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|“||A certain scripture mentions that humans are superior to angels. Why? Because there are people who know of evil, but do not become evil. It's different from angels, who know only of good since birth. Humans have evil, but can live as good, so they are superior to angels, who know only good.||„|
|~ Kirei Kotomine|
Kirei Kotomine is the main antagonist of Fate/Zero and the general main antagonist of Fate/stay night. Specifically, he is the main antagonist of the Fate route, a supporting antagonist in Unlimited Blade Works and the secondary antagonist of Heaven's Feel. He is only briefly mentioned in Fate/hollow atraxia but makes a number of appearances during Carnival Phantasm as a commentator of the Holy Grail War, constantly complaining about the Holy Church not having enough funds to repair the damage caused by the war's participants.
Kirei poses as Assassin's master during the Fourth Holy Grail War and later forms a contract with Gilgamesh up to the Fifth Holy Grail War, where he deals a fatal blow to Bazett Fraga McRemitz to take control of her servant, Lancer. He is a Master during the fourth war and acts as a supposedly impartial meditator during the fifth war.
He is voiced by Jouji Nakata in the Japanese version of the anime and Jamieson Price in the English version of the 2006 anime and film adaption of Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, both of whom also voice Nrvnqsr Chaos and Diethard Ried. In the English version of Fate/Zero and the Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works anime, he is voiced by Crispin Freeman.
Kirei was born on December 28, 1967. He accompanied his father Risei Kotomine to the holy grounds since his youth, and in 1981 he graduated from the Theological College of Manresa
St. Ignacio by skipping two years and as student council president. He would have reached the position of cardinal that way but he was transferred to the Holy Church instead. Afterwards he transferred several times until he got to the assembly of the Eighth Sacrament, a department that his father worked in. After brutal training he became an Executor, a murderer assigned to hunt down heretics.
Even with his accomplishments Kirei never felt satisfaction on it, as, unknown to everyone, he was born defective, possessing a warped mind since birth. Despite his best efforts, Kirei couldn't enjoy what other people found to be happiness, instead finding himself drawn to negative emotions like the pain of others. Thus, he turned to religion with fervor out of belief that God might bring him salvation.
Kirei lived a troubled and gloomy life, hounded by guilt and sorrow, understanding the connection between good and evil but only reveling in committing sins. Like his father Risei, he became a vicar but was trained as an exorcist and had a talent for healing others. With no alternative, he prayed that marriage to a woman he loved could finally help him achieve respite from his tortured existence. When he discovered that marriage could not change him, he was on the verge of committing suicide, until his ill and concerned wife committed suicide herself to show that he could still feel compassion for others. However, after that he was disgusted to realize he would've killed her himself instead. From that day on, he ceased pursuing salvation altogether and their daughter, Caren Hortensia, was placed under the custody of her mother's relatives.
Three years before the third Holy Grail War, Kirei's left arm gained the power of Command Spells which appeared right there, chosen by the Holy Grail of Fuyuki. Even if he was unable to understand why he was selected, he was selected by his father to be transferred from the Holy Church to the Magi's Association and train under Tokiomi Tohsaka's guidance due to his lack of "sense of purpose", ideals, or aspiration. Then, three years later, he would act under Tokiomi's instructions, since his ties with the Church and friendship with Risei made him a suitable Master to win the conflict under the Holy Church's observation.
Not only was Kirei a Master during the fourth Holy Grail war, but he was also responsible for the monstrous conflagration in the ensuing turmoil that followed the war's end. As a representative of the Church, he was implied to have summoned and Archer (Gilgamesh, to be exact), but in Fate/Zero, he actually summoned Assassin, only forming a contract with Gilgamesh later in the war. By the end of the war, he was one of the few survivors.
After the Fourth Holy Grail War
After the fourth war, Kirei became curious to the capacities of the Holy Grail and thus decided on contingenciesin case another war occurred during his lifetime. After the Fuyuki fire diminished, he rounded up the surviving children and imprisoned them within the basement of his Church where he allowed his Servant to consume their souls to stockpile Mana. While Gilgamesh took up residence in Fuyuki City, Kirei joined and participated in several missions for the Mage's Association, additionally acting as a supervisor for Tokiomi's daughter, Rin Tohsaka.
Nearly a decade after his death, Kirei was designated as a Manager for the fifth Holy Grail War. At his request, Bazett Fraga McRemitz, a sorceror-hunter he met on one of his assignments, joined him in said conflict. Bazett was then murdered by Kirei, who stole her Command Mantra by cutting off her left arm. Using the mantra, he then formed an additional contract with her now-orphaned Servant, Lancer.
