Weekly Digest 5/23/15 – Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Sidonia 2 - 07 -15 Sidonia 2 - 07 -18 Fate UBW - 20 -8 Fate UBW - 20 -21

I’ve heard of self-loathing, but this is ridiculous.

Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 07

Sidonia 2 - 07 -1 Sidonia 2 - 07 -2 Sidonia 2 - 07 -3
Sidonia 2 - 07 -4 Sidonia 2 - 07 -5 Sidonia 2 - 07 -6
Sidonia 2 - 07 -7 Sidonia 2 - 07 -8 Sidonia 2 - 07 -9
Sidonia 2 - 07 -10 Sidonia 2 - 07 -11 Sidonia 2 - 07 -12
Sidonia 2 - 07 -13 Sidonia 2 - 07 -14 Sidonia 2 - 07 -16
Sidonia 2 - 07 -17 Sidonia 2 - 07 -19 Sidonia 2 - 07 -20
Sidonia 2 - 07 -21 Sidonia 2 - 07 -22 Sidonia 2 - 07 -23

For a Sidonia episode with this much comedy in it, this week’s effort was surprisingly good.  In fact I’d wager to say it was about the best yet in terms of humor, though parts of it were still awkward as hell.

This was a funny (in the other sense) sort of episode in that it had some big-time set pieces and lots of dying interspersed with the slice of life stuff – in my experience Sidonia eps tends to run mostly one or the other.  This graviton cannon escapade is only the latest ill-advised adventure the Sidonia bigwigs have gotten messed up in, but it seems to have the potential to be the worst.  A weapon so disastrously unpredictable even the megalomaniacal nutjob genius Ochiai couldn’t perfect it?  Yeah, I want one of those – especially in the hands of Kobayashi, who seems to have gone pretty far around the bend herself.  The “test” was a success insofar as it blew a hole in the dwarf planet, but that almost destroying Sidonia thing was a nasty complication.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose – and if you were to sum up the plot of Sidonia no Kishi in one sentence, you could do a lot worse than that one.  Meanwhile, there plenty of the situation comedy that’s normally good only for groans, but some of it actually kind of worked.  All the scenes with Tsumugi in Nagate and Izana’s apartment are so utterly absurd that they’ve developed a kind of comic charm, and the scene with Samari trying to Mrs. Robinson Nagate in the izakaya (“Nagate-kun, I want to… photosynthesize.”) was almost as ridiculously amusing (and gave us the rare anime spectacle of a minor shown drinking alcohol).  I barely remember Samari to be honest – highly distinct characters are hardly this author’s strong suit – but I sure didn’t remember her being that hot for Nagate.

The line forms behind Izana anyway, it seems to me.  And now that her (yes, we can settle on “her” now) body has made her gender choice for her, there’s really nothing standing in this couple’s way now.  Poor Izana – she illegally hacked her flight suit to try and hide her new rack, and got ejected for it (and poor Yuhata tweaked her own uniform to try and pull off the opposite illusion).  And since everything that’s said in the bath of their new apartment can be heard everywhere in the apartment – what’s up with that? – Nagate now knows the truth.  There’s the little matter of Lem, where things appear to have taken a turn for the apocalyptic, to keep them busy for now.  But I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t some reckoning between Izana and Nagate pretty soon.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 20

Fate UBW - 20 -1 Fate UBW - 20 -2 Fate UBW - 20 -3
Fate UBW - 20 -4 Fate UBW - 20 -5 Fate UBW - 20 -6
Fate UBW - 20 -7 Fate UBW - 20 -9 Fate UBW - 20 -10
Fate UBW - 20 -11 Fate UBW - 20 -12 Fate UBW - 20 -13
Fate UBW - 20 -14 Fate UBW - 20 -15 Fate UBW - 20 -16
Fate UBW - 20 -17 Fate UBW - 20 -18 Fate UBW - 20 -19
Fate UBW - 20 -20 Fate UBW - 20 -22 Fate UBW - 20 -23

This was a problematic episode of Unlimited Blade Works for me, for a number of reasons.  First off, it’s so dependent on in-depth knowledge of the source material that it’s unable to support its own weight.  Second, it’s centered around what I consider a hollow and false premise – its interpretation of Emiya Kiritsugu’s life and death.  And third, to be honest it’s self-important to the point of unintentional self-parody.  Oh, and it has way too much Shinji.

