Competent Mastery in Fate/Zero

**Spoilers for Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night**

Masters in Fate/Stay Night

Name Gender Competent?
Emiya Shirou Male
Matou Shinji Male
Souichirou Kuzuki Male
Kotomine Kirei Male
Tohsaka Rin Female
Ilyasviel von Einsbern Female
Caster Female

Masters in Fate/Zero

Name Gender Competent?
Emiya Kiritsugu Male
Kotomine Kirei Male
Tohsaka Tokiomi Male
Kayneth Archibald Male
Sola-Ui Sophia-Ri Female
Waver Velvet Male
Matou Kariya Male
Ryuunosuke Uryuu Male

Fate/Stay Night:

  • Two masters who had no idea the Holy Grail War existed
  • One master with no magical aptitude
  • Two competently trained mages who are too young to max out their potential
  • One master who is also a servant
  • One master in his prime intentionally fighting in the Holy Grail War


  • One master who had no idea the Holy Grail War existed
  • One master with some magical aptitude and a year of getting violated by magical phallic worms
  • One competently trained mage who is too young to max out his potential
  • Five masters in their prime intentionally fighting in the Holy Grail War

For all intents and purposes you could count Irisviel as a sixth. This is why Fate/Zero beats Fate/Stay Night. We’re seeing battles between no-nonsense, first-class mages instead of deer-in-the-headlights kids. Throw any of the top masters from Fate/Zero into Fate/Stay Night and you have an odds-on finalist. Credit the male cast in particular, which shirks the Type-Moon tradition of comprising clueless boys and disfigured faces of evil.

I wasn’t going to count the servants, as they’re expected to be competent, but incompetent masters limit their servants’ potential. Saber is weaker in Fate/Stay Night because Shirou’s a bumbling sexist. Rider is weaker because Shinji’s worthless bitch. Archer is weaker because Rin screwed up the summoning. Assassin is weaker by the very nature of his summoning. This shit doesn’t happen in Fate/Zero.

48 Replies to “Competent Mastery in Fate/Zero”

  1. Point of order: Is this anime-only? Because as the will tell you, Kuzuki is stupidly strong to the point of being able to fight Saber with nothing but his fists, after being enchanted by Caster.

    Which is quite ridiculous when you think of it–Saber’s supposed to be one of, if not the strongest Servant when it comes to melee, and this guy isn’t even a mage! Just an assassin trained in some almost-magical assassination skill that involves his fists.

    • Post based mainly on the anime, though I have gone through the visual novel and took it into account to a limited degree while writing the post. I skimmed through that wiki entry while writing but haven’t read Fate/Hollow Ataraxia so I decided not to take his background into account.

      I consider Souichirou a competent fighter for sure, just not a competent master. Caster was really the master in that relationship. Also, with Caster’s reinforcement, it’s not unthinkable to be able to match a sword with your fists. An empty fist should move much faster than a sword. I give the credit to Caster for being able to reinforce his fists to the point of being able to take hits from Excalibur.

    • Kuzuki is badass. He can’t fight Saber evenly, it is explicitly stated in the VN that he only harmed he because she didn’t expect him and didn’t keep her distance. But yeah, probably not a competent Master, though it is mentioned that their relationship is pretty much reverse, with Caster being the Master and him fighting as a Servant.

      Rider is ridiculously powerful though, she gets mutilated in every route, and when we finally write her off, she starts performing wonders after her first defeat in HF. I’m pretty convinced Archer’s pretending to have lost his memory, plus we all know he’s likely the strongest Servant, all that perfectionism by Rin was needless. Zouken is a very competent master.

      But yeah, if we’re talking anime – only, F/Z wins hands down. I blame DEEN.

      • I can never get a read on Archer’s power level. Shirou + Archer’s arm > Archer. Go figure.

        I’d certainly rank Rider with a proper master over Assassin, Caster, and Lancer. Berserker had all the stats but was defeated convincingly in each route. Do what you will with Archer. Whatever it means for Saber’s ranking, it’s probably impressive that Rider + Shirou + Archer’s arm were match for Dark Saber.

        Zouken is absolutely competent, but look how ugly he is, it’s hard to take that seriously. A top hat and a twirly mustache would make him seem less villainous.

  2. This is why Fate/Zero beats Fate/Stay Night. We’re seeing battles between no-nonsense, first-class mages instead of deer-in-the-headlights kids.

    Facts are stated as always. There are a lot of other reasons why F/Z is better, but this pretty much covers all of them in a nutshell.

