Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 02

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It was a quiet week in New Fuyuki, not my home town…

Yes I did watch it, and no – I’m still undecided on whether I’m going to cover it.  But it’s clear that a lot of people are interested in this show, so it only seems logical to touch base even if I don’t have a whole lot to say about this episode.  It was a pretty quiet one, mostly setup, explaining a lot of stuff that one doesn’t even have to be a hard-core otaku for the franchise to know.  But that doesn’t mean some of it wasn’t interesting.

I suppose what people will mostly be talking about is the re-introduction of Kotomine Kirei, certainly a memorable character as played by the unmistakeable (except sometimes for Hayami Sho) Nakata Jouji.  Specifically, “that” scene – the one in the church where we once again see one character run laps around the other as he lectures him.  It’s an odd dramatic device and it can’t be a coincidence that we’ve seen it in both Fate/Zero and UBW, even if they have different directors and F/Z isn’t canon.  It didn’t hit me with quite the same impact here as it did there, but maybe because it wasn’t quite so fresh.

No doubt, that conversation (mostly a monologue really, as was the F/Z one) was interesting, especially given what we know about Kirei as a man.  But all too quickly we lapse into the kind of nonsense the Fate series seems all too prone to whenever Rin is involved, as she breaks out pretty much every female romcom move in the book when Shirou first annoys, then compliments her.  That kind of thing would be amusing if it happened once or twice over a cour, as a kind of whiplash mood change – but every Fate series seems to reply on it as a staple, which is really too bad because it undercuts the grandiose sense of scale the series works so hard (often successfully) to build up much of the rest of the time.

The irony, at least for me, is that in Rin and Saber we have two female characters who are actually quite strong and independent and could be standouts of the kind we need more of in anime, but the series uses them in such a way as to make them genuinely insulting much of the time.  And now of course we add the loli to the mix, but don’t get me started…  The fundamental premise is, as always, an interesting one – a kid in Shirou who despises violence forced to decide whether to fight a battle he didn’t ask for, knowing that the stakes could be catastrophic if he doesn’t, and the uneasy alliance between he and Rin.  There is an interesting musing on the nature of idealism buried somewhere in here, as always with Fate, but there just isn’t the trust in the audience or the commitment to take the high road in fleshing it out fully.

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  1. V

    Nice to see the awesome Kirei Kotomine again.
    Have you already saw the bad deen movie of UBW or is it your first time with this route?

  2. D

    As much as I love Fate in general and Rin specifically, I always felt that the various anime adaptations (and the VN itself, for that matter) suffer immensly from their harem-esque tendencies. It's not always a big deal, but it does kinda derail the pacing and immersion of the story. Hopefully ufotable will keep it on the down low.

  3. M

    The irony of your comment is that, if it were not for the pseudo-harem scenarios, the franchise may not have gotten enough hype for anime adaptions to begin with. I'd hazard to guess a substantial driver of the fanbase is the original erotic content and story that builds up to it.

    Personally, I blame the very natural of Fate/Stay Night as a visual novel. It does its character development and world building across multiple timelines within the different story routes, this creates a tedious pacing that is extremely immersive for anyone who has the diligence or interest to play/read through it all. For everyone else who only read one or two or an anime adaption that only follows one, each story is lackluster and always appearing to be filled with unanswered questions (because they ARE unanswered within the limited contexts).

    Each F/SN adaption like pointing to a different broken tree branch on the side of the road and expecting others to see the entirety of a redwood it broke off of.

    Additionally, there are folks preemptively comparing this iteration to Fate/Zero, with obvious lack of awareness to the chronology or authorship of the two titles. There's a fair amount of people checking out this iteration of F/SN purely due to the gem that is Fate/Zero.

  4. a

    Uh, I like Dansai Bunri as much as you do, Enzo, but Yamaguchi Yuuji isn't directing this anime. He did the 2006 DEEN TV series and the 2010 DEEN movie, not this one. This one's being directed by Miura Takahiro.

  5. Whoops, my bad – I saw his name attached to the movie and thought I was looking at the listing for the TV.

  6. R

    Both being pretty damn bad. Kust like Crime Edge. A show that Enzo forgives everything it did when it came to insulting fanservice in what he considers a good premise. I still remember the two lolis washing each other for 1/4 of an episode.

  7. R

    In your defense, Enzo.

    The most recent Type Moon works are very light in terms of shoehorned romanctic subplots.

  8. If that's what you need to believe.

    Setting aside your straw man about Crime Edge, it seemed pretty clear to me that the show was functioning as a satire of that sort of series. I don't think the fanservice was intended to be taken any more straight than it was in MGX. Admittedly that's subject to interpretation.

    In any event, I certainly pointed out many flaws in that show during its airing. I simply felt it was brilliant as a whole, and completely misunderstood by almost the entire audience.

  9. A

    Is F/Z not canon? I'm not a huge Fate guy so maybe there's some Word of God about it but I didn't think it had anything that would conflict with F/SN plotwise so I always figured it was canon.

  10. M

    From what I remember, F/Z was made by Urobuchi with the approval of Kinoko Nasu, Fate's creator, after they had a long talk about the Fate world. After the novel was finished, Nasu made an epilogue note in which he actually acknowledge F/Z as canon.

    Now, the UBW serie`s writter/planner needs to think what to add or not to add since F/Z is quite well known, and considering that Heaven`s Feel movie is comming next year. Think about trying to remake Star Wars: A New Hope after the everyone have seen Episode 1,2 and 3.

  11. M

    Fate/Zero IS canon, but it's more complicated then that – In a way that makes Enzo justified in saying it's not canon, regardless of whether he's simply mistaken.

    Fate/Stay Night came first -> Then Urobuchi was brought on to write F/Z and was told about how it needs to be the prequel to the world of F/SN.

