An Overview of Fate Series Anime

In 2004, a company called Type-Moon released an eroge visual novel called Fate/Stay Night. Today, the Fate series is a massive multi-media franchise encompassing manga, video games, and, of course, anime.

Suffice to say, there are a lot of Fate anime out there. For a newcomer, it can be tricky to figure out where to start, what each series is about, and/or whether a particular Fate title can be enjoyed as a standalone experience. And if you’ve only watched one or two Fate shows, it can be hard to know how the others connect to them or if they’re even connected in the first place.

That’s why we’ve developed this overview to help readers (and also ourselves, because gosh — look at all those Fate entries) understand the world of Fate anime. Let’s take a look, shall we? 


Main Series

Fate/Stay Night (Series)

Production Studio: Studio Deen

Year: 2006

What it’s about: The Fate/Stay Night visual novel features three different story routes, and this anime adapts the first Fate route, although it also contains elements of the other routes. It follows a high schooler named Shirou Emiya, who finds himself unwittingly involved in the fifth iteration of a magical battle royale called the Holy Grail War. The conflict is fought between seven pairs of Masters and super-powered Servants, the latter being summoned historical/mythological figures. The goal? To obtain the wish-granting Holy Grail. 

While Shirou knows a bit of magic thanks to his late adoptive father, Kiritsugu, he’s totally clueless about the Holy Grail War and the world of mages. However, he ends up summoning the sword-wielding Saber, considered to be the best of the seven Servant classes, and eventually forms an alliance with school mate and fellow Master Rin Tohsaka. Saber is the main female character for this route. 

It is currently streaming on HiDive. 

Fate/Stay Night TV reproduction (OVA)

Production Studio: Studio Deen

Year: 2010

What it’s about: It’s the Fate/Stay Night anime series but condensed into two OVA episodes.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Movie)

Production Studio: Studio Deen

Year: 2010

What it’s about: The movie by Studio Deen covers the Unlimited Blade Works route of the Fate/Stay Night visual novel. As for that story, it’s still about Shirou and his involvement in the Holy Grail War, but Unlimited Blade Works diverges from the Fate route, resulting in some notable plot differences. Rin is the main heroine this time, and there is a focus on the background of her mysterious Servant, Archer.  The title “Unlimited Blade Works” is probably more synonymous with the 2014 TV adaptation by Ufotable (see below).

It is currently streaming on HiDive. 

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Series)

Production Studio: Ufotable

Year: 2014-2015

What it’s about: The more recent adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route and the better-regarded one. Ufotable’s adaptation tells the story across a span of 26 episodes instead of a single movie, and the production values earned the show the nickname of “Unlimited Budget Works*.” 

(*Although it would be wrong to say that budget doesn’t matter entirely in an anime, the idea that good animation quality is defined by budget is actually incorrect. Animator Bahi JD said that, “making good quality animation on TV shows is not expensive.” In addition, the Chief Animation Director of One Punch Man’s first season, Chikashi Kubota, told Yatta-Tachi that, “Anime, generally they all have the same budget… So, in reality, it is based on the staff.”

For further reading, Anime News Network and Sakuga Blog have also produced informative writings on the matter.)

It is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu.

Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel (Movie Trilogy)

Image source: IMDb

Production Studio: Ufotable

Year: 2017-???

What it’s about: Based on the third and final route of the visual novel, Heaven’s Feel’s story diverges even further from Fate/Stay Night than Unlimited Blade Works did. This adaptation also rushes past the shared plot elements to quickly get to the new content. The focus this time is on Shirou’s relationship with his high school junior, Sakura Matou. Sakura was only a minor character in the first two routes, but she plays a vital role here. Heaven’s Feel is perhaps the darkest of the three Fate/Stay Night routes.

Planned as a movie trilogy, only two movies have been out so far. The third, subtitled Spring Song, was supposed to be released in March before being pushed back to April. It has now been indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first two movies are available on Blu-ray in North America and the UK. 

Fate/Zero (Series)

Production Studio: Ufotable

Year: 2011-2012

What it’s about: Set 10 years before Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero details the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War, with Shirou’s adoptive father Kiritsugu as the main character. Like Shirou, Kiritsugu is not a typical mage, but he’s much more familiar with the world of magic than Shirou and is an infamous mage assassin to boot. This is arguably the Fate show that offers the best depiction of the Holy Grail War as a battle royale-style conflict.     

