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Fridge Brilliance

  • The whole concept of Fate revolves around, obviously, fate and destiny. The Holy Grail War involves figures from the past who seek to find a way to change their set destiny, recruited by figures who themselves with to change their own destiny.
    • Staynight involves both Shirou and primarily Saber dealing with their past and seeking to enable a future beyond the War.
    • Unlimited Blade Works involves a past/future mage, Shirou and Rin's Archer meeting and each battling to change each other’s fate.
    • Heaven’s Feel involves Sakura, her frustrations with her life and her struggle with her stronger dark self.
    • Zero, being a prequel tale of sorts, showcases how everyone involved in the previous War attempted to change destiny, and failed.
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  • Rider (who is really Medusa) being The Woobie seems like just a common case of mythological monster being treated more sympathetically in an adaptation. However, in certain versions of the story, Medusa was a priestess turned into a monster by Athena for being raped by Poseidon in her temple. They really didn't drastically change the story, they simply took the basic concept of it and let the sheer Values Dissonance change how sympathetically she is perceived. This gets even better if you've played through Heaven's Feel and keep in mind how the Servants are supposed to usually have similar traits to their Masters... The sequel, Hollow Ataraxia, makes this explicit, by showing that Rider originally accepted the summoning so that she could protect Sakura and help prevent her from turning into a monster like she had.
  • One might chalk up Medusa riding Pegasus as well as her summoning technique to Artistic License. But Pegasus was originally born from Medusa. When her head was decapitated. You know, the whole part where she slits her throat to summon him?
    • Adding to that, Pegasus was specifically her son by Poseidon, and the name of the attack, Bellerophon, shares its name with another son of Poseidon's, the one famous for being Pegasus's rider.
  • Archer's class:
    • Many people wonder why Archer was summoned as an Archer, instead of Saber, since he uses swords, and barely ever uses his bow. If you think about it, and play the game, though, it makes perfect sense for at least four reasons. 1. His favoured martial art in life was archery, and he was most skilled with a bow. 2. Archer treats his weapons as totally disposable, and is a total Combat Pragmatist. This win-at-any-cost attitude is reflective of the Archer class, not the honorable fighters represented by the Saber class. 3. Both inside and outside his Reality Marble, Archer can levitate his swords in midair and fire them in the same manner as the Gate of Babylon, which itself is the reason why Gilgamesh is an Archer. 4. Archer's entire backstory and mindset, and abilities, are reflective of the ancient Japanese philosophy of archery as a martial art. The perfect archer is one who has learnt to suppress the self, and give over one's life entirely to attaining a goal. The self becomes the bow, and as long as one imagines hitting the target, the target can be hit. Archer embodies precisely a dark version of this ideal. This is even set up in a Chekhov's Gun near the beginning of UBW.
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    • This is expanded even further when you realize that Archer's special ability Unlimited Blade Works and Tracing, his unique form of projection magic is actually based entirely on the same principles as Kyudo, the ancient Japanese art of archery. In the Fate route, Archer gives Shirou advice which initially sounds like him condescendingly reminding Shirou of the eight steps of firing, which is Kyudo 101. In actuality, it's the hint Shirou needs to realize how to use his projection magic properly. The archery club scene in Unlimited Blade Works makes this even more blatant as we can see the steps to fire an arrow mirror the steps Shirou used to project Caliburn toward the end of Fate. The parallel is completed later in UBW when Shirou's projected swords repeatedly break because he doesn't have the calm, nothingness/void state of mind that was stated was needed for archery, where the result is predetermined in one's mind and success is guaranteed before one even begins. Archer's skill, Eye of the Mind (True) is a reflection of his mastery of this, where his Nerves of Steel enable him to focus his mind only on his objectives and see the best way to reach it, formulating and "firing" even complex tactics as easily as he fires his arrows.
  • When Archer is first summoned and Tohsaka asks him what he desires from the Holy Grail, Archer offhandedly replies with "Lets see...World Peace?". This was the wish Emiya Kiritsugu had going into the 4th Holy Grail War, and is early evidence that Archer hasn't forgotten everything that drives him.
    • This more likely have to do with his backstory. He was constantly "mopping things up" after military conflicts. Understandably, world peace is the thing he desires most.
  • Why did Rin summon Archer despite doing her best to summon Saber? Why did she summon THIS Archer in particular? Coincidence? No. When you think about it, Rin became effectively incapable of summoning any Heroic Spirit other than this Archer the moment she decided to not use a catalyst in the ritual.
