One, spoilers. Two, Saber and Arc are not on here, so fanboys, don’t light me on fire. Three, I have only done the following, in this order: Fate Zero Anime -> UBW 2015 -> Kara no Kyoukai Films -> Fate Stay Night VN -> Tsukihime Manga -> Tsukihime VN -> A lot of Melty Blood and Unlimited Codes -> Both DEEN anime -> Fate Stay Night VN Re-read -> Fate Illya Manga -> Carnival Phantasm. Also, I will constantly use TV Tropes terms in my posts because it’s easier and I’m lazy.
HM1. Lancer - Cu Chulainn
I’ll admit that Lancer isn’t very deep, or emotionally broken, like the later characters on the list. The reason I love Lancer is his insane levels of bro-ness throughout all the routes. He’s Kamina’s ancient ancestor. In Fate and UBW, he’s basically the traitor, and the one who gets his comeuppance. What put him on the list was the Berserker’s First Errand short from Carnival Phantasm. Good doggy. The only reason he isn’t higher is that there is a Zero servant who is a bro on a whole other dimension than this dude
HM2. Waver Velvet
Waver’s appeal is very simple. He’s the tie to the audience and basically “The Usopp” of the Zero cast. He’s infinitely effective because has the aforementioned big bro as a servant, and he reacts and grows with Rider very well. His conversations with his grandparents, and his final command seal are some of the most human moments in Zero. If Waver was replaced by some all knowing badass, then Zero wouldn’t be half as effective, up until the final few episodes. Waver and his servant are the only human characters in Zero, up until the last few episodes, which makes him very important.
HM3. Enjou Tomoe
Oh, was I not being a hipster enough by saying that I don’t like Saber and Arc that much? Well here ya go, fucking Emiya Shirou... I mean Enjou Tomoe. He is similar to Waver actually. As the most human character in Kara no Kyoukai by a long shot. His interactions with Shiki are an absolute blast to listen to, and he really does set the base for one of my all time favorite films. His backstory with his parents is fantastic, and his final moments really touched me. And he also had the second best title drop in all of anime. “Oh, how I wish this spiral were a paradox”
10. Tohsaka Rin
Not going to lie, everytime I’ve gone through F/SN in some way, I’ve disliked or have been indifferent to Rin... Until I re-read UBW. To everyone saying that she was “only in the war for fun” and is “a token tsundere” let me explain why Im right and you’re wrong (This is a joke. If I ever say something like this again, know that I am joking.) Rin wants to participate in the war because her father died when she was young, and all he wanted was for his family to reach the origin. Kirei raised Rin, and Rin developed a serious hatred for Kirei, as well as a barrier of entry. She has porcupine syndrome. Due to her hatred of Kirei, and her secluded nature, she fought in the war so she could show her dad that she is better than him, and to fuck up Kirei and his expectations. I need to give credit to UBW 2015 here. That scene where Rin was talking to Shirou about how he has a weak magic boundary around his house, and how her father set up a strong magic boundary around her house? That was genius, well played Ufo. I also really like her relationship with Shirou. They are probably the most human of the three romances in F/SN, though not my favorite. She also has a huge epic moment of awesome at the end of Heaven’s Feel. But what put her on here was not her epic moment, but her crowning moment of heartwarming. All of you know what I’m talking about. Isn’t it ironic that my favorite moment in the most action packed of all the routes is two teenagers sitting on a rock, crying, and discussing life troubles? Well fuck, now I’m crying too.
9. Rider - Medusa
Rider was the woobie for Fate, UBW and the first half of HF, until she had the greatest big damn heroes moment I’ve seen in a while. After we tragically lost Ms. Overrated, Rider bursts in and kicks ass for the next 3/4 of the route. She’s a pure badass, and even sneaks in great moments coming from her loyalty to Sakura.
8. Matou Sakura
Now we get into what Nasu is known for. Destroyed, fucked up, husks of people. Sakura is one of the most relatable and understandable “villains” in all of fiction, and all her personality twists and turns make perfect sense. Also, her relationship with Shirou, is pure fucking unhinged crazy, mad genius. Instead of being a “perfect love” where they are perfect for each other and will love each other forever, Shirou and Sakura are a representation of the nature of lust against love. Shirou and Sakura have an instinctual nature to fuck each other and protect each other, that goes far beyond reason. It’s showing what that “ideal couple” from shows like Ore Mono would really look like. It’s sickening, but beautiful at the same time. They help each other grow, but also revert each other to nothing but machines to their own human instincts.
