I honestly didn’t expect a whole lot to change with UBW simply because three months have passed – this is very much one contiguous series, just as the split cours of Fate/Zero were. I like what I always liked – the production values are simply stunning, and most of the material involving the servants tend to be strong. And the same stuff makes me groan – namely, the quality of any F/s n episode is inversely proportional to the amount of TsundeRin it contains.
Given all that, it’s no surprise that I liked the first half of this ep a whole lot better than the second (including preferring the new OP to the new ED). The ship has pretty much sailed on my ever buying into a Rin-Shirou relationship so those developments were largely wasted on me (never mind the textbook tsundere routine) but the “betrayal” by Archer in the A-part was excellently handled. And I like Grumpy-sensei a lot – he’s easily my favorite of the masters this go-around.
Why is it that I’m reminded of a certain Police song every time Caster gets up to her machinations? Indeed, things are complicated – and the situation involving Archer is a complicated one for a number of reasons. As a blogger, I don’t know if it’s safe to talk about “that” yet – I mean, it seems pretty obvious to me but that may be because I already knew. I suppose until anything is explicitly acknowledged on-screen it’s best to assume folks don’t know it, but it does make talking about what Archer did this episode a lot more difficult. Suffice to say I hope everyone has figured out enough about Archer by now to know that there’s more to what he got up to with Caster than meets the eye, and that’s so obvious I don’t think it can be considered a spoiler by any but the most obtuse observer. It’s just the kind of guy he is.
I must confess, in the end, I’ m still finding UBW harder to consistently engage with than F/Z. It just seems to me that the commitment to character was deeper – the cast was so much more fleshed out, and we didn’t have these interminable stretches between appearances by characters that are actually interesting. It’s not really UBW‘s fault – it’s not trying to do what Fate/Zero did, and it’s much more tightly constrained (though I would argue by choice, to a major degree) structurally than F/Z. In the end I think Zero was simply better suited to be engaging in anime form, most especially for those not obsessively immersed in the mythology. But at least the visuals are still off the charts…