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I've watched just the 2006 Fate/Stay Night anime series. I know there are other series in the franchise (Fate/Zero, Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya), as well as the Unlimited Blade Works movie, and the manga. Given that I don't intend to read the VN, what order should I take these works in, and are there any I can skip without losing out?

EDIT: Some great answers here. I figured there might be some confusion about my unwillingness to read the VN. It's not about the H scenes or the translation patches; it's just an issue of access. I'm not quite willing to spend the $130 to import it, even though I know I would love it if I did. (I read and loved the Tsukihime VN; just don't ask me how I got it.)

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Fate/Stay Night Realta Nua on PC can be brought on Amazon Japan, it's 3 separate games (one for each route) but you need to clear all their endings to access -Last Episode, there's links to each "episode" is on Type-Moon's Website and siliconera says they cost 2,940 Yen each, convert that to Aus$ which is close to US$ and that's about $29.40 so close to $90 in total. –  Memor-X Jul 15 at 22:15
Here's the Type-Moon link i think you can use but i can't confirm as it's blocked at work for "adult-and-pornography" (despite Which of the Holy Night and Realta Nua being all ages) –  Memor-X Jul 15 at 22:16
@Memor-X Thanks, good tip! If I can spread the cost out a little, I won't be as unwilling to spend the money. –  Torisuda Jul 17 at 20:45

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

If you ask five people this question, you'll get six answers. There are conflicting opinions on this, and I'll try to outline the major options available in this answer. For a tl;dr, see the bottom of this answer.

It is generally agreed that Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero are the two core works of the Fate series. They both come in multiple forms. Whatever you do, consuming these two works in some form is the first thing you should do.

Fate/stay night

  • Fate/stay night was originally a 2004 visual novel that had three routes - Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven's Feel (in that order).
  • The 2006 anime by DEEN mostly adapted the Fate route.
  • The 2010 movie version of Unlimited Blade Works adapted (as you would expect) the Unlimited Blade Works route.
  • This fall (i.e. fall 2014) will see another adaptation of Fate/stay night, this time by Ufotable. As of this writing, we don't know which routes it will adapt.
  • There is also a manga series that (I believe) adapts the Fate route, but I'm going to ignore it, because it's generally agreed to not be that great.


Fate/Zero is a prequel to Fate/stay night.

  • It was originally a light novel series (2007). Fate/Zero has no concept of routes, so all media of Fate/Zero cover the same material, more or less.
  • It had a manga adaptation (started in 2011; ongoing)
  • It was adapted into a 2-cour anime by Ufotable in 2011-2012.

Below, I discuss some possible scenarios for consuming F/sn and F/Z.

You want to stick to watching anime

In this case, the best options are:

  1. Wait for the Ufotable F/sn anime to air. Watch that, and then watch the F/Z anime.
  2. Watch the F/Z anime. Then, when the Ufotable F/sn anime airs, watch that.

There are pros and cons to watching F/Z first vs. watching F/sn first. Each one spoils material for the other. In particular,

If you watch F/Z first, you know how messed up the Matou family is; you know that the Grail is corrupt; you know about Kiritsugu's affiliation with the Einzberns; you know that Sakura and Rin are sisters; you know that Kotomine is not a good guy. These are all major reveals in Fate and Heaven's Feel, and I think that knowing these things in advance impedes one's enjoyment of those routes.

On the other hand, if you watch F/sn first, you know how the Fourth Grail War ends - but this isn't a bad thing. That's how all the original readers of Fate/Zero went into it, and Urobuchi Gen wrote the light novels with that in mind - the dramatic irony that we know that everything's going to hell in a handbasket but they don't is what gives F/Z a lot of its impact.

The above is mostly a matter of opinion, but I think that the fact that F/sn was first produced before F/Z suggests that it is the way to go.

All things considered, it is difficult for me to make a recommendation at this point, since the Ufotable F/sn anime hasn't come out yet, but odds are that when it does, I will favor option (1) for the reasons outlined in the spoiler block.

I do not advise watching the DEEN F/sn anime (the TV series) it is poorly produced, both in terms of objective quality (art, animation, etc.) and in terms of faithful adaptation of the original work.

I also do not advise watching the UBW movie unless you have already read the UBW route of the visual novel - anime-only fans of F/sn will be utterly baffled by the movie. It has a bunch of cool fights, but the plot is a complete mess. It basically functions as fanservice for people who already read the UBW route of the visual novel.

But you already watched the DEEN F/sn anime

Well, in that case, you've already been spoiled for quite a few things, so you may as well go ahead and watch the F/Z anime and then catch the Ufotable F/sn anime when it comes out. (OP, this is for you.)

