Visual Novel: Fate/stay night
I ask of you: Are you my Master?
My body is made of swords.
My blood is iron, and my heart is glass.
I have survived countless battles.
Not once have I retreated,
Not once have I been understood.
I was always alone, intoxicated with victory on the hill of swords.
And thus, my life has no meaning.
Truly, this body was made of swords.
There exists a plane outside of human concepts
, and within there is the Throne of Heroes. Here, the records of the brave men and women whose lives have become legends are kept, to be used as eternal guardians of mankind. When a legend has been venerated enough by humanity they can become immortalized as a Heroic Spirit that surpasses time itself
. However the definition of what is a "hero" is broad
— even the ruthless and heartless are the heroes of their own tales
.There is a ritual known as the Heaven's Feel
where seven Spirits can ally with a Sorcerer Master via contract and become Servants
. This ritual culminates in a seven-way war
to acquire the ultimate prize
, the Holy Grail, which can grant the wishes of the Servant and Master who are victorious
. As enemies knowing their true name would give opponents an advantage over them
, as it allows their foes to research their legends and discover their weaknesses, so it is hidden. Instead, each heroic Servant Spirit is given a Class by which they are addressed
: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Berserker, and Assassin
. In addition, each Servant is armed with the mysteries that symbolize their legend — Noble Phantasms, legendary armaments and abilities
As each Servant falls, the Holy Grail receives their power, until only one remains
, and the Grail is ready to grant the winners' wishes. The Holy Grail War that results in this has happened before, with a great cost of human lives, all for that one wish granted by the Grail.Fate/stay night
opens with Shirou, the near-Ordinary High-School Student
who happens to know a little bit of magic from his late father, a retired mage. Shirou is the sole survivor of a terrible fire that destroyed his hometown — the site of the last Holy Grail War. He desperately wants to be a hero to overcome his Survivor Guilt
, but as the events unfold and he gets sucked into the current Holy Grail War, he learns that heroes
are only heroes when people die. Can he be a hero and still maintain his gentle nature? How holy can this Holy Grail be, if so many die over it?
Then there is Saber, the Servant Spirit who gets bonded to him. Her true name is unknown, but she has the mannerisms of a knight and the appearance of a young woman. Add to this an aloof girl
named Tohsaka Rin, a rival Master and schoolmate who finds him too pathetic to kill off immediately
. Rin is a professional mage who knows the Grail War rules, but her conscience results in her helping out, despite her protests to the contrary. There is also her mysterious Servant, Archer, who claims to suffer amnesia in the beginning due to his botched summoning
. In addition, Shirou has to protect his "family" — his self-appointed "older sister" teacher Taiga Fujimura, and his kohai
Matou Sakura, who has an obvious (to everyone else
) crush on him.
The original game was a PC Eroge Visual Novel
created by the company Type-Moon, and set in the Nasu Verse
. It was split into three routes:
- Fate: A route focused on Shirou, and his ideal of becoming a selfless "Hero of Justice" who can protect the lives of everyone and everything.
- Unlimited Blade Works: A route focused on Rin and Archer, specifically delving into Archer's mysterious past and his conflict with Shirou's ideals.
- Heaven's Feel: The third and final route, focused on Shirou's childhood friend Sakura Matou, the dark machinations of her grandfather, and the secrets behind the creation of the Heaven's Feel ritual.
Although never officially released in English
, the game originally had a Fan Translation
patch made for it by the good folks at Mirror Moon
. The Visual Novel
has been adapted for the PlayStation 2
, minus the sex scenes and plus lots of cool new stuff
. The PS2
version is subtitled Realta Nua
and you can implement the extra content from this version onto the original CD/DVD installed PC version with this patch
A PS Vita
port of Realta Nua
has been released in Japan on the 29th of November, 2012 with high resolution graphics and three openings animated by Ufotable
A version of Realta Nua
was also released for PC in the beginning of 2012, with the three routes separated into individual downloads. The newest (and arguably most complete) English translation
is intended to work with this version. It adds the original H scenes(toggleable), corrected translations, updated BGM, and the opening videos from the PS Vita version.
- An anime adaptation created by Studio DEEN, released in 2006. The story is mostly based on the Fate route, with a few additions from the other two routes to make the series fill 24 episodes and give more attention to characters that were pushed into the background during Fate.
- A movie adaptation, also created by Studio DEEN and released in 2010. This version covers the Unlimited Blade Works route, with emphasis on the action scenes. (This is sometimes counted as the second movie, after Fate/stay night TV reproduction, a two-hour OVA recut from the TV show.)
- A manga adaptation serialised from 2006-2012. Like the anime adaptation, it's based on the Fate scenario with some additional material from the other routes. The artist, Datto Nishiwaki, is a big Type-Moon fan, and makes references to other Nasu Verse works in his end-of-volume rants.
- Another anime by ufotable based on Unlimited Blade Works, released in 2014.
- A Heaven's Feel movie by ufotable has been confirmed. The first preview can be seen here.
In 2005, it received a sequel titled Fate/hollow ataraxia
, and in 2006, a prequel titled Fate/Zero
. For other derived and related media set in the same universe see Nasu Verse
Tropes in Fate/stay night:
open/close all folders
Unlimited Blade Works
- Alas, Poor Villain
- Caster dies to protect her Master, who then challenges Archer to a completely hopeless fight to avenge her.
- Ilya dies not as a cruel Master but instead as a scared little girl.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Used by Shirou on Gilgamesh. Since both are owners of virtually unlimited weapons but neither are masters of any of those weapons, it becomes a battle of Attack! Attack! Attack!. Even though Gilgamesh's weapons are stronger than Shirou's, within the boundaries of "Unlimited Blade Works" Shirou can pull out weapons faster than Gilgamesh, allowing him the decisive blow when a frustrated Gilgamesh decides to take the extra time to try to pull out Ea. It really helps that Gil is extremely arrogant and refuse to fight "mere trash" seriously until it was too late.
- Attempted Rape: Shinji attempts to rape Rin Tohsaka while she's captive in the Einzbern castle. The result? He gets stabbed by Lancer and runs away in fear, looking exceptionally pathetic.
