Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 03

UBW - 03-13 UBW - 03-19 UBW - 03-20

I give in – if that’s how they want to number them, that’s how I’ll number them…

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.

UBW - 03-5 UBW - 03-6 UBW - 03-7
UBW - 03-8 UBW - 03-9 UBW - 03-10
UBW - 03-11 UBW - 03-12 UBW - 03-14
UBW - 03-15 UBW - 03-16 UBW - 03-17
UBW - 03-18 UBW - 03-21 UBW - 03-22
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24 comments

  1. R

    This episode had a few completely anime-original scenes written by Nasu.
    Illya vs Rin, the Kotomine scene, and the fight got some padding to fill the 23minutes.

    These were well received additions, the Masters were more involved and the fight now doesn't feel like a Pokemon duel. It was also a franchise-first to see Illya use magic like that. So I'm wondering how much of the story will be revised/updated to modern standards by the author.

  2. I think the addition of custom material is a good thing. Anime aren't VNs, and that's why F/Z – which was specifically crafted for the medium – worked better on screen.

  3. w

    Fate/Zero was a LN series first. Still, it was probably easier to adapt, even if ufotable is doing a pretty good job here. One thing that Zero got over the original is that the latter had to distribute the fluff and the thematics across the three routes, so the real meat of UBW will take a while to appear and we still have the HF adaptation they announced for later to finish the whole story, while Zero could take its approach with the whole meat in a far more straightforward manner.

    Well, UBW is pretty action packed so it should give us a real dose of good entertainment until it gets to that point.

  4. R

    To be fair, I always think that F/Z had a pretty good leg up over other LN adaptations simply by the fact that Urobochi Gen, in addition to writing the novel, had actual anime production experience as a director of series before it.

    I'm pretty sure he had a better idea of how the story needed to be changed in order to be more suited to the anime medium (although he did cut out a few parts I would have liked to see, I think the overall product was a lot more streamlined), which is quite different from what you can get away with in novels themselves.

  5. u

    Illya is no more a pandering character than Komugi from HxH and Rin's actions have nothing to do with being a tsundere so much as her being concerned for Shirou's well being and general uselessness at this point in time.

  6. R

    All TM characters pander in their own way.

  7. T

    Defensive?

    Though I don't see how Komugi is very pandering. She's about as pandering as the characters of Princess Jellyfish (who she is has way more in common with than any moe characters, in design, performance, and character, all are represntations of "otaku"). I guess if you consider that pandering, then yeah, she and practically any and all female anime characters are pandering.

  8. A

    There is no account for taste, but Komugi's way of pandering was much, much more complicated to write than Illya's ever was, in my humble opinion. I mean, with HxH, the fate of the world literally depended on the mass murdering god falling victim of the moe culture. That is a damn lot of pressure to put on a single character, don't you think?

    I have to agree about Rin, though. I can't, for the life of me, see any trace of her being insecure, hiding her feelings or fawning over anyone since Archer in episode 0– and really, can you blame her?

    But anyways, yes, I won't deny that Rin was genetically engineered to be a walking romantic interest, but her appeal was always more on the lines of teasing Shirou's virginity and groan at his naivety for the audience. I wouldn't call her a tsundere, though. She's much too confident for that.

  9. u

    Well, that's my point guys. I don't consider either Komugi or Illya to be pandering characters. As for Illya, well you'll learn a bit more about her in this route. But, unfortunately, the majority of her characterization/development comes in Heaven's Feel.

    And, Rin is certainly a Tsundere. But, the thing is that just because a character has that trait, and only in this particular route, doesn't mean that that is the only thing that defines them.

  10. K

    Many people see Illya as a pandering character because she's a 18 years old girl who looks like a 12 years old girl without any real reason beyond "just because."

    The reason given by the story for that is pretty weak, and it comes across as a excuse.

  11. u

    And, again, Komugi would follow under the same line of thought if people really want her to. It's pretty clear going by what we know that she is actually older than her appearance.

  12. N

    FSN Illya is a "Creepy Child" type of character, an archetype used in both West and East media, and rarely for pandering (though many today would argue that it is a cheap archetype).

  13. K

    I don't understand your insistence in comparing Komugi with Illya. Both are characters with a "moe" appeal. That's it. Illya's "reason" for being a loli is nothing but pandering. If you don't want to see that, cool, but that doesn't make it less true.

