“II. lost butterfly”

Before Nasu Kinoko wrote Fate/Stay Night, he wrote Tsukihime. In that visual novel, a significant portion of it was spent on the protagonist being confined to bed, dreaming about how someone who may or may not be him him may or may not be sneaking out at night to possibly kill things that may or may not be people. That is, not very much happens and when things do happen we couldn’t be sure it was happening. Fun. This seems to be the way that Nasu ‘Unnecessarily Complicated’ Kinoko likes to write, because when he got around to writing Heaven’s Feel he basically did the same thing again. The second act of Heaven’s Feel was slow by design. This works in text — our protagonist needs time to sink into paranoia and wrestle with philosophy, plus it’s easy for readers to blast through large chunks of text very quickly — but it probably wouldn’t play well on film. Thus lost butterfly does things decidedly differently. It de-emphasises the ‘Emiya Shirou contemplates his navel’ segments (while adding extra imagery), and heavily hypes the fights. The end reasult is that the script is a bit choppy but there’s a lot more there to distract us from noticing. In the visual novel, Berserker vs Saber Alter was a simple one-sided stomp because the dark side gives you infinite mana. In the movie it’s still a stomp, but whoa! Whoa! Whoa! If the only thing you remember about lost butterfly is pretty purple explosions I honestly don’t blame you. Say what you want about the Fate franchise, but it’s definitely got the prettiest magical kabooms in the business. Unfortunately, though the shiny doesn’t really contribute much in terms of substance. As far as the plot is concerned there is only one central takeaway from these 2 hours of anime. This is the part of the story where Sakura eats everybody.

In the various Type Moon popularity polls Sakura consistently placed behind the heroine of the other two F/SN routes, Saber and Rin. It’s easy to understand why. Saber and Rin are, for the most part, purely likeable characters. This is not just on a subjective level; in the context of the story they are there to be liked without controversy or reservation. I mean, they’re the good guys. Saber is an actual knight in shining armour, and even when she turns heel her version of evil is sexy. As for Rin, she’s always been positively swashbuckling. Even in Heaven’s Feel, Sakura’s route, Rin’s a big damn hero. In contrast, Sakura’s not really one of the good guys. Less time is spent making us like her than making us feel sorry for her. Sakura’s a big woobie. She suffers the most horrific abuse. She has the Little Sisters vision from Bioshock. We have Shinji in close proximity for us to freely hate. But by Sakura’s own admission, she’s not a good person. Just going by cardinal sins, she checks of lust, envy, and gluttony right of the bat. And let’s not forget the fact that she’s an actual eldritch abomination who’s going to kill everything.

I think it’s telling that both Fate/ stay night and Saya no Uta were written at around the same time. You do you, Japan.

Despite all the antipathy we may feel towards Zouken (who’s one thing I didn’t need ufotable to visually spice), I still must begrudgingly admit that killing Sakura is the right call. It’s one unfortunate purple girl weighed against the extinction of all mankind, and The Wrath of Khan taught me long ago how to solve that equation. Killing one to prevent genocide is a rational choice. But this is Emiya Shirou, hero of justice we’re talking about, and he’s never had much use for rationality. This is something from the visual novels that the anime adaptations don’t really engage with properly: Shirou is insane. The ideals he lives by, wishing to save everybody, are impossible, yet they rigidly rule his thinking. So of course he’s not able to do the deed; Shirou is fundamentally incapable to rationalising sacrificing the few to save the many. To do so would break him. What Heaven’s Feel does is push Shirou’s insanity to the limit. In Sakura is someone who’s gone too far to be saved and perhaps for the good of humanity shouldn’t be saved. But he’s going out of his way to save her anyway.

Of course, siding with Matou Sakura, enemy of all mankind isn’t a good look for an aspiring hero of justice. So I guess he’s replacing his old insanity with a new one: that madness we call love. His decision isn’t irrational, per se (‘Just because you’re correct doesn’t mean you’re right!’); he’s just chosen to value Sakura over everything else that lives. Which is… romantic, I guess? I guess it’s good that the two are crazy for each other.




  1. I don’t know, I think your take on Heaven’s Feel whole conflict is a bit too simplistic. The whole point of the situation is that there isn’t really an actual “good” answer, the quandaries of morality and utilitarism are always gray and this is the exact kind of situation where that shows. Show Spoiler ▼

    In the first place, a single person should not be the one to decide such things. Shirou is not god or a judiciary system with the rights for it. A person thinking himself in the right to be judge and executioner of other people is such a vigilante and “I’m the only one in the right” way of thinking that would lead to disaster at one point or another. That’s what the Superhero ending shows in a very not subtle manner.

    At the end of the day, the thing that matters is what Illya says. It’s normal for someone to protect and care for the people he loves. As was already said by the author, UBW presents an answer to the Emiya Shirou’s dilemma and HF shows a practical application of that same answer. By breaking apart in the clash between his borrowed ideals and the feelings he developed, the emotionless Tin Man Emiya Shirou gains a heart and a more normal sense of happiness.