The Type-Moon wiki, citing Type-Moon Ace Vol. 10, says that Fate/Zero is set in a different parallel world than Fate/Stay Night, but the former still works as a prequel that leads to the events of the latter. Kiritsugu aside, there are other characters who are connected to the ones in Fate/Stay Night (like Rin’s father Tokiomi). There are also characters who appear in both, like the priest Kirei Kotomine.

It is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation, and on Netflix for Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore.


Spin-Offs

Carnival Phantasm (OVA)

Image source: IMDb

Production Studio: Lerche

Year: 2011

What it’s about: The writer of the Fate/Stay Night visual novel, Kinoko Nasu, ended up birthing what fans call the Nasuverse, which encompasses not only the Fate series, but other series that are related to Fate to varying degrees. This comedy/parody OVA is more of a Nasuverse show than a Fate one, as there are appearances from non-Fate characters like Shiki Ryougi and Akiha Tohno. However, the presence of various Fate sketches, including one that turns the Fifth Holy Grail War into a game show, means that there’s something for Fate-only viewers as well.

There’s no plot to keep track of here, but knowledge of the series being parodied is required to make sense of things.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya (Series with OVA and Movies)

Production Studio: Silver Link

Year: 2013 onwards

What it’s about: One of the Masters in Fate/Stay Night was a silver-haired girl called Illya von Einsbern. In the world of Fate/kaleid, however, Illya is just an ordinary elementary student. That is, until she meets a talking magic stick and becomes a magical girl. Under the guidance of Rin, Illya has to collect seven class cards, with each of those classes corresponding with the ones from the Holy Grail War.

Fate/kaleid is generally more light-hearted and comedic than the main series (and has a bit of questionable fanservice), but it has its share of serious moments and battles too. The 2017 movie, Oath Under Snow, has a completely serious tone and focuses on the brother of Miyu Edelfelt, another magical girl who is a rival-turned-friend of Illya’s. A new, currently untitled movie was announced recently.

All four seasons are currently streaming on Crunchyroll. The second, third, and fourth seasons are currently streaming on the Ani-One YouTube channel for some Southeast Asian countries. Only the fourth season has English subtitles at time of writing, while the rest have Chinese subs only.

Fate/Grand Order -First Order- (Special)

Production Studio: Lay-Duce

Year: 2016

What it’s about: An hour-plus adaptation of the Fate/Grand Order smartphone game’s prologue, First Order introduces main characters like Ritsuka Fujimaru (the male version of the playable character), his Servant Mash Kyrielight, and their ally Dr. Romani Archaman.

It’s the year 2015, and mankind is expected to go extinct by December 2016. The cause is determined to be an abnormality in Fuyuki City, where the Holy Grail Wars in Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night were fought (F/GO takes place in a different continuity though, so its Fuyuki Grail War is different). In response, the Chaldea Security Organization recruits multiple Master candidates, with the plan of sending them back through time to preserve mankind. 

It is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Fate/Apocrypha (Series)

Production Studio: A-1 Pictures

Year: 2017

What it’s about: Instead of being a free-for-all event, the Holy Grail War in Fate/Apocrypha is fought by two opposing sides, Black and Red, each with seven Master-Servant pairs. The Black side is represented by the Yggdmillenia Family, whose leader Darnic stole the Greater Grail during the Third Holy Grail War 60 years before the start of the series, meaning that there’s no Fourth or Fifth Holy Grail War in this world. Opposing them is the Mage’s Association of the Clock Tower, a faction that also exists in the main series, who aren’t pleased with the Yggdmillenias’ theft of the Grail and declaration of secession. 

The special format of this Holy Grail War is the result of an emergency system within the Grail. It also features another difference: the summoning of a special Ruler class who serves as an arbitrator. The first episode features cameos of characters from another Fate show, Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin}Grace note, although they exist in separate universes.

It is currently streaming on Netflix. 

Fate/Grand Order: Moonlight/Lostroom (Special)

Production Studio: Lay-Duce

Year: 2017

What it’s about: A New Year’s special centering on the mysterious Lost Room at Chaldea. 

Fate/Grand Order x Himuro no Tenchi: 7-nin no Saikyō Ijin-hen (Special)

Image source: Collabo Cafe

Production Studio: Ufotable

Year: 2017

What it’s about: Another New Year’s Special. This one is a comedic crossover featuring the stars of Himuro no Tenchi, a comedy manga about three of Shirou’s classmates from Fate/Stay Night.

