The new Fate anime starts this season, and we've got a primer to get you ready for it!
Fate fans, it's a time to rejoice, because is Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia starting this season! This will be the first time that the massively popular mobile game is getting a full anime adaptation. Previously, the first part of the story, the game's prologue, was adapted into Fate/Grand Order First Order, a single 45-minute long episode.
There's one problem for people, both new to Fate and coming from First Order though. In Fate/Grand Order, the Babylonia arc is either the seventh or eighth Singularity, depending on whether you count Fuyuki (which First Order adapted) or Orleans as the first. There's clearly a lot of story that happens in the middle, none of which has recieved an anime adaptation yet. Since a large chunk of the game is essentially a visual novel, anyone trying to play it to get up to speed in time for the anime will need to spend a week or two doing almost nothing but playing the game to get to Babylonia. Alternatively, you can read this brief-ish explanation of each of the Fate/Grand Order Singularities, then go watch episode 0 of Babylonia.
First of all, there's several basics about the story that you need to know about: who's important, what is Chaldea, and some of the more important terms that come up a lot.
- Singularity - A part of human history that has some kind of irregularity that isn't supposed to happen. If the irregularity isn't fixed, the foundation of humanity will crumble and all of human civilization will end.
- Chaldea - The organization/facility where the game takes place. Essentially the headquarters or home base of the good guys.
- Rayshift - Simply put: time travel.
- Holy Grail - A reservoir of magical energy so enormous that it can grant any wish. Generally, each Singularity has one.
- Servant - All of the famous historical figures that either work for or fight against the main character. There are some subcategories, like Divine Spirit and Heroic Spirit, based mainly on the figure's origin.
- Master - A mage in command of a Servant.
- Command Seal - A set of three powerful spells that compel a Servant to act in a specific way. Can also just give a lot of magic energy to a Servant or Master.
- Ritsuka Fujimaru - The player character (for those coming from the game, it’s Gudao), and final Master of Chaldea. Chosen as a Master candidate but in the Commoner’s Block, so not a first pick.
- Mash Kyrielight - A girl living in Chaldea and the first successful Demi-Servant, a human fused with a Servant. She is also the only Servant of the Shielder class.
- Lev Lainur - One of the engineers in Chaldea and a major player in building the facility in the first place.
- Romani “Roman” Archeman - Chief medical officer of Chaldea.
- Marie Olga Animusphere - Director of Chaldea.
- Leonardo Da Vinci - Genius inventor and Roman’s effective second in command.
- Sheba - A lens invented by Lev to use in conjunction with Chaldeas to view precise locations and times in the past and future.
- Chaldeas - A miniature perfectly accurate replica of Earth made using the soul of the planet as the foundation and base.
- Trismegistus - The Spiritron Collection Engine, a.k.a. the part of Chaldea that allows Masters to rayshift.
- Laplace - Used alongside Trismegistus to ensure safe rayshifting. Also monitors the past and collects records of what it finds.
- Coffins - Tubes that Masters enter to be rayshifted. Can also be used as stasis pods in an emergency.
- Fate - The Servant summoning system, patterned after the system used in the Fuyuki Grail Wars.
That's... probably not good.
Let's start with a recap of Singularity F, which First Order adapted and which sets up the overall plot of the game and many of the most important characters. You can either read up or watch the episode yourself; just be sure to swing back here for the First Singularity!
We meet Fujimaru, one of the mages selected to become a Master and test the Chaldea facility, which uses a mixture of technology and magecraft to see the past, and potentially travel back in time. Travelling to the future may be possible, depending on if you consider limited time events in Fate/Grand Order to be canon to the story. While wandering around Fujimaru comes across Mash, a girl who isn’t one of the Master candidates, she's been at Chaldea for longer than the others. Fou is also introduced, a white-haired squirrel-like creature whose existence is never really explained in the first six Singularities before Babylonia. Just embrace the cute furry creature and go along with it! The group also runs into Lev, Marie and Roman along the way.
Then Chaldeas goes dark and Sheba can't see anything, meaning that something happened that will cause humanity to go extinct. That's not good... The Chaldea staff also detect a part of the past that shouldn’t exist, likely the cause of humanity’s extinction. Thus, Marie calls on all of the Master candidates to rayshift to the site of the singularity, Fuyuki City. For those new to the Fate series, Fuyuki is where the Holy Grail Wars of Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night, the progenitor of the franchise, occurred.
