Sakura Matou (間桐 桜, Matō Sakura?) is one of three main heroines of Fate/stay night and the "True" Master of Rider in Fifth Holy Grail War. She is also the Master of Avenger, Saber Alter, and the blackened Berserker in the Heaven's Feel route. Sakura is the younger, adopted sister of Shinji Matou and biological sister of Rin Tohsaka. She has a long-standing and obvious crush on Shirou Emiya, who sees her as family. After Shirou's confrontation with Shinji, Sakura would often visit Shirou's home to help him with his daily chores.
Born as Sakura Tohsaka (遠坂 桜, Tōsaka Sakura?), she is the biological younger sister of Rin Tohsaka and daughter of Tokiomi Tohsaka and Aoi Zenjou. Like most magi, her father chose only one daughter to carry on his family's tradition as he believed raising an additional child would introduce competition. Zouken Matou, an ancient ally of the Tohsaka House, offered to adopt Sakura with the intention of training her as the successor of the Matou's magecraft as his own heir, Shinji, was incapable of sorcery.
As a result of her natural abilities, Zouken sought to use Sakura as one of his future vessels, empowered by the Angra Mainyu. Having to endure the cruel training under Zouken and Byakuya, Sakura became an empty and emotionless shell resigned to her fate. When Kariya Matou, Sakura's adopted uncle and her mother's childhood friend, learned of Zouken's intentions, Kariya attempted to win the Fourth Holy Grail War in hopes of liberating her. Unfortunately, Kariya died in his attempt and Sakura was unable to understand Kariya's motivation for trying to rescue her. His death demoralizes her and she convinces herself that she should not attempt to fight against Zouken.
After gathering the tainted fragments of the shattered grail from that war, Zouken hybridized the collected black ichor with several of his crest worm familiars. He implanted these parasitic worms into Sakura's body, which drain her Mana but feed on her carnal impulses Sometime later, Sakura met her new brother Shinji (who was studying abroad at the time of the Fourth Holy Grail War) when he returned to the Matou house. Though he later came to love and accept his new sister, he bullied her. This ended the day Shinji found out that Sakura had become the heir to the Matou family instead of him and he became harsh with her, just like everyone else in the Matou house. Because Sakura was apologetic and expressed pity toward him, Shinji took that as Sakura submitting herself to him since she displayed no emotion. Sometime after the death of Byakuya, Shinji began raping her.
Although castigated and humiliated on a daily basis, Sakura maintained her bearings with great stoicism. For the eleven years after her adoption, Sakura grew to resent Zouken for his cruelty, Tokiomi for sending her away, and finally Rin, for never coming to save her. However, she still kept the ribbon Rin gave her. Sakura drew her strength to endure such hardships from Shirou, whom she admired for his dedication. The inspiration she found came from watching him persistently attempt to jump a bar during a track-and-field practice session. She joined the Archery club in order to be closer to Shirou watching him from afar.  Two years before the events of Fate/stay night, after Shirou was injured in an accident, Sakura gathered enough courage to approach and help him; she has visited him ever since to assist with daily activities.
Sakura is a young girl with violet hair, which she styles with a red-pink ribbon on the left side, and violet eyes. The ribbon she wears in her hair was given to her by Rin when they were children and is the first ribbon Rin ever made. Physically, Sakura is noted to have very "large breasts", with Taiga revealing she is an E-cup and had grown 13 cm since last year in an attempt to tease Shirou. During school, she wears the standard Homurahara uniform. Her casual clothing consists of a pink cardigan, a white top, and a long cream-colored skirt. In ufotables' movie adaptation of Heaven's Feel, Sakura is seen wearing a long white dress with short sleeves and a black sash, and white sandals. She sometimes wears a pink cardigan or puffer jacket over top.
In the Heaven's Feel route, her appearance changes when she becomes Dark Sakura. Her hair turns white and her eyes turn red, but she retains her trademark ribbon. She wears a long black dress made of black ribbons, that are trimmed in red. The length of the dress and the length of the ribbons it is composed of vary. In this form, her face, dress and legs are covered in red markings.
Before Sakura was adopted into the Matou family, she resembled her sister, having had short black-brown hair and teal eyes. Shortly after her adoption, at most a year after, her hair and eyes took on their violet color, which is a direct result of Zouken's torturous training changing Sakura's body. Her clothing at this time consists of a purple dress, purple socks and black shoes.
While Sakura is outwardly shy, soft-spoken and eager to please, she possesses a great inner strength. As noted by Shirou, she can also be openly stubborn at times. However, she is also prone to feelings of resentment towards others.
