I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week’s episode of Fate, because it pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a beautifully-staged action episode, nicely paced and full of some of the best looking CGI you’ll see in anime or anywhere else. I don’t think there’s a whole lot here that cries out to be interpreted or that will surprise anyone with even my modest familiarity with the franchise, but as 22 minutes of entertainment it was quite the marvel.
So far F/s n seems to be following the somewhat normal pattern of the series (even the granny flat Fate/Zero usually did), which is to alternate very talky episodes with action-driven thrill fests. Those talky eps are a specialty of Gen Urobuchi and his quirky, iconoclastic characters so I think they tend to favor Zero in terms of interest level, but F/s n certainly doesn’t take a back seat when it comes to bombast.
There is a certain repeating pattern to these Grail War depictions, with Servants who are introduced as seemingly invincible until someone “vinces” them, and so it’s sure to be with Berserker. He’s more interesting here than in F/Z, more of an incarnation of pure fighting spirit than a lunatic, but he still has “Servant A” written all over him. His main role, it always seems to me, is to make sure Ilyasviel – one of the more pander-y characters in the Fate stable – has plenty of screen time. And he certainly proves formidable enough on the battlefield, seemingly invincible (oops) in fact – invulnerable to Archer’s attacks and when Saber finally does get the best of him, immortal due to his noble phantasm. But Archer gets the last laugh, proving himself worthy of catching Ilya’s attention.
There are plenty more bit players to be introduced on both the Master and Servant side (one way UBW will be superior to F/Z, at least, is that it will feature Miki Shinichirou), though Gilgamesh always has a way of making it seem like he’s the star, thanks in no small part to Seki Tomokazu’s usual magnetism. The Master side for now is mired in Rin’s tsundere act towards Shirou, and his consternation at being helpless to be any good to anybody (until he sort of saves Saber a little, if you squint hard enough). And it’s always kind of ironic hearing Ilya call Shirou “Nii-chan” given their circumstances.