In that sense, it is fortuitous Rin was alive and untainted once the Fourth War concluded, thus taking it upon herself to become the magus her family had never been able to reproduce. Sakura would suffer eleven years of abuse from Zouken and the lust-worms as well as rape, mainly from Shinji due to his perpetual jealousy. The actions between the two in Fate and Unlimited Blade Works did indicate that it was happening, but amazingly no one else noticed, or at least how sinister it was. Sakura would kill her heart and feelings in an effort to endure the evils inflicted upon her. Rin knew Sakura was probably in some form of harm, but she didn't know the degree due to the secret nature of the Matou's powers. Nor was she in a position to be able to help Sakura or even talk to her. The two sisters were separated and Sakura was doomed to a hell no one would ever save her from.
Or so Zouken thought...Four years before the Fifth War came an event that would ultimately affect Sakura and Rin and be the gradual trigger for Sakura's salvation. In middle school one day, Sakura watched a boy spend three hours trying to clear a high jump. Sakura couldn't help but admire how the boy never gave up. Yes, the boy was Shirou but he never knew this until Sakura told him early in Heavens Feel. What neither knew was that Rin also saw Shirou that day and it had a lingering effect on her, since Rin and Shirou have very different approaches and motivations.
The Einzberns were furious at Kiritsugu's betrayl when they had finally won a Grail War. Irisviel had served her purpose and perished. However, they still had Ilyasviel. Thus the Einzberns followed up with their backup plan - Ilya was a Homunculus just like her mother and designed to be a vessel. Ilya was raised to be the host for the fifth Holy Grail summoning and was raised to be guaranteed having Berserker. Ilya's already guaranteed short life by being the gate-opener to the Holy Grail meant being assigned a Servant that would shorten her life was arbitrary. Raised without love and having only Berserker to rely on, Ilya was given two orders. To kill Kiritsugu and Shirou, as well as help summon the Fifth Grail.
10 years after the Fourth War, the Fifth War started. In all routes, Shinji was never a real Master - he had no magical lineage any more. Sakura was the only person capable of being a Master for the Matous and summoned Rider. However...learning Shirou was also a Master when she met Saber killed any desire she had to ever fulfill her role. The two years Sakura has spent with Shirou after meeting properly one day when Sakura helped patch up an injury Shirou had had given her something she'd never felt in her life - hope, fulfillment, happiness. Sakura was suffering in silence but there was a way for her to enjoy even a small part of days if she could be with Shirou for meals and at the archery club. However, Shirou quit after an incident with Shinji. Shinji knew of Shirou's real identity and hated him for the fact as well as that he could never be a magus and took out his hate on Sakura. However, Sakura's deferrence meant Zouken had to given Shinji his chance with Rider. Caster's original master is never revealed in any route - what is certain is that she always summoned the fake Assassin since Caster had the ability to be a Master, as well as that it was Kuzuki, a teacher at Shirou's school, who took in Caster to keep her in the running by becoming her new Master, albeit Caster was in control. (Note - In Unlimited Blade Works, Caster is the dominant servant, controlling Assassin and temporarily Saber and killing Kotohime early) Rin's trademark to make one critical mistake at crucial moments meant she would get Archer despite the fact she was the strongest Magus participating. Ilya gets Berserker as expected and was well prepared. Kotohime summoned Lancer and took an observational approach, as always. Shirou, as always, summoned Saber when Lancer had him ready to die.
As in the Fate route, Saber quickly dispatched of Archer but didnt finish him as he escaped to spirit form before he could be killed. Rin temporarily took Shirou under her wing to get Shirou up to speed, but unlike the other two routes, Rin didn't think it was appropriate to ally with Shirou actively. Rin couldn't come to terms with Shirou's approach and her years of training in solitude convinced herself that any person was able of overcoming anything by themselves and that they simply had to will themselves to do it. Perhaps this is why she never sought to save Sakura any earlier...Ilya launced an early attack on Shirou and Rin, but as in Fate, Shirou's reckless attempt to save Saber caused Ilya to back off in the fighting for many days.