Welcome to Fuyuki. Don't worry, it's just a gas leak.
After an explosion, all of the Master candidates except Fujimaru are either killed or injured enough that they need to be kept in cryostasis in their Coffins. As Mash is also dying, she and Fujimaru Rayshift to Fuyuki (how they do this without being in a Coffin is never really explained). Once there, Mash reveals that she is a Demi-Servant by transforming and protecting Fujimaru with a giant shield. As the pair travel throughout the city, they come across Marie, and Roman reveals that Chaldea can talk to the past directly as long as communications are set up on a leyline. How handy!
With the group assembled, they go in search of the Singularity’s cause. Eventually, they defeat Saber Alter from Fate/Stay Night and fix the Singularity. However, in a nasty twist, Lev reveals that it was his plan to kill off humanity, and sends Marie flying into Chaldeas via a portal he opened up to the present, annihilating her, before leaving. Oof... way to make an exit... With the Singularity resolved and Lev gone, Roman rayshifts Mash and Fujimaru back to Chaldea, taking over as acting Director and saying that the remaining staff had located another seven Singularities for the pair to eliminate in order to save humanity.
Singularity 1: Orleans
The Grand Order begins.
In Orleans, the “Dragon Witch” Jeanne d’Arc Alter summons a variety of Servants to attack France as retribution for burning her alive. For each Singularity, the majority of the story is self-contained or only briefly references past Singularities, however there is always something added to the overarching story of F/GO, as well.
Orleans’ main connection to the main story is in setting up the basic cycle of Singularities, such as how the logistics of supplies and communications work, the ring of light in the sky that no one in Chaldea can detect, having stray Servants around that do not require a master, and the start of the strong bond of trust between Mash and Fujimaru. Oh, and Fou tagging along for absolutely no reason, because why not? In each rayshift, the pair go to the past then wander around until the come across something that doesn’t fit with accurate history, normally something involving a Servant in some capacity.
This is also when the audience meets the last of the major recurring cast, Leonardo Da Vinci, who looks like the Mona Lisa for no actually explained reason and acts as Roman’s second in command, giving the player exposition during down times. After resolving the Singularity, Mash confirms that they did not find Lev during their search, so he was probably hiding in one of the remaining six.
Singularity 2: Septem
What, did you think Emporer Nero would be a guy? This is Fate!
Next, Mash and Fujimaru go to the Roman Empire and meet Emperor Nero, who existing fans of Fate might recognize from Fate/Extra Last Encore, although this version is supposed to be the actual emperor, rather than a simulation on the Moon. It turns out that the Roman Empire has been split into two, with one side being Nero and the normal Empire, and the other being the United Empire, which has the various previous emperors and other Servants Lev summoned to kill Nero. It also introduces the idea of Divine Spirits, gods without all of their normal power or Authority. In brief, Authority is the extra power a god has above normal Servants that makes them effectively invincible.
When the group meets Lev, he mentions that Mash seems to be getting stronger, and also talks about how if not for the Chaldea team, he would already be back at some kind of Temple. He also mentioned something about “our king,” but does not elaborate before turning into a literal demon and revealing that he is one of the 72 Demon Gods, Flauros. Based on the term “72 Demon Gods,” Roman seems to have some idea who the king might be, but says that there is not enough information.
After being defeated, Lev mentions offhandedly that his cells die off while away from the Temple, so he is not at full strength, and that he had been entrusted with the mission to incinerate the future, but that in case there were problems that they had a contingency plan. As a final effort, Lev summons a new Servant, who promptly kills him. Ouch!
Singularity 3: Okeanos
Still not even close to the silliest design in the franchise.
The Okeanos Singularity starts differently that the previous ones. Instead of Fujimaru waking up and going to the Command Center, there is an extra cutscene of Roman’s silhouette talking to someone called “Second,” who’s narration shows that whenever they wake up, they reaffirm that they are alive, and are grateful just to be able to do so.
Once the normal party of Roman, Da Vinci, Mash and Fujimaru convene to discuss the previous Singularity, Da Vinci reveals that the 72 Demon Gods were familiars of an ancient king of Israel, the greatest summoner in history, but the discussion then turns toward there not being enough information to make a definite call. After the rayshift to the next Singularity, Mash and Fujimaru appear in the middle of an ocean on a pirate ship, with only a few scattered islands nearby. After much searching and shenanigans, the main plot of the Singularity becomes Jason (of the Argonauts) trying to conquer the world by stealing the Ark from David. Even by Fate standards, this one’s a bit strange!