    A mage trying to become a Master can use a catalyst, an item connected with a Heroic Spirit during their life, as a focus to improve their odds of summoning that specific hero. Rin thought she didn't have a catalyst because she didn't have a specific spirit in mind. However, she actually did, although she didn't realise it: the mana-infused gem pendant she would later expend to save Shirou's life after he got caught in the duel between Archer and Lancer and leave with his unconscious body. He kept and treasured it, even after he grew up and became a Hero; he even gives it back to Rin himself in Unlimited Blade Works. So the same way that Heroic Spirit Emiya could be summoned backwards in time to an era before he became a Hero, this pendant counted as a catalyst for the summoning of Heroic Spirit Emiya even before it would become his possession in the first place.
    • There's even another possibility: the route where Archer is the central character, Unlimited Blade Works, is the Shirou/Rin route, so it's a pretty decent bet that Heroic Spirit Emiya is the Emiya Shirou who was once the lover of Tohsaka Rin in life. Rin herself is a living catalyst for the summoning of Heroic Spirit Emiya, even before they become lovers, even in timelines where they don't.
    • The latter point is at least partially incorrect. The Visual Novel explicitly states that it was Archer who had a catalyst/connection to Rin — the pendant — instead of the other way around. Rin herself wasn't a catalyst.
  • Why did Shirou manage to beat Archer? Why Archer's own skills of course. Archer's entire style is about beating people tougher, faster and out right better than he is, which Shirou stole and used against him.
  • Shirou's problem with his magic circuits in the Fate route almost perfectly mirrors his struggles with projection magic in the Unlimited Blade Works route. In the former, Shirou keeps struggling to use magic because he keeps trying to create a new magic circuit each time he needs to use magic instead of using the ones he already has. In the latter, Shirou keeps struggling to use magic because he keeps trying to create swords entirely from scratch every time he projects instead of drawing the copy he already has in his Reality Marble.
  • Consider Shirou's powers for a moment. Reinforcement and Projection magic, two mundane forms of magic, that when used "incorrectly" by him, allows him to create, new magical circuits inside himself, a pocket dimension, and any physical sword (as well as a powerful shield, Rho Aias) he has ever seen or learned of, as well as the skill to use it, understand, remember, and repair the make-up of numerous technological devices, and physically enhance his own body. All of which he can manifest onto/into reality itself. Laymans terms: Shirou has managed to obtain perhaps the second most coveted power in all creation, next to immortality. The Power Of Creation. UBW may require obscene amounts of power that he rarely has access to, but all of the swords in it, he can manifest anytime at practically no cost to himself whatsoever. Did Shirou really fail at using those forms of magic, like how other magi such as Rin and Illya would view and use it, or, is he the only person since, well ever, to actually get it right? For bonus points, who else has the ability to empower physical flesh, alter reality (even if only temporarily), create matter, and sustain said matter indefinitely unless they deem otherwise, and it returns to nonexistence? Um...GOD! Doesn't this classify him as a Physical God? Suddenly, him being able to eventually defeat monsters like Kirei, Hercules, Gilgamesh, and Angria Manyu, makes a whole lot more sense.
  • Lancer in Unlimited Blade Works:
    • How was it that Lancer, after stabbing himself through the heart under the power of the Command Spell, was still able to kill Kotomine, stab Shinji, free Tohsaka, say a few last words, and still manage to self-destruct? The skill screen has the answer. Lancer has "Battle Continuation, A-Rank", which lets him continue fighting no matter how badly he is wounded so long as it isn't immediately fatal. Having the heart destroyed is not immediately fatal for Servants as they are spiritual beings, so Lancer was able to kick ass well past what seems feasible.
    • This has some basis in Cu Chulainn's legend, where he managed to cut a man, despite being dead.
    • Also in Chulainn's legend, as well as in another Lancer (Diarmuid)'s legend, was where the concept for a geas was originated. Eventually Chulainn was forced to betray a geas put onto him. The Command Seals are effectively geases. Is it a wonder that those with an experience with geases got the crap end whenever a Command Seal is used?
  • The Grail:
    • Some may wonder why the holy grail was arbitrarily named such when its nature and ostensible function had absolutely nothing to do with the actual holy grail of legend. The entire reason for the grail's creation was to access use of the Third Sorcery, materialization of the soul. AKA, true immortality. Doesn't seem so arbitrary now, does it.
    • Also, in Heaven's Feel it is revealed that the grail was created for the purpose of opening a gate to the root of the universe, which is stated to be the ultimate goal of anyone who calls himself a magus. Given that Holy Grail has also become a term meaning an ultimate aspiration or goal, it also earns its name by being created to facilitating the accomplishment of the ultimate goal of all magi.
