Cover of Fate/Zero Volume 1
|Genre||Action, Dark Fantasy Tragedy|
|Written by||Gen Urobuchi|
|Illustrated by||Takashi Takeuchi|
|Original run||December 29, 2006 – December 29, 2007|
|Written by||Gen Urobuchi|
|Published by||Kadokawa Shoten|
|Original run||December 29, 2010 – June 2, 2017|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Ei Aoki|
|Produced by||Atsuhiro Iwakami|
|Music by||Yuki Kajiura|
|Original network||Tokyo MX, GYT, GTV, TVS, TVA, MBS, CTC, tvk, TVh, TVQ, BS11, Kids Station|
|Original run||October 1, 2011 – June 23, 2012|
Fate/Zero (Japanese: フェイト/ゼロ Hepburn: Feito/Zero) is a Japanese light novel written by Gen Urobuchi, illustrated by Takashi Takeuchi, and is a prequel to all routes in Type-Moon's visual novel, Fate/stay night. Fate/Zero is set ten years before the events of Fate/stay night, and tells the story of the Fourth Holy Grail War, a secret magical tournament held in Fuyuki City, Japan where seven magicians known as Masters summon Servants, reincarnations of legendary souls and heroes from all across time, where they fight in a deadly battle royale where the winner obtains the Holy Grail, a magical legendary chalice capable of granting wishes. The main protagonist, Kiritsugu Emiya, the foster father of Fate/stay night's protagonist, Shirō Emiya, is known as a merciless mage killer who joins the tournament on behalf of his wife's family, the Einzberns.
The first volume was released on December 29, 2006, and is a collaboration between Type-Moon and fellow developer Nitroplus. The second volume was released on March 31, 2007. The third volume was released on July 27, 2007. The fourth and final volume was released on December 29, 2007, along with the Fate/Zero Original Image Soundtrack "Return to Zero". Four sets of Drama CDs were released from 2008 to 2010. An anime adaptation has been produced by Ufotable, the first season of which aired from October 1 to December 24, 2011 and the second season of which aired from April 7 to June 23, 2012. The music was composed by Yuki Kajiura, who also composed the music for Puella Magi Madoka Magica. A manga adaptation was published by Kadokawa Shoten between 2011 and 2017. Dark Horse Comics licensed the manga and released it in English in North America.
Upon its release, Fate/Zero was acclaimed by many reviewers, with praise directed at the animation, themes, characters, soundtrack and story. The series has also been a commercial success, selling over 40,000 BD box-set and won several awards at the Newtype anime awards including "Title of the Year".
The story of Fate/Zero takes place ten years prior to the events of Fate/stay night, detailing the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. The Holy Grail War is a contest, founded by the Einzbern, Matou, and Tōsaka families centuries ago, in which seven mages summon seven Heroic Spirits to compete to obtain the power of the "Holy Grail", which grants a wish to each member of the winning duo. After three inconclusive wars for the elusive Holy Grail, the Fourth War commences.
The Einzbern family is determined to achieve success after three consecutive failures, no matter the cost. As a result, they have elected to bring the hated magus killer, Kiritsugu Emiya, into their ranks, despite his methods and reputation as a skilled mercenary and a hitman who employs whatever he can use to accomplish his goals. Though Kiritsugu had once wanted to become a hero who could save everyone, he has long since abandoned this ideal upon realizing that saving one person comes at the cost of another's life. Thus, this is the source of conflict, which he once sought to eliminate, due to finite resources/abilities. For the sake of humanity, he will ruthlessly destroy anything and anyone who threatens the peace of others.
However, Kiritsugu finds himself deeply torn between the love he has found for his new family – his wife Irisviel and their daughter Illya – and what he must do to obtain the Holy Grail. Meanwhile, Kiritsugu's greatest opponent appears in the form of Kirei Kotomine, a priest who is trying to discover his true nature in his quest to find the Holy Grail, which are revealed to be monstrous and full of hate. He sets his sights on Kiritsugu as a kindred spirit and possible answer to the emptiness he feels.
Towards the conclusion, the limitations of the "Holy Grail" are found to be in the fact that, while omnipotent in its wish-granting abilities, it is not omniscient, and therefore depends on the victor's knowledge and methods to determine the way by which the wish is carried out. And, to make things worse, the last war fought over the Grail has left it corrupted.
