-I am the bone of my sword-
-Steel is my body and fire is my blood-
-I have created over a thousand blades-
-Unaware of Loss-
-Nor aware of Gain-
-Withstood pain to create weapons, waiting for one’s arrival-
-I have no regrets. This is the only path-
-My whole life was UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS-
We’ve arrived at the “final” episode of Unlimited Blade Works, and thus, the real battle begins. Two owners, two “one-trick ponies”, one Faker. Was it able to satisfy me as a reader of the original visual novel? Find out after the jump.
Do you have enough weapons in stock?
Oh boy, I didn’t think Ufotable would be able to do this final battle justice, but holy crap did they manage to do that and more. It’s not exactly like the visual novel, but that’s the visual novel. In terms of the animated medium, I’d say it serves its job sufficently as an animated equivalent.
Especially compared to the previous adaptation of UBW by DEEN. Emiya Shirou actually using his rain of swords? Gilgamesh actually using his Gate of Babylon? Shirou actually cornering Gilgamesh into melee combat by shooting/pulling out different weapons one by one and canceling his gate instead of using Caliburn the whole time? (Seriously, what the hell, DEEN?)
And to top it off, a baller remix of EMIYA being played as it should:
Since the episode’s airing, I’ve seen secondaries, Zerotards, and the like having failed to pay attention to previous episodes and calling Shirou’s victory over Gilgamesh bullshit. This blows my mind, because other than the fact that Shirou outright explains why he can match Gilagmesh during the curbstomp, it’s been established in previous episodes and scenes that:
1) Heroic Spirit EMIYA’s Unlimited Blade Works contains all the weapons (namely swords), he’s seen in his entire life. When this Reality Marble is deployed, EMIYA is able to call forth any of the blades that exists in his world with no mana cost (deploying the Reality Marble costs mana, using the weapons in it doesn’t).
2) Emiya Shirou, who is the younger version of this Heroic Spirit, absorbed the combat experience of EMIYA (a.k.a. Servant Archer) during their clash of ideals at Illya’s castle.
3) Heck, even before that, Shirou was gaining experience just by being in Servant Archer’s presence for a prolonged amount of time and copying his fighting style, which obviously worked for him since it’s Emiya Shirou’s optimal fighting style. Shirou’s fighting progression in the Unlimited Blade Works route is basically an example of “what happens if you touch yourself too much”…er, I mean “learn too much about your future.”
4) Gilgamesh is an arrogant SOB who is choosy with who he uses his best weapons against. Both in Fate/stay night and his actual epic. He feels that the moment he takes a mongrel like Shirou seriously is when he actually loses. He has used Ea on Enkidu (well, according to the epic, anyway), Alexander the fucking Great, and the Holy Grail itself. Do you think he’d want to add a high school kid to Ea’s list of kills? He doesn’t even fucking wear his armor precisely because of this arrogance – why would one need to wear armor when swatting a mere insect? He’s even like this in Fate/Zero, where he gets pissy when his greatest treasures get dirtied.
5) Gilgamesh of the Nasuverse is merely a king, and not a true warrior. He owns over a thousand Noble Phantasms but he’s the master of none of them and rarely ever goes into close-combat melee with just one. Against Shirou, who has similar abilities and is a faker who not only owns an infinite amount of weapons, but is able to trace their history and fighting style as well as having experience in close-quarters melee combat, who do you think has an advantage? Especially in the Reality Marble, Unlimited Blade Works?
Using his own strengths and his enemy’s inherent character flaw, Shirou A.K.A. ALTERNATE YOUNG NON-SERVANT ARCHER is able to take Gilagmesh down. The Nasuverse isn’t some giant power level scale where A is greater than B, C is greater than D, etc. A magus like Shirou can easily take down Servants if the circumstances are right. Like Tohsaka almost punching a hole through Caster because she’s a squishy mage. We even clearly see that in the event that a Shirou becomes an Archer, even with shitty Servant stats, he can be a serious threat using his tactics alone.
It’s sad that a lot of people always need to have this information spoon-fed to them, when Ufotable actually does a good job making the facts obvious using visual cues in place of the visual novel’s narrative text. Between these extremely dense critics and a certain ANN reviewer, who to the very end kept misconstruing the themes of the anime and Shirou’s ideals (even implying that the fucking Urobutcher is a feminist and that Fate/Zero is a feminist work), I don’t know which batch of anime fans makes me more ashamed to be associated with anime.
In fact, maybe Gilgamesh was right. We’re beyond saving.
Note of ambiguity: Either it’s the same as what Nasu claims to have happened in the VN (Archer being the one to project Rho Aias while Shirou is deploying Unlimited Blade Works) or Shirou managed to “see” Rho Aias in Archer’s Unlimited Blade Works and/or memories.
Either way, he knows how to use it now from his future self, who probably learned it from Ajax during one of his Counter Guardian missions.
Not gonna lie, I became the bone of my sword when he uses it during his sword-tossing with Gilgamesh.)
(Can you say, karma for killing Liz?)
I-…uh, I don’t remember this Holy Grail monster being in the visual novel. Is this supposed to be another form of Avenger or something?
Either way, it reminds me of something straight out of Dark Souls. Seeing how obsessed Nasu is with FromSoftware games, I wouldn’t be surprised if this addition was his little idea.
Right in the nads
Something else that people are calling bullshit for: Archer still being alive.
Ugh, time to hold more hands.
1) Independent Action. Shirou is already a persistent little mother, guess what happens when he gets Archer class skills?
2) If you look closely at Archer’s “death scene” in episode 22, all but one of Gilgamesh’s treasures misses Archer, leaving his core intact. Apparently the King of Heroes has shitty aim.