All of that is why, despite the fact that the material is pretty decently executed and as usual the visuals are splendiferous, this ep is ultimately a miss for me.  And I think it’s symbolic too, of the fact that for a viewer like me this is really as far as Fate can go.  Without being someone who both adores and encyclopediacally knows the material, as well as someone why buys that the premise is both valid and as deep as the writing thinks it is, it’s hard to get the visceral thrill from the moment the events here are clearly designed to impart.  It’s a shame, but I think this is one of those “it is what it is” situations.

Happily, it is still possible to enjoy UBW strictly on a superficial level.  The battle choreography and animation are great, and the backgrounds some of the best around (an underrated component of ufotable productions).  Lancer’s twice-over resurrections to save Rin were a bit silly, but fun – once again, a Lancer stands out as an unsung hero in a Fate cast.  And it’s always fun to see bad stuff happen to Kirei, Fate’s ultimate bad penny.  As for the main kerfuffle between Archer and Shirou, it admirably sells what UBW is offering as its main thematic product – it just so happens that I’m not all that keen to buy it.  But I can’t fault the sales pitch – it’s about as good as one could do with the source materials.

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24 comments

  1. S

    What I don't understand is also how Shinji keeps being treated as some comic relief character. He threatens to rape the heroine and gets hilariously punched across the room. He threatens to rape her AGAIN, and he gets punctured with a spear so he can run away cowardly stumbling in a funny way. I mean, this is supposed to be a war to the death, and Rin never had too many illusions about that, while Lancer almost killed Shirou just because he was ordered too. How did he not just decapitate Shinji swiftly as soon as he had the occasion is beyond me, and I don't understand how should I buy that he's this sort of evil but fundamentally ineffectual imbecile. He's been ineffectual out of sheer luck until now (and even then, he might have raped the girl that was mentioned disappeared at the beginning of the series, so yeah).

  2. R

    I don't get it. Considering that Shirou supposedly stayed with Kiritsugu for five whole years and learned magic from him, why aren't we being shown more scenes from those five years, instead of just the moment he saved Shirou replayed over and over again? I mean, I understand that that moment would be pivotal for Sirou's (and Archer's) life, but surely those five years with Kiri would have exerted a lot more influence on Shirou developing his ideals than just that moment alone.

  3. d

    Well, the thing is that moment (and Kiritsugu's death) were literally the ones who shaped Shirou as a fake. He was literally void when he was found by Kiritsugu, his heart died ahead of his body, so he clinged to the very first thing he saw thinking it would make him happy (that was Kiritsugu's smile while saving him).

    Those five years probably helped to nurtrure it thanks to his admiration growing, but that two scenes are the very curse that created the whole distortion that Archer talks about.

  4. R

    Like I said, I am well aware of the impact of that moment. But, It's not as if Shirou suddenly went on to go "I want to be a hero of justice like this man" right then and there, because it is unlikely that he knows anything about Kiri at that moment. As you have said yourself, those five years probably nurtured that growing ideal within Shirou. And this is a narrative void that the series could have filled in order to build that5 conflict in ideology between him and Archer, but sadly does not.

    This one is a good example of what Enzo is talking about in that it blindly assume that each and every viewer already has encyclopedic knowledge of the Fate franchise, leaving behind those who are new to the series. What more, UBW does not encourage new viewers to watch Zero to know more about the man that would shape Shirou's ideals here, and instead make that one an obligatory chore.

