The Fate series is possibly one of the best and most adapted anime ever. So many spin-offs and alternate timelines have been brought to life from the anime series. With each new Fate anime release adding more to the deep lore and intriguing characters, we can’t get enough of the content.
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It’s been close to two decades since the Fate franchise began — all the way back in 2004 written by Kinoko Nasu. Even with the emergence of 100s of new anime franchises, Fate has managed to become one of the most popular ones both in Japan and the West. Fate-related manga, light novels, games and anime adaptations (some set in an alternate universe) have helped preserve the popularity of the franchise.
One thing that has helped with keeping the series fresh is the use of different routes in their alternate universes. Like a video game, Fate gives fans the chance to experience ‘What If’ scenarios that are usually interesting to see play out. It also allows some formerly background characters to experience the spotlight in awesome fashion.
Today, we’ve decided to compile some of the best Fate anime to give new and revisiting fans a chance to experience the series at its highest and most important points. Here is a list of the best Fate anime to watch, and in what order to watch them. If watching isn’t enough for you, you also have the option of playing the games on PC, Android and iOS, like the visual novel Réalta Nua (sometimes also called Realta Nua) and Hollow Ataraxia and even Fate/strange Fake and April Fools’ Day. There are also some games from the franchise available on PlayStation and PS Vita, all of which have multiple routes that you can take, like Heaven’s Feel route and more.
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The 6 Best Fate Anime Series
1. Fate/Stay Night (2006)
Characters: Shiro Emiya, Saber, Archer, Shiro Emiya, Rin Tohsak, Illyasviel Von Einzbern, Taiga Fujimura, Shinji Mato, Sakura Mato
Fate/Stay Night (described as a visual novel), the original anime adaptation straight from Studio Deen, is kind of a mixed bag in terms of quality. This isn’t necessarily due to it being bad, but the future adaptations from studios like Ufotable completely overshadow this version in terms of respect for the source material and animation quality.
Released in 2006, it served as an excellent introduction to the Fate series. Without this anime, we might not have gotten the chance to enjoy the anime content to this extent today. Today, it works quite nicely as a nostalgia portal for fans looking to see the franchise at its rawest and original form. This is especially nice for newcomers that want an original introduction to the series. For this reason, it definitely deserves a spot among the best fate anime.
The story revolves around the Holy Grail wars and begins in the Fifth Holy Grail war which saw many strong fighters like Berserker, a servant of Illyasviel (Ilya) von Einzbern. It stars Shirou Emiya (the main character), the sole survivor of an incident that engulfed an area in Fuyuki City in flames. A decade later, he lives a normal life — only practising magic in his spare time between school and odd jobs. Unfortunately, a series of events drags him to the fight.
2. Fate/Zero (2011)
Characters: Saber, Kirei Kotomine, Irisviel von Einzbern, Kiritsugu Emiya, Kirei Kotomine, Kiritsugu Emiya, Waver Velvet, Archer, Rider, Lancer, Maiya Hisau
Perhaps one of the darkest entries, Zero (which takes place in Fuyuki City) is adapted by Ufotable (a Japanese animation studio based in Suginami, Tokyo). Considered the best Fate anime by fans of the franchise, there are cool abilities and heroes present in the story like the Noble Phantasms used by Heroic Spirits. However, the real highlight is Kiritsugu Emiya (the foster father of Fate/Stay Night‘s protagonist, Shirou Emiya) and Kirei Kotomine. These two are possibly some of the most efficient masters ever introduced in Fate.
Serving as a prequel to Unlimited Bladeworks and set a decade before the events of Fate/Stay Night (during the Fourth Holy Grail War), the anime has an engaging narrative that will keep you glued to your screen. In fact, it dials things up in a way that has you feeling very sad for the characters.
Fate/Zero‘s exploration of the themes of ambition and sacrifice gained the praise of critics and hardcore fans.
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3. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014)
Characters: Shirô Emiya, Rin Tohsaka, Saber, Archer, Shinji Matô, Shinji Matou, Gilgamesh, Lancer, Taiga Fujimura, Sôichirô Kuzuki, Caster, Kirei Kotomine
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works is sure to be the poster child of the anime series in the west. It is also probably ranked as the best Fate anime for a lot of people.
First of all, Ufotable bared their fangs to the world with this anime TV series. Prior to the release of Unlimited Blade Works, most anime got away with subpar fight animations and occasional battles. However, this anime raised the bar and displayed the potential of 2D anime battles. Even 7 years after its release, this series is arguably among the top 10 best-animated anime shows.