    Thus, F/Z does not conflict with F/SN in any way (that I know if), but it's important to address the fact it's written by someone entirely different (and in my humble opinion, superior in skill). The two are so largely different in storytelling style/quality and so loosely connected that they might as well be considered alternate universes than part of the same series.

    These complications created a lot of confusion in the fanbase, both as a whole and separate camps for F/Z and F/SN, leading to various interpretations.

    The main problem being that… Fate/Zero is so damned good it makes Fate/Stay Night look bad.

  12. R

    It's not really complicated… F/Z is canon, it's written with the idea that you read the F/S N visual novel first and it does spoil several things about F/S N. Nasu worked with Gen to make F/Z a reality. Whether or not you think Gen is a better writer does not affect this one bit.

  13. R

    I always considered F/Z canon. I guess this is similar to how HP Lovecraft established his Cthulhu mythos: by actually letting other writers expand the universe he created.

  14. w

    I don't know, I think that Fate/stay night actually handles better the whole theme of the Fate series better than Zero does. What Urobuchi did in Zero was a love letter to Fate as a whole, as he said, and he just reuses the same but with Kiritsugu, making it perfect for a tragedy. The actual great point of Fate/Zero is how fun it is to see the whole war unfolding.

  15. Merry, I don't think I'm mistaken. I think it's simple a matter of how liberally you define the term canon.

    Say hi to Pippin.

  16. M

    That's fine. I wasn't sure, so I had to clarify that it didn't really matter. However, I advise against hopping into any discussions with more passionate fans with that definition of yours.

    Whose Pippin?

  17. Merry's BFF from Lord of the Rings.

  18. h

    Eh, I would say they are "loosely connected". Much the opposite, in fact, a lot of F/Z elements came straight from the F/SN VN. That include the main story. F/Z climax was, in fact, pretty much told entirely during F/SN before Urobuchi gave his own interpretation. I believe the only F/Z characters with absolutely no connection to the original were the Rider and Lancer teams.

    Yes, you can watch both series individually. However, they both have quite different meanings if you have seem the other before hand. Regardless of what definition of 'canon' you are using elements for F/Z cropping into F/SN is definitively not a coincidence.

  19. J

    @Merry Smith: Why should anyone have to tiptoe around this franchises hardcore fanboys that like to go around swarming posters and basically trying to strong arm them through harassment and consistent mocking when they think someone has a wrong viewpoint on the franchise. I know that's not what you're saying at all, but for me at least I refuse to even entertain the idea that because these people act in large numbers and feel a specific attachment to the franchise that people somehow need to get their permission or watch what they say when in their presence before making a statement about the franchise. These types of people aren't that special, yet they seem to be engaging in some sort of power trip now that the franchise is popular again this season and there's a good remake out and it's a pretty big turnoff all things considered. Hooliganism is what it amounts to basically, except this is the internet and they can't actually hurt anyone so I say to hell with them, I'll sooner say the things I want to say about the show and it's characters positive or negative, majority opinion or not and I'm not going to let some mob mentality dictate otherwise.

    Personally I don't agree with some of the things Enzo says about himself, but I respect that he's not allowing himself to be intimidated by this shows increasingly overbearing fanbase and airing his own viewpoints. If he stops posting about the show to me it should be because of a loss of personal interest, not because he should be afraid of what Type/Moon hardliners think about what he has to say.

  20. V

    Yeah I didn't understand why you said that F/Z isn't canon.

  21. Maybe it would be better to say "not part of the original mythology". I guess it depends on how you define canon – if the story is a VN and it's not part of the VN it doesn't seem like canon to me. I think it would be accurate to say F/Z is "anime canon" but not VN canon.

  22. h

    That is definitively not a definition of 'canon' I ever seem (and not one I would use) but I understand what you are saying.

    However, since this is an anime done by the same people who done F/Z, they probably are operating mostly by that "anime canon" instead of the "VN canon". Specially since they know many of the viewers probably watched F/Z before. That wasn't even the first time they made a direct nod to the previous anime that didn't exist in the original VN. Back in the first episode we had Rin finding her father's snake skin, which was not a thing in the original. This kind of thing will probably keep appearing as the series go on.

  23. h

    Just to be clear, I don't intend to start a discussion over the meaning of 'canon'. It is meaningless and it is you own blog. As long as you use your definition, I will do so in this comment column.

  24. I certainly have no disagreement with your take on what the anime is doing, Heath. For purposes of ufotable it's safe to assume anything that came out of their studio is part of the database they're drawing on.

  25. h

    It is just your post seemed to imply otherwise. You mentioned canonicity as if it was odd F/SN making a reference to F/Z, which I found a bit weird, as this was to be expected.

  26. M

    I should probably mention that most of Rin's reactions were different and pretty exaggerated by Ufotable. They were much more subdued. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6f3gidSxiA (Go to 20:15 for the "Why did Saber to go to Shiro?!" scene)

    Her reaction to Shiro complimenting her on the hill were basically the same though.

  27. M

    My bad! I didn't realize the scene was from the Fate route. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z52ljuLbJUA (From 33:40)

  28. R

    Ufotable is downplayin MANY CRUDE inner thoughs of Shirou whenever he looked at a female.

    He blushed only once in this episode. In the VN he does several times and gets lost in stupid thoughs.

  29. M

    And I'd very much like to know what that had to do with anything I said.

  30. R

    Ufotable handling characterization. They are trimming down what's unnecessary and overdone.

  31. R

    You are posting spoilers.

    That isn't the whole story anyway.

  32. S

    I was under the impression that that was up to the fans to realize and was never revealed being that everybody already know Rin and Sakura's relationship and Shirou and Sakura's relationship is in front of your face I don't see how I spoiled anything at all lol but sure do you.

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