Fate/Extra: Last Encore (Series)

Production Studio: Shaft

Year: 2018

What it’s about: Main character Hakuno Kishinami is a student at a virtual high school. One day, he is attacked and ends up summoning a Saber-class Servant. Thus, he becomes one of the 128 Masters of this universe’s Holy Grail War. 

Fate/Extra: Last Encore is perhaps the most distinct title among the Fate anime catalogue. Although it still features the Master/Servant concept and has some familiar faces from the main series, its alternate universe also features a quantum computer called Moon Cell and is set in a virtual world on the Moon. It’s the same setting as that of the Fate/Extra game, with the anime being a “what-if” scenario derived from a potential ending from that game.

It is currently streaming on Netflix. 

Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family (ONA)

Production Studio: Ufotable

Year: 2018

What it’s about: A cooking-themed slice-of-life ONA. Although it’s another alternate universe show, it features the cast of Fate/Stay Night and assumes that the viewer has knowledge of their relationships in the main series.

It is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation. 

Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin}Grace note (Series)

Image source: IMDb

Production Studio: Troyca

Year: 2019

What it’s about: A Whodunit (or Whydunit, in the main character’s words) mystery spin-off starring Waver Velvet, who was a young Master during the events of Fate/Zero. Now grown-up and a professor at the Clock Tower who bears the title of El-Melloi II, Waver, along with his mysterious protégé, Gray, ends up getting involved in various magical cases and mysteries, including one set on board a train called the Rail Zeppelin. A special Episode 0 aired in December 2018.   

El-Melloi II’s Case Files moves beyond the boundaries of the Holy Grail War to explore the larger world of mages and magecraft, but has various references to the Fourth Holy Grail War. In addition, some familiar faces from other Fate shows show up here. 

It is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation. 

Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia – Initium Iter (Special)

Production Studio: CloverWorks

Year: 2019

What it’s about: Basically a companion episode that serves as the Episode 0 to the Fate/Grand Order Babylonia series (see below). It reveals how Romani Archaman joined Chaldea and details his first meeting with Mash Kyrielight. Initium Iter also sheds light on Mash’s background and Demi-Servant status. 

It is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation. 

Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia (Series)

Image source: IMDb

Production Studio: CloverWorks

Year: 2019

What it’s about: An adaptation of the Fate/Grand Order game’s Babylonia arc, with the Babylonia being the seventh of the game’s Singularities. In this arc, Ritsuka Fujimaru and Mash travel back to ancient Mesopotamia, where the city of Uruk is under siege by demonic beasts led by the Three-Goddess Alliance. Joining forces with Merlin and a mysterious girl called Ana, Risuka and Mash have to assist the legendary King Gilgamesh in defending the city, with mankind’s future hanging in the balance. 

It is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation. 

Fate/Grand Order The Movie Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot (Movie Duology)

Image source: YouTube

Production Studio: Signal.MD, Production I.G

Year: 2020 (upcoming)

What it’s about: An upcoming adaptation of Fate/Grand Order’s sixth arc, Camelot. The first movie, Wandering; Agateram, is produced by Signal.MD, while the second movie, Paladin: Agateram, is produced by Production I.G. Plot details for non-players remain vague, but the trailer indicates that the Arthurian knight Bedivere will feature prominently, and that Leonardo Da Vinci, a Servant on Chaldea’s side, will accompany Ritsuka and Mash on their time-travel adventure.

Fate/Grand Order Final Singularity – Grand Temple of Time: Solomon 

Image source: YouTube

Production Studio: CloverWorks

Year: TBD

What it’s about: Another upcoming Fate/Grand Order adaptation, this time covering the story of the game’s final Singularity, Solomon. 


Special Mention

Fate/Prototype (OVA)

Image source: IMDb

Production Studio: Lerche

Year: 2011

What it’s about: A short peek at what Fate/Stay Night would’ve been like had it stuck to its earlier concept. Instead of having Shirou as the protagonist, Fate/Prototype features Sayaka Sajou, an orphaned female mage who uses black magic and feels inferior to her late sister. Meanwhile, the Saber she summons is male instead of female. The plot and the other characters seem notably different as well, although the short does not expand any further than that.


We hope that with this overview, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the Fate anime series and the differences between its numerous shows. As for watch orders or rankings, we might be doing separate articles for those in the future, so stay tuned for more Fate content! 

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