The main plot comes back in when Jason is transformed into one of the Demon Gods. Whn this happens, David mentions “Solomon’s Demon Gods.” The battle comes to a close, and David cannot confirm whether the enemies they're fighting are actually Demon Gods or not. He also can't confirm whether they are the same Demon Gods that Solomon summoned or not, despite Solomon being his son. Afterwards, Roman details more about Solomon’s history.
Singularity 4: London
And this is London AFTER fixing the Singularity.
At the start of the London Singularity, in the normal Command Room briefing Roman confirms that after observing the time period, there were no Singularities around the time of King Solomon. If he had used the 72 Demon Gods summoning spell to cause the end of humanity, they would’ve been able to detect it. However, Da Vinci raises the counterpoint that if Solomon was summoned as a Servant, the spell could’ve been from any era, so they wouldn’t detect it nearly as easily. As they're getting ready, Da Vinci mentions some neat info, like how they were the third Servant summoned at the facility; Mash was the second one, and no one knows who the first was. With that, it's time to rayshift to London! Everything is covered in a thick fog that it lethal to normal humans. Fujimaru is safe due to sharing a poison resistance ability with Mash. Complicating matters, the fog makes it impossible for Chaldea to give the team any warning about approaching enemies. Things could get a bit hairy.
Since the source of the irregularity is pretty clear, humans literally can't go outside without dying, the brunt of the Singularity’s story is about tracking down whoever is causing the deadly fog. Mash begins to worry about not being able to unleash her Noble Phantasm’s full power due to not knowing its name. Mordred, a knight of the Round Table, teaches her better battle habits. Eventually, when the team fights the steam-powered robot Charles Babbage, he reveals that the reason he helped create the fog was to protect humanity from incineration. Roman later speculates that since even Chaldea was having trouble detecting anything in the fog, Servants would also have a difficult time, which might help to protect any remaining humans.
Okay, there's Tesla (seriously), so where's Edison?
The group later found Babbage’s steam engine, the source of the fog, and they also run into Makiri Zolgen, another Demon God like Lev, who also mentions “our king.” He then transforms into his Demon God form, Barbatos. As they go to collect the Holy Grail, collapsing the Singularity, King Solomon appears, stating that he is one of the Grand seven heroic spirits (specifically, he is the Grand Caster), the one who summoned the 72 Demon Gods and is so powerful that he summoned himself, without any Master. He also reveals that the circle of light in the sky of each Singularity is his third Noble Phantasm.
After Solomon leaves, not even close to being defeated, Da Vinci rayshifts the Mash and Fujimaru back to Chaldea, where Roman can barely function until Mash snaps him out of it, leading into the next Singularity: E Pleribus Unum.
Singularity 5: America
Fate, go home, you're drunk.
This Singularity starts with another scene from Second, reaffirming that they are alive, and Roman saying that they are almost well enough to become Chaldea staff. Second expresses a desire to see the outside world. This time, the game also confirms more explicitly that Fujimaru is viewing these interactions via a dream. During the Command Room briefing, Da Vinci admits that they have no idea how to even track Solomon, let alone defeat him. Roman also confirms that even if they defeat the other 69 Demon Gods, Solomon can just replenish them due to the summoning spell. Well, that's lovely!
When the Chaldea pair rayshift to the America Singularity it’s a year before the end of the American Revolutionary War with England. Instead of the historically accurate war though, the country is divided in half in a massive civil war between the East and West, with the Western States led by Presi-King Thomas Edison, a lion-headed crystallization of all US presidents leading an army of robotic soldiers The East is led by Queen Mebd and her Celtic forces.
Granted, history wasn't my strongest subject, but I don't remember THAT being in the American Civil War.
They run into a bit of an issue though. Edison doesn’t want them to collect the Holy Grail and collapse the Singularity. Instead, he believes that he can prevent the incineration of humanity by taking the Grail himself and creating a new timeline at the cost of destroying all of the other eras. It's time to persuade him to reconsider... through battle! After defeating and joining forces with Edison, the group splits into a northern and southern army, to split the Celtic forces. During this fight, the wizard Merlin appears, helping give the Chaldea side an edge. Before disappearing, he says to keep looking after Cath Palug.