- Badass in Distress: Happens to both Rin and Saber at different points in the route
- Batman Gambit: Archer's plan involves manipulating Shirou's hero complexnote and Caster's confidence in her power and superiority after capturing Saber. It goes surprisingly well. Archer pretends to join Caster in order to remove Rin's command which prevents him from attacking Shirou. After Shirou and Rin weaken Caster and Kuzuki, Archer deals the final blow and Shirou is indefensible before him, while Saber is available for Rin to make a contract with. However, he didn't consider Rin would make a contract with Saber before he manages to kill Shirou.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Shirou and Rin have some clashes during the course of the route with Rin being a grade-A Tsundere and Shirou a socially awkward Deadpan Snarker.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Archer drops in and rescues Shirou when Caster lures Shirou to her temple. He had the chance to defeat Caster too, but he passed it up.
- When Rin and Shirou are fighting against Caster and her Master, Archer, who had supposedly betrayed them to join Caster, kills both Kuzuki and Caster.
- When a desperate Rin is prepared to die within the Holy Grail and have Saber destroy it, Archer, thought to be dead after his fight with Shirou, helps Rin get out.
- Bittersweet Ending: Shirou cannot absolve Archer's fate, but the Counter Guardian comes to find peace with it.
- If you follow the true end, Archer states while he does find peace, the real Emiya will not and Saber is gone, but has accepted her fate. Rin and Shirou are together and Archer is certain if Rin is with Shirou, he won't become Archer and Shinji pulls a Heel-Face Turn
- Body Horror: When Gilgamesh uses Shinji as the Grail's core, his body is transformed into an enormous mound of cancerous tissue leaking cursed mud.
- Darkest Hour: Caster has kidnapped Saber, taken over the church and Archer betrayed Rin.
- Deus ex Machina: Archer, after losing nearly all his mana from not having a Master for a few days while not doing anything, comes back from being gravely wounded by the Gate of Babylon to being in perfect health and able to use Projection for the ending. After losing a fight to Shirou, at that.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?:
Shirou (thinking): I didn't notice before, but her black hair looks really pretty and causes my heart to beat faster.
Tohsaka: "...Huh? That's weird. the wound is smaller than before. Do you have a healing charm on you?"
Shirou: "Huh? No, t-that's not true!"
Tohsaka: "Really? But your wound's almost healed."
Shirou: "I didn't say anything about it being pretty — huh? What did you say, Tohsaka?"
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: It's strongly implied for Shirou, Rin and Saber in the Good End.
- Field of Blades: Unlimited Blade Works is a field covered in swords, making it feel like a battle took place there once.
- Foreshadowing: One of the many praises of Ufotable's adaptation of the UBW route is how they do this. One good example can be found in this◊ single shot from episode six. The sign bellow the mirror says "dnager," there's an arrow above it pointing to a mirror, and reflected in that mirror is Archer.
- Gas Leak Coverup: A number of non-fatal incidents around the town (caused by Caster's efforts gathering mana) are attributed to gas leaks.
- Gratuitous English: "Unlimited Blade Works" and the Title Drop Noble Phantasm are examples of Gratuitous English. Archer's Noble Phantasm Invocation makes great deviations between the accurate translation from the Japanese text and the Japanese "translation" that accompanies it in the game.
- Guide Dang It: Getting the Good Ending requires Saber to have 4 or more relationship points and Rin to have less than 8.
- Homoerotic Subtext:
- The way Caster tries to break Saber shows she enjoys it a bit too much.
- Shirou is quite blunt in asking his best friend Issei to remove his school uniform. And Issei, for his part, was strangely okay with it. Coupled with Issei's general dislike of women...
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: When Archer kidnaps Rin. Shirou threatens Archer that he'll have Saber kill him if Rin is hurt
- Laughing Mad: Gilgamesh when Shirou orders Saber to save Rin instead of helping you .
- Memento MacGuffin: Rin's pendant, which she used to save Shirou, and was also the summoning catalyst for Archer.
- Mythology Gag: Towards the end, Lancer snarks that, too bad, he would have wanted Rin as his Master. In Fate Prototype we learn that one of Rin's prototypes actually did summon Lancer.
- Non Standard Game Over: If you make the wrong choice when Rin attacks you at school, Shirou 'loses' the Grail War, but survives everything just fine and goes back to his mundane life ( minus a few memories).
- Not Quite Dead: Caster thinks she's killed Kotomine, but Rin knows better - as she noted, Caster really should have checked the body.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: It is mentioned off-handedly in an intermission that Servant Assassin fought off Lancer, Saber, Archer, Rider, and Berserker when they approached Caster's temple. Shame we never get to see it.
- Polyamory: During route is apparent that Shirou, Rin and Saber developed strong feelings between each other and they eventually have even shared date. In Good Ending the three start live together as mutual lovers in Shirou's household.
- Power at a Price: Projection for Shirou is this. Nearly each time he projects, he hurts himself
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Rin and Saber.
- Right Through His Pants: Lampshaded in the H-scene, when Rin tells Shirou that he's a failure as a man if he keeps his clothes on while doing it. Of course, the whole scene is being Played for Laughs, so...
- She's Back: When Rin makes a contract with Saber.
- Spectral Weapon Copy: Archer's and Shirou's eponymous Reality Marble. the latter provides the page quote.
- Smug Snake: Caster overestimated how much she was in control of the situation. Trusting Archer spelled her end.
- Storm of Blades: Gilgamesh as always, Shirou and Archer can also do it in this route
- Taking You with Me: Shirou has the choice of falling into the black hole to kill Gilgamesh.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Shirou and Archer really don't like each other in this route. This ends when Archer betrays Rin
- Temporal Paradox: Archer's goal is to kill his past self, Shirou, so the heroic spirit Emiya will never come to be.
- Their First Time: Shirou and Rin have sex for the first time to transfer mana. She gets embarrassed and insists on starting before she's really ready, making the experience awkward and painful.