    1. But of course, those are just my own thoughts and what the authorial intents seems to go. The good part of all this is that being such a gray situation makes it perfect for some interesting discussions.

    2. Sure, single person should not decide these things. But in this story, a single person has to. It is one thing to debate good and evil from the comfort of our armchairs, but in the end Shirou still needed to decide whether to kill Sakura or not. The actual outcome of the decision we can only judge in hindsight, but in the moment Shirou still needed to weigh his love for Sakura with the lives that will be loss if she’s allowed to live.

      Also, I personally consider Kotomine evil, so I don’t put much stock in his ideas about morality.

      1. And why he has too? What responsability he actually has? This is also not the Wrath of Khan because there it was a personal sacrifice, not to kill another person. I think it’s that’s a very different line to cross there, a line that not even superheroes like Superman or Batman cross. So it’s very hard to say actually.

        And let’s not enter how Shirou in this exact situation was being played by Zouken, killing Sakura would have actually being even worse and the bad guys would have won. Good and evil is very relative, and even cold logic could usher a disaster.

      2. Kirei might be objectively evil. But part of what makes him such a fascinating character is that some of his points are quite valid. I don’t think they should be wholly dismissed. After all, it’s the classic Kant vs Bentham schools of moral philosophy, only reskinned and with a twist from Nasu. Not to mention killing Sakura to save everyone (as you’ve proposed) still contravenes the ideal we saw him extol in UBW – namely his desire to save absolutely everyone. So we actually have a rather subjective situation as laid out. To most people, killing Sakura at this point would be the logical and moral choice. But Shirou’s emotions mean that he’s viewing this subjectively, to the point where he’s unable to see it that way. And it’s an extremely human thing. Most people would feel similarly conflicted if someone they loved went down such a path, and this development in Heaven’s Feel definitely makes him much more interesting compared to the other routes.

      3. @Shift
        I think you’re conflating the consequences of a choice with the morality of a choice. How any choice works out is something we can only judge with the benefit of hindsight. But in the moment, burdened with what knowledge he had, had his choice to make. Inaction is a valid decision, but still a decision he had to make because he could not longer plead ignorance.

        I largely agree. My beef with Kotomine is that in the VN all of his internal monologue is him (or the author) making excuses for his evil and I didn’t find his story very sympathetic, is all. As for Shirou, I think that he is able to appreciate the calculus (in the VN he can make the choice for a Bad End). The sheer body count is hard to deny. While it is entirely human to be unable to murder your love in cold blood, I still want to emphasise the weight of that choice. Sakura is an enemy of humanity, quite literally; if Archer had not died earlier he would definitely have had to kill her in his role as a Counter Guardian. There is real harm that Sakura has done and will do, and Shirou needed to accept that as well.

  2. I wonder which of the game’s endings they are going to adapt for the 3rd movie? And after they finish it, what’s next in store for the Fate Franchise after Grand Oder Anime and movies? Adaptation of Hollow Ataraxia? Strange/Fake? Or maybe the remake of Tsukihime?

    1. @what’s next in store for the Fate Franchise

      I hate to state the blatantly obvious but expect everything. The franchise sells too well in anime form not to do everything. I’m sure Fate fans have a checklist of sorts of what they want to see done, and you’ll see it. Tick it off as and when it arrives lol.

    2. They’re most definetly going with the true ending, but they might include some other endings in the BD/DVD extras (like they did with UBW).

      iirc ufotable was planning an hollow ataraxia anime, depending on how well the Heaven’s Fell movies will do commercially (which is to say, they’re very good at making money so that requirement is already cleared).

      Also iirc, Nasu said he would’ve liked to rewrite the Fate route a bit, so if they ever plan on making an anime out of that they have the perfect excuse to go wild. But nothing confirmed about that, the only title to be actually mentioned some time ago was, as I said, hollow ataraxia.

      For Strange Fake, as much as I’d love an anime adaptation for it, it’s better to let Narita write it and finish it before doing anything. They’re also waiting until it’s over to put its characters in Grand Order, so that’s telling imho.
      Speaking of Grand Order, I do hope that they keep adapting it in good anime series/movies, to have at least a complete Part 1 soon, since it’s honestly too good of a story to miss (thankfully they’re animating two of the best chapters already and setting up another one at least), but the staff can and should be a group of competent people working on it while other projects are worked on (like it’s happening, ufotable is doing HF while others Grand Order).

      I honestly think that some non-Fate works may be animated in the future, but it will take a while. FGO on that regard is very helpful in publicizing other Type-Moon titles with its collaboration, and Nasu is actually teasing a Tsukihime collab., so let’s hope.