  • Why is Saber such a notorious Big Eater? she's King Arthur! she's probably used to eating at the head of large feasts, not modern-sized meals. Also, before Saber's reign as King Arthur,she spent her life as a squire. Squires aren't known for always having enough to eat; Saber appreciates good food probably because she remembers what it's like to be practically starving.
  • The infamous "Mind Of Steel" Bad End from Heaven's Feel has both Ilya and Kotomine state that what Shirou does is become Kiritsugu. It makes sense for Ilya to say that, considering her connection to him— but the true extent of the parallel is revealed after reading Fate/Zero. Both Shirou and Kiritsugu fell in love with a woman who is a vessel of the Holy Grail (Sakura, Irisviel), who wasn't expected to really live long at all because of that. Kiritsugu sacrificed her for the sake of winning the war and saving other people, in accordance to his idealism and his "kill one to save ten, ten to save a hundred, a hundred to save a thousand" philosophy. In this Bad End, Shirou does the exact same thing, and if he kills Ilya and Rin, the other Masters, too, then he'll be following in his father's footsteps even further, killing off as many Masters as possible. While Shirou's other choice, to protect Sakura against all odds is basically the exact opposite of Kiritsugu's actions in every sense possible, as he sacrifices other people for his love instead. In a metaphorical sense, one could see this as Shirou fixing his father's mistake, and just goes to show how much Shirou changes.
  • Saber not aging for ten years due to Avalon makes a surprising amount of symbolic sense. When she took out the sword, she willingly became a King and abandoned everything for the sake of her country, at a young age when she was still an idealistic little girl, to fulfill the ideal that she had at that age. To do that, she completely repressed that part of herself, and continued acting for that purpose ten years later. In other words, ten years later she never outgrew her idealism, and never aged naturally on an emotional and mental level either, meaning she remained that fifteen year old girl deep down because that part of her never aged.
  • After Fate/Zero, considering just who raised Shirou, his sense of worth being so deeply embedded in being a hero makes so much sense.
  • Which two Servants successfully betray their masters in Fate and Fate/Zero? Archer and Gilgamesh. What do they have in common? The Archer class skill: Independent Action.
  • Why did Tohsaka move in with Shiro after they decide to ally temporarily? Wouldn't her house be much better defended? It's possible she wasn't planning on it being long term and didn't want him seeing the defences, but neither Shirou nor Saber seem like they'd be great at unraveling its defences.
  • When you think about it, Shirou's development in each route is the product of contact with Archer. In Fate it's Archer's verbal advice that leads Shirou to try projection. In UBW he absorbs knowledge by watching Archer fight and copying him, and in Heaven's Feel he gets Archer's full powers by virtue of the arm graft. This makes sense when you consider that Shirou's strength was always a Charles Atlas Superpower and Archer helps him cut corners towards it. Despite his enmity, Archer is quite the Stealth Mentor.
  • Why does Kirei Kotomine love his mapo tofu so? Simple: because, as someone only able to take pleasure from evil, it's a food that makes the people around him uncomfortable.
  • Saber is noted as having an unusually high magic resistance even for her class. In UBW, after Caster takes Shirou's command spells and makes her into her Servant she manages to fight against Caster's order to kill Tohsaka and Shirou and is able to resist her control for three days, while Fate Zero showed that Kiritsugu needed two Command Spells to force Saber to destroy the Holy Grail. With the reveal of her identity as Arturia Pendragon and being descended from dragons this makes sense sense. Dragons in stories are often known for being impervious to magic, which explains Saber's high Anti-Magic ability.
  • Some people have made the comment that Rule Breaker seems to have no mythological basis. But Caster, being Medea, is best known for killing her own brother, in the process betraying her own family. Rule Breaker is the dagger used by Medea to commit her greatest betrayal - a fitting weapon to have the power to break oaths.
  • The three story paths all focus on several characters but in different ways!
    • The Fate path focuses on the servant and master relationship, the story focuses on the conflict between Shirou and Saber against other Master and Servant pairs like Shinji and Rider, and the romance is between a Master and a Servant. Even the final boss is a Master and Servant Pair.
    • The Unlimited Blade Works path focuses on servants! Archer plays a large role, Caster is at her most active, Lancer appears more frequently, and the relationship between Shirou and Saber is very much a Master and Servant. Gilgamesh takes the spotlight as the main villain and Rin and Shirou get together after losing their Servants and their character Development. It also explores Archer's identity and what made him a Hero, and later a Servant.
