I think this is the part of the story that won over a lot of people to the side of Unlimited Blade Works in the visual novel whether they realized it or not. They may cite the cool fight scenes, the big reversals, or Rin’s appeal but I think those are all secondary to the fact that this is the first time the story seriously criticizes Shiro’s actions and worldview. Shiro has always been one of the biggest sticking points for people who have only watched the original anime (and even for a decent number of people who have explored more of the franchise.) Shiro is often seen as sexist, naive, and thick-headed. To see him concede a lot of points to Rin about him being wrong and then give her a large amount of authority in their partnership won over a lot of people even if they can’t specifically point this moment as the reason why. He has not totally abandoned his original philosophy like he will in Heaven’s Feel but this is still a major leap forward.
Illya is dead and it seems that Shiro is next but he is saved by the fact that Gilgamesh is working on a very narrow timetable. After seeing Shiro’s suicidal charge Rin has to confront her partner about his reckless behavior and disregard for his own safety. After a heart to heart Lancer swoops in with an offer. Lancer and his Master have realized that with Berserker out of the picture there is almost no time before Caster is completely unstoppable. So they decide to make a three-pronged charge with Lancer fighting Archer, Rin taking on Caster, and Shiro holding off Souichirou. It is now or never for this trio because as much as the deck is stacked against them it will only become impossible once Saber has been turned.
Shinji’s sadistic streak always comes out when he thinks he is on top. So when Gilgamesh has Shiro dead to rights Shinji comes out to get his former “friend” to beg for forgiveness now that he thinks he has the upper hand. Rin turns the situation into a Mexican standoff. That is all well and good but makes the situation go into an utter meltdown mode not by threatening to kill Shinji (which he seems fairly OK with) but by utterly wounded his pride by calling out the fact that he is merely a pathetic flunky to his Servant as opposed to his Master. It quickly switches Shinji from haughty noble lording over the peasants to a bloodthirsty beast.
Shiro and Rin are mostly just saved by the fact that Gilgamesh realizes that if he waits much longer than Illya’s heart will no longer work as a key to summon the Grail. It does feel like another moment where Shiro and Rin should be dead for all intents and purposes but are merely saved by the plot more than clever planning or quick thinking. Thankfully the Deus ex machina saves are coming to an end in this part of the story. It is clear that Nasu wanted to put Rin and Shiro in a seriously grim predicament but the only problem is that he basically made there situation so bad that they really should not make it out of half the dead ends they wind up in.
Also in case you missed it the “certain girl who can be used” Gilgamesh is talking about is Sakura. The way Shinji’s face lights up with that knowledge should confirm what an utterly despicable person he is.
A moment of silence for the fallen Illya. She might have been a scary little devil girl but you were a sympathetic scary little devil girl.
Also where are the graves for Sella and Lysette? Did they just disintegrate as less sophisticated homunculi or did Shiro just leave them to rot? I know he did not really know Sella and Lysette but that seems pretty cold.
Rin is clearly had enough of Shiro’s insane martyr complex. When he was just a boy who was a bit too helpful it was an admirable quirk that he had. Shiro’s worldview was obviously opposed to Rin more Yukino Miyazawa’s like lifestyle but it was something she could find charming. But at this point it is clear that he has taken his selflessness to the point of being suicidal. There was clearly no way Shiro could have saved Illya or defeated Gilgamesh. He was just charging out of a perverse sense of duty. Rin realizes needs to get to the bottom of this bizarre complex he has. While it helped when he popped out and saved her during her confrontation with Caster at the Fuyuki Church he might just get them killed doing the same this time. At this point they need all the firepower they can get. If Shiro just runs in and gets himself killed then Rin will probably die soon after him.
After some digging she finds the root of his problem is clearly the Great Fuyuki City Fire. At first Rin assumes that something was taken away from Shiro when he survived the blaze. That perhaps Kiritsugu took something from him to save him. But it seems that instead what Kiritsugu inadvertently gave Shiro was a nasty case of survivor’s guilt. Since Shiro ignored so many other dying people as he trudged through the inferno around him he lives his life solely in the service of others to counterbalance his self-centered actions. The fact that Kiritsugu seemed to be so selfless when he saved Shiro only compounds this complex.
The irony is that in many way Kiritsugu saved Shiro for entirely selfish reasons. He was so guilt-ridden for his sins in the 4th Holy Grail War that culminated in the obliteration of his wife, the deaths of countless civilians, and countless other crimes and betrayals just so his wish could not be granted. The only way for him to stay sane was for him to help someone else to prove to himself he could do something other than destroy.
Rin points out that as much as Shiro pretends that he is saving people for selfless reasons he is actually doing it to feed his complex. If he wishes to remain a Paladin then he should do it for healthy reasons and acknowledge both the selfish and altruistic nature of his actions. It is the only way for him to find any happiness.
While Shiro does not seem to completely abandon his philosophy it is clear that the gears are at least moving in his head about how he needs to change his life.
Lancer has to deal with the romantic comedy duo as he tries to forge an alliance with these two orphan Masters. After all the bloodshed, failure, and psychoanalysis a return to the silly faces of Rin Tohsaka. While it comes out awkwardly and bit chauvinistically Shiro does come out and state his interest in Rin. He just does it in the way that is the most embarrassingly manner possible that only Shiro could do it.
It is easy to assume that Lancer is a downright evil dude thanks to his initial appearance. The way he methodically hunts down Shiro is clearly supposed to portray him as a villain. But his actions here clearly show that he is a good guy who is just stuck in a terrible situation. If he had a better Master he would have had a very different role in the 5th Holy Grail War. I feel that is part of the reason Rin is his Master in Fate/Extra.
Poor Bazett. She gets another oblique reference without being directly named. Then again I always felt like Nasu based Bazett on what Lancer said here more than these lines being a reference to an already existing character who was supposed to be Lancer’s original Master. I assume when he was writing Fate/Hollow Ataraxia he thought back on what Lancer said and decided to make his flirting with Rin take on another meaning as opposed to it always having that weight.
Archer and Souichirou have a bit of male bonding as they prepare for inevitable attack by the remaining Masters and Servants. I was sort of expecting a little bit of a back story dump from Souichirou. So far he has mainly gone unexplored in this story. He has a fairly well explained back story in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia they could have used here. It would have made sense to place it here if they wanted to show how Souichirou got to this point in his life. I wonder if they are just saving that for closer to when he dies. This scene acts more as an analysis of Caster than as an insight into her Master.
(Souichirou dying can’t be a spoiler. Caster and Souichirou have huge red and white bullseyes on them. The spoiler would be if either of them lived through this.)
I never noticed the parallel between Shiro and Souichirou before this moment. Both of them feel hollow due to events in their past. In response they have dictated themselves to help another achieve their goals as a form of atonement. The major difference is that Souichirou is repenting for all the people he personally killed whereas Shiro is racked with guilt over who he failed to save. Souichirou is only trying to save one person but Shiro is trying to save everyone. It is not as simple as Souichirou being a dark reflection of Shiro. They are more people in similar situations whose different conclusions are shaped by their experiences.
It seems that Archer and Lancer are just destined to be rivals (just a long as he is not killed like a punk by True Assassin.) If anything this battle feels like a continuation of the battle in front of Homurahara Academy but now it has taken on a much more personal aspect. It is clear that Lancer is disgusted by Archer’s mercenary attitude. The last time they fought Lancer was mostly going through the motions. This time Lancer has some skin in the game.
The fight only begins at this point but it gives the audience a lot to look forward to in the next episode.
The episode ends with Rin busting out her signature pendent before they head into the heart of the church to fight Caster. At this point it is clear that Rin has a pretty good idea why there would be two instances of her distinctly unique magical item. I have to assume that her conversation with Shiro as well as seeing Archer again has solidified her theories. The only thing is the conversation does come off as a bit awkward because of that. If she is fairly sure that Shiro and Archer are the same person then why does she not at least bring up the idea. If she is not that sure of that then why does she bring up the pendant at all.
I suppose you can assume that she wants to bring up the idea but not outright say it considering how crazy it sounds but that is a bit generous. It seems more like it is being discussed more for the audience than anyone else.
This was mainly an episode of emotional bookkeeping. There have been a lot of passions, traumas, and secrets circling around Rin and Shiro. While not all of them have been resolved they at least needed to be addressed before the next set of big action scenes get underway. While some of the relationships like the animosity between Shiro and Archer will come up in the next few episodes they needed to be brought up to date before they climax or advance during the battles ahead. Now that all of that is out-of-the-way the action can begin in earnest.
Previous Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works posts:
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #015 – When You Dream
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #014 – All in Good Time
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #013 – Break Your Heart
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #012 – The Empire Strikes Back
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #011 – The Silly Faces of Taiga Fujimura
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #010 – The Bushwhackers
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #009 – The Issei Strip Mahjong Game
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #008 – There’s a Shortage of Perfect Breasts in this World
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #007 – Curse Your Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal!
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #006 – Shiro the Puppet
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #005 – The Silly Faces of Rin Tohsaka
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