- Threesome Subtext: In the Good End, it is strongly implied that Saber and Rin stay live together with Shirou in his household as a real Ménage à trois.
- Title Drop: The Noble Phantasm, "Unlimited Blade Works".
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: To defeat Caster, Rin and Shirou decided to to fight one on one. What the narrative didn't tell us what that Rin had an...unconventional idea in order to gain the upper hand.
- Voices Are Mental: In the original Visual Novel, when Caster possesses Issei, Shirou notes that it's her voice coming out of his mouth. But then in "Realta Nua", when the voices were added in, it's Issei's voice that was coming out.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Archer has a pretty good game of speed chess going on based around the goal of getting to kill Shirou. First, a direct attack. Second, when block by Tohsaka he attempts to go through a loophole to kill him. Third, he then breaks his contract with Tohsaka to get away from the Command Seal. It's a lot sneakier than it sounds.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Shirou reassures Rin after Archer betrays them
- Alas, Poor Villain:
- Kotomine dies for what he believes in. He never had a chance to be good and hates that more than anyone.
- Zouken doesn't die until we finally see what his original motivation was: He just wanted to live long enough to see the Grail War conclude successfully so it could be used for the betterment of mankind.
- Always Save the Girl: In stark contrast to the other storylines, Shirou chooses to sacrifice his ideal and the lives of hundreds of innocents in order to save Sakura.
- Attempted Rape: When Sakura goes looking for Zouken in the Matou household, an enraged Shinji attempts to rape her, as it's revealed he's done this many times in the past out of spite and jealousy over her succeeding the Matou line. Sakura kills him, and as a result, she gives in to her darker self.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Rider swoops in and saves Shirou when he is cornered by Zouken and Assassin,
- When Dark Sakura attacks the Emiya household to retrieve Ilya, once again, Rider, bound by the final command spell Sakura used on her protects Shirou.
- In the True Ending Ilya appears before Shirou can sacrifice his life, and before destroying the Grail tells him its her role as his older sister to protect him.
- Bittersweet Ending
- In the True Ending, Shirou saves Sakura and survives himself, but he's tossed away his ideals, hundreds have died and Ilya sacrificed herself for him.
- In the Normal Ending, Shirou dies to save Sakura, who fails to move on. Ilya survives, but has nothing to really look forward to. The Grail War is presumably dismantled and all the antagonists have died. So, unhappy for several primary characters, but a few others makes it out okay and the world is still saved.
- Book Ends: The first Heaven's Feel ritual began at Mt.Enzou with an Einzbern homuculus sacrificing herself to open a path to the the Grail. The fifth and last Heaven's Feel ritual takes place at Mt. Enzou, this time with an Einzbern homuculus sacrificing herself to close the path to the Grail.
- But Thou Must: Near the end of the route when Shirou goes to rescue Ilya. When he gets there, she refuses him and tries to make him go back. You are given three options on how to proceed. They are all the same.
1. Bring Ilya Back
2. Bring Ilya Back
3. Bring Ilya Back
- The Cameo: Zelretch appears in the True End of the route in order to save Rin (one of his "pupils", who had used the second magic) from being tried and perhaps even executed by the Assocation.
- Chekhov's Gun: Ilya's explanation to Shirou of how transferring a person's consciousness works. That's how she saves his soul in the True End.
- Cherry Blossoms: Used as a sign of rebirth and new beginnings. Sakura tells Shirou that she'd like to see the cherry blossoms once spring comes around, so Shirou promises her they'll go once everything is over. In the True End, Sakura, Rin, Rider and Shirou visit the blossoming trees, symbolising their happiness and renewed hope.
- Cooldown Hug: As she can't quite bring herself to deliver the fatal strike, Rin gives one of these to Sakura at the end of their battle in "Heaven's Feel" instead.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Shirou is repeatedly warned that using Archer's arm will kill him. Naturally, he ends up using it in the finale.
- Darker and Edgier: Heaven's Feel is this compared to the other two routes. The subject of rape, torture, dismemberment, and humans being devoured in graphic detail are all present.
- Dark Reprise:
- "All the Evils of the World" that plays during the final confrontation before the Great Grail, is an ominous version of "Church on the Hilltop", which was ominous enough to begin with.
- "Realta Nua" has an added ominous remix of "Sword of Promised Victory" Saber Alter style.
- Enemy Mine: Halfway through the route, Kotomine and Shirou have to team up to rescue Ilya. Refusing Kotomine's help will result in Shirou attempting to go it alone and, upon successfully infiltrating the Einzbern's castle, he gets killed by the enemy Servant.
- Erotic Dream: Shirou dreams he has sex with Rin at some point through. It's revealed to be part of Rider's powers, as she can absorb Shirou's mana through such dreams.
- From Bad to Worse: Things get progressively worse down the route, with barely any Hope Spots in between. Masters lose their Servants, the Shadow keeps attacking the city, Zouken's manipulations continue to bite the heroes and the heroine plunges into even worse despair every day.
- Homoerotic Subtext:
- "Realta Nua" replaces Shirou's Erotic Dream with a suggestive Rin x Mitsuzuri scene, as seen here◊.
- Servant Rider's loyalty to her Master and the attempts to keep said Master safe give the impression there's something more than loyalty involved.
- Memento MacGuffin: Sakura's ribbon, which was the first ribbon Rin ever made, and one of the few signs of their true feelings for each other, as opposed to the apparent indifference or even outright hatred that is shown through most of the route.
- Moment Killer: At one point, a seemingly sick Sakura begins caressing Shirou while the music from the H-scenes plays...when Saber walks in.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Shirou meets Kotomine at the restaurant...munching mapo tofu and managing to make something so simple look menacing.
- Non Standard Game Over:
- The "Superhero" Bad End where the war continues with Shirou still involved, having embraced Kiritsugu's methods by disposing of Sakura.
- The "Sparks Liner High" bad end has Shirou fighting Saber Alter solo and die defeating her. Even if he dies, Shirou has defeated an impossibly powerful Heroic Spirit.
- Not Quite Dead: Kotomine grinds Zouken's skull to dust and exorcises him, but he can reform his body later as his soul is kept safe within Sakura's heart.