  5. b

    I know people who haven't read the visual novel and thought this was the best episode of the cour and had no trouble understanding the key concepts, they watched Fate/Zero though.

    The Kiritsugu Shirou knew isn't the same one as Fate/Zero and in this route Shirou doesn't know the things he did during the previous war but that isn't relevant in this route. What matters right now is what Shirou based his ideals on, that being becoming hero of justice, which was what Kiritsugu wanted to be but failed.

    I don't believe you need any sort of additional knowledge to get what happened in this episode. Even VN readers had little to no information on Kiritsugu when they first read this confrontation, people who watched Fate/Zero have advantage on that.
    Like I said in the previous paragraph, it only matters what Shirou took from Kiritsugu to become the sort of person he is, not Kiritsugu himself or his past actions.

    "As you have said yourself, those five years probably nurtured that growing ideal within Shirou. And this is a narrative void that the series could have filled in order to build that5 conflict in ideology between him and Archer, but sadly does not."

    You need to rewatch episode 1, Shirou has a lengthily monologue on how he saw people trying to save others in the fire but all dying in the process and his desire of not wanting to see that again, wishing everyone to be happy. There is a flashback on Kiritsugu telling him you can't save everyone and young Shirou disagreeing.
    Taiga also talked about how Shirou was as a kid, always helping everyone in need to the point of making her worry of his eagerness. We got the flashback from Fate/Zero of Shirou saying to leave his dream to him. We also learnt in the first cour that Kiritsugu just trained him in the dojo and never taught much to Shirou besides a half-assed lesson on projection because Kiritsugu didn't want Shirou to be a mage when Rin complained Shirou lacks the most fundamental basics on magic.
    What else do you need to fill that 'narrative void'?

  6. G

    Yes the babble of a thesis for the season has me close to the point of dropping it! How can two people talk endlessly while in a life and depth battle !

    Saber has become like eye candy just standing there ! Even the situation with Rin is asburd in my book!

    I had high hopes for this cour UBW ( first cour ) was good. Even this cour started how great and even endured the blah blah for awhile but now it is noise to me ! Whats the use if it goes over your head ! There are so many other animes following the mangas and doing a better job!

    I read somewhere ( cant verify ) that didt have enough source material to finish this so we get all this useleess filler ! I am so far into this and want to drop?? It has become a chore to watch!

    A grade I am using this season is does the anime entertain me! Even it's so bad you still enjoy it. Dont give us something so clincal and boring!

    When I post on the forums about how boring this season is the fanbase is like rabid! It's just makes me sad saying I like some of it but the rest is garbarge!

  7. S

    "I read somewhere ( cant verify ) that didt have enough source material to finish this so we get all this useleess filler ! I am so far into this and want to drop?? It has become a chore to watch!"

    Well, it's mostly that the story isn't very long so two seasons require them to drag it out. But I also understand most of this dialogue was in the actual VN as well. Of course a VN has no real action scenes – just descriptions of what's happening and the occasional flash/sound – so it's bound to be verbose in those parts like an anime can avoid being.

  8. N

    "Yes the babble of a thesis for the season has me close to the point of dropping it! How can two people talk endlessly while in a life and depth battle !"

    Because Archer wants to break Shirou's spirit and Shirou wants to disprove Archer. Just killing the other isn't enough to them.

    "I read somewhere ( cant verify ) that didt have enough source material to finish this so we get all this useleess filler ! I am so far into this and want to drop?? It has become a chore to watch!"

    There is more than enough source material and the only AO content here is the one that replaces scenes that wouldn't work in the Anime format.

  9. d

    After seeing your own opinion about Kiritsugu while Zero was airing, I always thought that you Enzo would probably like more how the whole Shirou ideals thing shapes in the next and last route. Now I just confirmed it.

