Though on the surface, Fate/Zero may be about mages and their powerful servants fighting for control of the Holy Grail, and with it, a chance at granting their deepest and truest desires, it’s also about the bonds formed because of (and during) this battle.
Yes, there are many examples of bonds that were formed and strengthened due to the fight for the Holy Grail, but there are also many examples of relationships destroyed and corrupted by the same fight. Sometimes, even those who end up with the Holy Grail in hand lose more than they could have ever hoped to gain.
10 The Worst: Kariya Matuo & Zouken Matuo
While Zouken Matuo doesn’t play a significant role in the Holy Grail War itself, he plays a critical role when it comes to ringing in Kariya to become one of the masters.
There is very little that Zouken won’t do to pull Kariya into the fight, but that’s only because he believes that Kariya is his only real chance at getting his grubby old hands on the grail itself. If that means he has to stoop to child abuse, well, what is the life of a small child compared to eternal life?
9 The Best: Kariya Matuo & Sakura Matuo
What’s interesting about the relationship between Kariya and Sakura is that Kariya will seemingly go through any amount of pain and suffering to spare the young girl having to enter the Holy Grail War, despite the fact that he is not her father. In fact, Sakura’s own father sells her to Zouken Matuo and it is Kariya’s actions that eventually spare the young girl from the abuse of the old man.
The physical and mental torment alongside everything he must go through during the course of the Holy Grail War makes Kariya’s relationship to Sakura one that many in the world of Fate/Zero would be lucky to have.
8 the worst: Kiritsugu Emiya & Kirei Kotomine
For being complete opposites when it comes to why they are actually seeking the Holy Grail, Kiritsugu and Kirei certainly have a lot in common. While Kiritsugu seeks the Holy Grail in order to make the world a better and safer place, Kirei is really only looking out for himself.
Though Kiritsugu is willing to kill and destroy just about anyone and anything for the sake of his goal, at least his is an admirable one. Kirei and Kiritsugu are perhaps two of the most similar characters in the series, which is likely why they both cause so much pain and damage to the other.
7 the best: Kiritsugu Emita & Illyasviel Von Einzbern
For the better part of the Holy Grail War, viewers see Kiritsugu as a cold, calculating master set only on winning the Holy Grail in order to achieve his greatest wish. In stark contrast to this, however, are every one of his scenes with his daughter, Illyasviel von Einzbern.
When fans see Kiritsugu with Illyasviel, he is seemingly the perfect father. He is kind, attentive, and understanding nearly to a fault. Though Kiritsugu and Illyasviel don’t get much time together on screen, it’s easy to see why the bonds of their love extend even to the Fifth Holy Grail War.
6 the worst: Zouken Matuo & Sakura Matuo
When the relationship starts with Sakura’s father selling her to Zouken Matuo, it’s pretty easy to guess that this relationship is not one that will go down in the history books as anything but horrendous. Zouken purchases Sakura for only two reasons. The first reason is to use her as a sort of bargaining chip to get Kariya to participate in the Holy Grail War on his behalf and win the Grail for him.
The second is to use her magical ability and force her to participate in the war herself in order to achieve the same outcome. Either way, when Zouken is involved, it’s almost impossible for it to be anything other than a toxic relationship.
5 the best: Waver Velvet & Rider (Alexander The Great)
Among the masters and servants that participate in the Fourth Holy Grail War, Waver Velvet and his servant Rider (Alexander The Great) are perhaps the most unique in their dynamic. Waver is a young and inexperienced mage who doesn’t really have a handle on the war, his servant, or the situation as a whole.
Rider, on the other hand, is perfectly at home in the Holy Grail War. Throughout their time together, Rider teaches Waver a lot about what it means to be a man, how to fight honorably, and how to live honorably. Waver, though young and overly-ambitious, learns quite a lot from his time with Rider.
4 the worst: Archer (Gilgamesh) & Saber (Altria Pendragon)
There are a number of characters in Fate/Zero that fans just know whoever they are in a relationship with, it is likely toxic for the other party. Archer (Gilgamesh) is one of those characters. His obsession with Saber (Altria Pendragon) and his neverending fight to win the Holy Grail is something that often negatively affects Saber.
If, among the masters, Kirei Kotomine is the main antagonist to Kiritsugu Emiya’s protagonist, then among the servants, Archer plays the antagonist to Sabers protagonist.
3 the best: Uryuu Ryuunosuke & Caster (Gilles De Rais)
Sure, the relationship between Uryu Ryuunosuke and Caster (Gilles De Rais) is incredibly toxic for pretty much anyone that comes into their line of sight, but between the two of them, their relationship is actually pretty healthy; at least, as healthy as a relationship between two homicidal maniacs can be.
The relationship between Caster and Uryu can be viewed as a dark mirror to the relationship between Rider and Waver. Caster plays a mentor role to Uryu and is oftentimes leading him to greater heights in their shared passion.
2 the worst: Kirei Kotomine & Tokiomi Tohsaka
Kirei Kotomine is another one of those characters in Fate/Zero where regardless of who he is in a relationship with, it’s going to end badly for the other party. Tokiomi Tohsaka is a prime example of this.
Not only do Tokiomi and Kirei start off the series as friends and allies, but by the end of the series, Kirei has killed Tokiomi in order to advance his own goals. Kirei doesn’t even wait that long to kill him. He doesn’t even really try to find any other options, just bang. Dead. Done. And on to the next one.
1 the best: Saber (Altria Pendragon) & Lancer (Diarmuid Ua Duibhne)
It’s surprising that even during a conflict like the Holy Grail War that servants on opposing sides, with opposing goals, can find common ground and even share a kinship with one another. From the very first time they meet, Lancer (Diarmuid Ua Duibhne) and Archer (Altria Pendragon) are clearly cut from the same cloth.
They’re both incredibly respectful and honorable during their battles, both living by a code of honor that meshes well with the other. They may be fighting for different masters, but like their time on Earth as humans, they don’t let something as small as war get between them and their honor.
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