Spoiler for Heavens Feel - The Fourth Holy Grail War, major Fate/Zero content here:
The Fourth war - the one that takes place in Fate/Zero, is where the links to Heavens Feel become more apparent. Zouken Matou and Tokiomi Tohsaka both knew they would not win the Fourth war, so they devised a plan for the future known Zouken would still be alive (through very sinister and evil means) to fulfill their wishes. Tokiomi gave his second daugther Sakura to Zouken. Zouken then forced Sakura to suffer the treatment of the lust worms (they appear as sandworms in Ep1 of Fate/Zero to make it possible to screen and yeah, it's...so chilling when you see the real version...) to create a Servant capable of winning a future Holy Grail War. Kariya's sacrifice to attempt to save Sakura from the treatment was only temporary. Sakura was chosen because she possessed the Tohsaka's powers to transcend different realities - aka the Second Sorcery - in equal amounts to Rin, but by merging with the Matou's ability to absorb the souls of others, Tokiomi and Zouken were convinced the ultimate Master could be made and guarantee a winner in a future Holy Grail war. Zouken would do whatever it took to make Sakura live to that time.
Kiritsugu was a merciless killer of magi. After meeting the Einzberns and Irisviel, his motives changes somewhat. He believed the Holy Grail would allow him to create an idealistic world where all could be saved. However, he was effectively an anti-hero - he exploited all and stood on the sidelines. He wanted to be a hero but was anything but. Kotohime was a mistake from the moment he was born - he was never capable of anything positive and only lived to enjoy the suffering of others. He spent his life up to the Fourth war suppressing that feeling and sided with Tohsaka. Ultimately, in the final three, Kotohime betrayed Tohsaka and killed him. The Gilgamesh version of Archer had the ability to exist in the world without needing a Master but sided with Kotohime for the final battle. The two week time limit was reached just before the final battle, so the Grail would be summoned but an incomplete version. Saber beat Gilgamesh in the final battle, so effectively Saber and Kiritsugu won the Fourth War. However, since the Holy Grail was tainted, Avenger's presence within the Grail caused the dark mud to flow out once the Grail was summoned. Saber thought her wish of resetting her past could be achieved, but Kiritsugu realised the evil and used his final Command Spell to force Saber to destroy the Holy Grail, thus preventing Avenger from coming to fruition and sending Saber back into limbo. Kotohime retaliated by fuelling the resulting fire, as it was the only thing he could gain from the Fourth War. Both Kiritsugu and Gilgamesh were hit by the dark mud that is a curse - an entity that tries to drive anything it touches to insanity. Kiritsugu's life span would be dramatically reduced preventing it from overcoming him for the following five years. Gilgamesh would be driven to madness from there on in, but the madness would also spread to Kotohime. Kotohime finally had something he desired from the Holy Grail Wars - he wanted Avenger to be born in the next war! So with Zouken, he devised a plan, although they had different desires. The Grail had been destroyed but fragments remained. Zouken would force a crest-worm variant of the lust-worms to fuse with Sakura - the source of a Matou magus's power - as well as inserting a piece of the Grail into Sakura's body. Kotohime would perform the surgery to make it happen. Thus the possibility that a dark Grail to house Avenger was created. Zouken wanted this to come to pass so he could gain true immortality. However, Kotohime knew Avenger's birth would cause the end of the world - his ultimate wish. He and Gilgamesh would bide their time for ten years, knowing that since an incomplete Grail was summoned, the Fifth war would come much sooner than the normal 60 year cycle.
Kiritsugu found Shirou within the burning wreckage, but Shirou's death was imminent. Kiritsugu would save Shirou by placing Caliburn, the sheath to Saber's Holy Sword, Excalibur, in Shirou, granting him high healing powers. Kiritsugu would spend his final five years helping Shirou aspire to be what he could never be - a hero. The anti-hero's atonement was to help create a hero that wouldn't succumb to the greed and death that was the way for almost all magi. In sentiment, he did it properly. But in terms of what he taught Shirou in magic, he got it so wrong.