The Chaldea team defeats Medb, but not before she summons 28 Demon Gods. They really have their work cut out for them! The battles and Singularity come to an end and the pair go back to Chaldea. Though, something's not quite right with Mash... While going back to their rooms, Mash collapses in the middle of a hallway!
Singularity 6: Camelot
Things have escalated.
The Camelot Singularity begins with the usual cutscene hinting at the story to come, followed by a scene from Second's perspective. Interestingly enough, Second outright calls herself Mash Kyrielight, and Roman is finally taken out of silhouette. Additionally, the player learns a bit more about Mash from before the two met by hearing how she thinks and what she desires. This is also the first time we're hearing about Mash not having a normal lifespan, as she was created with a predetermined lifespan. In addition to that, due to being artificially created, she cannot live outside of Chaldea’s environment.
According to Roman, the creators of Chaldea used children in experiments to fuse them with Servants in an attempt to more safely harness the Servants’ powers. In the same discussion, Roman discloses that after the experiments were dicontinued due to being unethical (you got that right!), the previous director was found dead in his office a year later, apparently due to suicide, leading to Marie taking over the role.
At the end of the speech, Roman mentions that Mash has a year at most before she dies, and that Mash herself likely doesn’t know that. Mash then comes into the Command Room after her checkup due to passing out at the end of the previous Singularity, apologizing for being late.
As the normal briefing commences, Roman reveals that the Sixth Singularity is in Jerusalem, just after the 9th crusade. Something stranger than usual with this particular Singularity is that it doesn’t exist in the normal sense. Rather, it is trying to separate itself from the rest of humanity. Due to the odd nature, for the first time Da Vinci joins the rayshift team.
Jerusalem... isn't doing well.
When the team first rayshifts, the player has a difficult time breathing, due to the mana density in the air. Da Vinci, being a genius, had already made a mask to help alleviate the problem. How thoughtful! While driving around the desert in another of Da Vinci's inventions, Da Vinci also name drops that the previous director of Chaldea was Marisbury Animusphere.
The overall plot of the Camelot Singularity is solving something of a deadlock between three factions. First, the Hassans, assassins also known as the Old Men of the Mountain, trying to protect the civilians living in the mountains by fighting off invaders. Second, the Pharaohs, specifically Sun King Ozymandias and Nitocris, who generally stay in the desert to the west but will attack anything that comes near them and who’s beasts roam the land. Finally, the Knights of the Round Table and supporting enforcement knights, all led by the Lion King coming from the Holy City of Camelot, where Jerusalem once stood before the Lion King eliminated all of the crusaders and made a new city six months beforehand.
The various knights leave the city in search of people deemed worthy of entering, and even on the outside, the city is known as a paradise where no one is ever hungry. Unfortunately, almost no one is ever found worthy of entering, and all who fail are killed. Also, it turns out that the walls of the city are the Lion King’s Noble Phantasm, the holy lance Rhongomyniad, also known as the tower at the ends of the world. As a result, when the city fills and the Lion King’s plan is complete, the rest of the world will be destroyed, so that only the city remains.
The Lion King, who turns out to be King Arthur herself, Saber from Fate/Stay Night, knows about the incineration of humanity and so decided to relinquish Excalibur and instead pick up the lance, giving her the power to separate the area from the rest of humanity, thus protecting it from incineration, much like Edison’s plan from the previous Singularity. And we all know how that went! As a side effect to using the lance, she has also begun to age, and has become a Divine Spirit.
While relaxing after saving villagers from the knights, one of the Servants travelling with the Chaldea team reveals that whatever Servant fused with Mash when she became a Demi-Servant is a knight of the Round Table! It's later revealed during the discussion of the nature of Camelot as part of Rhongomyniad, that the name of that Servant is Gallahad.
Our crew learns that the Atlas Institute (one of the groups that helped get Chaldea on its feet when it was being founded) made seven weapons that could destroy the world, and subsequently locked them away. To add on to that, the Institute’s main rule was that there was no taboo on what could be created inside, but nothing could be brought outside, save for seven special contracts for the Institute to work with other organizations. As of 2000, only four of the contracts had been discovered.