Beyond its awesome animations, Unlimited Blade Works was also a satisfying tale that worked well for TV. The story was superbly paced and concluded within 26 episodes.
4. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel Movies (2017, 2019, 2020)
Characters: Shirou Emiya, Sakura Matou, Saber, Rin Tohsaka, Taiga Fujimura, Zouken Matou, Kirei Kotomine, Issei Ryudou, Kiritsugu Emiya, Rider, Gilgamesh
The Heaven’s Feel film trilogy (produced by studio Ufotable) covers the infamous final route from the Fate/Stay Night visual novel. This Fate route is possibly the darkest version of the Fate/Stay Night story and the movies capture that tone with a stronger and flashier animation (this film has the best visuals of any Fate property to date).
The first film in the trilogy, titled Presage Flower, premiered in Japan on October 14, 2017. The second film, titled Lost Butterfly, premiered on January 12, 2019. The third and final film in the trilogy, titled Spring Song, premiered on August 15, 2020.
Heaven’s Feel might be the most difficult one to watch as a newbie because you’ll be confused by the story without the context of some other entries. Prior to watching this, it’s best you check out some of the other films or series to get to grips with some of the lore.
But, for the experienced fans, this might be the best Fate anime you’ve ever seen.
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5. Fate/Apocrypha (2017)
Characters: Sieg, Jeanne D’Arc, Astolfo, Mordred, Rider of Black, Archer of Black, Vlad III, Spartacus, Assassin of Black, Fiore Forvedge Yggdmillenia
An action anime set in a parallel universe (alternate timeline) is something that any fan will eat up in excitement. Adapted by A-1 Pictures, the animation is superb here and comparable to the high-quality production we’ve seen from Ufotable. This anime is set in the conflict of a large scale Holy Grail war (60 years after the Third Holy Grail War), with more servants than ever battling for the Grail. In Apocrypha, the Yggdmillennia clan declares war upon the Mage’s Association.
While it’s definitely one of the best Fate anime series, it’s also incredibly difficult to follow. That said, if you’re able to keep up with all the action-packed parallel world shenanigans, this might become one of your favourites.
Unlike the waifu-focused premise of the Fate/Grand Order game, Apocrypha also gives players a deeper look into the relationships of characters within the time period.
6. Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia (2019)
Characters: Ritsuka Fujimaru, Gilgamesh, Mash Kyrielight, Leonardo da Vinci, Romani Archaman, Merlin, Fou, Ishtar, Enkidu, Siduri, Quetzalcoatl
Adapted from the Fate/Grand Order mobile game, this anime created by CloverWorks studio is one that received a lot of praise upon its release. It sees a fan-favourite Fate villain finally receive the spotlight. Gilgamesh’s rise is interesting to watch as we witness his journey to become the king of heroes.
Telling the story of the 7th Fate Grand Order, the anime explores the relationships between characters and expands upon their backgrounds with no details ignored.
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Honourable mentions, or other great stories set in the world, include Fate/ Extra Last Encore, Fate/Grand Order: Final Singularity, Fate/Grand Order THE MOVIE – Divine Realm Of The Round Table: Camelot, Carnival Phantasm, Today’s Menu for Emiya Family, The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II and Fate/Grand Order: First Order.
Of course, if you’d like to watch the franchise in some form of chronological order (instead of the release order), begin with Fate Zero and then move on to the Fate Stay Night series. From there, watch Unlimited Blade Works and, finally, Heaven’s Feel.
Being a fan of Fate is satisfying, thanks to the seemingly endless collection of content available for us to enjoy. They do a really great job of introducing interesting new characters with each release. Every entry has something for every type of anime fan, so there’s never really a person that can claim to hate the franchise as a whole. This list showcases our picks for the best Fate Anime series of all time. However, different fans have their own opinions to share as well, and we think that’s the beauty of this expansive franchise.
Ask anime fans, the Fate world is one you’ll want to explore again and again. If definitely worth watching.
Best Order To Watch The Fate Anime Series & Movies
The Fate anime series is one of those topics of conversation you’d like to join, but you feel like you’re far too late to even figure out where to start. If you’ve had to deal with that awkward moment where Fate fans are interacting, don’t worry, you’re not alone!
This franchise is often debated when finding the ideal route for new fans, however, there is really no wrong way as long as you’re having fun.
We decided to make our own spin on the age-old debate and give you our take on the most entertaining order to watch the Fate anime movies and series.
