What is the Fate Series and In What Order Should I Watch It?

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The newest addition to the Fate series, Fate/Apocrypha, begun airing in 1 July 2017. Although many of you may be big fans of Fate, I’m sure there are some of you that are new to the series and are wondering what it’s all about. I want to give you a quick overview of Fate and the various TV anime within the franchise. I will also suggest in what order to watch them!

What is the Fate series?

In 2004, TYPE-MOON made their commercial debut with an R-18 PC visual novel called Fate/stay night. It was the origin of the Fate series. For those who don’t know, a visual novel is a computer game consisting of text that is read on the screen. The ‘visual’ aspect is that images of the characters and the background also appear on-screen, and there are additions such as background music, sound effects, and sometimes even voice acting! Many visual novels allow you to make certain choices in-game, and the game may progress differently depending on the player’s choices. Fate/stay night has three main routes that you can follow depending on your choices, with each of them focusing on a different heroine. The three main routes of the original Fate/stay night game are as follows:
The Fate Route, which focuses on Saber (this was adapted into the 2006 TV anime Fate/stay night)
The Unlimited Blade Works Route, which focuses on Rin Tohsaka (This was adapted into the 2010 anime movie Fate/stay Night Unlimited Blade Works by Studio Deen and then was adapted again into a TV anime and OVA by studio ufotable in 2014-2015 )
The Heaven’s Feel Route, which focuses on Sakura Matou (this is currently being adapted into a movie trilogy by ufotable, with the first movie due to be released in October 2017)

In 2005, a sequel game called Fate/hollow ataraxia was released, and in 2007 a version of Fate/stay night without the sex scenes, titled Fate/stay night: Réalta Nua, was also released. Many spin-offs, novels, manga, anime and more set in alternate timelines and universes have since been released as part of the Fate series.

A Fierce Battle Over the Holy Grail

Something that ties almost all works in the Fate series together is a battle royal known as The Holy Grail War. The Holy Grail is an omnipotent existence that can grant any wish and is the subject of the war. Each of The Holy Grail Wars usually revolves around seven Masters chosen by the Holy Grail and the seven Servants that they summon. Each Servant is a Heroic Spirit based on a real historical or legendary figure, such as King Arthur, Hercules, or William Shakespeare, but are usually referred to using the name of their class.

There are seven classes of Servants, which are as follows: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin, and Berserker. One Servant is contracted to one Master and the battle rages on.

As most of the works in the Fate series revolve around these wars, they are full of discord, conflict, and constant bloodshed.

What is So Good About the Fate Series?

No matter what, it is a battle between people who fight for their beliefs. It features the difficulty of perseverance.
The masters who fight in the war do so because they each have a wish that they want granted. The protagonist of Fate/stay night, Shirou Emiya, is an honest boy who wishes to save a lot of people. On the other hand, the masters who try to defeat the other participants also have wishes; a wish strong enough to risk their lives in battle. Shirou gets toyed around by other people’s wishes and obstacles. There is no ‘happily-ever-after’ ending waiting for them. Even if the wish is self-serving or evil, the faith in their battle is depicted so diligently that it really is something to watch out for.

The battle action scenes are also a highlight. In battle, the Servants use weapons called Treasures. They can be anything from swords to spears but the weapon differs by servant. The camerawork that carefully follows the lively battle makes the audience feel like they are fighting with the characters.

(We must note the recent spin off Prisma Illya, which is in its own special category, a magical girl addition to the Fate franchise.)

The bond between Master and Servant is also something to pay attention to. There are different relationships and it’s really interesting to watch each one and realize whether its a use-and-be-used relationship and how that changes.

Gen Urobuchi is heavily involved in the Fate series. He wrote the Fate/Zero light novels, which act as a prequel to Fate/stay night. They were also adapted into anime. Gen Urobuchi is known for Puella Magi Madoka Magica and PSYCHO-PASS, among other works. I won’t spoil anything for those series, but if you know them, then you know what I’m talking about if I say what kind of touch he lends to the Fate universe.

In What Order Should I Watch the Series?

First of all, let me show you what order the series was released in:

TV anime Fate/stay night (Studio Deen, 2006)
~ based on the ‘Fate’ route of the game Fate/stay night
Movie Fate/stay night UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS (2010)
~ based on the ‘Unlimited Blade Works’ route of the game Fate/stay night
TV anime Fate/Zero (2011)
~ based on Gen Urobuchi’s light novel Fate/Zero, which is set 10 years before Fate/stay night
TV anime Fate/Zero 2nd Season (2012)
~ based on Gen Urobuchi’s light novel Fate/Zero, which is set 10 years before Fate/stay night
TV anime Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] (ufotable version, 2014)
~ based on the ‘Unlimited Blade Works’ route of the game Fate/stay night
Anime TV movie Fate/Grand Order -First Order- (2016)
~ based on the online RPG Fate/Grand Order
TV anime Fate/Apocrypha (July 2017 broadcast)
~ based on the light novel Fate/Apocrypha, which is set in a parallel world to Fate/stay night
Movie Trilogy Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] (Scheduled for an October 2017 release)
~ based on the ‘Heaven’s Feel Route’ of the game Fate/stay night

The following are side stories:

TV anime Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya (2013)
TV anime Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! (2014)
TV anime Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei Herz! (2015)
TV anime Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 3rei!! (2016)
Movie Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya: Oath under Snow (Scheduled for an August 2017 release)
~ based on a manga series by Hiroshi Hiyama, an alternate universe spin-off of the magical girl genre
TV anime Fate/EXTRA Last Encore (Winter 2017 Broadcast)
~ base on the PSP game Fate/Extra, which is set in an alternate universe to Fate/stay night

As for the chronological order of the works, it goes as follows: Fate/ApocryphaFate/ZeroFate/stay night, and Fate/EXTRA. However, the settings are vaguely different.

If you are watching for the first time, here is my recommendation:
・First watch the TV anime Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (ufotable version)
・Then watch Fate/Zero

After that it doesn’t matter! Fate/Zero is set 10 years before Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works and is the opposite of the chronological order, but watching it this way makes it easier to understand the rules of the world.
Fate/Grand Order -First Order- is more backtracking. It was broadcast as a special show in 2016 and only the prologue was adapted into an anime.
The side story, Prisma Illya should be enjoyed as a completely different work. The pace and setting are completely different so I recommend that it be watched after Unlimted Blade Works and Zero.

The title list may seem complicated but if you start with Unlimited Blade Works, the world’s rules and what they are trying to depict are easier to understand.

If you watch Fate/Apocrypha this summer and then watch Unlimited Blade Works it’s not too late. It is a long series with many hardcore fans so some people may wonder if it is okay to start watching from Apocrypha but that’s no problem!

Let’s relax and enjoy the show!

~What is TYPE-MOON?~

TYPE-MOON is a Japanese game company that was originally founded as a doujinsoftware circle (an indie group that makes their own games) in 1999. The circle founders were author Kinoko Nasu and illustrator Takeshi Takeuchi. The first game TYPE-MOON released was Tsukihime, which was released at Comic Market in 2000. TYPE-MOON made the transition from doujin circle to commercial group in 2004 with the adult visual novel Fate/stay night. Nasu and Takeuchi’s novel series Kara no Kyokai also got a commercial released by Kodansha in 2004 and later got a series of anime movie adaptations by anime studio ufotable from 2007 to 2013. TsukihimeKara no Kyokai, and the Fate series are all set in parallel versions of the same world. In other words, the settings are similar but the details are different.

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