This is when we get to the good part. Now that we got through all the slower parts of the path everything from this point on is only escalating fights and action. I feel like this episode is just a taste of the great things yet to come. No more characters being saved by the good graces of plot convenience. There are some distinct Big Damn Heroes moments later on but they always feels earned past this fight. When someone pops out to save a character you feel it was set up in advance. Reversals seem earned and escapes seem less arbitrary. Plus THE SONG is coming and it will be glorious.
Lancer vs. Archer. Rin vs. Caster. Shrio vs. Souichirou. Do the two outmatched Masters have enough tricks up their sleeves to fight a team that outclasses them in every way? Kung Fu Treachery and the more standard variety style of deception are abound in this final confrontation. Rin and Shiro might be able to save Saber but who is going to save them?
Did we need this really? I want to see Saber as much as anyone (if not more) but did we really need the lingering cheesecake shot while Souichirou and Caster talk?
Apparently the audience will not be getting the full Souichirou back-story but at least they touch upon on it. It feels like a bit of a compromise. I doubt Souichirou will ever be the most popular character but at the same time it would be a bit of a shame to just ignore his past because of that. Takahiro Miura settles on exploring the emotions of Souichirou’s past more than the details. There is more talk about the mechanical nature of his training as a disposable assassin then the complete history. This shows a bit better how he became a hollow man than anything before it. It is very clear that he is just in this fight for Caster’s sake more than anything else. Her dreams have become his dreams because he never had such things to begin with.
It makes what happens after she dies makes much more sense.
If you want anything more than that then I guess you will just have to hope that they animate Fate/Hollow Ataraxia.
You always need a little trash talk before your fights, especially in anything with some shonen roots. This means we get Rin and Caster trading barbs. If nothing else it also sets up Caster as an old school magus from the Age of Gods whereas Rin is distinctly a modern magi. (Well modern in a relative sense. Don’t ask Rin to be System Administrator or IT specialist.) While Caster might fire off high level spells like breathing she might not exactly be up on the times.
Shiro and Souichirou on the other hand seems to be sizing each other up. It is also clear to Shiro that Souichirou knows that they can’t be so stupid as to be going into this without something up their sleeve but he seems to be taking his cues from Caster. Rin riling up Caster with her trash talk seems to help their plans as it puts Caster in a more unthinkingly aggressively mode as opposed to her usual more cautious support position. If Caster just spent her time spamming attacks from a distance then the plan would have been all for naught.
I guess it good for Shiro that Rin is so good at insulting people’s fashion sense and home decor.
Lancer and Archer are really at their best when they are fighting each other. The way they get on each others last nerve makes every blow a little more personal than usual. If anything Archer shows that he is distinctly Rin servant by the way that he pecks away at Lancer’s calm by picking all the right words to get to his opponent. Everything from insulting Rin to bringing in Lancer’s sore spot about dogs. Lancer might have been able to deal a more fatal wound if he not fallen into the trap of Archer’s mind games.
It turns out that this episode really has a heavy Grecian motif. Of course everything with Caster would be like that but Archer’s Rho Aias only adds to the themes when he uses it to block Lancer’s long distance Gáe Bolg. It turns out that the Soaring Spear that Strikes with Death is the far scarier power than Barbed Spear that Pierces with Death. It basically forfeits the full cannot miss power of the original attack but in return lets you attack multiple targets from a distance. It is powerful enough to smash through all the layers of the imitation of Ajax’s shield. That said the copy of Rho Aias is still good enough to save Archer from otherwise certain death.
It is shame that for all of Lancer’s power his crazy attack never really kills any other Servants. You have to admire the irony of such a broken attack never lading a quality killing blow.
In the end Archer’s true plan has come out. He needed to be in Caster’s employ long that she was not watching him all the time so that when she was distracted he could make his move. When Lancer realizes that he lets Archer go but it is clear he still has no more respect for his foe even after learning his true objective. In Lancer’s eyes Archer is even more of immoral sneak despite him betraying the nefarious Caster. If nothing else it just further proves that Archer is willing to do anything for victory. Lancer maybe forced to do horrible things but he still has his noble core at heart. Archer on the other hand has clearly sold away his ideals even when he is working towards an otherwise honorable goal.
The fight seems to be going against Rin and Shiro at first. Shiro can contain Souichirou for a time but it is clear that the experienced martial artist is slowing breaking down the young man’s defenses. Even if Rin was able to challenge Caster indefinitely she would eventually lose when she got double teamed by Master and Servant. It does not help that Rin also seems to be fighting an equally defensive battle. If she goes on the offense then Caster will be able to kill Shiro but as long as she remains defensive then she can’t get anything close to a solid hit on her more powerful opponent. On top of that Rin only has so many jewels which even limits her offensive capability more. It so seems that the young team is on the ropes.
But it turns out it was mostly just a ruse to get Caster on the ground. When Caster is in melee combat range Rin whips out the martial arts she learned from Kirei Kotomine. While she is not the martial arts death machine that her teacher was in his young Executor days she can still take on the standard squishy mage. And Rin gets very close to ending the battle herself.
But as it turns out she just does not have the full killer instinct of Kotomine. She lands some solid blows but she can’t finish off Caster before Souichirou saves her. At first it seems that a full and deadly counterattack is about to occur when Archer makes his betrayal known. Caster is able to save her beloved but at the cost of her own life. Sadly Souichirou learns that Caster’s true wish was not to go home. She would have been happy to do that but only with her Master.
You think at this point Shiro would have a little better clue to who Archer is. I guess the answers seems a little to crazy for him to accept at this point. Even after seeing mages, witches, and monsters fighting a future version of yourself might still seem impossible.
Random note: You think Caster’s Lafiel-like blue haired elf good looks would have won her more fans over the years.
It would seem that Souichirou might make it out of this alive. Rin and Shiro would probably let him go and Archer’s target was never Souichirou in the first place. But in the end Souichirou was a hollow man who just lost his reason to live. Without Caster he has no real purpose and now he knows what having a human reason to live is like. For all his ability without Caster’ backing spells he is no match for a Servant. He charges Archer less at of revenge and more out of a wish to join his Servant. It was really the only path left for him.
At first Rin thinks that everything is going to be fine. Clearly Archer was playing the long game and now he can go back to being her Servant and Shiro can reforge his bond with Saber. But soon enough Archer reveals his real plan. To kill Shiro.
Saber is back baby! She might be in a bad situation but it is still nice to see her again. I can finally put her back in these episodes reviews when she is not wearing the fetish dress. Also the way they get out of this mess with Archer is probably the best scenario you could ask for.
It was a bit of a shame that this is all we get to see of Souichirou and Caster. I was hoping that we might get a little more of those two. In many way they are probably the team that gets the least amount of screen time. They spend most of their time off-screen in Fate and they barely even show up in Heaven’s Feel. I was hoping to get some more insight into Souichirou and maybe see Assassin’s original intended Master. We saw more of them in this arc than we ever did in the visual novel so I will take what I can get.
I am still a little curious about the pacing of the rest of the season. While there is still a quite of bit of story I am still wondering how they are going to fill 8 (and possible 9 if the last episode is an hour-long) episodes of material. I am sure we will get some new material to fill in that gap I’m just not sure what it is. So far Ufotable has not given me any reason to doubt whatever that original content is it will be great.
Previous Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works posts:
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works #016 – Another Spin
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