Saber (Fate/stay night)
||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (April 2012)|
|Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero character|
|First appearance||Fate/stay night|
|Created by||Nasu Kinoko|
(Unlimited Blade Works)
(Fate/Zero, Unlimited Blade Works TV)
|Title||King of Britain
King of Knights
|True identity||Artoria Pendragon|
|Master||4th Holy Grail War
Irisviel von Einzbern (by proxy)
5th Holy Grail War
|Abilities||Charisma, instinct, magic resistance, mana burst, riding|
In Fate/stay night, she is Shirou Emiya's servant while in Fate/Zero, she is Kiritsugu Emiya's Servant. An agile and powerful warrior, Saber is loyal, independent, and reserved; she appears cold, but is actually suppressing her emotions to focus on her goals. Her class is considered the "Most Outstanding", with excellent ratings in all categories.
Her full name is Artoria Pendragon, a character inspired by the legends of King Arthur. Artoria is the British King, (fictional) At her nativity, Uther decides to not publicly announce Artoria's birth or gender, fearing his subjects will never accept a woman as a legitimate ruler. She is entrusted by Merlin to a loyal knight, Sir Ector, who raises her as a surrogate son. When Artoria is fifteen, King Uther dies leaving no known eligible heir to the throne. Britain enters a period of turmoil following the growing threat of invasion by the Saxons. Merlin soon approaches Artoria, explaining that the British people will recognize her as a destined ruler if she withdraws Caliburn, a ceremonial sword embedded in a large slab of stone. However, pulling this sword is symbolic of accepting the hardships of a monarch, and Artoria will be responsible for preserving the welfare of her people. Without hesitation and despite her gender, she draws Caliburn and shoulders Britain's mantle of leadership.
Artoria rules Britain from her stronghold in Camelot and earns the reputation of a just, yet distant king. Under the guidance of Merlin and with the aid of her Knights of the Round Table, she guides Britain into an era of prosperity and tranquillity. Caliburn is destroyed, but Artoria soon acquires her holy sword, Excalibur, and Avalon, Excalibur's blessed sheath, from Vivian, the Lady of the Lake. While Avalon is in her possession, Artoria never ages and is immortal in battle.
Despite her immense strength and fighting abilities, Artoria is plagued by feelings of guilt and inferiority throughout her reign; she sacrifices her emotions for the good of Britain, yet many of her subjects and knights become critical of her lack of humanity and cold calculation. Excalibur's scabbard is stolen while she repels an assault along her country's borders; when Artoria returns inland, she discovers Britain is being torn asunder by civil unrest. Despite her valiant efforts to placate the dissent, Artoria is mortally wounded by a traitorous knight, a homunculus born of her blood named Mordred, during the Battle of Camlann. Her dying body is escorted to a holy isle by Morgan le Fay and Sir Bedivere. Artoria orders a grieving Bedivere to dispose of Excalibur by throwing it back to Vivian; in her absence, she reflects on her personal failures, regretting her life as king. Before her last breath, she appeals to the world; in exchange for services as a Heroic Spirit, she asks to be given an opportunity to relive her life, where someone more suitable and effective would lead Britain in her stead.
Saber is a strong-willed young woman who always speaks resolutely. She is courageous, determined, and set on winning the Holy Grail. During the events of Fate/Zero, she expresses great hostility towards Kiritsugu due to their differing viewpoints. Believing strongly in the concept of chivalry and a just war, she often clashes with Kiritsugu whose belief is that all war is inherently evil. By the end of the War, Saber is traumatized by being forced to kill Lancelot, her closest friend, after discovering that he is the war's Berserker class servant. She became obsessed with obtaining the Grail at all costs, but was forced to destroy it by Kiritsugu. Saber, overwhelmed by her guilt and the betrayal of her master, finally breaks down as she is obliterated by the light of the grail and is returned to the blood-soaked battlefields of Camlann.
On the other hand, during the events of Fate/stay night, Saber insists that she is a warrior first and that her gender is of little importance to her. Her stubborn personality is evident when she frequently explains her purpose to Shiro, despite his objections: achieving the Holy Grail through any means.
She is an exceptionally powerful fighter and is often downright merciless towards her opponents. Outside of battle, she is silent, guarded, and ever-vigilant. Saber is one to reject being treated as a girl, due to her putting her duties as King above all else. In spite of this, upon first seeing her, Shiro is instantly mesmerized by her feminine beauty.
Saber's wish is in regard to her duty as King of Britain. After turning into a heroic spirit and seeing her country turn to ruins, she decides that she wants to change the past, thus changing her country's future. This wish is criticized by many characters in Fate/Zero not for being impossible, but for being purely selfish in nature. Saber is willing to sacrifice her own self for her country, but only because of her strong sense of justice and duty, and because of her selfish ideal to try and save everybody, much like Shirou. However, after learning of the Holy Grail's true nature, she finally accepts that her wish cannot be granted and casts it aside in order to save the world that Shirō had summoned her in together with him.