  3. FSN Rider is VERY powerful when she returns in the hands of Sakura (the real master in Heaven’s feel route).
    Same for Saber when she becomes Rin’s servant in UBW!

    But I agree that Fate Zero is far better in terms of storyline till this point. 😛

    Oh by the way, Baka-Raptor is back writing! WOOHOOO! 😀

  4. Waver is a fairly competent, but FZ Rider is heavily limited by Waver being his Master (in terms of mana).

    • The anime hasn’t gone much into the dynamics of that mana exchange, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Ionian Hetairoi in particular must be a huge mana hog.

      • I don’t remember if the anime mentioned it, but the mana/prana cost to sustain Ionian Hetairoi is not just supplied by Rider. It is sustained by the collective efforts of every soldier in his army. As such, the Noble Phantasm is actually much cheaper that its scale would suggest.

        • That’s cheap alright.

          One of the many satisfying aspects of the F/SN VN was the background on mana/prana/whatever else there is. Nice to know how a character like Lancer has any shot of winning the whole thing. Probably won’t read Fate/Zero since the anime is doing such a great job, but these tidbits are missed.

  5. This is not the only reason Fate/Zero beats Fate/stay night… the animation is better in the former since it’s not Studio Deen. although it’s true that the Masters are better in F/Z than F/SN, although I haven’t finished the latter yet…

    • I was raised on 50 MB realmedia files. Animation quality will never a primary factor when I judge anime. With that said, the animation for Fate/Zero is noticeably better than Fate/Stay Night TV, though I did like the animation in Unlimited Blade Works.

  6. Manly men fighting battles with actual consequence. Having a war fought by children is just asking it to be fucked up through endless whining and bullshit. Children, especially the ones in F/SN don’t have the emotional maturity to fight a real war.

  7. Well, yeah, this and Fate/Zero is executed much better than it’s predecessor. If ufotable were to create another version of FS/N, I sure it would be much better.

  8. I liked Fate Stay/Night (I think I originally gave it a 4 but then bumped it up to a 5 on my ass-backward ratings system). It’s fair to say though that Fate/Zero is beating Fate Stay/Night into submission with it’s simple awesomeness. Not many shows decide to use awesomeness anymore in their plots, but I’m glad that Fate/Zero decided to go ahead and use some.

    This show is so good that I refuse to watch it in any form besides marathon (desperately waiting for this season to finish).

    • I gave the Fate/Stay Night anime a +. Liked it but didn’t seem like anything special. Fate/Zero is currently projected to hit +++.

      The big problem with waiting for a marathon is avioding spoilers. Since you clicked on this post, this may prove troublesome.

      • I watched the first season (first part of the series I guess). I was able to wait for that to marathon…I’ve never had an anime that I planned on marathoning spoiled for me before, and to make sure that this does not happen, I will not visit this dialogue again.

  9. It sounds like you are comparing everything to the animes. You even have a screenshot from the non-existent Tsukhime anime (that’s right, it does not exist). All of Nasu’s protagonists are awesome. Don’t go by the wiki too much since it has been wrong in the past.

    You can’t compare people who have trained their whole lives for a war that takes place every 60 years to people who were surprised by the 10 year gap and had little time to prepare. And Kirei is in his prime in Zero, not SN.

    Not to mention that those you marked incompetent aren’t mages. Also, Archer was not weaker due to Rin’s summoning; Rin thought her summon failed since she did not receive Saber but she was not connected to Saber with a relic, she was to Archer.

    And you should read the novel. There is some stuff that is omitted and some stuff was changed by ufotable and Urobuchi.

    • It’s pretty much all based on the anime and supplemented slightly by the F/SN VN. Trying to compare apples to apples wherever possible.

      I certainly hope Shiki Tohno was an awesome protagonist in the Tsukihime VN, because he was an enormous pussy in the nonexistant anime. Shirou’s impractical sexism (as opposed to practical sexism) toward Saber was annoying in the F/SN anime and the Fate arc. He was much more likeable in UBW and Heaven’s Feel, but let’s be honest, he lucked himself through a lot of situations.

      The surprise 10-year-gap is a perfectly fair explanation for why the masters were unprepared and magically disinclined, but it doesn’t change the fact that they were unprepared and magically disinclined.

      Kirei does seem more powerful in Zero, but I’ve attributed that to the fact that he’s on the front lines and has nothing to lose. You don’t look as strong when you’re plotting from behind the scenes. I’m guessing you know a lot more detail about his power levels in the respective works from reading both.