Finished the Heavens Feel route in Fate/Stay Night a few hours ago. This seems to be the route Nasu put the most effort into, so perhaps one could call it the route most likely to have eventuated in some ways, particularly with the elaborate credits after the Heavens Feel True Ending. Okay, I'll go over it in depth here, since this is the arc that REALLY ties in and explains Fate/Zero. Note this will be mega-spoilers for what will come in Fate/Zero, so read it only if you don't want to wait or you think you won't be able to get hold of the FSN game.
Spoiler for Heavens Feel route - how it all began 200 years ago:
The Einzbern family spent 1000 years and the Makiri (eventually Matou) family spent 500 years trying to recreate the Holy Grail. The Einzberns knew how to but couldn't do it alone and thus conceded they needed the Tohsaka and Makiri families to create the Holy Grail. The Einzberns and Makiris both sought immortality. The Holy Grail was created as a means to achieve it by enabling the Third of the Five Sorceries - to manipulate reality to open a gate to a higher plane of existence. However, it is a place humans can't reach and brings hell to Earth.
200 years ago, they were able to achieve it. Two of the three present that day were Justizia Einbern and Zouken Matou (aka old man Matou that you see in Episode 1 of Fate/Zero and note that at this point in time, he is already 300 years old). The Tohsaka ancestor of that time supplied the land for the summoning. Einzbern supplied the Great Holy Grail circle required to summon. Zouken supplied the curse. Justizia's life was the price to summon the first Holy Grail. What followed was free-for-all killing of all involved, except for Zouken. Future Makiris would not have the magical lineage within them, so Zouken was effectively the final Makiri that was a true magus. Obsessed with making the Makiris the ultimate magus family, he resorted to contaminating himself with lust-worms to prolong his life unnaturally. Similar to Fullmetal Alchemist and the nature of the people their prolonging their lives, Zouken would continually need to steal others' bodies to stay alive, but with increased decay. He keeps the appearance of an old man because that is the identity of his soul.
The second war was also disorganised and full of betrayl within the three families, so the third war allowed the involvement of outsiders. However, the Einzbern family became desperate and committed a cardinal sin in an attempt to win. Their research indicated the existence of an old world fictional entity called Angra Manyu, who was a real person that was marked with all the evil and sin within the real world to allow the rest of his people to be pure and free. The Einzberns summoned him in the Third war, but he was not remarkable in any form of power, thus being easily defeated. However, the Holy Grail grants a dying wish to any defeated Servant that melds with the Holy Grail upon death. Angra's wish was to fuse with the Holy Grail and one day manifest into reality. Again, there was no winner in the Third war, but the damage had been done. Angra Manyu, aka Avenger, the Eighth Servant from then on, had forever tainted the Holy Grail, thus turning the relic into an object of evil.
Just a couple of points I realised I missed when I woke up.
7. Humour. They have very different styles of humour. Urobuchi seems to rely either on twisted shock value (e.g. Madoka being bent eight ways from Sunday, Mami losing her head) or on excess behaviou (e.g. Rider being Rider, Gilgamesh being Gilgamesh, Lancer being Lancer). Nasu's comes off more naturally. He's able to do it in several ways - he loves using subtle facial expressions (Rin's seemingly nice smile which is actually devilish or her eyes which are very disarming. Saber's reactions to food provide some amusing faces. Both Saber and Rin have lion-mode faces as well. Fuji-nee has Tiger mode whenever she loses the plot. Sakura embarassed is also hilarious. Rin's ability to say the unexpected so calmly, Saber's serious nature in the most awkward of moments, Ilya being demonic when she looks anything but, Sakura's yandere mode. And Lancer - Nasu's version of Lancer is quite charming and has a hilarious ego. Another particular one is a good deal of the 'scenes' Nasu writes about. His approach to sex seems to be the 'Hmm, this has been too dark lately, let's have some fun while they get it on!' The 1st scene with Saber is probably one of the funniest things I've ever read - Rin yuri dominating Saber (somewhat gently) to get Saber in the mood is just gold.
