「冬の日、願いの形」 (Fuyu no Hi, Negai no Katachi)
“Winter Days, the Form Wishes Take”
It was good to see interesting discussion in last week’s comments section, with both detractors and apologists coming out to speak their mind about Gilgamesh, the world’s oldest bully. How much you end up liking him is, I suppose, mostly a matter of taste and personal moral compass, but in this episode Gilgamesh attempts to appeal again by brutalising Illya’s corpse (to extract her heart, which I didn’t remember as being so blinged out). I’ll leave the assignment of points for that trick as an exercise for the reader.
On a scale of 1 to Shinji, Gilgamesh would be a π
Of course, no matter what Gilgamesh does this week, he’s never going to look all that bad. Because, in case you forgot he was still supposed to be around, here’s Shinji!
Really, Shinji is a class act. Why else would Gil keep him around? Not even Gil’s wealth can buy a better PR manager. Shinji’s like the inverse of the Tzadikim Nistarim of Jewish mysticism—36 righteous individuals who justify the world’s continued existence. Shinji makes the rest of the human race look good simply by being. Sure, he’s got all sorts of Freudian excuses for why he got the way he is and is ultimately a pitiable wretch, but deep down we’re all thinking: ‘I am glad I am not Shinji’.
Throw the dog a bone
Also appearing after a hiatus this episode is Lancer, who proves to be both comparatively more amicable and decidedly cooler. Lancer really does need more love in the Fate franchise, with story Cú Chulainn being the definitive Celtic myth, but alas he doesn’t seem to get a lot of respect in Fuyuki, Japan. The projected fight with Archer, though, should give Lancer a proper chance to show off, and every Servant in Fate needs to get at least one of those. At this point in the visual novel I was really hoping for Lancer to wipe Archer’s smirk off his face, because he was getting just a bit too smarmy for his own good. Since their initial duel in the prologue was never concluded, this should be the opportunity to settle the score. Something to look forward to next week.
The Lancer vs Archer matchup is delayed for next week because we needed to spend the rest of the episode talking. Whether it be pleasantly talking in the twilight, talking against pretty backdrops, or talking in the rain, Unlimited Blade Works has it all! To be fair, they were all about fairly important topics. In particular, Rin was taking issue with Shirou’s lack of self again. In a way, her rant, and Fate/stay night in general, is a deconstruction of the entire ‘hero complex’ we see often in fantasy fiction, in particular the popular shounen fare from which FSN is derived. Sure, the will to survive is not always the highest calling, but it would be odd, in a realistic context, for a person to have no self-preservation reflex in the slightest, like Shirou. One of the complaints I hear about Shirou’s character is that he goes beyond being brave to being daft, and Unlimited Blade Works explains how he came to be that way. It’s more than a simple clash of values, or even traumatic survivor’s guilt. Shirou, as a personality, is comprised almost entirely of a set of principles, a Superman that does not have much of a Clark Kent. Unlimited Blade Works will go further to explore how healthy that is, in the future.
If I was Rin, though, I would have blasted Shirou all the same. There’s only so many times you can try bail your man from certain death manufactured by his own stubbornness before you’re excused for getting pissed off. Not even the Protagonist Smile would have saved him.
Next week, not only do Lancer and Archer have to get to fighting, we’re also going to go back to Caster, who managed no appearance this week other than in another sympathetic flashback (and an interesting reading of the Medea story). Is she still the main antagonist these days? Hard to tell. But Rin apparently has a trump card for defeating Caster. But of course, she can’t tell us what it is because any plan once explained is doomed to fail. It’s a rule.
Speaking of Rin, trump cards, and things unexplained, here’s a poser: the pendant left for Rin by her father was supposed to be unique. Yet Archer had one, and Shirou had one. On that note, the story moves into full spoiler territory, so again a gentle reminder to all readers: Please mark all spoilers, as usual. Thanks in advance. Also, leave the preview alone. Don’t click on that image link. Don’t look at it. Don’t draw attention to it. It really can mean anything.
(Don’t think about pink elephants.)
Full-length images: 30.