How to Watch the Fate Anime Series

How to Watch the Fate Anime Series

Introduction to Fate

I’ve noticed that a lot of people who aren’t into the Fate series seem to think that it’s extremely confusing and difficult to get into. That idea isn’t helped by countless people attempting to explain how everything in the Fate universe is connected as a way to “teach” newcomers about the series.

So, that’s not what I’m going to do in this article. Today, I’m simply going to tell you where to start watching the series and then give you some possible paths to take from there. Fate isn’t that complex to watch — the hardest part is just deciding to watch it in the first place.

Also, as a disclaimer, I haven’t watched every single Fate anime. I think I’ve seen every anime series, but I haven’t seen all of the movies. I’m also caught up on the story of the Fate/Grand Order mobile game but have not played any other Fate games.

Why am I pointing this out? To show you that you don’t need to play every Fate visual novel or game out there to get into the series. People who say you need to start with the original visual novel are just gatekeeping; you don’t.

Where Should You Start?

The number one question people have about Fate is where they should start. Luckily, this is a relatively simple question to answer. Start with either Fate/Zero or Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.

The main reasons for these two anime as the starting points are that they make up the core of the series and they set a baseline for what a Holy Grail War is. Now, every Fate entry has different rules for Holy Grail Wars. But, they’re all loose derivatives of those from Zero and Unlimited Blade Works.

I started with Unlimited Blade Works, but I think both that and Zero are equally good as starting points. It all comes down to what you want to get out of your first Fate experience. You should watch both regardless of the order, though.

Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero anime series cover art
Fate/Zero

If you really can’t decide between Fate/Zero and Unlimited Blade Works, and flipping a coin is too stressful, just start with the two seasons of Zero. Zero is the prequel to the stay/night “trilogy(?),” so by watching it first you’ll be experiencing the main portion of the series chronologically.

I, and most others, also would say that Zero is the better anime. You’ll probably get hooked more by Zero than Unlimited Blade Works. It has better characters, better production, basically, it’s better in every way.

Fate/stay night

Fate/stay night is something that confuses a lot of people because there are three routes to it that are roughly structured around the three main girls. The original stay/night anime is Artoria’s route, Unlimited Blade Works is Rin’s route, and Heaven’s Feel is Sakura’s route.

You’ll notice that earlier I specifically mentioned starting with either Zero or Unlimited Blade Works. The reason for that will become clear shortly.

Original

All you really need to know about the original Fate/stay night anime is that you can skip it. I haven’t watched it, and I don’t plan to. It’s an older anime by Studio Deen from back when they were bad. It’s universally understood to not be a good anime, and its only value comes from people using it for cringe memes.

Unlimited Blade Works

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works anime series cover art
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is the “core” of the Fate series and has two seasons. That’s why I started with it, and it’s really the main reason I would suggest anyone else start with it. When people refer to characters as their class names, like Saber or Rider, rather than their actual names, they’re talking about the characters from stay/night, specifically, Unlimited Blade Works.

Also, I will say it does kind of annoy me when people refer to Fate characters by their class names because that doesn’t narrow down the character at all. “Oh, you like Saber? Which one? There are over 40 current Saber servants.”

Heaven’s Feel

Fate/stay night Movie: Heaven's Feel - I. Presage Flower anime movie cover art
Fate/stay night Movie: Heaven’s Feel – I. Presage Flower

Heaven’s Feel is made up of three movies, the first of which is the only one I’ve seen. After you’ve watched Zero and Unlimited Blade Works, watch Heaven’s Feel if you want to get a different story from that of Unlimited Blade Works with the same characters.

I wouldn’t recommend this as your first stay/night route primarily because it’s so much newer than Unlimited Blade Works. Basically everyone has seen that one, so it’s a good entry point into the community.

The Fate “Multiverse”

Hopefully, where to start wasn’t too confusing. Just pick Zero or Unlimited Blade works and then watch them both. If you liked them enough to also watch Heaven’s Feel, great. If not, that’s fine too.

