Fate/Zero takes place 10 years prior to the events of Fate/stay night, detailing the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. Originally founded by the Einzbern, Tohsaka, and Matou families, the war involves seven Masters and seven Servants under seven classes: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin and Berserker.
After losing three successive wars for the Holy Grail, the Einzbern family is determined to win the next one at any cost and elects to hire the notorious Magus Killer, Kiritsugu Emiya, to become their representative in spite of his reputation as an unconventional and ruthless hitman. For the next eight years, he prepares the war in the Einzbern stronghold while unexpectedly forming a family with Irisviel von Einzbern, who is to become the vessel for the Grail, and their daughter, Illyasviel. However, Kiritsugu must contend with six formidable opponents, all participating in the war for their own reasons.
From one of the three founding families, the magus Tokiomi Tohsaka wants to achieve Akasha through the Holy Grail, receiving support from the priest Risei Kotomine and his son, Kirei Kotomine, who is also unexpectedly a master in the war. Unlike Tokiomi, Kirei has no direction in life and soon sets his sights on Kiritsugu as an answer to the frustrating lack of meaning in his life.
Meanwhile, Kariya Matou becomes a Master after learning Tokiomi's younger daughter, Sakura, was adopted into the Matou family. In hopes of saving her from suffering at the hands of Zouken Matou, he agrees to win the Holy Grail in exchange for her freedom to return to her family.
After learning of the war and taken by arrogance, Clock Tower magus and lecturer Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi decides to join the battle to increase his own prominence within the Mage's Association. However, his dismissive attitude towards the radical theories of his student, Waver Velvet, drives the young man to steal Lord El-Melloi's artifact and participate in the war in order to force the Mage's Association to recognize his genius.
When a seventh magus fails to answer the Grail's call, a serial killer named Ryuunosuke Uryuu is chosen to become the final Master in the war. Seeking exciting new ways of killing people, he winds up summoning a Servant from an occult book and proceeds to commit as many unusual murders as he can with the help of his Servant.
As the war begins, only one will emerge victorious.
- Kiritsugu Emiya (衛宮切嗣, Emiya Kiritsugu?), Master of Saber, unconfident and unhappy, adopts a strategy of exploiting a magus' weak point using technology. A ruthless assassin skilled in hunting heretic magicians. Entered the Einzbern family to realize his lifelong wish: to obtain the Holy Grail.
- Irisviel von Einzbern, mother of Illyasviel von Einzbern and Kiritsugu's wife, heroine of the story. A homunculus prototype created by the Einzbern family with the idea to give birth to an ultimate homunculus. Like many of the Einzberns, she is skilled in alchemy. Irisviel serves as Saber's proxy Master, since Kiritsugu believes that he and Saber are incompatible.
- Kirei Kotomine (言峰綺礼, Kotomine Kirei?), Master of Assassin, works for Tokiomi and does everything he is asked to do to the best of his ability, but lacks fulfillment, which he sees mirrored in Kiritsugu, for whom he feels a compulsive hatred.
- Tokiomi Tohsaka (遠坂時臣, Tōsaka Tokiomi?), father of Rin Tohsaka and Sakura Matou, Master of Archer, arrogant and manipulative, arranges for Kotomine Kirei to be his "pupil". Thinks highly of Kotomine and has him serve him.
- Aoi Tohsaka (遠坂葵, Tōsaka Aoi?), mother of Rin Tohsaka and Sakura Matou. Childhood friend of Kariya Matou. Though she is devastated by Tokiomi's decision to adopt away Sakura, she quietly accepts the decision as the wife of a mage.
- Waver Velvet, Master of Rider, the future Lord El-Melloi II. Steals his teacher's artifact and uses it to summon Rider. Plans to use the Grail to force the Magus Association to recognize his genius. Despite his difficulties with Rider's overbearing nature, Waver and his Servant form a strong and sincere relationship.
- Maiya Hisau (久宇舞弥, Hisau Maiya?), assistant to Kiritsugu Emiya. She is cold and professional, which makes it easier for Kiritsugu to act as he needs to. Armed with a Steyr AUG.