You are open to anything

You have one clear-best option.

Read the F/sn visual novel. Then, watch the F/z anime. Then ― if you can grok Japanese or tolerate translated light novels ― read the F/Z light novels. At any time after reading the UBW route of the F/sn visual novel, you can watch the DEEN UBW movie (for animated fight scenes).

I will revise this answer once the Ufotable F/sn anime is complete - it is likely that tossing it into the mix at some point will be a good idea.

What about all the other Fate/asdfghjkl stuff?

In this section, I've mentioned the major Fate/ works that people often have questions about; if you have any other questions, leave a comment and I'll update.

Fate/hollow ataraxia

Fate/hollow ataraxia is the sequel visual novel to F/sn (released 2005).

You can read this at any time after finishing the F/sn visual novel. If you can't read Japanese, this may be an unpleasant experience.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya is a spinoff manga that shares characters and universe concepts with F/sn and F/Z but is otherwise rather dissimilar. A 10-episode anime season aired in 2013 and another 10-episode season is airing now (summer 2014)

You can watch or read this at any time after finishing the F/sn visual novel or F/Z in any form. You will get more of the jokes if you've finished both and also gone through Fate/hollow ataraxia (the sequel visual novel to Fate/stay night).

The rest of the Nasuverse

The Fate/ series shares a universe with a number of other works by Nasu Kinoko (the author of F/sn), including Tsukihime, Kara no Kyoukai, and Mahoutsukai no Yoru. Some of these are dependent on one another, but they're all essentially wholly decoupled from the Fate/ series, so you don't need to worry about them for the purposes of watching the Fate/ serie.


If you only want to watch anime, wait for Ufotable's F/sn adaptation this fall, watch that, and then watch the F/Z anime.

If you're willing to do whatever, read the F/sn visual novel, watch the UBW movie, and then watch the F/Z anime.

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From what i read of the new Fate/Stay Night Anime it's not adapting any existing Route of the Visual Novel but instead going by a new Route. i also read this new route is one of 2 things, either the original Ilya Route which was merged with the Fate Route in final production (as such will focus on the White Grail rather than Heaven's Feel's Black Grail) or an alternate route of the conclusion of Fate/Zero where the Prana gathered in the 4th war wasn't preserved (and thus starting the 5th wars 10 years later rather than 80) –  Memor-X Jul 14 at 1:08
The manga has Fate's ending, but the story doesn't stick to the Fate route. From what I heard, it has elements from UBW route during the progression of the story. –  nhahtdh Jul 14 at 8:18
Thanks, good answer. I watched the 2006 anime again recently and was struck by how bad the fight scenes looked--almost DBZ levels of badness. My memory had somehow made them much cooler. There were some weird plot holes and threads that never went anywhere, too. –  Torisuda Jul 15 at 18:18
I'll probably follow your advice, watch Fate/Zero, catch the new anime when it comes out, and maybe try to get the visual novel sometime in the future. I'll wait a little while to see if anyone else wants to chime in, and probably accept this answer. –  Torisuda Jul 15 at 18:20

In my opinion (as senshin said, 5 people, 6 answer), if you are looking at the series from production release order, I'd do the following.

1) Fate/Stay Night Visual Novel

All works on Fate/Stay Night are adapted from this as

  • The anime mainly follows the Fate Route
    • Caster's Antagonist Role later in the anime is adapted from Unlimited Blade Works. (In Fate, she appears but is shortly killed. Her goal to prematurely summon the Grail was one of the main plots of Unlimited Blade Works).
    • Sakura's attacks on Rin in their battle during Caster's Arc is adapted from Heaven's Feel.
  • The Unlimited Blade Works Movie adapts the Route of the same name in the Visual Novel. However, it is more faithful to the adaptation than the original anime (I say faithful in a loose sense - you can't be faithful to a few hour long game in a movie).

In terms of which Visual Novel, Fate/Stay Night Realta Nua PC is your best bet as Realta Nua uses the same updated engine as what Fate/Hollow Ataraxia uses. Realta Nua PC is for all ages and in Japanese. However, there is an English Patch for it and it does add an option to view both the original H Scenes from the original Visual Novel and their Realta Nua Replacements (Shiro and Saber's Bed Scene, Rin's Contract with Shiro, Rider stealing Prana from Shiro). So if you avoid the visual novel because of the H Scenes, then you can avoid them all together and you don't lose as much.

2) Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero is a prequel to Fate/Stay Night. At the start of the Fate/Stay Night anime, you see Saber and Gilgamesh fight it out - this is what happens in Fate/Zero. Also, a lot of Fate/Zero is already revealed in Heaven's Feel like the state of the Grail, the Matou Family, and the true purpose of the wars.

Regardless of the route in Fate/Stay Night, they all starts from the aftermath of Fate/Zero, including the upcoming Ufotable anime.

3) Any other anime

From this point, you will be well-versed on the events. As such, the anime titles (apart from Ufotable's upcoming release) will be an abridged version of what you've seen, also more stylized fights (e.g. Archer vs. Lancer), which looks better animated.

If you are looking at the series from chronological order, I'd do the following:

  1. Fate/Zero
  2. Fate/Stay Night (anime, if you really have to)
  3. Unlimited Blade Works (again, if you really have to)

While you say you don't intend to read the Visual Novel, you would miss out a lot. The Visual Novel isn't constricted to screening times, as such you can get quite detailed explanations of Nasuverse terminology such as True Magic, Magecraft, The Throne of Heroes, and how it's used with the Holy Grail. A lot of these are explained in the Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven's Feel Route, which the former is constrained to 2 hours of screening time and the later has no adaptation.

Also finally in Realta Nua, after seeing all 5 endings, there is -Last Episode- which is in 2 parts: the first is a review of the Fate Route, while the second part is the true conclusion to the Fate Route where 2 people fulfill the conditions to perform a Miracle. You can also see it as a conclusion to the Fate/Stay Night anime since both the anime and the Fate Route have the same ending, as such, -Last Episode- would continue on from both.

Outside of anime there are:

  • Fate/Hollow Ataraxia (Visual Novel) - This follows the Fate Route. However, it does expect that you've played all the routes in Fate/Stay Night as it has elements that transpired in Heaven's Feel.

    The state of the Matou Family's as Zouken and Shinji are terrified by Sakura now that she is the head of the family and Alter-Saber being Saber's second personality

  • Fate/Extra (PSP Game) - This is outside Fate/Stay Night, as in the 1970's a certain event has drain Prana from the world. There are cameo's from Fate/Stay Night like Kotomine, Taiga, Rin's Lancer and Sakura, but their roles are different and not related to the original. Also, the Rin in this title, while looking like Rin from Fate/Stay Night, is not the same Rin but a descendant of Fate/Stay Night's Rin by at least 2 generations (implied to be either mother or grandmother).

  • Fate/Extra CCC (PSP Game) - A split from Fate/Extra like Heaven's Feel is to Fate/Stay Night. Sakura has a much larger role which also adds Gilgamesh into the mix. However, he's not so much as an ass as he is in Fate/Stay Night (though proudly showing off his naked body in front of Elizabeth as a weapon does show he's still got that ego).

  • Fate/Apocrypha (Novel) - If you've watched Fate/Zero or Played the Visual Novel then you know of the 3rd Holy Grail War. Fate/Apocrypha splits from the 3rd war where the Grail was stolen from Fuyuki. In this story, there are 2 teams of Servants and a new class, Ruler, which acts as mediator over the war. Also Mordred is summoned as Saber, keeping an established tradition in Fate series: the main Saber is related to Fate/Stay Night's Saber.

There are also other Nasuverse works such as Tsukihime and Witch of the Holy Night. Carnival Phantasm is a crossover of the Nasuverse like the heroes of Fate/Stay Night and Tsukihime trying to date all their heroines at the same time and alternate formats of the Holy Grail War.

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Please check my edit to see if there is anything that diverges from your intended meaning. Thank you. –  nhahtdh Jul 14 at 8:52
@nhahtdh in the last paragraph I did mean like, Shiro and Shiki dating their heroines is like only one short but it is a good note of just crazy things get in the series, otherwise it's just my usual mistakes, you got everything right –  Memor-X Jul 14 at 13:23
I heard that one of the Casters in Fate/Apocrypha is William Shakespeare. The only thing that could possibly have made the Fate series even better is adding Shakespeare. –  Torisuda Jul 15 at 18:15
@Torisuda that's correct, Shakespeare is the Caster of the Red Faction in Apocrypha, strange since he seems to have no magical history unlike other Fuyuki Grail Casters like Medea or Solomon, however The Fuyuki Grail may still be in some way damaged as the Assassins in Apocrypha aren't the Hassan either –  Memor-X Jul 15 at 22:30
Or Shakespeare was a mage in the Apocrypha universe, the same as King Arthur was female. In any case, I accepted senshin's answer since I ended up following the advice to move on to Fate/Zero, but I upvoted yours. In the future I'll probably end up reading the VN after all. –  Torisuda Jul 17 at 20:49

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