- Oh, Crap: Zouken and Assassin aren't particularly worried when Rider stands against them, seeing as she had been unimpressive up to that point. They soon go into Oh, Crap territory when she slams Assassin's face into the wall.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Zouken Matou by Nasuverse terminology is basically a magically induced vampire. His quest for immortality has caused his body and soul to decay, thus coming up against the problem all Nasuverse vampires face, causing him to seek something better.
- Paint It Black: The ones corrupted by the Shadow have their weapons and armour turn black and red. Berserker mostly turns a sickly red because his skin is apparently melting off.
- The Power of Love: Shirou's main motivation in this route. His love for Sakura keeps him going, even when he becomes so brain-damaged that he forgets her very name.
- Precision F-Strike: Shirou's response to the idea of letting Angra Mainyu be born and wrecking Sakura's life even more (in addition to pretty much destroying all of humanity)? "Fuck that."
- The Day The Music Lied: When Shirou squares off against Kotomine for the final battle, Emiya fires up... and then Shirou gets his ass handed to him in about 30 seconds.
- Theme Music Power-Up: "Light and Darkness" plays during the last battle, between Shirou and Kotomine. Or rather, half of the song plays at first, giving a tense techno beat while Shirou's getting his ass kicked. It's only when he reflects on Sakura and pulls off a frenzied counterattack that the second half of the song plays.
- Thicker Than Water: The resolution of one of the major plotlines of the route, namely Rin's relation with her sister Sakura.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After two routes of being eliminated first and thought to be a weakling servant, Rider gets to show that she's actually pretty powerful if not being held back by Shinji, and even survive the whole scenario.
- Title Drop: The words "Heaven's Feel" refer to two different things.
- Ilya's dress for the ritual is called the third dress, "Heaven's Feel".
- The true name of the Holy Grail War ritual, whose real purpose is obtaining the Third Magic, capable of materializing the soul.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Kotomine takes up the mantle. First, send Lancer to investigate. When he dies, use Gilgamesh to get things back on track. When he dies, embrace the new situation and set up Sakura to start eating everyone. Team up with Shirou since he's easily manipulated and have him help to keep Ilya safe since she's needed. Destroy Zouken so you can beat True Assassin. Sakura crushes your heart? Big deal, you'll still make it to the final battle anyway. Even when he loses, he still crushes Shirou's ideology.
- Adaptation Expansion:
- The manga adds a short scene of Taiga in her high school days, Rin taking a shower and Souichirou Kuzuki's backstory.
- It also tends to use end-of-volume bonus stories to expand on various scenes (most often for humorous effect): showing the details of the 'duel' between Saber and Taiga; telling the backstory behind the clothing Rin gives to Saber; a pre-War scene in the archery club with Shirou, Sakura, and Shinji that actually goes a long way towards explaining why anyone on Earth would want to be Shinji's friend...
- The Unlimited Blade Works anime greatly expanded the first fight with Berserker. Including Saber's reaction to seeing Illya. A side fight between Rin and Illya
- All There in the Manual:
- The anime touches on elements from the Visual Novel, such as Archer's identity, Ilya's parentage, and Sakura's relationship with Rin, without actually providing its own explanations. In order to understand certain elements from the Visual Novel, in turn, you may have to reference a published extra called Fate/side material.
- This is doubly true for the "Unlimited Blade Works" movie, which will make about no sense as a narrative unless you have already played the "Unlimited Blade Works" route, as it squeezes many hours of gameplay into a two-hour movie. But hey, explosions.
- Animation Bump: The sheer quality and fluidity of the animation in the "Unlimited Blade Works" film is astounding, especially compared to the 2006 anime series.
- The 2014 anime series made by Ufotable is much more so than both the "Unlimited Blade Works" film and the 2006 anime, even surpassing the visual standards shown in the 2011 Fate/Zero TV adaptation.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: Second anime opening, depicting Shirou and Archer facing off a la the "Unlimited Blade Works" scenario from the game.
- Battle in the Centre of the Mind: The anime and manga replace the mana transfer sex scene with Saber's inner dragon - the manifestation of her mana circuits - almost eating him to symbolize the transfer.
- Between My Legs: At least one shot in every scene involving Rin in the movie is from this angle.
- Bleached Underpants: The film, manga, and the PS2 version of the game (Realta Nua) replace the H-scenes that were in the original game with alternate, non-erotic versions. The anime alludes to Fate's sex scene with a semi-erotic part, especially Rin's pose with Saber.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Injuries in the manga are drawn with much greater detail, and there is quite a bit more blood. One example is that while the censored H-scene in the house in the forest is more or less the same as in the anime, Shirou suffers some pretty brutal injuries while facing Saber's internal dragon, injuries that manifest themselves on his real-world body which gives Rin a pretty big shock.
- Compressed Adaptation: The "Unlimited Blade Works" movie skims over days of story at a time and completely excises most of the exposition, which is somewhat inevitable when adapting what's essentially a long Choose Your Own Adventure book exploding with exposition into a slightly less than two hour movie. The end result is a film with somewhat choppy pacing that's completely incomprehensible to newcomers, but has time to adequately show how epic the fights are.
- Conspicuous CG: What Bleached Underpants did to the sex scenes in the anime. Saber has to have Deus Sex Machina with Shirou to restore her power. In the anime instead, there's a sudden flash to a CG dragon that bites Shirou's arm off, which was retained in the manga adaptation as well. "Mana Transfer Dragon" has become a minor meme as a result. There's a similar scene in "Unlimited Blade Works" with a dolphin to replace the scene with Shirou and Rin that was there before, although this time the replacement scene it refers to is also much more toned down to begin with.
- Fanservice: The movie is just less than two hours of pure fanservice to those already familiar with the Fate route and/or 2006 anime. If you haven't watched the 2006 anime or read the Fate route, the movie will make little sense, If you have, you get to see everyone being awesome at the expense of skipping some scenes used to build the route's actual conflict. There's very little in the way of the other kind of service in any medium despite Fate/stay night starting its life as an Eroge, except for the occasional Male Gaze.
