Fate/stay night – A Narrative Retrospective [PART 0 – Introduction]

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Fate/stay night is the story of a young man coming face to face with the nature of his ideals, those of the people around him, and of a situation far beyond his capability of understanding. It’s the story of emotionally charged, hormone packed children doing everything in their power to survive a deadly situation, and conflicting with their own feelings and those of each other. It’s brutal, passionate, silly, insane, poetic, animalistic, and endlessly memorable. And I’m gonna write about it!

Everyone and their mothers have watched Fate/Zero, a few less so have watched the 2006 Fate/stay night by Studio Deen, and even less so have watched the 2014 Unlimited Blade Works adaptation. Well, did you know that the original work that inspired this massive and super popular series was an eroge released in 2004?

The two men responsible for the entirety of TYPE-MOON and all of it’s games and franchises are the writer Kinoko Nasu and the artist Takashi Takeuchi, who published the Kara no Kyoukai light novels in 1998, formed the company in 2000, released the visual novel Tsukihime in December of 2000, and began working on Fate all the way until it’s release in 2004. Nasu had written the script for the Fate route in college, and developed it’s two alternate routes while developing the game.

A lot of people don’t know that, and it’s easy to find out why. Visual novels are a medium much more niche and obscure than anime, the latter of which has spread worldwide and has become a heavy hitter of entertainment much more than it ever was originally conceived to be.

Visual novels are a much longer and more hardcore type of storytelling, one more similar to long-form, multipart books than actual anime, which requires a lot more time and effort from the audience. Many who are curious about the Fate series tend to scoff at the length of the VN and watch the shows instead, but this is lowering the impact of the VN and how much of a fantastic piece of fiction it is.

It clocks in at about 64 hours for the completion of the three routes, and yes, that is a fairly scary amount of time necessary to play it, but it’s safe to say that most people who have finished will deeply recommend it from the bottom of their heart.

This series of posts is meant to be a retrospective on the entire original game, it’s themes, characters, subtexts, and more. With that said, let’s set the stage.

For those uninitiated, the novel divides itself into three alternate story paths, which are played in the following order:

  • Fate: This is Saber’s story, and serves as an introduction to the game’s characters, themes, mechanics, and plot elements, leaving much of the deeper secrets of the lore shrouded in mystery. The central theme is “Oneself as an Ideal“.
  • Unlimited Blade Works: This is Rin Tohsaka’s story, and also serves an an in depth dive into Shirou’s motivations and his inner struggle with his own views of the world and goals for his future. The central theme is “Struggling with oneself as an ideal“.
  • Heaven’s Feel: This is Sakura Matou’s story, and serves as a nihilistic breaking point for many of the characters and their tales. The central theme is “The friction between the real and the ideal“.

I will be doing one post a week, covering all three routes. The Fate route post will come out on the 25th of July, the UBW route post will come out on the 1st of August, and finally, the Heaven’s Feel route post will come out on the 8th of August.

Still, if you truly want to experience the story in the best way possible, find a link, download the visual novel, and play it yourself. Yes, it’s long, yes, it’s slow, it’s a metric ton of reading. You might have to step out of your comfort zone but do it anyway because you will not regret it. You have my word.

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