8. Intimacy. Urobuchi seems to avoid it big time. I think the bond between Saber and Irisviel is the closest he's come to genuine intimacy in his work. Madoka - Homura is a notable bond but it's simple in its depiction. I don't think Urobuchi can handle intimacy at all so I doubt he can handle love either or having any of his characters be in love. Nasu can, but there's usually tragedy involved in some degree. Saber in FSN, Arcueid and Akiha in Tsukihime - definitely tragic. Rin in FSN, Ciel in Tsukihime - involves a lot of tension and clashing of ideologies. Sakura in FSN, Kohaku and Hisui in Tsukihime - initially chilling because of the dark secrets they hide then eventually uplifting. But within all those, Nasu can still give tender, intimate moments/scenes and build it up over the course of the story. Not to mention Saber gives head like a boss. ^^ It's necessary to avoid a title getting too dark and depressing, which I think Urobuchi will need to do eventually. His approach will only work for so long.
6. Their outlooks on life. Nasu is a positive person overall. He was a bit slack in his early days but once Type-Moon got going via Tsukihime, Nasu really poured his time and effort into Fate/Stay Night then spent over 5 years convincing Urobuchi to do a work for him, which ended up being Fate/Zero. Nasu's material is somewhat grim and dark, but his protagonists are positive people and good generally prevails in the end, albeit via a lot of tragedy, bloodshed and suffering. Urobuchi...some of the following things he says at the end of the 1st Fate/Zero novel scare me...
'I am full of hatred towards men's so-called happiness, and had to push the characters I poured my heart out to create into the abyss of tragedy.'
'Just like no matter what we do we can't stop the universe from getting colder. It is only a
world that is created through a compilation of 'progresses of common sense'; it can never
escape the bondage of its physical laws.'
'The 'tragedy syndrome' is stillcontinuing within me.'
'Right now, I've finally got a chance to write a tragic ending according to my heart's desire.
No matter how I display the darkness inside my heart, from an overall look I am nevertheless
a partner of 'the warrior of love, Nasu Kinoko'.'
See, even Urobuchi admits it! He can only write about darkness and tragedy in droves while Nasu is able to write about both positivity and negativity. I'm not doubting Urobuchi's ability to sell. But I am questioning his writing quality and his approach to life. Honestly, I think his weaknesses were masked by Shinbo's style and mind-bending visuals.
If you want proof, I'll show you where you can get the Fate/Zero novels.
Basically Archer is the heroic spirit form if Shirou - aka the future version of Shirou. A man who lived his entire life trying to be a hero and was ultimately betrayed despite all he accomplished. As a result, Archer comes to hate humanity, the idea of being a hero and adopts a purely pragmatic approach. Archer is forever stuck in the Holy Grail War cycle and his one goal is to be in a war that involves his former human self and to kill Shirou before he becomes Archer. The two hate each other so much because they are the same person but have competely different ideologies. Ultimately the point of UBW is that Shirou is able to maintain his goal of being a hero but to avoid the mistakes/corruption that caused Archer to go bad, as well as Rin find a balance between being a magus and being a person. It's fair to say Saber and Archer are complete opposites too. Saber's ideologies are intact but she believes being betrayed and killed is actually her fault...whereas Archer grows to despise heroism and chooses pragmatism and has no qualms with betraying or killing anyone.
