Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 20

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Remember, I don’t know anything about stats or paths or ends or zeros or kaleids, nor do I have any plans to branch out and learn. I judged this episode the only way I could; the same way I’ve judged every episode of UBW: on its own merits. And I judged it to be another mostly thrilling important event and important revelation-packed powerhouse.

But it wasn’t perfect. In fact, there were a couple times when Archer’s lengthy, repetitive monologues threatened to drown the central battle’s momentum.

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What saved this episode was the awesome wrap-up of Rin’s predicament, which didn’t take up nearly as much time, but packed plenty of punch. When we left her, Lancer was apparently dead and Kirei was preparing to rip her heart out.

To my delight, Lancer wasn’t quite dead yet, and he not only kills Kirei (we hardly knew ye…at least on the show…so ‘bye bye Kirei, but scares Shinji off with a little prick to the shoulder after yanking him off of Rin once more.

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I never quite understood why he wanted to rape Rin so badly, but it wasn’t in the cards thanks to a particularly chivalrous Lancer, who refuses Rin’s thanks, as things merely “worked out.” But from there it’s clear Lancer won’t be getting back up again, and Rin tells reiterates her dispassionate view of Archer, thinking his regrets are justified, but at the same time knowing she’s not the one to judge or save him.

All she can focus on is herself and moving forward. Lancer sets himself and Kirei on fire as Rin departs. His fitting final rhetorical wish before he vanishes: that Rin look him up when she’s got a few more years on her. I’ll miss you Lancer, you magnificent bastard.

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My take is if Shirou survives his fight with Archer and continues on a path with her and Saber, that would be peachy. But again and again he projects his twin daggers and again and again Archer shatters them, telling him he’s no match for him.

Still, every time Shioru crosses blades he learns a bit more and his skills get a bit better, and even though he’s taking a lot of hits and losing a lot of blood, he keeps fighting even when Archer transports them back to the UBW.

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He literally fights until his body stops working, and his mind enters “hell”, both the hells his future self created and participated in, and the hell-fire from which Kuritsugu saved him. In this psychic limbo, he remembers something Archer forgot: how happy Kuritsugu looked when he saved him; a feeling Shirou wanted to experience for himself.

Unbeknownst to Shirou, Kuritsugu saved his life by somehow infusing him with Saber’s scabbard. That same scabbard heals him in his present UBW fight, and he gets back on his feet.

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Thus the fight will spill at least partway into next week, with Shirou proclaiming he doesn’t mind being beaten by someone else, but he’ll be damned if he’ll let himself be beaten…by himself. That’s only the last of several great shonen moments Shirou gets this week.

With his body, spirit, and resolve all in good repair for the first time, here’s hoping the “sham” beats the “original”, regardless of whether he can change his mind, proving the borrowed wish of becoming a hero of justice is still a wish, and a powerful one at that.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

12 thoughts on “Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 20”

  1. Glad you liked it. :)

    It was a 10/10 for me, but that may be just because I know all the significance of everything Kiritsugu Emiya.

    Shirou acknowledging his path may be flawed, may be hypocritical, but traveling down it anyway, of his own will, and not someone else’s, is a pretty beautiful moment.

    Incidentally Lancer’s survival is very much based in his legend. He was stabbed in the heart, and lived long enough to murder all of his assailants before tying himself to a tree so that he could die standing. The Irish are hardcore.

    Continue to look forward to awesome!

    (You really should watch Zero though it’s awesome ;v; )

  2. Oh yeah since I only noticed this now.

    One subtle thing I really, really liked was the crowd of silhouettes standing behind Shirou as he watched his younger self walking on, and how they disappeared as he moved forward. I personally interpreted them as all those who died in the Fuyuki fire, or alternatively, all those Archer killed. Shirou is moving on forward away from them, without regrets. He is stepping on to his path not out of compensation, not out of survivor’s guilt, but of his own will, fully aware from the limits. He’s moved on from sacrificing himself just to be in place of those who died.

    Also, his pulling up the sword was extremely similar to Saber doing the same thing. He takes up the blade and steps forward on to his path.

    1. I also like the dynamic that Archer can’t look forward anymore. He keeps going on like he’s Shirou’s “ideal”, but because he’s existed outside the normal confines of time as humans know it, I can’t help but see Archer and Shirou as two distinct people.

      It isn’t certain, as Rin laments, that Shirou will become Archer if left to his own devices, for no other reason (and there are certainly others) because the first Shirou who became Archer didn’t have this Archer guy around!

      Simply by existing in Shirou’s life and offering testimony to the life he led, young Shirou is no longer on that same path he walked. And unlike Archer, Shirou can move forward, as Rin is trying to do.

  3. Another great episode! Just a nitpick though ” In this psychic limbo, he remembers something Archer forgot: that Kuritsugu saved his life by somehow infusing him with Saber’s healing scabbard. ” Actually Shirou still has no idea about Saber’s scabbard. Archer is the one that recongized its effects. What Shirou “remembered” is the beauty of the wish to save all people, and then choosing by his own will to walk down that path. Archer is jaded and only thinks of his ideals as something he borrowed from the person he admired.

  4. I guess I’ll continue to be the dissenting voice. I just didn’t buy the idea that Shirou and Archer’s fight had a deeper ideological conflict that determined the outcome. I get that’s what they were trying to do, I just didn’t find the execution particularly effective. They fought, had some exposition, fought some more, and then Shirou had an internal revelation that required even more exposition.

    I also disliked the Rin scenes, which felt anticlimactic given the multi-series plot lines they resolved. Kirei just dies because the plot is doesn’t need him anymore. Shinji is still needed, so he gets to run away (AGAIN).

  5. I’m not accepting Kirei is dead yet. :)

    Thinking about the Archer/Shirou fight, IF Shirou can change how he conducts his future path – as a result of knowing Archer – then Archer himself should not be. I guess he didn’t do too well on that one…

    1. That would be the case yes, but Servants, including Counter Guardians, are removed from the time/space axis. The fake Heroic Spirit EMIYA will always exist, regardless of what the Shirou of this timeline does. He only hopes that killing himself will create a paradox the World cannot accept.

      If you’re hoping Kirei isn’t dead because of Zero fandom or just because you really like Kirei, sorry to disappoint but he’s hella dead jim. However, he deliberately has an extremely minor role this route. In the Heaven’s Feel route, he gets nearly as much screentime as Shirou himself.

      This is only 1/3 of the story after all.

  6. So i was wondering what did you think of the pacing of this episode? I’ve seen some people complain that the episode was too slow and that they’re clearly trying to stretch because they don’t have enough material. Which might be slightly funny for people who know the source, since this is one of the few episodes where they really put all the content without cutting much out. They made it more dramatic with the presentation and visualization but they kept the talk and shirou’s thoughts. Something that was mostly skipped in the DEEN movie.

    As a VN reader the the point the episode ended was as expected, but i know people probably expected a non stop action showdown to prove who’s right. So i was wondering if you felt that the episode was too talk heavy? The scene that was adapted into this and the next episode which tittle shares the name of the scene itself, Answer, is probably one of the most talk heavy but also important moment in the story. I’m just curious whether or not postponing the action felt off to you.

    1. As I touched on in my first paragraph, the pacing was a little slow for me, despite the swordplay, change of environment, awesome music, and journey into Shirou’s subconscious. I also expected that this battle to end this week. It was talk heavy, and while much of the talk was very enlightening to me, a lot of it seemed to be rehashing Archer’s frustrations with his past self refusing to concede his philosophy.

      See also my comment to Tausif: I’m firmly on Shirou’s side because there are logical problems with Archer’s absolutist view of the situation. He really isn’t Shirou and Shirou isn’t him, not after his presence in his past self’s life has fundamentally altered the course of events that led to his plight. As such, I kinda started tuning Archer out, making his continued protests superfluous, at least as much to me as they were to Shirou.

      I think the best course for the episode would have been focusing on one thing—the Archer-Shirou battle in its entirety—and leaving everything else out. As much as I liked the Rin scenes, cutting to them undermined the inertia of the main event, and was a little disappointed the fight goes on, making everything that came before feel like buildup to something bigger. At some point that something bigger has to arrive!

      There were certainly thematic connections between Shirou and Rin, but not time-sensitive ones that demanded her scenes to be spliced into the Archer battle.

      1. Hoooo, that’s actually quite a nice way to put it and your analysis is actually spot on. You say that archer is only rehashing frustration and that the two of them are different people by this point , both of which are things pointed out in the VN during the talk last week. For both of them to be here means that they’re two different people now, and because of that archer knows he doesn’t have much chance in creating a paradox. He does anyway because that’s all he’s got, but there was a line last week that was cut. Where it’s made clear that archer doesn’t even care at this point. He’s just gonna go out and try and even if he doesn’t get his time paradox he’s just gonna make sure to let his feelings and anger out until he’s satisfied. As always, it impresses me seeing you able to grasp these themes that aren’t actually stated.

        Yeah i guess seeing it that way it must feel unsatisfying. You know you’re close too the ‘bang’ but it’s still not there yet, it sucks getting blue balled two weeks in a row. People did expect that this whole scene would be turned into one episode, but after the cliffhanger with lancer last week we knew it wasn’t going to be done this week. I can agree that giving this conflict all of the episode would’ve been the best way, but i guess they couldn’t let the rin situation not get resolved quickly. I guess we can only hope UFO delivers next week so all this buildup won’t be for naught.

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