Despite the cruelty she endures living with the Matou family, she is given a brief reprieve in Kariya, her adoptive uncle and the only person who genuinely loved her. When he dies in the Fourth Holy Grail War, Sakura mistakes Kariya's last attempt to free her from the Matou house as a warning from Zouken as the fate of those who disobey him. The incident cements Sakura's despair and resignation towards her own suffering. However, her own resolve is strengthened after she falls in love with Shirou Emiya and becomes closer to him by helping him with domestic tasks to express how she cares about him. During Fate/stay-night, she begins to feel isolated when she believes that Shirou is beyond her reach.
Her strong feelings for Shirou is the most evident throughout the series compared to the other heroines; and is the main reason as to how they had little friction in desiring each other. Her inferiority complex makes her believe she is not fit for him, but after being chosen by Shirou as a love interest her feelings for him also come with strong jealousy whenever he compliments or spends time with other women, because she doesn't want to lose him. Prior to the strengthened influence of the Crest Worms inside her (which amplified her arousal), she would express either dismay or anger towards Shirou when he would bring up other women in conversations and in her low self-esteem she would misunderstand his words towards other women as confessions of attraction instead of platonic liking (such as when Shirou admits that Rider is beautiful while explaining his thoughts about her). Her jealousy sometimes comes out in other routes, but has been a recurring theme in her own route as being chosen by Shirou makes her mental fortitude unstable.
When she becomes Dark Sakura under the influence of Angra Mainyu, her personality changes drastically; she becomes a devilish, evil, cruel, and extremely violent person. Sometimes she talks about herself in the third person. This personality occasionally shows itself during the events of Fate/hollow ataraxia but is less violent and acts more as comedic effect.
« I do not have anyone to call my mom or sister...Grandfather said I should think that they never existed. »
|(Sakura speaking to Kariya before the Fourth Holy Grail War - Fate/Zero, Episode 1)|
In Fate/Zero, Sakura is adopted into the Matou family one year before the Fourth Holy Grail War begins. Sakura is described as soft-spoken and often in the shadow of her more energetic sister, and her adoption has deeply affected both Aoi and Rin, who both try not to express their unhappiness openly. Kariya arrives in Fuyuki City three days after her adoption, which he learns from Aoi. Having been a childhood friend of Aoi, he had become well-acquainted with Sakura and her sister, who were both fond of his company.
After confronting Zouken, Kariya makes a deal with Zouken to win the Holy Grail in exchange for Sakura's freedom to return to the Tohsaka family. Kariya was the only member of the Matou family to love Sakura, who became resigned and emotionally withdrawn from the torture she endures from training under Zouken and Kariya's older brother, Byakuya.
Unfortunately, Kariya is defeated during the Fourth Grail War and failed to obtain the Grail. With the last of his strength, Kariya returned to the Matou mansion to return Sakura to Aoi and Rin, but he died in the process. Sakura, who was standing in front of Kariya, interpreted Kariya's death as a warning that those who defy Zouken will die. She remained with the Matou family, demoralized and unwillingly to fight against Zouken. In the anime, she coldly watches as Kariya is eaten by the worms and condemns him as a fool for opposing to Zouken.
« Ah, yes. Good morning, Senpai. »
|(Sakura waking up Shirou - Fate, Day 1)|
Sakura plays a minor role, as Shirou's shy underclassman who often visits him at home. While Shirou is attracted to her, he feels guilty about it, because she's his friend's sister. After Shinji reveals to be a participant in the Holy Grail War, Shirou becomes worried Sakura might be involved. Shinji claims she has been kept in the dark regarding magic as in a traditional magus household only the successor will be taught any magecraft.
Like everyone else at school, she becomes a victim of Rider's Blood Fort Andromeda, though her injuries only result in her staying at home. She becomes good friends with Illya in the epilogue after the latter made her get over her depression about Shinji's "disappearance". Sakura is also made vice-captain of the archery club.
In Studio Deen's anime adaption, her role is expanded slightly. After the defeat of Berserker, Sakura is captured by Caster to use as a sacrifice in order to summon the Holy Grail and is held at Mount Enzo, Caster's stronghold. Shirou, Rin, and Saber attempt to rescue Sakura and to stop the Holy Grail from being summoned, during which Shirou and Saber are forced to fight against Souichirou Kuzuki and Assassin respectively. Rin confronts Caster, who manipulates Sakura to fight against Rin. During the fight, Sakura is revealed to be Rin's sister and that she actually comes from the Tohsaka family. In order to save her sister, Sakura allows Rin to stab her so Rin will be able to sever Sakura's magic circuit and prevent Caster's plans from being completed. Following Caster's defeat, Sakura recovers at Shirou's house and ultimately survives the Fifth Holy Grail War.
