Nothing Like a Good Anime Film to Stave Off a Mental Health Crisis (Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel Presage Flower)

Last night my parents went to visit a family friend. I don’t know why they never decided to start bringing me and my twin (when he was still living on this side of the world) along as we got older, but they didn’t. So I found myself, for the first time since returning home, completely alone. And it was as bad as I remembered.

I appreciated the break that I’ve been having from stuff at university, but am now reaching the stage where boredom sets in. I can’t stay focussed on my games for very long having finished the one I really wanted to, and yesterday all of my chats on messenger were completely dead, and a lot of people I’ve been talking to had just left me on read. Honestly, if it wasn’t Christmas and I didn’t want to talk to lots of people and wish them a merry Christmas, I’d be tempted to deactivate social media for a while. it’s so good at feeding all my self-hatred. People obviously don’t want to talk to me because I’m too annoying, they’re not really friends, I think I’m getting better at not being annoyingly clingy but really the problem’s just been passed to a different person, etc.

All these thoughts kept bombarding me, I was ready to cry, curl up somewhere, but knew I couldn’t do that as if I did fall asleep my parents would find me and it would be weird. I’d probably have to explain everything to them. My mind then went elsewhere, and I was seriously contemplating doing something I knew I would regret, just in case it could give me some form of relief, even for just a few minutes, from all the pain. But then, my thoughts turned to anime.

I remember in my first year of my PhD there were anime movies in the cinema at least once a month. Indeed so many there was actually a mini exhibition at MCM May that year. Having been starting Fate/Extra, I remembered about Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel. I hadn’t watched it as I’d been holding out hope it would come to cinemas, but it never did, and I knew I’d have time to finish it, so that’s what I decided to put on.

Immediately I was impressed by the animation, and soon enough my dark thoughts dissipated as I got engrossed in the story I knew well, yet it obviously was different. For those who don’t know, Fate/Stay Night is a visual novel, and has three main routes. the first was adapted as an anime under the same title and follows Shirou. The second is Rin’s arc, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks, and Heaven’s Feel is Sakura’s. I first became acquainted to the Fate franchise with Fate/Zero, which is chronologically before Stay Night, and then watched UBW. At the recommendation of the person who introduced me to the series, I haven’t watched the original Stay Night, and to be honest having watched UBW I know I’d simply be disappointed, despite the fact is has the gem of a line “People die when they are killed”.

So I know what the general plot is, however, being a VN adaptation, there are obviously differences, and this is where I found things most interesting. I finally found Rider’s master, and she actually did something this time, even if she survived about as long as in UBW, and the second assassin and weird shadow thing have proven to be very interesting differences between UBW and HF. It’s strange seeing how quickly servants are being picked off in Heaven’s Feel, and the twist with Saber vanishing is one I’m very much looking forward to seeing the conclusion of. Shirou is the main character after all (as much as Rin probably ought to be), so he can’t really be out of the war just yet. And also how was Rider able to show up to save Shirou?! And there were two assassins… At least Fate does actually answer its questions unlike other series, so I’ll surely find all this out in time.

The film has the usual “Unlimited Budgetworks” of the series, and I did find myself being taken aback some times by it. The animation, even when not doing its impressive special effects, is very nicely done, the contrasts and lighting are stunning.

The series has definitely piqued my interest, as it always would. I’m wondering what role Sakura will really play in this. She’s far from the strongest character, doesn’t seem to have any magical properties… In fact, on multiple occasions I was fully expecting her to be used as an illusion for assassin to get to Shirou. Then again, for those who have watched Fate/Zero, we know she can’t possibly play no part at all. So, I’ll be very much looking forward to the next film, which luckily comes out next month!

The movie captured my attention so I forgot everything else going on, it was really engrossing, and that’s exactly what I needed. Even when lying in bed feeling awful afterwards, at least I’d made it there and was not in a position to act when things were at their worst. So thanks Fate series for making a terrible night a lot better!

And in case anyone is wondering, I’ve been fine today. My favourite group chat has been on fire today and it’s been so much fun and exactly the kind of connection to friends I’ve needed. In fact, that’s what delayed me actually writing this post. I’m pretty sure I wrote the title more than three hours ago…

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