Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 05

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Now that was more like it.

There’s no question about it – UBW more than most series really needs to stick with what it’s good at.  Leaving behind the LN-style pandering (for the most part) and the overlong stretches of so-so dialogue makes all the difference in the world.  When there’s menace in the air and a focus on the complexities of the Grail War, this show in ufotable’s hands just about can’t not be entertaining – and it definitely was this week.

In addition to the excellent action, there are a few other interesting elements in this episode.  First, I find it hilarious that some people deny that Rin is a tsundere when she literally goes from her “YOU CAN’T HANDLE ALL THIS RIN!” attempts to kill Shirou to panicking because he’s been wounded and inviting him home for tea and blushing.  I mean – how can someone be more literally tsundere than that?

And then there’s Shirou, who – both because of a somewhat better script and because of the presence of Fate/Zero – for me becomes quite an interesting character.  I mean, for me the intriguing part of this series is watching Shirou go about this whole Grail War with a completely 180-degree opposing approach to that of the man he calls his father.  Kiritsugu was the ultimate consequentialist, the ends always justifying the means, and Shirou is constantly acting selflessly – he’s that rare anime character that says he wants to be a hero of justice and actually believes it.  Sure he’s naive as hell, but the intent is genuine.  That contrast is one of the more interesting elements of UBW for me, and of course if F/Z hadn’t filled in Kiritsugu’s character so thoroughly it wouldn’t have the same kind of traction.

The other interesting thing is watching Shirou actually establish himself as a fairly competent mage.  He certainly lacks experience and training, but in watching him it’s increasingly clear he has very sharp instincts in a fight – and not only that, his magic is loaded with untapped potential.  He holds his own better in the fight with Rin than one might expect, and manages to hold off the attacks of Rider long enough for Rin (nah, she’s not a tsundere) to save him.  Yeah he needs saving, but baby steps.  Incidentally, I really miss Ohtsuka Akio, but c’est la vie.  In the end it’s another “Servant B” role, but as the old saying goes, there are no small servants – only small actors…

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  1. w

    Rin is totally a tsundere. What it is interesting about her tsundereness is that it mostly comes from both sides of her (human side and magus) conflicting, but she is totally a tsundere.

    Also, Rider is kinda more important in the last route, but that will be not seen until ufotable makes the movie, sadly. She is not Iskandar (that is unfair really) but she is interesting on her own way when the time comes.

  2. I know all that – I just miss that big goof…

  3. w

    Well, almost everyone does. He is one of the most liked Servants in the franchise for a reason.

  4. R

    That's what I was mentioning a few weeks back. The guy (iskandar) was just downright lovable and F/Z really did well in building his relationship with Waver. And it's kinhda sad that we won't see that same kind of interactions here, since this Rider's role is pretty much predetermined by the VN.'s story.

  5. J

    I think Rider stands out in a show like Fate/Zero even more where almost every other character either is this stiff as a board philosopher or a raving psychopath and then you have this one character and his kind of ordinary guy master who just sort of try to forge their own path amidst all the other honestly kind of boring characters. By comparison this shows cast is so much more lively, flawed and believable as human beings or the mythological heroes they are supposed to represent. I'd also take kind of a naive idealistic hero that is slowly learning the ropes and finding his way if with a degree of stubborn optimism in Shiro than the block of wood that was Kiritsugu in Zero. I'm not super madly in love with this show like some people but man if it isn't a definite improvement over it's predecessor.

  6. h

    Zero!Rider is a such a great and lovable character that I almost think he makes a disservice to the franchise as a whole. He is ultimately a secondary character in the whole thing, but he overshadows almost everyone else with his sheer awesomeness.

  7. M

    @John Hunt What are you talking about?…You realize there are a bunch of people,myself included,that found the discussions between those "philosophers" in F/Z more interesting than ANY conversation we got between Rin & Shirou.. Don't know how you got the idea that F/Z's characters are flawless. They're more mature & not as naive but far from flawless. That's just a preference of yours & others',NOT a fact.

  8. A

    Enzo, when people see you call Rin a tsundere they also see an implication that she is a badly done character because the term "tsundere" is almost always used in a derogatory fashion. Rin has really good reasons for being who she is and I hope that ufotable manages to illustrate that as the series goes onwards.

  9. N

    It is a shame that term Tsundere had started to be seen in a negative light -_-;
    And yeah, she is definitely a tsundere XD

  10. h

    Then the fault is in the people who attach their own values to other people's words. Tsundere is not an inherently negative word. Badly done tsunderes are bad not because they are tsunderes, but because they are bad. Rin is a well crafted character and her tsundere-ness is integral part of that.

    Of course, even a well done tsundere can be annoying to people who just don't like the type. But that is a matter of personal taste only.

  11. For the record, I never said tsundere was implicitly negative, and certainly not in this specific case. Tsundere was done to death, peaking a few years ago, and like most overused tropes most of the examples were bad ones. But there are occasional exceptions.

