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And there you go. You heard her, Iri. Our Heroic Spirit over there considers a battlefield to be better than Hell. What a joke! A battlefield is Hell itself! There's no hope to be had on one. There's nothing but unspeakable despair! Just the soulless crime we call victory, paid for by the pain of the defeated. But humanity has never recognized this truth. And the reason is that in every era, a dazzling hero has blinded people with their legends and kept them from seeing the evil of bloodshed they bring. True human nature has not advanced a step beyond the Stone Age!
~ Kiritsugu Emiya, revealing his views on war.

Kiritsugu Emiya is the main protagonist of the light novel and anime series Fate/Zero (although as the story is told from seven different perspectives, this status is fairly debatable) and the Master of Saber during the Fourth Holy Grail War. Being an Anti-Hero, he has several personality traits commonly found in villains, such as ruthlessness and having a belief that there are no rules in battle beyond doing whatever is necessary to win. However, he is very tragic and not particularly proud of his methods, merely seeing them as a means to an end.

He is voiced by Rikiya Koyama in the Japanese version of the anime and Matthew Mercer in the English version, the latter of whom also voices Alvin.

About

He is mostly an anti-hero but does have his moments where he looks more like a villain protagonist. His villainous acts throughout the series include blowing up a hotel, manipulating people (refer to the episode 'The End of Honour' for a particularly heinous example) and refusing to acknowledge Saber's existence, to the point that he refuses to even talk to her, for no actual good reason at all. Their conflicting ideological perspectives make them unable to function together as a team, resulting in a strained relationship, in which Kiritsugu's wife, Irisviel von Einzbern, acts as Saber's proxy master and Kiritsugu attacks from the shadows. He's also perfectly willing to let Caster roam free on his child-killing rampage despite Saber's pleas to finish him off as quickly as possible, saying that saving a few children, or even a few dozen, is not their priority.

Besides his methods, Kiritsugu's goal is also similar to that of many villains; to re-create the world. However, unlike most villains of this type, Kiritsugu's goals are well-intentioned, as he desires to use the Holy Grail to create a world free of war or conflict.

Whenever someone questions his morals, Kiritsugu justifies his actions by saying that the battlefield is no better than Hell on Earth and so he believes that all forms of killing are the same. He also blames the Heroic Spirits for covering up the truth of war with their legends and that because of them, humanity's true nature hasn't taken a step past the Stone Age, implying a degree of misanthropy. While this logic does make sense to a degree, it is nonetheless flawed and merely suggests that Kiritsugu needs someone to blame for him having to be the one to save the world.

Kiritsugu's behavior stems from his past. He spent his youth going from one place to another with his father, Noritaka Emiya. They settled on Alimango Island for a year where he became friends with - and had a crush on - Noritaka's assistant, a local girl called Shirley who was four years older than him. However, disaster struck when Shirley became a vampire after she drank a potion, intending for it to prove that Noritaka's research would save the world, and plead for Kiritsugu to kill her but he refused and fled. Their village was overrun by Executors from the Church and Enforcers from the Association, both groups having arrived when they heard rumors of a magus researching into vampirism. Kiritsugu was the only survivor of the 'cleansing', saved by Natalia Kaminski, a freelancer and part-time Enforcer who wanted information on the magus responsible.

Returning to the hidden Emiya residence, Kiritsugu confronted his father on his research and Shirley's death. Norikata explained that he wanted to become a Dead Apostle to continue with his research on Magecraft longer. Horrified by his actions, Kiritsugu murdered his father in cold blood. He was taken away and raised by Natalia to become an assassin of heretical magi. Even as a child, he knew he couldn't save everyone but did want to save as many people as he possibly could. Plagued with guilt over sparing Shirley's life, (which ultimately caused the deaths of everyone on the island except him) KIritsugu from then on always put the needs of the many before the needs of the few, which eventually evolved into a desire to get rid of death and war completely.

In short, while Kiritsugu is a ruthless, calculating, stoic, emotionless, brooding, and cold-blooded killer, he was a tragic figure because the actions he committed to reach his ends ending up ruining everything for him. 

Victims

  • Norikata Emiya
  • Natalia Kaminski‎
  • Ryuunosuke Uryuu
  • Irisviel von Einzbern
  • Kirei Kotomine (first time)
  • Numerous unnamed people 

Indirectly

  • Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald
  • Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri
  • Lancer
  • Saber
  • 500 Fuyuki citizens
    • Shirou Emiya's family 

Trivia

  • Kiritsugu is similar in many respects to Homura Akemi, another character created by Gen Urobuchi. Both are deeply haunted by the loss of a loved one and use a combination of time-manipulation magic and modern military hardware. They also have black hair, rarely show emotion and are incredibly self-loathing.
  • He's also similar to Martin Walker. Both are introduced as experienced war veterans who desire to be heroes but are willing to resort to extremely violent and brutal methods in order to achieve their goals and are called out for this by their allies. Ultimately, both end up killing a ton of people (including ones close to them) for absolutely nothing and are sent into utter despair as a result. The difference between them is that Kiritsugu is fully aware of the nature of his actions while Walker is completely deluded (though he can snap out of this).

External links

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Fate/Prototype

Servants

Assassin | Beast of Revelation | Caster

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Manaka Sajyou | Sancraid Phahn | Misaya Reiroukan


Fate/Zero

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Kirei Kotomine | Kiritsugu Emiya | Ryuunosuke Uryuu | Byakuya Matou | Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald | Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri

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Black Shadow


Fate/stay night

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Lord El-Melloi II Case Files

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Darnic Prestone Yggdmillenia | Celenike Icecolle Yggdmillennia | Assassin of Black | Caster of Black | Lancer of Black

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Fate/Grand Order

Fate/Grand Order: Observer on Timeless Temple

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Jeanne Alter | Jason | Goddess Rhongomyniad | Mephistopheles | Gorgon | Kingu

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Others

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Fate/Grand Order: Epic on the Remnants

Demon Pillars

Shinjuku

Phantom Demon Alliance (Archer of Shinjuku | Avenger of Shinjuku | Archer Alter | Assassin of Shinjuku)

Argatha

Rider of Resistance | Caster of the Nightless City

SE.RA.PH.

Kiara Sessyoin

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Salem

Sut-Typhon


Fate/Grand Order: Cosmos of the Lostbelt

Crypters

Kadoc Zemlupus | Ophelia Phamrsolone | Hinako Akuta | Scandinavia Peperoncino | Kirschtaria Wodime | Beryl Gut | Daybit Sem Void

Lostbelt Kings

Ivan the Terrible | Scathach-Skadi | Qin Shi Huang | Arjuna Alter | Zeus

Alien God's Emissaries

Alien God | Priestess of the Alien Star | Koyanskaya | Kirei Kotomine | Caster Limbo

Lostbelt Servants

Anastasia Romanova | Sigurd | Prince of Lanling | Xiang Yu | Qin Liangyu | Ashwatthama | Dioscuri Twins | Caenis | Odysseus | Lostbelt Olympians | Grand Berserker


Others

Oprichniki | Archer of Red | Caster of Black | Surtr | Kama | Goetia


Fate/Grand Order Events

Black Grail | First Lady | Testement | Ultra Heroine Z | Zouken Matou | The Master With No Name | Darnic Prestone Yggdmillenia | Kama | Space Ishtar

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