- True Name: Karna
- Class: Lancer
- Source: Mahabharata
- Region: India
- Gender: Male
- Alignment: Lawful Good
- Height: 178cm
- Weight: 65kg
- Character Creator: Kinoko Nasu
- Character Illustrator: pako
- Character Voice: Kouji Yusa
- Appearance in Main Works: Fate/EXTRA CCC, Fate/Apocrypha
Magic Resistance: [C]
Negates spells with a chant of two verses or less.
Cannot defend against something more complex, like high magecraft or ritual curses.
However, this statement does not apply for when he’s under the effect of his golden armor Noble Phantasm.
Can freely control all beasts and vehicles, except those under the Phantasmal Beast/Divine Beast rank.
Being the son of the sun god Surya and having unified himself with him after death, Karna has the greatest Divine Spirit Suitability.
This Divine Spirit Suitability works as a powerful defense against sun god Heroic Spirits with a Divinity of B or lower.
Discernment of the Poor: [A]
Insight that sees through others’ personality and attribute.
He can’t be deceived by verbal excuses and deceptions.
It displays the power to grasp others’ nature, which Karna got because his status as a man with no family blessed him with the opportunity to question the lives and the worth of the weak.
Uncrowned Arms Mastery: [-]
Armed combat skills there weren’t acknowledged by others for several reasons.
Others will see his sword, spear, archery, Riding and Divinity as one rank lower than the actual value. This effect disappears when his True Name is deduced or revealed.
Mana Burst (Flames): [A]
The power to infuse mana into his weapon.
For Karna, blazing flames become mana that dwells in his weapon.
This Skill is constantly active and any weapon in Karna’s hands is affected by this effect.
Kavacha & Kundala (Sun, become mail)
- Rank: A
- Type: Anti-Unit (Self) Noble Phantasm
- Range: 0
- Max. targets: 1 person
Karna’s mother Kunti feared becoming an unmarried mother and made a wish to Surya, asking for a golden armor and earring to protect their son.
This is a powerful Defense Noble Phantasm that releases the sun’s radiance.
Since it is light itself taken form, even the gods find it difficult to destroy.
It is unified with Karna’s flesh. (It is sealed in Fate/GO but its armor is visible in his first and second Ascensions)
Brahmastra Kundala (Brahma, curse me)
- Rank: A+
- Type: Anti-Country Noble Phantasm
- Range: 2-90
- Max. targets: 600 people
The Anti-Country Noble Phantasm Karna received from the Brahman Parashurama.
It manifests as bow if his Class is Archer, or a different projectile if his Class is anything else. Adding the effects of Karna’s attribute of intense heat, one hit becomes comparable to a nuclear weapon.
(Its True Name is not released in Fate/GO)
Vasavi Shakti (Sun, abide to death)
- Rank: EX
- Type: Anti-Divine Noble Phantasm
- Range: 2-5
- Max. targets: 1 person
The single-use Spear of Light that can take down even the gods. The spear of mortality, made of lighting.
It manifests in exchange for his armor, replacing tremendous defensive power for a powerful spear with Anti-Divine properties.
First person pronoun: ore
Second person pronoun: omae
Third person pronoun: kare/kanojo
At first glance, he tends to be misinterpreted as a heartless Servant, callous and not mincing his word, but he actually has a moderate and thoughtful personality.
He’s something of a natural-born saint in how he accepts enemies and allies, regardless of circumstances, as valid.
He respects everyone, under the idea that all people are like flowers, and can effortless accept ideologies different from his own.
The reason why he’s so often mistaken for a villain is because he sees through all falsehood and phrases his speech in a way that exposes the person’s true nature.
People trying to be good get indignant when their inner darkness get pointed out and people trying to be evil get enraged when their faint remnants of goodness get acknowledged. However, Karna assumes his problem is saying too much, when it’s actually saying too little. Because he can’t convey the part he was really supposed to, he is always hated at the end. Or the person assumes Karna hates them.
Attitude Towards Master
There’s no other Servant more loyal than him, but due to his aforementioned way of speaking, it’s easy for him to be hated by the Master.
He apparently took an immense shock when a previous Master pointed out “You don’t speak too much, you speak too little” and is doing what he can to fix that. He has no wish for the Grail. He was simply summoned for his power and is here only to attend this call.
“I was above you and that’s all that is to it. Nothing for you to be concerned about.” (when he wins)
“I don’t exactly hate it but… I have problems with communication. Can people really understand each other through words…?”
“A previous Master said something to me once. ‘You don’t speak too much, you speak too little.’ Since then, I’ve been trying to find a way to fix that… It’s working? I see… I see.”
Historical Character and Figure
A great variety of characters appear in the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, but the de facto protagonist is Arjuna.
And the greatest rival opposing Arjuna is him, Karna.
He is also Arjuna’s half-brother on their mother’s side and has the blood of the sun god.
With Arjuna as the protagonist, Karna should have inevitably fitted into a villain role, but instead he is portrayed in the Mahabharata’s story as a tragedy hero and boasts immense popularity even in present day India as a hero that never stops fighting despite the constant torment of the caste system.
When Karna’s mother Kunti took care of Sage Durvasa, he thanked her with a present: one Mantra. It allowed her to summon forth any god and bear a child of the gods. As a test, Kunti summons the sun god Surya and bears his child. A decision she comes to regret.
At the time, giving birth to a child before marriage was a huge problem, so the concerned Kunti discards Karna in a river.
Luckily enough, he is adopted by a charioteer couple and starts displaying remarkable martial arts talent as he grows up.
In a Kaurava conference, Arjuna, one of the 5 Pandava princes, showed transcendental archery skills.
The audience showered him with praise, with the only contrarian being Karna. Karna displays archery skills on par with Arjuna and goes as far as requesting a one-on-one duel. However, the 5 Pandava brothers respond asking “What is your caste?”. In order to challenge Arjuna, a prince, your caste needs to be at least Kshatriya (warrior) and Karna didn’t qualify for that.
Luckily, Duryodhana, a dissenter of the Pandavas, takes a liking to Karna and ushers him into kinghood.
However, Karna’s foster father appears there, exposing Karna’s origins. He was the son of a charioteer.
Karna was indignant at the Pandava brothers for making his caste into laughingstock. He’s always complete fine with himself being mocked, but they insulted his foster father.
Karna started to serve his new friend Duryodhana. Karna and Arjuna’s mutual rivalry would deepen in the competition for Draupadi (who later became the wife of the Pandava brothers), until they finally settle who is on top on the Kurukshetra War. A war for territory breaks out between the 100 Kaurava princes (Duryodhana being one of them) and the 5 Pandava brothers.
At this time, a woman approaches Karna as he commands his army.
It was Kunti, the biological mother who birthed, then abandoned Karna. She confesses to him that she is his mother. The Pandava brothers are also sons of Kunti, therefore Arjuna is Karna’s half-brother.
Although Karna rejected her wish for him to switch to the Pandava brothers’ side, impressed by Kunti’s courage to admit her shameful crime, he swore not to attack any brother other than Arjuna.
For that reason, Karna let the non-Arjuna Pandava brothers escape the battlefield alive multiple times.
Later, immediately before the final battle, Indra, the thunder god, appears before Karna.
Karna was under an oath to never reject a request from a Brahmin, so when asked for his golden armor and earrings (that is, his Noble Phantasm Kavacha & Kundala), he peels away the items that were fused with his flesh. Impressed by his outstanding nobility, Indra grants Karna a single Divine Spear. The one and only Vasavi Shakti.
But even that wasn’t a fair replacement for an armor that promised him de facto immortality. When Arjuna approached Karna in the final battle, he had no trace left of his former strength.
With one curse making his chariot’s wheel get bogged down, another curse rendering unable to remember his weapons’ True Names, and without his immortality, Karna no longer had any ways to avoid Arjuna’s arrow.
But Arjuna wouldn’t shoot.
Because before the war, both parties agreed upon a rule: it’s forbidden to attack anyone who is no longer able to fight.
As long as his chariot was bogged, Arjuna was not allowed to shoot him.
“Ignore this rule”, whispers Arjuna’s charioteer Krishna.
Arjuna listen to the devilish whispers and regrets it for the rest of his life.
Karna, on the other hand, is weirdly proud of the fact that a hero on Arjuna’s level would go as far as breaking the rules to defeat him.
Karna and Arjuna drew their bows with all their might…
And in the end, Arjuna’s bow shot down the sun.
His half-brother, with enough connections of fate to him to fill entire books. One day we will be able to talk about one without talking about the other (or so we hope).
He’s very similar to his old friend Duryodhana. Unbelievably identical in the ways they get ahead of themselves and the ways the act like it’s the end of the world when they fail. But it’s always pleasant to see how quickly they get back on their feet.
Someone he knows through Edison. Some Servants in Chaldea refer to this duo as “Edison’s two mommies”.
Tamamo no Mae:
They are on good terms with each other for some reason. Tamamo no Mae often approaches him for casual conversation, which something Karna appreciates (but not all that much).
Comment from the Illustrator
Having seeing him appear before in CCC and Apocrypha, I was very happy for the chance to draw him myself, too. “A Lancer is not a Lancer if they’re not wearing tights!”, I say even though those are not supposed to be tights. I believe Karna-san is designed as a man who is hot for the modern Japanese standards but wasn’t considered hot when he was alive. Just look at how he has no beard, is thin as a stick and has dead fish eyes. Although those are the elements that make him look so pretty in my drawings. (pako)
(Lib will add after publish)