Kirei's appearance in Fate/Zero had him in his middle 20's, where he had short hair and blank brown eyes, and wore a lower class priest uniform. In Fate/stay night, he was in his mid-30's, with slightly long brown hair and wore a black bishop class priest uniform with a dark purple coat and a golden cross. Kirei is also noted to be rather tall, standing at a towering 193 cm. He is the tallest of all the Masters in both the fourth and fifth Holy Grail Wars.
While Kirei isn't really a villain, he is still an evil person nonetheless. He is not inhuman but deviant, not insane but still not sane. If Gilgamesh were to be a light embossing of Shirou's defects, Kotomine would be said to be a wall exposing those defects by darkness. He, like Shirou, is a void human being. Initial concept described him as "the guy you just knew the first time you met him, to be the one pulling all the strings."
During Fate/Zero, he was a calm, serious, and sometimes extremely depressed and emotionless person who thought that joy was actually a sin, even condemning the same atrocities he would later perform during Fate/stay night, saying that the act of finding joy in/from the pain of others was rather monstrous and inhuman. It was after acquainting himself with Gilgamesh that he became the corrupted individual villain that he is in Fate/stay night. He was once loyal to Tokiomi Tohsaka during the fourth Holy Grail War.
|“||Why would the Holy Grail choose me? Someone without any ideals to accomplish; someone without any cravings to fulfill... Why am I chosen?||„|
|~ Kirei Kotomine, Fate/Zero|
Kiritsugu recognized Kotomine as the most dangerous of the other Masters from the start and Kotomine knew about Kiritsugu well enough to be interested in him. During the first days of the war, Kirei followed Tokiomi's instructions and stayed in the church as a "defeated Master", but his growing interest in Emiya Kiritsugu lead him to search for him, engaging in some encounters against Kiritsugu's assistant Maiya and his wife Irisviel. Kirei won against them while Kiritsugu was fighting Lord Kayneth Archibald El-Melloi, but seeing that Emiya Kiritsugu was a being that could be comprehended by others and not an empty man with the answers he sought, disappointment grew in Kirei, and he retreated.
Intrigued by Kotomine Kirei's participation in the war, Gilgamesh suggests that to overcome his emptiness, Kirei should determine backgrounds and the motivations of the other Masters and Servants as to why they wish to obtain the Holy Grail. Then, he decides that he should observe Matou Kariya’s fate too.
After Caster's fight at the Mion river, Kirei brought Kariya to Matou's underground worm chamber and leaves, only to find the dead body of his father back at the Church. Kirei finds a dying message from him; a secret password that gives Kirei all the remaining extra Command Spells. Kirei sheds tears after seeing that his father cared about him until the end, but he was feeling the exact opposite affection that a normal human being should. He wanted to see him die, just like when his wife died.
Kirei goes back to his room and has a conversation with Gilgamesh, but this time, Kirei is the devil tempting Gilgamesh. Kirei explains him how Tokiomi will use his last Command Spell to kill his own Gilgamesh and open the gate. Seeing this, Gilgamesh accepts Kirei's plan to assassinate Tokiomi and takes his position as Archer's Master. Tokiomi invited Kirei to his house one last time before Kirei headed back to the Church headquarters. Tokiomi wholeheartedly thanked that he was a loyal apprentice to him and gave him an Azoth knife to him as a parting gift. However, Kirei betrayed and murdered him with that knife as Tokiomi was exiting the room.
Kirei made a deal with Kariya that if he helped him, Kirei will arrange a meeting with him and Tokiomi and also in return for kidnapping Irisviel von Einzbern using Berserker in the guise of Rider, he is promised victory and the Holy Grail. Zouken Matou appeared in front of Kirei and says he must be plotting something interesting. Sensing Zouken as a dangerous threat, he attempts to kill him on the spot but Zouken cannot be killed by just being pierced by Black Keys. Zouken chuckles at him saying he feels the same kind of broken personality just like himself as he left. Kirei determines he is one of the enemies that he needs to kill one day. As Zouken noted, the "meeting" of Kariya and Tokiomi was an event arranged only for Kirei's amusement, and as Kariya finds Tokiomi already dead and Aoi walks in on him, she misinterprets the situation and blames Kariya for her husband's death. Kariya strangles her as Kirei and Gilgamesh enjoy the scene.
Kirei transferred his hideout to the underground sewers where Caster used to be, set Irisviel as the vessel to the Grail, and ordered Gilgamesh to go out and intercept the enemies that are coming this way and Kariya's Berserker to fight Saber.