Unlimited Blade Works
« It's disappointing, but it'll all go back to normal if I endure it for just a short while. »
|(Sakura explaining to Shirou that they won't see each other for a while - Unlimited Blade Works, Day 6)|
Similar to the Fate scenario, she often visits Shirou at his house. Days later, she receives orders from her household not to go outside due to the dangers in the city because of the Holy Grail War. While Sakura is sad about not being able to see Shirou, she's reassured that she can still see him during archery class. This results in Shirou spending more time with Saber and Rin.
After Shinji survives his experience as a vessel for the Grail, he's hospitalized and Sakura takes care of him. With the Holy Grail War over, he returns to his more tolerable old self and is getting along with her again. In the anime, she feeds him some peeled apples, which he accepts bedrudgingly.
« No Senpai. I'll probably end up hurting you...I'm going to hurt you, Senpai, but...I want to stay like this. »
|(Sakura to Shirou, after he decides to abandon his hero ideals to protect her - Heaven's Feel, Day 9)|
Sakura is the principal Master of Rider, who was summoned several days prior to the start of the 5th Holy Grail War. However, under pressure from Shinji and the desire not to fight either Shirou or Rin, Sakura yielded her Master's right to him, although Sakura retains her original Command Mantra. As Rin and Shirou became closer, Sakura began to feel contempt for her sister, which was intensified by the fact that Rin took no action to help Sakura.
Zouken, disgusted at the ineptitude of Shinji as a Master, begins a genocide against the other Servants with help from True Assassin and the contents of the Holy Grail given form by Sakura's subconscious, referred to as "the shadow". Berserker, Lancer, Saber, and Archer are all absorbed or terminated by this unholy trinity, and Sakura regurgitates Saber Alter and Dark Berserker as assistants. At night, she goes on a rampage throughout Fuyuki City, ingesting large numbers of innocents for mana. Gilgamesh eventually confronts and impales Sakura's body with several Noble Phantasms from within his Gate of Babylon, but she regenerates at an impossibly fast rate and consumes him as well. She is forced to quickly convert him to mana in haste because she was afraid he might tear her up from the inside if she does not digest him.
Meanwhile, Shirou realizes that something is wrong and that Sakura is suffering. Shirou decides to protect her, but he is unsure of his feelings for her. Because of it, Shirou is devastated when he found out that Sakura is one of the participants in the Grail War. He starts doubting about his ideals because he still wants to save everyone but realizes that if he does so, Sakura might die. Finally, after a talk with Illya and later Archer, Shirou abandons his ideals in order to protect Sakura. With this new ideal in mind, he finds Sakura crying at the park, believing that she cannot be saved. Shirou consoles her by telling her that he will always protect her and he fight for her. However, Sakura continues having her strange dreams. Recognizing the devastation she has wrought, Sakura seeks out her grandfather to force him into ending her life in order to protect Shirou.
However, along the way Shinji attempts to rape her, threatening to tell Shirou of his history of violating her. Horrified at this prospect, Sakura murders Shinji and gives into her internal malice. She then realizes that she is the shadow that appeared in her dreams and becomes Dark Sakura and proceeds to abduct Illya, hoping to use her as the core for a new Holy Grail. After Shirou and Kotomine rescue Illya, Dark Sakura stops the supervisor's artificial black heart, giving him only a few hours to live. She also assimilates True Assassin and purges her body of Zouken's worms. She is confronted by Rin in the chamber of the Greater Holy Grail beneath Mount Enzō, her power equally matched by The Jeweled Sword of Zelretch. Rendering Sakura's shadows useless, Rin makes her way to Sakura, but is unable to give the finishing blow due to her love of her sister. Rin embraces Sakura even after Sakura has stabbed her in panic. Realizing Rin's love, Sakura again starts resisting the malice within in her long enough for Shirou to dispel Angra Mainyu's grip on her soul with Rule Breaker.
If Shirou traces Excalibur and destroys the Grail, his life extinguishes, which results in Sakura's Normal Ending. Refusing to accept Shirou's death, Sakura continues to live in the Emiya household, forever waiting for Shirou until eventually dying of old age. She passes away in front of Rin's granddaughter and reunites with Shirou in the afterlife.
If Illya intervenes, closes the gate, and performs Heaven's Feel on Shirou to keep him alive and close the Grail once and for all, it results in Sakura's True Ending. After her dark self is destroyed, Sakura's body is left containing vast amounts of mana due to her connection with Akasha. She ends up living with Shirou and Rider, with the servant's existence sustained by Sakura's mana pool. Sakura is the de facto Winner of the 5th Grail War in this route, though Kirei Kotomine proclaims Shirou to be the Winner.
