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Berserker (Fate/stay night)

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▂▂▃▃▃▅▅▅!
~ Berserker, Fate/stay night

Berserker is an insane giant villain from Fate/stay night who is the servant of Illyasviel von Einzbern during the fifth Holy Grail War. He only speaks when needed (such as his last words when defeated by Saber in the Fate route), as the rest of the time he most often uses a ferocious yell in the form of "▂▂▃▃▃▅▅▅!" instead of the standard "GRAAAGH!" or "ROOAARRR!", as he goes to trash his opponents when meeting them in combat. Berserker often appeared as an antagonist in the different routes of Fate/stay night, especially when he was converted into Dark Berserker in the Heaven's Feel route. His master, Ilya, joined the side of the heroes twice in Fate/stay night, once in the Fate route after his final death, and a second time in Heaven's Feel when he was attacked and devoured by Zouken Matou's shadow.

Profile

Identity

Berserker is Heracles, also known as Hercules, the greatest hero in Greek mythology. He was a half-god, half-human hero born from Zeus, the king of the gods, and a human woman. While he had superior talent in all areas, his personality had a number of issues. He beat his harp teacher to death over a small matter during his childhood, so he had to live as a shepherd afterward to calm his temper. He thus became a splendid man who accomplished several great deeds that caused the King of Thebes to grant Heracles his daughter, Megara. They had two children, and he earned the right to succeed the king.

He was both young and strong, and it seemed that there was already no match for him among humans. His future seemed bright having married the king's daughter and bearing two children, but Zeus's wife, Hera, detested the child born between Zeus and a human. She meddled with his fate at every opportunity, and she started by sending madness to him that drove him insane and caused to kill his family. Troubled by the sins he had committed, he received a sign that he should atone by becoming the slave of Eurystheus, the man who took away his promised position as king.

Eurystheus, jealous of the strong hero, gave him many difficult tasks, and claimed that Heracles would remain his slave until they were completed. These difficult labors were tasks impossible to complete with normal human skills that later came to be known as the famous Twelve Labors of Heracles. The number of labors originally chosen by the gods was ten, but Eurystheus added two more labors after denying the fulfillment of two of them. Heracles managed to safely complete even those tasks, so he was granted not only his freedom, but he also received an immortal body as proof of his great accomplishments.

This marked the beginning of the great hero Heracles, the greatest hero in Greece, who singlehandedly achieved great deeds equaling those of the Trojan War and the Argo Expedition. Despite that, Hera's hatred was endless, so the rest of his life was again full of madness. While he should have been immortal, he was killed by poison by one of his wives. While he was a great hero equally matched with the sun god even as a human, he was slowly killed by the persistent jealousy of a Goddess. He burned his own body still contaminated with poison at the time of his death, and he entrusted himself to Zeus' judgement. The gods approved of his great deeds in a conference, prepared a seat in Olympus after his death, and worshipped him as a god.

Personality

Due to his Mad Enhancement, Berserker is completely void of thought for most of the story. He is only shown briefly thinking about his fight with Archer, and he speaks briefly before his death during the Fate route.

For Heracles, who had gone berserk numerous times in legend, the Berserker Class probably feels quite familiar. He cannot act independently because his emotions have been sealed, but no matter how strong the bondage of Command Spells, Berserker never lost the sense at the core of his being. After being Blackened in Heaven's Feel, he is able to halt the last strike of his Axe Sword before he dies. He is able to do so due to the strength of his heart; a heart which suffered the pain of berserking since his early days as a hero. He is identified as the most manly character in the story of Fate in Fate/side material.

Role

Fate/stay night

Berserker was summoned by the Einzbern family in Germany, and he was the earliest Servant to be summoned. He was brought into the world more than two months prior to the 5th Holy Grail War, with a slab of stone from Heracles' temple acting as a catalyst. Historically, the Einzberns have lost every Holy Grail War, and were responsible for polluting its contents during the 3rd Holy Grail War and despoiling all future incarnations of the grail. With the most famous hero in mythology, the Einzberns hoped Ilya would prove capable of winning the Holy Grail and restoring their lost miracle.

Although Ilya has incredible magical power, restraining Berserker's mighty spirit caused her great anguish. In retribution, she has kept him in a continual state of madness, rendering him unable to think coherently any time. However, Berserker has shown great devotion to Ilya, striving to protect her whenever she is threatened.

Despite his advantages, Berserker was permanently slain in all three scenarios.

Fate

During Fate, he was killed once by Tohsaka Rin, six times by Archer before being fatally gored by Saber and Shirou Emiya.

In the Anime he was killed 5 times by Archer, once by Rin, and 7 times (at once) by Saber and Shirou.

Unlimited Blade Works

In Unlimited Blade Works, Berserker attacked Shirou, Saber, Rin, and Archer while they were discussing that they were supposed to be enemies instead of friends during the fifth Holy Grail War. He put up a good fight for Saber only to be killed once by Archer. Berserker took Ilya back home as she promised they'd see them again soon.

Later, halfway through the route, Berserker was constricted by Gilgamesh's chain, Enkidu, and was impaled to death while trying to shield Ilya from a hailstorm of blades, which killed the rest of Berserker's lives.

Heaven's Feel

In Heaven's Feel, after Berserker was devoured by Zouken's shadow, the shadow regurgitated him as Dark Berserker, a decrepit and blind version of his former self.

Dark Berserker, while distracted by Ilya, was finally killed by Shirou with a projected variation of his own weapon, Nine Lives.

Fate/Prototype

Berserker's original role in Fate/Prototype was similar to his final design in Fate/stay night, but he didn't appear in the animated short. There were a number of changes throughout the design process. His Master was originally Sancraid Phahn, a murderous maniac sent by the Church, but Takeuchi suggested a young girl instead. They were originally experimenting with his design to make him seem "inhuman", and the elbow spikes are a remnant of that process. Rider originally recognized him as Heracles at first glance due to their shared background in Greek mythology. She would have rammed him to death once or twice with Bellerophon before being killed.

The original concept of God Hand held the ability "will not lose for 11 battles" , so that he would be able to easily defeat the six other Servants and still have victories left over. Against Gilgamesh's Noble Phantasm at the time, which was "will absolutely survive", the two concepts of the abilities clashed and and the paradoxical situation had to be resolved. Berserker eventually died even though he won, while Gilgamesh lost but survived. After designing Ilya as his Master, they originally planned on having them both share lives. As long as Berserker lived, she was immortal and unable to be killed even if other Servants tried to avoid Berserker to strike at his Master. The idea was scrapped after they thought it was too strong.

Carnival Phantasm

He appears as Berser-Car in various parody stories like Ilya's Castle in Fate/hollow ataraxia and Carnival Phantasm.

In his own episode, he goes out shopping for Enerloop batteries as told by Ilya after her previous battery had died out on her while she was playing a video game. There is a narrator that tells of Berserker's first errand that he goes on, unknowingly defeating the various other servants in the process and dragging Lancer around with him as he goes. When he realizes that the store he was going to is locked, he feels hopeless until Lancer shows him the back of the note telling him that he could go to another, alternate store. He goes to said store and finds the batteries, and defeats the last other remaining few servants (Caster and Archer), first by jumping on Caster and then using Boomelancer on Archer, which results in Lancer's death. In doing so, he receives a variation of the Holy Grail, and takes it to Ilya, who is displeased that Berserker got the wrong item at first, but is surprised when the Grail gives her batteries. Unfortunately for her, the batteries given to her by the Holy Grail are not the Enerloop batteries she's looking for.

Abilities

Berserker's main weapon isn't a Noble Phantasm, but rather a simple "Axe-sword" made of rock. It was originally part of the foundations of a temple the Einzbern family prepared for summoning him, and the sword itself was eventually used as the catalyst. He wields it with ease due to his extreme strength, and he causes large amounts of destruction with each swing. Each of his attacks is a fatal blow that needs to be blocked or dodged. Despite his large body and sword, he is easily able to overwhelm Saber under Shirou with speed exceeding her own. While the attacks are just smashing swings with no technique behind them, they are so beyond normal standards in power and speed that there is no room for technique. As technique is something humans invented to compensate for their weaknesses, it is unnecessary for him because he has no weaknesses.

The only Noble Phantasm available to him is God Hand, which grants eleven extra lives and protection from attacks B rank or lower. Any time he is killed by an A rank attack or above, he is revived and granted immunity from that attack in the future. He must be killed twelve times in order to be fully defeated. Due to having Ilya as a Master, he is able to also regenerate lost lives over time. While his most trusted Noble Phantasm is Nine Lives, it cannot be used in the Berserker class due to a lack of motor skills. The ability to use it with the Axe-sword is ingrained into his technique and history, allowing Shirou to project the Axe-Sword and use Nine Lives Blade Works.

Due to God Hand, he ignores various attacks that are unable to harm him even when aimed at vital spots like his temples, but he is still instinctively able to tell that a dangerous attack is incoming. He ignores Archer's Caladbolg II at first after having shrugged of his earlier attacks, but immediately intercepts it after sensing the danger to him. He is able to easily push back even strong opponents who are capable of blocking his strikes, and he is able to fling Saber dozens of feet away even when she manages to properly block his stronger strikes. Due to his lack of motor skills, it is possible to use the terrain to gain an advantage over him. Using gravestones as cover, Saber is able to use the brief intervals where he is forced to slice through them to strike at him without worry of directly intercepting the blows. The gravestones are only a slight hindrance to him, but are still enough to allow for a decisive turn in the battle.

He is already an exceptional Heroic Spirit, but under Mad Enhancement he can be called an untouchable monster. He would normally have the ability to cancel the control of Command Spells in the case of a normal Master, but Ilya is able to control him due to her Command Spells being special as the person acting as the Holy Grail. While he would retain his large size even in other classes, he would no longer have the projections on his arms, his muscles would become slightly softer, and his face would show more humanity if he was no longer under Mad Enhancement. Unlike other Heroic Spirits that would receive a slight boost in power close to their spheres of influence and a greater boost in power in the country of their legend, Heracles would display excellent power in all of western Europe.

Heracles is exceptional in body, mind, and skills, and since he had mastered every weapon, he can even qualify for the Saber Class without difficulty. He would also have been able to be summoned as Archer, Lancer, Rider, or Assassin, but he doesn't have the necessary knowledge or skills to be Caster. Out of all the possible classes, Archer would have allowed him to best demonstrate his true abilities. As a ranger class, it would have been comfortable to someone skilled in archery who overcame many trials with knowledge and resourcefulness. If he had been summoned in as Saber, he would be able to fully display his phenomenal sword play and best display Nine Lives.

In Carnival Phantasm, he gains a new Noble Phantasm in the fifth episode, called "Boomelancer", where he uses Lancer as one and throws him at Archer, resulting in Lancer's death in said episode afterwards.

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