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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