Once upon a time, Kinoko Nasu thought of a story where various legendary figures were summoned by wizards and made to fight each other for the Holy Grail. That story would eventually become Fate/stay night, following the protagonists Shirou Emiya and the female knight Saber....
Fate/Prototype is a twelve-minute OVA released with Season 3 of Carnival Phantasm, acting as a digest version of the original concept of Fate/stay night. It also encompasses a number of material books and the like, including character designs and story excerpts. The basic idea is the same as Fate/stay night, but the difference is in the details.
Four characters (Ayaka, Saber, Lancer, and Archer) appeared in the Hanafuda game in the PSVITA port of Fate/stay night Realta Nua, with their own scenario.
A Special Drama CD for Fate/Prototype was released on November 10, 2012. Another Special Drama CD was released in September, where Saber of Fate/Prototype being a guest star along with Blue Saber and Red Saber.
In March 2013 at the Anime Contents Expo Type-Moon released Fate/Prototype -Animation Material-, an artbook that contained storyboard illustrations of Fate/Prototype and scenes that weren't aired in the trailer.
A Light Novel series, titled Fate/Prototype: Fragments of Sky Silver, began serialization in Comptiq magazine starting in August 2013, with Volume 1 released in September 2014, Volume 2 released in October 2014, Volume 3 released in March 2015, Volume 4 released in March 2016, and Volume 5 released in April 2017. The series is written by Hikaru Sakurai and illustrated by Nakahara. The story is about the First Holy Grail War that occurred in Ayaka's childhood, essentially making it Prototype's answer to Fate/Zero.
Sakurai has also written a spin-off called Fate/Labyrinth, where Manaka Sajyou spirit hops into an alternate universe and ends up possessing a female magus named Norma Goodfellow, who herself is a participant of a Variant Holy Grail War where she has summoned Artoria Pendragon as her Servant.
In October 2017, Type-Moon released the first CD in a Drama CD adaptation of the Fate/Prototype: Fragments of Sky Silver novels, which covers the entirety of the events, but in a linear fashion.
This article will contain unmarked spoilers for Fate/Prototype and Fate/stay night.
- All There in the Manual: Long before the OVA, Ayaka and the male Saber were introduced in a TYPE-MOON art book called "Character Material". Prototype itself came with an art book of it's own, further expanding on the characters and story.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Holy Grail War. Though in comparison to the FSN timeline, the Grail War is relatively new in the Protoverse, as Ayaka's father and sister fought in the First Holy Grail War, with this being the Second.
- Artifact of Doom: The Grail granting wishes making it inherently evil is due to the wishes and desires of most humans are typically selfish and not noble. This is partly due to the idea the Grail can grant wishes is based on the Celtic myth of Dagda's Cauldron, the Dundry, which eventually got equated with the Holy Grail due to the miracles it performs. Most people don't realize its true nature due to no one ever using one before to grant a wish.
- Bling of War: Most of the Servants' armor is rather ornate. Archer's is even entirely gold plated.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Ayaka Sajyou was told by her father before his death that she had no choice but to participate in the war herself, when the time came—but she wanted nothing to do with it, traumatized over the loss of her father and sister. Too bad the war came to her, in the form of Lancer and a pack of hunting dogs.
- Christmas Episode: In the Special Drama CD, Ayaka spends her Christmas after the Holy Grail War on a cruise with Saber, Lancer, Archer and her Ax-Crazy sister Manaka... and then gets caught up in a murder mystery.
- Crossover Cosmology: Beings such as King Arthur, Gilgamesh, Cu Chulainn, Perseus, and Heracles are all summoned in the modern day for an Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny. And with the Beast of Revelation being the ultimate threat to everything in the setting.
- Curse of the Pharaoh: The Rider of Fragments of Sky Silver, Ozymandias, has a Noble Phantasm that summons all of the great tombs and pyramids of Egypt as a massive fortress in a Reality Marble. Within it, Servants who are not Semi-Divine are locked out of their ability to use their Noble Phantasms. Trespassers are also subjected to a noxious poison that cripples Servants and kills humans in two seconds.
- Early Installment Weirdness: As one might expect, especially since it wasn't originally published or shown to the public. Examples include:
- Rather than Fuyuki (or Kobe with the serial numbers filed off, if you prefer), the setting for the Grail War is explicitly Tokyo. In the published F/SN, the relocation seems to be, from a plot perspective, to make it easier to justify such a potentially destructive war being accepted by the Mage's Association, as they would freak out at the amount of destruction Tokyo suffers in the OVA.
- The Einzberns, or anyone with a role remotely similar, are nowhere to be found in Prototype; the Grail instead was put together by a group of magi that likely included the Sajyou among them.
- The Grail War is a recent idea in Prototype, with the one in Fragments being the first. In F/SN as published, the wars have been fought since the 1800s.
- Relatedly, there is no mention of the need for a sixty-year period between Grail Wars; the second Grail War of Proto starts eight years after the first, and this seems to be all the time usually necessary to restart a Grail War (and on top of this, it seems like the intent was simply for there to be one single HGW and the second one of Proto itself is relatively unplanned-for).
