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"It's great to do nothing but play and play (Right?)"

Mysterious Neco V: A once-in-a-decade carnival wherein all hell breaks loose... Rejoice, for the coming of the miraculous carnival. Will it bring chaos? Or madness?
Mysterious Neco Y: The party is beginning anew, I see.
Mysterious Neco V: Indeed it is.
Mysterious Neco Y: Who'd have thought it? I think it's going to be a wild one...
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Fate/Grand Order is a story with incredibly dense World Building that encompasses ideas from the entire rest of the decades long Nasuverse franchise. It tells tales of epic heroes, mythic tragedies, and gods and monsters battling it out with all of human history in the balance. Any given arc can be filled with desperation, sacrifice and death.

...But let's once again ignore all of that and focus on the characters involved having fun instead!note 

Fate/Grand Carnival is the 2021 spin-off of Fate/Grand Order, similar to 2011's Original Video Animation comedy short series Carnival Phantasm, featuring the Loads and Loads of Characters that now make up the roster of Type-Moon's massively successful Fate/Grand Order mobile phone game rather than just those from Tsukihime and Fate/stay night specifically. Which unsurprisingly leads to even more ridiculous situations.

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A special episode aired as part of the Fate Project New Year's Eve TV Special on December 31, 2020. At the end of the short, two full OVA seasons were announced which would be released on June 2, 2021 and August 25, 2021.

Fate/Grand Carnival contains examples:

