Fate/stay night is a visual novel from 2004 created and published by Type Moon for the PC. It was originally an erotic visual novel, but a version for ages 15 and up was released. It was later released for the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation Vita as well. This visual novel ended spawning several anime adaptations, including a full series adapting the Fate route and a movie adapting the Unlimited Blade Works route, both by Studio Deen, and then later a full series adapting the Unlimited Blade Works route and a movie trilogy adapting the Heaven's Feel route, both by Studio Ufotable. There was also a prequel light novel series titled Fate/Zero written by Gen Urobuchi, which was later adapted into an anime series by Studio Ufotable. There have also been many other light novel, manga, video game, and anime spin-offs of this visual novel, including Fate/Apocrypha, Fate/Extra, and Fate/Extella, among others. There was also a sequel to this visual novel called Fate/hollow ataraxia, released on October 28, 2005.
Fuyuki City is the setting for a secret and violent war among competing magi. For the past two centuries, seven sorcerers have gathered and engage in a battle royale known as the Holy Grail War, each gambling his or her own life to obtain the Holy Grail, a legendary chalice capable of granting wishes. The past four Holy Grail Wars have typically occurred every fifty years or so. However, the fifth war has started prematurely, with the most recent concluding less than a decade ago.
The seven sorcerers, known as Masters, are aided by seven beings known as Servants, reincarnations of legendary heroes from all times. These resurrected souls possess superhuman characteristics and wield powerful artifacts or abilities called Noble Phantasms, symbols of their heroism during life. Only one Servant can be summoned in each war from one of seven classes: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Berserker, Rider, Assassin, and Caster, each representing their distinctive role in battle. The Servants are summoned by the power of the Grail itself and aid their Masters in doing battle, protecting them from harm and killing other Servants or Masters. In return for their aid, the Servants also seek their own wish from the Holy Grail, should their Master become victorious.
Shirō Emiya is a serious yet helpful, hardworking, and honest teenager and a student at Fuyuki High, whose parents died in a fire years ago, around the time of the conclusion of the Fourth Holy Grail War. He was then adopted by Kiritsugu Emiya. When he was a child, his adoptive father told him how he had failed at his life ambition to become a "Ally of Justice". Shirō affirms to his adoptive father that he intends to devote his life to achieving that distant ideal, much to Kiritsugu's chagrin. To do this, Shirō pleads with a begrudging Kiritsugu to teach him sorcery; but being born without the capabilities of a magus, Shirō proves to be talentless in almost all the fundamental sorcerous disciplines. Kiritsugu dies in Shirō's youth. From then on, he grows up as an orphan in the occasional company of Taiga Fujimura, his English teacher at Fuyuki High, and Sakura Matō, his underclassman.
After cleaning his school's kyūdō dojo late one night, Shirō stumbles upon two Servants, Archer and Lancer, battling in the school courtyard. Upon accidentally revealing himself, Shirō runs away. To avoid compromising the war's secrecy, Lancer hunts down and pierces Shirō's heart with his Noble Phantasm, a long, red spear. Shirō is then discovered in a near-death state by Rin Tōsaka. For the sake of her sister Sakura Matō who has feelings for him, she uses an heirloom filled with concentrated magic to restore his damaged heart and leaves before he awakens. Shaken and dazed, Shirō picks up the heirloom and returns home only to be assaulted a second time by Lancer. Shirō weakly defends himself against Lancer using posters he strengthens with magic, but is soon overwhelmed by the powerful Servant's attack. Before Lancer can inflict another fatal blow, a magical mark on Shirō's hand begins to light up and a magical circle inside the shed begins to glow. A young woman clad in armor with an invisible sword appears in a flash of light and blocks Lancer's attack. After driving Lancer away from Shirō, she introduces herself as the Servant Saber, and formally announces her intention to fight under Shirō for the Holy Grail.
Meanwhile, Rin has realized that Lancer will return to finish what he started and rushes to the aid of Shirō, only to discover that Shirō is safe and has gained his own Servant. From here on, the story splits into three paths known as routes, and those are: Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven's Feel.
Why It Rocks
- An interesting battle royale style story.
- Great characters.
- Good art.
- Heroes from history and/or mythology are summoned to fight.
- The story is very shonen-esque regarding the complex battle system.
- There's three routes, which means you have three different alternatives for the story.
- In all three routes, several characters are treated much differently. For example, there's Shirou Emiya, the main character. He starts out the same in each route, but the difference comes in with the level of character development he gets.
- There's a different love interest for Shirou in each route.
- The Noble Phantasms.
- You have to play all three routes in order, Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Haven's Feel, so if you prefer a certain route you still have to play the one or ones before it first.
- There's never been an official English translation for it, despite how massively popular the Fate franchise is today. The only way you can play it in English is to play download the fan patch, and that's only on the PC version.
- It's very slow paced, even compared to other visual novels.
When released on January 30, 2004, Fate/stay night rapidly became one of the most popular visual novels in history, securing the title of "highest selling visual novel" in 2004 of the adult game retailer Getchu.com. Readers of Dengeki G's Magazine ranked the game second in a list of "most interesting bishōjo games" in August 2007.