- The Noble Phantasms are significantly more destructive at full power than in F/SN as published, or indeed other Fate works. Arthur's Excalibur, for example, can devastate a good bit of the Tokyo metro area in just one swing. Especially notable on this front is Proto-Gilgamesh's true NP, Enki: Sword of the End - which replicates the Flood of Utnapishtim, covering the world in water. Small wonder that it wasn't kept considering that it be pretty hard to hide a secret war when one of the participants floods the city and the other takes out said flood with one incredibly powerful blast of energy. note
- In Proto, the Grails exist specifically to bring the Beasts into being. While it can also grant wishes, the Beast is part and parcel of the package as most wishes are born from selfish desires. In F/SN, the Grail is simply an elaborate ritual tool for the invocation of the Third True Magic, which allows the soul to be materialized - basically, immortality without a physical body. The F/SN Grail does have a malevolent entity associated with it, but this was the result of a mistake, rather than any kind of deliberate intent, and its presence prevents the Grail from operating as intended.
- On a more minor note, in F/SN and later Fate works, Command Seals almost always appear on the back of a Master's hand, with exceptions often requiring intent and planning to facilitate (such as Ilya's case). In Proto, their place of appearance tends to be a lot more varied, with the Sajyous having theirs on their chests, Misaya having hers on her back between her neck and shoulders, one of the unnamed Masters having theirs below the left eye, Isemi having it on his palm, and Sancraid having his on his tongue.
- Speaking of Command Seals, the Master of Rider, Isemi, uses his Command Seal to supposedly incarnate Perseus (as in, give him a physical form) before his death. In the main Fate verse, there's no real indication that Command Seals would be capable of performing such an extraordinary feat - that kind of miracle is usually the domain of a Grail wish itself.
- Also on the subject of Command Seals, in main Fate works, every Master in a Grail War gets exactly three Seals of equal power, with any difference in power between Masters purely down to who you manage to summon and one's own skill as a magus and a strategist. In Proto, there seems to be a hierarchy of power among Masters, themed after the angelic hierarchy found in Christian apocrypha, especially Summa Theologica, starting at "Princes" and going up to "Seraphim", gaining more "wings" as you go. Exactly how it works has never been elaborated on, however.
- The End of the World as We Know It: If the Grail ritual is completed, the Book of Revelation happens.
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: Some of the command seals feature angel wings with eyes on them.
- Feather Motif: Ayaka and crow feathers.
- Functional Magic: Laid the framework for the magic system in the Nasuverse, though a number of concepts turned out differently from here.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: The command seals are all based on angel wing motifs. About half of them still manage to look malevolent and creepy despite this.
- Gender Flip: Inverted. Shirou Emiya of Fate/stay night is a gender flip of Prototype's protagonist Ayaka Sajyou (although Ayaka also has a lot in common with Rin Tohsaka, being the mage daughter of a respected mage who died in a previous Holy Grail War). Same goes with Saber, since she is also a gender flip of Ayaka's Saber-class Servant and by extension, also a gender flip of King Arthur. The Fragments Drama CD makes it very clear Saber of Red is a gender flip of the male Mordred from the Prototype timeline. Played Straight in case of Prototypes incarnation of Merlin, who is a male-to-female genderflip of Fate/Stay Night Merlin.
- Gratuitous English: In true Nasu tradition, the text in the Opening Narration is strangely worded. They also come with Japanese subtitles.
- Historical Gender Flip: Unlike Arthur Pendragon, Merlin is made a woman to contrast him as revealed in the prequel.
- Hot Springs Episode: In the Hanafuda Minigame included in the PSVITA port of Fate/stay night Realta Nua, Ayaka and her team get this ending in their scenario.
- Kill Sat: Archer summons a mystical one at the end of the original trailer—it's his EX ranked Noble Phantasm, Enki: Sword of the End, which summons the Surge of Utnapishtim. It's capable of flooding the entire planet.
- Our Sphinxes Are Different: In Fragments of Sky Silver, Ozymandias can summon sphinxes. One that fights Arthur can control fire, doing stuff like coating itself in flames, breathing out fire tornadoes and turning its claws into Hot Blades. The king of the sphinxes, Sphinx Wehem-Mesut, is a giant, faceless sphinx with a Celestial Body. It can spawn offspring called Sphinx Awlad which act like lion cubs when young.
- Power Tattoo: The command seals (or as they're called here, Master Degrees). Also, the prototype Gates of Babylon, Bab-ilu: Key of the King's Law, which in this is a tattoo on Archer's face.
- Prequel: Fragments of Sky Silver is this. Well, maybe. Given that Prototype is just a Real Trailer, Fake Movie with some All There in the Manual material and Drama CDs, one could say that it's the actual beginning of the story.
- Real Trailer, Fake Movie: What the extant OVA amounts to. It's more or less a teaser for a story that's never been released in full.
- Storm of Blades: Just like his Fate/stay night counterpart, Gilgamesh has a Noble Phantasm capable of this called Bab-ilu: Key of the King's Law. However, it's a tattoo on his face, and it fires weapons out of ten small portals that form a circle around him not unlike a gatling gun, rather than as a gigantic downpour.
- The Stinger: Manaka Sajyou laughing in a massive pile of bones.
- Tears of Blood: Rider after killing everyone in the hospital.
- Theme Naming: The seven masters are given Master Degrees based on the angelic hierarchy: Princes, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim. The exception is Sancraid Phahn, who is given the title of Absence (or Void)—he is actually an anomalous eighth master in the War.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Eight all-stars of legend enter. Only one gets to leave.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The priest who stole the Grail in Fragments for the Holy Grail War did it under the mistaken belief it would summon a divine and holy being upon granting the wish.
- Urban Fantasy: Just like with Fate/stay night, all the magic shenanigans take place in modern Japan - specifically, the greater Tokyo area, making it even more urban.
- Yandere: A flashback in Fragments reveals that Proto-Mordred was even more extremely obsessed over his father Arthur than the Mordred of Artoria's timeline. To the point he wanted to destroy everything Arthur cared about until he only had Mordred to focus his attention on.