「コルキスの王女」 (Korukisu no Oujo)
“Princess of Colchis”
Exciting episode this week, because much of its contents did not exist in the original visual novel. There were broad outlines and some implications, but the details as seen here are anime original. They fill in some holes here and there, but also tie Unlimited Blade Works more closely to the greater Fate franchise, which has ballooned since its 2004 debut. References to Fate/Zero! References to hollow ataraxia! Retcons? Maybe. But new fans will appreciate the greater detail, and old fans will take pride in recognising how all the Fate universe is being tied together. It should be a win/win.
The only downside is that the plot does not advance far this week (though Saber has been allowed to sit down, at least). We’re taking a detour from your regularly scheduled programming to provide some back-story for Caster. She’s been a bit of an evil witch so far (yes, I know she doesn’t like being called that), so some insight into her past and her motivations is probably required to elevate her from just a 2D villain. She’s still a Bad Guy who does Bad Things, but her evil has to be understandable.
Hell hath no fury
For those of you who don’t recognise Medea just from her name being casually dropped in an anime, allow me to give a heavily abridged version. Her story varies greatly by the telling, much like all Greek myth, but she is generally associated with Jason, of Argonauts fame. Medea was the niece of Circe, whom you may remember as that one woman who turned men into swine in the Odyssey. Her father, the King of Colchis, sets Jason on a series of tasks before he would give him the Golden Fleece. Medea aids Jason on the promise that he would take her with him and marry her. It all goes well, Jason and Medea are happily married for some years, but eventually Jason runs off with some princess of Corinth, setting Medea on a campaign of revenge during which she did nasty things like poisoning her rival and murdering her own children. Great stuff. Very Greek.
In the Fate universe the legend of Medea differs somewhat—I don’t think she teleported around and shot laserbeams in the original Greek, for starters—but the general theme is: Medea has poor luck with men and ends up killing a lot of people. In the Holy Grail War, Caster’s first master was apparently some pimp who manages to be even more pathetic than his Fourth Grail War predecessor. He goes out of his way to make himself very unlikeable, doing the virgin sacrifices thing, doing the Fullmetal Alchemist thing (spoilers, spoilers), and getting all insecure when Caster’s was bigger than his (as men often do). So Caster kills him with fire, and we don’t feel too bad about it because he was a jerk for every second of his limited screen-time, but one must remember that Caster is still doing basically what he’s doing except more efficiently. The entire murderous spat was essentially over magus pride. Well, at least we know that at least one of the people Caster has killed was not a nice person. Hurray, sympathetic villain!
Gilgamesh is the reason why we can’t have nice things
Meanwhile, back in the present, Rin and Shirou have a plan (or at least a map to stare at in lieu of a plan) and Illya seems to be feeling less homicidal today because she misses Fate/Zero, so it looks like our heroes may have a chance to get their Servants back with the help of a powerful ally. But guess who literally drops out of the sky? If there’s any indication that one is not going to have a good day in the Fate universe, it would be the appearance of Gilgamesh, the other rich blonde jackass who solves all his problems with money. For those of you wondering about the maids he pincushioned, they’re more or less a creation of Fate/hollow ataraxia, though if you watch the magical girl spinoff you’ll see them there too. I was hoping they’d get to be badass before they go (they’re anime maids! They’re all elite warror-assassins!) but, alas, Gilgamesh and his automatic sword dispenser is no less hax after 10 years of downtime. One small victory: they managed to get some of their litres of artistically-pooling homunculus blood on Gil’s shoes. Now he’ll need new shoes. Ha, take that!
It’s seems like we’re going to have that big fight between Gilgamesh and Heracles shown off in the OP already. At least, Illya is now mad, Berserker is always mad, and a fight looks ready to go. It should be a good one next episode, because while Gilgamesh is stupid broken, Heracles was still nominally the first big boss of the Unlimited Blade Works route and the previous, and he’s bloody Heracles. Don’t worry about the preview. I’m sure those don’t hurt as bad as they look.