Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 23

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The calm is over, bring on the storm. And my oh my, is that storm ever gross. Let it be said: shutting down the Holy Grail is a task akin to wading through refuse in the bowels of the Death Star; at least that’s the vibe I got. This is mana given physical form, but that form is nasty. It seems too crude weapon for a King of Heroes would use to “cull the mongrels” as he so eloquently puts it. Then again, I imagine it’s the only weapon he has to get the job done.

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Shirou, Rin and Saber’s plan falls apart almost immediately, as Gil confronts the former two while the latter is tied up for the entire episode by Assassin, who has not vanished yet, due to…good fortune? Don’t you mean ‘plot convenience,’ show? Regardless, I’m glad the show didn’t forget about Assassin, and even though he’s fading away, he puts up his usual tough fight at the temple gate, complete with his original brand of stoic banter.

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As for Gil, the glimpse of yore is striking, but his grandeur is let down by his unceasing monologues, which make him sound like a garden-variety villain, contemptuous of humanity, seeking to reshape the world to the way it was, when everyone’s life had purpose. I don’t remember the Gilgamesh of the eponymous epic to be such a dick towards humanity.

Then again, I haven’t read it in a while. He also seems to take his sweet old time killing Shirou, even saying out loud he’s going easy on him, since he’d consider taking the “Faker” seriously a defeat in and of itself. Look, I don’t need all villains to have a sympathetic side, but Gil is essentially nothing but a harbinger of death. He’s barely even a character, and for all his talk of originality, he’s always felt like the thinnest, least developed Servant in UBW. 

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His bluster about not going all out is also an opening to his defeat, as arrogant villains like him are often their own worst enemies. His complete lack of understanding of humanity’s complexity is also demonstrated as Rin casually wades through the goo, climbs the grail, and pulls its vessel Shinji out, disrupting Gil’s plans. Rin isn’t doing it for her would-be sexual predator, but for his sister, someone the show has totally forgotten about but we know to be a good person.

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Gil think’s Rin’s actions are part and parcel of what’s wrong with humanity, but hey, the grail ain’t got a vessel any more, and it forms a giant arm to reach out to him when Shinji is gone, interrupting a fight that Shirou is hanging in fairly well, now that he’s copying all of the weapons Gil sends at him.

In one of Gil’s cooler moments, his mouth is actually mostly shut. Instead, he summons a strange lock-like mechanism which he then unlocks, summoning a bizarre-looking sword Shirou neither recognizes or nor can scan. Gil calls it Ea—no doubt named after the Sumerian deity also known as Enki—and dispatches the grail arm with ease, also destroying the temple he’s standing on and knocking Shirou out.

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Meanwhile, as their battle rages on, Assassin reveals nothing he’s ever done has had any meaning, since he was always a false, fictional servant. Sasaki Kojirou was never his name; he has no name, and only exists to replicate the skills of the real Sasaki.

Yet despite all that untold time as nothing, doing nothing of consequence, he considers the final moments he spends locked in battle with Saber to finally provide him with purpose. Saber manages to cut him through with her Holy Sword, and he lets her pass, making me wonder if she’ll now disappear because she used it…

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So that leaves us with a Rin with an out-cold, messed-up Shinji in her arms, a grail seeking a new vessel and being rebuked by Gilgamesh, a Shirou who is severely winded and lying in a pile of rubble, and a Saber whose time on this earth may or may not have just become severely curtailed a result of using her trump.

Of these people, Gilgamesh certainly seems to be standing on the firmest ground, but with his grail sabotage Saber sure to bear down on him momentarily, he may want to start thinking about a Plan B. I’m certain he’s going down—he’s the bad guy and this is that kind of show—it’s a matter of how fantastically he’s brought down, and what it will cost our heroes.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

2 thoughts on “Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 23”

  1. Yeah, Assassin generally gets the short end of the stick when it comes to Fate/Stay Night. In the first route, Fate route, he gets one fight and never appears again, and in Heaven’s Feel, the third route, he doesn’t get much either as you’ll eventually see.

    (The third route of this, Heaven’s Feel, will eventually get a series of movies. It’s the Sakura route and her being a non-entity here will be more than compensated for)

    Believe it or not, Unlimited Blade Works is where he gets his most screentime in the entire visual novel, and following that this adaptation of the second route.

    He found meaning in fighting against a superior swordsman, at least.

    One really nice detail is this:

    He closes his mouth.
    He shuts his lips tight and tenses up so that he will not fall down.
    Blood from his lungs fills his mouth, but he swallows it so that it will not spill out.
    The golden-haired girl is below him.
    The way of the swordsman does not allow him to dirty her with his blood.

    The anime legit animated his swallowing down his own blood so as to not get any on Saber. Even while dying Assassin is one of the most chill people ever. That’s some attention to detail in regards to adaptation as well.

    Gilgamesh lacking in depth a bit is also a symptom of the unfortunate route-based nature of the original work and this adaptation only doing 1/3 of the story. He gets some more time in Fate (not necessarily sympathetic), and also in the prequel, Fate/Zero (some depth there).

    (The route-based nature is also why Kirei was non-entity here; he’ll get a lot in HF)

    (Same with Illya)

    (BTW you really really really should watch Fate/Zero it’s just as good as this if not regarded as better by quite a few. It’s written by Urobuchi, lord of Madoka Magica, the first season of Psycho-Pass, etc.)

    If all goes well next week should be the best episode of the series.

  2. I think you got one thing incorrect: Saber would disappear if she uses her noble phantasm, which she still hasn’t used. Just using her holy sword does not dispose her to disappearance.
    The whole anime, on another note, was never as good as Fate/Zero. Its characters were never developed sufficiently, and the story lacked any coherence. oh well. HF here i come.

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