「理想の末路(こたえ)」 (Risou no Kotae)
“Idealism’s End (The Answer)”
I warned you there would be philosophising. Here it is, raw and uncut. In a series with its fair share of dialogue heavy episodes, this one may well be its most talk-ey to date. Saber had to talk about her regrets (and for the two of you who didn’t know who Saber was, here it is), Archer had to talk about his regrets, and Kotomine had to talk about his evilness. I wasn’t expecting the anime to get fully into the exposition, or I wouldn’t have gone on about it last week and saved on my word count. Needless to say, the episode goes slowly, as the fight telegraphed from the previous episode only barely manages to begin at the end of this one. Well, at least there’s still Shinji.
While our characters all suddenly extolling their motivations may seem a bit droll, especially if you’re familiar with Unlimited Blade Works and have heard it all before, the showdown between Archer and Shirou, both physical and philosophical, is the most important one in the entire story. If the Fate route was about Shirou finding his ideal, then Unlimited Blade Works is about him having to live it, and as such Archer, being Future!Shirou or somesuch, is arguably the main villain. Fate/stay night is more or less Shirou’s coming of age story, and as such the obstacles he face should be reflections of himself (in the same way Darth Vader was Dark Side Luke. Also his father. Spoilers). Shirou the unabashed idealist is having his world view challenged in a test of will, and his fight is not just against Archer, but also doubt. To hammer the point home, Shirou’s magecraft, projection, is about creating swords based on nothing but the idea of a weapon, brought into form by will alone. As you will see later, there too doubt is not allowed. To put it generically, the greatest enemy of the hero is himself, just that in Unlimited Blade Works it’s more literal than usual.
Unfortunately nobody except Saber is going to just wait around while the Emiyas have their little aside. Meanwhile, Rin’s thighs are in danger, having been saved and then rapidly unsaved. Since the Archer = Emiya reveal was so exhaustively telegraphed, here’s another one: Lancer’s master. I suppose we don’t really have many named characters left standing and there’s not enough time to introduce someone new, so here’s Kotomine. For those who have not caught on by now, he’s still alive, and definitely not a good person, though those who have watched Fate/Zero no doubt already know that. Poor Lancer, being stuck with a guy like that. Now you know why there’s so many jokes about his misfortune; he just never catches a break. He gets to be really manly, gets to show off his magical abilities, and he still, pardon the expression, dies like a dog. Not even death in glorious battle. Come on Lancer, this is too sad, even for you.
So Archer resents his posthumous career of visiting exotic locales, killing people of sensitive ethnicity, and posing scenically and wants to commit complicated causal suicide, but Shirou has the power of incredible stubbornness on his side. Meanwhile, Rin’s still a damsel in distress (but not without defiance) because she’s forgotten she still has a command spell to summon Saber with. And where was Gilgamesh supposed to be? A lot has been set up this episode, so next episode will definitely get the ball rolling again. Especially if we’re doing it to the sound of Archer and Shirou’s theme, Emiya, the only battle music of Fate/stay night capable of rivaling Excalibur. Look forward to it.