      But yeah, tl;dr afaik only hollow ataraxia was actually mentioned, a couple of years ago, as another Fate project ufotable may be interested in, and it makes sense so let’s hope for more news after Spring Song.

  3. I’ve played the F/SN visual novel. Sadly, I don’t remember the Fate route as the Heaven’s Feel route has always been more memorable for me. (And the amount of “personal” time I had with this route.)

    That said, I’ve only watched Tsukihime by J.C.Staff and I heard it wasn’t a faithful adaptation. But even then, it destroyed my interests for the series.

  4. Fate/Stay Night: Morality vs Love

    Show Spoiler ▼

    I think this is an incredibly powerful movie. There are two events in the film that had me very emotional conflicted and moved.



    I see Sakura as a victim of circumstances and events beyond her control. She’s “an actual eldritch abomination who’s going to kill everything” and has the “cardinal sins” of “lust, envy, and gluttony”. Actually, add anger to the mix-how many times did she try to kill her sister though her subconsciousness? Heck perhaps she even has pride.

    She was given to the Matou family when she was young and was intermediately thrown into the worm pit and is continuously violated, abused, and whatnot. It is the Matou way. So why wouldn’t she eventually turn into what she becomes?


  5. I’m actually like this route more than the others, it’s like anti-thesis of fate/zero, kiritsugu choose to become hero for many while shirou choose to become hero for one-person.

    1. https://randomc.net/image/Fate%20stay%20night/Fate%20stay%20night%20Heavens%20Feel%20-%2002%20-%20Large%20116.jpg
      yeah, i like this route more than others as well. I think Rin would be much happier if Shirou made Sakura happy compared to the unlimited blade works route.

      Ironically, only in a world where kiritsugu’s daughter becomes a magical girl, we know dad made the right decision in regards to the 4th grail war.

      And to think, compare to the other routes, Gilgamesh gets killed off so easily. Sakura is too OP. How many servants is Gilgamesh’s soul worth? 10?

      What are these things? Recalled seeing a white version in fate/apocrypha

    2. Besides heroines (Fate/Saber, UBW/Rin, HF/Sakura), each Fate route also decides the direction Shirou’s ideals go – Fate has him sacrificing the few for the good the many, UBW has him in more of a compromise (probably why Shirou seems to be most liked in UBW, IIRC), and HF has him choosing the few at the possible cost of the many.

  6. https://randomc.net/image/Fate%20stay%20night/Fate%20stay%20night%20Heavens%20Feel%20-%2002%20-%20Large%20113.jpg
    I am expecting Shirou to quickly have a baby. Am wondering if Nasu ever imagined what would Shirou’s kid would look like, boy or girl and if she/he has talent in Magecraft, ect.

    And honestly, the only Shirou that deserves my respect is the one that is willing to kill Shinji, for everything he did to Sakura, and there is such a Shirou but…….his world needs a Thanos to snap.

    Sometimes wonder if this Eye is something Rider can see or it is somewhat decorative. The Noble Phantasm’s name stumps me. Wondering if Nasu did proper research on Andromeda and if there is proper reason on why that is included in Rider’s noble phantasm.

    Is this Shirou or is this just Shirou’s hallucination

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

      2. Theoretically, if Rin’s parents are alive then she should be rich, her father is a wealthy land owner, and her Fate/zero version lost all that property because of Kotomine’s bad management skills. In fate/kaleid Rin is so broke that she has to work for a maid.

    1. Ironically, that’s also the definition of most of Ubisoft’s game franchises (Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, them Tom Clancy games)… Or Activision’s Call of Duty franchise… Or 2K Sport’s NBA 2K(XX) games… Or EA’s FIFA games…

      TL;DR: That’s basically the definition of the present-day “Triple-AYYYY” video game industry. (Yearly releases with some form of microtransactions and with minor to no innovations gameplay-wise.)

      Thank God for Jim.

  7. I’ve seen my fair share of yandere anime girls–Yuno Gasai (Mirai Nikki), Kotonoha Katsura (School Days), the anime version of Kaede Fuyou (Shuffle!), Kurumi Tokisaki (Date A Live)…

    But Dark Sakura? She scares the bejeezus out of me.

    And you know what heightened the scare factor when I watched this in the cinema? (*Obligatory “Thank you ODEX” here*) It was the last full show of the evening–late evening, to be precise. By the time the movie was done, it was closing time at the mall–dim lights, closed stores and all. I kinda expected Dark Sakura to appear from a dark corner of the mall in one split second before devouring me. (*shudders*)

    Well, I knew Heaven’s Feel was going to take a dark turn, and this installment delivered–with interest. In a way, can this movie also be an example of “man’s inhumanity to fellow man”? Because I definitely felt that with Shinji. (The same could be said for Zouken if he were an actual person and not a mass of Crest Worms–which does make him one definition of “inhuman.”)

    Looking forward to Part III.


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