  • Actor Allusion:
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  • Alternate Self: Frequently seen due to the game having them, having four different Cú Chulainn appear before being executed. Interestingly, Nero's Caster self is treated as her Saber counterpart in a swimsuit rather than a separate Servant.
  • The Artifact: Neco Spirits are just as prominent here as they were in Carnival Phantasm, despite the lack of other elements from Tsukihime. To lessen their resemblance to Arcueid, their designs more obviously parody other Fate characters.
  • Bad Boss: Ritsuka might not be as bad as Riyo Gudako, but she's still not a Master you'd want to work under. When presented with a choice to keep either her full paycheck or all her Servants she chooses her paycheck without a second thought, doesn't bother helping Mash when she's sexually assaulted by Orion, puts all her high-rarity Servants in a competition of literal life or death while flat out killing everyone worth 3 stars or less (with the exception of her personal favorite, Red Hare), kills Cú Alter (despite being a 5 star) to make sure the Cú Chulainn species goes extinct, and has the gall to act saddened by her Servants dying in a competition she chose to put them through.
  • Big Eater: Altria, as per usual. To wit, she spends the entirety of the Olympia Games events on the sidelines eating (presumably all provided by EMIYA considering what one of the boxes is labelled) and only enters the final round at the insistence of the Knights of the Round, but not before devouring a rice ball nearly as big as her head with one final bite. She also claims that the reason she hasn't retired to Avalon yet is because there's no good food there.
  • Black Comedy: Besides all the death and bedlam, they make a joke about the would-be 2020 Olympics.
  • Brick Joke: During his fencing match against D'eon, Gawain says that the sun's power will grant him magnificent muscles. Later, after Chaldea ends up falling down its slope foundation, Gawain, having survived the ordeal, emerges out of the snow half-naked, with magnificent muscles, thanks to being exposed to the sun.
  • But Thou Must!: When discussing how the latest carnival is going to go, Mysterious Neco V's options are chaos... and madness. Made even sillier in Japanese, where the two options have the exact same pronunciation ("kyou"), so written characters have to be put on screen to make any kind of distinction between the two.
  • Butt-Monkey:
  • Character Exaggeration: Mash in canon tends to apply textbook knowledge and common sense to her situations, but her general inexperience with regular life means she can tend to miss the mark. Here, she's an Only Sane Woman among the craziness everyone else displays.
  • Cold Equation: The premise for the Olympia Games. With so many contracted Servants straining Chaldea's ability to accommodate them all, Ritsuka is presented with two choices: take a cut in her paycheck to support them all, or decommission some of them. Ritsuka immediately chooses the latter. Amusingly, aside from Nero's self-inflicted death from losing the swimming event (which she recovered from) and all the Servants 3* and lower who were axed before the competition even began (sans Red Hare & Nobukatsu but including Cú Alter), it's indicated that most if not all of the participants made it to the final cavalry battle given the sheer number still left to form teams (including several who had fought in and already lost previous events such as Gawain).
  • Continuity Nod: During the swimming event, Nero refers to herself as the personification of the beauty of Venus, prompting Ishtar to comment on the audacity of saying that in the presence of the ACTUAL Goddess of Venus. The two of them had this same conversation during the Setsubun event in Fate/Grand Order.
  • Cool Horse: Invoked. Red Hare is so cool that Ritsuka grailed him to Level 100 and did not let him participate to preserve his coolness.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: During the fencing match, Gawain is effortlessly taken out by Chevalier D'eon, thanks to the match taking place indoors and therefore making Gawain's Numeral of the Saint skill useless.
  • Darkhorse Victory:
    • Before the Olympia Games track event, Achilles and Atalante challenge each other to win before Kingprotea simply steps over the entire track at the start.
    • The swimming event opens up with the contestants chatting amongst each other to set up rivalries, only for it to turn out that none of them realized they were supposed to start until after Nitocris already reached the end of the pool.
  • Death Is Cheap: Nero, Gawain, Orion and multiple other characters who get sacrificed or otherwise killed in the Olympia Games just show back up in later Olympia Games events with no explanation. Well, no good ones anyway.
    Nero: I am the director of the games! You think I would be eliminated in such a pitiful fashion?
  • Downer Ending: Played for laughs with the first episode, where the Olympia Games end up causing Chaldea to slide down the mountain it is built on (represented by a silly Art Shift) and restoring the building makes the resource shortage even worse.
  • Faceless Masses: The audience for the Olympics is made up of various copy-pasted Neco clones of the Hashashin.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Atalante, Achilles and presumably the rest of the sprinters somehow fail to notice that the ginormous Kingprotea is among the competitors.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Ritsuka kills Cú Alter because there are "too many Cú Chulainns" around. Keep in mind that he's literally the only Cú left when she says that.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Several:
    • At one point, Ritsuka can be seen eating what appears to be a large amount of Mana Prisms and one Rare Prism, presumably from when the Cú Chulainn squad was killed off.
    • During the Sparring Match between Gawain and D'eon, Meunière from the Chaldea staff (who is shown to have a thing for D'eon in the Agartha singularity) can be seen in the background for a brief moment as he cheers D'eon on.
    • When the cavalry battle starts, dozens of Servants assemble in themed teams, complete with a few gags (among other things, both Saber Alter and Kintoki brought their bikes, Heracles is carrying both Shirou the bear and Sitonai on his shoulders, Chacha is riding on a bunch of Mini-Nobus while Nobunaga is riding on top of Okita much like during the swimming event but also has Nobukatsu holding onto her back). Most of these appear for maybe three frames in a quick pan.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath:
    • While not as bad as her Learning with Manga! FGO incarnation, Ritsuka "recycles" numerous servants for utterly silly reasons, tells Mash ridiculous Blatant Lies despite it being obvious Mash doesn't believe her at all, and generally doesn't seem to care about anything but her pay not getting cut and hanging out with her Cool Horse Servant, Red Hare.
    • Da Vinci suggests the Servant culling in the first place basically cause she's annoyed with them bothering her about silly things like rooms so they're not sleeping in the halls and mana to not suffer a Critical Existence Failure, and then just leaves halfway through the selection process for who's going to go, leaving a badly made cardboard cutout with nothing but "Gone Home" written on it.
  • Hostess Club: The second episode has Jeanne Alter getting a job as a hostess.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Ritsuka's reason of killing Cú Alter is because there are too many Cú's. Anyone familiar with Altria should quickly notice what's wrong with that statement.
  • Image Song: Well, as close as one could get in a series like this, but the new version of Super☆Affection is stated explicitly to be sung in-character by Mash, Nitocris, Liz, Shuten, Ibaraki, Medb, Atalante, Mysterious Heroine X, Ishtar, Nero, and Sitonai.
