Ahh the fate series. Somehow it manages to keep the same story, but it tells it so good each time that it is really hard to stay away once you are in. Fate/Apocrypha has hit airwaves now and will continue into the fall, but what if you have been out of the Fate universe or are not sure where in the timeline that it falls? What about Unlimited Blade Works? Where does that go? What about that cute girl version Fate/kaleid liner? Where does it all fall? Does watching one ruin the other? There are multiple timelines within the series and there are multiple Holy Grail Wars. So then, what is the order that the series all supposed to fall in?? How do we get there? Don’t worry. We have you covered.
Today we will be talking about the Fate series timeline in the sense what should be watched in what order as well as those that you can watch with no fear of ruining the main story. We will also dive into Fate/Apocrypha and see if it is safe to enjoy the series as is or if you need to see something previously. So, sit down, bookmark this page so you can come back for reference as you need, and get ready to dive into the world of Fate. The best part? It’s nowhere near as complicated as trying to string together all of the timelines that are part of Gundam or making sense of all of the Higurashi endings.
The whole Fate series was given birth as a visual novel for Windows way back when XP was the hottest thing around. In 2004 to be exact, the first game, Fate/stay night launched. It was met with good reception and basically the story took off from there.
The Fate universe is set around the concept of Holy Grail Wars. The Holy Grail is at the center of the stories within this series. The Holy Grail, within the Fate series, was a chalice that had the blood of Christ in it. The competitors who are mages, known as Masters, compete against each other to attain the Holy Grail and have their wish granted. Easy, right? Two types of masters generally engaged in battle are the Mage’s Association and the Church. Still with me? Great. These two factions have to fight via servants. Not just human ones, but they fight through Heroic and Demonic spirits that are summoned by the Holy Grail for the sheer purpose of the war. Generally, servants fall under one of several classes: Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Berserker, and Assassin. There are exceptions though. In Fate/Apocrypha, Ruler is another class of servant. Fate/Extra also has a Saver class. In Fate/Apocrypha itself, there are two sets of servants, black and red, because a war is going on between factions. We know it sounds complicated, but as soon as you watch the series, you start to grasp them really quickly.
The Holy Grail Wars
Technically, The Holy Grail Wars are supposed to happen once every 60 years or so. However, it does not always happen that way. The first war happened around 1800. While it started out as the Three Families, Toosaka, Matou, and Einzbern, under a common goal to use magi to summon the Holy Grail, their greediness led to the breakdown of their group and the summoning. One of the families, Einzbern claims that the summoning failed. This war has not yet been shown in anime form.
The second Holy Grail War was the war where it got its official name and happened around 1860. Lawless, it became a battle royale of sorts and no one won this war. There were issues with the rules, and the three families also agreed to bring in the Church at this point which is where the Church rapidly developed its interest in attaining the Holy Grail. This war has also not had an anime debut.
The Third Holy Grail is next and it too has not had an anime adaptation. It occurred during WWII around 1930. It is featured in the Fate/strange Fake series which are both in light novel and manga form should you be so included to read about it all. The only thing that is important to note about this battle, is at the end of the series, a “hero” was absorbed by the Holy Grail and because of this action, something other than heroes can be summoned now. This is also the battle where the Lesser Grail, essentially what helped the winner of the war summon the true Holy Grail, was destroyed.
Where to Start (Main Storyline)
Now this is where you want to pay attention. The Fourth Holy Grail War, was where we were given the anime series. This war happened around 1994. So, a little delayed, but not too bad. This is where the anime Fate/Zero occurs. Even though Fate/Zero came out years after Fate/stay night, Fate/Zero is where you want to start if you would like to watch things in a linear fashion. Fate/Zero follows the beginning of the Fourth Holy Grail War and is set 10 years before Fate/stay Night. The Einzberns have a vessel in their hands, but need a magus. They have Kiritsugu Emiya marry their daughter and thus join their family. From there, they have him enter into the war along with Saber. Just in case you are in the dark, Saber is the blonde knight character on the cover.
There is another series that is supposed to take place before Fate/Zero called Fate/EXTRA. It has been tapped for an anime season some time in 2018 It possibly could be winter, but do not quote us
Now that you have seen Fate/Zero, you can dive into the most well-known series of Fate/stay Night. Due to an issue with what happens in the Fourth Holy Grail War, the Fifth Holy Grail War is triggered just ten years after the Fourth ended. This is where the stories will split and we can enjoy multiple storylines all told from different perspectives. There is no correct order in which to view the following series, but for argument’s sake, we will talk about them in the order in which they debuted.
Fate/stay night follows Emiya Shirou as he has been adopted after his family is all killed. He learns about magic from his new adoptive family and suddenly his life is changes forever. He happens to see two servants fighting and tries to run away. However, he is caught and mortally wounded. He manages to summon a servant named Saber and then is now sucked into the Fifth Holy Grail War. This is the series to start with after Fate/Zero.