- Kariya Matou (間桐雁夜, Matō Kariya?), uncle of Shinji Matou, Master of Berserker, makes a deal with Matou Zouken that he will win the Grail War in exchange for Sakura Matou's freedom. He is the only member of Matou family who truly loves Sakura, and is upset that Tokiomi allowed his younger daughter to be adopted by Zouken.
- Ryuunosuke Uryuu (雨生龍之介, Uryū Ryūnosuke?), Master of Caster, psychotic killer who summons Caster after murdering a family and using their blood as a component in the summoning ritual. He does not seek the Holy Grail, but follows Caster in order to find new thrilling ways to kill people and relieve his boredom.
- Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi, Master of Lancer, a nobleman from the Magus Association. His artifact is stolen by Waver Velvet, but he manages to summon Lancer anyway. While he holds the command spells for Lancer, the energy to materialize the Servant is maintained by Sola-Ui. He is confident in his abilities and takes pride in his heritage, but finds the extent of Kiritsugu's untraditional and underhanded tactics both offensive and unexpectedly challenging to overcome.
- Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri, the daughter of the head of the spiritual evocation division. She is engaged to Kayneth as a result of a strategic marriage arrangement and the decision of her family to entrust their crest to her brother instead. However, she is coldhearted and does not reciprocate Kayneth's love for her; instead, she becomes infatuated with Lancer, who in turn does not reciprocate her feelings and regards her only as his Master's wife.
- Risei Kotomine (言峰璃正, Kotomine Risei?), Kirei Kotomine's 80 year old father, a priest in the Church, the regulator of the 4th Holy Grail War. He is a friend of Tohsaka Tokiomi and actively supports him. While he is proud of his son, who has demonstrated himself to be a perfect heir, Risei fails to understand Kirei in any sense.
Servants participating in the Fourth Holy Grail War and their true identities:
- Saber: King Arthur, the same character from Fate/stay night. Known as the King of Knights, she maintains a high code of honour. Though she and Kiritsugu are Servant and Master seeking the same ultimate goal of peace, their differing ideological perspectives result in a strained relationship where Kiritsugu does not directly acknowledge Saber.
- Archer: Gilgamesh, a rogue servant in Fate/stay night, the King of Heroes. He dislikes the presence of Saber and Iskander in particular since they were kings like he was. Much to Tokiomi's displeasure, Gilgamesh has difficulty acting covertly, especially when his considerable pride is wounded.
- Lancer: Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, a Servant with two Noble Phantasms: Gae Buidhe - Golden Rose of Mortality and Gae Dearg - Crimson Rose of Exorcism, which can counter Saber and Berserker's abilities. As a knight, he holds a strong sense of honour in battle and loyalty to his master. He and Saber develop a mutual respect for one another, which is not mirrored by their Masters.
- Rider: Iskander (Alexander the Great), the King of Conquerors, who desires to defeat Saber and Lancer in particular. Has several Noble Phantasms, the first of which is Gordius Wheel - Wheel of Heaven's Authority, which summons an ox-drawn chariot when Iskander slices the air with his sword. His eccentric and overbearing personality along with his incredible abilities creates difficulties for his Master and their opponents.
- Caster: Bluebeard (Gilles de Rais), a Servant who derives pleasure from first providing his victims a moment of relief before terrorizing them and then killing them. Expresses an interest in Saber because he has mistaken her for Jeanne d'Arc, with whom Bluebeard has an infatuation.
- Berserker: Lancelot du Lac (previously known as the Black Knight), a Servant who possesses the ability to use practically any object as a Noble Phantasm, allowing him to match Gilgamesh in combat. His madness has reduced him to mindless, though dangerously skilled, fighter. Despite his insanity, he is still able to instinctively recognize Saber.
- Assassin: The Assassins related to True Assassin from Fate/stay night; Assassin is actually composed of several entities rather than just one. They act as reconnaissance agents for Tokiomi and Kirei after Gilgamesh "kills" one of them.
- Rin Tohsaka (遠坂凛, Tōsaka Rin?), the daughter of Tokiomi and Aoi Tōsaka. Despite her young age, she is capable of using elementary magic.
