Look. It took a lot of willpower not to just make the whole article just pictures of all the faces Rin makes during the episode. They are quite amazing. (Also if I did that I would not get to put in any Saber shots in the post so maybe I would have never done that in the first place.) But she just makes so many wonderful faces this episode that you have to understand where I am coming from after watching this episode. But that said the fact that I could do a whole episode review with nothing but Rin reaction shots clearly shows that we are firmly into Unlimited Blade Works arc with young miss Tohsaka as the heroine of the story. So lets start talking about the episode for all the people who love to talk about how Rin is the “best girl.”
Spoilers: The best girl is clearly Kaede Makidera.
(Who did you think I was going to say?)
That silly Shiro goes to school again without Saber which is a clear invitation for him to get into major trouble. Of course staying after school to try to find out what happened to poor Ayako Mitsuduri does not help matters but it seems that Rin is first in line to kill him. But before Rin can fill Shiro with some major holes with her rapid fire Gandr shots a voice rings out which pauses the fight. It seems another Master is at school and wishes to take advantage of this conflict to skip ahead of Rin and skill Shiro. In the end if turns out that a common danger unites even the bitterest enemies.
If there is some sexual tension it unties them even easier.
Probably the defining moment of Shiro’s childhood, that is not him surviving the fire, is this conversation. This is always a sad scene when you realize that Kiritsugu dies a few days after this. This talk it is pretty much the last real conversation that Shiro and his father have together. In many ways that is why Shiro is so obsessed with the whole “Hero of Justice” concept. It clearly feeds into and provides an unhealthy way for him to channel into his huge amount of survivors guilt but that might have been eventually mitigated had Kiritsugu died at a ripe old age. With his adopted father’s passing he is left with the specter of the last thing the man he loved and respected said to him. Shiro can no longer casually give up that promise even if he wanted to.
I have to say that Saber cheerfully eating at the breakfast table is just a delight. The pure joy she has on her face as she savours her meal in enchanting.
It seems that Sakura and Saber have come to an understanding. I suppose in the end Sakura feels like if anyone can protect Shiro during the Holy Grail War this blond girl would be the one.
When Saber gets left at home it did make me realize something. The whole Saber not getting enough mana from Shiro mechanic really shapes the story. First of all it prevents Saber from just being an Excalibur machine. Otherwise she could just beam spam her way to victory. Also it means that Saber often has to rest at home which gives Shiro some chances to get into trouble that he would normally never get into if Saber was his constant bodyguard. It might feel a bit cheesy but it does add some good drama at the same time.
That face. It perfectly sums up the look of, “Look, I like you all in all but you are just plain stupid. Perhaps too stupid to live.” What other reaction could you have when the person you spared comes to school without his protection despite the fact that six other pairs of people (well technically 5 as Caster and Assassin are part of a triumvirate) are gunning for you.
In the mean time while Rin is surely facepalming off-screen Shiro learns that Ayako Mitsuduri has gone missing. That poor girl. All she wants to do is run a nice archery club and she just winds up getting her mana stolen.
I have to admit that I mostly forgotten what happened to Ayako in this arc. I actually had to flip through a video play through of Unlimited Blade Works to remember. Still if you ever were unsure if you utterly hated Shinji than that whole affair will remind you where you should stand on the little monster.
It seems that the only cure for stupidity is death and Rin is the doctor with a hot injection of Nordic curse medicine. The fight goes about how you would expect it to. Shiro is no match for any experienced mage like Rin. He mostly can only play a defensive game. And he can only play a defensive game for so long.
But in the end it reveals one of the most important parts of Unlimited Blade Works: Masks. As much as Rin says she wants to kill Shiro she mostly chases him like a rabbit and tries to get him to give up his command seals. I always got the feeling she was more trying to put the fear of god into him more than kill him off.
As much as Rin wants to project that she is a heartless mage she is always a moral person. A heartless mage would have killed Shiro and then checked what the scream was all about.
For some reason this nameless girl reminded me of Akemi Yamase from Kagetsu Tohya. Other than the pony tail they don’t resemble each other that much but they are both super minor characters who mostly exist to get attacked and move the story forward.
Also Shinji is just a double douche canoe. Not only did he nearly kill some random girl but he attacked Rin when she goes to help her. At least Shiro shows while he might not be the Napoleon Bonaparte or Hannibal Barca of the Holy Grail War but he is an honorable guy. That has to be worth something.
Now running off after Rider with just a reenforced pipe puts him back in the moron category.
This fight should really have shown Shiro that fighting Servants on your own is what very silly people do before they die. Although Rider is probably one of the more underpowered Servants thanks to having a loser of a Master she is being powered up with extra mana from Shinji’s various victims.
Shiro does not realize that Rider is just playing around with him (possibly out of consideration to Sakura.) But when he starts to call into question her skills it seems that the kid gloves come off. Some things should just not be said.
Random thought: Do we ever formally learn what Rider wanted out of the Holy Grail War? I’m guessing she would have revived Stheno and Euryale but that is just random speculation on my part. Does that ever come up in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia?
Having survived all that Rin declares a truce and even proposes a temporary alliance until they can take care of their mutual enemy at school.
This little conversation does lead to some insights into Rin and Shiro. In many ways the anger and envy in Rin voice over Kiritsugu’s way of raising Shiro is very telling. At first she is furious that Kiritsugu would abandon the magical traditions of raising his heir to be a proper sorcerer. Such a disregard for the generational practices of magic is an insult to the various sacrifices the Tohsaka family has made over the years. It is like seeing someone throw away gold and platinum into a trash can. At the same time at the end there is a bit of envy as well for a father who cares for you just as a father. Magic did steal away both her parents and sister in various painful ways. Maybe, just maybe, caring more for those you love trumps some magical glory.
It also reminds us again of the transformation of Kiritsugu from the heartless machine of Fate/Zero to the father he is before he dies. He might have been a bit broken but he finally restored his humanity and soul before he passed on.
I have to say briefly looking at Twitter after this episode came out made me a little happy. It seems that people remembered that Rider is cool again. It seemed like after Fate/Zero there was a little backlash from diehard Alexander the Great fans. Medusa oddly enough was one of the few characters who used to have a fairly universally positive reaction from the fan base up until that point so it was a little sad to she her get some major hate. As always the Internet has to choose one of any category and hate everything else in that same group. Thankfully this episode reminded people of the charms of the original.
Maybe just maybe we can learn to love both Riders. Sillier things have happened.
Previous Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works posts:
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #004 – A Good Neighborhood Tiger
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #003 – Spoilers: Archer Uses a Bow
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