After the long exposition and explanations of the previous episode, we get an episode of almost uninterrupted action. Things start off awesome and then get progressively more and more incredibly as the participants in the combat starting throwing everything they have at each other. I’m expecting this week’s write-up to be relatively short since there isn’t much to talk about. I will say that it’s extremely difficult for me to put into words just how stunning the animation is. I’m by no means an expert on the subject but I haven’t enjoyed watching a young girl and a body-builder’s wet dream beat the ever-loving shit out of each other in ages. Also, it’s rare for me to notice this but the background music in this anime is legit, especially that one piece that plays when Archer does his thing. I’m going to try to see if I can find it, it’s pretty dope.
I could wax lyrical for a good long while that fight but I think more than anything I’m just glad that this fight didn’t turn out to be something straight out of Pokemon where you have the Masters just sitting by the side, twiddling their thumbs while the Servants savagely try to kill each other. What should we make of our adorable antagonist, Illya? Well, for one thing, she’s no pushover- it’s entirely possible that given the way Berserker was running circles around Saber and Archer that she could have cleared them out without too much additional effort. She got the better of Rin and Shirou is so utterly useless that it’s painful to watch right now. It’s looking right now that she’s going to be favourite though I hate that she just decided to withdraw for no good reason. It’s a trope that I generally dislike – it would have been fine if she had been forced into a strategically weaker position but she totally had the upper hand there so it’s just kind of lame that she would back off and give them time to lick their wounds. You don’t show that kind of mercy in a war, dammit.
Meanwhile, what is up with that Servant of hers? He shrugged off death like it nothing and essentially regenerated fully after sustaining a wound as per the above picture. There has to be some drawback or weak point to a power so hopeless unbalanced, right? Despite their loss, it’s been a fairly impressive showing from both Saber and Archer though. Not particularly effective, but it looked impressive at least; and keep in mind that this is the third Servant Saber has fought in the last couple of hours! For a second we got to see Saber’s real sword, beyond the air barrier and it seems to be made of pure gold. I don’t want to look up golden swords because it might just spoil something I’m supposed to not know yet but nothing comes to mind just yet. Meanwhile, Archer kept his distance and did Archer things but I wonder if that final shot was intended to do more than just finish off Berserker (which it didn’t anyway). Archer wasn’t too keen on Rin feeling all indebted to Shirou in the last episode so maybe he decided that Shirou and Saber could be convenient casualties of war? I mean, it would be a dirty way of fighting but it doesn’t seem like there are rules to this war and in any case, he could just claim it was an accident. Rin might be sad for a bit, but I’m sure she’s practical enough to see the value of his actions.
We should also talk just a little bit about our utterly hopeless and useless protagonist. Shirou’s entire contribution to this fight was running around like a headless chicken and getting lectured by Rin before saving Saber from Archer’s friendly fire. It’s questionable whether even that was particularly useful since he seems to have taken a pretty solid hit in the process. Anyway, I think it’s going to be interesting to see how all of this figures into his (in my opinion) screwed up dream of being a ‘hero of justice’. What kind of shitty hero doesn’t raise a finger to stop the bad guys? I wonder if we’ll see some kind of mega powerup from Shirou, maybe thanks to Rin/Saber/Archer teaching him how to fight, but somehow I just don’t see it happening. It wouldn’t even be believable for someone to go from being this ineffectual to being even a decent fighter. So, how is this show going to be affected by the fact that its main character is essentially just a camera that is showing us the real action? Well, it’s a little early to say, but it could really go either way.
Last but not least, we have the fake priest from the previous episode. Kirei is hanging tight in his church while the Servants slug it out outside but at least he has company. It’s the Mysterious Stranger (who’s also white. Seriously, is no one in Japan questioning the influx of mysterious blond foreigners in the town?) who was talking to Sakura the other day. Now, I knew at the time itself that the encounter was highlighted a little too prominently for him to be a random stranger but the fact that he is talking to Kirei, who I’m fairly sure is an antagonist, means that he’s not good news. The red eyes don’t bode well either since that’s a fairly universal sign of a bad guy, or a stoner, but the blond dude seems too uptight to be a stoner so bad guy it is then. Meanwhile, apart from just his general aura, I suspect Kirei of being a bad guy because a.) how did Illya know where to find Shirou and Rin and b.) what kind of good guy says they don’t care about the effect the War will have on innocent people?
Well, that’s about it for now. There were some minor things I missed out on, but I don’t know their significance just yet. Saber seems to recognize Illya, or at least her name because she seems to be in pain when they are introduced. Either that or she is in pain from her previous wound and I totally misread it. Next, Kirei mentions feeling like he met with an old acquaintance – does he mean Rin or Shirou? Rin’s father was his teacher so Rin is the logical choice, but I assume he meets Rin fairly often and it’s very likely that he knows Shirou’s dad, so I’m gonna go with option B. Illya seems to know Shirou too based on a couple of throwaway references in her conversation with Rin – I hope this isn’t going to be one of those things where everyone knows Shirou because he is the Chosen One that is destined to end the War forever, or something. I mean, it wouldn’t be the worst thing, but I’m hoping for better from the show.