Every now and then, I'll be giving anime recommendations because this art form gives me inspiration to write. So many of these series and movies have given birth to many of my characters that not including these inspirations would be a crime. Some of my recommendations will be yaoi, some of them will be silly, some have touched my soul and changed my life. All of them have been worth the while to watch, at least for me.
So without further explanation...
My first anime recommendation is Fate/Zero.
Seven Masters call upon seven historical heroes to fight a war over the holy grail--an omnipotent wish granting item that mages fight over every 60 years.
Fate/Zero is the Game of Thrones for anime.
The fascinating thing is this series goes into the lives of each mage and perhaps why the grail chooses them to participate in the Holy Grail War.
Another interesting thing about the story is that the servants or "heroes" don't always agree with their masters and don't always have to do what they say. There are no true "lap dogs" here.
Naming the characters from the picture above, Top (servants) from left to right: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin, Beserker.
Bottom (Masters) from left to right: Kiritsugu Emiya, Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald, Tokiomi Tohsaka, Waver Velvet, Ryūnosuke Uryū, Kirei Kotomine, Kariya Matou
For my sanity, I'm going to address the servants as I can remember them better.
Saber and her master don't get along thus the proxy master is Kiritsugu's wife. Kiritsugu has a dream of ending all wars but Saber and he have differences as to how that's achieved.
Lancer is a knight of renown and he and Saber respect each other and seem to enjoy their fights. His master is only interested in the glory of having won the Holy Grail War.
Archer is the most arrogant king on the face of the planet--however, he's deserves to be arrogant because he's also intelligent and has a great understanding of people. His master is elegant and could pull off this war if he can keep Kiritsugu from killing him.
Rider -- I have to say this Master/servant pairing is the best for the growth of each other. Rider is more a father figure for his master and protects him through much of the time during the Holy Grail War.
Caster, another great pairing as they understand each other so well. They don't have any interest in the Holy Grail and set about new ways to kill. They are both mass murderers but the camaraderie they have together is fascinating. Caster's master, Ryūnosuke, gives Caster a new outlook on God that is actually so zen you have to wonder. They are amazing together but it was fate that they were the first pair to die in the holy grail war.
Assassin -- look at him, then look down at his master. Assassin is totally saying to himself I am so screwed. And he was as the first servant to die. His master, Kirei, was trained by Archer's master and upheld a pact to work together with the mage to win the war. However, when Assassin dies Kirei is given another seal to participate in the War, but he must steal a servant from another master first.
Last but saddest of all -- Berserker. Kariya is only fighting in the Holy Grail War for his niece. He took her place in the war and had to prepare in a most horrible of ways. His servant is unpredictable, ill-tempered and causes great destruction to Kirei himself. Yet Berserker is probably the best choice for him as he's not the greatest of mages and Berserker has the potential to go for longer than any other servant. His story is heart breaking and you know that even if he wins--he might not survive long enough to even see the grail or hold his niece in his arms again.
I love this story because it goes into the lives of the 7 masters. They all are fascinating. It really comes alive as you watch and get lost in a war of hope.
Be prepared for your heart to be wrenched out and eaten by this story. And it's totally worth it.