This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (April 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero character|
|First appearance||Fate/stay night|
|Created by||Kinoko Nasu|
Junko Noda (young)
Sam Riegel (Fate/stay night)
Bryce Papenbrook (UBW TV)
Mona Marshall (young)
(adopted father; deceased)
Illyasviel von Einzbern
|Abilities||Projection Magic, Tracing and Reinforcement|
Shirou Emiya (衛宮 士郎 Emiya Shirō) is a fictional character from the Japanese media franchise Fate. He first appears as the main protagonist and narrator of the 2004 visual novel Fate/stay night by Type-Moon, establishing a position as a key character in the greater Fate series.
In Fate/stay night, Shirou becomes unwillingly involved in a conflict between magic users known as the "Holy Grail War". He is an honest and good-hearted teenager who always enjoys helping others and aspires to become a "hero of justice".
An older incarnation of Shirou is also introduced in Fate/stay night who only goes by his surname EMIYA. EMIYA is from an alternate timeline in which Shirou fulfilled his goal of becoming a hero, and the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night places heavy focus on ideological conflict between Shirou and his older self.
Ten years before the start of Fate/stay night, Shirou was an ordinary boy living with his parents in Shinto. A great fire caused by the contents of the Holy Grail spilling out at the end of the Fourth Holy Grail War killed both his parents and left him mortally wounded within the blaze. He was rescued by Kiritsugu Emiya, who was dejected after indirectly causing the fire and, wishing to actually "save" someone for the first time in his life, rescued Shirou by embedding Avalon in his body. He then later asked the recovering Shirou if he would like to become his adopted son, fully disclosing his identity as a magus. Shirou agreed and eventually learned magic during the rest of his childhood. He was advised by Kiritsugu to apply it in secret, where it could only benefit people and not attract confusion or suspicion. The magic Shirou uses was very basic and incomplete, leading him down a dangerous path with little results. Furthermore, and perhaps inadvertently, Kiritsugu passed on to Shirou his philosophy of wishing to be a hero of justice capable of saving anyone.
Five years prior to the Fifth Holy Grail War, Kiritsugu suddenly died, leaving Shirou alone. He was subsequently watched over by Taiga Fujimura, Shirou's longtime neighbor and his English teacher, and his living expenses were managed by her grandfather. He later went to a middle school where he encountered Shinji Matou. Shirou also got closer to Shinji's adopted sister Sakura, as she started to visit his household frequently during a period while he was injured in order to help him cook and clean up the house. Even after he was healed, she continued to come as a member of his surrogate family.
During the events of the Fifth Holy Grail War, Shirou is a teenager with auburn-red hair and golden-brown eyes.
He is often seen wearing his casual clothing, which consists of a blue-and-white long-sleeve baseball jersey T-shirt and blue, slim straight jeans. While in school, he wears his Homurahara Academy uniform, but underneath his jacket uniform, he wears the same long-sleeve T-shirt.
On the outside, Shirou possesses a kind and humble personality. However, deep inside, he is a deeply scarred and broken human after the loss of his entire family. His survivor's guilt is so severe that Ayako has stated that she has never seen Shirou smile, as he believes that he does not deserve to. He feels that, as the only survivor of the fire, it is unfair to the deceased to prioritize his own needs before those of others. He has a distorted sense of values where he only finds self-worth from helping people without any compensation, feeling that the very act "helping people" is its own reward and sees himself as a living sword, meant to be used by others for their own benefit. He believes it is highly unfair that some people survive and others don't. When it comes down to receiving an injury or even giving up his life to help someone, he will do it without a second thought. The people who see this side of him are often very worried and attempt to correct his behavior, though they are unable to change his opinions. Kiritsugu often talked about how he used strive to protect the innocent from the world's many perils, even at the cost of his own humanity, and how he was saddened by the reality that whenever he was able to spare one life, another person was fated to die. Although Kiritsugu was tormented by his inability to save everyone, Shirou always admired his efforts. Right before Kiritsugu's death, Shirou pledged to become a "hero of justice" in Kiritsugu's place and strive to protect everyone at the cost of his own life. Everything that he is thus far is the result of that very pledge. He has made it his dream to become a "hero of justice" who will save everyone regardless of what happens to his own life.
Shirou takes his ideals to the limit during the Fate scenario, where he constantly attempts to protect Saber from harm and keep her from fighting other Servants, despite the fact that she is many times more powerful than he is and that even his odds of mere survival are hopelessly low against those he personally fights. This is because he cannot stand the idea of someone else being harmed for his sake. He never gives up his ideals during the route and injures himself numerous times to uphold it. The route also highlights Shirō as being someone who has been born in the wrong era, painting him as a would-be hero born too late, who would be far happier living as a knight in Camelot or some other ancient time when heroes still existed. Last Episode reveals that the Shirō of this route succeeds in becoming a hero and ascends to Avalon upon proving himself worthy, where he is reunited with his beloved for all of eternity.