    • Heavens Feel focuses on the Human characters. Kotomine, Shirou, Illya, and Sakura get explored greatly compared to the Fate path and very quickly in the story Lancer, Caster, Assassin, Gilgamesh, and Archer are killed with Beserker dying shortly too. Saber and Rider are the only ones left, and after their fight only Rider. Zouken even appears and thus moves the storyline with a more focused story to it. The final boss is even Kotomine, who fights Shirou.
  • The choice of Herakles as the Einzbern Servant is rather telling:
    • The Einzbern aspires to recover the Third True Magic, the Materialization of the Soul. In layman terms, that means raising the dead. Herakles did just that. Upon finding that the wife of his host Admetus had died, he went to the Netherworld, wrestled and defeated the anthropomorphic personification of Death and brought her back to life as apology for having unknowingly been a bad guest.
    • Alternative possibility: he's a dragon slayer (his Eleventh Labor involved killing the dragon Ladon to allow Atlas to recover the golden apples of the Hesperides, and the Lernaean Hydra slain in the Second Labor could be considered a multi-headed dragon). Possibly accidental, but this way Herakles is even more superior to their Servant of the Fourth War, who was practically a dragon in human form.
  • The bare-bones definition of True Magic is that of an event that cannot either happen naturally or be performed by science, no matter the time and resources used. It's pretty much the same as the Real Life Catholic Church's definition of a miracle, that is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws, to the point that upon hearing of a miracle the Church will have it dissected by scientists before accepting it as such.
  • In the prologue, Shirou was able to ward off Lancer's deathblows for a short while with a reinforced poster, despite being outclassed in speed and reflexes, by guessing where he would attack and deflecting the spear the moment he did. This is probably a subtle foreshadowing to the scene in the UBW route where Archer wards off Lancer's full-force attacks in a similar fashion.
  • Gilgamesh believes humanity has become weak, and wishes to purge the world by recreating the hellish fire from ten years ago on a global scale. The only ones he considers worthy of becoming his subjects are those capable of surviving the curses unleashed by the corrupted grail. At the end of the Fate route, Shirou does exactly that, projecting Avalon and shrugging off the Grail's curses in order to defeat Kirei. And in Unlimited Blade Works, Gilgamesh himself is defeated by Shirou - the only survivor of the fire caused by the Grail's previous activation, and therefore the only human who, even by Gilgamesh's standards, is undeniably "worthy".
  • Toward the beginning of the story, Sakura is noted to a have a peculiar bruise on the back of her hand, and when Shirou questions Shinji on it, he says he had nothing to do with it. He's telling the truth; that bruise was the beginnings of Sakura's Command Seal. As it disappeared not long after, she must have summoned Rider and handed her off to Shinji very shortly thereafter.
  • The Fate route deals with Saber's regrets regarding her kingship - she believes she should never have drawn Caliburn and become king. One of the turning points in the route occurs when Shirou projects Caliburn for her - reiterating her claim to the throne.
  • As terrifying (and somehow oddly funny) it would be to see Herakles being Assassin instead of Berserker, it actually makes sense he would be compatible with that class, as many of his twelve labors were effectively assassination-missions with the targets being various monsters.
  • When you learn Archer's identity, it seems strange that he's 20cm taller than Shirou. But think back. During the end the 4th Holy Grail War, Kirei was smaller than in 5th. A grown up man took 10cm after his 30s at random? No, the intense usage of magic stimulates the body. And another effect is modifying the skin of the user. This is how Archer turned SO tanned. He abused magecraft.
    • Not only that, he's had Avalon in his body for the last ten years - a sheath with the specific ability to maintain the youth of its wielder.
  • In the beginning of the war, Rin claims that Saber is the strongest class and the Holy Grail is as good as hers if she summons a heroic spirit in that class. Given that in all 3 routes, a Master of Saber has in some way won the war, she is not kidding:
    • Fate: Shirou summoned the Saber that his father used in the Fourth Holy Grail War and proceeds to fight and win the War.
    • Unlimited Blade Works: After Shirou lost Saber to Caster, Archer planned events so that Rin would make a contract with Saber and win the Grail after Archer kills Shirou. While things don't go exactly according to Archer's plan, Rin is the last master standing at the end of the war.
    • Heaven's Feel: Saber was corrupted by the Shadow, and was under Dark Sakura's command. While Saber ultimately died by Shirou and Rider's teamwork, disregarding Kirei's Famous Last Words, Sakura was ultimately the final master standing by the time the Grail was destroyed/sealed.
