What You Need to Know Before Watching Fate/Extra


Image source: FateEXTRA_LE on Twitter

2018 will be starting off with a brand new Fate anime series. You might want a bit of backstory before you get into it.

In recent years there has been an influx of Fate-related media, fueled in part by the popularity—and high quality—of the Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works series as well as the explosive popularity of the Fate/Grand Order smartphone game. 2017 alone has had the Fate/Grand Order -First Order-, Fate/Grand Order -Moonlight/Lostroom-, and Fate/Grand Order x Himuro no Tenchi ~7-nin no Saikyō Ijin-Hen OVAs, the Fate/Apocrypha series, and the Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya: Oath Under the Snow and Fate/stay night Heaven’s Feel I. presage flower movies. And that’s just on the anime side. 2018 looks to keep the inertia going with the anime adaptation of Fate/Extra, Fate/Extra: Last Encore.

So, what is Fate/Extra about? For a brief outline, you can always check our handy guide, but that only barely scratches the surface of just how different Fate/Extra is. For this explainer, I’m going to be employing our favorite Disembodied Voice to help out. So, let’s get started.

Your Complete Fate Anime Guide

[Note: This article is written with the assumption that readers are already familiar with the general plot and background of Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works and/or Fate/Zero… Basically how the Holy Grail War works in those series]

So, what’s Fate/Extra: Last Encore?

Fate/Extra: Last Encore is an anime based on Fate/Extra.

Ha ha. What’s Fate/Extra?

The original Fate/Extra is a dungeon crawler RPG for the PlayStation Portable that was released-

Wait, what?

It was a game for the PSP. It even had an English release. You can get it and play it if you want.

I don’t have a PSP.

Not enough people do…

Well, what’s the story about then?

The story of Fate/Extra takes place in the year 2030 in an artificial digital reality called the Moon Cell Automaton—an ancient computer that was discovered on the moon-

Woah! Woah! Woah! Slow down. That doesn’t sound like Fate. Isn’t there supposed to be magic and Servants and a Holy Grail and stuff?

I’ll get to that. Let’s back up a bit and get into some background.

Yes. Please.

Fate/Extra takes place in an alternate reality, similar to that of the Fate/stay night universe. However, during the 1970, an unspecified incident occurred which caused magic to gradually disappear from the world.

As I said, the main story takes place in the year 2030. By this time, all magic is gone from the world.

So there are no more mages?

Not really. Instead there are spirit hackers, called “Wizards”; individuals who have gained the ability of digital spirit conversion and arithmetic processing based on magic theory.

That’s different. So how come there are Servants? I saw the promotional videos.

I’m getting to that. At some point in time, an artifact was discovered on the moon. Regarded as the oldest thing in the solar system, the artifact, called the Moon Cell Automaton, turned out to be a highly advanced computer system that was placed on the moon to observe and record the evolution of life and civilization on Earth. Able to observe all of Earth, the computer was equipped with the capability to rewrite the laws of physics—essentially a wish-granting function—much like the Holy Grail from the other Fate series. It’s this Moon Cell Automaton that allows for the existence of Servants.

So, the Holy Grail war of Fate/Extra is for control of this “Moon Cell Automaton?”

Exactly. Based on the Holy Grail Wars of old, the Moon Cell Automaton summons 128 Wizards who, unlike normal Wizards, have the congenital ability to convert their own souls into digital information. These individuals are called Masters. The 128 Masters are summoned to a digital virtual reality within the Moon Cell Automaton itself where they must battle tournament style until there is only one left. The winner is granted control over the Moon Cell Automaton.

So, it’s like Fate in The Matrix.

It’s like Fate in The Matrix. Except no Bullet Time.

Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

What about the Servants?

The Holy Grail War is managed by a system within the Moon Cell Automaton called Serial Phantasm, or SE.RA.PH for short. SE.RA.PH assigns each Master a companion to fight on their behalf. These companions, or “Servants,” are digital lifeforms created through the Third Magic and are based on myth and legend from human history. They are assigned one of seven specific classes based on their Master’s characteristics.

So that part’s straight out of Fate.

Wouldn’t be a Fate story without it.

So the Masters are just thrown into a virtual arena or something and duke it out?