      My interpretation has been that Archer did in fact start out incomplete but regained his memory and power long before he let anyone else know about it. It’s certainly possible that he lied from the start, but Rin had to mess up somehow for her to summon Archer in a busted up room halfway across her house.

      There are a bunch of VN’s I plan to read when my eyes get better. First up is Umineko.

      • He was awesome and went through a lot more hell than Shirou. Shirou was annoying in Fate and Nasu even agreed to that. It was the best he could do at the time, he said. And he didn’t luck himself, he was bad ass. Tracing a rock sword. Bad ass.

        Kirei probably sat on his ass watching TV with Gilgamesh drinking wine for ten years so that is why he is not as strong as he was in Zero. He also didn’t take thing seriously either. But, this is just speculation and extrapolation, so yeah.

        I think Archer was lying from the get go. Rin’s screw up was where she summoned him to. I did just think of the place where Gil was summoned, was it the same place where Archer was summoned to? I can’t remember where they were in the first episode. I’ll have to load up my BD and check the book later.

        Be sure to play the Tsukihime series and Devil on G-string. They were great. You’d probably like Devil on G-string too.

      • Note that Grail needs at least 60 years for the used mana to re-accumulate in order for another war to be initiated, not 10.

  10. If we are to consider the law that Servants can be summoned under more than one class designation, I think we can presume that Zero Lancer’s summoning was a botched one. Since Diarmuid O’Dyna can be summoned under the Saber class, and because of the advantages the Saber class presents, Archibald may have summoned him with the intention of having Diarmuid designated under the Saber class, which unfortunately for him wasn’t the case. Whether Kiritsugu one-upped Archibald in summoning a Saber class Servant or he was just plain unlucky, nobody knows.

    • It is hard to imagine why anyone would aim to summon a lancer. Who knows, maybe Grail-kun planned this out before they were actually summoned. If Diarmuid had been summoned into the Saber class, then Saber would be…Rider I guess, and Rider could be the new lancer?

      • Nasu had Alexander as Rider before he even spoke to Urobuchi about the project, so there is no changing that, lol.

        And Diarmiuid uses lances, so he fits the lancer class. Plus, he had no luck in life so he fits quite well.

        And a little fun fact, Nasu named all of the characters except Maiya.

        • Let me quote something on the Fate/Zero Material book:

          “… his legend also mentioned the two magical swords Moralltach and Beagalltach, making it entirely possible for him to be summoned into the Saber Class. Rather, this was perhaps Kayneth’s original expectation.”

          So yes, he DOES NOT fit for the Lancer class alone.

          • Sure, mention something from the material book that I have no access to or skill to translate, lol.

            And I never said he didn’t fit the Saber class. 😛

      • The Great Grail randomly selects Heroic Spirits based on how they performed their feats during their lives. The Grail also selects their supposed class for the war at random, regardless if they qualify for more than one class. If Diarmuid got selected under the Saber class, chances are Arturia won’t be able to participate in the war (since she’s limited to the Saber class alone), while Iskandar can be summoned under the Saber class.

        But let’s note a quote from the Fate/Complete Material book:

        Among the English, King Arthur’s still a person of the present. After all, she’s the “future King who will be back”

        Maybe this is one reason why Arturia has the highest priority of being summoned for the war.

        • In theory the Grail is supposed to be random and whatnot, but the sense we’re given is that the corrupted Grail has a will of its own. You know what? Screw it, I’ll read Fate/Zero someday. Don’t bother quoting the book on me.

          • And play Tsukihime! The latest episode of Fate/Zero tied into it. Gotta give it to Urobuchi for using elements from the entire Nasuverse.

          • Sorry, Nasufagging habits surface without warning.

            Anyways, you’re right about the AM having a will of its own. Think of it as a program with malicious code injected into it, where it does something else aside from properly executing its intended functions, probably even achieving sentience because of it. This is the reason why anti-heroes, or heroes with no heroic disposition but had legends of their own, have also been summoned by the corrupted Grail. F/SN Caster is a good example of this.

  11. I won’t call Sola Ui competent from any angle. Sure, she’s a good ‘giver’ of mana (pun intended), but a magus who turns into mush with a hero’s beauty (even if there’s a genuine enchantment), is in no way a good magus.

    • We never learned much about Sola-Ui (other than she was a babe), but to be engaged by Kayneth one would expect her to be strong. It’s stipulated that she fell under Lancer’s curse because she allowed herself to be in a moment of weakness. I think her fault lies with her character and not in her strength and competency as a magus.

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