Fate/stay nigh episode two unexpectedly breaks from the mold established by the previous episodes. It’s shorter, running only 25 minutes, and that shortness doesn’t leave much breathing room for very thoughtful setting shots that I found so lovely in episodes zero and one.
However, most shows only get a half hour slot to keep us entertained. Sadly, Fate/Stay uses that time to runs its mouth and cover a lot of exposition. I hope you’re ready for some revetting talking!
The sum total of the episode’s activity: Rin explains the holy grail war to Shirou over tea. Then they go to Kotomine Kirei’s fake church in New Fuyuki and Kirei explains the holy grail again, with a few more details. Then Rin and Shirou leave and encounter their first true opponent.
Sure, the details matter and explanation has to happen sometime but OUCH! That’s really all that happened this week.
As we learned last week, Shirou doesn’t want to fight because he hates the artificial’ness of good guys killing bad guys to save the day. That said, Kirei’s point is simple: a bad person won the grail ten years ago and New Fuyuki was burned to the ground and lot’s of people were killed. Even Shirou himself was seriously injured.
While there was too much of it, the exposition wasn’t dreadful. Unfortunately, Shirou hails from the “repeat what was just said back as a rhetorical question” school of anime, which lengthens and adds nothing to an already drawn out scene of talking.
At least we get a nice moment where Sabre and Shirou get some bonding and renew their vows and establish their determination to win. Cliché? Sure. But touching.
Still, the exposition is unfortunate. It’s wasteful and that would be better spent on what fate/stay does best: establishing mood and showing us — not telling us — what people are thinking and doing. Having both Rin and the priest explain the war was over kill.
tl;dr? This was a talk heavy episode where we learn a lot at the cost of action and mood. Also, Shirou is… kinda bland, actually.
At least the cliff hanger was a giant ass monster servant, apparently easy to identify as ‘Berserker’ and obvious that next week will drop right into a fight.