount of narrative machinations in this mobile game. Yet, the sheer quality of how a series is created has a significant amount of the weight left on the pavement by the story. In visual media, storytelling is just as important as action; it is powerful character acting that can elevate what might be dull moments and make them unforgettable.
When praised by mainstream audiences, masterworks such as Mob Psycho or Jujutsu Kaisen have competently done their stories without relying on further lore, but how engaging the narrative is plays a huge role in determining whether or not it is worthwhile. This isn't the first piece to be composed to examine its own fate series.
It is also not a story that will leave the audience thinking about it for days to come, but one that is simple as that can make the whole thing worthwhile.
Babylonia, the absolute Demonic Front of Fate/Grand Order, is now available for streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.