It’s still a deus ex machina since Servants should be able to sense other Servants even when they’re dematerialized, but it isn’t THAT bad, and it ends up giving a more conclusive end to Archer’s character arc as opposed to him just dying at Illya’s castle.
(“Sword of Promised Victory” violin verse plays)
At that moment, I came in my pants.
(main chorus kicks in)
(Got to wait for the Blu-ray version for proper lighting, but here ya go…)
Ufotable: So long Saber, sorry for not animating the Fate route, ever.
It’s to note that in the visual novel, if you have enough Saber flags, she sees Archer/Shirou (“the red knight who originally made a contract with her, returning to fulfill his role”… that or she sees Rin, it might be a mistranslation) and decides to remain in that world, granting you a different ending where she survives. As I said in my review of the visual novel, it feels kind of forced and you get denied from extra closure for Archer (his afterword in the epilogue). It’s great for Saber fanboys though (namely, Takeuchi Takashi).
But yeah, she stayed for the GARcher (or Rin’s anus)…
I think I just spotted a plothole in DEEN’s version of the Unlimited Blade Works route which I actually never noticed until now. The moment Saber destroys the Holy Grail (again), Shirou’s Reality Marble should have shattered (the magic crest disappearing). But in the DEEN movie, the magic crest signified Saber’s death and because of this, Shirou goes batshit insane on Gilgamesh with Caliburn in the middle of their fight within UBW… Dammit DEEN.
Gilgamesh remains arrogant to the bitter end. Even with Angra Mainyu desperately trying to turn Gilgamesh into its core (note: it can’t, but again, it’s desperate), he’s not taking Shirou with him. He’s using Shirou as an anchor to save himself from death.
Not surprising, since even being drowned in All The World’s Evils at the end of Fate/Zero didn’t twist his personality much like it would have done to other Servants.
“Move to the right.”
Shirou killsteals Shirou
It’s terribly amusing seeing Shirou call himself a show-off.
To the bitter end, Aniplex subtitles managed to remained shitty. Rin didn’t finish her sentences because she can’t bring herself to say it. It’s part of her character, how she’s not actually as decisive as she lets on and can’t think of the right things to say to the people she cares about when it really counts. Because her words aren’t something that can fix Archer Shirou’s situation and she knows that.
It should be “No matter how much time passes, you won’t be…”
I know I’m probably being a gigantic ass about this, but providing shitsubs like this does make the viewer lose out on character details and parallels no matter how little they may be.
Same thing with subbing the Unlimited Blade Works chant with Shirou’s Japanese aria in this episode – it wouldn’t have been that bad if they had used it the entire show, but for the majority of time, the only version Aniplex used for both Archer and Shirou is the English “I am the bone of my sword” one, even when it’s supposed to be the Japanese one. You don’t see the parallel between Shirou and Archer Shirou’s poems because you never see Archer’s full Japanese chant nor Shirou’s full English chant within the subtitles.
This was the moment I was waiting for! Archer’s send-off, and him returning to his old hairstyle. Perhaps Superman wearing glasses wasn’t so farfetched after all. His hair being slicked back threw everyone off, tan and whitened hair from magecraft aside. The moment he lays off the gel, you can tell that he’s definitely Shirou.
I like how Ufotable actually makes Archer look like an older Shirou here, unlike DEEN who basically took young Shirou and palette-swapped him. The CG in the VN is excusable because his eyes were closed, so we really don’t now if he actually had the kid-eyes or not. Anyways, I’m kind of disappointed that Suwabe didn’t try to imitate Sugiyama’s voice in the anime like he did in the visual novel. Along with the return of Shirou’s older speech patterns, that imitation really solidified the fact that Archer does a Batman voice most of the time.
Give yourself a thumbs up!
There’s nothing much to say about this entire show for me besides the fact that, well, my thoughts on the story and characters themselves remain very much the same as my thoughts about the game. The first cour was consistently good to me, and while the second cour got slightly bumpy at episode 18 or so, they managed to pull a saving throw with this final episode.
In terms of animation, Ufotable was amazing for a lot of it, but when the second half came around, it was clear that they’re not above finding a way and taking shortcuts. They’re just an above-average animation studio, with very talented staff – they’re not gods of animation nor are they revolutionizing the medium in any way. Regardless, I appreciate the fact that they exist.
The final episode is… probably the highest point of the anime for me, to be honest. Seeing Gilgamesh lose his shit in proper animated form was certainly something, and when they actually started using several remixed soundtracks from the visual novel, I just got chills, especially when they played EMIYA and Sword of Promised Victory. I also didn’t expect New Dawn to be played during Archer’s send-off, though it’s a shame they didn’t get into the main chorus. Overall, I have the feeling that if the music direction was similar to the final episode for the rest of the series, it would have been a lot better. Fukasawa Hideyuki is a great composer and has contributed to many greats such as Mahoutsukai no Yoru (example) and I feel that he was greatly underutilized for this anime with its intent on giving the OST a movie-like ambiance, which to be honest doesn’t fit Fate/stay night in my opinion. It’s especially disappointing when you listen to his mixes of the VN music and wished they were used in the anime’s previous episodes.
Anyways, we’re not done yet – we have an epilogue to look forward to next week. Off to London we go.
――――Ａｍｉｄｓｔ ｔｈｅ ｇｏｌｄｅｎ ｓｕｎｒｉｓｅ
Ｔｈｅ ｓｍｉｌｅ ｈｅ ｈａｄ ｗａｓ ｌｉｋｅ ｔｈａｔ ｏｆ ｔｈｅ ｂｏｙ