Weekly Digest 6/22/15 – Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki

Fate UBW - 24 -7 Fate UBW - 24 -14 Sidonia 2 - 11 -7 Sidonia 2 - 11 -27

Confirmed : this is turning into one of the strangest harems ever.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 24

Fate UBW - 24 -1 Fate UBW - 24 -2 Fate UBW - 24 -3
Fate UBW - 24 -4 Fate UBW - 24 -5 Fate UBW - 24 -6
Fate UBW - 24 -8 Fate UBW - 24 -9 Fate UBW - 24 -10
Fate UBW - 24 -11 Fate UBW - 24 -12 Fate UBW - 24 -13
Fate UBW - 24 -15 Fate UBW - 24 -16 Fate UBW - 24 -17
Fate UBW - 24 -18 Fate UBW - 24 -19 Fate UBW - 24 -20
Fate UBW - 24 -21 Fate UBW - 24 -22 Fate UBW - 24 -23

I guess when a series delivers up a perfectly competent, attractively produced and well-paced conclusion (though not finale) that wraps up the major storylines in exactly the manner it’s built up to and it still leaves you utterly cold, that’s the final proof that series just doesn’t work for you.

Unlimited Blade Works is a show I can find a lot about which to like, and thoroughly if intermittently enjoy over most of its run as a result.  But endings are another matter.  The disconnect I feel with the entire raison d’ etre of UBW can’t be bandaged over here – no matter how neatly the ending delivers what the series promised it would, if you feel nothing for it you can’t take that ending the way it was intended to be taken.  The experience is hollow for me, and it’s not the series’ fault – it’s just the inevitable final act of the relationship.  It was always going to come to this and there was nothing either of us could do to prevent it.

What we got was classic UBW – a reality marble, a deus ex Archer, a final moment of GAR-moe from Saber.  Lots of catch phrases, and a final comeuppance for Gilgamesh.  Maybe one might have allowed the possibility of a different ending for Saber (and remember, we still have an episode left) but apart from that, this episode was true to form.  If one buys into this – believes the series is really as deep as it thinks it is, believe the heroes are worth really caring about – it would be hard to imagine this ending being dissatisfying in any major way.  But I was just rooting for Gil the whole time, because somehow a nihilistic ending would have felt more satisfying to me than the one we got.

I’m really not sure where ufotable plans to go with the “Epilogue” finale next week – I have some suspicions, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 11

Sidonia 2 - 11 -1 Sidonia 2 - 11 -2 Sidonia 2 - 11 -3
Sidonia 2 - 11 -4 Sidonia 2 - 11 -5 Sidonia 2 - 11 -6
Sidonia 2 - 11 -8 Sidonia 2 - 11 -9 Sidonia 2 - 11 -10
Sidonia 2 - 11 -11 Sidonia 2 - 11 -12 Sidonia 2 - 11 -13
Sidonia 2 - 11 -14 Sidonia 2 - 11 -15 Sidonia 2 - 11 -16
Sidonia 2 - 11 -17 Sidonia 2 - 11 -18 Sidonia 2 - 11 -19
Sidonia 2 - 11 -20 Sidonia 2 - 11 -21 Sidonia 2 - 11 -22
Sidonia 2 - 11 -23 Sidonia 2 - 11 -24 Sidonia 2 - 11 -25
Sidonia 2 - 11 -26 Sidonia 2 - 11 -28 Sidonia 2 - 11 -29

I don’t really have to add much to that.  There have been great episodes of Sidonia no Kishi before, but that might be the first one that just left me speechless from awe.

The really odd thing about this show is the contrast between episodes – so many are so utterly forgettable, yet both seasons are peppered with breathtaking examples of anime science-fiction at its spectacular best.  It’s no small irony that this week’s marvel comes at the end of a highly mediocre run, but that doesn’t diminish it in any way.  From the early scenes of Izana and Commander Whozit on the planet’s surface dealing with creepy Eva-esque giants, this was breathless, thrilling and pretty much perfect.