« Nii-san...Senpai...Will we ever be able to go back to those happy times? »
|(Fate/Stay Night Manga, Chapter 24)|
In the manga version of Fate/stay night (which follows the Fate and Unlimited Blade Works scenarios), Sakura is a supporting character. Her background is lighter and softer compared to the visual novel, as she was adopted by Byakuya Matou rather than Zouken (who does not appear in the manga) and she was trained in Matou magecraft when she was much older. Also, while Shinji still becomes abusive with her after finding she's the true Matou heir, he doesn't rape her.
Sakura doesn't want Shirou and Shinji to fight in the Holy Grail War, simply wishing for them to be good friends like they used to be before. She quietly watches the fight between Saber and Rider from afar and after Shinji is defeated and falls from a collapsing building, Sakura uses her last Command Spell to make Rider save his life, revealing to Shinji that she is the Master of Rider. She disappears for the rest of the war, in order to take care of Shinji in the hospital. In the end Sakura survives the Holy Grail War and resumes her school life with Shirou and Shinji, more cheerful and assertive than she was before.
In Fate/hollow ataraxia, Sakura lives a peaceful life in Fuyuki City, which Rin has left in Sakura's care while she is at the Mage's Association, and Rider comments that Sakura is now the popular new captain of the school archery club. Sakura's dark side still exists, but appears only for comic relief. Now that the Holy Grail War is over, she has became more assertive and has assumed control of the Matou household, much to Zouken and Shinji's chagrin.
In her Eclipse scenario Life of Sakura Sakura takes Shirou to the Matou residence's garden, where they are looking at cherry blossom trees in bloom. Sakura then shows a very old tree to Shirou, that according to her was planted by her grandmother and now is blooming for the very first time in life. Amazed by this fact both are watching this tree for while. After that Sakura invite Shirou into her room where they continue talking about rebirth of the old tree. Whereupon Shirou express that he want to see Sakura to "bloom" as well and then they both have sex.
Sakura also appears in Rider's Eclipse scenario The backside of Kibisis where she and Rider appear both naked in front of Shirou and seduce him with their gorgeous big breasted bodies into threesome. However eventually it turns out that whole scenery is just Rider's illusion that she made in order to force Shirou to pursue Sakura more aggressively. Yet in the middle, Shirou realizes the truth and reverses her spell on her, in the end revealing to viewers that Rider herself has deep feelings for Shirou. Sakura appearing in this episode is only a conjecture by Rider's spell, a representation of Rider's true intentions of her actions.
Fate/Accel Zero Order
In this alternate 4th Grail War, Sakura is captured by Iskandar while he is burning the worms in the Matou Mansion basement. Iskandar trades her to Kariya in exchange for his right hand and Command Spell. After severing Kariya's right hand, he has Mithrenes take Kariya and Sakura to a hospital outside of Fuyuki.
In Fate/Unlimited Codes, Dark Sakura is a playable character and she is known as the Makiri's Grail (マキリの杯, Makiri no Sakazuki?).
In her story, her personality becomes twisted and she wants to destroy everything along her path. She has already killed Zouken by the time she encounters Kirei Kotomine. Kirei can tell Dark Sakura is on the verge of collapse and the personality of Sakura Matou is still within Dark Sakura. Although Dark Sakura claims she is broken, Kirei founds the Matou can raise the young well but the training are too harsh which Sakura appears to have no concern of pain. She further explains that Zouken didn't expect her to last long and ironically he didn't last long to die. Kirei pleased with Zouken's death and expects to wait for the Holy Grail to form by removing Sakura's consciousness. Kirei was impressed with Dark Sakura knowledge but Sakura kills him in the battle, she claims that she will complete his plan in his place. Her final opponent is herself, her counterpart has stayed behind in order to help the growth of Avenger and the Great Holy Grail. They both fight to the death because there is no point for having two Sakura and they hate themselves the most. Dark Sakura fused her memories with her counterpart, although she is uncertain who actually died. She finally completes the transformation of becoming the Holy Grail and gives birth to "All the World's Evil". In her ending, she desires to get out to the outer world and wants to meet Shirou when she is reborn. However, she forgets about Shirou existence and longs to get out to the outer world.
