How to watch FATE anime in Order: Beginner’s Guide to the Series

Type:MOON has popularized the iconic “FATE Anime Series” over the decade. With so many adaptations, including an anime, it might seem confusing but we’re here to teach you how to watch this amazing series.

The FATE anime was originally adapted as an eroge under the fantasy/dark-fantasy genre but with the popularization of the novels, games were created along with eventually an anime. FATE was mainly produced by UFOtable, an extremely famous production studio whose staff has worked on some of the best visually-appealing anime of the past decade like Demon Slayer. However, most of UFOtable’s credit comes from their impeccable animation design in the FATE adaptations.

FATE consists of various alternate timelines, past and future, but the main light novel introduced the first timeline with “Fate/stay night.” Fate/stay night is about a 16-year old high school student Shirou Emiya who is a mage. Albeit not a very powerful one, he uses his tracing magic to fix appliances and other technology. One night he stumbles upon two people having an insane battle of magic and when they notice him, they decide to kill him. A mysterious girl saves his life and when he returns home, he goes to his usual shed to work on his appliances and out of nowhere, a lady in knight armor appears. Shirou is now caught up in the Holy Grail War, a war between mages who possess one Servant, or warrior, that will fight the other Servants to claim the Holy Grail War. Fate/stay night follows Emiya along with the knight, Arthur, as they fight to end this war.

FATE and the Holy Grail War revolves around Masters who summon heroes and divine beings from the past and even the future to fight. Servants range from Hercules, King Arthur, Leonidas, Shiva, Quetzalcoatl, and even Ishtar under a specific class: Archer, Saber, Berserker, Caster, Lancer, Rider, and Assassin. The universe that all characters and timelines reside in is the Nasuverse and all the Servants within this universe can inhabit multiple different classes. With every different class categorization, stats and appearance of the Servant will change. More mechanics and other descriptions about the universe and the war are further explained in the show but these are the basics to help make understanding the series easier.

In this post, I’ll show you two different ways to watch the FATE main series (also referred to as the main timeline): release order and chronological order. This is a moderately-long franchise so it shouldn’t be too daunting to start out.

Overview of the Main Storyline:

First, it’s nice to get a brief overview of the anime adaptations that make up the main story before deciding on a watch order. There are other Fate anime series but these are the four pertaining to the main storyline:

Fate/stay night – this is the first anime adaptation of Fate that covers the main storyline. It covers the 5th Holy Grail War (chronologically) and has Shirou Emiya and Saber, his servant, as the main characters. Fate stay/night is broken into three alternate timelines:

  1. Fate/stay night: Saber Route – the timeline that focuses the story on the relationship between Saber and Emiya. This anime deviated slightly from the novel but most elements of the plot in both works are still present
  2. Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (Rin Route) – this timeline is similar to the Fate/stay night original one but has more emphasis on Rin Tohsaka, a girl who is also a Master for the Archer servant. The main character is still Shirou Emiya but the relation between Rin and Emiya is more pronounced in this route
  3. Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel (Sakura Route) – this timeline is the newest one with the third/last adaptation released in August 2020. It focuses on the same story but on an alternate timeline with Sakura Matou, a quiet girl who makes food for the Emiya household, and how she gets involved in the Holy Grail War
  4. Fate/ZERO – this is the prequel for the Fate/stay night timeline chronologically and covers the events that happen in the Fourth Holy Grail War. The main character of this anime is Kiritsugu Emiya, Shirou Emiya’s adopted father who taught Shirou magic, and his battle with his servant, Saber, to get the Holy Grail.
fate/stay night

Release Order:

This is the recommended way to watch the series as it gives a comfortable flow as well as an elaborate introduction into the Nasuverse starting from Fate/stay night.

  • Fate/stay night – This route is the first anime adaptation and was released in 2011. There is a lot of debate on whether you should watch this one at all but that’s explained later. Fate/stay night was not animated by UFOtable in the beginning, with this adaptation being animated by DEEN.
  • Fate/ZERO – The prequel route was released in 2016 and is a good addition to the series right after the first anime because once the universe is well-established and the rules are laid out for you, watching the prequel right after will give more in-depth context to the later adaptations. This sparks the beginning of UFOtable’s involvement with the series.
  • Fate/stay night:Unlimited Blade Works – This is the most famous route that people watch first because it, like Fate/stay night – Saber Route, prefaces the Holy Grail War and offers amazing action throughout.
  • Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – This is an interesting and action-packed timeline focused on Sakura Matou. Heaven’s Feel is a movie trilogy instead of a series with the newest adaptation released very recently this year

Related: 21 best Gilgamesh quotes from Fate/zero

Chronological Order

The chronological order for the anime in Fate is very jumbled, with different side stories mixed into the cohesive timeline. This causes the main storyline to be riddled with other Fate anime adaptations between events in the main storyline. The chronological order is really only recommended for Type:MOON fans who love the Fate series and want to rewatch it chronologically for fun. Watching this series perfectly in chronological order isn’t necessary nor done many times but it’s an option.

  • Fate/ZERO – Takes place 10 years before the main story and covers the Fourth Holy Grail War with Kiritsugu Emiya
  • Fate/stay night (Saber, Rin, and Sakura routes) – The main story covering the Fifth Holy Grail War with Shirou Emiya
  • Fate/Extra – Takes place long into the future after Fate/stay night but in an alternate timeline. It follows Hakuno Kishinami as he works with his Servant to take down Tsukimihara Academy, a school with a dark background targeting students they simulate as Masters in a fake Holy Grail War
  • Carnival Phantasm – Adapted from a gag-doujin manga and mainly has jokes and other gags about the Nasuverse in a game-show fashion. This is mainly acts as a comedic relief for the dark-fantasy genre
  • Fate/Apocrypha – This is a story based on events in an alternate timeline created before the events of Fate/ZERO. The Holy Grail was removed from Fuyuki City (the main setting) after the Third War in this timeline. There are two warring factions: Yggdmillennia Clan and the Mage’s Association. These two factions select seven master-servant pairs and fight for the Holy Grail. This adaptation introduced a new servant class Ruler.
  • Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma – This story is based on an alternate ending of Fate/ZERO and focuses on Kiritsugu’s biological child Illyasviel von Einzbern and her relationship with Shirou Emiya. Like Fate/stay night: UBW, this show focuses on a duo of Masters but in this timeline of the 5th Holy Grail War, Shirou and Illyasviel do not know magic at the beginning of the show.
  • Fate/Grand Order – This is the most deviant of all the Fate adaptations. It’s set in a timeline when there was only one Holy Grail War and the mage who won it created a city that rapidly developed useful technology using magic to become a futuristic paradise. Now, special agents of the government are selected as Masters to go back in time and solve disputes with heroes and divine beings in the past or future to not shift the balance in the universe. 

Related: 23 best Archer quotes from Fate/stay night

Fate is a complicated and heavily interlaced story with multiple universes and timelines adding confusion to people who start out new. I recommend watching the main storyline first in the release order and the extra shows of alternate timelines can be watched in however order you want. There is no merit in watching the alternate Fate anime in a specific order so whichever order is convenient is good. The main storyline is there as a hook for the Fate series and exhibits a specific niche so you’ll know if you truly like or don’t care for Fate at all.