Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.
I Don’t Recommend the Visual Novel First! I Don’t Expect You to Do That When Everyone Else Does!
Fate/Stay Night, every anime fan has probably heard fans of it gushing over the recent adaptations of Fate/Zero (2011) and Fate/Stay Night (2014), there’s also an adaptation from 2006, the original Fate/Stay Night anime.
Since there are three main series, parodies, and spin-offs, you’re probably wondering where do I start? The original visual novel? The newer anime?
Well, I won’t recommend the visual novel. I won’t recommend the fan translation, it’s a decent read, but it’s rife with grammar mistakes and it’s a very long read, not to mention it’s unlicensed and you have to jump through hoops just to get the game, the fan translation and making a Japanese game work on an American PC. And even though it's become easier to get it to work on PC it's still something you have to go out of your way to get rather than just going to Crunchyroll, Hulu, TubiTV, or Netflix and just starting watching one of the Fate/Stay Night route adaptations.
It’s also a very big time sink and not everyone has time to read something longer than The Lord of the Rings!
An Excellent Video by Glass Reflection On Why You Should Watch Fate/Stay Night (2006) First:
The order I Watched the Series
I started with Fate/Zero, the animation is gorgeous, it’s a very well done anime, the music is fantastic, the English dub voice actors and Seiyus are stellar. It was a great introduction to the world of Fate/Stay Night. The drawback is it’s so grim and dark it might turn off some people, it also has a very different style of storytelling than Fate/Stay Night, so going into the sequel people will be thrown off by how different Fate/Zero is from Fate/Stay Night.
The other downside is it’s very heavy on info-dumping which means you have to pay a lot of attention to keep track of what’s going on.
Then I watched Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014) and it made me so happy to see Kiritsugu’s ideals realized through Shirou even though they are flawed.
Then I watched the 2006 Fate/Stay Night and felt so satisfied with it because Saber’s my favorite character and her Fate/Zero issues were resolved would not recommend this watch order at all.
Suggested Watch Order
I recommend Visual Novel route order which is Fate/Stay Night (2006) and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014), with the 2010 Unlimited Blade Works movie on the side because it has scenes that are more faithful to the visual novel than Ufotable’s version. And then the Heaven’s Feel movie trilogy (2017-2020) when it’s licensed and on blu-ray. Watching in chronological order is fine, but keep in mind DEEN’s is the oldest and hasn’t aged well, so if that bothers you, watch it first and get it out of the way.
Watching Fate/Zero (2011) first will spoil all three routes but if you don’t want spoilers just watch it last.
The Obnoxious Visual Novel Defense Force Incoming
Now I know all the Type Lunatics are gonna whine at me in the comments, “You want me to watch Studio DEEN?! NOOOOO!” (Starts whining stupidly about how DEEN sucks).
Listen up you VN elitist jerks, not everyone has 60+ hours to devote to sitting at their computer watching a let’s play on YouTube or playing through the visual novel themselves. It already requires hoop jumping to play it on a US PC in first place, and not everyone wants to dedicate time to do that.
This visual novel is longer than J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and speaking of Lord of the Rings. Telling Fate fans they have to read the visual novel is like telling people who watch Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy that the only way they can only experience Lord of the Rings is to read the books, and yes the books are the original source material, and they are the true vision of Middle-Earth, but you aren’t required to read them.
The Visual Novel Elitists, the Type Lunatics also use the visual novel to shield themselves from any criticism of the Fate franchise, it’s one of the reasons I hate most of this fanbase. I don’t use The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit books to defend the Peter Jackson Middle-Earth movies.
A written work isn’t supposed to be used as a defense when someone criticizes a visual medium. Saying, “The visual novel explained why Shirou did X”, is not a defense. I am not required to read the visual novel to understand the Fate franchise.
If something is not explained in the Ufotable Fate/Stay Night: [Unlimited Blade works] (2014) adaptation, it’s the fault of the writers Akira Hiyama, Kazuharu Sato, Tatsuki Ichinose, and Takahirou Mura. Takahirou’s notorious lack of inner monologue for Shirou hurts the adaptation. Even DEEN’s Fate route had more consistent inner monologue for Shirou throughout the entire 24 episode run than Unlimited Blade Works (2014) which had very inconsistent use of it except when they needed to deconstruct Shirou’s ideals.
Fate/Stay Night (2006) only had one script writer, Fumihiko Shimo. The writing in Studio DEEN’s version is consistent, despite the fact that they combined elements from all three routes, the characterization, and the character interactions and inner monologues are all very consistent, even if the animation hasn’t aged well.
Also, the Fate route is the idealistic exposition route so it is very slow-paced with the Unlimited Blade Works route being the action-oriented deconstruction route. With Heaven’s Feel as the abandoning of the ideal the final fleshing out of Shirou’s character.