In Kirei's story, Kirei used Sakura in order to learn the meaning of life and was responsible for Dark Sakura transformation. In the opening Dark Sakura approach Kirei in the church. Kirei notices Sakura to be very different to their last meeting and he is pleased that she conceived Avenger. She already devoured both Lancer and Gilgamesh and she desires the life energy that has kept Kirei alive. It appears that Sakura's mind and body is completely contaminated aligned with the "curse". Dark Sakura desires to pay back everyone who made her suffer. Kirei pointed out that although Sakura appears to be a different person but she is pretending in order to protect Sakura Matou as a person. While Kirei escapes, Sakura convinced herself that she can kill him with two of his servants gone. Kirei encounters Shirou, Shirou wants to destroy the Holy Grail in order to stop Avenger in order to save Sakura.
|Fate/unlimited codes - Sakura Matou command list|
Fate/tiger colosseum series
« Nii-san became such a monster because of society....and me. Because I'm a beautiful, ill-fated girl. »
|(Sakura to Rider, Episode 6)|
Despite being one of the heroines in Fate, she has a minor role in Carnival Phantasm, compared to Saber and Rin. Her darker personality is comically exaggerated, such as complimenting herself in her monologues and having her stalk Shirou on his dates with the other heroines, all while showing a mischievous, evil grin and getting there before he does.
She's the protagonist of Episode 6, Type-Moon Serial TV Novel Sakura, parodying a soap opera. In it she abused by Shinji, causing Rider to rescue her many times. Sakura patiently endures it, making Rider wonder if she's intimidated by Shinji. In the end Rider and Sakura accidentally purify him with Rule Breaker, but Sakura isn't happy about it and reveals that being abused by Shinji makes her look good and now she's less sympathetic and important. Rider is apalled at the revelation.
Today's Menu for Emiya Family
Sakura makes frequent appearances in Today's Menu for Emiya Family, being a regular guest at Shirou's house. She is shown cooking in Episode 5 with Shirou and Episode 8 with Rin at the Tohsaka Mansion. Sakura's specialty is Chinese food.
In Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, Sakura appears briefly to help Shirou after he is injured from Rin and Luviagalita. An alternate Sakura is an ally of the Ainsworth family, where she is equipped with a Lancelot Class Card. Julian Ainsworth controls her by taking Shirou's appearance.
In the "Apocrypha" universe, Sakura was adopted by distant relatives. She ended up as a pro-wrestler with "unimaginably nice proportions" and forming a tag team with a Luviagelita Edelfelt and acts like a cheerful girl who laughs like a high-class young lady, though would still head to Fuyuki at some point and will go through days with a love comedy-like tone as she competes for Shirou's affections along with a twin-tail magic-fist user. She would be a "babyfaced super-dark heelWP character", and maybe have a theme for bondage. But in actuality, since Luvia is of similar disposition to Rin but believes in aristocratism, she would prioritise strengthening Sakura's talent. This would end up creating a "cool and dark, yet good-hearted top tier magus".
Sakura makes an appearance in Fate/Grand Order as a Craft Essence card. She appears as the illustration cover for Imaginary Number magecraft (虚数魔術, Kyosū Majutsu?), Imaginary Around (イマジナリ・アラウンド, Imajinari Araundo?), and Imaginary Number Attribute (虚数属性, Kyosū Zokusei?).
Sakura was born with great potential and rare natural talent, considered to be a miracle equal to that of Rin with even the same Od level as her. It surpasses the norm of "natural talent" or "inborn skill" possessed by others, and due to that she would be in danger without the protection of a magi house, can be equated to a curse in a way. She was given to the Matou house to act as their heir for this reason, but Zouken did not intend to use her for that purpose. For the purpose of acclimatization, she has to undergo constant torture in the basement of the Matou household. The way they pass on their magecraft is not a study, but constant, lifelong torture due to Zouken's preference. Taught to the body rather than the mind, she is forced through immense pain and stress constantly for her "education." The changes are so extensive as to change her hair color, eye color, and every cell in her body so that they no longer reflect her Tohsaka heritage.
While having greater potential than Kariya or Byakuya, she is more suited to the Tohsaka magecraft. She was born lacking an Elemental Affinity of the "five great elements", and instead had an Imaginary Element of Imaginary Numbers, or "Hollow", as her affinity, Sorcery Trait and Origin. Her Element was changed to the water alignment with her acclimation to the Matou magecraft, so she cannot display her true talent. Her Crest Worms will feed on any excess magical energy she circulates before she can use a spell, leaving her unable to even cast any in most cases. Due to them devouring it on a constant basis, even Rin is unable to tell that her sister is an actively practicing magus.
Without expecting anything from her intelligence, Zouken sought to turn her into a tool that uses magecraft. With such little formal education, she is unused to combat and cannot normally match someone of Rin's caliber, losing ten out of ten times without being able to breach Rin's barrier. Rin compares her to a bird with the potential of flight being placed in water, forced to die or adapt as best it can. While she would have had great success as a Tohsaka magus, her current state is much like that of the untrained Shirou, only worse due to her lack of physical training. Under duress, she can cast a spell using the Matou "absorption" nature magecraft, and it shoots like a spear, stabbing and entangling the part hit to drain the person of energy. She says that it has little practical use compared to something like Reinforcement that has many different uses in that it is limited to "stealing away from others" and feeding on their pain.
