[Anime] Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Answer (S2E9)


UBW Season 2 This week on Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, the series’ most compelling conflict reaches it inevitable conclusion and it is a surprisingly amicable one given the deep-set disagreements that the two characters have had with each other. Whether the fight’s conclusion clearly favoured Shirou or was a little more bittersweet depends on your opinion of the characters in question but either way, it is very much in line with the themes that the series has explored so far. Unfortunately, the peace that Shirou and Archer reach is a short lived one and we find ourselves parting ways with one of the show’s most fascinating characters. Symbolically, Archer’s death very neatly tied up his entire character arc and offered him some of the redemption that some viewers might have felt he deserved, though it isn’t hard to anticipate complaints of a somewhat anticlimactic end to both the series’ most visible antagonist and his fight with Shirou. Amazingly enough, that was only half of the episode – Gilgamesh, who apparently just stepped out for a moment for a smoke-break, returns to make a statement about just how far below him all the other characters are. In doing so, he also reveals a tremendous amount of information regarding the true nature of the Holy Grail War and the Grail itself, something that will have grave consequences for the few characters still left standing. This week’s episode, aptly titled, ‘Answer’, continues the trend set by the previous episode of being dialogue intensive, not just in the sense that the characters are talking a lot, but also in the sense that they are discussing ideas and concepts that demand that viewer’s full attention in order to be fully understood. However, where last week’s episode was somewhat abstract and more figurative, this week’s dialogue is much more direct and explicit. It’s a welcome change, in all honesty; deciphering the meaning behind Archer and Shirou’s conversation last week was demanding. The increasing number of internal character monologues helps as well – this week, we had Saber, who has pretty much been a bystander this season, sum up the conflict between Archer and Shirou. Some might see that as poor writing – it’s directly telling instead of showing – but there is definitely some value in being able to condense the essence of the disagreement into a couple of sentences. That said, this episode does not really introduce new material; neither Shirou nor Archer have any new arguments to make for their respective cases. The fight between them has thus far had both a symbolic and literal level – on the symbolic level it was Shirou’s relentless, determined belief in his idealism versus Archer’s cynical disillusionment, while on the literal level it was Archer, the Servant, versus Shirou, the Master. However, by the time of the fight’s final blows, those levels have almost entirely merged and the physical fight is decided, in the end, not by the respective combatants’ strengths but instead by the strength of their convictions. This leads to some interesting observations about the episode’s conclusion. It was clear that Shirou didn’t defeat Archer so much as Archer threw in the towel. This isn’t to discredit Shirou, mind you, but it ought to be clear that even right at the very end, Archer was in a position to take Shirou out. In the beginning of the series, Archer’s pragmatism was his defining characteristic, especially given its sharp contrast to Shirou’s optimistic idealism. Yet, in this fight, where everything is on the line, Archer very consciously sets that pragmatism aside and succumbs instead to sentimentality. At one point, he even remarks to himself that there is no need for him to fight Shirou on equal terms, but he realizes intuitively that overwhelming Shirou using an unfair advantage would not prove his point, or as he says, ‘would be like admitting defeat in another, crucial aspect’. This is not something a true pragmatist would say and it’s a sign that at his core, Archer doesn’t just want to dispose of Shirou (and given the sheer number of chances he has had, we could have guessed) but instead wants vindication; he wants Shirou to know that he (Shirou) was wrong and that Archer was right. You could argue that it’s a petty thing for a Heroic Spirit want, almost spiteful in its own way, but that would be ignoring the degree of resentment Archer feels towards his former self for getting himself into his current state. Is Archer’s defeat an admission that Shirou was right, or do it mean that Archer did not think that he could defeat Shirou? There is a key difference between the two – the former means that Shirou was successfully able to make his case and sway Archer away from the poison of cynicism but the latter means that Archer essentially gave up on trying to convince Shirou, that Shirou essentially just wore Archer down. Of course, the former makes for a more emphatic conclusion, yet it isn’t too clear, at first at least, that that is what happened right until the final moment in the fight. It feels that throughout this episode, Shirou continues to gain conviction, and Archer, seeing this, begins to lose his. At first, he refuses to accept Shirou’s answer, but something changes along the way. Archer recognizes the look of determination in Shirou’s eyes all too well but there is a key difference that Archer doesn’t explicitly state – Archer’s eyes were devoid of hope when he had that look, he was following his path with blind determination because it was all he knew. Archer, as we found last week, did not get any pleasure from the process of trying