Saber tends to be rather silent in social situations and unwilling to show emotions, as she has suppressed them so strongly and views herself as a knight foremost. However, even though she attempts to hide them, her insecurities become more and more apparent. Later on in Fate/stay night, Saber begins to open up more and show her emotions more easily, especially to Shiro. A prominent theme in Fate/stay night is that, when she became King Arthur, Saber sacrificed what was most important to her: her humanity. It is implied that during her life before becoming the King of Knights, Artoria was a dreamy, idealistic, innocent young girl. Her developing relationship with Shiro is fundamental to the growth of her character, as he is the first person to view and treat Saber as a fellow human being rather than a weapon or a servant. This is in sharp contrast to Kiritsugu, who only saw her as a magus' tool and refused to openly acknowledge her existence. A comedic aspect about her is that she is shown as having a humongous appetite, finishing large servings of rice within minutes.
At the conclusion of the prequel, Fate/Zero, Saber was ordered to destroy the Holy Grail by her then-master, Kiritsugu Emiya via use of a Command Seal, but only succeeded in destroying its physical form and was thus summoned again by Shirō Emiya to fight in the Fifth War during the events of Fate/stay night. In both wars, her wish to the Grail is to redo her life so that a better person would take her place as king of Britain.
In the Fate route of Fate/stay night, Shirō falls in love with Saber. At first, despite reciprocating, Saber refused to accept Shirō's feelings because of her duty to her country being at the foremost as a King. Despite this, Shirō still does his utmost to convince Saber that what happened in the past cannot be changed, and that trying to change it was nothing but a fool's errand. Once she finds out that the Holy Grail she believed to be omnipotent was actually corrupt and causes only death, she accepted that her noble wish was indeed impossible to accomplish, and works with Shirō to save the world she was summoned in. She then destroys the Holy Grail with Excalibur, and after finally accepting Shirō's feelings and confessing her own, is sent back to her original time, dying on the hill. In the Last Episode epilogue, Saber accepts herself for who she is and forgoes becoming a Heroic Spirit so as to wait for Shirō in Avalon, the mystical land where only true heroes may reside. She waits for many lifetimes before Shirō finally earns the right to ascend to Avalon, where the two are finally reunited to be together forever.
In the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, Saber is stabbed by Caster's Rule Breaker, and was forced to become her Servant. Caster then uses her command spell to force Saber to kill Shirō and Rin Tohsaka, but she then shows her extraordinary magical resistance by resisting the absolute binding power of the command spell, giving Rin and Shirō time to escape. After Caster is killed by Archer, Rin then forges a contract with her, becoming her new Master; however, despite being Rin's Servant, she insists that since she was summoned by Shirō and has pledged her allegiance to him, Shirō would still remain her Master. Shirō is then made Saber's Master again after he and Rin perform a tantric ritual to give him the mana he needed to defeat Gilgamesh. She then destroys the Holy Grail with Excalibur. In the Good End of this scenario, she lives on in the world as Rin's familiar. In the True End, she disappears, similar to the Fate Scenario.
In the Heaven's Feel route of Fate/stay night, Saber is consumed by the Holy Grail during a battle with True Assassin and becomes a vastly stronger, corrupted version of her former self, Saber Alter, and a Servant under Sakura Matō. In the Normal End and True End, Saber Alter is defeated and killed by Shirō with the help of Rider after a great deal of internal conflict within Shirō, in which he is forced to kill off his memories of Saber and how she has saved him many times as his Servant in order to kill Saber herself and save Sakura. In one of the bad ends, Saber Alter is defeated by Shirō in one-on-one combat, at the cost of the latter's mind. Saber was, at first, pleased over Shirō's victory over her, but after seeing what the battle cost him, she once again becomes apathetic and announces her victory. Despite this, Saber reveals that she no longer cares about the War or the battle between Rin and Sakura, as "the one who blessed them" is no longer with them.
In the fandisc/sequel, Fate/hollow ataraxia, Saber continues to protect Shirō, though it seems their relationship has turned more towards Saber having the major control over the relationship with Shirō. She kills Archer when he attacks Shirō in one loop. In another loop, Saber is killed by Bazett's Fragrach when she tried to use Excalibur on Bazett. In the final loop of Fate/hollow ataraxia, Saber aids Shirō/Avenger in reaching the Grail by fending off the mysterious monsters (which were in fact leftover parts of Avenger wishing to continue the loop) with other Heroic Spirits. It is also shown that when the stray hair on her head is pulled, she reverts to her Alter form. Saber Alter is portrayed here as being crude and obsessed with fast food and bad food in general, in direct opposition to Saber's love of Shirō's cooking.