The Magic Crest of the Matou family is in the form of Zouken's Crest Worms, forcefully implanted into her as part of her acclimatization process. They have grown within her for eleven years, turning into a nerve that has entangled throughout her entire body like a Magic Circuit. It is suspended under normal circumstances without have an effect on her body, but it will attack her nerves and use her energy to roam throughout her body while taking even more if it activates. Left for half a day, they will drain her body of energy and consume her flesh as nutrition. As with any Magic Crest, it is painful containing a foreign substance in her body, but even more so with it entangling her nerves with its own and moving about. Compared to the pain experienced in Rin's arm, she compares Sakura to a cluster of Magic Circuits that violates her function as a human being and should overwrite her mind with a wave of energy.
Normally only an observation device for Zouken, its usage can be activated by her lust, which in turn causes her to lust even more as the worms in her blood become an aphrodisiac. It can be forcefully activated with an aphrodisiac given to Shinji or just through her normal feelings for Shirou. As they devour her energy, she becomes more lustful and is forced to seek out supplemental energy, semen in the original story and blood in Realta Nua. Zouken should be able to incite the worms into action as he pleases, making it a priority to stay away from him. As his main body has been changed to a small worm next to her heart, that is actually impossible. As they are so integrated into her nerves and Magic Circuits, it is impossible to remove them normally, even for Zouken. Kirei Kotomine uses a large number of Command Spells to remove most of it, but he cannot remove the ones metabolized with her nerves without removing her heart.
Its original usage is not meant as a means to kill her, but the conditions of the Fifth War provide a unique opportunity. Imposed on her to make sure she participates in some capacity, they will activate if she breaks a "certain condition", abandoning the war as a Master. Entrusting Rider to Shinji falls under the condition, but it will torture her should she refuse to battle while having Rider's contract. Even forcefully removing her contract with a Command Spell would cause her to be instantly consumed. With the added burden of managing Rider's upkeep, it is difficult for her and could lead to it devouring her. It is set to last for the duration of the Holy Grail War, and will spread further with each day. Kirei's surgery is able to reduce her overall pain somewhat, but she is still plagued by the same overall problem.
At some point after the Fourth Holy Grail War, Zouken managed to collect fragments of the destroyed Grail and implanted them into Sakura's body, transforming her into an incomplete lesser Grail. Sakura has been developed to be able to act as the Black Grail (黒の聖杯, Kuro no Seihai?), a second Lesser Grail, by Zouken Matou. Though the ritual of the Fourth Holy Grail War ended in failure with the destruction of the Holy Grail, it had briefly been completed. It would normally be painful to have the inorganic substance of the Grail within a human body, so he turned the shards into a living thing to allow her to still function as a human. Combining them into Crest Worms, he placed them into her body. Zouken lacked the skill of the Einzberns and completed an eighth of the process in his own way, so she is in an incomplete state. The shards corroded and assimilated her Magic Circuits over the ten year period between the Fourth and Fifth Grail Wars, leaving her with only her Crest Worms as her only way of using magic if she even did. She has the ability to function like the Einzbern Lesser Grail, Illyasviel von Einzbern, in acting as a container for the souls of the Heroic Spirits and becoming the gate upon the ritual's completion.
Zouken originally has no plans for her to be utilized fully in that state during the Fifth Holy Grail War, but instead as an experiment in acting as "Makiri's Holy Grail" that is able to live as a human and contain the function to collect souls. The purpose of changing her is mostly as a way for eventually reaching his goals, slowly developing her into something like the Holy Grail over several decades. While it would be impossible for her to go into that state in other routes, the conditions within the Heaven's Feel route allow for her to become active. Only when being chosen by Shirou Emiya, the "person she does not wish to lose", do her bottled up negative emotions come to the forefront to accelerate Avenger's growth. Previously thought of as only an unadaptable Holy Grail, she shows surprising growth and talent in being able to retain her senses after eventually taking in a number of Servants. He equates her to a true Holy Grail on the same level as the Einzbern's, even though he had thought it impossible.
Servants that come into contact with the shadow from the Grail are greatly affected. They cannot oppose it, rotting them anywhere it touches. They lose feeling in the affected areas as they become that which does not exist in the world. Proper Heroic Spirits are extremely affected, going as far as losing consciousness on contact, while Servants close to it in nature, while not fully affected, will have their energy drained from touching it. Those taken in and not digested are blackened, changing their mentality as they are corrupted by its malignant influence and considerably augmenting offensive power.