to save others and so, somewhere along the way, even though he was determined to be a superhero, just gave up trying to find happiness. The difference however, is that Shirou, right now, is equally determined but still has that hope intact. This isn’t the final nail in Archer’s coffin however; instead, it is that one incredibly poignant moment where he sees in Shirou the same version of himself that promised Kiritsugu that he would fulfil his life’s ambitions. In that moment, Archer suddenly remembered what it was like to full of that kind of idealism and that, much more than any of Shirou’s glancing blows, defeated him. It is hauntingly beautiful if you think about it; in that moment, Archer goes from knowing that Shirou will absolutely fail to, on a subconscious level at least, wishing that he succeeds. Visually speaking, the fight’s conclusion had some interesting imagery too. When Shirou made his final charge towards Archer, the landscape of Archer’s reality marble changed. It wasn’t a stark difference, but it was definitely noticeable ‘brighter’, for the lack of a better word. Was that Shirou ‘dispelling’ Archer’s Unlimited Blade Works reality marble, or was he overwriting it with his own? We have reason enough to suspect that Shirou will one day go on to make Unlimited Blade Works and it isn’t entirely unreasonable to think that this could be Shirou’s first, unknowing attempt at creating it. After all, if the reality marble is the creator/owner, sort of asserting their mental image on reality, then that could definitely be what Shirou, at the height of his own hype, was doing. Either way, the visual effect was pretty powerful – Shirou, backed by a more optimistic, bluer sky, driving back Archer’s gloomier, more despondent reality marble, made for some great, meaningful contrast between the two characters. Before we move on to Saber’s sudden characterization and the new revelations about the nature of the Grail, let’s take a moment to eulogize Archer. Since the beginning, he has been one of the cornerstones of the series, providing both dry humour and dramatic developments. Throughout the series, despite his increasingly erratic and questionable behaviour, it has been nigh impossible to see him as a ‘villain’. In fact, despite his role as one of the primary antagonists in the show, it feels that characters like Caster and Ilya were more ‘evil’, or at least more antagonistic, to say nothing of the likes of Gilgamesh and Kirei. By and large, the Servants have not had the epic, larger than life deaths that a part of me really, really wants. Instead, most of them seem to go out with a whisper instead of a bang; Caster, betrayed by Archer, dies in Kuzuki’s arms; Lancer, betrayed by Kirei, dies quietly too; Rider pretty much dies off screen; and who knows what happened to Assassin? Berserker got the best death yet, putting the fear of (demi) god in Gilgamesh but Archer would probably be next on that list. Archer’s death was pretty sudden, and more than a little anti-climactic; just as things seemed to be settling down, Gilgamesh appears from nowhere and takes him out. In every other regard, however, his death was excellently executed, some pun intended. In previous discussions, I have repeatedly wondered whether Archer would ever get the redemption his character deserved and what that redemption would look like – it was clear to me that Archer was far too sympathetic a character to not get some form of redemption but I worried that any overly altruistic move Archer made to receive that redemption would clash with the essence of the character and his motivations thus far. Thankfully, those worries were for naught – Archer’s decision to essentially take a bullet/sword for Shirou wasn’t just him being a good guy, it was a culmination of his entire character development so far. Of course, it gave him some believable redemption, since sacrificing yourself gets you instant karma points and sacrificing yourself for someone you dislike only doubles that but there is more than that at play here. A part of Archer saving Shirou is a tacit acknowledgement of the latter’s dreams – if Archer wasn’t, on some level at least, convinced that Shirou deserved to live, then he wouldn’t have pushed him away. A bigger part however, is just how that one act ties into the whole conversation of the mutual exclusivity of saving one person versus saving everyone. Archer states that it is impossible to do both and it’s something that has come up very frequently, yet, if you think about it, Archer’s decision to save Shirou means that Archer has chosen to save the one, so that Shirou can save everyone else. Gilgamesh, intends to kills everyone (which is a disappointingly bland goal, I expected better), and it seems that it will fall to Shirou to stop him, which means Archer decides to save both Shirou and the world at the cost of his own life. It’s also, fittingly enough, something that lines up well with his duties as a Counter-Guardian and might even explain (beyond the pendant) why he was summoned in this era. Archer’s sacrifice is a little bittersweet though – in this end, the point that you can’t save everyone still stands. Archer indirectly saves everyone but himself yet therein lies his redemption; he chooses to save the world, filled though it is with traitorous ideals, over himself. In all of this, we should also mention Saber and how fitting it is that she understands both Shirou and Archer’s point of view – after all, she was Servant to both of them at some point, in some time. It feels like it is a little late to develop her character though and as much as I appreciate the effort, at this point I feel they might just be better