- Good Bad Translation: One overly-literal fansub had Shirou saying "People die if they are killed" with an ultra-serious look on his face.note A screenshot of this sub is now a meme when talking about bad translations and/or Engrish, even though it makes sense in context.
- High-Pressure Blood: Blood seems to ooze aplenty in the "Unlimited Blade Works" movie.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: In the movie, Shirou gains the ability to deflect many incoming projectiles by Dual Wielding swords for no apparent reason other than Rule of Cool.
- Inconsistent Subs: Mainly because there have been several different sources of translations, either the official anime translation, the Mirror Moon's Fate/stay night translation, or others. This isn't normally problematic, but the terminology tends to look very different between versions.
- Lighter and Softer: The manga seems to be heading this direction. It focuses mostly on the rather idealistic "Fate" route, with Shinji of all people getting a softer side and surviving events that killed him in the Visual Novel.
- Male Gaze: All over the "Unlimited Blade Works" movie. If a scene has Rin in it, there will be at least a few shots focused on her Zettai Ryouiki for no particular reason.
- Off Model: The film shows almost none of this, although Shinji's "rape face" Evil Laugh looks less like him and more like a character from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni about to do something horrible.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In the manga, Rin and Archer come across the aftermath of a battle between Berserker and Caster at Ryudou Temple. Apparently Berserker avoided Assassin by not using the mountain gate, meaning he just ripped right through the mountain's anti-Servant barrier field. The battle itself left the Temple as kindling and the ground around it gouged with massive scars. And we get to see precisely none of this titanic conflict.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: In various degrees among various adaptations.
- Anime: The anime follows the "Fate" route, which by itself can't do Fate/stay night justice, but the episode/continuity limits don't allow you to do two routes and tell a coherent story. So they took "Fate", added a few scenes and events from "Unlimited Blade Works". They also threw in the odd reference to "Heaven's Feel" as well- namely the revelation that Rin and Sakura are sisters.
- "Unlimited Blade Works" film: Especially noticeable. Some of the romantic undertones between Shirou and Rin were lost, and separate visits to locations in the original got merged into a single very eventful one while things happened for different (but more easily explainable) reasons.
- Punny Name: The main theme song of Fate/stay night is "This Illusion", and when it was remixed for the anime, it's name was changed to "Disillusion". If said out loud, they sound almost the same, while meaning the exact opposite of each other.
- Road Cone: With three different story paths, it's only natural that adaptations of the series would leave out some things. Both the anime and (to a certain extent) the manga are based on "Fate", though the movie is based on "Unlimited Blade Works".
- Rule of Cool: The order of the day for the "Unlimited Blade Works" film. Notably, Shirou deflects both Archer's and Gil's sword-bullets with Implausible Fencing Powers rather than using his own sword-bullets as in the original route.
- 100% Completion: You have to complete all three routes for the new splash screen. You can also accomplish every Tiger Dojo for other bonuses.
- Automatic New Game: The game will start up at the beginning of the prologue narrated by Rin until you finish it and reach the main story narrated by Shirou, at which point you start up at the title screen.
- Eroge: Even if the hentai is hidden amidst hours of non-sexual gameplay, Fate/stay night is a full-fledged eroge with one to three/four H-scenes for each routes.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: While being pretty low on actual "gameplay", the status menu listing all the attributes and information gathered on Servants thus far is justified as being an ability granted to all Masters in the Grail War. Every master sees it in whatever way would be most comprehensible to them. Shirou apparently finds RPG-like status screens most familiar despite no indication of being a gamer.
- Have a Nice Death: The Tiger Dojo serves this purpose plenty of times. Taiga and Ilyasviel are our hosts and will sometimes mock gently the player or make absolutely no sense. But they will always thow in a hint about why the player reached this Bad End unless you did something so stupid Taiga refuses to talk to you.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: Extensive bad ends exist solely for mocking Shirou's stupidity, and many Tiger Dojos love to rub the player's choice in his face. Even if you did find the good choice and reach the end without dying, you have to eventually see all those bad endings in order to unlock everything.
- The Many Deaths of You: The game gets very.. graphic, discussing in first person perspective, how you die or fail.
- Multiple Endings:
- "Fate" has one True End.
- "Unlimited Blade Works" has a True and Good End. Getting the Good End requires juggling around Saber and Rin's affection points.
- "Heaven's Feel" has a True and a Normal End. Which you get depends on the final choice you make.
- There are 40 Bad Ends. In "Realta Nua", getting them all unlocks the Last Episode.
- Stupidity Is the Only Option: Found in every Type-Moon visual novel — the more dangerous choice is frequently the correct one. The Tiger Dojo sometimes lampshades this: "Go back to the previous choice and try choosing the reckless, immature choice!"
- Violation of Common Sense: The choices you have to make sometimes are the least sensible and immature, placing you directly in danger. Made worse by the fact that you are, almost without fail, scolded by other characters for making the idiotic choices.
- Alternate Continuity: Possibly with itself. Archer's Mysterious Past is known to at least resemble the "Fate" scenario also followed by the anime, but how much is unclear. Essentially all routes and endings are alternate continuities, with Fate/hollow ataraxia taking place in yet another continuity. Also, Zelretch appears from an alternate continuity in one route, just to say hi. When speaking about this, Nasu affirms: "They're parallel sort of. But if Zelretch was observing, it'd become true, and my feelings on the matter is that I'd rather two routes disappear if one was true. If all of these became possible at the same time, the other routes would become meaningless."
- Anime Catholicism: Kotomine works for the Church, note tasked with destroying non human entities. Standard issue weaponry includes magical bible verses and thrown swords.
- City of Adventure: Fuyuki City, which is based on Kobe. However, there isn't a single character with the Kansai Regional Accent one would expect almost everyone to have in the heart of that region.
- Big Fancy House: A lot of them.
- The Emiya household is very big, having a main building, external building, a storehouse and a lot of free terrain (In fact, Saber even wonders about using the free terrain for growing vegetables and raising animals like chicken and pigs to always have fresh food in Fate/hollow ataraxia, Shirou of course refuses).
- The Tohsaka mansion is very big and Rin is already used to people thinking her house is a haunted mansion.
- The Matou mansion is even bigger than the Tohsaka mansion and looks sufficiently gloomy to make it abundantly clear nothing good is going on in there.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: A wide variety of legendary heroes from potentially any mythology who can be summoned as Servants. Other types of familiars, skeletal zombies, vampires, parasitic magic-devouring worms, spirits and dragons all exist in this universe.
- Legendary Weapon: Most of the Servants' Noble Phantasms count. Considering the setting is based on the real world and the Servants are actually spirits of legendary heroes, a lot of them overlaps with Public Domain Artifact.
- Medal of Dishonor: The Sealing Designation of the Mage's Association is a title of the "greatest honor" given to a magus who develops an ability that is both ground-breaking and utterly unique to their body. Those awarded this title are promptly dissected and their remains preserved for future study. Most Seal Designates choose voluntary exile in response and try their best not to attract attention.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The decisions Shirou must make vary greatly by storyline. In "Fate" he is very idealistic; "Unlimited Blade Works" lies somewhere in the middle; "Heaven's Feel" has him become rather cynical.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The plot is based around major figures from Arthurian, Babylonian, Celtic, Persian, Greek and Japanese myth fighting each other to the death as part of an arcane magic ritual.
- Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Older Is Better makes any instance of a Noble Phantasm clashing against an older version of the same myth a one-sided battle. Just ask Gilgamesh.
- Urban Fantasy: Fate/stay night, along with most other TYPE-MOON properties, takes place in modern Japan.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Mage Association and The Church are big in the Nasu Verse. Also, the true purpose of the Grail Wars, and to a lesser extent, the true nature of the Fuyuki Grail.
- Arc Words: "My body is made of swords." It is a phrase that appears on the first screen of the game (not counting the prologue); as the story goes on, the phrase's different meanings and its purpose are revealed.
- Artifact of Doom: The Holy Grail. Due to events from the Third Grail War, it is inevitable that it will cause great calamity if activated.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Discussed. The Holy Grail is an artifact theoretically capable of granting any wish, but due to its corruption, it will grant that wish in the most destructive manner possible.
- Betty and Veronica: Across the whole franchises Saber and Rin frequently performs this task. Saber as Betty, Rin as Veronica.
- Bigger Bad: Angra Mainyu, the source of the Grail's corruption.
- Blood Magic: The runes in the ritual used to summon servants are normally drawn in blood.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: Done across timelines.
- Rule Breaker: In "Heaven's Feel", Caster is taken out of the game early on. Since she and her Rule Breaker have played a major role in the previous route, most people put her out of their minds. But then, literally on the last day of the route... her Noble Phantasm, Rule Breaker, breaks Sakura's shackles to Angra Mainyu.
- The Azoth dagger: A near last-minute addition in "Fate" that Shirou uses to kill Kotomine, shows up again in "Heaven's Feel", supposedly as a tool for Shirou to project Zelretch's Gem Sword. However, its real importance was Shirou using it to kill Saber Alter.
- Rin's pendant: Used to heal Shirou in the prologue. Archer's version of it, which he carried all his life and after (and returned to Rin in the prologue), turned out to be the catalyst for his summoning. In "Unlimited Blade Works", Shirou returns his version of the pendant to Rin, giving the latter the final proof that Archer is Shirou's future self. However, in "Heaven's Feel", Shirou's version of the pendant turned out to have the tiniest bit of magical energy left in it, which in the True End allowed his soul, newly-revived by Ilya's sacrifice and the Third Sorcery, to hold on until Rider could rescue him. The pendant also probably anchored Shirou's soul to the material world; Rin commented that Rider "plucked Shirou out" of the rubble of the cavern two weeks after it had collapsed.
- Conveniently Orphaned: Not a single remotely major character has living parents, and several (including the main character) are orphaned twice over. Not only that, but those who actually have something passing for surrogate parents would much rather that they didn't.
- The Corruption: The contents of the current Grail, since the Third Grail War. The Einzbern family summoned the forbidden Avenger class as their Servant, causing him to be trapped into the Grail after his defeat due to his complicated circumstance. Since Avenger embodies all the Evils of the World, the corruption takes over the Grail as well.
- Cryptic Background Reference: The events of the Third Grail War are pretty vague; pretty much all that is known is that the Edelfelts summoned good and evil versions of the same Saber and that the Einzberns summoned Avenger.
- Cue the Sun: The True End of each route usually features this as a sign of hope and new beginnings after the tribulations of the War.
- Deus Sex Machina: Mana Transfer Ritual. Sex ensues in the most inopportune times. Averted in the manga, PS2 game, and film.
- The Devil: In "Unlimited Blade Works", we learn that Angra Mainyu, the devil in Zoroastrianism, lives inside the Holy Grail and has corrupted it. As is explained in "Heaven's Feel" and further elaborated upon in hollow ataraxia, it turns out that Angra Mainyu isn't the Devil — he's a Servant whose legend was born of a ritual where a single man was ritually sacrificed to personify all the the sins of his fellow humans so he'd absolve them by being killed. In the Third Holy Grail war, when Angra Mainyu, summoned as Avenger, got killed because he was a horribly weak Servant, the Grail identified him as a human rather than a servant and tried to fulfill his wish. Considering that the Holy Grail is an omnipotent device whose entire purpose is to seek and grant wishes and that Angra Mainyu is the personification of the world's wish for a concrete form of all evil... Let's just say it doesn't turn out well.
- Door Stopper: The Visual Novel is about a million words long in English.
- Dysfunction Junction: Everyone's backstory involves some past tragedy that has scarred them for life and supplied them with a fatal flaw. Each heroine's route takes time to explore said flaw and eventually have her get over it, but Shirou's Chronic Hero Syndrome is what really takes center stage.
- Elemental Powers: Very exceptional ones, they are attributes linked to the "Origin", explained in Kara no Kyoukai; Shirou has "Sword", Rin has all the basic five ("Average One"), and Sakura has "Imaginary Numbers" and artificially "Binding".
- The End of the World as We Know It: The result if the Big Bad achieves his goal. The Evils of Angra Mainyu would be unleashed upon humans to destroy them.
- Equivalent Exchange: You pay for your magecraft, no matter what. True Magic, on the other hand...
- Even Evil Has Standards: Kirei Kotomine may be motivated solely by the pleasure he gets in seeing others suffer, but even he loathes Zouken Matou.
- Food Porn: Lengthy segments of the Visual Novel are devoted to Shirou cooking, often along with Sakura. The process of making the food is usually presented in detail.
- Foreshadowing: Loads of it, and in the most unlikely or innocuous places, too. For example, a major reveal in "Heaven's Feel" note is foreshadowed in the Mini-Theater you get by completing all Tiger Dojos in "Fate".
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The leading ladies of the different routes exhibit this: you have Saber as melancholy, Rin as choleric, Sakura as phlegmatic, and Ilya (originally intended to be the fourth heroine) as sanguine.
- Gambit Pileup: The Fifth Grail War is complicated due to plots by Zouken, Kirei, Saber, Caster, the Einzbern family, Gilgamesh, Counter-Guardian EMIYA, and Avenger all being executed at the same time. Differences between each route result in specific gambits being of more concern, and some being completely irrelevant.
- Gorn: Not so much visual but mostly written, detailed descriptions of blood and heavy injuries can be found throughout the Visual Novel.
- Gender Bender: Other than being a gender flipped King Arthur, Saber was physically turned into a male by Merlin's magic during her reign as king. This makes her a gender bender gender flip character.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Shirou's actions in Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel can never be fully explained for fear of the Association's response to his Reality Marble. In Heaven's Feel, the Association is told Shirou was an ordinary human who died during the War.
- Hermetic Magic: Summoning Servants and various rituals connected to the Grail and Shirou's projection magic involve runes and elaborate invocations.
- Human Resources
- The Holy Grail's power comes from absorbing the souls of the heroic spirits who died in the war.
- Servants can consume human souls in order to replenish their prana, though most traditional Spirits will find the action to be beneath their dignity and may require a Command Seal in order to do so. Caster and Rider both resorted to this at the start of the War due to their Masters lacking prana.
- In Spite of a Nail: In all three scenarios, the best possible ending has The Holy Grail being permanently destroyed and cycle of violence wrought by the Heaven's Feel ritual being broken forver.
- Intimate Healing: As usual for the Nasuverse, sex can be used to replenish magical energy. Except in the anime, where it's Bowdlerized into the widely-mocked "Mana Transfer Dragon."
- Jackass Genie: Due to Angra Maiyuu's influence, the Holy Grail will twist any wish made to it in a way that will kill or hurt as many humans as possible.
- Jacob Marley Apparel: Servants will be summoned wearing the outfit they had just before their death if they had a strong attachment to their particular appearance. Otherwise, their appearance will reflect what they looked like during their prime.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: In contrast to many magi who rely exclusively on magical means of combat, the Tohsaka family has a long-standing tradition of martial arts training which can be traced all the way back to their founder.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Many of the Servants' identities, particularly Saber's as a Gender Flipped King Arthur, aren't really heavily guarded spoilers anymore.
- Limited Wardrobe: Almost everyone has, at most, two sets of clothes (typically school, armor, armor/casual, or school uniform/casual, or in Ilya's case, cold-weather/normal). Other, non-standard outfits are Ilya's Dress of Heaven, Rin's bedclothes, and the occasional birthday suit.
- Lost in Translation: When Ilya first meets Shirou, she calls him "oniichan". This is fairly innocuous to both Shirou and first-time readers because addressing a strange young man as "oniisan" isn't particularly unusual. However, she was actually calling him her older brother. There's no way to preserve the older brother/random guy ambiguity in English without just giving it away, so the official English translation of the anime uses "mister".
- Luminescent Blush: The three main heroines, Saber, Rin and Sakura, all have a blushing portrait in cases of embarassment.
- Magi Babble: Hours of exposition are devoted to explaining the mechanics of Functional Magic in different ways.
- Magic A Is Magic A: The Nasuverse has an extensive set of rules regarding what is possible and what is not possible and how people meet the energy requirements for what they do. For example, even with magecraft it's normally not possible to make something out of nothing. Nor can the output of energy be greater than what you put into it, meaning most mages have to power their spells with the energy around them rather than the energy inside. However, once you have this sort of baseline rule, you then have people who seem to break the rules by going outside the normal system, such as the True Magics or Reality Marble users, both of which are quite unnatural.
- Mêlée à Trois: The Holy Grail War is fashioned as one: 7 Masters, their eventual associates, 7 Servants. To reach the end of the War, 6 Servants must die. The Master's death is not required, but killing a Master is the fastest way to dispose of a Servant who doesn't have the Independant Action skill. A Servant who survives his Master's death long enough can take a new contract, and under some conditions a Master can have a contract with more than one Servant.
- Mood Whiplash: Before you enter the Tiger Dojo, the story warns you that if you want to preserve your image of the characters, you should skip this area. Most Tiger Dojos are very silly.
- Mundane Utility:
- Rin's first order of business to her Servant Archer, a heroic spirit of mighty power ? "Clean up this mess." Then the next morning, the first thing Archer does is make tea. Damn good tea according to Rin.
- Initially, Mundane Utility is the only utility Shirou's magic powers have. It really puts his levels in badass in perspective when you consider that at the beginning of the story, Shirou was using his magic to...repair household appliances.
- Older Is Better: A very strongly adhered-to rule. Older magi are capable of things modern magic users can only dream of. It's also one of the reasons Gilgamesh is so powerful: he possesses the Platonic ideal of almost every weapon-type Noble Phantasm that ever was or will be, meaning that they're all at least one rank more powerful than the actual versions that were used by the Heroic Spirits.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: Church on the Hilltop, which is Kirei's theme and is supposed to be a soothing church tune but its effect is rather unsettling..