While she can take in and blacken most Servants, Gilgamesh is unable to be controlled, so she must digest him in haste to keep him from tearing her up from the inside.
Converted to magical energy, he provides enough to accelerate the development of the Grail even without enough Servants. Though he is difficult to digest, the large amount causes her to buckle like a broken dam due to previously being able to only barely maintain herself. Differing when he escaped from the Grail mud in the Fourth Holy Grail War cut off from the main body, that of Sakura, the shadow, is connected to the body of Avenger itself. Servants are unable to resist her, having become the Grail itself, and even being incarnated is not enough as long as one is materialized under the Grail System.As with the Einzbern Holy Grail, the container cannot retain full human function while taking in souls of Heroic Spirits and receiving the powers of the Holy Grail. Her body loses function as the amount of energy she contains from the souls increases, and the overflow from the great swirl of magic of the Holy Grail is too much for her mind to withstand. It causes her to break down until becoming Dark Sakura, first showing an overall loss of feeling in her extremities and the state of recent memories becoming vague.
With the development of Sakura as the Holy Grail, the Black Shadow (黒い影, Kuroi Kage?) begins to manifest around Fuyuki. It is the contents of the Grail, Angra Mainyu, leaking out from the other side when Sakura is unable to properly shut the gate even as a complete Holy Grail. It is a Cursed Boundary Layer, Sakura's shadow or even Sakura herself, normally controlled below her threshold of awareness. While it seems that it works with Zouken, he cannot communicate with it, and he can only arrange its path to keep it from running wild. Though he is able to calm it nightly to keep the damage to a minimum, he eventually becomes unable to handle it as Sakura develops. It devours magical energy at first, only leaving people unconscious. More ruthless in its feeding than Caster, it eats their magical energy along with their minds. It eventually realizes that eating them fully is more efficient, taking hundreds of people from fifty households in one feeding. Rather than smashing them, it only needs to swallow them, body and soul.
It is an "unidentified object" that gives the impression of a jellyfish on land or a deep sea monster. Its presence dominates all who look upon it, seeming to distort space around it. It lacks eyes, limbs, or a body, but still casts a shadow at its base. It looks insubstantial, as if a shadow were to stand with so light an existence that it looks able to simply be blown away. As the Holy Grail's shadow, it should not normally have form or a will, but passing through the gate, Sakura, it takes her form, borrows her sealed id, and obtains a body to come into the world. It is a Holy Grail with a will, seeking out humans souls to complete itself. It will swallow all it sees, especially clumps of magical energy like Illya. It should be possible to stop by stopping Sakura, as it is born from her unconsciousness. It hates whoever Sakura hates, so it will keep them from coming near her.
It is impervious to all conventional attacks, and its targets can only await death in its presence. Shirou is unable to tell if the concept of death can even be applied to it. As a cluster of curses, its touch is highly corrosive due to containing Angra Mainyu's property of All the World's Evil, dissolving organic matter and converting the base elements into pure magical energy. It can lash out with tentacles, bring forth a Shadow Giant, and spread out for ten meters to swallow everything like a wave of water, touching them with All the World's Evil that burns skin like coal, cuts off their life, and shows them its horrors. It takes in energy just by existing, turning plant life black, and automatically leeching it from those without any resistance. It can absorb the energy in an area in order to swell up and explode. It tramples over everything upon exploding and spreading the collected energy out like a storm, swallowing its prey instantly.
It can overwhelm all Heroic Spirits no matter their strength so long as they are summoned under the Servant system, filling even the mindless Berserker with the instinct to run away. Spreading its mud over the ground like a swamp, Servants engulfed by it are restrained down by countless tentacles and swallowed. It easily tears through Lancer's Rune barrier, capable of blocking great Noble Phantasms. It dislikes organic material, passing through that which is not alive and digesting that which is alive. Taking them in instantly, the Cursed Boundary Layer is a Bounded Field of dissolution much stronger and more instantaneous than even Blood Fort Andromeda. Growing by the day to feed even more, it swallows an area of fifty meters at once, and then goes on to act as a tidal wave that passes through all things to take its victims without causing a bit of collateral damage. It is not detectable because it is not a specially activated spell, but its regular actions even if it is extremely powerful.
