[Anime] Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Dancing After School (S1E5)

fsn ubw

This week, Rin decides to take action and figure out just what Shirou is to her – is he a friend and potential ally or is he just another enemy in the war and a convenient way to get a powerful Servant like Saber out of the war? She makes her choice by the episode’s end and we meet a new Servant, Rider, who reminds me irrepressibly of a dominatrix, what with her outfit and her love of chains. We also spend some time talking family history and how the actions of the previous generation continue to influence the current one.

I haven’t talked much about the way these past few episodes have been assembled and constructed but this episode especially, brought a few things to my attention. First of all, this show seems to end its episodes really abruptly and on a discordant note; this episode ends with Rin noting that Kiritsugu prioritized being a father over being a mage and then is a long (and if you ask me, awkward) pause before the end credits rolled. It gave me the impression that they didn’t really know how to end the episode and just decided to cut their losses and roll the credits after a pretty shot of the moon. This is probably a really odd thing to be complaining about but it’s something I noticed and now I can’t un-notice it, ugh.

There’s a bunch to discuss vis-à-vis the characters and the plot so we needn’t waste more time over the specifics of how to end an episode. I feel that Rin attacking Shirou today wasn’t so much her being opportunistic and seizing her chance to take him out – there didn’t seem to be any real murderous intent on her part, though I won’t deny that she wasn’t holding back either (I think?) – but more a culmination of several other factors. She probably got the feeling that Shirou wasn’t taking the whole Holy Grail War seriously enough, despite her repeated warnings and on the other hand, she was under some pressure from Archer to do her duty as a participant. It goes back to the ending of the previous episode where she tells Archer very clearly that she doesn’t owe Shirou anything if he can’t be bothered to look out for himself. Still, he takes a bullet for her not long after their fight begins and I think that only exacerbates the moral conflict in her. The way I’m reading her character is that she knows that Shirou is nothing more than a well-meaning idiot but the fact that he is so clueless and also a pretty nice dude means that she can’t really feel good about killing him from a moral standpoint. She retreats behind her old excuse of ‘I owe you one’ but by the episode’s end I’m glad that they’ve reached a more permanent solution. This ceasefire seems more like an alliance to me but I’m just happy that Shirou isn’t going to have keep ‘saving’ Rin just so that she continually feels obliged to keep him alive. The interesting thing is what Archer is going to have to say about this arrangement because no matter how you look at it, having Shirou on your team not only lacks any kind of benefit but, depending on how stupid/heroic he wants to be on a given day, might also actively worsen their odds. I guess, one pro of having him around is that you get Saber in the process and while I don’t know if she’s strong enough to be worth a Shirou, it’s worth considering, I guess.

Let’s talk a little about what we learned about Shirou this episode. We’ve known for a while that he wants to be a ‘hero of justice’ which is a really odd phrase and one that I’m loosely translating as either ‘superhero’ or just someone that people look up to and respect. We learn this episode though, that this dream isn’t just Shirou’s – Kiritsugu had the same dream but couldn’t accomplish it and thus Shirou, in a pretty adorable moment, decided to succeed for his father’s sake. What I found particularly interesting was the phrasing – Kiritsugu said that it’s hard to call yourself a hero when you grow up. Now, we know/suspect that Kiritsugu took part in the previous Grail War based on what Kirei said when we last saw him and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that something happened during that time or before that made him realize that it’s impossible to commit to a dream like becoming a ‘hero of justice’ in the real world. I don’t know what exactly made him think this and it doesn’t really matter either because what we see from him is an acknowledgement that practically speaking, their now shared dream of becoming heroes is doomed to fail. Shirou hasn’t learned this lesson yet but it also feels like it isn’t a lesson that others can teach you; you have to experience it first-hand to really internalize it. We also learn a little about Kiritsugu’s decision not to give Shirou his magic lineage though I wonder if such things can only be transmitted by blood ties. It’s clear that Rin and Shirou were raised in very different households – Rin and her father before her put their pride and dignity as mages above everything else. This also fuels Rin’s decision to attack Shirou – she is doing what is expected of her as a mage in the Holy Grail War but Shirou is not and I guess it’s just annoying watching someone be obliviously happy. On the other hand, Shirou was raised with no pressure to be a mage, almost as though Kiritsugu was protecting him from the world of magic by not forcing him to inherit all of his (Kiritsugu’s) knowledge and skills. This is basically the crux of the difference between Rin and Shirou and where all the tension between them comes from. Rin has been trained for this war from the moment she was born; you could even say that she was bred for the purpose of the war and to continue the Tohsaka magic line but Shirou on the other hand has so far bumbled into everything, from being a mage, to participating in the War to getting a Servant. It must be incredibly frustrating for someone who has practiced and honed herself for so long to see a total amateur turn up and put up such a weak display. I suspect that Rin herself wants to be free of the cycle of magic and that is part of the reason Shirou annoys her so much – she is pissed that he is able to be carefree and happy-go-lucky when she is burdened by her family’s history and expectations.

On a final note, we have now met all the Servants except Caster and Assassin though we are also missing Lancer’s master and Rider’s master. It’s rather unlikely that Rider’s master is someone we haven’t already met and assuming Rider is antagonistic then that would suggest to me that Shinji is Rider’s master. For a while I debated it being Kuzuki but Rider was definitely chilling with a student and I can’t imagine any of the other students, apart from Shinji, being the kind to harm others and suck their life force. It would be a good twist if it was someone we didn’t suspect like the archery club chick or the student council dude. In other notes, Shirou can certainly take a beating, can’t he? He took a metal rod through the arm without flinching despite it very clearly hurting him and was then roughed around with the rod still in place. It’s lucky he still has that healing factor (I wonder if they’re ever going to explain it) but even that has to have some limits right? I mean this is his third major injury in three days, for fuck’s sake!