- Sakura Matou (間桐桜, Matō Sakura?), Rin's younger sister, who was adopted by the Matō family one year prior to the start of Fourth Holy Grail War. Her physical appearance has already changed considerably since her adoption.
- Illyasviel von Einzbern, the daughter of Irisviel von Einzbern and Kiritsugu Emiya, born eight years before the Fourth Holy Grail War begins. She awaits the return of her father at the Einzbern castle in Germany.
- Jubstacheit von Einzbern, the eighth head of the von Einzbern family, known as "Acht". Nearly two centuries old, he has led the von Einzbern family since they changed their course of action from seeking the Holy Grail to attempting to obtain it through the Holy Grail Wars. He presents Kiritsugu Emiya with Avalon as the catalyst to summon Saber.
- Zouken Matou (間桐 臓硯, Matō Zōken?), the ancient head of the Matou family, Kariya's "uncle" and Sakura's adoptive "grandfather". He intends to use Sakura to obtain the Holy Grail in the next war, but agrees to return her to the Tohsaka family should Kariya manage to acquire the Grail in the fourth war.
- Glen and Martha Mackenzie, an elderly Canadian couple who live in Japan; their son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were unable to adapt to Japan and have returned to Canada. They provide lodgings for Waver Velvet and Rider after Waver enchants them to believe thathe is their grandson.
- Norikata Emiya (衛宮 矩賢, Emiya Norikata?), Kiritsugu's father, a fourth-generation magus and researcher on a Pacific island. His work involved developing a medicine to become a Dead Apostle and when a war breaks out between the Church and the Mage's Association, Noritaka attempts to flee with his son. Unable to forgive his father for his actions, a young Kiritsugu shoots him.
- Shirley, Norikata's assistant, who admired Noritaka's work and looked forward to succeeding him. When she drank a potion under development out of curiosity, she unfortunately transformed into a vampire and dies. Kiritsugu later reflects that Fujimura Taiga reminds him of Shirley.
- Natalia Kaminski, a freelance mercenary who sold information concerning Noritaka and his research on vampires. She rescues a young Kiritsugu and takes him as her apprentice. During her last mission, she is able to successfully kill a magus that could create Ghouls through the use of ghoul bees, but dies when Kiritsugu shoots down the plane she is on to prevent the infected passengers from killing others when the plane landed. Kiritsugu's last words to her reveal that he viewed her as his mother.
The project began when Nitro+ writer, Gen Urobuchi, met with Kinoko Nasu and Takashi Takeuchi. Takeuchi suggested a prequel proposal to Urobuchi, who had been experiencing writer's block while attempting to write a happy story. Urobuchi, who was known for his tragic stories, agreed to become the writer for the project. Though Urobuchi is the writer for the series, the project was supervised by Kinoko Nasu, who looked over the draft for the new characters and the plot.
In Fate/hollow ataraxia, there was teaser poster of Fate/Zero in one of the background images. It is unknown if the novels were in development at the time.
The first volume was released on December 12, 2006, and the fourth and final volume was released on December 29, 2007.
The 2011 issue of Type-Moon Ace magazine reported that an anime adaption of Fate/Zero was green-lit for production. It is produced by studio Ufotable and began airing in October 2011.
This is the third anime production in the "Fate" series, following the 24 episodes "Stay Night" adaptation and the "Unlimited Blade Works" movie. Nico Nico Douga and Aniplex simulcasted "Fate/Zero" worldwide with eight different language subtitles (Korean, Chinese (Traditional & Simplified), English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish). Aniplex of America sells the Fate/Zero Blu-ray Boxset, with English subtitles in North America through Rightstuf.com.
The anime was originally slated to run continuously for all episodes, but was later given a season break between 13 and 14 to allow for better animation. The first season ran from October to December 2011 and the second season ran from April to June 2012.
- ↑ TYPE-MOON's and Nitroplus' Official Homepage for Fate/Zero
- ↑ See Story Section, Main Site located at .
- TYPE-MOON's and Nitroplus' Official Homepage for Fate/Zero
- Official Anime Website
- Official US Website
- TYPE-MOON's Official Homepage for the Fate/stay night Game