|Format||Visual Novel, Anime (TV), Manga|
|Anime Adaption||Studio Deen|
|# of Episodes||24|
Sum it up in a Sentence:
Emiya Shirou is an apprentice magus who finds himself caught in a battle to death with other magi and heroes from the past.
Emiya Shirou lost his parents in a fire when he was young and was later adopted by a sorcerer by the name of Emiya Kiritsugu. Although he was full of admiration for his adopted father and yearns to become an ally of justice, Shirou has limited powers and was unable to become a strong sorcerer like his father. That is until one fateful day, he was drawn into the Holy Grail War and summoned a female "servant" known as Saber in order to protect himself. It turns out that the Holy Grail War involves a series of battles among powerful sorcerers to fight for the possession of a relic that will grant one's wishes, the Holy Grail. There are altogether seven "masters" who can summon their respective "servants" from different classes known as Saber, Archer, Rider, Berserker, Lancer, Caster and Assassin. These "servants" have to hide their names in order not to reveal their weaknesses to the enemies.
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Fate Stay Night TV manages to hit most of the major plot points and cut out the gratitous sex from the original visual novel but seems to just fall flat. Emiya ends up looking even more stupid than he normally does in the visual novel. The voices are good and animation is good in places but it just doesn't invoke the same feelings as the visual novel did. If you want to see some fights animated, this is a good place to go though.
Most of what made Fate Stay/Night great; it's characters, slow-burning and hard-hitting plot built up over three distinct routes and fantastic world-building by Nasu have been removed in the cause of whittling down a massive novel into a 24-episode series. Watch the fights on Youtube and read the book.
Fate/stay Night is rather amazing as a visual novel in that it takes full advantage of being allowed to present multiple scenarios. All three scenarios are vastly different from each other and the themes present in the work evolve from one scenario to the next due to having an enforced playing order. Adapting such a work to an anime is understandably very difficult, but Deen managed to do a decent job with the TV anime, which is an adaptation of the first route of the game. This is mostly because the first route of the game manages to stand fairly well on its own as an enjoyable shonen-ish action story, the worst parts of the TV anime are easily where Deen tried to clumsily include elements of other routes.
However, the Unlimited Blade Works movie is a complete disaster. It removes nearly everything that was enjoyable about the UBW route in the visual novel other than the fight scenes, and it even manages to screw up the fight scenes quite a bit. The animation is very poor for what one would normally expect out of a movie (about on the level of a mid budget TV anime), and the attempts to cover this up with flashy CGI are rather laughable.
If you've already watched the TV anime and enjoyed it, or if you haven't been exposed to F/SN at all, I would strongly recommend reading the visual novel instead of watching the anime.
The original VN is fantastic. All 3 routes are fantastically written adventures that, in 3 distinct ways, challenge and question the morality of Shirou's idealism. The characters are all well written, the stories are all amazing, and as a whole Fate/Stay Night is one of the best VNs out there.
As for the adaptations, they was made by DEEN. That means don't watch it. Pretend it doesn't exist and just read the VN unless you have an undeniably strong urge to do so. Thankfully, ufotable, who made the brilliant masterpiece that was Fate/Zero, is adapting some part of F/SN soon, so at least the entirety of the VN won't have been brutally murdered by incompetence.