Even though Ilya was far more important/present in the Fate route, in the UBW route her role/backstory is aptly drawn out in a the aftermath of a chilling scene where Gilgamesh kills Ilya by ripping her heart out. In the Fate route, Ilya is portrayed as the girl who has no concept of right or wrong but still has a heart - aka she's in a situation she shouldn't be. Yet in UBW, after her death, we see a strangely touching narrative where Ilya is revealed to be the product of the Einzberns' greed to get the Holy Grail and that in the aftermath of Kiritsugu making Saber destroy the Holy Grail at the end of Fate/Zero (this was said several times over even in the FSN anime, I assume you'd know this fact) and his abandoning of Irisviel and Ilyasviel, Ilya was raised in a perpetual state of torture and abuse so that she would be guaranteed to be assigned Berserker, as the Einzberns discarded morality after what happened with Kiritsugu and chose a darker path. Ilya's only friend in her life until the Holy Grail War and during it is Berserker. Initially Ilya hates Berserker and makes him even more twisted for the purpose of winning. But in the leadup to the actual war, Ilya realises that Berserker will be the only thing she can ever rely on again and thus her twisted ways are actually stemming from affection for the only thing she would ever be able to trust. It's weird yet so effective that in the Fate route she's more present in, we see Ilya at a basic level then get accepted into Shirou's fold, yet in UBW, where she appears twice - the first battle and then when Gilgamesh kills Berserker and then her - Nasu suddenly evokes sympathy in a short section that just wouldn't have been possible in the Fate route. Again, the abuse of children is a theme present in just about every Nasu title. And he handles it with care - Nasu doesn't like to revel in it or anything.
As for the love - the one between Shirou and Saber in the Fate route is quite pure since they are similar people and their ideologies aren't that . Shirou and Rin's bond is more turbulent since Rin is a bit of a tease, Shirou is a bit of a blockhead and their
UBW is much darker than the Fate route and Fate was already dark to begin with. But Heaven's Feel - Sakura's route is WAY DARKER. And Fate/Zero is much darker than all of them.
There's other themes Nasu explores deeply but I digress. I rant like I just did because I adore how Nasu does it. He's able to do his rants but do it in a way that really develops a character and set up character relations or the plot. And he does it with so much feeling and detail. The themes within Fate/Stay Night are the equal biggest reason I've been playing the game so frenetically lately. He's also very effective at it in Tsukihime, which was darker and more graphic than Fate/Stay Night.
Urobuchi's writing style is not that conducive to thematic discussion. His themes seem very simple in comparison in his works - fighting for someone (which seems to be the money-marker sentiment in modern anime that otaku love and is simple enough for them to understand), a toned-down version of the downside of heroism (which Nasu does in far more detail), the concept of existence and resetting (Serial Experiments Lain covered those ideas well before he did), friendship (which just about any anime does). I find more romance and depth to Nasu's themes - Urobuchi's are too simple and underdeveloped for me. He relies to much on shock value to cover his weaknesses IMO.
4. And to back up points 2 and 3, Nasu loves dialogue. It's one of the main reasons I get that intimate, engaging feeling when I read Nasu's writing. He'll bother to give second tier characters enough time to speak to allow the reader to appreciate them. When a scene needs to be very immersive/tense, Nasu will switch to narrative more, particularly in battles. Nasu will let the scene do the talking and keep dialogue sharp but effective/amusing. Urobuchi avoids dialogue ALL THE TIME. Trust me...I don't know how Ufotable pull out the dialogue they do for the anime version, because it's just not present in the novels! When he does dialogue, it's mainly very blunt or one short sentence followed by far more narrative. You know the first battle scene where those involved talk A LOT in the anime? (Episodes 4-5) Guess what - in the first novel, where that scene happened - next to no dialogue! It's just bewildering - it's fine for immersion into the setting and the mood, but it's so damn hard understanding what the characters are like the way Urobuchi writes! Honestly, I'm scratching my head as to how Ufotable have extracted what they have thus far. This is a damn hard job indeed.
5. THEMES. Nasu and Urobuchi take different approaches and then some. Nasu loves to discuss themes in depth. In the Fate/Stay Night game, Nasu talks about the idea of being a hero from several perspectives and the grim reality of it despite the idealism that is associated with being a hero. I mean, REALLY talks about it! The Fate route (Saber's route) details the betrayl and regret Saber feels from being King Arthur and that no matter how selfless, just and moral she was - she was always alone and never got any reward or fulfillment for her countless good deeds, so she never felt a single moment of happiness in her life as Arturia. Shirou is very similar as he is also a completely selfless person, but learning what happened to Saber makes him question the idealism of being a hero and want him to show that while heroism is ultimately unrewarded, it is doing the deed that is the fulfilling part and that Saber should learn to let herself enjoy something. Of course, Shirou is guilty of the same problems - he wants to be Saber's hero but has no consideration for himself and doesn't seem to enjoy his life unless he's doing something for others. This is why Shirou and Saber come to blows so much in the Fate route before they are eventually able to get to the other and resolve their feelings by the final climax.