- Kiritsugu Emiya (衛宮 切嗣 Emiya Kiritsugu)
- Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama (Japanese), Miyu Irino (Japanese, young), Matt Mercer (English), Marianne Miller (English, young)
- Kiritsugu is the main protagonist of the story. He is the Master of Saber, summoning her using Avalon, the holy sheath of Excalibur, as a catalyst. While a cynical and practical man, he wishes to find a way to end all conflict. Infamously known as the "Magus Killer" for his skills, he was hired by the Einzbern family to be their representative in the Fourth Holy Grail War. Believing that the Holy Grail could grant his wish for world peace, he decided to accept. An unconventional magus, Kiritsugu adopts a strategy of exploiting enemy magus' weak points using technology. His cynical views on life bring him into direct conflict with his Servant, and he has Irisviel appear in Fuyuki City as Saber's master in order to allow him to move more freely and to avoid contact with Saber as much as possible. He is the adoptive father of Shirou Emiya and the biological father of Illyasviel von Einzbern.
- Irisviel von Einzbern (アイリスフィール・フォン・アインツベルン Airisufīru fon Aintsuberun)
- Voiced by: Sayaka Ohara (Japanese); Bridget Hoffman (English)
- Irisviel is the main heroine of the story, the mother of Illyasviel von Einzbern and Kiritsugu's wife. She is a homunculus prototype created by the Einzbern family with the idea of giving birth to an ultimate homunculus. Like many of the Einzberns, she is skilled in alchemy. Irisviel serves as Saber's proxy Master, since Kiritsugu believes that he and Saber are incompatible. Her true purpose in the War is as the vessel of the Holy Grail itself. When six or more Servants are killed, she will manifest the Grail, losing her humanity and sense of self in the process. Despite this, she remains committed to Kiritsugu, believing that his goals are worth the sacrifice.
- Saber (セイバー Seibā)
- Voiced by: Ayako Kawasumi (Japanese); Kari Wahlgren (English)
- Saber's identity in life is the King of Knights, Arturia Pendragon, who became King of Britain upon obtaining the magical "Sword in the Stone". Servants of the Saber class are often seen as being the strongest. She typically maintains a high code of honor, viewing honor as more important than victory. Though she and Kiritsugu are Servant and Master seeking the same ultimate goal of peace, their differing ideological perspectives result in a strained relationship where Kiritsugu does not directly acknowledge Saber. Saber wanted to use the Grail to help save her country; however, over the course of the war, her wish changes. Coming to believe that the cause of the downfall of Britain was her ineffective leadership, her reason for seeking the Grail becomes wanting to undo her country's misfortunes and wishing for someone else more suitable and effective to lead Britain in her stead.
- Kirei Kotomine (言峰 綺礼 Kotomine Kirei)
- Voiced by: Jouji Nakata (Japanese); Crispin Freeman (English)
- Kirei is the Master of Assassin, working for his mentor, Tokiomi, and doing everything he is asked to do to the best of his ability. He lives a pious life as a priest but lacks a sense of fulfilment, taking little joy in doing good deeds. He sees his own emptiness mirrored in Kiritsugu, for whom he feels a compulsive hatred. Kirei is the only Master that Kiritsugu fears, the latter seeing him as the biggest threat to his own victory. During the later stages of the War, he murders Tokiomi and becomes the Master of Archer, assuming the role of the main antagonist. He does not have a true wish for the Grail and fights only to discover his purpose in life.
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Fate/Zero began as a light novel series written by Gen Urobuchi with illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi. It is set as a prequel to Type-Moon's visual novel Fate/stay night. The first volume was released on December 12, 2006, and the fourth and final volume was released on December 29, 2007.
The 2011 issue of Type-Moon Ace magazine reported that an anime adaption of Fate/Zero was green-lit for production. It is produced by studio Ufotable and began airing in October 2011. This is the third anime production in the Fate series, following the 24-episode 2006 adaptation and the 2010 Unlimited Blade Works film. Nico Nico Douga and Aniplex simulcasted Fate/Zero worldwide with eight different language subtitles, including Korean, Chinese (traditional and simplified), English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
The anime was originally slated to run continuously for all episodes, but was later given a season break between 13 and 14 to allow for better animation. The first season ran from October 1 to December 24, 2011 and the second season ran from April 7 to June 23, 2012. For the first half, the opening theme is "oath sign" by LiSA whilst the ending theme is Memoria by Aoi Eir. For the second half, the opening theme is "to the beginning" by Kalafina whilst the ending theme is "Up On the Sky, The Wind Sings" (空は高く風は歌う Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau) by Luna Haruna. The ending theme for episodes 18-19 is "Perfect Sky" (満天 Manten) by Kalafina. The series has been licensed in North America by Aniplex of America and features an English dub which runs on Viz Media's Neon Alley service since April 2013.