- Omnicidal Maniac: Angra Mainyu's sole purpose is to wipe out all humans. That is what he's supposed to do as he's all the evils of the world.
- Possession Implies Mastery: One of the big themes.
- The "Riding" skill. As long as the skill is highly ranked enough, a holder can simply grab the controls of any vehicle or mount and instantly know how to operate it as if they had been for years.
- Archer does not master his projected weapons, but can get the skill/knowledge of utilisation of a weapon thanks to his re-creation of the actual creation and its history as its master used it.
- Power Glows: Justified: Mana distorts reality, so strong enough amounts of it become visible to the naked eye.
- Projectile Spell: The Gandr spell sounds like a gun, and even leaves bullet holes behind.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Angra Mainyu was sealed within the Holy Grail during the Third War because the Grail identified him as human instead of a spirit.
- If you listen closely to the background music whenever Shirou's TV is telling the local news, you can hear some music from Tsukihime, another Type-Moon Visual Novel.
- During one of the Tiger Dojo chibis, there's a Touhou reference when Sakura and Rin briefly have a cute fight with each other, complete with rainbow-colored bullets everywhere and a side-shot of both of them vertically.
- The scene where we see the worms at work is a fairly obvious Shout-Out to Stephen King's novel IT, where Patrick Hocksetter dies in roughly the same way.
- The aftermath of the Grail Fire and Shirou's reaction is incredibly similar to the aftermath of the atomic bomb explosion as described in John Hersey's Hiroshima.
- In the anime, Saber asks "What are you going to do, bleed on me?"
- Berserker has a noble phantasm called God Hand.
- Spoiler Opening: In the Vita version, this applies to all three routes. Heaven's Feel's opening in particular spoils Sakura being a corrupt Grail, and Saber Alter. The front cover of said version prematurely gives away Sakura's alignment with her servant, Rider.
- Sudden Game Interface: All Masters are granted an intuitive understanding of what's going on in the Grail War—even Shirou, who stumbled into the whole thing completely unaware. His appear as RPG-style character sheets, complete with listed Character Alignments.
- Summoning Ritual: The Holy Grail War System provides the power behing the ritual required for acquiring a Servant. The Servant will usually respond to the call if the magus has an artifact associated with him.
- Supernormal Bindings: One of Gilgamesh's Noble Phantasms is Enkidu, a special chain that was created to restrain the gods, its strength is proportional to the divinity of their opponent, so while it can easily overpower gods, when used against normal person, it simply acts as a tough chain.
- Theme Music Power-Up:
- Anytime "Emiya" starts playing, you know Shirou is going to do something epic or an important battle is going to happen.
- "Sword of Promised Victory" plays whenever the Holy Sword or a similar Noble Phantasm is about to be used.
- "Into the Night" (The title music) plays when the Final Boss is about to get a beatdown — it's an even more reliable power-up than "Emiya".
- "Premonition of a Storm" is one of those "Shit's going down!" songs that can pump it up. Sadly, it's not in the original Visual Novel, but a new musique of the Fate/stay night Realta Nua version.
- Tempting Fate Hoo boy, the writers love this trope. It's played with, in both a comical and a serious tone, with varying results.
- There Can Be Only One: The very concept of the Grail War is that only one magus can have his wish fulfilled. The Grail provides the individuals who desire it with Command Spells. Things are far more complicated.
- Translator Microbes: The Holy Grail acts as one. For the Servants, it implants a basic level of knowledge about the time period into which they are summoned. This prevents inconveniences such as, for example, a Servant from Ancient Greece being freaked out by cars or cellphones. Pretty convenient considering a Servant can come from across time and from any culture around the globe.
- Two-Teacher School: The only staff we ever see at school are Soichiro Kuzuki and Taiga Fujimura, despite the apparent size of the school.
- Unreliable Narrator: The Narrator, Rin or Shirou, is given to making observations which are later proven false.
- Wall of Text: A Visual Novel is text-based by nature, but at times the presentation bogs down with dense blocks accompanied by unvoiced, single static images.
- Weirdness Censor:
- Not even a rumor about the war is going on, even when things that couldn't be covered up or downplayed easily (sonic booms from attacks, shining golden light shooting into the sky at a flying horse, etc) happen. Justified by a cover-up done by The Church and the Magical Association, but we never see it in action during the Visual Novel.
- Played for Laughs on a smaller scale, when Rin gets so angry at Shirou that she shatters her "perfect student/school idol" image in front of everyone to shout at him. Everybody stares... then go back to what they were doing, subconsciously repressing those memories to maintain their "perfect" image of her. This happens on two separate occasions.
- Witch Species: Magic in the Nasuverse is often genetically inherited through bloodlines. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, though, as people from mundane families (like Shirou or Ciel) can be born with magic circuits, and it's a plot point that one bloodline has slowly lost all of its power over generations. It's also possible to artificially create or increase magical potential.
- With This Herring: Pretty awesome once you think about it: Shirou's first battle against legendary hero Lancer is Lancer and his Gae Bolg versus Shirou and his... reinforced newspaper. The fact that it survives SEVERAL HITS from a legendary lance says it all.
- Word Salad Title:
- Though the title still doesn't make much sense, one can at least find a recurring fate motif when thinking about it. Such as Saber's desire to rewrite history, Archer's musings that, no matter their lifestyle, ultimately all heroes will have to face the same fate, their death, and the collapse of everything they worked for, as well as Kotomine asking the question of how much one's life is determined by inborn nature and the intentions of God. There is, of course, also the recurring question of why the Grail chose the Masters it did.
- This also occurs with individual scene titles, though each one makes sense once you watch the scene. For example, Shapeless Island involves Rider stealing Shirou's mana with wet dreams, shapeshifting into Rin.
- Would Hurt a Child: Used in all three routes to show how evil the route's major antagonist really is.
- Fate: Kotomine has been using the other orphans of the Fuyuki fire as living prana batteries for ten years, though "living" is entirely too generous a term.
- Unlimited Blade Works: Gilgamesh tearing out Ilya's heart.
- Heaven's Feel: Everything Zouken did with regards to raising Sakura.