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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Story So Far: Fate/Stay Night

Fate/Stay Night volumes 5-10
Original story by Type-Moon
Adapted by Dai Nishiwaki
Published in English by Tokyopop

The story takes place in an ordinary Japanese town, Fuyuki City. Hidden from society, there has been a deadly war going on in this town. Seven sorcerers known as "Masters" summon a powerful familiar called "Servants" and they all fight each other till the last one. The last one is said to attain the Holy Grail which will grant them a wish. Only a few knows when this War started and what the Holy Grail is, but the war was about to begin again this year. 

The main character is Emiya Shirou, who lost his parents in a fire and was adopted by a man who called himself a sorcerer. Admiring his step father, he has been training himself to be a sorcerer. However, he had no talent and he could barely use one type of sorcery. His step father has already passed away, and today he's a sorcerer without any skills or knowledge. He is involved in the War of the Holy Grail when he accidentally summons Saber, who is said to be the strongest servant of all... (Source: Wikipedia)

Spoiler alert: Spoilers for volumes five through ten of the manga beyond this point! Please do not share any spoilers past this point in the series, please!

Last time I blogged about my reading adventures with the Fate/Stay Night manga, I had just finished the fourth volume and the battle against Caster had ended - for now - while a new shift began to form in Shinji, Emiya Shirou's old friend who apparently has some dark secrets of his own. I was also wondering where the heck this Holy Grail War would go from here.

And boy did I find out. Because it seems like these five volumes really bring some serious story and character development, especially if one is a fan of Shirou and Saber. Which I am!

(Which, by the way, I've recently learned there are anti-fan clubs dedicated to hating Shirou. Do y'all seriously have nothing else better to do? Also - and this might be a stretch but work with me here - I'm sure the same folks who hate Shirou also hated Shinji in Evangelion. And any male protagonist in an action series that isn't positively brimming with masculinity and muscles. Bleh.)

Probably the biggest story development that has occurred since volume four is the revelation of Saber’s true self, prompted by the unveiling of her Noble Phantasm – Excalibur. So it becomes blindingly obvious who Saber really is. Sort of. Apparently, King Arthur was a woman! I really adored seeing Saber as Arturia Pendragon, ruling England and being guided by Merlin. I hope we see more of past!Saber in future volumes. Seeing the Servants’ past lives is such an integral part of the story and I love Saber so much, I naturally want to see more of her!

There was also a rather major story arc regarding Shinji – who ended up being a crucial part of the Holy Grail War than previously thought. I still wish Shirou would dump him, though. He’s kind of a self-centered misogynistic jerk! But Shirou’s too damn nice for his own good.

And Shinji has that whole tragic back story going for him. I actually felt for him a little, reading about how his family treated him and his failure to become a magus. But it also further highlighted how incredibly effed up this War is in the first place. Shinji lost his own feeling of self-worth because he can’t do mage craft. These feelings turned him incredibly bitter and hostile to the girl his family adopted for becoming the heir, a title he felt was naturally his to own. As hereditary as this War seems to be, it’s also incredibly good at tearing families apart. I can only imagine how awkward a Matou family reunion would be.

But you know who was awesome? His servant, Rider. She was sexy. And Medusa! I really liked reading her battles; her technique is impeccable. Plus, she is the most visible link between Shinji and the adopted heir, Sakura. I hope Sakura and Shinji’s relationship can be rebuilt now that Shinji is out of the running for the Grail. It’s no fun being at ends with a sibling, blood-related or otherwise (speaking from experience here).

The next major arc, the Caster arc, has been pretty bloody and dramatic and filled with Servant stealing galore. The kind of Servant stealing that requires every other Master to team up. After all, Caster has like four Servants under her control. If those aren’t unfair odds, I don’t know what is. And it means seeing Rin and Shirou team up with the likes of Lancer. Lancer is kind of a jerk and pretty stubborn, but he’s cute and a great fighter so I forgive him.

Also, there’s been lots of Saber in a dress. Hngh, Saber in a dress. I approve of all this fan service.

At this point in the manga – volume ten – we’ve come to the end of the Caster arc, with a hell of a bloody cliffhanger. Saber is still in the grip of Caster’s control, Shirou seems to be down for the count, and Archer has apparently broken through his conditioning and taken out Soichiro in the process. But it’s going to be a while until I can continue the story, as volume ten is the last book Tokyopop released of F/SN before shutting down – and there doesn’t seem to be any publishing company willing to continue releasing it in English.

Oh, well. I guess next stop is the anime. And the visual novel! It’s the summer of Type-Moon this year, apparently.

I didn’t get to really touch on the relationships that have really taken off since volume four, so I’ll talk about those next week in another post. Please look forward to it!