16 thoughts on “[Anime] Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Dancing After School (S1E5)

  1. It is a weird place to end due to time constraints. The thing with the moon is a call back to the beginning scene where he talks with his father, Kiritsugu dies in that scene, it’s explicitly stated in the VN during that scene.

    Yeah Rin’s whole deal is a moral thing. I think she was serious at first but she was never going to kill him, in the VN during a bad end if you get hit she just wipes your mind and takes your command spells.

    Once again you’ve picked up on a lot things. Everything that happens is explained in one way or another. It’s just some things are explained in the previous or next route.

    I’m a bit surprised you didn’t have some question about the Rider fight though.


    • Well, the Rider fight was really short, but nothing really stood out to me. Can you give me a couple of hints about what I would be thinking about?


      • To expand on my other comment. You’re supposed to wonder how the hell Shirou is keeping up with a servant at all while reading the VN because he’s shocked as well. In the anime they make Rider have a shocked expression to try and convey the same thing.

        Technically at this point you’re supposed to compare Fate vs UBW Shirou’s abilities at this point, I can’t remember how far you said you got in the Fate route. I’m not sure if I said this here before or not but when you combine knowledge of two or all of the routes you gain additional insights to things and can connect the dots on certain things so to speak.


        • Those are good points, I guess I just didn’t pay close enough attention (my bad). I’m planning on reading the Fate route of the VN after I clear these first 13 episodes, but honestly, so far I don’t really feel all that lost, surprisingly.

          The last time, I stopped very early in Fate. It was just after Saber showed up to fight Lancer, I think. Is the screencap you provided from Fate or UBW?


  2. It’s from UBW. It’s one of the things that is supposed to be inferred by the watcher but I prefer the way it’s done in the VN personally.


    • Oh yeah, forgot to say Heaven’s Feel movies will be out in 2016~. Do you plan on watching those or Fate/Zero (the prequel) because Fate/Zero spoils a lot of Heaven’s Feel within the first 10 minutes.


      • That’s a hard one. From what I understand Fate/Zero is one of the best rated anime’s ever so I kind of want to watch it before the movies come out. I think I’ll probably finish the VN first, (all three routes) and then watch Fate/Zero. 2016 is so far away…


      • Yeah, I definitely recommend finishing the VN first, it’s a much better experience in more ways than one. Fate/Zero is a lot better when you know what’s going on and Heaven’s Feel is much better unspoiled.

        And yeah F/Z is one of the highest ranking animes, and FSN is one of the highest ranked VNs.


  3. More a good review. You got a lot of points that many viewers lost (including me). Yeah, is really interesting how much Shirou already fight (or Defended of blows) with servants at least three times in 6 episodes. Waiting anxiously your next reviews.


  4. First, let me say I really enjoy your reviews so far. It’s nice to see a keen analysis of the episodes.

    Also, it might be selfish of me, but I actually hope you won’t finish the VN before the end of the anime. I’m very interested in seeing the point of view of someone who’s not familiar with the original material, if only to have an idea of how well the show stands up on his own.

    On to the episode, then. I agree with you that here, Rin seems more interested in scaring Shirou of than killing him. Heck, someone ruthless would have killed him before investigating the scream. And it’s becoming more and more apparent that those talks of “debts” are nothing but an excuse (especially when you consider that she did, in fact, just save his life back, or at the very least his eye).

    You’re right in pointing the differences in the upbringing and philosophies of the two characters, even if it’s a little more complex, I think (but that impression comes from later episodes, so I won’t discuss it now). Nethertheless, I think they complement each other rather well, and I believe they might have a positive influence on each other too.

    Anyway, I’ll await your next review!


    • Thank you! Regarding the VN, I really wanted to read it before the second half based off of advice in other comments but with the second half starting in April I dont know if I’ll have time. As things stand, I’m planning on doing two episodes a week instead of one with hopes of hitting ep. 12 by April. Let’s see how it goes.


    • Well I stated basically the same thing in another discussion. I said it would be great if he stopped at where the anime left off he goes into the UBW route, there are some missing things that will make the 2nd half more enjoyable if he at least gets to where the anime left off. I very much like his analysis/review going into events blind.

      I do think it’s a good thing to read the whole VN before Zero though.


      • if he goes into UBW route* (typing too fast in previous comment)

        Also glad to hear we might be getting 2 reviews a week.

        I do think it’s a decent idea to at least finish Fate route before the 2nd half, but I don’t think it’s a 100% necessary thing.


  5. I would say the abrupt endings of the episodes aren’t really the shows fault, the source also had pretty bad pacing.
    Nah, Rin was definitely holding back here. If she wanted to knock him out for good one of her jewels could have vaporized him on the spot. But she’s still pretty conflicted, I think, even while she’s trying to fight him, so she hesitates in using her stronger magics, and only made up her decision not to fight him after he’d saved her.

    Bloodline magic is basically something built up over the generations via a magic crest-what Rin showed Shirou. Kiritsugu didn’t give his to Shirou for two reasons. It has to start from when the successor is newborn, to ensure maximum chances of success, and the chances of it being rejected when not of the same blood is much higher.

    Your suspicions on Rin would be somewhat right, she’s less angry that he’s such an amateur, than resentful that his father was a parent to him more than her own ever was. Though as for him being happy go lucky while she’s not….well, I think this should come up later.

    Shirou’s healing factor isn’t explained in particular depth in UBW beyond a few brief lines to my recollection, since it’s more of a major plot point in Fate.


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