Proof that a show can use talking heads for the majority of its time and still be completely compelling.
Despite what I said in my first impressions post, I ended up caving and watching the Fate/stay night anime as well as the Unlimited Blade Works movie to fill in the wait in-between episodes. After having seen these shows and reading endless commentary on how the original visual novel was better and the adaptation was horrible, etc., etc., Fate/Zero is my best experience with the franchise so far. The show stands much better on its own and doesn't require knowledge of any of the previous installments in the series; in fact, the exposition dump from the first episode of Fate/zero actually explained a lot that was never touched on in the Fate/stay night anime, making for a better viewing experience. There's also the sky-high production values; this show must have the budget of a movie for it to look this good. Every detail looks absolutely amazing, and when fight sequences do happen, they're easily some of the best animation to come out this year. Unfortunately, I can't say that it was all put to good use as the majority of the show is spent with the characters talking about things. There are two now-infamous scenes where characters walk in circles because there is literally nothing else going on other than speech. This is clearly something that has to do with the adaptation; the anime is based on a book written by Urobuchi Gen, so it's going to be a bit wordy as it explains itself.
The upside to this is that everything that is discussed is genuinely interesting; the best example of this is in episode 11, featuring the debate between Rider, Archer and Saber about what it means to be a king. Three different ideologies, three different characters, with pros and cons to each argument. And in some cases, the new characters are getting more love than the old. Despite Saber's popularity, the favorites in this round are Rider and Waver, rivaling only Tiger & Bunny for best team-up of the year. Meanwhile, Caster and his master are redefining the term "religious nutjob" and Kariya seems like he's bordering on insanity himself in order to protect what's important to him. And that's just barely touching on the plethora of inter-personal conflict going on in this series. While it certainly wouldn't have hurt to have a bit more action, the compelling characters and the cliffhanger that this first half left off on certainly live up to the hype surrounding this series. If you're not watching this, now is your chance to jump on the bandwagon and catch up before the second half airs. Is it April yet?
Images from Crunchyroll.com and Random Curiosity.