The protagonist of Fate/Stay Night has been referred to as basic and dull, but he possesses a complexity that has gone unnoticed.
Some franchises have so many strong characters that the main character can get lost in a sea of more interesting plot lines. The Fate franchise is one of these franchises with a tonne of secondary and tertiary characters, but don’t forget about the protagonist who started it all, Shiou Emiya.
After the 2004 debut of the visual novel Fate/Stay Night, which quickly gained popularity, a variety of multimedia sequels, prequels, and spinoffs were created.
The icons that sprang from this story are legendary, but the protagonist has a reputation for receiving a mixed response; while he has received a lot more affection recently, it is still insufficient. At first glance, Shirou Emiya appears to be a humorous figure in a society where they are supposedly a very significant person. Someone on the outside looking in might mistake a reasonably unremarkable man with red hair and a blue and white baseball for your usual audience insert character.
A typical traumatized) guy Shirou Emiya
Shirou used to be considered something of a meme in the general public’s perception of Fate, possibly even as a basic visual novel archetype that didn’t require additional investigation. He became known for inadvertently funny quotes like “People die when they are killed” and “Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you’re wrong.” And for a long, up to the release of Unlimited Blade Works in 2015, this mindset would be rather prevalent, but there were many advocating a more complex interpretation of Shirou.
He might appear as generic or uninteresting, lacking the kind of instantly alluring qualities that viewers have come to expect from well-known series that like to debut their protagonists with style.
Shirou intentionally chooses to be very understated, which accounts for everything that makes him seem like the main character and a hero in the world he dwells in. Conveniently, Shirou’s story picks up where 2011’s Fate/Zero leaves off. There will be minor spoilers for that story’s conclusion. The Fourth Holy Grail War concluded at the end of Zero, but not before a catastrophe that left much of Fuyuki City in ruins and claimed hundreds of lives.
Shirou was rescued by Kiritsugu Emiya amid the fire that destroyed everything and was later adopted by him. Shirou is trying to become a “hero of justice” as Fate/Stay Night starts because his father has already died away.
He practices magic alone in his leisure time, although he isn’t particularly good at it. Despite being in physical peak shape, he doesn’t show it off or pick fights, not even with bullies such as Shinji Matou.
He desperately wants to live out his heroic childhood ideal, but at the start of the novel, he doesn’t even know what the Holy Grail War is. He may have stood out because of his physical strength, his desire to be a hero or his magical talents, but he has no reason to mention any of those things. He’s just trying to live a normal life, and the only way he knows how to be a hero is to help others in simple, understandable ways. He’s also being somewhat reserved since he’s burying his pain, which is another reason why he’s hiding the attributes that make him the perfect protagonist.
Shirou suffers from survivor’s guilt and feels compelled to help others in any way he can, as though his life is on borrowed time because of all the other people who perished in the fire that nearly killed him. What’s the use of having survived and being saved if he can’t save others? Depending on the route from the VN, Shirou’s character development diverges into three distinct directions from this conundrum.
Shirou Emiya’s Three Paths
The plot in Fate/Stay Night is unique since each of the three routes that are encountered one at a time takes place in the same period, and has the same characters, but takes a different turn.
Shirou’s dream served as the inspiration for the stories told along The Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, and Heaven’s Feel pathways. The Fate route, which prioritizes lore and world-building, is maybe the easiest but is no less popular. By the conclusion of it, his philosophy hasn’t altered much, and after accepting a call to an adventure as epic as the Grail War, he strives to become a hero of justice. Studio Deen used this route as its model in 2006.
It became the appropriate studio to adapt Fate to many after Fate/success, Zero’s so they did so for the second and third paths. These paths put Shirou’s morality to the test in various, deeply personal ways, forcing him to reconsider or uphold his principles.
In Unlimited Blade Works, Shirou encounters a glimpse of his potential future self should he fail in his futile quest to become a hero who rescues everyone. Shirou is advised to give up on his ambition and quit it, but despite everything, he decides that just though he can’t save everyone, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t attempt to save as many as he can.
The third and final path, Heaven’s Feel, defies Shirou’s worldview and confronts them with a peril that is more personally significant to him than any other. Here, Shirou partially renounces his ideal while, in other instances, just viewing it from a different angle. He might not be able to save everyone as a hero.
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