off leaving Saber’s dream, whatever it is, out of the show entirely instead of trying to force it in now. From what we can see, it seems Saber/Arthur, had a choice between happiness (left) and duty (right). Based on the legend, she clearly chose the latter and it seems that she isn’t sure herself if she made the right choice. Does she want the Grail so that she gets a do-over? Or does she think that getting the Grail would bring her the happiness that duty denied her? Neither option really fits perfectly, but a combination of the two could make for a complex, compelling character. Finally, we reach the tale of Gilgamesh and the Holy Grail. Frankly speaking, while I appreciate the show finally coming clean about just what the Grail is and isn’t, as well as revealing a lot more about the previous Grail War, the explanation itself was neither particularly well executed nor very clear. Regarding the Grail, the essence of it seems to be this – the Grail itself did not create the Holy Grail War; it is a purely manmade event. The War exists as a reason for the Servants – six of them at least – to kill each other and allow the victor to pour the soul/mana of the deceased into the Grail which will then fulfil the victor’s wishes. It isn’t clear just why the entire farce of the Grail War was necessary or why it needed to be made into this elaborate ritual but one could argue that Servants would be much less willing to butcher each other if they knew they were helping open the gateway to Hell. We have known for a while that the Grail isn’t really as benevolent an artefact as the legends (in our world at least) would have us think but there is a sizable gap between being non-benevolent and being outright malicious/evil. Essentially, the Grail is filled with malice, in the form of curses and when the Grail was broken previously, the outpouring of those curses essentially burned the city around it, resulting in the infamous fire that still haunts Shirou to this day. Yet, if it’s that malevolent an object, it seems clear that only an evil Master would actively seek it – unless, the Master who reaches it does not realize exactly what it is. Given the odd morality that mages in this world seem to possess, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that a mage might seek the Grail just for the sheer quantity of energy it could provide and disregard the negative consequences of using such an object. While all that is interesting, I find the information Gilgamesh divulges about the previous war to be much more interesting. First of all, this episode establishes that Gilgamesh was a Servant in the past war and explains how he is still around despite the War being long done. Him being an Archer explains the odd similarity between his and Archer’s techniques – Gilgamesh’s swords are a little more detailed and varied (and shinier) but that is only to be expected given his status as a legendary hero. Given his close connection to Kirei, who he even seems to mourn slightly, it would appear that Kirei was his Master in the previous War. Gilgamesh being the one of the last Servants standing would imply that the final conflict of the previous war came down to Gilgamesh and Saber, Kirei and Kiritsugu, thus explaining the enmity that the former had towards the latter. So why does Saber, who destroyed the Grail previously, want the Grail this time? The funny thing is that she seems as shocked as the rest when Gilgamesh unveils the Grail’s nature so was this one of the things that she forgot about when she was summoned this time? Or did she destroy the Grail inadvertently the last time? There are some questions that need to be answered – if her reasons for destroying the Grail the last time still stand, then does that mean she will be willing to give up her one wish this time too? We’ll end this week’s extremely long discussion with the character of Gilgamesh the Archer. As mentioned above, Gilgamesh’s final objective being a purification of the world feels like a let-down. I was expecting more from his character than some usual, run-of-the-mill villainous motive. His goal of being King of only the worthy does seem to tie in well with his previous conversation with Shinji about the value of an individual’s life having gone down in this era but still, I feel like this story deserves a better villainous agenda than ‘destroy the world’. The story is told on an intimate, character driven level and a motive like Gilgamesh’s doesn’t mesh well with that. Gilgamesh walking away from a perfectly helpless Shirou also feels like a cop-out – you have him right in front of you, you have your weapons already summoned but you walk away because of a little dirt? The idea there was that Rin, Shirou and even Saber are too far below Gilgamesh’s level for him to bother dirtying his nice jacket over, but if you consider Gilgamesh’s actions this episode, they consist of: appearing, killing Archer, handing out a mountain of exposition and then walking away while making vague threats. It’s rather clichéd behaviour for a card-carrying villain and just feels disappointing compared to how developed Archer’s motives as an antagonist were. Gilgamesh does get some redemption when he shows the slightest bit of remorse at Kirei’s death. We don’t know what kind of relationship they had, and I probably don’t want to know, but it’s good to see that Gilgamesh does have some level of respect for somebody; it humanizes him just a little. Watching him forcibly mutate Shinji into something grotesque after putting up with him for so long was a nice way to end the episode, though it you have to whether using Shinji as the Grail’s cup holder would make it less corrupt or more.

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33 thoughts on “[Anime] Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Answer (S2E9)

  1. “Yet, if it that malevolent an object, it seems clear that only an evil Master would actively seek it – unless, the Master who reaches it does not realize exactly what it is.”

    Essentially that’s it. Originally the Grail was pretty much as advertised. However, after a certain anomaly in the Third Grail War, the Grail became corrupted without anyone being the wiser.

    “So why does Saber, who destroyed the Grail previously, want the Grail this time? The funny thing is that she seems as shocked as the rest when Gilgamesh unveils the Grail’s nature so was this one of the things that she forgot about when she was summoned this time? Or did she destroy the Grail inadvertently the last time?”

    You’re missing another possibility here: isn’t there already a explicitly shown way to get a Servant to do something against their will?

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  2. Spot on analysis of this episode.

    As someone who read the VN awhile ago, I have to agree that Gilgamesh as the “final boss” of the UBW route was pretty disappointing after the fight with Archer which is arguably the climax of the that storyline. Gil is incredibly clichèd as far as villains go with his whole Hitler-esque agenda. On the other hand, Kirei is far more complex a character with somewhat sympathetic motivations that far more suit the final obstacle for the main team. I won’t spoil anything, but these concepts are covered in detail in the Heaven’s Feel route of the game, and the climax of that route really brings the character-driven aspect of the visual novel’s plot that is one of its strengths.

    I also agree with your thoughts about Saber’s characterization. Her motives and purpose were meant to be explained in the Fate route of the game as that was the storyline where she was the heroine; however, the Unlimited Blade Works story did not unlock until the player finished reading Fate. As such, UBW tended to ignore Saber most of time as it expected you, the viewer, to already know the majority of her tale. This adaptation does not have the luxury of knowing that the watchers have prior knowledge; so, it tried to put some additional content to roughly summarize her character. Unfortunately, these efforts feel like they were shoe-horned in at the last moment as a result. Although, I personally appreciate the staff’s effort to at least explain why she felt invested in Shirou and Archer’s duel in relation to her own circumstances. I just wish such exposition was shown earlier to perhaps further foreshadow the parallels between her internal conflict and the one Shirou would have to face later in the story.

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    • It’s funny that you mention Kirei
      being the more sympathetic between him and Gilgamesh. As things stand right now, I can quite safely say I find Gilgamesh to be, if not sympathetic, at least interesting whereas Kirei just feels scummy.

      I also agree that Saber’s characterization should have begun earlier. It felt weird that she was almost totally silent for most of this series.

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      • The lack of Saber characterization is the sad fact that it simply isn’t her “route” or story. VN-wise, her route is the first, so the story is mainly about her and her interactions with Shirou. The second, Unlimited Blade Works, focuses on Rin. And the third… Won’t spoil that surprise.

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  3. Sadly Goremshlil semi spoiled some stuff about the Holy Grail. A lot more about the Holy Grail will be revealed in Heaven’s Feel. It isn’t as simple as Gilgamesh makes it out to be. There is a line that Gilgamesh mentions in the Visual Novel, that he doesn’t mention in the Anime it is supposed to happen right before Rin’s reaction. He states that the Holy Grail was never meant to grant wishes, instead its purpose was to reach “the origin”. coincidentally Gilgamesh discovered that it could also open a gateway to hell so to speak. Heaven’s Feel will go into much more detail about all of this though, since it is the conclusion of the story and should resolve most mysteries still remaining.

    What I wanted to point out is that Rin should have reacted to that word, “the origin” not a random reaction like she had in the anime.
    The origin, sometimes known as the Root, is a big concept in the universe/multiverse Fate/Stay is placed in. Making an appearance in many other works by Nasu.

    I know i’ve suggested it before but I highly recommend watching Kara No Kyoukai, the origin/root as well as the counterforce are explained quite a bit more in that series.
    Also Fate/Zero is all about the previous Holy Grail War, I don’t like recommending watching it before heaven’s feel, but given that you are going to read the VN you won’t be waiting to long to be able to dive into F/Z

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    • I just rewatched the first KnK and I strongly agree with you, I think he’d like it a lot.

      I love the idea about origins and the nature vs nurture conflict that comes with it, plus all the crazy things that come to the lore because of it, mainly THE origin. There’s some really good stuff and characters in there.

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    • This might not be a popular opinion, but I’m kind of glad that they didn’t bring this origin thing up. I feel it would distract from this story itself without adding a lot in return. It’d be a cool shoutout/easter-egg/reference to Kara No Kyoukai (which I’ll be watching next), but I don’t know if we need to deal with that particular plot point in this series itself. I can see where you’re coming from though – I would probably want it in if I was familiar with both series.

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  4. I really loved Archer’s line about looking at his own old self in a mirror, for all the ideas and themes UBW throws at us it’s nice to have something easily digestible with a lot of meaning behind it, without lines like that it would be hard to relate and engage even if we understood.

    I think we all tend to dislike our past selves and the idea of a mirror that shows you that, is pretty horrifying. It really put’s you in Archer’s place, we don’t get a lot of internal monologue in this show and what little is there is very effective.

    Surprised you didn’t mention anything about Gil calling them “fakes” I thought you’d get a lot of milleage out of that. The simplicity is kind of the charm with Gil, he doesn’t engage in all that pretention and magus stuff other characters do, he points the ridiculous for what it is and is the catalyst that will help condense the essence of UBW into a simple idea.

    That’s also why the workings of the Grail are still fuzzy, he doesn’t nerd out on us like a proper magus would, he’s pretty much the worst character for exposition that you can have. They sort of wrote themselves into a corner with noone to explain this very important piece of information so the way out was kinda sloppy.

    As far as Saber goes, if it makes you feel better(or worse), the author asked the team to keep Saber stuff to a minimum(there wasn’t enough in the route so what was there was mostly fanservice), this is about as much out of place stuff we will get. Saber sadly doesn’t get much development this route because she get’s all of it in Fate, that means that for people who already know her this scene wouldn’t make sense without drawing some parallels to her own internal conflict. There’s been this thing building inside her and it had to lead somewhere.

    “It isn’t clear just why the entire farce of the Grail War was necessary or why it needed to be made into this elaborate ritual ”

    Human nature, Kirei did mention long ago that each grew bloodier than the last one:

    “deceiving their Servants as well as their Masters, who were blind to the truth.” as Gil said in this very episode.

    There are many things that don’t need to be complicated in this world but people always find ways of complicating them anyway, The ritual to summon the Holy Grail is just one of many.

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    • I didn’t comment on the fakes much because I thought it was pretty self explanatory. Did I miss something? The most I can think of is how Archer keeps calling Shirou a fake but to Gilgamesh, they both are. Both characters use the word in pretty different contexts though.

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  5. This is basically the ending of the route. The themes have been explored, the core ideas explained, Shirou’s main conflict resolved, it’s done. Goldie is a metaphor now; he’ll of course be stopped somehow, that’s not even a question, his whole point in this route is to be a climactic proof for Shirou’s correctness and heroism. Story could’ve ended right here and UBW’s main messages would’ve been fully relayed, but then Shirou’s new determination would look like empty boasts of a kid without a big victory of some sort that stems from his will to be superheroic.

    It kinda drags from here on though. You know the meat of the story is over and it’s only tying up loose ends now. Everybody knows Goldie won’t win; while destroy the world plan may not be very original, stopping it literally achieves Shirou’s ideal and it’s also obvious that destroy the world plans always fail, so there’s no real tension left. Story will just go through the motions to reach the inevitable conclusion now. Sure, there’s the question of how Shirou will manage that, but victory being a foregone conclusion makes it all slightly boring.

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    • I honestly don’t know enough to agree or disagree obviously, but I kind of like the concept of having this one last battle to underline the point. The trouble with it that I’m foreseeing is that if the reasons of the fight aren’t compelling enough, it’s going to fall flat, really hard, especially after what we’ve seen in the last few episodes.

      I do disagree with there being no real tension left though. Sure, it doesn’t seem like this is going to end with the world on fire, but there’s nothing to say that there won’t be a second fire in the city with Shirou relieves his nightmares. For me, the tension doesn’t just come from the plot but also the characters and it’s going to be interesting to see how Shirou’s renewed faith in his ideals translates to actually getting shit done, like you said.

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      • The problem is, Shirou needs to win flawlessly. The city can’t burn down, Shirou’s determination can’t fail to pay off, another major disaster of any sort can’t happen. Otherwise, the ending will clash with the true climax’s heroism theme and narrative completely undermines its own message.

        Not that it’s completely impossible, but audiences would be right to call foul if that happened.

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  6. To think, all’s left in the VN is pretty much the final boss and yet we have at least 4 more episodes left.

    Well, everyone else pretty much pointed out what was necessary so I guess I can talk about the differences between the VN. Biggest change is that the Answer scene doesn’t take place within Archer’s Reality Marble, because at this point Archer’s Independent Action ability is at it’s limit and he barely at 10% of his power. I like the decision to make the entire fight take place in the reality marble because it’s like Archer saying “LOOK THIS IS YOUR FUTURE, YOU NAIVE GINGER FUCK”, but I think it kinda screws around with the… power levels I guess? To give an example, this is the opening lines of Shirou’s final clash:

    “It is an unbelievable technique. His attacking body is on the verge of death. His fingers are broken, his limbs are slashed, and his breathing has stopped without him even realizing it. His speed is nothing, and his attack is mediocre. The boy that has absorbed his combat skills to the point where he’s able to fight decently, has now returned to fighting without them. An unskilled, frantic attack.
    …But still…
    This blow is heavier than any that came before.”

    And yet we see Shirou perform a mid-air pirouette slash. And then 4 seconds later Archer says he’s dead on his feet. It kinda feels like the atmosphere of the entire scene was messed up, with the repetition of ideals, Saber butting in to explain just what was going on, and Avalon healing all of Shirou’s wounds. It kinda ruined the tension for me when they represented Avalon as like topping off Shirou’s HP rather than a revival with 1HP left.

    Gilgamesh is a polarizing character. I think the best way to describe him is more interesting relative to the amount of mongrels he faces. His motivations make sense and are in line with his character, but I guess it’s disappointing because it’s more comic book villain than the larger than life character he is. His leaving Shirou, Saber, and Rin was always a weak scene. He knows he can kill them all easily but says “The ashes will dirty me.” and leaves. I liked that Ufotable tried to explain it a bit more with him saying that this means you are worth less than soot to me. Also just as minor gripe, in the VN Rin attacked him with her jewels despite having a constant, limited amount she needs to conserve to show her fury, but in the anime they just have her miss him with a Gandr shot.

    Finally, it’s really disappointing that Ufotable, despite putting quite a bit more effort into Shinji than I expected, didn’t animate the Shinjiest of all Shinji scenes. When Shinji was running away into the forest with his nearly sliced off arm (another change, instead of a poke, Lancer almost put his entire spear into Shinji’s arm) he’s starts going off into a rant about how he’s useless now that he has one arm, so to make himself superior to everyone else, he’ll cut off an arm off of everybody, No! He cut off both arms so he’s the only one with an arm. He’ll cut off ALL THE ARMS. *Cue Gil the heart surgeon*

    If there’s one regret I have with UBW, is that with all the scenes referencing Fate/Zero, Ufotable definitely went in with the assumption that people have watched it beforehand (the Fate route of the VN was also made free on mobile, but only in Japan so it’s clear they also expected people to know the Fate route) and yet, we the fanbase, because we wanted everyone to experience the beauty of Fate/Stay Night the same way we did, kept insisting on either reading the VN (which is still valid and IMO the best way) or watching Fate/Zero after UBW. Now, I would definitely recommend watching Fate/Zero and then UBW.

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    • Yeah, thats pretty much going to become my recommending order as well. People can talk about the intended order all they want, but I think at this point its become abundantly clear that ufotable anime’s intended order is F/Z -> UBW -> HF. If we go by what spoils more of what, then F/SN spoils more of F/Z undoubtedly because now when you start F/Z everything is a foregone conclusion. I’m of course still going to recommend the Visual Novel whenever I can, but sometimes thats not an option for getting people into the series.

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        • I know it’s gonna be hard, but try to avoid watching Fate Zero until after Heaven’s Feel, whether it’s through the VN or the movie adaptation.

          Imagine how much less interesting watching UBW would be if you came into it already knowing Archer was future Shirou. Fate Zero spoils something equivalent in the very first episode in an extremely unsatisfying way.

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          • I agree that Heavens Feel should atleast be read before Fate/Zero, not sure why my comment was downvoted. I just think that if I recommend the Fate series as an intro for anime-only viewers, i’m going to recommend Fate/Zero -> UBW because as I said, ufotable seemingly assumes Fate/Zero should be first given somethings are confusing without F/Z context (Aka the spectre that appeared to Illya)

            On another note: HAHA your downvotes have no power over me here, mongrels!

