[Anime] Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Mirage (S1E6)

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A large swathe of this week’s episode is actually just exposition. It’s fairly interesting but I’m really glad that things picked up at the tail end of the episode because apart from the sudden developments at the end, I feel like nothing really happened in this episode apart from a lot of talking. We get a few major reveals like who Rider’s master is as well as our first peeks at the Caster and Assassin Servants. Things end off before they really get good though and the next episode promises to be full of more gorgeous action sequences as we get what looks like a massive four way clash. Still, there is none of that in this episode so instead we’ll take a look at Archer, whose character we get to really see for the first time since his introduction as well as the oddly antagonistic relationship he has with Shirou.

So, what exactly is the deal between Shirou and Archer? Unless I’m missing something, there really isn’t any reason for Shirou to be so hostile towards the man. It might be that Shirou knows that Archer was trying to take Saber out along with Berserker a few episodes ago, but it doesn’t feel like Shirou has reached that conclusion. Honestly, it’s a little pathetic – Shirou is more or less useless in every fight (and I really, really don’t see how Saber’s sword training is going to help in a magic fight) though watching him challenge Archer was pretty good comedic relief. Still, it’s strange that Shirou doesn’t have any beef with Rin, who has openly tried to kill him, while hating Archer, who hasn’t. I can understand the animosity on Archer’s end – I’m sure he just sees Shirou as this annoying brat that is going to end up holding Rin back. It also doesn’t help that Rin has an odd soft spot regarding Shirou which might also turn out to be her Achilles heel when things get serious.

Beyond their weird love-hate relationship though, I’m more interested in what Archer had to say about the nature of the Heroic Spirits. There is something rather tragic about these legendary spirits being stripped of their humanity and forced to serve high school kids as Servants but beyond that I wonder what he meant when he said that Servants had no choice but to answer the Grail’s call? Does that mean that they are being compelled by something to seek the Grail? Or by someone (Kirei, I’ll bet)? Archer says very clearly though that he is not seeking the ‘malevolent device’ that is the Grail so that doesn’t seem likely. I wonder if the reason that Archer doesn’t seek the grail is because he died fulfilled. Other Servants might want to use the Grail to fulfil their lives’ wishes but Archer is immune to that since he died a happy man? Ugh, I guess it’ll be revealed in due time. On a slightly related note though, Archer also says that Shirou cannot consider himself a mage until he has blood on his hands. What does that say about Archer’s regard for Rin? Is she a killer too? What will Shirou do when he finds out? In fact, what about his dear old dad – if Archer is right, then was our kindly, heroic Kiritsugu a killer too? Questions! Or not – it’s actually pretty easily explained if we consider the whole thing a biased opinion from Archer, who gives the impression of being very results oriented in his world view.

So, in a twist that surprises literally no one, Shinji is the douchebag behind the school’s boundary field and is intending to sap everyone inside it of their life force. Why, then, is Shirou letting him off so easily? Surely, Shirou isn’t stupid enough to think that Shinji is going to live up to his promise of not fighting in the Holy Grail War right? I have to give Shinji some credit though. His plan is actually pretty sound – he sets up the massive boundary field in a place where two others Masters just happen to spend a large portion of their day and even if they dodge the field, he gets to supply Rider with a large amount of mana. He seems pretty calm about Shirou being a mage/Master too, surprised at best, but not shocked. Does he know something we don’t? More importantly, what does his status as a Master mean for Sakura? We know that mages are made through bloodlines which would mean that Sakura is one too. I actually brushed aside the reveal that Shinji was Rider’s Master because I saw it coming but it potential implications for Sakura are very interesting. On a different, but related topic, I find the dynamic between Shinji and Shirou very confusing. Early in the season, I remember a character-defining scene for Shinji when he palms off his extra chores on Shirou who accepted it because ‘it’s good to help others’. It established Shinji as an ass but it also raised the question of why exactly they were friends at all. Likewise, Shirou is willing to keep Shinji’s secret in the name of that friendship, but I wonder if we’ll ever find out how these two, very dissimilar characters became friends.

I’m guessing that the odd visions of a desert or tropical beach that Shirou was shown as Caster drew up to the temple are linked to her identity since it’s either that or she realized that after a cold, cold winter, Shirou just wanted some time on a sunny beach and that that would be the best way to lure him to the temple. Let’s go with the former for now, though with Shirou, I just can’t be sure. I won’t talk too much about Caster right now since I’m sure we’ll see more of what she can do next week and I’ll fight the urge to research the name Sasaki Kojirou too since I think we’ll get more of an introduction next week as well. Instead, I would like to give a massive shoutout to whoever does the music whenever Archer appears to do badass things because that theme is just amazing. Archer is no slouch himself, pulling off a clutch save of an otherwise useless main character – seriously, he’s almost died again. Is this going to be a nightly thing for him?


