Fate/Stay Night and why it isn’t worse than Fate/Zero

Okay, so. I know I’ve neglected this blog for a while. I’ve been lazy, doubting my validity as a writer, etc. But I’m going to try to stop being stupid about this again. Besides, I have a thing I want to write about right now. Something I’m currently very passionate about. That thing is Fate/Stay Night.


You may remember a while back I did a review of the Fate route. It took me forever to actually finish this VN, but now, years later, I actually have, and I have a lot to say.


Honestly, the biggest thing driving me to write this is actually the popularity of the Fate/Zero anime. I agree with everyone who thought it was excellent. It was. I’m glad it’s bringing more people into Type Moon’s works. Type Moon does excellent work and more people should expose themselves to it. However, I’ve noticed a trend among some Fate/Zero fans who have no other exposure to the Fate/ universe that has been frustrating the living hell out of me for ages now. That trend is, of course, to bash Fate/Stay Night while praising Fate/Zero.


This post is about why those people are wrong.


No, I am not going to tell you that you have to like Fate/Stay Night because it’s the original. That is absurd. Instead, I am going to point out why Fate/Stay Night is a finely crafted story and not at all throwaway like so many people are suggesting now. Expect spoilers for both Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero.


A common complaint I see levied against Fate/Stay Night is that its characters aren’t complex enough compared to Fate/Zero’s. This is the most egregious attack Fate/Stay Night gets and I am beyond tired of it.


Yes, Fate/Zero’s characters are delightfully complex. Kiritsugu is a prime example, given what a divisive character he is among fans. Some people identify with him while others detest him. The same goes for Kotomine, his foil. Very few characters can be completely written off as “evil”, or “bad”. Not even Caster and Ryuunosuke really can, as they have a sort of charisma that makes them likable despite being serial killers. I’d say that only Zouken and possibly Kayneth can truly be written off as entirely detestable (and if anyone here likes Zouken, please go play the Heaven’s Feel route of Fate/Stay Night, then get back with me). Nor are any of the characters in Fate/Zero entirely likable. Even the iconic Saber has her morals called into question. Though it is certain that neither she nor many other cast members can be called evil by any stretch, the majority of them make rather questionable decisions at some point in the series itself or in their pasts. Pretty much only Irisviel can truly be considered innocent (and to some even she can’t entirely since her relationship with her husband’s servant seems a bit too friendly. Maybe my lily tinted glasses are on too tight, though).

But on what planet is all of this not also true for Fate/Stay Night? The actual story of Fate/Stay Night is complex and leaves quite a few questions of morality to ponder. For instance, is Kotomine evil? You may say “yes, of course he is, look at what he did to those orphans!”, but there’s so much more to him than that. Kotomine throughout the whole of Fate/Stay Night is far more complex than Kotomine as he is in Fate/Zero. Kotomine is a man who genuinely wanted to be moral and good and upright. It was the way he was raised, after all. But he discovered that the things that bring him happiness are the things believed to be wrong. In Fate/Zero this revelation is what brings him to the forefront as a villain, but it’s so much more in Fate/Stay Night, particularly in the Heaven’s Feel route. Kotomine does have some values that are actually quite beautiful, particularly that someone or something cannot be judged as good or evil before it is born.


Even fairly minor enemy Servants like Rider and Caster are portrayed as having more to them than just good or evil. Caster in particular is a far more complex character than she appears to be at first glance. So, she’s draining life force from innocent people? Using methods of deception? Evil, clearly! Except no. She’s not killing any innocent people. She doesn’t drain enough of their life forces to actually kill them. Also, we see a softer side of her at times, particularly her death in Unlimited Blade Works. She genuinely loves Soiichiro, and just wants to enjoy this fleeting happiness she’s been granted via this Grail War. Her life was pretty awful and generally involved her being used as a scapegoat. She just wanted to be loved for once, really. Even though she’s painted as a villain, it’s kind of hard to truly call her evil. Rider, meanwhile, is beyond sympathetic. Especially once you get to Heaven’s Feel. She’s remorseful about having to use Bellerophon on her pegasus to make him fight. She detests Shinji and truly cares about her true master, Sakura. She’s an incredibly loyal and trustworthy servant. Shirou may feel like she’s evil, but even her alignment, chaotic good, says otherwise.


I feel as though the most interesting example of twisting a character into ambiguity, however, is Alter Saber. It’s true that it was an outside force that warped her, but nevertheless, in Fate/Stay Night, even the glorious, righteous King Arthur can be corrupted and made irredeemable. Her becoming a force of evil was irreversible, thus making her fall from grace all the more tragic. It’s also noteworthy that it was her own arrogant decision, separating herself from her master in order to protect him without bothering to hear his input, that led to her fall. This indicates that it wasn’t just some random outside force that she couldn’t help, and it gives the feeling that Alter Saber is a dark side that Saber had inside her all along.


Fate/Stay Night has a reputation for being “just” an eroge, “just” moe garbage, not as good as Fate/Zero, et cetera. However, none of this is true. Anyone who is writing Fate/Stay Night off for it having sex scenes is completely misguided. This is a 40+ hour game, and the sex scenes make up 2 hours of that time or less. There are 2 sex scenes in the Fate route, one in Unlimited Blade Works, and 4 or 5 in Heaven’s Feel. None of them are that long. The majority of the game is plot, and honestly, there are more unnecessary cooking scenes then there are unnecessary sex scenes.


I can come up with plenty more specifics, but basically the point is that Fate/Stay Night is every bit as deep and multi-faceted as Fate/Zero is.