Powers and abilities
As a Servant, Saber has some of the characteristics innate to all Servants. She does not strictly need to eat (although she is capable of doing so), surviving on a supply of magical energy from her Master. Her physical attributes are at superhuman levels, and in practice only other Servants can harm her under normal circumstances. She is also capable of limited self-healing, although it is strictly superficial and any deep wounds must be repaired by her Master. She does not age and is immune to conventional diseases, and like all Servants, holds a vast amount of magical energy within her body.
Servants of the Saber class have inherently high magic resistance, and Saber takes this to extremes, being virtually untouchable by modern magi. She also possesses instinct that comes close to precognition and high charisma, which she can use to command an army. She can also use "Mana Burst", which transfers magical energy into her weapon and body, explosively increasing the power of both, although the weapon must have strong divine protection to withstand the energies. She also possesses the innate ability of Riding, allowing her to instinctively ride both ancient and modern transportation with a high degree of skill, which she demonstrates during the events of Fate/Zero. In battle, she uses magical energy to summon a suit of magical armour around her at any time, although she can also choose to convert this armour into energy to strengthen her attacks at the cost of lowered protection.
She possesses the Noble Phantasm Excalibur: Sword of Promised Victory (約束された勝利の剣（エクスカリバー） Ekusukaribā?), a celestial sword constructed by the world from the collective wishes of mankind and fueled through a conversion of Mana into photoelectric energy, allowing a wave of destructive energy to be released from the tip when swung. Another Noble Phantasm she possesses is Invisible Air: Barrier of the Wind King (風王結界（インビジブル・エア） Inbijiburu Ea?), which compresses and gyrates the air around Saber's blade, turning the blade invisible, making it hard for opponents to judge her strikes, and allowing a one-time release of the air in the form of an intense gust.
Her third Noble Phantasm, the scabbard of Excalibur, Avalon: The Everdistant Utopia ((全て遠き理想郷（アヴァロン） Avaron?), bequeaths limited immortality through regenerative stimulation, prevents physical deterioration due to aging, and when activated, is capable of protecting the user from virtually any attack. It was used by Kiritsugu as the catalyst to summon her during the Fourth War, and later implanted into a young Shiro to save his life. She also has a fourth Noble Phantasm, Caliburn: Golden Sword of Assured Victory ((勝利すべき黄金の剣（カリバーン） Karibān?), the sword she initially pulled from the stone as a child. This sword is Saber's favourite, being of a more decorative nature than Excalibur, but was broken during her lifetime. It was Traced by Shirō during the Fate route, manga and anime of Fate/stay night to defeat Berserker.
Appearances in other media
Saber has appeared in the anime and manga versions of Fate/stay night and the movie Unlimited Blade Works. Three of versions of Saber (Saber, Saber Alter, Saber Lily) appeared in the game Fate/unlimited codes, released on PS2 and PSP. A Lion form of Saber also appeared in Fate/tiger colosseum. She, along with other characters from Tsukihime, Melty Blood, and the rest of the cast of Fate/stay night, appears in the 2011 anime Carnival Phantasm. Fate/Zero, another anime adaptation of the novel of the same name, has been released in 2011, with Saber acting as Kiritsugu's servant in the fourth Holy Grail War.
Numerous figures of Saber has been created, including all three forms of her. A keychain replica of her sword has also been made. In the Type-Moon Fes. 10th Anniversary Event, she was ranked 1st amongst all characters created by Type-Moon and has effectively become the Fate franchise's mascot.
Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge liked the development of Saber across the series particularly her team ups with Shiro and Rin. He shared similar comments when talking about the romantic relationship between her and Shiro. Similarly, DVDTalk enjoyed this and claimed "The Master/Servant relationship is an interesting one and though Saber appears to be robotic at times there are glimmers of feelings beneath her cold exterior." Anime News Network's Carlo Santos praised her fight against Lancer in Fate/Zero which served as a good counterpart to expositions in the story. Carl Kimlinger from the same site referred to her and Archer as "The only spices" of the series. Kimlinger later highly praised the character as "Saber alone is worth the price of admission" when watching the series, also commenting on her fight scenes. He added "the results are positively exhilarating, cementing Saber's status as one of the coolest heroines to come down the anime turnpike in quite some time."
Gen Urobuchi believes Saber's relationship with Shirou doesn't seem like a realistic relationship between a male and a female, but a complicated relationship with a boy who became a girl. He further explains that it isn't a relationship fueled by instinct like the relationship between a man and a woman, but a romance of logic between two people who need each other from the heart. He thinks the Fate route could have been told as a story through the ancient Greek views on love. Nasu commented however that the relationship between the two character is more appropriate to be called lovers in comparison to other relationships.
IGN's Jeff Harris said that Shirou and Saber's growing relationship was Fate/Stay Nights's most interesting plotline and that the romantic tension there between the two is something to look forward to over the course of the rest of the series.
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- Harris, Jeff (September 6, 2007). "Fate/Stay Night: Volume 3 - Master and Servant". IGN. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
Saber at The Visual Novel Database