Next is Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works. This is the second route of the series that follows Rin Toosaka’s route. In this series, Rin is the main character and her servant is Archer. Emiya Shirou is Rin’s classmate and somehow ends up in the war with Saber as his servant. We all know how and why if you watch Fate/stay night first! Needing to survive, she asks Emiya if they would like to become allies for now, and he agrees. They then focus on trying to win the Fifth Holy Grail War.
Finally, there is Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel]. This is a new movie trilogy not out yet that will detail the story of Sakura Matou, from the third family, and her battle within the Fifth Holy Grail War. The first movie will debut this October, but it will open much like Fate/stay night does in that it should show Emiya Shirou getting injured and summoning Saber.
That about wraps up the main story route with what is available, however if you are wanting more that has to do with the main story route so far, then feel free to check out the sequel manga titled Fate/hollow ataraxia which is set just six months after the end of the Fifth Holy Grail War. It will have spoilers and it has not reached a conclusion yet, so be careful if you do dive into this.
Alternate Storyline (Fate/Apocrypha)
Let’s start this next part off with Fate/Apocrypha as it is the most relevant to our article here. Fate/Apocrypha is an alternate story as to what happened in the Fate storyline in that in Fate/Apocrypha, the Greater Grail or the Holy Grail itself has vanished after the Third Holy Grail War. A long period of peace, or silence if you will, as there is no Fourth Holy Grail War, passes, and the plot begins around the same time as the Fifth Holy Grail War. In this iteration, the Yggdmillennia family has declared that not only do they have the Holy Grail, they are now no longer part of the Mage’s Association. Well, this naturally pisses off the Mage’s Association who dispatches assassins to end the family and reclaim the Holy Grail. However, all are disposed of by a single servant. Then after a few spoiler events, a remaining magi triggers something within the Holy Grail to allow it to summon not seven, but fourteen servants. Suddenly the Holy Grail War is now becoming more complicated and darker than it has previously been. Known as the Great Holy Grail War, the rules of the Holy Grail War have changed again and this time it takes place in Romania. Two factions, simply known as Red and Black, must battle it out for the Holy Grail.
The great thing about Fate/Aphocrypha, and a good indicator if you will like the Fate series overall, is that this anime is not dependent on any stories told so far in order for you to understand what is happening. All you need to know, is what I have just said above and the reminder that this is set in a world where the Fourth Holy Grail War has not happened. Is there more to the story? Of course. Is it absolutely necessary to understand every last detail of it in order to enjoy the story? No.
A lot of people are intimidated by series that have multiple plotlines and storylines, but Fate/Apocrypha is one where you can get your feet wet and see if the rest of the series is worth it. Don’t take our word for it though, be sure to check it out on your own.
Alternate Storyline 2 (Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya)
Next up is the Mahou Shoujo version of the Fate series. Yes, there is one here. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya tells the story of Rin Toosaka and her magical rod, Kaleidostick Ruby. When Ruby has had it and leaves Rin for a new master, it encounters elementary school student Illyasviel von Einzbern. Ruby then decides that she should be her new master. Rin cannot plead enough to Ruby to convince it to come back to her, so she has to stay around Illiyasviel and help her as they collect the seven Class Cards which hold the souls of legendary Heroic Spirits. On their journey, they quickly meet Luvia Edelfelt, Rin’s rival, who has also lost her rod, Kaleidostick Sapphire, to Miyu. These two girls go head to head to try and gather the Class Cards.
The plotline for this one is supposed to start somewhere in the middle of the Fourth Holy Grail War, but continues on into the Fifth Holy Grail War. The series has been given four seasons in total, yes, it’s been quite popular, and it is getting a movie August 2017. Check out the visual above for the movie and see what the series looks like. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya is another series, easy to watch, that tells a very different story about the Fate series. This was probably originally inspired due to widen the appeal of a complex series such as this one, and it has proven to be popular. As a side note, this is set in an alternate world closely tied to that of the original series.
If all of these explanations are getting to be a bit too confusing, please check out the following image in order to get hard visualizations of series directly connected. In this article, I tried to not touch too much on series that do not have an anime. However, all mentioned here can still be quite relevant to the main storyline as well.
It can be a lot to digest the Fate series, but to be honest, you will not be disappointed by it in the least! A fantastic watch, this is a series that would make an excellent watch if you are getting into Fate/Apocrypha and want something else to quench your thirst. Just be sure to try and keep all of the characters straight and pay attention to whom is the main character! For more exciting articles like this, be sure to keep it here with us as we bring you everything related to Anime, Manga, Games, and more!