The tale of the Holy Grail War is a must-see, but with so many anime versions of the Fate universe which is the best route to take?
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It is possible to watch it in order of its release. Start with the anime which was released first, then move on toward the most recent episode. Many may say that certain versions are wastes of time or that it’s better to watch everything chronologically, here’s my reasoning:
The plot of Fate’s tale revolves around Holy Grail War, an epic battle royale where mage summon legendary characters from the past to battle for the power to grant wishes of the Holy Grail itself.
However, Fate/Stay Night was originally visually novel (an interactive story that has branching routes), so the plot itself depended on the romantic interest that the player picked at the start of the game, resulting in an unique sequence of events, known as”a “route”. Based on the choice you make of Saber the noble servant, Rin the young mage girl, or Sakura the shy classmate three different routes can be taken:
- 1. Saber: The Fate option is the simplest and will automatically switch you to the initial option.
- 2. Rin 2. Rin Unlimited Blade Works option assumes you’ve already played Fate. There are additional plot twists.
- 3. Sakura The Heaven’s Feel Route. This is the final and darkest of routes.
As you can imagine, anime can’t change three timelines in one go! So in 2006, “Fate/Stay Night” aired as a 26-episode television show that adapted the Fate route, incorporating small chunks from other routes to give fans an easy, but well-rounded look to the realm of the Holy Grail Wars. But perhaps it was a little too well-rounded, as it ended up being an action-modern-fantasy-epic AND a romantic-comedy-slice-of-life-harem. Studio DEEN’s unoriginal fight scenes made it the very first Fate anime. But, many are of the opinion that it didn’t do the story justice.
The same could be said about the 105 minute film version released in 2010. With more than 24 hours of playtime required per chapter in the graphic novel, there is a LOT of content which must eventually be removed from an anime, which results in climaxes not feeling as strong as they should. If you’re interested in Fate, there is still something to be gained from the Studio DEEN animated films!
Fate/Zero is a prequel to the events of Fate/Stay Night, beginning as an e-book series, before being made into an anime series created by Studio Ufotable between 2011 and 2012. In contrast to the previous series, Fate/Zero is an excellent series! Digital post-processing utilizes a wide range of colors and patterns of light diffusion, creating an impressive spectacle, with breathtaking backgrounds and battle scenes. The story that was written by Gen Urobuchi contains his signature style of drama, building up various idealistic figures before smashing their goals directly in front of them.
Therefore, it is logical to just watch Fate/Zero and avoid the 2006 season, doesn’t it? Do you really want to watch 26 episodes of dullness in the midst of 25 episodes of amazingness? What if Fate/Zero occur before Fate/Stay night chronologically? Although this thought-process may be tempting, as it is, it almost goes against the intentions of the creator. Because Fate/Zero was a prequel made AFTER Fate/Stay Night was created the story needed to be written using a pre-established ending involving each character failing, to allow the story to continue in the next installment.
This is usually the result of the stakes being lower since the audience knows exactly what the outcome will be. But, as I said: Gen Urobuchi (aka The Urobutcher) trademark is tragedy. The irony is made worse when you know the fates these characters will suffer. Their fleeting moments of happiness and hope are followed by a feeling of sadness when you realize that your beloved characters are bound to be defeated unfairly, and every instance of uncertainty and betrayal is extremely threatening.
The Ancient Greek form of tragedy prides itself on the dramatic irony of plays such as Oedipus Rex or even Shakespearean plays like Hamlet were all expansions of popular folk stories. This enabled audiences to feel a an intimate connection with the characters and to understand the pain they experienced. Similar can be said about Fate/Zero. Can we really feel the struggles of these characters and pain without understanding that it’s all to nothing? To have the most enjoyable experience, I recommend that you go through the 2006 series first before Fate/Zero.
Studio Ufotable recently aired 25 episodes of an adaptation of Unlimited Blade Works. However it’s not a replacement for the year 2006. As I stated above, Unlimited Blade Works has plot twists that aren’t covered in Fate/Zero. UBW should be watched after Fate/Zero for a fresh approach to the original series.
Ufotable is also producing a film trilogy that is based on the Heaven’s Sense route (beginning in 2017) which will probably also be its own distinct thing. Heaven’s Feel is not the most accessible path in the original graphic novel. I would suggest that you read the book thoroughly prior to preparing.
So in summary:
- Fate/Stay Night (26 episodes from DEEN 2006) (the Unlimited Blade Works film from 2010 is optional)
- Fate/Zero (25 episodes – Ufotable, 2011-2012)
- Fate/Stay night [Unlimited Blade WorksFate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works (25 episodes from Ufotable to Ufotable from 2014 to 2015)
- Fate/Stay Night [Heaven’s Feel] (Film trilogy ), Ufotable 2017 -????)