Connected to Sakura, she can initially only feel slight aftereffects from its feedings, but later begins to have uncontrollable visions of it acting. Both its smell and the presence behind it remind Shirou of her, and she feels an intimacy with it, something without an evil mind that, while similar to her, just eats in a different way. She becomes more in-tune with it as the war progresses, eventually coming to the point where she is the one wandering the town at night. It begins to originate from her as her affinity with it develops, feeling its hunger as her own and allowing her to swallow Gilgamesh. It begins to stretch out on its own, allowing her to hear and see through it directly. After becoming Dark Sakura, the Command Spell around her body has the same make-up as the Shadow.
After Sakura rejects Zouken's control and regains her central consciousness, she becomes Dark Sakura (黒桜, Kuro Sakura?), a rancorous and psychotic distortion of her normal self. It would normally be that she would either have exploded from the strain of being the Grail or have had her consciousness disappear and be overtaken by the shadow. Due to her affinity with it, she is able to take control of it. Touching Angra Mainyu, the mud of the Grail, contaminates a person's personality and reverses it towards the orientation of evil. Her reasoning and emotions are severely impaired, and she is indiscriminately destructive to everything around her. She is one capable of using the power of the mud as part of her own power due to the contamination. As she develops, she becomes a "threat to humanity" that could potentially have required or eventually gotten to the point of needing intervention from the Counter Force. Even with this overwhelming strength, being unused to battle and her unstable mental state makes planning against her possible.
Using souls as a perpetual motion machine to create magical energy, Rin calls her a poor imitation of the Third Magic. Connected to the "other side" of the Grail, she has a stock of magical energy that cannot be used in a lifetime, effectively making it infinite. Despite that, she can only use the full capacity of her Magic Circuit to instantaneously release one thousand at a time. Against the Jeweled Sword, Rin is able to release the same amount to match the shadows, making it a battle of Sakura's limitless magical energy and Rin's infinite magical energy. With the same properties as the Shadow, she is capable of forming tentacle appendages from her body. She can spontaneously regenerate, allowing her to recover from mortal wounds within minutes of receiving them. Even before fully developing, she survives being impaled by the Gate of Babylon, having everything below her stomach severed, with only severed nerves being the issue the next day. She can support a number of Servants without issue in this state, and Saber can use the energy intensive Excalibur without limit.
After the contract to Avenger is broken at the end of Heaven's Feel, she is still connected to the other side of the Grail. As an after-effect of the contract, she remains a Holy Grail. While Avenger still exists before Shirou destroys the Greater Grail, it could potentially make her its Master again due to the connection. Vast amounts of energy are collected in her body, and she must periodically release it. She is able to use it to keep up Rider's existence even without support from the Grail, and the excess left after that is given to Shirou to help him maintain his body. She learns magecraft from Kirei's successor and Rider, and her abilities as the Holy Grail, even only in part, are a large boon to her life as a magus.
The Shadow Giants (影の巨人, Kage no Kyojin?) are familiars made out of her Hollow element. Under normal circumstances they are extremely small, but when her powers are augmented by Angra Mainyu and the Holy Grail, their size increases vastly and they start acting as a materialized curse. Each composed of roughly one thousand units of magical energy, they are called a match for the Noble Phantasms of Servants. She can bring them forth without limit, and the amount of energy spent creating them for just a single battle, over one hundred million, is enough to run a department of the Clock Tower for one hundred years.
Carrying the properties of All the World's Evil, fighting them would normally require something to dispel a curse, but a level of energy equal to that making up the shadows can eliminate them. While Rin Tohsaka could not hope to destroy a single one normally, the Jeweled Sword of Zelretch allows her to match Sakura's limited output used to create them and destroy them with her infinite energy provided by the Second Magic.
Creation and Conception
Her initial concept was based on Fujino Asagami. Upon looking at Sakura Tohsaka depicted in Character material, Gen Urobuchi thought "aah, right now I'm writing about a world that does its best to brutally mistreat this kind of girl." It was a "huge mental burden" for him, so he decided to torment her even more. While she only appears twice, her "misery index" may actually be the highest in Fate/Zero. In the original draft of the scene of Kariya's death, the plot was "inhumane." Nasu "scolded" him for it, asking him "What color is your blood, anyway!?" It became one of the few scenes he stopped, making Sakura's monologue into a very mild and calm one.
- In the first Popularity polls of Fate/stay night in 2004, Sakura was ranked 6th and the fifth most voted female character. Dark Sakura was ranked 33rd. Tsuku Sakura (Tiger Dojo) was ranked 49th.
- In the second Popularity polls of Fate/stay night in 2006, Sakura was ranked 5th and the fourth most voted female character. Dark Sakura was ranked 38th.
- In the Type-Moon's 10th Anniversary Character Poll, Sakura from Fate/stay night was ranked 8th and the sixth most voted female character. Sakura from Fate/Zero was ranked 150th. Dark Sakura from Fate/stay night was ranked 176th.