  12. A

    I know, it's just that you have to take your audience's perspective into account when writing to them, at least to some extent. As an example if I called a work "derivative" most people would view that as a condemnation of the work in question, but there are plenty of derivative works that are also very well executed and that can more than make up for a lack of originality. I think Rin is a Tsundere, but I think she has really good reasons for being one, so I think she is a good character tsundere or not.

  13. A

    Hm… the most tsundere I've seen Rin perform was the scene from last week when she claimed that he didn't kill Shirou on his sleep because "she didn't feel like it", and of course, today's "just make yourself useful" ceasefire handshake. That was straight-out, 100%, just like the template, legitimate tsundere right there.

    Trying to kill Shirou and later protecting him… would also fit the the bill pretty well any day of the week, but it kind of felt like the natural thing to do after he took a bullet for her, to be honest. I won't claim she's not a tsundere anymore, since she's clearly falling hard for him by now, but I don't see it as often as most people do. At least not to label it as her entire character.

    On an unrelated note, the last few lines of the episode were new to me. I loved the irony of it. In a life of failure and tragedy in everything he's done, the one thing Kiritsugu ever did right was being a dad.

    Also, am I the only one who was sad that Mitsuzuri disappeared? She wasn't there that long, but endearing background characters who are just minding their own business are my weakness, and ufotable gave her just enough personality for it to sting when they said it was her.

  14. D

    Regardless of adaptation, these are some of my favourite times in the story, where there's this feeling of mystery and uncertainty going on. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the story as a whole, and all 3 routes are great, but the the build-up is what really grabs me in Fate.

    On a side note, I liked how ufotable updated the whole scene where Rin is trying to kill Shirou, especially her hand gesture when she's firing off her spells. The whole pistol-hand gesture always struck me as kind of dorky in the VN. Overall, the magic parts feel more established and powerful than they did before, and not just because of the awesome special effect.

  15. G

    I think the series creators hate the mage class. In U/Z and the original F/S the mages they chose were both douches (serial killers, mass murderers). Its a shame they did not cloose a heroic good mage like Merlin.

  16. M

    Even Merlin is not cut-clean heroic according to legend, the guy father was a demon. So he is an anti-hero at best.

  17. s

    Ufotable, ufotable , ufotable; they are like one of the few studios i see working on tv anime today that is so meticulous when it comes to their production values. They really give a shit about cinematography, art, and animation when it comes to their works. UBW has not been outstanding in terms of writing and story progression but damn is the artistic penmanship holding it down. Most series can barely keep their production values up past episode 1 and yet ufotable makes it look so easy; they understand that art and animation is essential to story-telling and is almost just as important as the writing as it helps give the writing impact and nuance (like the equivalent to live–action cinematography/filming). Even if this story does not have something pertinent to say (which to some degree it does), the visuals are enough to engage you through the story. Right now, it's the craftsmanship i respect most about UBW.

    I will say tho that one of my gripes about how the narrative is being told is the way it sometimes feels like copy/paste from the VN. Now i know ufotable have made creative decisions to certain scenes but so far it seems like their framework of the series is to make it like the VN, and i have a hunch that's because they dont want to piss off fans. Some fans are not comfortable with the phrase "adapting from one medium to another" and especially after fans disappointment over fate/stay night 2006, it seems like ufotable is being very careful to please them. i wish they would take a risk and adapt the material they way they believe fits the anime medium (unless this is the way the truly feel is the best way to adapt the story; then by all means i guess that's their heart-felt choice) instead of fearing that some fans may outrage because a certain piece of dialogue wasnt said or something wasnt thoroughly explained as if reading a text book or something.

  18. M

    The problem with Fate/Stay Night is that nearly every small detail in the VN has some significance later (that scene where Sakura meet that gold-hair guy? That is gonna be WAY important in the future). It's one of the reason why 2006 anime version was so bad. Since leaving out some scene creats plot-holes.

  19. R

    Rin is like Grade-S tsundere anyone who doesn't think so is so far in denial. And I love her for it.

    Ok I tend to love the tsundere archetype in general, but I know what people mean when they say that most examples are badly done. I think that's more a problem of quantity (which spiked given all the harem LN stuff) since when you've got that big of a sampling pool, you gonna find bad examples.

    That aside, Ufotable is seriously not being fair to competitors. I mean, that animation, those fight scenes, the backgrounds. I'm pretty much ruined for most other series at this rate (at least in terms of production values. Good story telling can always make up for that)

  20. K

    It's not that I don't think Rin is a Tsundere just that I feel she is a very mild case of one.

    Her Tsundereness stems from the fact she doesn't want to admit she cares about and wants to protect Shirou. Even Rin attaching Shirou is because she is mad he doesn't see how dangerous it is.

    Sure she won't admit to this which is a trait of being a Tsundere but I feel there is more to Rin than that.

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