8 thoughts on “[Anime] Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Mirage (S1E6)

  1. About the Shirou – Archer confrontation, if I remember correctly, Shirou actually do openly accuse Archer of trying to kill Saber with his last attack. So, he’s aware of that, at the very least.

    Trivia on children in magi families : usually, only the elder is raised as a magus. Basically, he or her gets the family magic crest, which is the sum of all the improvments made from generations to generations, while the younger is raised in total ignorance of the very existence of magic. That’s the theory, at least.

    And on the supposed friendship between Shirou and Shinji… yeah, you’re not the only one not getting it either. Well, the point was covered in a supplemental material, I believe, but can’t remember which one. To sum up, they met when they were quite younger, and let’s just say that each passing year Shinji became more and more unpleasant, and leave it at that.


    • @NoNameAvailable
      Their relationship is detailed in the Fan Disk Fate/Hollow Ataraxia here is the relevant text that tells how they became friends: http://imgur.com/a/48yDH

      @READERNREVIEWER, I’ll re-watch the episode tonight and read your review and see if there was anything that stood out.


    • This actually answers a question I had about Sakura and Shinji (but since I’ve already typed up next episode’s writeup, I’ll leave it in). Thanks!


  2. Shirou has a really really good reason to not like Archer. It’s just not out right stated in the anime so I’ll clear some things up.

    First we need context as to why Shirou can do something in the Berserker fight. http://i.imgur.com/UuciUmO.png

    So what we get from that is Shirou uses strengthening magic on his eyes to see farther.

    Next, we learn this episode Shirou can sense ‘killing intent’ (but we really know this earlier in VN). Here is some relevant stuff from the Berserker fight. http://imgur.com/a/Ts3Pe

    Imo Shirou has a very good reason to not like Archer, and now that I think about it he didn’t only put Saber and Shirou in danger with this action.

    Yup Shinji is a douche, but at one time he was a really good friend to Shirou, I’ll repost that series of pictures in this comment too. http://imgur.com/a/48yDH

    Also Shirou felt Tohsaka wasn’t serious about killing him. He knows her struggle of identity between ‘ideal magus’ and empathetic human.

    I wouldn’t exactly call Shirou useless. Episode 3 he saves Saber. Episode 5 he saves Rin and holds his own vs a servant. Also the anime kind of under plays Shirou’s fight with Lancer the night he almost died twice. In the VN it’s made very clear Shirou had a plan and he used his brain to get to where he wanted.

    His magecraft isn’t very good so he was easily controlled by caster, which is obviously unfortunate.

    Also modern magus usually train in physical arts too as magic fights don’t always come down to only using magic 1v1 so it’s good for Shirou to train in sword play.

    Also next week there is an after credit scene so make sure to not skip it.


    • You’re right, I’ve been kind of harsh towards Shirou. Thanks for taking the time to put the VN albums together, by the way, I really appreciate it.

      I definitely agree that Shirou has a reason to hate Archer beyond just their differences in personalities, but I’m going to leave that bit in the next writeup since I’m already done with it. It’s interesting to keep in mind, though. I wonder how much new stuff I’ll find out when I get to the VN (eventually).

      Regarding the scene after the credits – I totally missed it. I think I’ll talk about it in the episode 8 writeup. Thanks for the heads-up!


  3. There was actually a bit of (somewhat heavy handed) symbolism in that talking scene (first picture) that’s easy to miss if you’re not Japanese, though apparently the sign pointing to Archer says danger. If you think about Casters comment about their similarity in the next episode the mirror’s positioning is also interesting to look at, I guess you could say Archer is a darker reflection of Shirou….or something.

    Actually, Shirou does know Archer tried to deliberately kill him and Saber both in the Berserker fight. Though he does say, even in Fate, where events play out differently, that he “instinctually” can’t like Archer. As for Rin, he reasons out that she was hesitating and uncertain and in the end not actually trying to kill him.

    Not Kirei no, but rather it’s that heroic spirits have to come when they are summoned, from a conscious decision or no.

    Good analysis again; in one of Rin’s dream in the VN she notes that Archer does die fulfilled without regrets.

    Shinji’s been spying on Shirou and Rin for a while before he approached Shirou, in the VN Shirou briefly sees a silhouette resembling him during the forest fight. As for Magi, they actually usually only pass it down onto on of their children, typically the oldest, and the youngest is kept ignorant of magic, so as not to have to split the crest and weaken it, though I see that’s already been addressed.

    LOL haha, nah, it was Caster’s past, that was why the knife and the walking man with that thing on his shoulder showed up.


    • Hey, sorry for the late reply, this week has been crazy at work. Thanks for taking the time to read through and comment, glad you liked it!

      It’s really interesting, knowing what I do now, to revisit these posts and realize how much was laid out in advance. I think the conflict between Shirou and Archer is my favourite thing about this series right now, I’m really interested in seeing how things pan out. I’m also looking forward to reading the VN when I’m done, just to go back and see everything I missed.


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