  • Internal Homage: The opening scene of the series with the various Neco Spirits recreates multiple elements from the opening of the first episode of Carnival Phantasm: Mysterious Neco X (Neco-Arc dressed up as Mysterious Heroine X) once again spins up from under the counter at the Anenerbe cafe while mixing a drink, gets angry and hangs up on a caller trying to order food, then gets told by a second caller that the carnival is about to start. At which point Chaos / V once again explains while smoking it's a ridiculous party that comes once every decade, and once again does the But Thou Must! joke about whether it'll be chaos or madness... which in Japanese are homophones both pronounced "kyou". Meaning the written characters 狂 and 凶 have to once again be put up on screen to make any kind of distinction between the two. Meanwhile, Bubbles / W once again just keeps nodding in response to what everyone says.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Just like its predecessor, the titular carnival is stated to take place once every ten years in-universe. The New Year's Special aired on December 31st 2020, just a few months shy of a decade after Carnival Phantasm's 2011 run.
  • Made of Iron: Gawain survives being run through by d'Eon during the fencing match and apparently fought all the way to the end of the Olympia Games, and he then he one-ups himself by surviving being at ground zero of Altria and Nero's Noble Phantasms going off and being launched out of Chaldea.
  • Male Gaze:
    • During the track event, there's a noticeable camera focus on Bradamante's ass, a reference to the similar camera angle in her Noble Phantasm's animation.
    • When Altria and Nero are grappling, Altria insults Nero's younger age by calling her a child, causing Nero to retort that she's very much a well-grown adult, while the camera centers on her sizeable chest.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The swimming event is basically an excuse for the female Servants to wear their summer swimsuits, with a small subversion on Nitocris: While she has an attractive swimsuit, she spends all of her screentime covered with her Medjed sheet (part of her swimsuit costume), thus she's the least fanservice provider of the swimming Servants in the short aside from Meltryllis, who is wearing the penguin part of her swimsuit.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Aside of Nero riding the variants of Elizabeth because she just had no friends, it is also a touch-in with Nero's other more nefarious interpretation: Mother Harlot, who was known to ride multi-headed dragon (in this case, the dragon heads are represented by the three Elizabeths)
    • Artemis turned Orion into a pincushion of arrows for his habits of 'peeping girls in the water'. While this is pretty in-character for Orion in here, this actually doubles with an incident Artemis is familiar with from her original myth, which involved the hunter Actaeon, stags and hunting dogs. note 
  • Never My Fault: Ritsuka blames Chaldea for making her Servants go through the Olympia Games, conveniently forgetting that she was the one who made the suggestion in the first place.
  • Only Friend: Variant. Because Nero's stats says she has no friends, the only people she can get on her team for the cavalry battle are her idol rival Elizabeth and her mecha counterparts.
  • Only Sane Woman: Mash is the one person with proper common sense and worries over the events unfolding before her. As a result in contrast to the soft-spoken earnest young woman that F/GO players may be familiar with she spends most of her time questioning terrible ideas, panicking, and screaming.
  • Pretender Diss:
    • Ishtar scoffs at Nero calling herself the personification of the beauty of Venus when Ishtar is standing right there, as Ishtar is the Babylonian version of the Roman's Venus.
    • Altria and Gawain insult Nero's status as a Saberface, referring to her as a Palette Swap, and Elizabeth agrees judging by how she nods her head along.
  • The Rival: Plenty all over the place.
    • Atalante and Achilles, in an almost flirty way during the track event. Alas, they don't get a chance to settle the score when Kingprotea takes it.
    • Karna and Arjuna, as per usual. One of the scenes shows them in a heated ping-pong match, and during the free-for-all near the end they both go at each other specifically.
    • Interestingly, Ozymandias and Odysseus seem to have one based around their Kaiju and Humongous Mecha Noble Phantasms respectively, with the two clashing with each other at least twice.
    • Even when they're on the same team in the cavalry battle, Tesla and Edison can't help but try and knock the other on out.
  • Rule of Funny: While ostensibly taking place before Part 2 of the game, several Servants who shouldn't be in Chaldea at this time are there for the sake of comedy.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: After outright dying from shock during the swimming competition when she lost, Nero suddenly appears near the end of the Olympia. When Gawain calls her out on this, Nero boasts that rising back like a phoenix is one of her abilities, and that as the director of the Olympia she wouldn't let herself be eliminated in such a pitiful fashion.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: da Vinci gets out of dodge and leaves behind a cardboard cutout by the time Altria and Nero are about to wreck Chaldea with their Noble Phantasms.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The reason the whole Olympia Games got started was because Ritsuka wanted to "decommission" Servants to lighten the strain on Chaldea resources. By the end of it, the battles more or less wreck Chaldea (up to and including destroying its foundation on the mountainside), putting them at an even worse material deficit.
  • Social Darwinist: Ritsuka decides which Servants she'll keep by putting them in a deadly version of the Olympic games, and keeping the winners. Also, only the higher rarity Servants (read:the more powerful ones) can even participate. Everyone else lower-ranked (and Cú Alter) gets the axe immediately. Except Red Hare, who she's already Grailed to Level 100 and keeps off to the side, and Nobukatsu, who somehow averted getting burned and is shown latched onto Nobunaga's back during the Cavalry Battle.
  • Sore Loser: Nero took losing to Nictoris in the swimming event so badly she outright vanished into golden dust, only to revive during the finale thanks to her Thrice Setting Sun skill (which Gawain claims is cheating because she skipped the intervening events).
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Ritsuka is a Cloud Cuckoolander while Mash is the Only Sane Man to counter the former's zaniness. Overall, female Ritsuka acts like a toned down Riyo Gudako.
  • Tempting Fate: Cú Alter thinks he's escaped the Butt-Monkey curse after the other Cús get killed off and starts bragging that he's different. Then Ritsuka kills him because one Cú still alive is one too many.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Artemis' arrow shot to Orion's neck is likely fatal already... then she follows up with a few dozens more arrows. Which she repeats on one more occasion.
  • They Killed Kenny Again:
    • Not just Lancer, but every version of Cú Chulainn is eliminated in one fell swoop. Ritsuka and Mash even say the requisite lines.
    • Orion is made a Human Pincushion twice thanks to Artemis when perving out on other cute girls.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Gawain's Numeral of the Saint is completely useless even in the right time if he's in a place without the sun... like the indoor piste. D'Eon easily runs through him after pointing it out.
  • Visual Pun: Why is Red Hare Ritsuka's favorite low-rarity Servant? Because Ritsuka has red hair.
  • Yandere: Artemis is this to Orion. Both times when she catches him attempting to hit on (and grope) Mash, she turns him into a pincushion — the second time, it even looks like Curruid Coinchenn!
  • Whole Costume Reference: This time around the Neco-Arcs, now going under the names Mysterious Neco V, W, X and Y, show up dressed as King Hassan, Frankenstein, Mysterious Heroine X, and Carmilla respectively.

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