    Comparing both characters doesn't help your cause because Komugi being or not a pandering character doesn't change Illya's status as one.

    @Nayrael Why not make her a child, though? She's not a child but she's a sheltered adult. She's 18 years old, and she was conceived as an adult because she was one of the heroins, to pander two crowds: the incest-loving crowd and the loli-loving crowd.

  14. u

    My point is that Illya isn't a pandering character just like a character like Komugi, who I believe Enzo had no issues with, isn't. That implies that all there is to the character is her cuteness or whatever, which is simply untrue in this case.

    Also, right back at you. Your insistence that she is a pandering character doesn't make it any less true that she isn't.

  15. R

    But like, she is pandering. No one's saying that's the only thing about her character or that she can't still be an interesting character for other reasons. That's not pandering. The pandering part is the adult in the child's body design that appeals to the part of the demographics that like loli-type characters and the little sister archetype by having her refer to Shirou as nii-chan and in general act much younger than she is.

    And I'm saying act because anyone who's played through all of F/SN knows that Illya can drop that act and be pretty damn scary when she needs to be. Or a wonderful older sister (that H/F ending T_T).

    I like Illya as a character. I like F/SN. But in my opinion, those aspects about her listed above were meant to pander to a certain part of the fanbase. For some people, that's all they care about. For other people, that turns them off of a character. For other people, that's just another part of her character but they're more interested in her personality and role in the story. I don't see why it's an issue. There are plenty of interesting characters with cute designs or falling in certain character archetypes solely for the reason of pandering to a certain crowd to get them to buy stuff. That's pandering. Illya could have been the same exact character without the character design or shoved into the imouto archetype. What I like about Illya aren't those parts of her character, but I'm not going to deny they're there.

    And Rin is the best tsundere, so hush your mouth. (Unlike Enzou, I like the tsundere archetype, to a certain limit, and I love Rin)

  16. For the record, while the trope is generally annoying and incredibly played-out (it actually peaked a few years ago) there are tsunderes I like, and have said so. You just need an incredibly good writer of characters (like Adachi Mitsuru) behind them.

  17. s

    I'm not familiar with the base material, though I did watch Fate Zero. So, besides this episode being a fantastic eyefest:

    1) I really love the way they use the sfx of "concrete" crumbling. It really gives detail on an audible level to the magnitude of impact of attacks. I noticed it right from the first episode and I''m convinced they're gonna milk it for all its worth.

    2) So saber can blast a hole in berserker's chest clean at point blank range, but a mega-arrow fired at mach 1+ with the visual payload of a mini-pocket nuke doesn''t leave a scratch? based on all the fights shown so far archer feels last tier for all his all-rounder abilities.

  18. N

    Well, he does seem to have done SOME damage seeing as Illya decided to retreat. Did he just regenerate before the smoke cleared or was damage internal or something is unknown, but I doubt that a regular servant would get away from that explosion unscathed.

  19. S

    I understand that was a change from the VN (in which Saber's attack didn't take place and the damage was inflicted by Archer). Wonder if they considered the implications of the change or simply went for a "eh, whatever, this way it's cooler" approach.

  20. d

    I am of the interpretation what Nayrael suggested: Complete regeneration.

    Either way, the attack by Saber didn't trouble Illya at all, but Archer's did — even if only for the idea that Illya could be annihilated at any time and her servant is powerless to stop it.

  21. b

    Why doesn't Archer just snipe the shit out of the little girl? They talk about how the easiest thing to do is just to kill the masters last episode and then precede to ignore that by going after Berserker. On top of that they do so after talking about how amazing Berserker is! But then, weirdly, Saber beats him (until he resurrects)? Rin said earlier he could take on six servants! Man that fight was amazing, but I was annoyed how the show didn't follow its own internal logic.

  22. A

    The implication is that Archer can sense enemy servants, but not enemy masters, which is a very flimsy excuse considering Archer's special attack seems to have the area of effect of a freaking tactical nuke, and Rin could've just whispered Illya's coordinates anyways.

    There are a whole bunch of scenarios and explanations in which Illya could avoid detection altogether, but you can tell F/Z would've dealt with this in a much more convincing manner.

  23. T

    Is there a spoiler tag function on Lostinanime?

  24. Sadly Blogger offers no such option for the comments field. As such, I have to err on the side of caution in terms of spoilers (like deleting two comments today which contained the same one) and assume readers have no fore-knowledge of the source material.

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