「無限の剣製」 (Mugen no Kensei)
“Unlimited Blade Works”
Mmm, Sword of Promised Victory and Emiya in the same episode. That’s what good anime is made from.
Lots of climaxes this week, which is appropriate since our story is drawing to a close. Our heroes seemed on the cusp of defeat, but of course there’s no way they were going to die here. Shirou’s already overcome his internal conflict, and as is standard for stories like these, that is much more important than the physical conflict. In Jungian fashion, once you’ve conquered yourself, defeating the villain is but a formality. That’s what Reality Marbles are all about, really; finding power within yourself. It’s the shounen protagonist schtick given form.
Also, dying with Shinji being your last sight before you go is just a bit too sad. No, regret not being able to uphold Shirou’s ideal all you want, Rin, but at least try to save yourself instead of dying like a chump. You’ve got three Command Seals! Crystallised miracles or whatever etched onto your hand! Instead of wasting them impulsively, can’t you, say, teleport Saber to your side, cut you out, and teleport away? Anything? Bah. I’m always a bit miffed when characters fail to be creative with their incredible superpowers (which is perhaps why one shouldn’t give them many in the first place). Well, at least we now know why Rin didn’t use her Seals when captured at the Einzbern castle. She had read ahead in the script and knew she had to save them for this episode. She got one cool pose out of it, I suppose, but 33% effectiveness is low efficiency, if you ask me.
I guess Saber kinda has it worse. She flies to Shirou’s rescue, manages to perform a hadoken, but is then barred from being useful until she is called on to make things explode as a glorified artillery piece. Yeah, she’s pretty cool while she’s doing it, but if you look back on Unlimited Blade Works as a whole, she sure does do a lot of standing and watching helplessly. And then she goes. I suppose her end was telegraphed with many death flags; it was specifically mentioned she would disappear after one shot previously, Rin’s burnt all her Command Seals and her last scene with Shirou together with ‘we will continue this discussion later’ more or lass mandated death. I guess this really wasn’t the Saber route (and for the record: True Ends > Good Ends).
So, who’s getting all the love if not our heroines? It’s not even Shirou. Bizarrely, it’s red Archer here to steal the show again, who is somehow alive/not dead for Reasons. Shirou’s Reality Marble was, weird causality mechanisms aside, Archer’s first, of course (with Shirou’s being cleaner, and also Japanese instead of Archer’s distractingly English chant), Shirou’s toys were Archer’s (with Shirou’s being less mature; note five petals on Rho Aias instead of seven), Archer gets to save Rin, Archer gets to deliver the final blow on Gilgamesh. And nobody seems surprised at all. Gilgamesh getting devoured by the remnants of the Grail was better set up that the VN, but Archer’s resurrection is still a bit of a deus ex machina from off stage. Hopefully next week’s epilogue clears things up.
For all I ribbed it, this was a good episode. Good fight, pretty light show, the two musical numbers I’ve been looking forward to most since Unlimited Blade Works began (which, while not being the best arrangements I’ve heard of them, carried their scenes sufficiently). It’s what people look for in Fate/stay night, I suppose. The episode started a bit long winded, but Nasu is long winded, and I can’t really blame them for trying to hammer some salient points vigorously.
There seems to be little left for next week, and indeed it calls itself an ‘Epilogue’, which is what I’d expect. There doesn’t seem like much need for a full episode just to wrap things up, and perhaps there isn’t, but if we’re being thorough there certainly can be enough material to fill the space. Many characters, both main and supporting, can do with some more resolution, including Archer, who gets a good scene this week for it but could certainly use an ‘epilogue’ of his own. I’ll save my final thoughts on the series for then.