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…