Along with the anime production, a manga adaptation of Fate/Zero illustrated by Shinjirō was serialized in Young Ace magazine between December 29, 2010 and June 2, 2017 and compiled in fourteen volumes. On September 1, 2014, during their Kumoricon panel, Dark Horse Comics announced their license to the manga.
An art book entitled Fate/Zero material was released on August 8, 2008. Published by Type-Moon, the book contains a compilation of the published and promotional art from the novel, detailed character profiles and memo sections, and an overview of the novel's plot. Two videogame adaptations for smartphones, Fate/Zero The Adventure and Fate/Zero Next Encounter, were released in Japan. In 2016, A special event entitled Fate/Accel Zero Order was held from 27 April to 11 May. The scenario was written by Gen Urobuchi and the animation was produced by ufotable.
Fate/Zero received critical acclaim. Jacob Chapman of Anime News Network highly praised the series, describing it as "a treasure worth unearthing to its end" and concluded by writing: "Ambitious, brilliant, heartbreaking and masterfully crafted narrative, complex characters with powerful ideals, visually stunning, gorgeous score and strong cast in both languages."
UK Anime Network's Martin gave the first part a score 9 out of 10, and the second part a perfect score of 10 out of 10. Martin characterized the story as very dark and demanding and "a dramatic and satisfying conclusion to a solidly entertaining series." T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews gave the entire series a score of 4 out of 5 stars, with reviewer Aiden Foote believing Fate/Zero as "one of the most visually impressive TV series to date" and praised the "smooth animation and consistent artwork coming together to make crisp, evocative action scenes to get the heart racing." Aiden also stated "the main reason why I really like the show is the time and effort that Urobuchi puts into the majority of the characters." However, Aiden also criticizes the pacing stating that series biggest problems were the "plot pacing".
Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku praised the animation, themes and the characters backstories especially Kiritsugu's. Richard started the review by writing "Gen Urobuchi has written some of the most psychologically dark anime in recent memory. He is a master at subverting anime tropes to breathe new life into stale genres." His final thoughts being "Fate/Zero is an excellent anime. It has dynamic, multifaceted characters, explores great philosophies and themes, and tops it off with large helpings of action. It also has the will to go deep into dark, psychological territory to improve both its characters and story."
Sales and accolades
The first season's BD box set sold 43,000 copies in its first week, making it the highest-selling anime television Blu-ray box in first week-sales, breaking the record previously held by Haruhi Suzumiya. The second season's BD box set also topped Oricon's weekly sales, selling over 40,000 copies.
Fate/Zero won multiple top prizes during the 2nd Newtype Anime Awards, including Title of the Year, Best Studio (for ufotable), Best Soundtrack, and Best CM. It placed second for Best Theme Song ("to the beginning"), Best Director, Best Character Design and Script. In the Best Male Character category, Rider placed first, Kiritsugu placed third and Gilgamesh placed eight. In Best Character for Female, Saber placed second. It received 2 nomination at the 2014 UK Anime Network Awards in Best action category and best dramatic anime category. It was also the runner-up for "UK Anime Awards - The Reader's Choice 2014". The light novel took sixth place in its respective category in the 2015 Sugoi Japan Awards.
WatchMojo.com has also placed Fate/Zero on multiple ranking lists. In 2017, the show ranked #3 on their "Top 10 Best Anime Series Of The 2010s" list. The series was also ranked #5 on their "Top 10 Anime Series to Binge Watch" and #2 on "Top 10 Anime for Fantasy Fans". They also ranked the character Kiritsugu as #7 on their "Top 10 Badass Anime Gunslinger" list and Gilgamesh as #7 on "Another Top 10 Most Powerful Anime Characters". Fate/Zero currently holds 10th place on their "Top ten best anime series of all time" list and 1st place on "Top ten magic anime".
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- Type-Moon's Official Homepage for the Fate/stay night Game (in Japanese)
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- Official Anime Website (in Japanese)
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- Fate/Zero (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia