|“||You don't need to grieve over me. I am already part of you. Enduring only the pain of your own sundering is enough.||„|
|~ Irisviel von Einzbern|
Irisviel von Einzbern is the lead female character of the light novel and anime series Fate/Zero. She is a homunculus coined by the Einzbern family based on the archetype of Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern, thus referred as a Justeaze-late model. The one who became the mother body of the ultimate homunculus, among all Einzbern homunculi in the past, she is the only who experienced motherhood and gave birth to a successor. She loves Kiritsugu Emiya, her husband, and Illyasviel von Einzbern, her daughter. In spite of his normally restrained attitude, Kiritsugu calls her "Iri" out of affection. Irisviel is a vessel of the Holy Grail, but compared to Illyasviel, she is a less refined model.
Because the plan of conceiving Illyasviel was decided after Irisviel was coined, her pregnancy of Illyasviel was not much of a natural development since it was an additional role imposed onto her that she originally was not supposed to have. An exception among Einzbern homunculi whose functions are determined when they are designed. Such an exception happened due to Jubstacheit von Einzbern’s judgment that doing so would be more efficient to nurse a child rather than producing a homunculus.
Thus, despite being a homunculus, Irisviel had a human woman’s experience of giving birth to and raising a child (similar to herself) as a mother, and this has a greater influence over her feelings than Jubstacheit expected. Made to be a puppet with no desires, she managed to find happiness in her existence when she gave birth to Illyasviel.
Furthermore, nine years is a long time to maintain a relationship with a human. Before her there were no precedents of an Einzbern-made homunculus with such colorful and eccentric personality. To put it bluntly, she was the first Einzbern homunculus to be treated like a human being and learn human emotions to such an extent. Originally an existence that surpassed humans solely through the functions of mind and body, her personality did not collapse even after going through an uncommon development, and she managed to attain self-consciousness without any feelings of inferiority just like any human being.
Irisviel is quite peculiar compared to other Einzbern homunculi. She was the first to have received the same treatment as a human and the first to have human emotions. Furthermore, she has interacted with humans for nine years and developed such colorful and eccentric mental activity. She was originally a blank slate that did not possesses any human qualities. Her physical and mental capabilities surpasses those of a human, so they did not fail her during her exceptional growth, allowing her to gain self-awareness and emotions.
Her knowledge of human emotion and human experiences is limited due to having lived for only 9 years without ever leaving Einzbern castle and only having Kiritsugu to teach her about the world. This is in contrast with her inherent knowledge and reason, the crystallization of the Einzbern's wisdom accumulated over millennia, that comes with the format of a homunculus. The result is her having both the elegance of an upper-class lady and the innocent nature of a child. Despite her innocent nature, or perhaps because of it, Irisviel is rarely shaken by anything and remains very calm in any situation.
Homunculi normally have their functions determined during their design process, but Irisviel developed the plan to conceive Illya after she was created. Jubstacheit decided to allow a special case in that she was to hold multiple "functions different from the plan", allowing her to both give birth and rear Ilya. This allowed Irisviel to experience raising a child like a human mother, affecting her character in a way that Jubstacheit could not have predicted.
Before meeting Kiritsugu, Irisviel had no emotion nor any sense of self-preservation beyond ensuring that she would survive as the Holy Grail. After Kiritsugu taught her the modern world, she developed a sense of self. She loves Kiritsugu Emiya, her husband, and Illyasviel von Einzbern, her daughter. Despite his normally restrained attitude, Kiritsugu calls her "Iri" out of affection.
Though she acts as one who is sheltered and innocent, Irisviel displays a mature attitude and understanding towards Kiritsugu and the agony he suffers, as well as the knowledge that she will likely die in the war because of his actions. She also tries to present Saber with a better impression of Kiritsugu since Saber feels her Master's cold nature derives from his belief she is unsatisfactory as a Servant because she is female. She approved of Kiritsugu's ideal and vowed to sacrifice herself for its sake, but the truth is that she never actually understood that ideal. She simply wanted to walk the same path together with the person she loved, but – in order not to burden Kiritsugu – she decided to behave as a woman who would die for that same ideal rather than just a woman that would die for her husband. Although she wished for Kiritsugu and Saber to keep winning and end the fighting, she had little desire towards achieving the Third Magic, which was the Einzbern family's ambition.
She enjoys driving, but she is not very skilled. Kiritsugu bought her a "toy", a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, famous for being Japan's Yujiro Ishihara's favorite car, to educate her about modern science. It is a bit classical in terms of education because part of the reason it was chosen was Irisviel's own taste. While it was a custom model ordered by Kiritsugu, it lacked any substantial modifications. It was later stored in the Einzbern mansion after the Fourth War, happily becoming Illya's toy.
As a homunculus of the Einzbern, Irisviel possesses a genetic resemblance to her ancestor, Justeaze Lizrich von Einzbern, who formed the core of the Holy Grail when the Holy Grail Wars began. Her silver hair and crimson eyes are distinctive traits of Einzbern homunculi, such that Tohsaka Tokiomi recognizes right away that she is a member of the Einzbern family.
Because of her striking appearance, she tends to stand out, despite her attempts to dress informally. Irisviel dresses in long white gowns trimmed in gold in the Einzbern castle, but wears more functional clothing when she goes to Japan. Her clothing choice, though considerably less formal than her usual garb, is still considered by ordinary people to be high-end fashion. Irisviel wears a burgundy blouse with a brooch, a white skirt, thigh-high white boots, and black tights; in cold weather, she also wears an elegant fur-trimmed white coat and a white fur cap.
During the 4th Holy Grail War, Irisviel became the provisional Master of Saber while relying not on the Servant System, but simply through the vows of chivalry. Saber's actual Master is Kiritsugu Emiya, the Einzbern family's representative in that war who decided to act independently from his Servant and arrived in Fuyuki City without her. After Kiritsugu summoned Saber, he made Irisviel hide Avalon – which had served as a catalyst to the summoning – inside her body so to serve as insurance while she performed her act of fake Master. Irisviel’s and Saber’s role at the time was to openly take action and serve as a decoy in order to lure out enemies, while Kiritsugu worked in the shadows with his assistant, Maiya Hisau.
Due to her secluded and isolated upbringing, she is fascinated with Fuyuki City and openly explores the city with Saber as her escort during her first day. Incidentally, the fact that Saber, who could not dematerialize her spiritual body, disguised herself as a man at that time was mainly due to Irisviel's tastes, proof of how her carefree nature extended itself to her relationship with Saber. The two got along well and became close enough friends for Saber to be willing to tell the story of her past to Irisviel.
Like the Einzbern Masters of the past, Irisviel is skilled in Magecraft but is not suited for combat, making her generally left to be an observer whenever Saber entered in battle. At the same time, she also relays information to Kiritsugu through technological means, such as tracking devices and cell phones, which remained undetected by other Masters. She and Saber meet with Kiritsugu and Maiya a limited number of times during the war to decide which Masters and Servants to focus their attacks on, but rarely worked together.
After Assassin, Caster and Lancer are defeated, she agrees to a ceasefire agreement proposed by Tokiomi Tohsaka under the terms of “offering information about Rider and Waver Velvet’s hideout” and “Kirei Kotomine’s deportation to overseas”.
As the vessel of the Holy Grail, Irisviel grew increasingly weaker as the Heaven's Feel progressed since as the Servants were being defeated, her functions as a human being had to be suppressed so her body could act as a Holy Grail. However, due to Kiritsugu hiding Avalon inside of her, it was possible to preserve her human functions to an extent by remaining at Saber’s side. She never told Saber any of this. But even Avalon's protection had its limitations and eventually she became physically incapacitated and was unable to do anything but to stay laying inside a magic circle and talk. When, Kiritsugu came to say his goodbyes before she turned incapable of remaining conscious, she entrusted Avalon to him.
During the final days of the war, Kiritsugu and Saber searched the remaining Servants and Masters while Maiya was left to protect Irisviel. They are confronted by Berserker, in the guise of Rider, who then abducts Irisviel and mortally wounds Maiya. Following her abduction, she is taken to Kotomine Kirei, who asked her what Kiritsugu's wish for the Holy Grail was due his personal interest in the man. Dissatisfied with her answer that Kiritsugu wanted to create a world without war and that Kotomine would never understand her husband, she was knocked unconscious; in the anime, Kotomine openly kills her.
With the war drawing to a close, Irisviel's conscious begins seeing visions induced by the Holy Grail, including one with piles of homunculi bodies with her form. When Irisviel begins dreaming of Illya asking when her father will return, Irisviel tries to reassure her daughter that her frightening dream of becoming a "cup" being filled with "seven big lumps" as she embraces Illya. However, Irisviel soon realizes that her consciousness has merged with the Holy Grail; the tainted artifact took on Irisviel's personality.
When Kiritsugu is submerged in the contents of the Grail during his battle with Kotomine, he encounters the spirit of the Grail in the form of Irisviel, who goes on to show him how his wish would be granted by the tainted Grail. After seeing all his loved ones destroyed in order to fulfill his wish, Kiritsugu realizes his true wish was to revive Irisviel and be with Ilya, but found out he could not accept the Grail as a result. Destroying the illusions of his wife and daughter, he awakens up from the vision presented by the Holy Grail and decides to destroy the Grail.
The Magecraft that she inherited involves the creation and forging of matter, as well as its applications. Her grade as a magus surpasses that of Kiritsugu. However, her abilities are ill-suited for the direct combat required in the Holy Grail War.
Her weapons are thin, long and flexible wires, which she uses to either produce an instantaneous homunculus with alchemy that attacks the enemy while changing itself into numerous shapes. She may also use her weapon to immobilize her target.
Because of her nature as a homunculus, she does not require food so long as she has a supply of prana.
Irisviel's other skills include driving a car, which she learned from Kiritsugu. Though she is capable of operating a car, she tends to drive in a haphazard fashion as a result of failing to understand traffic laws and street signs and from treating a car as a toy rather than a vehicle. Furthermore, she initially learned to drive only in the confined grounds of the Einzbern castle in Germany, thus she finds driving on the long stretches of highway in Fuyuki City to be exciting, which increases her dangerous driving habits.