Kiritsugu and Kirei finally have their fateful battle at the center hall. They have nothing to say to each other. Kirei performs Ba Ji Quan mortal blows on Kiritsugu, but Avalon quickly heals his body and the Magus Killer makes a comeback with his Innate Time Control. Kirei tosses all his remaining Black Keys in a spin, so that they will be right over Kiritsugu just as Kirei gets to him - Kiritsugu can either try to dodge sideways or backwards and get punched anyway, or jump away and get slashed by the Keys. Instead, he just stands there, reloads, and shoots Kirei just as Kirei's fist connects and crushes his skull. With the battle in stalemate, the black mud gushing out from the Holy Grail in the room above engulfs them.
After a Grail induced dream, Kiritsugu points his gun at Kirei's heart from behind and Kirei wakes up too. Kirei is surprised that Kiritsugu didn't accept the offer of the Holy Grail. Kiritsugu's answer was that it sacrifices too many things for what it gives. Kirei says that he wanted it even so and Kiritsugu shot him in the heart saying that he does not understand Kirei.
In his last moments, the Holy Grail appeared to Kirei; filled with hatred and envy for Kiritsugu, he reached out and touched the cursed artifact. Kirei prayed for an end to humanity; his wish was granted in the form of fire. Amidst the roaring flames, Kiritsugu's Saber obliterated the Holy Grail, allowing its tainted water to soak Kirei's lifeless body, resurrecting him with an artificial, black heart. Kirei wakes up and finds Gilgamesh near him. He seemed to have gained a flesh body from something that flowed to his body through the Master and Servant connection. After looking at the burning town, Kirei laughs out in pleasure. He finally realizes what brings happiness to him in this world.
Half a year later, coming up with a plan to entertain himself, he gives Rin the Azoth knife that killed her father as a gift, saying he received from her father upon completion of his training. The rights to the Tohsaka lands were inherited by Aoi after Tokiomi's death, and subsequently inherited by Rin after Aoi's death. Kirei managed them as Rin's guardian, and because of his foolhardy and coarse management, the majority of profitable properties ended up in the hands of others. It is possible that he believed the wealth was bad for her upbringing due to following the principle of humbleness and poverty.
Kotomine Kirei is an antagonist in all three scenarios of Fate/stay night, though he is the only absolute villain in Fate. Kirei is almost always the first to have access to the Holy Grail, though he cares little for it himself; he is more interested in the results of wishes made upon a tainted artifact, especially with individuals who possess pure souls or good intentions.
In Fate, he apparently remains out of the plot until nearly the end. Shirou goes to Kotomine's place again hoping to get advice but he finds out he was the Master of not only Lancer, but Gilgamesh as well. He reveals that he has been keeping Gilgamesh from the previous war. Since then, he was using orphans from the fire incident to supply Gilgamesh with Mana. He uses the Grail as bait to tempt Saber and Shirou into using it, but they refuse.
In the final day of the war, Kirei and Shirou fight in a cataclysmic final battle, the same as Kirei and Kiritsugu ten years ago. Shirou and Saber (fighting Gilgamesh) use Avalon at the same time and defeat their enemies. Ironically, the knife that killed Kotomine Kirei was the same Azoth knife that he gave to Rin and used to murder her father, Tokiomi, many years ago.
Unlimited Blade Works
In Unlimited Blade Works Kirei's goals are unchanged, but he also lends his Archer to Shinji Matou so his presence in the general scope of events is pretty much minimal.
During the war, he is assumed deceased by the hands of Caster when she raids the church to acquire the Holy Grail vessel and obtain a new hideout, but Rin taunts the witch saying that if she was not able to find the corpse, that means that Kirei is still alive.
He reappears at Einzbern Castle alongside Matou Shinji, reveals to a kidnapped Rin that he was the one who murdered her father ten years ago and orders Lancer to rip out her heart and replace it with the Grail vessel. As Lancer just outright disobeys his order, Kotomine uses a Command Spell to order the Servant to kill himself, but as he was proceeding to finish the job, he is killed by a still alive Lancer (thanks to the Battle Continuation skill).
His corpse burns away as a dying Lancer proceeds to burn the castle with a Ansuz rune, just after saving Rin.
In Heaven's Feel route, he finds in Matou Sakura a way to find the answer to what he was looking all his life. The "training" that Matou Zouken did to her in the years between wars turned her into a Lesser Grail, the Black Grail of Makiri. With her innate connection to the dark being that sleeps within the Grail since the Third War, he plans to see the Grail completion and the birth of Angra Mainyu, thanks to the Third Magic.
He uses Emiya Shirou's love for Sakura to ensure her safety, and when Sakura is tainted by the shadow inside her, Kirei aids Shirou in a raid against her and Zouken to save Ilya, the White Grail of Einzberns. They manage to rescue Ilya, but are confronted with both True Assassin and Dark Berserker. Kirei has an old score to settle with Zouken, and so stalls True Assassin behind and pins him to a tree using the information he got by observing Lancer's last battle, and then proceeds to exorcise Matou Zouken. Afterwards, however, Sakura arrives and stops his black heart, giving him only a few hours to live.
Near the end, Kirei suddenly appears, intending to stop Shirou destroying something he has desired to witness. He wonders about the behavior and stability of an entity born of evil. After he gave up on salvation and happiness, he questioned the meaning of his own existence. Namely, he questioned how a being like himself was allowed to be born. Kirei sought to find the answer by completing the tainted Grail as he figured that the tainted Grail was a larger version of himself and by watching its birth, he would be able to find the answer to his lifetime question. Contrary to Kiritsugu, Shirou is, like Kirei, an empty human being pursuing happiness. The only difference is that Kirei was unable to find happiness outside evil, so this fight is also a way to release his frustration and envy to normal people. Finally, Shirou notices that he likes Kotomine Kirei, and the two proceed to engage in a fateful fight like the one ten years ago. With their bodies half-dead, the only action they are able to perform is hand-to-hand combat.
As Kirei's heart was stopped in the forest, he loses to Shirou as his body gives out first. With his last words, Kirei declares Emiya Shirou as the winner of the fifth Holy Grail War and the last Master, to then his body crumble lifeless.
In the manga, Kirei's role both remains the same as his roles in the Fate and Unlimited Blade Works scenarios and expanded at the same time. In the manga, he remains inactive in most of the beginning and apparently remains out of the plot until nearly the end. When Caster attacks him and takes over the Church, Kirei sends Lancer to help Shirou and Rin to defeat Caster (he actually just wants to keep Shirou and Rin alive long enough so that he can murder them personally). Later when he comes out of hiding and returns to the church he finds a dying Caster suffering and mourning over her master's death. Upon seeing this Kirei decides to heal and fully revive Caster and offers her a chance of winning the Holy Grail and a chance at revenge if she becoming his servant (This is all a deception as Kotomine is just using her to allow him to have the joy of seeing her suffer and fail even more). Following Caster, her assault of the Emiya residence and death and after Gilgamesh's ambush, Shirou goes to Kotomine Church again hoping to get advice but he finds out he was the Master of not only Lancer, but Gilgamesh as well. He reveals that he has been keeping Gilgamesh from the previous war. Since then, he was using orphans from the fire incident to supply Gilgamesh with prana. He uses the Grail as bait to tempt Saber and Shirou into using it, but they refuse.
Kotomine is not present in Fate/hollow ataraxia, his role as the overseer of the Holy Grail War was given to Caren Hortensia (who is later hinted to be his daughter). However, he is mentioned during several scenes (most notably during flashbacks by Bazett, as he is the one who betrayed her).
He is given the title Executor in Fate/unlimited codes.
Kirei has the qualifications of a Church Executor and specializes in healing by spiritual mediation. He is a first class Executor, but he still cannot match the seventh of the Burial Agency on normal terms. However, while he is at his strongest during the Fourth Holy Grail War, where his combat ability is equal to that of a Dead Apostle due to his Command Spells, he could win even against her.
In melee fighting with just his amazing strength, while utilizing the "Explosive Power" technique from Bajiquan martial arts, Kirei seriously injured Maiya, a dagger-wielding opponent, with just one strike, snapped a fully grown tree to break free Irisviel's alchemist silver wires when he was tied in only a few and using the ‘Eight Postures of the Buddha Guards’ style, the sheer force of Kirei’s strike was able to crush Kiritsugu's thoracic cavity with his lung and heart pounded into a mash of meat and only surviving thanks to Avalon. His frock had been reinforced with bullet-proof materials (Kevlar), and processed to protect against spells and from 9mm bullets.
Even attacked by a blind spot with the Innate Time Control at three times the speed of normal humans, Kirei was able to block every attack using just his left arm as he had reached a certain state in his skills, he wouldn’t need eyesight to detect the enemy’s movement. He could predict the opponent’s next move purely on the brief moment when his arm blocked that of his opponent, rendering attacks from his blind spot pointless.
Kotomine fights against Assassin in the Heaven's Feel route, but it is not a true battle. While ten Black Keys and one of his Command Spells left over after removing most of the Crest Worms from Sakura would be more than enough for a low ranking spirit, he couldn't kill a Servant even if he managed to make successful strikes with all of them. He does believe that having a weapon on the Scripture scale could potentially allow him to defeat a Heroic Spirit. Though Assassin's dirks are only meant to judge an opponent's skill until he can make use of Zabaniya to land a fatal strike, all twenty-three are still thrown with the intent to kill, so Assassin sees Kotomine's skill in being able to block and avoid them for such a long period as admirable.
Kotomine, having seen Assassin fight Lancer, knows of this strategy and uses it against Assassin due to the unique nature of his heart. Zabaniya is unable to kill him, and Assassin is instead bound to a tree by the Black Keys. It is the equivalent of a scratch to him, but the holy nails keep him from saving Zouken. While he cannot directly fight against Servants, he claims that he can harm Servants without Masters. Once they no longer have an active source of magical energy, his holy words can affect Servants because they can be considered no different than the wandering spirits of the Einzbern Forest.
Kirei is a practitioner of a branch of Bajiquan referred to by Gen Urobuchi as "Super Bajiquan", born from a fusion of regular Bajiquan and magecraft. It is a reckless art, one that Kirei refers to as a "mimicry of taolu without much in it", but he is still exceptionally skilled. He takes the shortest route to damage his opponent's inside rather than their outside, crushing Kiritsugu's lungs and heart with a single blow, and badly damaging Shirou's internal organs even as his skin turned to steel. He has mastered the art of "hearing a move", and doesn't need his eyes to detect and react to an enemy's movements, predicting and easily reacting to them. Even when Kiritsugu accelerated his speed by three times and Kirei had one usable arm and blood in his eye, he was able to block all of Kiritsugu's attacks with one hand. In his final fight with Shirou during Heaven's Feel, his skill was such that Shirou didn't land a single blow.
The main weapons of the Church’s Executors, a sacrament taking the form of a long, slender sword. Despite appearances, they are not made for melee combat, but instead as projectiles. By hitting a target’s shadow with a Black Key, the target is immobilized, incapable of moving away as their shadow is pinned. They negate regeneration and have the ability to intervene against “evil”, allowing them to pin even Servants, though they cannot lethally harm them.
After being shot in the heart by Kiritsugu, Kirei was revived when the mud of the Grail washed over his Servant, Gilgamesh, and, unable to corrupt him, followed the line of mana to Kirei. It healed his wound and his connection to the Grail acts as a replacement for his heart. It makes him highly resistant to curses that target humans, rendering him immune to Zabaniya and allowing him to freely interact with the mud of the Grail. Due to his connection, he can manipulate it as he pleases as long as the Grail is available, creating whip-like tendrils from the mud to attack opponents. The mud's curse melts one's body and mind, exposing them to the full curse of All the World's Evil, and ultimately destroying them as their mind and body collapse under the weight of all the pain and hatred.
Kirei was born with Magic Circuits despite being born into a non-Magus family, a reward for his father's years of pious worship. While he studied many types of magecraft under Tokiomi Tohsaka, he mastered none, always stopping short of the last step and discarding all his previous efforts. He is ultimately a beginner-level magus. The only magecraft he shows any real skill in are physical reinforcement and spiritual healing. His skill as a spiritual doctor is among the greatest in the world. Spiritual healing revolves around the healing of the soul rather than flesh, and Kirei's knowledge allows him to use it to remove the Command Spells of others. Using Command Spells, he is able to realize a miracle and perform surgery on Sakura Matou to save her life from the Crest Worms eating away at her body and mind.
The sole spell officially taught to members of the Church, the words of God and the greatest weapon against spirits. By reciting the chant, Kirei can exorcise wandering souls, nearly instantly destroying Zouken's spiritual body. He survived only because his true body is located elsewhere, but it still injured him extremely badly, accelerating the degradation of his soul. It can even potentially destroy Servants without a Master, as at that point they are no more than another wandering spirit.
While Kirei initially only had the three Command Spells given to every Master, he lost those when Assassin died, and later gained new ones when the Grail deemed him worthy. He inherited an even greater amount of Command Spells from his father, all of those collected from previous wars, and he can transfer the Command Spells of others to his own body. While he can use them to command his Servant, this would be idiotic, as Gilgamesh's pride would not accept such a slight, so he instead uses them to reinforce his own magecraft due to his weak, underdeveloped circuits. Through these "mantra boosts", he can boost his strength to a level comparable to that of a Servant, allowing him to defeat the likes of True Assassin and Ciel in combat.