Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 05

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Fate/stay night: UBW episode 05 has all the pieces of a fantastic thirty minutes of anime, but never quite comes together as a fantastic piece of anime.

Ultimately, it falls down because all these pieces, as understandable and dare-I-say believable as they are, do not fit together. At any given moment, the story lurches from breath-taking action, to relationship dialog, to Scooby-Doo style mystery.

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Emiya starts off his day by ignoring Sabre’s recommendation and going to school. Alone. Then he runs into Rin, who is completely besides herself at how stupid he is, and how he’s totally ignored her warning that she would kill him next time too.

Despite his recent encounter with Berserker, and nearly being killed by Lancer before that, Emiya’s character fails to grasp how dangerous his situation is. More accurately, his attitude comes off as ‘Whatev’s! I know best’

Thank goodness he doesn’t whine when Rin tries to kill him later.

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In some ways, I could see Emiya as a proxy for the viewer. (at least, young male viewers) He’s bold, knows enough to follow along, and isn’t totally useless . He’s like any starting JRPG character and we’re right there with him.

So, naturally, if he were our RPG character, we’d probably throw him stupidly into every fight and expect the level balance to make it beatable too.

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However, this is an anime and we have to watch Emiya ignore everyone and rush in stupidly. We don’t have any control to make the decision for his character, and there’s clearly no level balance to save his skin, which makes his decisions feel all the stupider.

Honestly, who here isn’t wondering why he isn’t trying to learn more magic, grind up some n00bs for XP, or locate a secret magic weapon? \I’d never invite this thick head on a raid and that’s the truth!

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At school, Emiya has lunch with the student council president, learns about mysterious bad goings on (the archery captain-chan never came home from school and Shinji the douche-hole was the last person seen with her)

So naturally, Emiya decides to put on his investigation hat and look around the school after everyone has gone home.

You know, completely ignoring the fact that mages don’t fight in public because PEOPLE are around. SMERT!

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Then Rin tries to kill him or, more likely, beat sense into him over how stupid he’s being OR, since he’s already been warned, remove his command seals so that she can have control of Saber or, just because he’s incredibly annoying.

Rin’s conflict (that she likes Emiya or feels responsible for him) is obvious and accounts for why she doesn’t put all her effort into actually killing him but I’m sure this is an area many viewers will find annoying. Very very very well animated but tsundere’ly annoying.

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Then a girl screams, clearly being destroyed by Shinji and the fight is broken off. Until Emiya prevents Rin from being killed with his arm and runs off to fight against Assassin all alone.

Again, showing that he’s profoundly ignorant or just plain stupid.

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After a fight that can only be described as putting even Bahamut’s animation to shame, Rin saves Emiya AGAIN, considers herself frustratingly semi-in-his-debt AGAIN, and they go to her house to talk about.

Ultimately, they talk about family and info-dump us a bit, drink tea, and form a truce that Emiya will no doubt take for granted and make Rin want to kill him again.

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From morning exposition to aimlessly screwing around at school, to mystery investigation, to angry relationship fight (with magic) to compassionately helping a civilian, to another magic fight, to info dump and happy relationship moments, the constant shifting of gears gave me whiplash.

Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold.

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That said, while it didn’t hit last week’s balance of exposition with action, this week was in no way as eye-rolling as our first major info dump at the church. If anything, the erratic focus captures how life must feel for Emiya.

However, I get the feeling that Emiya is kind of stupid and his erratic world would flow a whole lot smoother if he was smarter about living in it.

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14 thoughts on “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 05”

  1. Shirou has little to no concern for his well-being due to his hero complex and survivor’s guilt; he prioritizes the needs of everyone over his own. Yes, it is oftentimes stupid. That said, the show makers are self-aware he’s stupid and has Rin call it out on him, which opens room for character development.

    Indeed, dat Unlimited Budget Works continues.

  2. Heh. As Rin’s showed, his actions this episode did make Shirou look like a fool, didn’t they? But like I said before, there’s more to him than meet the eye. It’s not that he failed to reflect about the situation, but rather that his thoughts follow a logic that’s very much only his own, for reasons. Some of it was hinted at already, but the whole thing will be made clear in tmie.

    Until then , the War goes on and our heroes must bumble along while relying on his sheer magnetism to get away with his ineptitude! Fight on, Shirou!

  3. Episodes like this are why I generally don’t form an opinion on a serial series until a season ends. This feels like a joint between two functioning episodes.

    As for Shirou, the thing with FSN is that it was tailored to its medium. It’s like how Watchmen was meant to be a story designed for a graphic novel. Certain tropes and narrative devices work better in certain mediums.

    Case in point: The player will usually die by being cautious. The game will then chastise you and tell you to be more reckless. That meta-charm doesn’t extend to anime-Shirou as well as it did VN-Shirou.

    They seem to be playing up his trauma more in this adaptation, so I’m hoping he’ll get some depth from that approach. As for the person above, I really don’t think there’s much more to Shirou than meets the eye. It’s that there’s more to the series’ treatment and awareness of him.

    1. we rate episodes and end up with a show’s score by the end of the series. There are pros and cons to that (mid season episodes are difficult to truly rate as a 10, since no mid season ep can truly stand on its own) but the pros win out for us.

      From what we’ve seen, rating only at the end generates less immediate reader interest per-episode and, low readership makes it hard to get excited enough to write a 1,100+ word review ;) even for good shows.

      1. I definitely see that. I’d be pretty bummed if you guys only reviewed or rated projects at their end, since you’re my favorite source of anime reviews.

        There’s also a definite value to seeing how people rate their experience as they go through a project. I work as a script consultant and often have to explain to writers that their material has to be engaging to a reader as they go across the page. It can’t all be payoff at the end.

  4. Shirou was far from wrong. He tells Rin “If we make a scene here someone might come by” five minutes later, a girl who guess what? WAS still at school see’s glowing lights coming from a classroom and would have stumbled right into Rin and Shirou’s battle if that Servant hadn’t attacked her. What was Rin going to do then, kill an innocent girl to shut her up? She was being just as reckless as he was, people just dont blame her for it the way they do Shirou because she can do flashy magic.

    Not to mention its already been set up in the previous episodes that Shirou doesn’t value himself, and that he puts others before himself. The whole reason he got dragged into this dumb war is because he didn’t turn down a request from that scumbag Shinji. Then he learns that his friend Ayako has gone MIA, and of course he’s going to disregard his own safety to look for her. That’s his whole thing. When Rin is attacked by a Servant, of course he will protect her and of course he’d go off to fight the Servant alone, because that guarantees that the Servant will leave Rin and the unconscious student alone. The cost to himself from doing those things doesn’t matter because he doesn’t value himself at all

    1. Shirou is some way or another always right about things, and yes he is a empty being but does that change the fact that he is an idiot? No, it looks him more idiot because he was fucking killed but keep going around like anything happened, he even tell Saber that.. No viewer is guilty if they want to slap him to death
      Rin doesn’t need to kill the girl, just erase her memories, people just don’t blame her for it because she is more careful about things.

  5. I definitely take the structure as intentional — and Shirou’s easy going nature and ‘bad choices’ too. I’d even go so far as to say the convergence of that nature and the up and down structure of the story telling was highly effective, academically.

    Still felt disruptively up and down though. As JRM says, this felt like two function episodes stretched and also splatted together, which isn’t comfortable to watch, even if it is intellectually ‘good’ in a high art sense.

    Does it make me hate Shirou? No. No more than Rin. Neither does it make me hate the show. Just felt whipped back and forth.

    Still rated it a 9 ;)

  6. I like how totally uninterested in fighting Rin Shirou is, and the dread-inducing moment when Rin points out the school is deserted and thus not as safe as he thought.

    Shirou/Rin is a lot like Kaisar/Favaro in this regard; Kaisar/Rin wants to kill the Favaro/Shirou (even if it isn’t even in their own best interests), while Favaro/Shirou would prefer if Kaisar/Favaro simply let them be.

    That being said, it doesn’t reflect well on Rin’s skills as a mage that she wasn’t able to kill Shirou here. Even without her servant it should have been a simple matter.

    Was she unconsciously holding back? If so, it certainly pays off when Shirou saves her life (again), which leads to Rin calling a ceasefire until further notice.

  7. You complain that much and then rate it 9/10? Something is wrong here…

    But you’re right about pieces not fitting well, so you’ve got that going for you.

    Also imma bequeath you some info, because knowing is half the battle:
    -Shirou runs away from Berserker and gets skewered by Lancer
    -Shirou fails to resist Rin and gets knocked out, woken up by Sakura at home and goes about his daily life with a feeling of something missing but never quite figures out what
    -Shirou tries to summon Saber when strung up and bleeds out after enemy servant chops his arm off
    (he also died 14 times in previous route but that’s not really important here)

      1. Good review! Focusing on the fathers (and their legacies) was a good tack and one I’m realizing I didn’t go into because I don’t generally talk as much about Rin.

        To be fair to myself, Rin took a much smaller piece of the point-of-view pie this week and, with Emiya’s generally confused perspective, I felt like I was conjecturing as much about her motives and moods through what Emiya was clearly too clueless to notice, as to what Emiya was telling us.

        So, without even thinking about it, I treated ep 5 as an Emiya only episode, which removed comparison of their back stories and circumstances from my mind.

        cheers and thanks for the heads up!

    1. Why not 9/10?

      My criticism of the episode largely hinges on the scenes whipping back and forth in mood and topic, which makes the pacing a bit erratic.

      However, the review ends by pointing out this back and forth emulates Shirou’s point of view in the world. He’s ignorant of what he’s supposed to be doing and clearly doesn’t take the advice of others very seriously. So, from his perspective, ‘crazy stuff just happens to him.’

      By showing us what Emiya does, and telling us what he’s thinking, and even framing the entire structure of the episode to emphasize what that means, we get a much deeper understanding of what’s going on. It’s highly effective, even if it makes me personally dislike Emiya emotionally.

      And, really, liking or disliking Emiya as a person isn’t relevant to the score of the episode. At least, not if the character is structurally interesting. Not on Rabujoi anyway.

      1. That’s a pretty objective way of looking at things, something I suppose is pretty good for a reviewer. :)

        Incidentally, today is Kiritsugu Emiya’s birthday. Obviously all he’s done so far in UBW is appear in flashbacks in Episode 1 and Episode 5, and also be the object of Illya’s vengeance, but he’s a cool guy. (You’ll see his story in Zero)

        Today is also Pocky Day because 11/11, which is probably more relevant for an anime blog. xD

        (The girl is a younger Taiga BTW)

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