If you skip the Fate route, you’ll be missing out on Shirou’s development along with Saber’s. It’s stupid to skip the anime if you’re not going to read the visual novel.
And so what Fate/Stay Night (2006) spoils Fate/Zero and Heaven’s Feel? Is that really going to ruin your experience with the franchise? If you watch Fate/Zero first you’ve spoiled things for yourself anyway so why does that matter?
No matter what route you start with, you’ll spoil something so just jump in with the first route.
I have never seen a fanbase so obsessed with how “pretty” animation has to look and to ignore DEEN because of that is stupid. The visual novel comparisons are more of a reason that people don’t like Studio DEEN.
How many Type-Moon fans care about the Ufotable outside of Type-Moon? How many have watched Coyote Ragtime Show or Tales of Zesteria the X or Kasugeki/Touken Ranbu. Oh, that’s right, I remember, most people only like Ufotable for Type-Moon properties!
The Hypocrisy of This Fanbase
Since Type Lunatics love to use the visual novel as a defense, I’ll use their own technique on them, in the visual novel you cannot skip routes while playing the game, read you have to play through Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven’s Feel in that order, no skipping.
So why is it okay to skip an entire route, the route of the series flagship character, Saber because it “doesn’t look pretty” or “it doesn’t follow the visual novel”, do you see how petty you sound? That’s like saying you shouldn’t watch Lord of the Rings because the special effects are dated or because it didn’t follow the books perfectly.
The Type Lunatics also act like EVERYONE hates Studio DEEN. If Studio DEEN is so hated why did Silverlink and mangaka Hiroshi Hioryama use Trace Overedge in the fight between Illya and Saber Alter, something only exclusive to DEEN’s Archer VS Berserker fight from the 2006 anime? Why would A-1 Pictures base their version of the Battle of Camlann on Studio DEEN’s instead of the Fate/Zero version? It’s simple, they don’t hate Studio DEEN.
One of my favorite songs from Fate/Stay Night, the Opening for the 2006 Anime, "Disillusion"
The Fanbase Is Awful, but You Should Still Enjoy “Fate” Anyway
I hate 95% of the Type-Moon fanbase, I’m unashamed to say that. While I don’t hate all of them, I will vent my annoyances. The way they treat new fans, calling them “secondaries” because we haven’t read their “precious” visual novel. The never-ending circlejerk of watch order and if you don’t write your fanfic perfectly they’ll never let you hear the end of it.
They are worse than Star Wars Prequel haters and the bad section of the Bronies combined! You can read about my awful experiences with this fandom in my article, “Why I Hate the Fate/Stay Night Fandom Even Though I’m A Fan of the Franchise Itself!”
This fanbase is awful, and I’ve had an awful experience with them. But that shouldn’t keep you from getting into the Fate franchise, just don’t interact with fans, they aren’t worth it, not if you don’t want to end up hating the franchise because of its fanbase. I’ve only had really nice interactions with the people at the so-called “elitist” Beast’s Lair forums.
And while I do enjoy the visual novel, it doesn’t have the best writing, keyword being in English. It’s a fan translation, and fan translations aren’t the best because they don’t have access to the original Japanese creators. And the writing is prone to purple prose word vomit. The Japanese writing is probably better but I can’t read Japanese anyway. The visual novel is good, but not this great thing the Type Lunatics hype it up to be. The Fate franchise is fun to get into, but the fanbase is horrific. But it’s still worth it because the Nasuverse is still a fascinating place. Now I’m expecting the Type Lunatics to come fight me.
Bring it on.
Now, where’s my recommended Fate watch order of Heaven’s Feel, Unlimited Blade Works, and Fate huh? Well, they’re too cowardly to recommend that one. This fanbase is full of immature idiots who constantly whine and don’t handle criticism of their franchise; they are still the worst fanbase ever. This is the fanbase that tells you to drop Fate/Apocrypha 3 episodes in, despite the fact that A-1 has been having technical difficulties with their animation and rushing it to broadcast. They haven’t ruined the franchise for me, yet. Still, the Fate franchise is worth it, just don’t talk to the fandom if you can help it.
Yes, I do have to right to call out this fanbase for how badly they treat people, and they’re fussing at me because I do it. This is still the worst fanbase I've ever been a part of, and I don't care if they get mad at me, I get free ad revenue!
You can read my reviews of Fate/Zero (2011), Fate/Stay Night (2006), Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2010 movie) and Fate/Stay Night: [Unlimited Blade Works] (2014) and Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel I: Presage Flower (2018)Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel II: Lost butterfly (2019) and Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel III: Spring Song (2020) if you want to see what I think of them individually as anime adaptations.
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