Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 09

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If one is going to watch UBW, rolling with whatever you get is just part of the deal.

You know the drill by now, so nothing about my take on this episode is likely to surprise anybody.  It’s pretty damn frustrating when a show what can be as good as Unlimited Blade Works can be can also be as banal and pedestrian as it sometimes is.  This week wasn’t the absolute nadir, certainly, but it was pretty damn mediocre stuff.  Episodes like #7 are like the great golf shot you hit on the 18th hole while shooting 115 – they convince you that it’s really possible, and that next round will definitely be better.

The problem with all that, then, is when you step up to the first tee a week later and pull-hook a drive 40 yards offline into the lake.  This episode is more like a 120 yard pop-up in the heavy rough, at least.  For me the fate of “Fate” in this incarnation is almost always determined by what course it’s playing.  If it focuses on the ethical and moral complexities of the Grail War, it works – if it tries to be a comedy, it sinks.  If the camera is mostly on the Servants it soars – if it focuses on the Masters generally and the more annoying cast members specifically, it crashes.  I think, as a rule, the percentage of time it spends inside the school walls is inversely related to the quality of the episode (with last week’s being an exception to a slight degree).

So there you have it.  I don’t like Rin much – I don’t find her funny, I find her generally unpleasant and pandery, and the degree to which she’s a calculated exercise in marketing is a turn-off.  Anytime Fuji-nee is involved is an ordeal.  Likewise Shinji, though last week’s episode was by far the more egregious example compared to this.  When all three of them are featured an episode is in trouble.  That’s compounded by the fact that remarkably little progression occurred in the story.  Shirou proved Issei wasn’t a master by stripping him (which didn’t really work as a gag, but at least it moved the plot) but apart from that, there was pretty much nothing of real consequence.  Aside from Issei being in the clear and Shinji falling under Kotomine’s sway (and one brief moment outside Sakura’s house), you could start next week’s episode right after #8 ended and I don’t believe you’d think for a moment you’d missed anything,

As long as I’m ranting (and let’s face it, there’s not much to talk about as far as the episode itself goes unless you’re a big fan of hearing Rin say “Caster no Master”) let’s talk about Saber.  She’s a funny case, because Saber is the one character that straddles both sides of the divide – she can be part of the good “Fate”, and equally part of the bad.  It irks me to see her pimped out with moe antics and reduced to just another Type-Moon waifu candidate, because she can be so much more. Of course making King Arthur into a cute blond girl is a calculated move to begin with, but even stipulating to that, Saber can sometimes be a very sober and dignified presence.  She’s not a great character but she can be a very good one, and deserves a lot better than the kind of treatment she gets in episodes like this one.

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  1. R

    Man, that Issei strip search just had me rolling my eyes.

    It irks me to see her (Saber) pimped out with moe antics and reduced to just another Type-Moon waifu candidate,

    Interestingly, this was one aspect of the Studio Deen Fate which some fans say was one of the reasons why Saber had a very different characterization in Fate Zero (more business-like). Now, since UBW is supposed to serve as a direct sequel to F/Z, I think they have to explain a bit why Saber has a shift to a more relaxed personality this time around.

  2. S

    Think about the difference between not only the difference in her master but also her situation… Don't you think after all the stress in Saber's life it would be nice to relax once in a while now that she actually can… Ntm she revealed her warriors side when she was talking down to Archer going as far as to draw her blade…

  3. R

    Don't you think after all the stress in Saber's life it would be nice to relax once in a while now that she actually can

    That's exactly what I am looking for here, why would she adopt that view this time around. Note that in F/Z, while she does get dragged around by Irisviel in some of her little escapades, Saber still maintained her more serious attitude. So it would be interesting to know why she became more open this time around (which would serve as a nice bridge between her character in F/Z and here).

  4. S

    Okay so apparently there were spoilers or perhaps it was more than that but anyways Saber practically served as the sickly Irisviel's knight being such she was in mock battle mode just about all time while with Shirou that is just not the case, she's also had to adjust to Shriou's childish stubbornness.

  5. R

    UBW is not a direct sequel to Fate/Zero.
    Both Ufotable and Kinoko Nasu stated that the anime is being produced as independently and possible. You can find translated interviews at Siliconera.

  6. R

    ^Huh? How can you not say that this is a direct sequel when it practically alludes to F/Z every now and then?

  7. D

    From what I get from this series, it does feel Nasu is trying to be as original as possible, and I've read the interviews. However, and I saw this coming when Miura was chosen as director, that it's the series' direction that is making all the references. Honestly, think about the idea that the majority of these have been visual cues and atmosphere so far. No direct quote at any point has referenced Zero outside what was already in the novel.

  8. C

    So the one thing we learned in this episode is… wow, Issei is ripped. As expected of the student council president.

  9. D

    Snore. This was the dullest episode of the series so far. As much as the whole "fight episode"/"talk episode" helped the show keep an even pace, now that the stage is set and the main plot looms on the horizon, I think it's time to drop that dynamic.

  10. s

    Those were some pretty powerful golf metaphors you there; really got me into the "swing of things" (wink wink) while reading this post; were you watching a golf game before this?? Either way i guess i wasnt the only one that thought nothing of real consequence happened in this ep; but my enjoyment threshold is pretty small so i still ended up not finding it a complete waste of time. I do have to say, i find it sort of refreshing that Rin's relationship with Shirou has this edge of sexual tension about it to sort of contrast his relationship with saber while not being overly perverse. My only complaint would be that this ep had to be sooooo "animeish" about the portrayal of rin and shirou's physicality. Yes anime we get it, rin had shirou in an awkward suggestive position; let the scene speak for itself; you dont have to have shirou mention rin's boobs touching his back; it sort of kills the sexual tension you're going for.

  11. S

    Yup, we would have easily done without Shirou being so touchy about Saber sleeping in his room. If he had raised more practical concerns like "yeah, but how do we justify that to Fuji-nee?" I could have understood. But seriously… first, I don't see any reason to have an issue with a hot girl sleeping in your room. You surely can be gentlemanly enough if you want to and it's not like she has some kind of "reputation" problem even if you live in THAT kind of society – she is simply a summoned spirit after all. Second, where's the feeling of urgency? I mean, last night you were nearly killed. TWICE. If after that I was suggested by a bad-ass sword-wielding warrior that she will sleep in my same room and act as a bodyguard I'd just say "thanks miss" and shut the hell up. Heck, I'd suggest it myself. He doesn't seem to be taking this seriously at all – which might be part of the point (him not accepting to be dragged into the logic of the "war") but there's a line between idealism and stupidity.

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