Now that you’ve watched those two core Fate anime, you can easily explore the rest of the series. Sure, you could technically start watching Fate anywhere. But, as I said, those two give you the basic rundown of the series structure.

The rest of the anime in this article are, like Heaven’s Feel, effectively supplementary anime for if you want to dive deeper into the series. They’re also all independent from each other and can be understood as long as you’ve seen Zero and Unlimited Blade Works.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya anime series cover art
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya is my personal favorite Fate anime. It’s a magical girl alternate version of Unlimited Blade Works — or, at least that’s how it starts off. I like magical girl anime, and I like how this anime puts a unique twist on stay/night.

Currently, I believe there are four seasons of Prisma Illya as well as a movie (which I haven’t seen), making it the longest Fate anime. I think it’s also technically still ongoing.

People tend to dismiss this one because it does have lolis and they do get lewded at times. But, I also genuinely think it has some of the best story of Fate anime and I like the different servant mechanics.

Fate/Grand Order

Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front - Babylonia anime series cover art
Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia

As of right now, there are two Fate/Grand Order anime released. These are Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia (a series) and Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot (two movies I haven’t seen).

The Fate/Grand Order anime are the only ones I’m going to kind of gatekeep by saying you should really play the mobile game first. Do you have to? No. But, Babylonia and Camelot are adaptations of chapters 7 and 6 respectively from the first part of the game.

So by watching these anime on their own, it’s like skipping to the sixth chapter of a book and starting from there. Alternatively, there’s a single episode “Initium Iter” that you can watch before Babylonia if you want a quick recap of the previous 5 chapters.

Fate/Extra: Last Encore

Fate/Extra: Last Encore - Oblitus Copernican Theory anime series cover art
Fate/Extra: Last Encore – Oblitus Copernican Theory

Fate/Extra: Last Encore is my least favorite Fate anime to date. It has two seasons, the second of which is only a few episodes long. But, it’s basically like a Fate version of the first cour of Sword Art Online.

I’m not going to say that it doesn’t have potential. But I think it was done very poorly. I wouldn’t recommend this anime unless you’ve watched all the others and really want more Fate content.

But, if that’s the case, just play Fate/Grand Order. It’s way better.

Fate/Apocrypha

Fate/Apocrypha anime series cover art
Fate/Apocrypha

A lot of people hate on Fate/Apocrypha, but I think it’s a lot of fun to watch. It has two factions of servants going head to head in an all-out battle. Is the story the best? No. But I also think a lot of Fate stories aren’t the best. To me, this one is just pure fun.

Honestly, if you liked Zero and Unlimited Blade Works, other than Heaven’s Feel, this is probably the closest you’re going to get to those two anime.

Lord El-Melloi II Case Files

Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note anime series cover art
Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note

Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note is the most different Fate anime. But, it’s also the only one on this list of “extra” entries in the series that’s directly connected to the “core” entries (not counting Prisma Illya, which is an alternate universe version).

You see, Case Files is actually a sequel to Zero. It follows one of the protagonists of Zero something like 10-20 years after the events of Zero. But, rather than being about another Holy Grail War, this time around it’s a detective/mystery anime.

I enjoyed this one, but be warned, it does go into a lot of Fate lore magic mumbo-jumbo. Still, you should be able to have a good time with it as long as you’ve seen Zero and Unlimited Blade Works.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. There may be a lot of Fate anime, but it’s actually not hard to get into. Just start with Zero or Unlimited Blade Works, and then choose your own adventure from there. You can stop after watching those two core entries, you can go down the rabbit hole, or you can opt for something in-between.

If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful in any way, click the like button down below. Also, follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama. And come join our Discord server if you want to discuss anime with other members of the community.

If you have any further questions about Fate, feel free to ask me in the comments, on Twitter, or on Discord. I’ll help steer you in the right direction.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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