Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 21

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Yes. The long, long battle between Shirou and his alternate future self continues this week, though thankfully comes to an end around the halfway point. I say thankfully, because as cool as the animation is and as beautiful a setting their fighting in and as poignant the points both combatants are making are, I’ve kinda seen and heard enough, and I was really ready to move on.

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While standing around bearing witness to the Shirous, Saber sees a little of herself in the duality, remembering her days as a farm girl before she drew the Excalibur from the stone. “Even if nothing but regrets remained, if I was able to achieve many of my ideals in the process, then…” Saber trails off, but I believe she means to say it was worth making the choice she made, though both possibilities were correct.

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Shirou, too, doesn’t care about the regrets that have burden Archer and brought on his suicidal rage. His dream to help others so they can be happy is beautiful, and he won’t abandon it. His dream isn’t wrong. The universe around him would tend to agree, because no matter what Archer throws at him, he’s able to slash it away. He’s got almost no mana left, but his spirit is unbreakable.

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The Unlimited Blade Works setting suddenly vanishes, and we’re back in the mansion, with Shirou scoring a fatal blow to Archer. And all because the split second before Shirou stabs him, Archer recalls the memory of sitting on the porch, taking Kuritsugu to step back and let him carry on that wish.

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Oddly enough, it’s Shirou, the victor, who collapses in a pile, as Archer stands his ground, defeated but dignified. He accepts defeat and seems ready to depart, but then he’s stabbed by swords from Gilgamesh.

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Gil, the “genuine article”, means to destroy both of the “fakes” that stand before him, ruining his day, but in his last moment of life, Archer plays the hero once more, shoving Shirou aside and taking the full attack head on, vaporizing him. Rin, abandoning all common sense, shoots a little magic bolt at Gil, shifting his gaze to her, but fortunately, Saber is there to protect her.

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Gil, who was Archer in the previous war, delays killing everyone in order to initiate a enlightenment/gloating session, in which he tells Saber, Rin, and Shirou that the Holy Grail itself is a weapon; a gateway to Hell itself, capable of killing billions of humans. His goal is to do just that, and anyone who survives what pours forth from the grail will be “worthy of his rule.”

Then pieces around the mansion start to fall, and he halts his attack once more, worried about getting soot on him. This was an odd choice, because you’d think if he could effortlessly do so, he’d eliminate anyone who was even the slightest bit of a threat against his plans. Instead, he’s almost challenging them to foil those plans, despite saying their lives are worth less than soot to him.

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So Gil just struts off, finding the wounded Shinji in the forest, and decides to turn him into the vessel for the grail, and Shinji undergoes an Akira-style transformation that is none too pleasant. Then again, this show has been extremely clear about how huge of a piece of crap Shinji is, so this kind of an improvement.

This episode was an improvement over last week’s more open-ended affair, but still suffered a bit from repeating itself too often. There’s also the problem that Gilgamesh is a two-dimensional demigod with lofty but obvious goals of world destruction and domination. In other words, he’s not as interesting a foe as Archer was; not yet, anyway. Prove me wrong, F/sn.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

5 thoughts on “Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 21”

  1. Damn the way Shirou and Archer’s battle ended blew me away. Now THAT’S how I imagined the epic battle to be. It was not so much a clash of physical power than it was a battle of ideals, one in which Shirou defeated archer beautifully. UFOtable really did that scene justice. I guess it did drag on a bit long, but in exchange they made sure all the nuances of Archer and Shirou’s mindsets was conveyed, which was the true soul of the battle.

  2. you know.. the more i watch fate stay night ubw the more I feel fate zero was meant or implied to be the first one you should watch before this. Although I do agree fate zero does spoil elements of fate stay night, especially in heaven’s feel.. there are way too many fate/zero references. but well. im just so glad they actually did this so well even though having 3 weeks for that battle was really frustrating(cliffhanger week after week isn’t fun), but marathoning it will really improve the experience as compared to following it week after week. still, really great episode. it can only get better from now on though. the next battle should make shirou look like he’s not a dumbass anymore, and if they develop on gilgamesh more(i doubt it lol, unless anime original scenes are added or flash backs to fate/zero are included), that would be optimal but we don’t have a lot of episodes left.

    1. completely agree with on on the thing that this show must be marathoned. It really suffers from week to week format

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