In the Unlimited Blade Works route, Shirou, through constant arguing with Archer, begins to see the hypocrisy in his ideals. Though he refuses to give them up entirely, he works his way towards a middle ground where he will strive towards fulfilling ideals, despite knowing they are impossible to achieve.
In the Heaven's Feel route, he faces his largest dilemma, in which he is forced to choose between maintaining his ideals and protecting the life of Sakura, who he falls in love with. He eventually forsakes his ideals and strives only to protect Sakura, though he is presented with conflict a number of times because of this decision. He eventually begins to develop large amounts of self-hate over the things he has done for Sakura, but still fights on so that all those sacrifices won't, from his perspective, become meaningless.
Shirou is extremely stubborn once he sets out to accomplish something, such as spending hours attempting to perform a high jump that is nearly impossible for him. He will stubbornly defend his own viewpoints, no matter how wrong they may seem to others, even to the point of causing them great mental anguish. Though he does his best to help others, if he feels that a person's problems are their own fault, he won't help them.
Creation and conception
In Kinoko Nasu's original Fate/stay night story, Saber and Shirou's genders were swapped. Ayaka Sajyou was the original main protagonist, until Takashi Takeuchi convinced to Nasu to change the setting but leave the essential theme unchanged, adapting the original Saber's personality into Shirō and Ayaka's into Saber.
Nasu describes his writing of Shirou as being based on novels written after the 90s, where the main character suffers from trying to come to terms with his problems in their own narrow perspectives.
In Fate/stay night, Shirou is first drawn into the Holy Grail War after he witnesses the Servants Lancer and Archer fighting at his school. Lancer chases Shirou around the school trying to kill him, adhering to a rule of the Holy Grail War which states bystanders must be killed. Lancer corners Shirou in one of the hallways and mortally wounds him with his Gáe Bolg. Rin Tohsaka, Shirou's classmate and Archer's master, feels guilty about involving Shirou and saves his life using her strongest jewel (a memento given to her by her father). Rin leaves before Shirou wakes up. Shirou, amazed he is still alive, returns to his home and is ambushed by Lancer. Shirou tries to defend himself using a magically reinforced poster, but Lancer easily disarms him. Lancer commends him for his efforts, mentioning he might be the seventh Master, and prepares to finish Shirou off. Before Lancer can kill him, Shirou summons Saber (albeit incompletely), who quickly drives Lancer away using her invisible sword. She then attacks Archer and Rin, who are outside the house, and badly wounds Archer. Saber starts to attack Rin, but Shirou, confused by the situation, stops Saber before she kills Rin. Upon learning about the Holy Grail War, he declares that he has no interest in the Holy Grail and instead despises its use. However, he is determined to win the Holy Grail War with Saber for he hopes his efforts will ensure that another disaster like the fire he survived will never happen again.
In the Fate route, the first manga, and the first anime, he develops feelings for Saber and falls in love with her the moment he sees her; he rarely allows her to fight unless necessary and is set on convincing her that her life meant something. Shirou is unable to comprehend that he is in love with her at first, as he believes he is unworthy of loving or being loved. He is also confused by the fact that her presence is making him think selfishly for the first time in his life. Shirou accepts in this route that there will be evil people that he must kill to protect others. He eventually defeats Kirei Kotomine by stabbing him with the Azoth Sword, a gift Kirei gave to Rin years ago, and does the impossible by resisting Angra Mainyu's corruption, something no Servant besides Gilgamesh had ever accomplished. He then orders Saber to destroy the Holy Grail, causing her to fade away after she professes her love. The Shirou in this route embraces his ideals to the very end. Shirou is the winner of the Grail War in this route. In the Realta Nua version, an epilogue to Fate can be unlocked by getting every ending. Saber goes to Avalon after her death and waits several centuries to see Shirou again. Shirō, rendered immortal by Avalon, endures many hardships in his life and never stops believing that he will find Saber and spends the next fifteen-hundred years protecting the innocent and championing justice however he could. As time goes on, Shirō forgets the War and everyone from his youth, except for Saber, whose memory had become his sole reason to live on. After finally proving himself worthy, Shirō and Saber are joyously reunited in Avalon after Shirō defies the cycle of reincarnation and becomes the last true Hero. The visual novel then ends with a zoomed out image of the two embracing as Saber tearfully welcomes Shirō to his new home.