Also I honestly think it’s a shame that most people’s knowledge of Fate/Stay Night seems to essentially be limited to the Fate route. I don’t know if it’s because people don’t bother with the VN and just watch the godforsaken anime, or because people get tired of the VN’s length and drop it after the Fate route, or what, but basically in general I wish more people would pay attention to Heaven’s Feel. That route pretty much takes everything you know about Fate/Stay Night, punches it in the stomach, and laughs in its face. Gilgamesh is taken out in one blow. Saber becomes evil. Kotomine is actually more or less a good guy. Et cetera.

This has been a very incoherent excuse for a review. I’m sorry. Also no pictures this time because I don’t have access to my laptop, therefore I also do not have access to the screencaps I took for this.


10 thoughts on “Fate/Stay Night and why it isn’t worse than Fate/Zero

  1. This blog is king of pointless… It should have been rather obvious to you that when a person typically compares fate stay zero to fate stay night, they are talking about the anime. The VN for fate stay night simply shouldn’t be anywhere close to the anime in terms to relating it; it would tarnish the VN. The VN is complex with multiple paths, one of which would surely suit to the reader’s taste. Likewise, each route is solid and offers a well paced story with fair explanation of the events.

    However, the majority do flock to the anime and base their comparisons off it. In which, I’m not aware if you’ve seen the fate stay night anime, but if one puts all their love for the VN aside and watches it for what it is, you will see why people trash on it. Plot holes every other episode; Shirou is made out to be unrelatable, indecisive, and for the most part, hard to bare with. It ended up as some sort of comedy romance with a salty ending for anyone who ended up liking saber’s character regardless of all the other faults of the anime. It was simply a recipe for disaster for anyone looking to get a deep experience or a good connection with characters of the anime.

    As far as my personal views go on it, I too did hate the fate stay night anime. I did like some of the characters, but didn’t care much at all for Shirou of whom I was forced to contend with for the entire anime, up until the bitter end. I personally found no good or satisfaction for that end either, so it made the experience a bumpy ride to a cheap hotel. :/

    The visual novel far ascends the anime in every respect for me. The multitude of paths and endings, the deepness of each path, and the dialogue are all rather rich. There is simply something there for everyone.

    The fate stay zero anime, however, was the beautiful, tear jerking experience I would of liked the fate stay night anime to be. Everything about it was engaging and desiring… From the character depth to the complexity of the plot and situation itself. Not to mention, the artwork was fantastic. It did what anime is supposed to do, and brought about the life of the story it was telling so well, as to make the viewer want to sink into that world it displayed. Just as with the visual novel for fate stay night, it made you wish so very much to be apart of what you were experiencing. I’m the type of person who would love very much for there to be some sort of game or extremely complex VN to explore both stories with even more choices and interaction and paths to see. u w u

    In any case, to conclude, the comparison most people is not between the fate stay night VN and the fate stay zero anime, but rather the fate stay night anime. You are correct that the VN for fate stay night can be as engaging as the the fate stay zero anime, it is too bad so many only watch the poor anime adaptation of it. :/

    In any case, I hope you have gained a bit of piece of mind if nothing else. ~Umbasa

    • You are completely missing the point, honestly. The Fate/Stay Night anime is garbage. The point of this post was pretty much entirely that judging Fate/Stay Night as a whole on its anime is a bad idea (which people do), and that comparing Fate/Stay Night’s anime to Fate/Zero and concluding that Fate/Zero as a whole is superior to Fate/Stay Night as a whole is completely wrong. Yes, people do that. People also claim Zero is superior to Stay Night because it’s “less moe”, which ultimately boils down to insulting a bunch of strong and well written women in Fate/Stay Night, and is pretty clearly rooted in sexism. Zero is better because the cast has more men? Nope.

      If you never saw any of the Fate/Zero-only Fate/ fanbase bash the whole of Fate/Stay Night, good for you, but it is a thing.

      • I think the problem is that most people don’t even know the F/SN anime is based on a VN, I didn’t. I got into the series via Zero and then was super disappointed by the F/SN anime. Since I learned about the VN, I’ve been trying to get my hands on the original, but its so damn hard to find.

      • It’s unfortunate but true.

        It’s easy to find a torrent of the VN. Even fuwanovel has it. It is true that legit Japanese physical copies are hard to get though.

  2. I was bored like crazy when watching fate/zero. The servant characters almost never shut up about their “ideals” (come to think of it, aren’t all their ideals actually the same?). I felt like the focus it was attempting to give to all the characters was really unbalanced, and nearly no characters actually develop. I actually forgot a lot of the character’s ideals. I didn’t like fate/stay night either because it felt really generic, but was more enjoyable that fate/zero.

  3. I will accept your argument. I was hooked on the FSN VN up until earlier this year and can say it is easily one of the best stories I’ve ever experience. I would recommend anyone who loved F/Z to play the novel as it greatly enhances the show. I personally like Fate/Zero more, but then again, I tend to like shorter, more focused works over long running stories that inevitably have pacing issues and rushed elements (and I also greatly prefer Urobuchi’s writing to Nasu’s).

    A close comparison I came up with is the comparison between the Rurouni Kenshin TV series and it’s prequel OVA: Trust & Betrayal. You could easily prefer the TV series as it explores far more themes and develops characters more. However, the much more mature prequel is so visually captivating and unique in tone and direction that I can’t personally see that way.

  4. I found that Fate/Zero’s pseudo-philosophical BS was designed specifically to sound impressive and complex, but should at most only be capable of impressing impressionable teenage minds. On the other hand, Fate/Stay Night didn’t pretend that their themes were complex, and simply kept things rather straightforward. That to me made it far more enjoyable. The treatment of the women in Fate/Zero was also quite horrible compared to Stay Night, which wasn’t perfect in that regard, but leagues better than most anime.

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