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    • I think a lot of the actual fighting in these last two episodes was the Rule of Cool in full effect. Frankly, I see your point about it being weird that Shirou pulls off all these badass moves while being “at his limit” but I’m not at all bothered by it.

      You’re right that would be a very Shinji scene though I’m not convinced he needs any further characterization at this point. Like he’s already established himself as the universally disliked douchebag, why beat the dead horse? Unless there is some significance to his tall about hands and the hands that come out of his mutating body?

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  7. In essence, Nasu as much as said that Archer was more meant to be something of a shadow protagonist rather than an outright antagonist-it is not only Shirou who finds an Answer here, but Archer as well, in a way.
    Actually you did make an interpretation I don’t quite agree with here for the first time in a while haha. Essentially, at his core, Archer is still Shirou, and he did get pleasure and happiness from saving others and being a hero, even unto his death when he was betrayed and executed. The problem is that the method of saving offered to him by the Counter Force involves, well, mass destruction of a smaller number to save a greater.

    “I killed and killed and killed.
    I killed many people to act on my ideal.
    I killed so many that I stopped caring about innocent people, and I saved a thousand times as many as I killed.”

    “My vision expands after I save one.
    Ten after one. A hundred after ten. How many was it after a hundred? At that time, I finally realized that Emiya Shirou’s ideal was just a convenient fantasy.”

    I assume it was a daily routine for you to sacrifice a few people to save the country.”

    “……”
    The quiet voice is rendered powerless to object.
    The words of the red knight are Saber’s darkness as well.

    “Yes, the seats are limited. There are always fewer seats called happiness than there are people to fill them.
    Since you cannot save everyone, someone will have to be sacrificed.
    And…

    I quickly killed the ones that would eventually fall out to minimize the damage.
    This is what it means to be that boy’s vision of the ideal superhero.”

    And as such he became disillusioned with the ideal of saving everyone, since, as you stated before, he was incredibly idealistic, wanting to save the murderer and the victim both. In essence, he still would have received happiness from saving people, but he never saw those he saved, only those he killed, and that happiness was drowned out by the horror of repeatedly going against his ideal.

    And yeah, Shirou did not beat Archer physically, as you said, although the fight was obviously altered on the screen for more effect, it’s rather more obvious in the original form that he cannot beat Archer in strength of body. Still, Archer did not simply give up the fight, but Shirou triumphs over him in the battle of their wills, and Archer accepts Shirous idealism.

    Essentially from Archers POV we see this, on Shirou;
    It is an unbelievable technique.* “Nu!?” His attacking body is on the verge of death. His fingers are broken, his limbs are slashed, and his breathing has stopped without him even realizing it. His speed is nothing, and his attack is mediocre. The boy that has absorbed his combat skills to the point where he’s able to fight decently, has now returned to fighting without them. An unskilled, frantic attack.
    …But still…
    This blow is heavier than any that came before.

    “–It isn’t a mistake….!”

    Those words are driven into his chest.
    An attack made at full strength, defense that should have been fast enough…
    The cogwheels never got into gear and the battle is decided quickly.

    Saber actually said it in the episode before the last; She feels her becoming King was a mistake. She feels she failed her ideals, her country and herself hence her line; “I should never have become King.”

    About the Holy Grail, they did leave out a couple of explanations here, I guess because some of it might be confusing to anime only viewers who have not seen Kara No Kyoukai, within which the concept of the origin is explained.

    ” Then… Then only the Masters can handle the Holy Grail. If it is a repository of pure magical energy, only magi can use it.

    …Yes. If the Master is an excellent magus, it ”

    “It will grant him any wish?
    You idiot. Such miracles are not given to mere humans. Humans only destroy themselves, no matter how much power they are given.
    But do not worry, Saber.
    This Holy Grail is real. If you insert seven Servants in it, it will reach the origin.”
    “…Origin…? Hold on. Then could the Holy Grail be…?”

    “I do not know who it was, but the one who made this rule is a genius.
    But it does not concern me. I have no interest in such a thing. All I am interested in is the Holy Grail’s ability to serve as the ‘gate’.”

    And there was this bit as well;

    “Kotomine did not tell you about it?
    The Holy Grail is named ‘Angra Mainyu’, or ‘all evils of the world’.
    It is mud that will consume every human being, like the name states.”

    ….Angra Mainyu?

    I think that’s the name of the devil in Zoroastrianism.
    The leader of evil that opposes God for many thousands of years.
    It is an embodiment of the evil in all human, and it is depicted as a reflected image of all humanity’s good will.
    But why is the Holy Grail named after the ancient Persian devil?

    ” Then your intention is to…”

    It should be noted though that he does literally mean it’s a gateway to hell, he just likes to speak in metaphors.
    Funnily enough, both Archers we’ve seen so far primarily use swords.

    I agree Gilgamesh’s character isn’t the best antagonist relative to the others. In essence, generally speaking in the setting humanity has in a way degraded over time and Gilgamesh, who is essentially the oldest King, is disgusted with modern humanity. His Zero self is slightly less like this (though still self-righteous and abrasive) but spending 10 years with the humanity of today has lead him to be disgusted with it since it doesn’t measure up to the time of heroes he ruled in.
    And yeah that walking away bit was a cop out, I was actually hoping they’d change that to make the fire more threatening or something but, well.

    That said, for all that Gilgamesh is the main antagonist here, the main theme of the UBW route (or really any of the routes) is not centered around the Grail war, and here it is Archers conflict with Shirou that was central.
    To be sure, that last bit is actually sort of right haha, Gilgamesh does want an incompatible vessel for the Grail, otherwise he would’ve just used Illya.

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    • I think we’re on the same page re: Archer, I didn’t mean he stopped getting happiness from saving people. I definitely got the feeling that Archer stopped finding happiness in the process and instead thought that the end goal of salvation was what would make him happy. My take on it was that on the road to saving people, Archer had to kill many, many people (like you said) but he hated that because he wanted to save not kill.

      This thing about the origin was mentioned in other comments too, but unless it’s going to directly affect the plot, I’m fine with not complicating things more, especially this late into the series. Just my personal opinion.

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      • Ah, I see, in that case yeah I can sort of agree with the interpretation.

        Well for the origin thing, rather my problem is that it gives off the impression that the purpose of the Grail is to unleash a bunch of curses on the world when that’s actually not the real purpose. That said, the origin thing does come up a bit in Heavens Feel, though I guess how relevant it is to the plot is up to perspective.

        As for Gilgamesh, note how he obtained his existence from a broken grail, which also lead to the burning of the town. And with his spoken goal of wiping out the vast majority of humanity, he’d want to create it on a much larger scale, so an incompatible vessel will make it easier to have all the corruption pour out without anything else happening.
        There’s another reason that he’s not interested in a compatible vessel, but I can’t really explain that one without spoiling you on the other routes, I think, so I won’t try.

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    • Oh and also, will they explain why Gilgamesh wants an incompatible vessel? My impression was that he owes his entire current existence to the Grail and that he knows more about it than anyone.

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  8. A good read. If you want to know more about the relationship between Gilgamesh and Kirei, watch Fate Zero.

    Also something interesting from the episode is that midair slash from Shirou, which is the exact same move that Archer does to Assassin. At this point, Shirou has absorbed/remembered all of Archer’s raw combat skill.

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  9. It seems that with the rise in popularity of these reviews, people are more inclined to information dump and guide the misguided. It’s all well and good, but just because the reviewer is questioning something doesn’t mean that it’s necessary to answer it. Most of the issues he has with the episode are valid when considering that he has only seen Unlimited Blade Works and what little he’s read of the Fate route thus far.

    Gilgamesh, for example, is a complicated subject to tackle. He forces his way into the limelight out of nowhere and then vacates it for arbitrary reasons throughout Fate/Stay Night. In all honesty, I never really thought he was a good character until Fate/Zero, because that’s where he shows the most personality and they don’t try to shoehorn him into a villainous archetype.

    So while the reviewer is getting tired of Gil’s tendency to spare the main cast, the hardcore fans are chuckling to themselves because they understand that’s just what Gilgamesh does. The King of Heroes has no equal and he does as pleases. The arrogant hedonist. But we love him for it. Haha.

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    • I’m just eagerly waiting to see how he handles it when the series hits its third loop. But yes, please no spoilers folks.

      But really, what is it with the Japanese and their spirals? Still not on the Umineko level of repetition, but it must be their ties to Buddhism and reincarnation.

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    • Gilgamesh in fate stay night is just a petty villain. he was used due to nasu though his name is bad ass and he has the oldest epic poem. He is there to added the vanity of the players

      Gilgamesh different in fate zero is because Urobuchi wanted Gilgamesh from the legend

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