  • Gilgamesh’s best friend Enkidu becomes Gilgamesh’s Noble Phantasm weapon: a set of chains. This doesn’t sound right, unless you know their mythology: Enkidu was a bestial man who was domesticated by civilization. A chain, or a leash, would be the best fit for such a character.
    • Enkidu additionally has the ability to shapeshift. He was created from mud and water in the original myth.
  • In the Fate route, during the confrontation against Gilgamesh on day 14, he drops three subtle hints about the identity of his Master, Kirei Kotomine.
    • He reveals that he is aware of Saber's condition, namely her not being a complete Servant, in order to taunt her. The only one apart from the main heroes to know that is Kotomine, as Shirou consulted him specifically about that the night before.
    • He calls the Holy Grail an 'omnipotent vessel'. The exact words used by Kotomine, once again the night before, during his recounting of the beginnings of the Holy Grail War.
    • Most strikingly, he utters "Rejoice!" to Saber. While that is far from being Kotomine's catchphrase, it nevertheless is something he said previously in a rather memorable scene.
  • Archer's Noble Phantasm: The Japanese name for Unlimited Blade Works, Mugen no Kensei, translates to "Infinite Sword Creation". However, mugen has two meanings. Other than "infinite", it can also mean "fantasy"/"dream". On top of that, although it uses a different kanji, "sei" can also be read as "saint". In fact, "kensei" (with the kanji for "saint") is an honorary title only given to the most legendary swordsmen in Japanese history (Miyamoto Musashi, for example). Thus, "Infinite Creation of Swords" can in fact also be read as "Dream of the Sword Saint".

Fridge Horror

  • Small one for the Heavens Feel normal end when Shirou uses Excalibur it destroys the cave and he is crushed within... but when he hesitates, he is saved by Illya. Seems fair enough until you realize she spoke to Zouken during the fight with Kotomine... Shirou destroys the cave AND kills Illya!
    • However, since one condition for the "true end" of the Heavens Feel route is to have the relation level with Illya at 4, it's also possible that Illya simply didn't go there in the normal end.
  • A BIG one for Heaven's Feel. Saber, being an entity that isn't quite a full Heroic Spirit, retains memories and experiences that she had in her attempts to gain the Holy Grail. So when she's corrupted by Sakura, and killed by Shirou without being restored, it's very possible that the Saber of that route has been PERMANENTLY CORRUPTED, to the point that not even death would free her.
    • However, another explanation is that Saber is simply consumed by Sakura in that route, just like the other servants. And since she's not a real Heroic Spirit, her "real self" is gone at that point and will never be summoned again in the future. Instead, she provides mana to Shiro as a part of Sakura, which is not that bad.
  • What might have happened if Lancer were summoned as The Berserker instead, which would give him the "Warp Spasm" as one of his skills.
  • On the same token, Berserker summoned as Assassin. Think about it: Herakles with the ability to hide and sneak up on anyone. Assassin is usually balanced because he's the weakest Servant, but with the World's Strongest Man... And that's probably why normally Assassin can only be one of the Hassans: the creators didn't want something like this to happen.
  • After learning what you do in Heaven's Feel, Sakura's fate in the previous two routes becomes downright depressing. As there is no indication in those routes that anything is even wrong, it can be assumed that nothing is done about it after the ends of those routes.
    • To elaborate, yes, Shinji dies like the scum he is in both other routes, but there is no indication about Zouken, which means that he is perfectly well and alive after those routes, free to continue what he has always done.
    • However, the other two routes are more open-ended as of what the future holds. Even though Zouken and the Great Holy Grail are not dealt with up until the ends, this doesn't preclude the possibility that they will be handled in the future developments of those routes.
  • Shirou's dark future as Archer. Think about it for a moment. As a child he inherited Kiritsugu's ideal of an "Ally/Hero of Justice", but what is that actually? To a child like him it is the ideal superhero, which is a common fantasy for children like him, protecting the innocent, help those in need, right? Wrong! That is a Good Samaratin, a Boy Scout, a Defender of the Weak. An Ally of Justice, at it's best is a by the book Police Officer, at worst, an unbiased executioner, like one who flips the switch on an electric chair. What does the world offer Shirou to become as a Counter Guardian? To be an Ally of Justice, what does it make him? An executioner. Not what Shirou was expecting obviously, Kiritsugu never straightened him out about that, so his only hope now to change things is erasing himself by killing his younger self.

Fridge Logic

On the headscratchers page.


Example of: