[Anime] Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Epilogue (S2E13)


UBW Season 2

It’s happily ever after for everyone in the final episode of Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works after the conclusion of the 5th Holy Grail War. Shirou and Rin are in marital bliss, studying in London and enjoying a simpler life without the complications of murderous Servants and twisted Masters. As an episode, this epilogue doesn’t add a great deal to the greater story; in fact, it feels more like a little gift to fans who might not want to part ways with their favourite characters just yet. As a conclusion to the whole UBW storyline, this epilogue really leaves a lot to be desired – it reopens some issues that the series itself closed and does feel like a needlessly detailed prolongation of a story. I’ll talk a little about the episode itself and then a little about the Fate route and my experience with the VN so far. Mostly, I’m going to make the argument that this entire episode was really unnecessary and that the key bits could have been tacked on to the end of last week’s episode to make for a great conclusion.

 

In my head, this series ended last week and this week’s episode felt almost like an OVA more than an actual part of the story. Apart from the characters and some minor references to what they went through in the series, the events of this episode really have no bearing on the story. This episode doesn’t introduce anything new – which is fine, it’s an epilogue after all – but neither does it really offer us any closure that last week’s episode didn’t. Last week, we had the conclusion of every UBW related plotline – Gilgamesh’s defeat, Shirou acting on his ideals and turning them into tangible results, the end of the Holy Grail part of the story and Shirou and Rin get their happy ending. This week’s episode actually feels like it spoils the neat and tidy closure that last week’s episode provided us with but without offering any real narrative benefits in return. We get to Rin and Shirou’s domestic life, which is nice but hardly intriguing; we see a bunch of characters we’ve never seen before and while they seem interesting/entertaining enough in their own right, it’s hard to really care too much when you know it is the final episode of the series.

The one substantial plot point that the episode offers is a question about Shirou’s future and his state of mind after the Holy Grail War. I have mixed feelings on the series reopening the issue in its finale – on one hand, I love that we aren’t pretending that Shirou’s epiphany in his fight with Archer suddenly solved all his issues and uncertainties but on the other hand, I do feel like it isn’t something that needs to be revisited and that opening the issue again pretty much retroactively dilutes the emotional impact of their fight. I’m all for realism when it comes to character development and that’s why I like that Shirou continues to struggle and search for answers but I also really believe that sometimes in fiction it’s perfectly fine (if not outright preferable) for things to be resolved in a cleaner and neater fashion than they would be in real life. I’m not saying that we have to go for the full escapism route where nothing bad happens to our characters and they just float through life on easy street, but sometimes the whole point of fiction is to create situations which will never happen in real life. Rin and Shirou do reflect on the relativism of the importance of their experiences; that although the Holy Grail War was a major, life changing event in their lives, in the bigger scheme of things, it wasn’t such a big deal to anyone else. It’s a nice touch and sort of puts things in perspective for the audience but at the same time, it does diminish the impact of the whole series – we watched the entire Grail War thinking that it was a big deal and it’s a little cruel to find on the final episode that we got excited for a ‘minor affair in the East’.

On matters of Fate

I did mention last week that I would talk a little about my experiences with the VN and the Fate Route in particular. It’s a little weird coming to Fate after knowing most of the plot for UBW. It’s like there are things that I thought would happen but turned out differently – like Saber facing off against Assassin, but without Shirou meeting Caster at all. There are also things which just happen differently and throw me off because I came in expecting something else – for example, very early on when Ilya and Berserker first find the gang outside the church and Ilya backs off when Shirou uses his body to shield Saber; I was expecting Archer to pop up and fire some shots but that obviously doesn’t happen. Of course, as the plot diverged more and more, I had fewer moments like that, but it was a little trippy early on. On the whole though, I enjoyed it, though I’m not sure if I’ll ever really get fully accustomed to the medium. I don’t want this to run too long, especially since I only played the Fate route once and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch of details and missed a lot of the less explicitly stated implications. I’ll start with the issues I have with both Fate and the VN as a whole, mainly so that I can end on a positive note.

Fate’s Weaknesses

First off, there is the matter of the story’s pacing. Fate takes a really long time to get interesting. I wasn’t fully invested in the story till Saber faced off against Rider (though I liked her fight with Assassin too), which was on the seventh or eighth day of the story. There is just way too much of boring domestic life stuffed into the story, which I can honestly say is something I hate about this series. I can understand that you need some comedy relief and downtime to delineate the different more exciting segments but I can’t bring myself to care about Fuji-nee or Sakura or about what Shirou is having for breakfast/lunch/dinner or who is doing the chores. A good amount of Shirou and Saber’s relationship is built up in those domestic scenes but it just wasn’t enough to sustain my interest.

I also don’t really know how to feel about Saber and Shirou’s relationship. I can see why it happens and I do like them as a couple but I think watching UBW first made me biased towards Rin and Shirou. As a result, I think of Saber-Shirou as a cute ‘fan-fic, what-if’ type of pairing and Shirou-Rin as the ‘actual’ cannon pairing. I realise that that’s not the case, but in my head, that’s just how it is (deal with it, Saber fans). One of the things that bother me about their relationship and their dynamic though is that, while I understand Shirou’s motives for caring so deeply about Saber, that care and concern often manifests itself as blatant sexism and often as outright stupidity. Claiming Saber shouldn’t be fighting because she is a girl sounds about as sexist as it gets and the only reason that it’s somewhat understandable is because Shirou is actually worried that she might get herself killed but isn’t able to verbalize it properly. Yet, as the story goes on, it takes him far too long to really just recognize that Saber is a lot more capable and powerful than he is, so you’ll have moments even mid-way through the story where he is trying to protect her from blows that she could probably have tanked.

I also didn’t like that Ilya joins Shirou’s gang. I like her, she’s interesting enough and definitely has value as a character but her going from wanting to murder Shirou and his friends to becoming his little sister at home is utterly ridiculous. She ends up becoming little more than comic relief on the domestic front and I felt like it really just makes it harder to take the story seriously while also painting Shirou as something of a pushover. There is some justification for it, I suppose, but it isn’t nearly enough. It would have been fine if Shirou just spares her life after the fight in the forest – after all, Shirou is exactly the kind of guy who would spare his enemies but her actually living with him sort of breaks the suspension of disbelief. On a related note, I find the whole numerical approach to the Servant descriptions very off-putting. Like, I’m fine with the extra info that the journal provides, regarding the hero’s past and his/her weaponry but giving it a numerical value makes it seem like a video game, which would still be fine, but it never affects anything- it isn’t like those stats of agility or strength and stuff ever matter except when comparing between Servants. Even in those cases, there have to be better, more organic ways to compare them without literally giving them a numerical value.

Lastly, I’m also not a big fan of Nasu’s writing style. The descriptions of the way magic in his universe works are convoluted and sometimes just needless long-winded. There are couple of times when they are just plain nonsensical – for example, something is both ‘real and spiritual’ or something else that is blatantly contradictory. Funnily enough, I do get what he means but either he or the translators could be clearer. Of course, there is also a matter of the sex scenes which I put firmly in the category of comically erotic. We’ve talked about them before and while the changing in writing style is really jarring, they are pretty short and rather skip-able.

Fate’s Strengths

Saber. At first, I really didn’t like Saber. She seemed so bland and vanilla – most of her responses early on are slightly longer versions of ‘Yes, Master’, ‘No, Master’ and ‘Get your fucking head out of your ass, Master’. The more we see of her though, the more interesting she becomes. More than anything, I absolutely loved how her story mirrors Shirou’s especially when it leads to deliciously ironic situations where Shirou is telling Saber to think of herself instead of others. The parallels between Saber’s story and Shirou’s are a big part of what made their relationship work for me – it meant that Shirou wasn’t just going for the cute, blonde (well, he was) but that he also did understand her on a deeper level, even if he didn’t agree with her views. I also really enjoyed her backstory, even if it means brushing off the whole ‘King Arthur is a girl?!’ issue. One thing I didn’t fully understand is what happens at the end – Saber returns to her timeline and she seems to have made peace with letting history play out the way it does, so does that mean she has returned to a time before she drew the sword from the stone?

The plot, as a whole, is great. I know I said that Fate takes a while to get going, but by its climax, I think it has more than made up for its slow start. Having seen UBW, I really enjoyed the details that were left out – like mentions of Lancer’s previous Master, the extent of Kotomine’s evil and the surprising amount of power he wielded. I still do feel like UBW has a better story and the lack of Archer in this route did bother me a little but I think that when I begin on UBW, the lack of Saber in that route will bother me more. Some of my favourite moments in this route were watching Saber put Excalibur to proper use; she uses it on a number of memorable occasions. It isn’t entirely clear to me whether Caliburn, which Shirou projects during his fight with Berserker, is the same sword as Excalibur. I suspect that they are different but the names are definitely related. It did seem to me that Shirou is a lot less powerful in this route than he is in UBW. In the latter, he was projecting dozens of swords by the end but in Fate, projecting a single powerful sword is about the extent of his abilities. I don’t mean that as a criticism, since it gives Saber more room to shine, but it is interesting to note how Shirou’s development in that department changes from route to route. I do seem to remember reading that Excalibur/Caliburn is too powerful a sword for Shirou to project, but I can’t remember if that was from the VN or from a comment on one of the episodes. Either way, it’s always fun watching Shirou and Saber face-roll their opponents by bringing out the big guns.

As much as I do prefer the UBW story to Fate’s, I think I prefer Kirei as an antagonist over Archer. It’s strange because I like Archer as a character more than I do Kirei, but the latter is just so perfectly evil that he brings a much more menacing vibe to the fights. I found Gilgamesh’s role in this part of the story a little superfluous, almost like he was there just to give Saber a strong enough opponent to face off against though that might just be my bias, since I found myself more interested by Kirei-Shirou instead of Gilgamesh-Saber. I am also a huge fan of the interlude scenes. I’m not overly fond of Shirou as a narrator and so it’s always a nice, refreshing change to see inside some of the other characters’ heads. My favourite interlude though, is when Berserker finally beats Archer and is left wondering who the hell that guy in red was and why he was so damned powerful. Even the interlude scenes from Saber’s perspective are fun, especially since we get to see the inside of her head more clearly and get a sense of why she is the way she is.

So, in conclusion, liked Fate, but had some issues with it; nothing that’s going to prevent me from playing the rest of the VN but things worth mentioning nonetheless. I’m a little lazy to start on UBW especially when I already know its plot and would much rather just dive into Heaven’s Feel since everyone tells me that that’s the route that the whole VN is really all about. I suspect I might just fast-forward through some sections of UBW if I find myself just reading about things I already know, unless anyone has any reasons why that would be a bad idea (plot points, etc). Apart from that, I want to sincerely thank everyone for joining me on this ride and sharing these posts. I’ve had to religiously avoid certain parts of the internet out of fear of spoilers but I intend to dive back in to see what I missed. If anyone has any particularly insightful posts regarding this series to share, I’d love to take a look. I’m also genuinely grateful to all the context and information that the commenters provided but more thankful to everyone respecting my wish to stay unspoiled. Honestly, I didn’t expect to go the whole length unspoiled but I’m glad that I did. I’m going to be covering Kara No Kyoukai next (though I’ll probably take a break next week) and I hope you’ll all join me. I’ll also try my best to put out an overall review of the UBW anime sometime this week or the next but fair warning: I don’t think it will be quite as positive as I actually feel since I do need to account for the fact that a big portion of why I enjoyed the anime as much as I did was because everyone helped clarify questions that I would otherwise have dismissed as plot holes. Thanks again, and if you enjoy these posts, as always leave a comment or tell a friend!

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32 thoughts on “[Anime] Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – Epilogue (S2E13)

  1. I largely agree with your criticisms of Fate as it is quite mediocre compared to the other two routes (for me at least). I had quite a few issues with it when I first read it, and while those problems haven’t gone away with time I have found myself getting a better understanding of the story that Nasu was trying to tell even if he didn’t fully succeed in doing that. Nasu himself has admitted that Fate shows his lack of skill in writing at the time, and he would make a lot of changes to it if he were to ever go back, especially with the Shirou x Saber relationship. I know most people criticize the slow pacing and sheer amount of time dedicated to world building, but I didn’t find that much of a problem when I first read it as I had no prior knowledge of anything Fate at that point and found it all incredibly interesting, I found that a lot of the questions and misunderstandings that Shirou had with the rules and everything I was sharing with him.

    Also I can see why Gilgamesh may not have seemed as interesting for you since you already knew of his existence, but I remember his reveal being a huge plot twist for me which instantly got me hugely interested in his character. I will agree though that Kirei is a much better antagonist.

    I can’t really imagine what your experience would’ve been like compared to mine though as you would have gone in with quite different expectations, but it sounds like you did enjoy it which is all that matters in the end.

    Overall I’d give the Fate route a 6-7/10. While I did really enjoy reading it, it does have flaws. For comparison I’d give UBW an 8-9/10 and HF 10-11/10.

    I would recommend that you read UBW first (which you HAVE to do anyway if you’re using the original 2004 version of the game, which i believe you said you are.) before HF as there are a few details here and there that the anime missed as it was very clearly made to cash in on the existing fan base rather than to build a new one. While a lot of people here have tried their best to fill in the gaps I think it would be best to skim over it yourself. The key word being skim though, reading the whole thing again in it’s entirety isn’t necessary, just hold ctrl to skip the scenes you already know.

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  2. Desert scene was written by the author to be like this:

    *Desert scene
    After the end credits. A desert scene, same as the opening.
    Shirou walks alone. His strength falters and he stops walking.
    Shirou looks down to shield his eyes from the sandstorm, and sees traces of someone else having been there (the place where Archer stopped).
    Shirou breathes out and looks up. There’s fake endurance in his expression, but it’s full of hope.
    Shirou walks away with a steady gait.
    The camera lingers on the traces of Archer’s presence, and watches Shirou leave as the shot ends.
    (If you want to make it easier to understand, after Shirou leaves, you can add Archer appearing in that spot and watching Shirou off… but I think you shouldn’t.)

    Not sure why they changed it like they did, it doesn’t make much sense to do it the way they did.

    > I wasn’t fully invested in the story till Saber faced off against Rider

    That’s pretty much the point I hope people can make it to, if they make it that far they won’t drop the VN most likely.

    >One thing I didn’t fully understand is what happens at the end – Saber returns to her timeline and she seems to have made peace with letting history play out the way it does, so does that mean she has returned to a time before she drew the sword from the stone?

    Saber made a deal with the world or Counter Force/Alaya (sort of like Archer) to obtain the holy grail. As she puts it ‘time has stopped for me’. If she gets the grail she becomes a CG. She is summoned to any battle that could give her the Holy Grail. When you see her at the end of Fate Arturia has gained the memories and decided to not pursue the grail any longer. So technically Saber isn’t dead she’s just stopped in time at the moment. http://lparchive.org/Fatestay-night/Update%2087/

    >It isn’t entirely clear to me whether Caliburn, which Shirou projects during his fight with Berserker, is the same sword as Excalibur.

    Yeah they aren’t the same. She drew Caliburn out of the stone and then got Excalibur and the sheath from the lady of the lake.

    > It did seem to me that Shirou is a lot less powerful in this route than he is in UBW.

    Shirou was siphoning experience from Archer in UBW, in Fate he’s not around Shirou much and they never clash.

    Well the VN does actually have explanations for things that were lacking in the anime so probably best to not fast forward too much (cooking scenes and sex scenes are fast forward material).

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    • Realized I said something confusing with

      >So technically Saber isn’t dead she’s just stopped in time at the moment.

      I meant during the story she technically isn’t dead, at the end time unfreezes for her. The version you’re playing is missing something though, but if you make any more VN posts it should be brought up by someone at the right time, trying to be vague on purpose here.

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  3. I smell a barbecue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Haha.

    To be perfectly honest though, I think you did a pretty good job at pegging the strengths and weaknesses with both this episode and the VN adequately.

    I particularly liked your issues concerning the journal stats as it doesn’t come up often enough. I could never tell if the stats reflect the story or if the story reflects the stats. Fans tend to get a little too caught up in that stat page at times.

    For example: Sometimes fans will declare that Saber survived Assassin’s and Lancer’s lethal attacks due to her B Rank luck stat. But I’m over here thinking…she has a B Rank Luck stat because the author decided that he probably shouldn’t gank Saber too early because plot.

    That or maybe I’m just insane. Though, I suppose that’s more of an issue of suspension of disbelief. That’s how it goes. Once you see the strings you can’t stop seeing them. Haha.

    At any rate, It’s been fun sharing in your reviews. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it.

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    • Crackpot theory time: I’ve always thought that the reason why Lancer’s Gae Bolg didn’t kill Saber was Kirei’s command spell ordering him to fight each Servant nd measure their strength without killing them.

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      • Interesting theory, but I thought the VN made it pretty clear that Saber’s intuition/instinct/battle sense (whatever you want to call it) is one of her greatest strengths.

        Her fight with Assassin showcased that perfectly. His Tsubame Gaeshi technique is so fast that it would have slain Saber in an instant but she sensed the danger and reacted just fast enough to avoid it by releasing her Invisible Air. It was all instinctual on her part.

        Lancer’s Gae Bolg was the same. In the VN it says she evades it. Not enough to escape injury, but enough to avoid a mortal wound. The way it’s described some part of her sensed the danger and she instinctively reacted. Which is insane considering the way the attack works. The Sparks Liner High bad end shows a Saber with the same kind of God like reflexes that make her such a formidable opponent in a straight up fight.

        The VN also implies that the Saber class’s biggest weakness is indirect attacks. Not magic or ranged attacks per se, since Saber’s armor is very well suited to defending against magical strikes, but underhanded methods. It implies that Saber is an opponent you want to fight as a last resort. Taking hostages or killing her master and similar would be the prefferable tactic to combat a Saber class Heroic Spirit since the Saber class excels at dueling and can fight a fair fight very well.

        It might seem a bit like a cheat, having those kind of instincts, but Fate’s version of the Arthurian Legend implies that Saber is a seasoned warrior who fought in countles battles over the course of her reign. She’s got luck, but it’s her intuition that lets her assess those hidden dangers and her battle instincts/reflexes from her life of fighting that give her the ability to react accordingly.

        Even Kuzuki’s bizarre fighting style fails to kill her despite it being a method of fighting she would have never before encountered (let alone know how to defend against) and a style of fighting that relies on surprise to overwhelm and destroy an opponent before they can adapt. She gets attacked by a fighting style that’s fast, hard to read, and well suited to assassination and she still manages to survive it. It’s mad cheats.

        Saber gets trounced in that fight, true, but she survives due to her instincts. I don’t think surviving Gae Bolg is any different but, again, I like that kind of creative thinking.

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        • As long as Gae Bolg’s curse works it cannot be dodged. You could instantly teleport to the other side of the Earth. You could go back in thime and kill Lancer before he ses it. It literally does not matter- it would still find a way to pierce your heart. The moment the true name of the spear is spoken, the heart is already pierced.
          What saved Saber was either her high Luck stat (which appears to actually describe some sort of divine protection/ bility to influence fate), which to me has always sounded like a cop-out, or something interfering with Lancer himself. And we know that he was under a clear, direct order not to kill whoever he’s fighting against- and as we’ve seen with his death, Lancer, unlike Saber, isn’t able to resist Command Spells.

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  4. Yeah, this episode was basically anime original fanservice to all the old VN readers. Needless to say, I loved it. Cameos from Fate/Zero characters, an anime original farewell to Saber, we get Luvia and a hilarious nod towards the Type-Moons April fools joke of Rin becoming a pro wrestler to raise money for her gem magic. The last post credits scene I felt was a little rushed when I read on Nasu’s blog about his vision for the scene but I really like this ending. Mind you, this was supposed to be attached to the last episode but they decided to split a 40 minute episode into two.

    On the subject of the Fate route, yeah everyone feels that way. It’s kinda hilarious how Shirou acts OOC in his first appearance compared to his character in UBW and Heaven’s Feel. Sexism and chauvinism just doesn’t mix with Shirou’s character. Now onto the Shirou and Saber relationship, originally King Arthur was a guy (What a concept!) and the protagonist was a girl named Ayaka Sayjou! But Nasu felt that, given his audience, readers would sympathize more with a male protagonist and changed King Arthur into a girl to keep the boy-meets-girl relationship he wanted to keep. This directly affects their relationship as you can plainly see with the way Shirou treats Saber. Nasu admits that the Fate route contains a lot of his early failings, especially with the way he tried to have Shirou constantly remind Saber that she’s a girl.
    Hmm, what version of Fate/Stay Night are you playing? Most of Shirou’s problematic lines were removed in the rerelease of Fate/Stay Night, Realtua Nua.

    Nobody will argue that Nasu’s writing is for everybody. While I’m willing to give him a little leeway considering the mess that is a Japanese->Chinese-> English translation, it’s full of problems. Nasu loves to talk. Granted, that’s also probably his biggest strength. Without his god-tier world building, interest in Fate/Stay Night probably wouldn’t exist today and Fate/Zero certainly wouldn’t have happened. But Nasu has problems, least of which is odd proclivity to create intricate (and sometimes nonsensical) rules about everything then specifically create characters that break those rules.

    Oh man, I can’t help but be one of those people that are endlessly in love with Fate. I loved reading your reactions and your analysis. Perhaps we’ll see a series on Fate/Zero? Pretty please?

    P.S: One of the reasons UBW is probably the best standalone route is pacing. It’s very consistent and only builds up to an extreme high. Fate starts off extremely slow and never builds up to the level of hype as UBW and Heaven’s Feel is, well, all over the place really.

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    • Mirror Moon translated the VN directly from Japanese to English.
      The Japanse -> Chinese -> English translation is for the LNs of Fate Zero

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  5. That’s a very interesting view on the epilogue. I can totally see why you feel that way and as a matter of fact I think you are completly correct on your observations, down to the fact that it undermines a lot of what happened, it runs deeper than you think, but I don’t agree on the conclusion that it’s bad or worse than the rest of the series, on the contrary. The only reason I don’t agree is because I know what comes next in Heaven’s Feel though, so I’ll just have to leave it at that… Well I also liked the fanservice and that we finally got to see post-UBW London after so many years of waiting for something like that.

    Onto Fate.

    Nasu’s prose is infamously hard to translate, and if Crunchyroll’s constant fuck ups are anything to go by even profesional translators have a mighty hard time getting it done, let alone a highschooler. Yes, you read that right, the translation you are reading is a highschooler’s idea of what Nasu’s prose is like. It’s shitty and it only gets worse in my opinion, but it works when it needs to I guess. It might be a good time to switch to the Realta Nua version since you can jump straight into any route with that one.

    You’ll learn to love the cooking… or not, probably not.

    Kirei is the best villain, some argue he’s the best character, I still think Shirou and Rin come out on top but he’s up there.

    “I also didn’t like that Ilya joins Shirou’s gang.”
    Welcome to the club. Population: You and me.

    It’s not like I don’t know why it happens, Shirou is indeed a pushover when it comes to people who ask him for help, it makes sense and it’s a bold, even commendable decision to make her stay even when the player chooses not to do it but I didn’t like that development at the time and that’s that. This is all coming from someone who absolutely loved Illya in Heaven’s Feel.

    When you get to HF make sure to check the “Bad Ends”, “Dead Ends” and that one “End”, no conversation about HF is complete without Sparks Liner High and Mind of Steel.

    Fair warning here, KnK is chock-full of those contradictory things, though the translation is quite better and it never bothered me there. Definitely looking foward to that, I think it’s less enjoyable than F/SN but a lot more fun to talk about, it’s got way to many things going for it.

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  6. Okay, I will agree with your analysis of this episode. I personally loved the epilogue because it made references and cameos to other events and characters that the reader learns about from other source material besides the VN. I will agree that reopening old wounds, as in plot points, is a little jarring, but I didn’t feel as if it was completely needless just open-ended. In conclusion, this episode was made purely as fanservice for the viewers that know all of the “ends and outs” of the lore. In other words, it is directed towards a niche market which will insure that that group will be engrossed but leaves out the casual viewer.

    Now for the Fate route analysis. Yes, the Fate route has many problems, and I feel that it is easily the weakest route. Nasu has gone on record that if given the chance he would rewrite the majority of the storyline especially in regards to Shirou and Saber’s romance as it comes off as forced and Shirou is extremely out of character. Also, you pointed out a problem that many people have with the story and can cause people to completely give up on finishing the thing, the pacing. Fate’s pacing is ridiculously slow as it expects the reader to know nothing of the universe beforehand. Granted though, Fate’s supernatural atmosphere is also what hooked me into the Type-Moon franchise (don’t hate me, but my first experience with anything Type-Moon was Fate (2006) which actually got me interested in reading mainly because of the atmosphere displayed in it). Although, the fight with Rider is what tends to grasp the readers’ attention by showing them just how unreal these Servant battles really are. I personally think it is one of the better fights in the story for that reason. As for Kirei as the antagonist instead of Archer, I like both, but Kirei is a great villian and character especially after reading Heaven’s Feel. Also, I don’t think I need to mention that TakaJun, the translator, wasn’t really best out there, but he tried and we can read this work because of it. Overall, I enjoyed your review. I just hope you continue on with this wild-ride.

    One thing I should note, though. If you are playing the the 2004 version of the game, at the very least get the Realta Nua CG pack downloaded to see some of the better parts of the story in visual format. You should also watch the opening movies from the Vita version of each of the routes after you’ve finished (not now as they spoil the route); however, I believe someone already told you this. Anyway, enjoy yourself, and we’ll hopefully see you again later.

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  7. Since you aren’t tht fat into UBW yet, I want to once again VERY strongly recommend switching to the new Realta Nua patch. While UBW might be the route that gains the least from it, it’s an absolute MUST for Heaven’s Feel. That route was a rushjob and many important scenes don’t have CGs. Also, the new music is simply fatastic. As other said, you can play any route in that version individually, so you won’t have to replay Fate. If you want it to be as close to the original as possible, use the H-scene restoring patch included in the bundle. Just don’t include the 2012 soundtrack reproduction one.

    And finally, since you’ve effectively completed two of three routes, here are the openings Ufotable made for the Vita rerelease (polsied to avoid spoilers in related videos and comments):
    Fate: http://polsy.org.uk/play/yt/?vurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DbiL1Dbe6BC0
    UBW: http://polsy.org.uk/play/yt/?vurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGGSRdtExzkw

    Don’t search for HF opening- if you think these are spoiler heavy, you ain’t seen nothing yet, mate.

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  8. The thing about the epilogue was that it was very much there to please original fans. The vast majority of it was actually content that was completely new. To put things into perspective, the shot at the high school where Rin promises to make Shirou happy, is actually, barring the after credits scene, the last thing in the route. For over 10 years people have speculated what Shirou and Rin’s life at The Clock Tower would be like, and this episode unloaded like no tomorrow, and just from a fan perspective, I loved it. It answered tons of questions and was brilliant fan service.

    For instance some of those “new” characters weren’t really new. Luvia, the blonde girl, got a brief cameo in the original novel and has become pretty popular in spin off material, so to see her here was a treat. Likewise the older teacher fellow was Waver, who was a character from Fate/Zero, and has gone on to star in his own novel series now.

    The other boon of this episode was giving closure to Rin and Shirou. People have wondered how exactly things would go with them if he wanted to be a hero. They hammer in with this episode that they do get their happy ending, which is nice.

    I guess really this episode might seem mundane if you were just getting into the story, but this was the answer to a decade of questions on “What’s Shirou’s life like at Fate’s version of Hogwarts?”, and I think it delivered really well on that.

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  9. “As a result, I think of Saber-Shirou as a cute ‘fan-fic, what-if’ type of pairing and Shirou-Rin as the ‘actual’ cannon pairing. I realise that that’s not the case, but in my head, that’s just how it is (deal with it, Saber fans).”

    I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you.

    (Not actually serious.)

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  10. Well a lot of this episode was ultimately more or less fanservice to long time fans of the series-Luvia and the man who spoke to Shirou, for instance, might come off as sort of out of nowhere to most people who don’t have prior knowledge, I think. That said, I actually enjoyed this episode a lot myself, being one of those fans to whom it was pandering.
    Though when Rin calls the HGW a “minor affair in the East” she’s actually reflecting the line about it said by the organizers to most of the MA, I think.

    However, one moment I feel they really dropped the ball was the post credits scene, which is rather unfortunate since it’s probably the most substantial thing here, so much so to the point that Nasu felt the need to clarify on his blog.

    [[Wasteland Scene
    After the credits. The same wasteland as at the beginning.
    Shirou is walking alone. Exhausted, he comes to a stop.
    When he looks down, there are signs that somebody was here before him. (This is where Archer stopped.)
    He sighs, and looks up. Though his expression is a little weary, it is also full of hope.
    With a purposeful stride, he begins walking forward again.
    The camera stays at Archer’s footprints, watching Shirou’s back as it recedes into the distance. End Scene.
    (If you need to make it easier to understand, have Archer appear at his footprints after Shirou leaves, watching over him… though hopefully you won’t have to do that.)]]

    A few other things were cut which he included on his blog;
    Rin: “It’s one of King Arthur’s graves. There are many others so its authenticity isn’t certain, but it at least has a connection to her, right?”

    But it’s mostly the bit in the desert that I think they really missed. I preferred the whole post credits scene in the VN too, and a lot more was lacking here than I had hoped, especially from Archers side (granted some of it was integrated into the episode, but it was still lacking even putting the two together). The whole sequence is ultimately bittersweet but really effectual, since it shows Archer coming to his answer through Shirou coming to his, and we learn that he will not remember it the next time he is summoned, and will forever be doomed to hate himself and his end-which gives the “but even so, I was not wrong” line more impact, in my opinion. Well, you’ll see it when looking over the UBW route, I guess.

    Now then, onto Fate route;
    Pacing-I can agree with you on this, since I’ve always thought the VN’s pacing was fairly disastrous myself.
    On the issue of the whole girls shouldn’t fight thing-like you say, this does manifest itself from his concern for her primarily-but Fate was the earliest written of the routes, and the author outright admitted he wasn’t sure about writing King Arthur as a female so he amped it up a bit more than he should’ve. This is really part of the reason I say Fate probably suffers the most from the older translation, since in the newer release they massively toned down on those comments such that they’re still there and you can see why he thinks them, but it isn’t as in-your-face somewhat annoying as it is in the original.
    Though for his protecting Saber when she could’ve survived well enough, I think this is actually a separate issue, one which arises from his character and I am fine with it-he can’t help but to save people at any cost, after all, Archer takes the eternal afterline contract with no hesitation to save a few hundred people he doesn’t even know-and here he has no confrontation with Archer to find a healthier path, only what he can see of himself in Saber, which is a weaker connection.
    Illyas characterization, is hm, difficult to talk about-it really seems a little all over the place at first, but I’d say that HF retroactively makes everything she does make a lot more sense, since she’s mostly characterized and gets her development in that route, to being one of the strongest (imo) characters.

    Though apparently Nasu let someone else write the sex scenes (Takeuchi, maybe, I think) so that might explain the weirdness of the scene change. For most part they’re completely extraneous and skippable except maybe one in HF (not that you need to read the whole thing regardless) and another, also in HF, but this time not so much as the scene as the lines leading up to it, but we’ll see that when you get there.

    Sabers conclusion, like Archers, is also bittersweet-she finds her Answer and stop regretting, but the time she goes back to is the time after the Battle of Camlann, King Arthurs last battle-it’s her death you see in that final scene. Like Archer is doomed to forget and continue cursing his end, Britain and Camelot are still doomed to fall after Sabers death.

    In Nasuverse canon, Caliburn was the sword pulled from the stone and Excalibur the one received from the Lady of the Lake.
    Hmmm….I’d say that in terms of Antagonists, Fate was probably my least favourite, actually, though I can see why Kirei feels more antagonist-fitting. Kirei as he was presented in Fate was a bit too apparently one dimensionally evil and Gilgamesh is……..well, Gilgamesh. That said, when Kirei actually got characterization in HF, I found he was one of the best written characters.

    Though I wouldn’t really say HF is the route the whole VN is about-I think the author said something along the lines of Sabers route posing a question and UBW and HF presenting two different answers to it. For myself I prefer UBW and Shirou and Archers conflict was my favourite thing in the VN, so it’s really up to preference.

    KNK is a much more confusing series than FSN, though I personally found it a stronger work overall, just keep in mind the first four movies are presented out of order, and that a lot of things clear up as you go along.

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    • I’ll probably end up reconsidering some of my opinions after playing the rest of the routes.

      I’ve read the author’s version of the walk in desert in other comments and I too prefer that version. I really do wonder why they did it the way they did.

      I’ll keep in mind what you said about HF and KnK though.

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  11. I think it’s not entirely fair to review the routes separately. Personally, I think Nasu makes perfect use of the VN medium, creating a very intriguing layered experience. And Fate is just the very outer layer of said experience.

    I remember going through Fate the first time, I also questioned a lot of things: Why is Ilya suddenly living with us? Why the fuck does Archer know every answer but refuses to tell us? What the hell is that black goopy thing behind Kotomine and why is Ilya connected to it? Those are all things that get answered in later routes and I find this kind of foreshadowing really well done.
    It’s a bit like when a child asks about a certain matter: “Why is it like that?” “It is like that because X” “Why is it like that because X?” “It is like that because Y” … and so on.
    Nasu’s style of storytelling structure reverses this “phenomenon”: “Here’s what you need to know” “Here’s why you need to know that” “Here’s what you still didn’t know about that”

    And I find that through this perfect use of the VN medium, making all the separate routes contextualize each other, Fate/Stay Night makes for such a great experience.

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  12. At least one other comment chimed in on this but I feel the need to talk about it anyway because it’s something about Saber that always seems glanced over or forgotten despite it being present in Fate and explaining a lot about Saber. I also want to take the time to talk about some things I avoided in earlier episode review comments out of a wish to avoid spoilers.

    Before we get started I’m aware of the End of the Dream sequence so don’t bring it up in the comments if you have the patience to read through my rambling since some people don’t know about it. Our blog author included.

    As I was saying….

    At the end of the The Battle of Camlann Arthur (aka Arturia, aka Saber) is mortally wounded. In her final moments she pleads for a chance to seek the Grail in order to change history and save her country and becomes a heroic spirit.

    A person who becomes a hero in the Nasuverse typically dies before becoming a heroic spirit. Their soul is removed from the time axis. Since they are outside time their soul cannot reincarnate because they exist in a seperate space.

    When they are summoned they are not, in fact, physically brought there. What gets summoned to the world is a kind of reflection of who they were. A copy made out of the memory and legends surrounding that hero interpreted by the world or the people of that era.

    So a servant summoned in one era might look or act differently than a version of them summoned in a seperate era. The core is the same, but the details might change a little. Fate Apocypha’s Lancer of Black gained vampiric qualities because over time it became commonly believed that he was one and it became a part of his legend despite it not being the truth.

    I’m getting off track here.

    The point is, everything a servant experiences while it is summoned is forgotten when it dies because what was summoned was a copy and not the real thing. So if a servant were summoned again (in another Grail War for example) it wouldn’t remember anything that happened during it’s previous summoning.

    Saber, however, became a Heroic Spirit before she died. She made a contract to become a heroic spirit in exchange for the Grail so she exists in a kind of temporal loophole (there’s a chart explaining it somewhere in a route of the VN). As long as she seeks the Grail she will continue to be a Heroic Spirit. She will exist in limbo, unable to die.

    This makes Saber special because when she is summoned she is not a copy. She’s able to remember everything that she experiences. So she remembers fighting Gilgamesh in the previous war, remembers Kiritsugu, she retains all of it.

    This fact raises some interesting questions about Archer, and it’s been a while since I played through UBW, but I remember finding the answers to those questions sufficiently reasonable and sensible. I just can’t tell you why that is. Someone in the comments, please, enlighten me as to why Archer can remember things. Is it because he’s a counter guardian and not a heroic spirit? The truth escapes me at the moment.

    Getting back to Saber…

    When she gives up on her dream of obtaining the Grail she returns to her normal time and dies. She dies happy, taking pride in the fact that even if the outcome wasn’t what she wished for she could take pride in her life and the fact that she lived, sacrificed, and fought for something she believed in.

    I find it strange that Saber’s circumstances as a heroic spirit are not properly explained in any animated adaptation of Fate/Stay Night. Maybe the writers thought it would raise more questions than it answered (after all nobody was summoned in the Grail War more than once so Saber remembering things from the previous war doesn’t seem unusual) but once I played the VN and found out about it I felt like it was an important thing to know in order to understand her character better.

    As far as the Fate route is concerned…

    I too love the parallels of Saber and Shirou in Fate. The scene under the church where they both turn down Kotomine is one of my favorite moments in the entire VN. Not because it’s badass or anything, but because it’s such a great character moment for each of them. It’s that moment where things clicked for me. I thought it was a lovely bit of storytelling.

    Sure, Saber goes back to her own time and dies instead of staying with Shirou but it’s how she wanted to go. Despite all the flaws in the Fate route, I love that Shirou doesn’t deny her that. I know it might ruin the happy ending vibes for some people seeing Shirou left alone at the end but it felt right to me. Saber was a very dignified character. Any other action on Shirou’s part would have trampled on that in my opinion.

    I’m hopeful that one day we’ll get an adaptaion or a rework of the Fate route that is a bit more bearable than the VN’s route. I just hope it keeps the things I loved about that route in tact.

    I just think it’s a shame that UBW doesn’t give her more time to shine after the events that happen in Fate/Zero. It would have been very satisfying seeing that foundation built upon and the character arc completed in UBW. There were bits of it here and there if you knew where to look, but it left me wanting more. Though I suppose it would have fucked the pacing somewhat so I’ll just have to live with it and hope I’ll get a Fate remake one day.

    As far as UBW is concerned…

    The fight in UBW between Archer and Shirou hints at those same similarities between Saber and Shirou.

    “You have been driven by the obsession that you must give yourself for others…”

    “Thinking that others are more important than yourself, wishing for everyone to be happy, is just a fanciful fairytale.”

    Archer’s words cut Saber just as sharply as they cut Shirou (which makes me love the camera work on that episode of UBW for reflecting this point during the fight) and in the end she comes to the same conclusions that she did in the first route. She finds her answer and resigns herself to her fate..

    The end of episode 22 could be interpreted as Saber making peace with herself. She knows she no longer needs the Grail. She’s accepted her own death. All that’s left is the final battle with Gilgamesh. Her duty to protect Shirou and Rin and see everything through to the end is all that motivates her now.

    In all her time as King Arthur she never once lived for herself. Only now, only here at the end of everything is she making a choice with her own wishes in mind instead of the needs of her people. She is at peace with her life for the first time since she became a Heroic Spirit.

    Those scenes of her walking wistfully along the grounds of Shirou’s home really struck me. The time she spent here, the things she learned here, in a way they may have been the first real moments she had to be herself since she drew the sword from the stone and gave up her old life for the needs of the kingdom.

    It’s also possible I’m reading way too far into things, but let me indulge myself.

    I apologize for the rambling nature of my replies. If anyone has the patience to read through them, even if you disagree with things I say, I’m grateful and hope that you found something of value in them. If not, well, I tried to be honest and I can’t please everybody I suppose.

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  13. For something a bit different after your next show – and assuming you’ve already watched Cowboy Bebop – I suggest “Black Lagoon”. 2x 12 episode series and an OVA.
    That is if you enjoy shows like Firefly that follow the generic “crew/group bands together and we follow them on adventures”.

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  14. As far as playing UBW in VN format goes there are some small differences here and there between it and the anime but aside from interesting details that you might want to read it for there were actually MORE scenes in the anime. The question really is whether or not those scenes were done justice or which were done better. If you want to take the time to read it you might find it worthwhile. Some advice you might want is that this is a VN so one of the advantages of the format is the addition of bad ends or even just optional scenes. I hope that when you took the time to read the fate route you took the time to get each bad end (even if unintentionally) and optional scene as well as the Taiga Dojo’s.

    For this same reason you should at least speed through the UBW route to explore these options as they weren’t all animated (obviously the bad ends weren’t). They add some flavor to the story and hint at some major plot points too.

    As far as the advice for the Realta Nua version of the game I’d advise against playing the censored version. It ruins Heaven’s Feel for certain. However what other people have said about it adding CG’s and music is true. Some great CGs for everyone route (HF in particular) are Realta Nua only. As is a bonus for getting every end and bad end. If you can procure it you should get an uncensored version of the game with all these additions.

    There’s definitely scenes that have important details left out of UBW’s anime so if you could take the time to read it would definitely add to the experience but if you find it too boring then you should skip it I guess.

    I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it but KnK basically serves a prototype to another VN by Nasu that preceded Fate called Tsukihime. It really is the superior story (at least to KnK) in my opinion. There is anime but I would disregard it completely if you want more stuff set in the same universe. Sadly it’s also plagued by a less interesting couple introductory routes but it’s worth toughing it out for.

    Nasu’s VN are plagued by relatively boring introductions and poor pacing but Fate and Tsukihime really do make themselves worthwhile in the end. Watch out for Heaven’s Feel’s poor pacing though. Lots of fans may considering it the best route but it’s not without it’s flaws either.

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  15. One more question regarding your playthrough of the VN: does the version you’re playing have voices? If not, I recommend switching over ASAP.

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