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Best Continuity to Watch First
1. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works | Series
The Fate franchise is actually based on a visual novel (VN) made by Type-Moon. In typical VN fashion, there are multiple endings to the original game, so the goal of a few of its anime adaptations have been to reflect those routes in their own individual stories. It’s a nice convenience for viewers to have a contained story to follow.
As a TV series that serves as one of the three main routes in the VN, Unlimited Blade Works is a pretty convenient start with how it eases you into the stakes while providing an authentic sense of grandeur thanks to the amazing animation by Ufotable.
It follows the story of Emiya Shirou and Rin Tohsaka as they battle in a Holy Grail war with their servants, reincarnated versions of legendary heroes.
2. Fate/Zero | Series
This entry in the Fate series is actually a prequel to Unlimited Blade Works, so it gives some more context to Emiya and a few characters in the world of Fate/Stay Night. Yet we recommend that you watch it after Unlimited Blade Works, thanks to its exploration of Shirou Emiya’s adoptive father, Kiritsugu Emiya.
You’ll get a newfound appreciation for the characters in UBW and see a more complicated tale at the same time.
Fate/Zero has a darker tone and goes a bit deeper into the magic of the Fate series, so you’re going to be better equipped to follow along after seeing UBW.
3. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel (1, 2, 3) | Movies
Once you’re done with UBW and Fate/Zero, you’ve pretty much given yourself a respectable level of Fate knowledge and you can move on to the movies that were released over the course of 4 years. Heaven’s Feel follows an alternate route to the Fate/Stay Night story, but it also gives viewers more time with the characters on an emotional level.
After soaking in the first two entries on this list, you’ll feel far more invested in the story of Heaven’s Feel as it follows a childhood friend of Shirou who is dealing with a pretty complicated connection to the Holy Grail war and her servant.
Alternate Timeline 1
1. Fate/Apocrypha | Series
After completing the stories that generally involve Emiya and Saber, it’s time to tackle some more Fate if you can’t get enough of the Holy Grail war along with the Master/Servant dynamics.
Fate/Apocrypha actually takes place in an alternate timeline and works quite nicely for fans who feel drawn to the historical fiction aspects of the series.
In this anime, there technically isn’t a Holy Grail war going on, instead, we’ve got a Greater Grail War which actually plays out more like a typical war thanks to the division of its participants into Black and Red factions with the winning faction taking victory.
The personalities and interactions between these new characters will have you on your feet. If you’re a fan of a fierier and flashy style of anime in addition to the other elements we mentioned, you’re going to have a great time watching this.
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Alternate Timeline 2
1. Fate/Grand Order: First Order | Movie
The Fate/Grand Order timeline is one that revolves around a new set of characters on a time travelling mission from 2015 aimed at preventing the incoming end of the world that was predicted to happen in 2016.
Our main characters are tasked by the Chaldea Security Organization to figure out how to stop this doomsday with only one clue. The clue in question is linked to the Fifth Holy Grail War in 2004 aka the setting of Fate/Stay Night.
You’ll enjoy this one if you’re happy to experience classic Fate characters through the eyes of new protagonists.
2. Fate/Grand Order: THE MOVIE – Divine Realm of The Round Table: Camelot (1, 2) | Movies
A continuation of the Grand Order adventures, the protagonists are tasked with repairing another singularity related to the earth’s destruction.
While Fate/Grand Order is a handful thanks to its presence as an adaptation of an extremely long video game, the movies do a good job of providing a solid narrative that doesn’t suffer due to a lack of the overall plot in view.
These movies are a great example of that, showcasing a contained story that is satisfyingly concluded.
3. Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia | Movie
In this entry to Grand Order, we get to see the origins of Fate’s most infamous hero, Gilgamesh.
The protagonists of Grand Order travel to ancient Mesopotamia in the city of Uruk.
This movie gives us a nice dose of Gilgamesh, so fans of the Fate/Stay Night stories will enjoy witnessing the King of Heroes in his prime.
4. Fate/Grand Order: Final Singularity – Grand Temple Of Time: Solomon | Movie
As the protagonists of the Grand Order series gear up for their final battle, this movie serves as a nice conclusion to the time-travelling adventures we’ve followed these characters through.
It also reveals the sinister entity responsible for the troubles faced by their world.
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Other Fate Series/Movies
There are many other versions of this iconic Type-Moon franchise that are worth checking out.
On this list, we’ve added some of the most popular and highly acclaimed stories told about the Holy Grail Wars. If you can’t get enough of Fate after exhausting the above anime entries, feel free to dive into any other Fate content that appeals to you.
After all, you’re basically a Fate pro at that point.
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Tell us, what do you think is the best Fate anime series of all time?