Actually, no. When summoned to the Moon Cell Automaton, Masters have their memories and personalities wiped clean and are given new memories and roles to play within an initial virtual environment as students in a school called the Tsukumihara Academy. Masters who are able to regain their memories and summon a Servant within the designated trial period of four days are then granted Command Seals and move on to the actual Holy Grail War tournament itself.

The environment set up by SE.RA.PH for the main Holy Grail War is essentially identical to the Tsukumihara Academy but populated by other Masters who all are there to obtain the Moon Cell Automaton for themselves. Masters live within the school while they fight in the Holy Grail War that takes place across roughly 49 days.

49 days!?

Yup. There are seven rounds. Each round has a six day preparation period during which Masters are allowed to try to gather whatever information they can about their upcoming opponents. As already established in other Fate series, knowing the identity of an enemy Servant can expose potential weaknesses and give one the upper hand in battle.

So people have to faff about for 49 days with 127 other people they’re probably going to end up killing?

Sort of. SE.RA.PH also seeds the school with various NPCs; AI characters who are there to support the Masters and maintain the integrity of the Holy Grail War. Some of these NPCs will be characters who have made appearances in previous Fate series as well as some of the Masters. It all facilitates the spirit of the original Holy Grail Wars where people can choose to interact other people, form friendships, and even help each other out in preparation for their battles.

Then there’s no fighting or killing outside of the actual Grail War battles?

While SE.RA.PH can’t control the actions of individual Masters, it is frowned upon. Although, a Master does not forfeit their place in the tournament by attacking another Master outside of a battle. That said, attacking anyone outside of the actual battles will incur harsh penalties. 

So this SE.RA.PH has a better handle over its Holy Grail War than the Church, huh?

While the Masters aren’t controlled by SE.RA.PH, the rest of the world is, meaning that unlike other Holy Grail Wars from other Fate series, there’s no collateral damage of innocent bystanders. Unfortunately, the rules are fairly absolute, which means of the 128 Masters, 127 will die. No exceptions.

Well that’s grim.

Adds a little weight to it, doesn’t it?

Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

Any other differences in the Holy Grail War itself?

There are other various points, but one interesting note is that if either the Master or Servant is killed, it’s basically game over for that team. If the master dies, there is no one to grant a wish for. If the servant dies, there is no way for the master to fight. And unlike the normal Holy Grail War, there is no way to swap masters or servants. Also, during battles, while Masters can attack Servants or each other, Servants can only attack other Servants and not other Masters. Unlike other series where the point is to eliminate other Masters, in Fate/Extra, the point is to eliminate Servants.

If everything takes place in a computer on the moon, what’s going on in the real world?

Things are a lot differences there. It’s pretty much a dystopia where the world is almost entirely under the control of an organization called the Seiou Zaibatsu (Western European Financial Group). The Seiou Zaibatsu functions under the basic principle of sharing all of the world’s resources and finances equally among the people in an ultra-socialist manner and works to preserve the world through absolute control.


There are resisting forces, and many of the Masters in the Fate/Extra Holy Grail War are various resistance members who hope to use the Moon Cell Automaton to take control back from the Seiou Zaibatsu.

Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

Who’s the main character then?

The main protagonist of Fate/Extra is a Master who somehow managed to summon a Servant without regaining their memories. Unlike the other Masters who all have wishes they want granted, all the main character wants to do is survive.

So, who’s the red Saber Servant?

It’s not really much of a secret. In fact, if you’re a Fate/Grand Order player like myself, you already know. But, in the spirit of Fate, I’ll just say you should wait and see.

I saw different versions of Sakura when I was looking around on the internet for Fate/Extra stuff. Like one with huge monster boobs and giant robot hands and one with spikes for feet. What’s that about?

That’s from Fate/Extra CCC, Fate/Extra‘s Heaven’s Feel route. Fate/Extra CCC and Fate/Extella are both subsequent stories in the Fate/Extra universe that you shouldn’t really worry about unless you’ve already gotten through Fate/Extra.

Is there anything else I should know going into Fate/Extra?

You should be all set in terms of basics. 128 Masters and Servants fighting in a tournament for control of what is essentially the Holy Grail. Simple system. Unless of course something unexpected happens…

Oh goody…

Fate/Extra: Last Encore is schedules to air in Japan starting January 27, 2018. There is currently no word on an international release.

Image source: FateEXTRA_LE on Twitter


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