    I also think that having Zero before maybe hurts UBW conclusion to "strive for ideals because of they encompass an aesthetic that ultimately makes them worthwhile" even if everything could definitely end totally wrong, because in Kiritsugu we have seen directly how ugly that road can be. Still, Shirou's approach to the ideals is always shown to be far more pure than Kiritsugu's utilitarian one, as the whole "killing one to save many" is not really his way from the start as it was with his foster father, as like Archer said he was actually trying to save everyone in his sight with all his might even if at the end he had to devolve to such a thing.

  10. S

    But the synthesis the comes out of it is pretty discouraging. Shirou's story is all about how pure, unadulterated idealism in means and ends is naive; and Kiritsugu's how idealism in ends but not means becomes wretched. The only legitimate conclusion becomes that you shouldn't be idealistic at all and just mind your fucking business… or maybe just that the Emiya family has amazingly persistent bad luck and a marked tendency to fuck up everything they touch.

  11. d

    That "Emiya is cursed" is something I expect that it will be shown here too.

  12. A

    I noticed this before, back when Rin was fighting Caster using Chinese Kenpo (and way back at Saber vs Kuzuki-sensei, to a lesser extent), but this show can be surprisingly bad at ordinary fight choreography.

    I know two people dual wielding is sort of a tricky concept to animate, so I'm not really mad at ufotable. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I like it better when it's two servants fighting and they can be flashy and creative with their exchanges. As it is now, Shirou vs Archer was actually done better in the movie, but maybe the next episode will make up for the downright criminal lack of the Emiya theme.

  13. Just curious – is anyone still watching SIdonia?

  14. c

    Still Watching – The number of Sidonia viewers are certainly fewer than the other franchise's in this Weekly Digest.

  15. D

    Lol yes. But what do you expect when you group Sidonia and F/sn in the same post? I for one like Sidonia much more than F/sn, but the most recent episodes haven't left much to talk about besides harem antics. If Samari and Nagate did fuck to just get it out of their systems though I would have loved it.

  16. g

    Yes, but it's becoming more annoying and a chore than anything. I even could stand lack of distinctive and interesting characters (especially MC), even if it has situated the anime on mediocre level, but they had to go there and add all this harem BS.

    Now, not only I have to watch MC, who is less intelligent than mix of frozen vegetables in my freezer and has an emotional and spiritual life on an amoeba's level but that all women are hot for him for some reason. I guess it's because he is such a smooth talker… Can you believe we've watched till now 19 episodes with a MC, who not even once has said anything important or interesting?

    And their clumsy attempts of being funny.Ugh… Actually, it's so embarrassingly bad it has started to be hilarious.

    Well, now you may wonder why I'm even watching. Two reasons: lack hard sf anime overall in present day and despite everything I said, I still like many elements, except characters – both visually and by by characterisation they're not impressive. And as I said it's the reason for lowering my rating for the anime.

  17. M

    The problem with Sidonia is Netflix has the rights (at least in the US) and they aren't posting it until the full season is over, so that's when I'll be watching it. With UBW being on Crunchyroll there's just way more people following along episode to episode.

  18. E

    I'm watching, but Sundays are so packed I haven't been able to watch the episode yet…

  19. Z

    I'm watching but not really enjoying. The flaws are far outweighing any positives, and even then the serious part of the story is becoming quite rote. It's an insult to sci-fi.

  20. C

    So no more Seraph? Well, I don't really blame ya.

  21. It's not a firm drop, but it's on the back burner.

  22. A

    I did enjoy the fight, quite a bit, but I'll be damned if the monologues didn't put me off. The series has some outstanding visuals, but that whole episode was wayy too self indulgent, in an oddly literal sense.

    I'm really not sure what commentary the writers intend to make on the human condition, but whatever it is, I'm pretty sure I'd disagree.

  23. T

    Well who do people want to win the fight? The idealistic Shirou or the realist Archer?

  24. I keep hoping F/Z Rider (or at least F/s n Assassin) will waltz in and kick both their asses.

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