Unlimited Blade Works goes deeper and darker. Rin actually has a big heart despite what a lot of people think when they label her a typical tsundere. She is not a typical tsundere...Rin is the embodiment of Nasu's views on magic and power in general. Nasu uses Rin to demonstate that the life of a magus (aka those that seek power) is to constantly walk a path that is filled with death and tragedy. Rin is required to kill her heart to a certain degree in order to be a skilled magus and she earnestly believes it is essential to survive. But despite that, Rin is still a fairly positive person - she tries to keep as many people as possible away from the Holy Grail War and she values her life as well as the little things in every day that keep her going despite the grim nature of her life. Shirou's ideology is the exact opposite of hers - he is positive and selfless but ultimately his selflessness always puts him in situations he shouldn't survive, plus the way Kiritsugu failed to steer Shirou properly on the world of magic is also a real issue. This is why Rin is angry a lot of the time - Shirou utterly clashes with her views/ideals and knows he's a sitting duck, so she feels compelled to ally with Shirou to get them through the hell they're in. Rin provides the guidance and stability Shirou needs while Shirou keeps Rin's heart from growing cold. Also within Unlimitied Blade Works is the Shirou-Archer relationship, which was completely ignored in that terrible adaptation in 2006 by Deen, as well as much more detail on Rin and Ilya.
I've completed 2 of the 3 routes in Fate/Stay Night now, so I feel somewhat prepared to point out some key differences in how Nasu wrote Fate/Stay Night + other titles and how Urobuchi wrote Fate/Zero.
1. Nasu writes from a first-person perspective. This tends to give more character description and more emotive content. Urobuchi writes from a third-person perspective. His style fleshes out the setting more and description of characters is far less than what Nasu does.
2. To be frank - I find that Nasu is able to be stark when needed yet but when he wants to focus on the characters, he gives them the focus rather than the setting and gives them warmth/power. Urobuchi's ability to describe setting is relatively strong, but when it comes to the characters, he falters....when it comes to characters like Rider (F/Z version), I honestly couldn't feel that outrageous, manly, hilarious guy I see in the anime at all. Ditto for what other characters should feel like. Characters and making the reader care/be enthralled by them seems to be a big weakness for Urobuchi.
3. Motivations/writing style. In a nutshell - I can very intimately feel how much Nasu cares for the characters he writes about - even when he inflicts hell on them, he does it with regret and tries to keep a character's integrity intact. As for Urobuchi - his character descriptions are clinical and so utterly cold, even in the scenes that should be thrilling/hilarious. I'd dare to say Nasu is a writer that does it for the love of his craft and because he enjoys the Type-Moon universe so much. Urobuchi is doing it - as he has admitted in interviews - for entertainment purposes.
Just following your VM conversation with 0utf0xZer0, and wanted to comment a bit on it.
I can confirm that Sailor Moon was absolutely huge in Canada. A major reason being that it aired on a great timeslot on a popular station back in the 1990s: Around 4 PM or so (i.e. right after school) on YTV (Youth TeleVision). YTV is a very popular station in Canada for kids and teenagers.
My sisters, who aren't particularly into anime at all, are nonetheless huge Sailor Moon fans. One of them even dressed up as Sailor Moon for Halloween one year.
Sailor Moon, and Pokemon, are pretty much household names in Canada. They've genuinely transcended the anime fandom where I live. Sailor Moon is pretty much as well known as Superman or Batman where I live, that's how big she is here.
However, localization was no doubt a factor here. Almost everybody getting English names did help.