Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #003 – Spoilers: Archer Uses a Bow

hisui_icon_4040 People always like to bring up the fact that for someone who was summoned in the Archer class it seems like Rin’s servant sure uses swords a whole bunch. As I have stated before I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the Archer class in Fate/Stay Night is heavily based on the Ranger class in D&D. Rangers in D&D can uses swords and bows equally well and usually specialize in either being able to master their ranged combat or how to dual wield melee weapons. Clearly the Wrought Iron Hero picked two swords as this Ranger specialization of choice. Why Nasu decided to name the class Archer instead of Ranger is a question only he can answer. But we do get to see Archer use the heck out of a bow in this episode reminding everyone that he is a proper distance attacker when he is allowed to be.

This episode is also the first time we really get to see some serious nods back to Fate/Zero with some original scenes that were not in the original visual novel. They don’t really change to story but they do give some greater insight to what was happening during the battle with Berserker. The connection of Illya and Saber still goes mostly unaddressed in this version of Fate/Stay Night but the little scene here is more than we have ever gotten before. But the again Nasu has already stated that while he can make up excuses of why Saber and Illya never really acknowledge each other in the visual novel it is best not to think about it too hard and generally accept his hand waving about the issue.

Enough book keeping. There is fighting to be done.

The little devil girl has arrived to kill Rin and Shiro (Or at least kill Rin and Saber and then do less than savory things to Shiro.) While Berserker is a huge blunt weapon he is an amazingly tough blunt weapon that is far more agile than he has any right to be. Saber can just barely keep him at bay and Archer’s long range support is more and annoyance than a deciding factor. To add insult to injury Illya is just as formidable as her servant. What can you do against an agile wall of death?

I pride myself on keeping the blog in general, and my Type-Moon posts in particular, to having a minimum amount of creepiness. So if this skirts the edge for anyone I will apologize in advance. It just really wanted to mention how amazing Rider’s legs look in that picture. It is easy to focus the her lady like curves above the waist with her outfit but she does have a pair getaway sticks that would give Rin and run for her money.

OK. Enough of the Rider appreciation society.  She will get her time to shine when Heaven’s Feel comes along.

Before the fighting starts it is nice to see Saber at least acknowledge that Illya and the Einzbern family are things that she is somewhat aware of. Nasu’s official story is that since the Illya she knew should be much older looking Saber just assumes this little girl is just some J. Random Einzbern clone like Sella and Leysritt and not Irisviel’s daughter.

There is no official reason for Illya not reacting to Saber. I could guess that if you really WANTED an excuse you have to remember that technically Servants can’t remember what has happened to them the previous times they have been summoned. That is why it is such a big deal that Saber remembers her last summoning and Archer can do the same in Fate/Extra. Servants are supposed to be new copies each time they are summoned. With that in mind it can be assumed that Illya just thinks that this Arturia is a new Saber who would not remember her at all.

See. I can fill in plot holes with the best of them.

Illya is clearly not even slightly worried about fighting two Servants and their Masters at the same time. At the same time neither Rin, Archer, Saber, or Shiro comments about this being overconfidence. It is clear that Berserker has the power to back up Illya’s naked bravado. Rin has Archer fall back so he can snipe at a distance while Saber will do all the close combat. This works enough for them not to die but not enough to even really inconvenience Berserker. Rin’s gem magic and Archer’s regular arrows are more dangerous as things that just might slow him down than as actually objects that might hurt him. The group knew he was going to be tough but this is a whole other level.

After some intense fighting Illya realizes that three of the four combatants fighting her are mostly inconsequential and has Berserker focus on Saber as she sees her as the only real threat. This causes the fight to move away from the hill they were on to a nearby cemetery. This leaves Rin and Shiro to lick their wounds. Rin rushes off to do what she can and tells Shiro to just run home as he can’t really do anything here.

In this path Shiro is not nearly the headstrong shonen protagonist he is in the Fate path. While he curses his ineffectiveness he does at least realize his limits in this path. Looking at the devastation he realizes that Servants are creatures with combat abilities beyond that of regular humans.  But Shiro being Shiro he eventually decides while he might not be able to kill Berserker he can’t abandon Saber in her time of need. While he is not exactly sure what he can do he knows he won’t just run away.

This is the first original scene in the episode. This is probably the far less interesting one. It is mostly Gilgamesh and a Kotomine as they discuss the change in the priest’s mood after learning that Shiro is the last Master. This would normally be a huge spoiler but since most of the people watching this series have seen Fate/Zero most of the elements of this scene that would be spoilers are just common knowledge. Kotomine’s sinister nature, Kotomine’s rivalry with Kiritsugu, and the priest’s partnership with Gilgamesh could all be considered cards that were played too soon otherwise. But since those facts has been revealed to the viewer they can instead explore some of Gilgamesh and Kotomine’s headspace. It is very clear that Shiro is Kotomine’s methods of dealing with the defeat at the hands of  Kiritsugu a decade ago.

I will agree with Gilgamesh. A smiling Kotomine is very creepy.

Also this is my message to Kinoko Nasu: No matter how many times you throw in Gilgamesh it will not get Kate to watch this show. I’m sorry. (I’m talking about this Kate nor that KATE.)

I mostly put this here so I could get a solid Saber picture in the mix. I mean she is fairly prominent in the episode. It is nice to see her using some tactics. It is one thing to make a big deal about how much Saber was a great king and a thinking warrior but is another thing to see her actually use her head in a battle. Her use of tactics against Berserker is shown with a minimum of expository text from Professional Commentator Rin.

This is the other original scene. I really like this one. All too often we are told what a total bad ass mage Illya is, how she has so many magic circuits, and how she is a giant mana battery. But in general we never actually see her fight in the visual novel. She mostly just taunts people while letting other people fight for her. This fight shows off her magical ability in action.We actually are shown that she is a magical powerhouse against the know quantity that is Rin.

We also see her use the monofilament bird familiars that her mother used to use but clearly Illya’s pack a bit more of a punch. These seem far more numerous, dangerous, and autonomous. I wounder how much will actually see Illya throw down with other people later in the story. She does go a bit gently into that good night with Gilgamesh confronts her later on. It would be nice to see her put up a bit of a struggle even if it is ultimately futile.

Rin’s sneak attack is a fairly good idea. If they can’t beat Berserker it is much easier to kill the little girl controlling him. Well it would be a good idea if she were not a miniature fortress herself. She is able to easily deflect Rin’s attacks and send her on the defensive almost immediately. She is only really able to escape thanks to Archer’s intervention.

The fight really let the Master’s have something to do other than shuffle their feet during this fight. All too often what should be two level battles were single tier matches. That was not always the case but it happened enough for me to occasionally wonder why they could not have Illya do a little more from time to time.

Rin is always the voice of reason. She might be a bit of a dojikko but her mind is always sharp. So when she stumbles upon Shiro she is quite mad. She thought he was smart enough to run on home so when she find him running back into the battle she is miffed. Eventually Shio’s stubbornness wins through but Rin’s other weakness/strength is her faith in those she believes in.  That belief cuts both ways in the end.

We get the end of the Berserker and Saber fight here. It is really nice to see the end of this fight. It really sells Saber’s skill and Berserker’s power. Seeing all the destruction that the giant can dish out and still have Saber land a killing blow is no mean feat. She should really use her little mini-mana blast more often. It is really useful as opposed to using the full might of Excalibur.

In the end Shiro comes in to meet up with Saber thinking that Berserker was a hard fight but it was finally defeated. But everyone soon realizes that it takes more than one body shattering attack to kill Hercules.

Archer seems to know before anyone else that Berserker is not down for the count. So he whips out one of his bigger guns with his Caladbolg II arrow. But its goal is more than just to kill Berserker. He also seems to want to kill two birds with one stone by taking out Saber and Shiro at the same time. His evil little grin says it all. It is only Shiro’s affinity for projection magic that lets him sense that a magical daisy cutter is incoming. While Saber and Shiro survive the blast it seems that Shiro did not get out unscathed.

I really have to applaud this episode. This was always a great fight but if you remember the Studio Deen version it was not anywhere as energetic. The Deen version was a battle between warriors. This was a battle between demigods. The impact really leaves an impression as you see Saber flipping around the battlefield while Berserker just destroys the environment he is fighting in. Also Archer seems so much more effective. Also the new scenes really add to the story and show a real understanding of what made the original work so well.

This is the Unlimited Blade Works I always saw in my heart. I can’t wait to see what they do next. If they can continue to add new material that is this strong then this might very well become the definitive version of the story.

– Alain

Previous Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works posts:

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #002 – Emiya Visits the Rip-Off Church
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #001 – People Almost Forgot Shiro is the Hero
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #000 – Archer the Combat Butler

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2 thoughts on “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #003 – Spoilers: Archer Uses a Bow

  1. Gmanlee says:

    The thing about Nasu trying to fill the “Ranger” role makes a bit of sense when you consider Archer, but once you throw Gil into the mix it makes a bit less sense- Gil fights with none of the methods of a traditional ranger. This seems to imply that Nasu designed his archer class around its definition in universe: “The ability to use powerful projection type weapons” or similar. The classical ranger class would either skip out Gil, or include heroes who didn’t use ranged weapons.

    It’s possible that the reason Archer fights with his swords initially is because Nasu first thought of it like a ranger class and then later developed it, but it could equally be because it gets us thinking a bit about what really defines each class.

  2. Lorhand says:

    This is the first original scene in the episode. This is probably the far less interesting one.

    Actually, It’s based on Gil’s first scenario scene from Fate/Unlimited Codes. At least a part of the conversation. But yes, not in the novel, so it’s an original scene.

    We also see her use the monofilament bird familiars that her mother used to use but clearly Illya’s pack a bit more of a punch. These seem far more numerous, dangerous, and autonomous.

    This reminds me of that awful CR translation, where Rin supposedly calls Illya a mini-mage when she was talking about Illya’s familiars.

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