At the Atlas Institute, Sherlock Holmes is the first person to mention how strange it is that the player can hold so many contracted Servants, and for such a long time too; normally Servants are only summoned temporarily and generally only with one or two Servants per Master. While researching in the Institute, Holmes uncovers information about the Fuyuki Grail War, and finds that Marisbury was one of the Masters who defeated the other six to win the Grail... But his wish was not recorded. Further research in the archive reveals that Marisbury’s assistant during the War was Roman, but that Roman’s own personal history is unknown. Continuing his research, Holmes discovers the aforementioned information about Galahad and Rhongomyniad.
Oh, and in the middle of everything, someone decided that the game needed a Dark Souls boss.
Our crew leaves the Institute, but not without Holmes giving one final riddle: Why did Solomon’s plan activate in 2018? Why did he wait so long, and why not wait longer? Even Holmes only has a theory or two that he hopes are incorrect. While talking to Da Vinci on the way to confront Ozymandias for assistance, Da Vinci unveils that Roman is hiding something on par with a Holy Grail. What is it exactly? That's not mentioned, however, Da Vinci mentions that if he uses it, he’ll disappear. Welp.
In the final act of the Singularity, the Chaldea team leads a force of several thousand villagers, the Hassans, the Pharaohs, a faction of the Knights of the Round Table, and various other Servants gathered along the way in an attack against Camelot. After they break through the front gate, the world begins to collapse as the Lion King activates the tower at the end of the world. Ozymandias and Nitocris stop the activation by launching multiple long range volleys of magic energy, including Ozymandias’s Noble Phantasm, sacrificing themselves in the process.
The Lion King's throne, just before the final battle.
The group confronts the Lion King, but her power is so great that she is even able to blow away Sheba, preventing Chaldea from seeing the rest of the fight. Mash unleashes Lord Camelot to protect against Rhongomyniad, Merlin is quick to comment on the fight. He asks Bedivere, one of the Servants who had been travelling with the group, to continue fighting. This is also when Merlin reveals that Bedivere's false arm is Excalibur and that he wiped Bedivere from the Lion King's memory to make it easier to fight throughout the Singularity.
While Mash has her hands full defending the group, Bedivere instructs her on how to use her Noble Phantasm; it's a mental construct, so that as long as her will doesn’t waver, neither will the walls of Camelot. Bedivere then returns Excalibur to Artoria and dies, ending 1,500 years of atonement for not being able to give the sword back to the Lady of the Lake and thus forcing Artoria to be unable to die, the Singularity collapses. As a parting gift, Artoria tells the team that Solomon’s temple exists outside the flow of normal time. Only the seventh Holy Grail can tell them where to find it, as it’s the only one the Solomon himself sent to the past, which in turn means that the Seventh Singularity is further in the past than King Solomon’s own era. She also warns that in the last Singularity is a monster even greater than Solomon, one of the original sins of mankind.
The team makes it back to Chaldea, and Roman announces that they’ve located the final Singularity, located in 2,600 B.C., also known as the Age of Gods: Mesopotamia. Due to how far back in time the Singularity is, the rayshift will be significantly more difficult, and the era means that the likes of demons and gods were commonplace, so it will likely be more dangerous than before.
Singularity 7: Babylonia
That brings everyone up to speed on the story of Fate/Grand Order up to the Seventh Singularity, Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia.
Here’s what we know about the Singularity going in:
- It is further in the past than any other previous Singularity. As a result, it is likely to be more dangerous, due to gods and demons likely being present.
- It is the last known Singularity to restore humanity (although Solomon will likely need to be defeated to truly stop the incineration of humanity).
- If the mission is successful, retrieving the Holy Grail will provide a way to find the Grand Caster Solomon’s temple, allowing the Chaldea team to fight the main antagonist.
- Something is waiting in the Singularity that may be even more powerful than Solomon.
- Roman is hiding something with power equal to a Holy Grail.
- Mash has a year at most to live.
Observant viewers can gleam some details from the trailers, such as some characters, but other than that, much of what is to come is unknown. Even those who have already played the game aren't entirely sure what to expect, as even the first episode has scenes that are anime-exclusive, and various game scenes have either been moved to later or given much more context via the continuous nature of an animation versus a visual novel. We hope that you find yourself now fully prepared to venture into the Seventh Singularity!
What do you think is going to happen in the Seventh Singularity? If you know what’s coming, what is something that you would’ve liked to see? Comment below, but try to keep it spoiler-free for the people experiencing the story for the first time!
Kevin Matyi is a freelance features writer for Crunchyroll. He's been watching anime for as long as he can remember, and his favorite shows tend to be shonen and other action series.
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