For me it all started on December 25th 2016. It was 2AM and I could not sleep. Sitting a lone in a Premier Inn hotel room in Chester with no where to go and nothing to do I decided to flick through Netflix and see what was on offer. At this point I had kind of given up on anime, nothing had hooked me since Kill La Kill. But on a whim I spotted Unlimited Blade works and decided to give it a go. From the beginning I was hooked and since then I have decided to suck up as much of this series as possible.
But due to multiple time lines and parallel universe it can be different to jump into, so I have created this handy guide for newcomers.
The Original Visual Novel Designs
Fate/Stay Night was originally an adult Visual Novel for Windows and eventually the Play Station 2 before it became a hit anime series. The initial series follows a novice mage named Shirou Emiya who becomes a participant in a battle between “Servants” known as the Holy Grail War. In the original game there where three different routes, that would focus on him falling in love with a different heroine and each route would drastically alter his future. Due to these drastic changes fans have grown to have their own favorite paths for Emiya to take. Which has inevitably lead to several different series and films being created to help give the community what they desire.
I will try and keep this as Spoiler free as possible and I warn you that this is only my preferences and you do not need to follow my advice on this.
Some of these series are necessary, while others are advised and my final category is optional. I will mark them down as such.
To kick things off I will give a little background about the Holy Grail Wars themselves. Each War see’s seven mages summon seven servants respectively. These are Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Assassin, Berserker and Caster respectively. Each servant is a hero of Past, Present or Future. This leads to heroes of myth and legend coming to the aid of magic users drawn from all over the world. In order to gain the Holy Grail.
Fate/Stay Night – Necessary
The original 2006 series is probably one of the weakest entries on this list, but unlike all others this one is the most important. The initial series follows the Fate Route and see’s our young protagonist fall in love with his guardian – Saber. Out of all the paths this is my least favorite as to me it makes the least sense. None the less the anime has moments of comedy, some nice fights and pretty much runs as a Standard Harem Anime. There are a few twist and turns but in the end we are left with a few unanswered questions.
Fate/Stay Unlimited Blade Works – Necessary
This is my personal favorite. There is a condensed film or the full series, you are better going with the series. This is the Unlimited Blade Works route and is the route where Emiya falls in love with his fellow Mage (who just also happens to be Top Student, An Idol, Beautiful, Driven and unlike Saber the same age as Emiya) Rin.
In this version we find out more about Rin and Archer, unlike the previous entry the animation is far superior, as is the voice acting but that is down to it being a 2014 release. Unlike the previous, entry once this one gets going it is a real thrill ride and has some amazing battles such as seeing the Demi-Gods Hercules and Gilgamesh go at each other with everything they have.
Fate/Zero – Advised
My first advised pick Fate/Zero is the prequel series and to me acts as real how to make a prequel. This 2011 series shares the high production vale of Unlimited Blade Works and is a non stop rollercoaster. Unlike the previous two entries on my list it involves 7 fully fledged masters each using a variety of differing techniques to gain an upper hand on their rivals. The series also has appearances from relatives of Emiya, Rin and Sakura so it helps show the viewers what drives these characters.
To help make this one stand out we get to see through the eyes of all the participants, seeing what pushes them on. Of course the best team is that of the timid Waver Velvet and the Boisterous Alexander The Great. You could in theory watch this as your first entry or even a stand alone piece but it would kind of ruin the point of it, since it helps fill in a lot of gaps in the lore, ones that where left their intentionally.
The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II – Advised
I do not know much about this series, but it is set between Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay. TThe Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II will follow the adventures of Waver Velvet, who has grown into a little bit of a badass. Waver is one of my favorite characters from the franchise, so I am bias here but the series is set for a summer 2019 release and is already on my watch list.
Fate/Apocrypha – Optional
This is where things begin to get complicated, Fate/Apocypha is set in a parallel timeline where the 3rd Holy Grail War ended differently. This leads to a group of Seven Allied Rogue Romanian Magic Useres to summon seven servants to win the grail. To oppose them the magical iinstitutions of the world send seven of their own champions, which leads to an epic battle involving Mordred, Jeanne d’Arc, Siegfried, Chiron, Vlad the Impaler, Atalanta, Achilles and William Shakespeare to name but a few.
Fate/Stay Heavens Feel Prestige Flower & Lost Butterfly – Necessary
The latest installment in the main timeline, Heavens Feel is the most tender, beautiful and emotionally charged of the three routes. Unlike the previous paths, Heavens Feel is being released as three films. Choosing to montage through the initial episodes and skip to the moment Rin takes Emiya to meet Kirei Kotomine. Before you watch this one I will warn you it is heart breaking, Sakura’s background is finally revealed and the sheer level of her abuse and torture is horrifying. At the same time seeing her and Emiya learn that they are in love is sweet, well more bittersweet.
This series is still on going so I wont say to much, but if you have seen the rest then this is where I suggest you end your watching.
And just do not watch – Fate/Extra Last Encore – Extremely Optional
What can I say I hate the character designs, I hate the fan service, I hate the plot and I just hate this one.
This really is a great franchise, except that one weak entry and if you are new to anime or have a friend that is new I really would suggest giving it a watch.