Lots of good stuff here…  That aforementioned giant, especially when he stuck that tongue through the gap in the rock – loved the way the scenes on the surface were composed.  Then there’s Nagate’s rescue of the survivors and subsequent battle with the Gauna cluster – fantastic stuff, especially when he pulled that katana out.  This is easily Nagate’s most GAR sequence of the series (I fully concur with Izana’s reaction) – he was an absolute beast of a pilot here.  And again, beautifully executed – those slicing sword thrusts and subsequent results, wow…

And then of course we have Benisuzume’s battles with first Tsumugi and then Nagate.  These family squabbles do get ugly, don’t they?  The appearance of Hoshijiro is a splendid shock moment, both for the characters and for us.  And let’s not forget, this is the girl who was indisputably at the head of the pack as far as Nagate was concerned before she sacrificed herself.  That makes the ending of the episode especially gripping – trying to kill Benisuzume in Angel Gauna form is one thing, but what by all appearances (even if it isn’t in reality) is Hoshijiro herself?  That’s a tough hill for poor Nagate to climb.

It sure seems fitting to get a classic episode like this on the day Neon Genesis Evangelion started – June 22, 2015 (the day the events of the premiere took place).  It’s frustrating to know Sidonia can be this good and so rarely is, especially coming at the end of a fairly indifferent season.  But great anime sci-fi like this is so rare that I’ll gladly take it where I can get it.

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10 comments

  1. T

    So like, how did Archer survive getting sword bukakked by Gil? Something about him being able to live an extended period of time without a master maybe? Seemed like an ass pull to me.

  2. C

    He pretended to be dead by switching to spirit mode and staying that way until the very end.

  3. So basically an asspull.

  4. C

    I think it was smart to exploit spirit form and his B-rank independent action to feign death, the asspull is that somehow his "spiritual core" was not destroyed by the seven swords that pierced him.

  5. N

    I originally thought that the Archer that popped up this time was the counter-guardian form of Archer, with the difference that it maintained enough free will to not murder Shiroe and Rin. That would have been an interesting decision and character growth point of Archer.

    But noooo, apparently they went in a boring ass pull-ey direction.

  6. D

    I think what was the VN's lame attempt to foreshadow Archer's return was the Rho Aias moment. Shirou didn't summon the shield when it was used to protect him from Gil's attacks. I mean it's evident to anyone who could have used it then and it is just another asspull to save Shirou's life, but the VN tried real hard to treat it like it was a mystery. Lol

    I for one prefer Shirou using Rho Aias himself, which he did in the UBW movie as well, as I think it's plenty appropriate that if he has learned the Unlimited Blade Works technique there's no reason he shouldn't have the shield either. There's technical bullshit in them being two different powers that pisses off fans, but no one's gonna think twice to the shield being a weapon in stock without being told.

  7. R

    That little final spat between Gilgamesh and Shirou was actually hilarious. That's why I love Gil 😀

    While I don't like that deus ex Archer bit (the series has a really nasty habit of destroying its own narrative rules with these), I do like that final scene with him sporting Shirou's hairstyle. Could have been a lot more poignant if only the series had been able to put a lot more substance behind it.

  8. D

    As someone who has been giving UBW guff ever since ep 2, I think I might enjoy the finale. I like SOL style endings because I like seeing the characters in states of relief. I know ep 12 was something like that for the first half, but that was so out of place I couldn't appreciate it.

    As for Sidonia, I've been pretty hype with eps 10 and 11. Sidonia needs to be this to stay great. I really believe eps 5-9 were whatever they were for fillers sake and not harem romance since I think we have a long way to go before Nagate is over Hoshijiro.

  9. Z

    I have read the original series like 6 years ago, and even there writing quality was never being Nasu's forte. However, he could create interesting characters and lore at times, and there are some cool narrative (and game-y) experience which sadly did not really works for animation series.

    I think even if people enjoy Fate series as a whole (and have no problem with Rin), there are still some technical problems which affect this episode (and other episodes in general): Too many talking in battle where they should have still moving, removal of too many monologue (I prefer that compared to Shirou self preaching which the director choose most often) and other poor pacing in general. Hearing most of the best of Fate BGM remixes in one episode is the biggest saving grace in this episode for me.

    P.S Still would not reduce the deus ex archer bit, but if you look closely he was not stabbed by several weapons when archer attacked him before, only one directly pierce him while the other are near miss/near hit.

  10. E

    Yep, probably the best Sidonia episode thus far. Best way to enjoy Sidonia is when it's freaking me out. I hope Izana breaks up Nagate's happy reunion, she could really use a bit of time in the spotlight.

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