Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 09

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Next week, I’m going to pretend this week’s episode didn’t happen and see just how little any of it actually mattered. Seriously, this week’s title may as well have read ‘Shirou and Rin are stupid teenagers and they don’t know what they are doing for half an hour’ and it would have been more interesting, academically speaking.

In a nutshell? This was a delay-tactics episode. Beautiful but the entire thirty minutes could have been cut and we’d almost be none the wiser for it.

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The Summing Up: Emiya’s classmates are carted off to the hospital and expected to recover, Archer finally shows up and gets into an adolescent spat with Saber, Rin implies to Emiya that Archer is acting strange but never addresses that again in the episode, and Saber decides she must sleep in Emiya’s room to prevent him from getting himself almost killed again.

Then Shinji goes to the church to hide, whines about how it isn’t his fault for being a loser and a useless character that I am deeply annoyed no one killed last episode, and is blessed with a ‘reserve’ servant. (fuck you show)

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And then Emiya and Rin spend a lot of time trying to identify Caster’s Master at school, but have no plan and put no thought into what they are doing that it’s just a laborious slog to follow them.

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The Good: explaining that Caster is likely controlling her own Master is an interesting twist, even though it would have been more interesting to have this shown somehow instead of explained by ‘the committee.’ Removing the student council president from suspicion was a good move too.

Developing Rin’s perspective on Emiya, even though she didn’t initially understand that he was looking for her and not Sakura was also nice, though their love-story side plot isn’t particularly interesting.

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Fitting a little context in for Saber on why Emiya is hero-bent was also nice enough but… god I hate Sensei-chan. She’s an anime character, playing an anime character, not a person, and it’s teeth grindingly awful. Ass wagging and all.

Well, basically, anything positive about any development this episode is marred by sluggish pacing, inadequate development quantity, or plane mishandling.

The single best thing episode 9 did was what it didn’t: it totally avoided any ‘awkward teen boy/girl living together scenes’ after Saber declared she would sleep in Shirou’s room.

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That’s not entirely true. Actually the most interesting aspect of the episode is how many scenes it presents us from a view of our characters separated by a wall or a window. It’s subtle, but the idea that we are voyeurs or possible the master of caster ourselves, watching these idiots could be interesting if it pans out.

Or it could purely be a stylistic choice and then forget I mentioned it.

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The Not-So-Good: Shinji is too simple a villain for this show and dragging out his participation, especially right in our view, deserves a permanent .5 deduction from Fsn’s over all season score. Period.

Worse, we still haven’t advanced Sakura’s plot, still known nothing about Caster, and it’s absurd that Berserker and Lancer would choose to ‘hang around doing nothing’ for so long.

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Episode 9 captures the travesty that is broadcast-length television. This serious obviously has enough content for more than 12 episodes but 22-24? With a break forced exactly in the middle of that count?

No. No I don’t think it does.

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The Verdict: there was nothing wrong with this week’s episode, exactly. The characters were well acted and evolved, the plot developed, and it was beautiful as always. More beautiful than normal, at times, actually. However, everything moved at a glacier’s pace.

This is typical of a late-middle season episode of any show, good or no, but typical is hardly inspiring. Beyond padding the overall play length, there’s no reason to drag out the Sakura-as-master reveal. Not when it’s been implied so heavily leading up till now. Not unless Fsn wants to pull a fast one… and that risks coming off as obnoxious more than clever.

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6 thoughts on “Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 09”

  1. I’ve always enjoyed Taiga largely for the charisma of her voice actress. She’s just fun. I also have a high tolerance for stock characters. Like super heroes, so long as they’re done with some degree of earnestness, I can find them charming enough.

    That aside, one thing I am a stickler for is act structure. Time-wise, we are definitely past the first act. The film switched some scenes around so that the first act’s climax made it clear what the real threat was. This series didn’t do that. As a result, we’ve seen the same critical scenes (plus far more), but we have less of an idea of what the core conflict is.

    I mean, do you have any clue what the primary conflict of this plot is right now? I don’t see it.

    Yes, the story is about the conflict for the grail. But this specific route – aka, the plot – has a conflict more relevant to the protagonist.

    1. yeah i don’t know where this is going other than a showdown with each master, and that some masters are more likely than others to blow up the city again?

  2. This ep more or less suffer because it’s an adaptation of a story with multiple different route instead of a lack of content.
    Several things in this eps will lead to nowhere, but that’s more or less because they are there to tie this route with the other two, and will not be focused on. Ufotable probably decided to keep these in due to the upcoming Heaven Feel.

  3. you need to watch fate zero to understand why this episode was so beautiful… saber does know who kiritsugu is. there is a reason why she was interested in not only shirou but kiritsugu as well. gilgamesh finally appeared in this episode, and i can see where its heading. and rin… and sakura.. u will only understand the significance of this when you know the story of fate/zero. this is definitely a sequel to fate/zero and not a standalone series, or not meant to be at least.

  4. “I’ve come to terms with the fact that Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works will not be the series I wanted it to be. We’re beginning to run into what I call the “visual novel adaptation conundrum,” a term for when the events of one arc don’t lead to a cohesive thematic resolution in isolation. It’s becoming more clear that this anime will not be including material from the other arcs that are necessary to turning Fate/stay night into a completely satisfying standalone story. It makes sense in the context of the source material – there, Shirou’s character development only lands when the three arcs are perceived in aggregate. This is extremely difficult to adapt to any medium besides visual novels, which are unique in their ability to portray multiple equally valid narratives within the same text.”
    -from the ANN review of this episode

    I can say now that UBW will still be an amazing anime while standing alone, but it’s meant to be a part of a whole, and some story points are meant to be resolved in the next route. Sakura’s storyline is the centerpiece of HF and is only foreshadowed and touched upon here; it’s unfortunate, but you won’t see total resolution of that just yet. The same is true of some of Illyasviel’s plot points, and even bits of Shinji’s personality. Rider’s sudden death here is made up for by a leading role in the HF route. Kirei is also at his best there. (which will be movies soon)

    On that bright note however, Fate/Zero tells a complete story and the main cast is entirely competent logical adults (and one nineteen-year old finding his way in life), so you’ll have a good time with that when you get to it.

    As for other inquiries. Lancer and Berserker have been moving, just off-screen. Lancer has been sent to survey and fight against each other Servant, as indicated by his two quick fights against Archer and Saber, and his comment about just being sent to observe. So at some point, Lancer fought Berserker, Rider, Caster, and Assassin at various points off-screen. It will be mentioned later that Assassin also repelled attacks from Berserker, Rider, and Lancer during his tenure of guarding the gate. (Not that this really alleviates their lack of showing up)

    As for Shinji’s personality, it’s fairly obvious that he has an inferiority complex the size of an asteroid. His constant need to be better then others, his panicking every time something threatening actually happens to him, his referring to the “smug” faces of the others. His reaction when Rin called him a bug was just sort of shock and dismay. He has actual, reasonably sympathetic reasons for this, which the anime might reveal so I won’t spoil them.

    I will say that he was replaced by someone as Matou heir, and that despite being part of the lineage of magecraft, he has no magic circuits of his own, and only has Rider via a proxy through said heir.

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