Unlimited Blade Works
In the Unlimited Blade Works route, the first movie, and the second anime, he falls in love with Rin Tohsaka. He slowly gains the skills and techniques of Archer, and the reason for this is revealed to be Archer being Shirou from a potential future timeline. Archer comes into direct conflict with Shirou as he believes Shirou's ideals are a sham. Because he is a future version of Shirou, he seeks to kill him to cause a contradiction and hopefully end his own existence as a Counter Guardian. Shirou then goes on to defeat Archer and Gilgamesh in single combat after mastering the use of Unlimited Blade Works. In the True End, he and Rin officially enter into a romantic relationship and he joins Rin as her assistant to study at the Mage's Association's Clock Tower in London after graduation. In the Good End, he lives peacefully with Rin and Saber. Rin keeps Saber as her famillar and she and Shirou are in a romantic relationship. Shirou helps maintain Saber as Rin's famillar in this world by sharing mana with Rin when they have sex. The Shirou in this route accepts that his ideals are borrowed, but continues to believe in them. He is not the winner of the Grail War in this route, as he lost his servant and command seals. Instead Rin Tohsaka is the winner of the Grail War.
In the Heaven's Feel route, the second manga and the second movie series, he falls in love with Sakura Matou. He later loses his left arm and Archer's left arm is grafted in its place. He slowly begins to lose his memories and mind due to Archer's arm invading his body. He later helps Rider defeat Saber Alter, cleanses Sakura using a traced version of Rule Breaker, and then engages Kirei Kotomine in a climactic fistfight at the underground site of the Great Holy Grail. He comes out as the survivor, as Kirei's body gave out just as he was about to deal the final blow. In the Normal End, he loses his mind and, robotically acting upon his deeply ingrained desire to save others without regard for himself, traces Excalibur from his final remaining memory (that of Saber). He uses it to destroy the Great Holy Grail and kill Angra Mainyu, ending the Holy Grail Wars for good. He is then mentioned as appearing in the "afterlife" to reunite with the recently deceased Sakura. In the True End, the Great Holy Grail is closed by Illya, precluding his tracing Excalibur. Illya then uses her remaining powers to restore Shirou's soul and encase it in the form of a flower, which is retrieved at a later point in time by Rider. He then lives on peacefully with Sakura and Rider while inhabiting an artificial body made from Illya's remains and the three, along with Rin, go to watch cherry blossoms. The Shirou in this route completely abandons his ideals, choosing to save Sakura over saving innocents, although it is still debated if he gave them up entirely. Shirou is not the "True" winner of the Grail War in this route, as he lost his servant and command seals. Instead Sakura Matou is considered to be the unofficial but "de facto" winner of the Holy Grail War, due to still having her servant and command spells. But due to the War being aborted because of Sakura's rampage, there is no actual winner of the Grail War. However, Kirei Kotomine in his final moments still proclaims Shirou to be the winner.
In the sequel to Fate/stay night, Fate/hollow ataraxia, Shirou is one of the three main protagonists and the narrator of the story. Within this installment, he experiences unexpected changes in personality and momentary lapses in memory, particularly related to his own skills. It is later revealed that this is because "Shirou" is actually connected to Avenger, who is either possessing Shirou or taking his form in the daytime to blend in, but forgets his identity due to Shirou's existence overwriting his own "non-existence", thus causing them to switch places when night falls.
Once Shirō/Avenger discovers the truth, he becomes conflicted, as Shirō, with his naive sense of justice, wants to end the loop while Avenger wants to keep living his days out as Shirō, constantly repeating the cycle so that he can experience, by proxy, the life of a normal boy that he never had. When he finally convinces Bazett to finish the word loop, it is revealed that Shirou being possessed by Avenger was nothing more than a replica of Shirou that Avenger created to realize his personal desire, while the real Shirou and his friends were still present in the real world, in Fuyuki, after the events related to Fate route Fifth Holy Grail War and having passed more than half a year.
Once Avenger finally ends the loop and free Bazett, before completely disappearing Avenger/Grail found the hidden crack that opened with the experiment caused by Rin to use the copy Zelretch's Jeweled Sword which she obtained with the help of Shirou and Illya six months after the Fifth Holy Grail War and using what was left of his power as Grail, Avenger corrected the slot and replaced the original timeline with the one he helped to create in Bazett's mind, thus reviving the Masters and Servants who died or disappeared (in the case of Saber) during the conflict (except Kotomine Kirei) and transferring the memories of all the times when the replicas of Fuyuki people who were present in the world loop made, including the true Shirou, who at the moment was apparently away from Fuyuki City on a mission for the Mage's Association with his partner and (unwanted) admirer Luviagelita Edelfelt. This was so he and his friends would not be suspicious that the Masters and Servants who died more than half a year were killed really and making them think that they survived the end of Fifth Holy Grail War and living with them all this time, with the only people knowing all occurring being only Bazett, Caren, Illya, and Caster. In epilogue, the true Shirō is tricked into allowing Bazett and Caren stay at the Emiya household.