7. Kotomine Kirei
Kirei is very unique. He’s the emotionless badass type, but it’s treated as a sad existence rather than a happy one. He cannot lose anything, because he cares for nothing. Rather than his emotionless nature being treated as something cool, it’s treated as tragic. And this brings me to what I love about Nasu, and why I wrote this to begin with. A lot of Nasu characters are nothing special, the only difference is the angle they are viewed from. Rin’s actual personality isn’t anything unique, but her reasons and life story are, and most importantly, the way the story treats her, and all these characters, is special. Yuno Gasai is pretty similar to Sakura, except one is an amazing character, and the other is universally hated. Why? Because Yuno is treated as a hero, and Sakura is treated like a person.
6. Archer - Emiya
Archer is truly a tragic character. For no matter how hard he tries, no matter how many times he is brought to the brink of death. He still feels completely empty. He can never truly achieve his goal. And even when he learns his Answer, it’s too late. He shows that the best kind of badass, is the one that earns it
5. Ryougi Shiki
Shiki is the original Nasu character type. A simple character, but shown for the fucked up, but undeniably human, person they really are. Her development over the course of the series is subtle, but noticeable. In the final film, all her emotions crumbling apart was beautiful, and her relationship with Enjou Tomoe in Mujun Rasen is fucking adorable. She has my favorite fighting style in any visual medium, because seriously it’s badass. Did I mention she was also kawaii as fuck while also being a top tier badass?
4. Rider - Iskandar
The number 1 bro in all of anime honestly. Of course, Gurren Lagann is not anime, it’s godly transcription, so Kamina does not count. Rider needs no introduction, nor explanation. He got me, and most of my friends, interested in Zero, which in turn, got us (me) more into the whole Nasuverse. His speech in episode 11 single handedly gave season 1 a 10 for me.
3. Archer - Gilgamesh
Gil’ is so enjoyable to watch that there is no analogy. Every time he is on screen in Zero is the most immediately fun and epic scene ever. There are 3 episodes of UBW 2015 that I think are fantastic, and he’s in 2 of them. Hell, in one of them, he is basically the only speaking role. While I think he’s less enjoyable in F/SN, he’s still a fucking blast. His death in Heaven’s Feel is satisfying as hell, and almost bittersweet. But I also think he’s a legitimately good character. He never got to try his best, because no one was ever good enough to match him. Finally, he met Rider. Rider was his perfect rival. He finally got to fight his best. But then he realized something. He had become so strong, that even when he finally finds a rival, they will be decimated in seconds. Notice how much nicer he is in Zero compared to Stay Night? That’s because in Stay Night, he no longer had a reason to live, other than his own nihilism. He lost to Shirou because he had assumed that an equal would never come up again, and honestly, one never did. Shirou would have been mince meat in seconds if Gilgamesh had treated him like a true rival, which makes it even more fucked up. Of course, the brutal reality is that when he finally found someone stronger than him, he had no time to have fun and fight, because he was instantly destroyed and eaten.
2. Emiya Kiritsugu
Ahh, Kiritsugu. Kiritsugu for the first 20 episodes of Zero is very exciting to watch, and is a cold blooded killer. After being the opposite of relatable for 20 episodes, his real human side shows. He’s actually a greek tragedy type character. Running infinitely on a giant treadmill. The grail stomps on all his ideals, and leaves him a broken, depressed old man with nothing to live for and nothing to fight for. Until he finds Shirou. The silver lining. It’s beautiful, seeing this man just burst into tears at the sight of the last living child.
1. Emiya Shirou
Where do I begin? All of his romances are fantastic, and flesh out him along with his partner. His interactions with people are either hilarious in the SoL scenes and fucking cool in the fights. Did I mention that this guy IS FUCKING COOL! Yeah, Gilgamesh is awesome, but we don’t see how he got there. Watching Shirou turn from who he was at the beginning of the Fate route getting his ass kicked by Lancer, then seeing him grow into a projecting, high speed badass who can take out servants by the end of Heaven’s Feel. It’s like playing Binding of Isaac. And Sparks Liner High? Nothing in anime has gotten my that hype in forever. I’m talking Daigo Umehara vs Justin Wong type shit. His “answer” is absolutely heartwarming and insane at the same time. For all of UBW and HF, I felt like I was part of Shirou. I’m sorry, I really can’t do this character justice. So go read Stay Night for a second... third... Schfifty Fifth time.