Manga Review: "Fate/Stay Night," Vol. 1

Updated on October 3, 2019
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

"Fate/Stay Night," Vol. 1 manga cover.
"Fate/Stay Night," Vol. 1 manga cover. | Source

Quick Info

  • Publisher: Viz Select, formerly Tokyopop
  • Published: May 20th, 2014
  • Page Count: 196
  • Availability: Download on Kindle or buy at Amazon or RightStufAnime

Story Summary

Five years after a mysterious fire in the city of Fuyuki, Japan, Shirou Emiya, a survivor of that fire finds himself caught up in a battle royale known as the Fifth Holy Grail War. Now he must fight as a Master, along with his Servant Saber and win the all-powerful wish-granting device.

Fate/Stay Night Is an Odd Manga

I know what you’re thinking, “You sure like reviewing the Fate franchise,” yes, I do like reviewing the Fate franchise. Yes, I do like this franchise, but there are very few written reviews in regards to the manga for this franchise, so I decided to review the manga.

The story starts out similar to all three routes of the Fate/Stay Night visual novel. It still shows Shirou Emiya going through his daily life and being dragged into the Fifth Holy Grail War.

This manga is loosely based on the Fate/Stay Night (2006) anime, not the Unlimited Blade Works (2014) anime or the Heaven’s Feel Trilogy (2017-2020). This was written when Fate was getting popular and not the mainstream powerhouse of a cash cow it is today.

The manga is loosely based on the 2006 a anime of the same name.
The manga is loosely based on the 2006 a anime of the same name. | Source

The Writing Is Decent, but Not Amazing

I’m not going to exaggerate about the writing in this manga. It’s okay, not great, not terrible, but it’s good. It’s coherent and easy to read and understand. It’s not supposed to be deep or thought-provoking, it’s good at what it does, introducing us to the main characters.

A lot of fans overhype the writing in Fate/Stay Night’s Ufotable anime adaptations as amazing and deep, but in the manga, Dat Nishiwaki chose to keep his writing simple and easily accessible.

It’s very clear that he loves the series since he put a lot of effort into both writing and illustrating the manga for Fate/Stay Night. He tried to keep the exciting parts of the anime and visual novel in the manga while still adapting the visual novel in his own way.

Saber vs Lanver
Saber vs Lanver | Source

The Art Is Decent

The artwork and illustrations are good, not amazing, not mind-blowing, just good. Now if you’re expecting amazing artwork and illustrated fights, this manga isn’t really a masterpiece in that regard, the Fate/Zero manga did that better, but it still looks good.

It is a little disappointing that while the art is good, it isn’t amazing. Fate/Stay Night is a decent read as a manga, but there isn’t anything outstanding about the artwork and that’s a shame.

There Is Inconsistent Terminology Between the Anime and Manga Translations

If you’re a big Fate/Stay Night fan like I am you’ve probably watched all the mainline adaptations for the visual novel routes and some of the alternate universe series like Fate/Apocrypha (2017) or Fate/Extra: Last Encore (2018), you’ve probably noticed they all have consistent terminology for certain terms, like “Heroic Spirits," “Mages” and “Command Spell/Seal." Earlier adaptations of Fate/Stay Night aren’t as consistent in using the same terms, as you can tell by the use of “Epic Spirits” and “Command Mantras”.

It may be jarring for new fans of the franchise to read the older manga, because it’s not consistent with newer translations of later manga.

It’s Fun If You Want an Inexpensive Read

Fate/Stay Night is a huge franchise, but the anime can be very expensive, especially the Ufotable adaptations which are very expensive unless you import them from the UK.

The manga adaptation that mainly follows the Fate route is $4.99 per manga volume and that is a nice deal if you want to read a manga series. It’s one of the cheaper titles you can buy.

It might not be the best manga I’ve ever read, but it’s fun for me to take one of my favorite franchises on the road to read in the car on long trips.

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It’s Inexpensive and Enjoyable If You Really Love Fate

This might not be the best Fate manga, but it is fun, if I have to recommend either this or Fate/Zero as your first Fate manga, I recommend Fate/Zero more. But if you’re attached to the Fate route, you’ll definitely enjoy this too. The price tag is also very tempting, but Fate/Zero is the better manga.

If you want to buy the manga it’s a nice read if you just want to read Fate/Stay Night on your Kindle.

Quick Summary

What Works
What Doesn't Work
Great story
It isn't nearly as good as other Fate manga
Decent writing
It isn't a direct adaptation of the visual novel
Decent artwork
Might not please diehard fans
Inexpensive compared to other manga titles
Inconsistent terminology compared to other entries in the franchise

My Grade: B-

The Fate/Stay Night manga is a decent manga in itself is decent but it’s been overshadowed by later manga adaptations of the franchise have better writing and artwork. It is a decent work done by a big Fate fan and I really enjoy this manga.

Despite my own enjoyment of the manga on a personal level, it’s not the most outstanding manga adaptation of this franchise. It is still a lot of fun for me to read, but I can only recommend it to diehard fans that enjoyed the Fate route more than Unlimited Blade Works and Heavens Feel routes.

It is incredibly inexpensive and that can be enticing, especially if you buy digital manga downloads. That is a major plus when it comes to your budget, but it only has good artwork instead of great artwork, it’s a decent manga, but there are so many titles that have better writing that it’s only really for diehard fans of the franchise. And while the fans that have bought it have enjoyed it, it’s not a perfect manga.

I still love it a lot because it allows me to take my favorite franchise on the road to have a fun read and experience something I love in a different way.

I recommend buying the manga if you really love Fate, but it isn’t a perfect adaptation of the source material either so if you don’t like that idea then you don’t have to buy it.

I love it, but it’s definitely not as good as the Fate/Zero manga, but it’s still inexpensive, which might be enticing if you like reading digital manga and you want Fate/Stay Night on the go.

My Rating

4 stars for Manga Review: Fate/Stay Night Volume 1 by Dat Nishiwaki

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