Powers and abilities
Shirou is a magus trained by Kiritsugu Emiya. Differing from a formal magus, Shirou is a Spellcaster who does not follow the normal ways of magi and is thus considered a heretic. As he was adopted into the Emiya family and because of his heretical beliefs, he has no way of inheriting Kiritsugu's Magic Crest, and lacks the innate talent produced through generations of magi striving to develop the best Magic Circuits. His training was informal and aside from sparse knowledge, his adoptive father Kiritsugu taught him little to nothing of magecraft out of fear that Shirō would end up like him, intentionally teaching him incorrectly in an attempt to scare his son away from magecraft. Unlike other Magi, Shirō is a warrior through and through, having trained his body by beating up entire gangs and practicing archery and swordsmanship.
He is an unorthodox magus who uses a very specialized version of Gradation Air or Reinforcement and Projection, a form of magecraft that materializes objects, in accordance to the caster’s imagination, through the use of magical energy. Gradation comes from the fact that the created object slowly fades away after being created, and Air is an allusion to the fact that said object is made out of “nothing”. Reinforcement allows him to analyze the structural composition of an object, and increase its effectiveness, such as making it more durable or its shape more practical, or return it to its original state. He can also use it to improve his body's physical capabilities, such as his eyesight, allowing him to see as far as four kilometers away. Shirou is also very skilled in Structural Grasp Magecraft, which allows him to understand the structure and design of objects as if viewing a blueprint. Projection, while a high level skill, is considered useless compared to Reinforcement due to the higher prana cost, and anything that Shirou initially projects is useless and hollow. Though the objects merely imitate the shape, there are only a few who can identify them as fakes in a first glance. Any practitioner that analyzes composition wouldn't be able to see through them, and even one that works through spiritual mediums would only notice a sense of incongruence.
Shirou is later capable of using Tracing, a higher-level version of Projection that completely copies everything regarding the creation and existence of the object. During the Fate scenario, he slowly learns of it on his own by training with Rin and following Archer's advice: "If you can't defeat it, then imagine what can", while in the Unlimited Blade Works scenario, he learns of it through extensive contact with Archer. He is only effectively able to reproduce swords, other weapons, and armor, but this specialty allows him to faithfully reproduce even legendary weapons. He is capable of reproducing any sword that he has seen, though Noble Phantasms are always one rank below their original strength and armor costs three times the amount of prana, and he is capable of employing its entire history, allowing him to wield any weapon with the same proficiency of its original owner. He has to see the weapons as how their form as final product actually are with his own eyes to reproduce them, as even the blueprint of Kischur Zelretch Schweinorg is not enough to reproduce it, but by seeing it and Caliburn through shared memories of Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern and Saber, he becomes able to fully trace them afterward. If the weapon is not made of materials that exist in the world, such as Ea, he cannot analyze or reproduce it, though he can tell its basic nature, prolonged exposure to weapons like Ea also damage his sanity, as his brain outright rejects the existence of weapons of its kind even as it tries to add it to his Reality Marble. He is also quite capable of creating his own original weapons, should he put his mind to it.
Rather than simply creating his projections in the real world, he actually reproduces them within his Reality Marble, “Unlimited Blade Works” as if he were loading a gun, and then projects them into the real world as if he were firing it. This allows him to prepare dozens of swords at a time for later use. However, Shirou is unable to properly deploy or maintain Unlimited Blade Works due to a shortage of prana, but with a proper contract with a magus with a suitable level of prana, such as Rin, he is capable of using it. If he were to learn about it normally, unlike the situation in Unlimited Blade Works where he learns of it firsthand from Archer, it would take ten years of training to set the foundations for the ability and another ten years to reach to the point of being able to use it. While actually using Unlimited Blade Works, the cost for creating the weapons is greatly diminished and the speed at which they can be created is also increased, allowing him to eventually overwhelm and defeat Gilgamesh and his Gate of Babylon.
Despite being trained more, he will never leave the level of a magus apprentice when it comes to his status as a general practitioner of magecraft. As a specialist magus, however, he would be received as someone on par with his foster-father’s evaluation as a "Magus Killer" with a rank of forty. Shirou's basic training in Magecraft is extremely lacking, so he was left with the idea that he needs to create a new Magic Circuit with each use of Magecraft. He goes through extremely dangerous training, where he constantly faces the risk of death in order to develop a new Circuit. Though his body has twenty-seven high quality natural Magic Circuits, they had been abandoned for his nerves, which he made into makeshift Magic Circuits due to his wrong method of training. Once his real Circuits are awakened, he goes through extreme pain and suffering as his nervous system gets used to the new intake of energy. His newly opened Magic Circuits can barely handle ten units of prana each and will require intense exercise for several years until they can reach their full capacity of roughly fifty units and function as they were supposed to.
Due to having Avalon implanted within his body, which saved his life during the great fire, Shirou has an extremely potent regenerative ability while Saber is summoned due to Excalibur, though it does seem to sustain him even without it as he was able to temporarily survive a fatal blow dealt by Lancer. This allows him to survive numerous fatal wounds and, as revealed in "Last Episode" caused him to become functionally immortal much like Saber. Unlimited Blade Works also seems to protect Shirou by creating blades within his body to reinforce it. He is able to survive a blow to the chest from Rider's dagger, which is repelled as if it is hitting metal, a kick that would have gouged his stomach only knocks him away, and he manages to keep from having his entire body destroyed from an attack by Gilgamesh. The ability seems to go out of control while his body is fully breaking down in the Heaven's Feel scenario, they are constantly being created and protruding from his skin. Having the artifact, implanted in him for many years is also, how, he has an Origin of "Sword" and Elemental Affinity of "Sword". It allows Shirou to manifest his reality marble Unlimited Blade Works and the derivative skills in Reinforcement and Gradation Air or Projection Magecraft. However, this leaves him unable to use magic of the traditional five great elements with precision due to lacking any as an alignment, though it is noted that having an Origin and Elemental Affinity that line up perfectly is insanely rare.
He practices basic sword fighting with Saber, though it amounts to little in actual offensive capabilities. While she teaches him, he cannot use her fighting style as a model. He cannot see exactly how she is attacking and their different physiques makes her impossible to copy. It is shown that he will eventually develop a style similar to Archer's due to their shared preference to dual wield swords.
Appearances in other media
Shirou has appeared in the anime and manga versions of Fate/stay night and the movie Unlimited Blade Works. Shirou also appeared in the game Fate/unlimited codes, released on PS2 and PSP. A Shirou also appeared in Fate/tiger colosseum. He, 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. In addition, Shirou briefly appeared in Fate/Zero, the prequel of Fate/stay night, in which he is shown being saved by Kiritsugu at the end of the series. He with other characters from Tsukihime, Melty Blood, and the rest of the cast of Fate/stay night, also appeared in the T-Moon Complex Doujinshi manga and comics.
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. Urobuchi, asserted that Shirou's relationship with Rin Tohsaka was the more realistic relationship. Furthermore, he states the Fate route could have been told as a story through the ancient Greek views on love.
Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge, however, stated that he liked the development of Shirou across the series, particularly his team-ups with Saber. He shared similar comments when talking about the romantic relationship between him and Saber. Similarly, DVDTalk enjoyed this and claimed, "The Master/Servant relationship is an interesting one."
IGN's Jeff Harris said that Shirou and Saber's growing relationship was Fate/stay night's most interesting plot line and that the romantic tension there between the two is something to look forward to over the course of the rest of the game and animated series.
However the character has met with mixed reception during the release of the games and was facing a lack of acceptance among several fans due to several inferior adaptations of the visual novel, this has continued though from 2004 to today.
- In the first Popularity polls of Fate/stay night in 2004, Shirou was ranked 7th.
- In the second Popularity polls of Fate/stay night in 2006, Shirou was ranked 11th.
- In the Type-Moon's 10th Anniversary Character Poll in 2012, Shirou was ranked 12th.
- "The First Day". Fate/stay night. Series 1. Episode 1.
- TYPE-MOON Ace 7 - 10 year Anniversary interview: Nasu Kinoko X Takeuchi Takashi X Urobuchi Gen
- "Fate/Unlimited Codes - PlayStation Portable - IGN". Psp.ign.com. 2009-08-21. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- "Fate/tiger colosseum". www.capcom.co.jp. Archived from the original on January 23, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
- "Fate / Stay Night Vol. #5". Mania Entertainment. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "Fate / Stay Night Vol. #4". Mania Entertainment. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "Fate/Stay Night 3: Master & Servant". DVD Talk. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- Harris, Jeff (September 6, 2007). "Fate/Stay Night: Volume 3 - Master and Servant". IGN. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
- "Shirou Emiya". The Visual Novel Database.