This episode wasn’t quite what I expected. It is true that I didn’t get the big fight I was looking for, though there were clashes going on. However this still was a very good episode. So on the matters of Kirei, Rin, Lancer and Shinji it was all done perfectly. Well there was this weird moment of Kirei slowly moving his hand down Rin’s chest but considering that it’s Kirei we are talking about he was likely just positioning his hand to rip her heart out. But thank god for Ufotable treating that unsavory scene with some dignity. You see in the visual novel Shinji attempted to rape Rin after Lancer put Kirei down. It’s a pretty bad part of the visual novel and I honestly was dreading it being adapted. However Ufotable instead changed it to Shinji choking Rin. I approve this change on so many levels. It makes more sense, it’s easier to watch and it at least doesn’t make Shinji even more of a unsalvageable mess than he already is. Though it does give this series a strange trend of woman getting strangled. Both in Zero and somewhat here as well. Actually…a Tosaka being strangled by a Mato desperate for her affection? Now I wonder if that’s intentional nod. Afterwards it’s greatly satisfying to see someone put Shinji down a peg. Lancer just was brilliant in this moment. The show really doesn’t give him enough credit. After taking a fatal wound he kills Kirei, chases off Shinji, cuts Rin’s bonds and sets the place on fire. All while dying, that battle continuation skill isn’t there for nothing. It’s also amusing to see him remark that he wished he could have had a master like Rin. In the game Fate/extra he is actually Rin’s servant but sadly they don’t make the most of it there. But Lancer what are you talking about saying you had no luck finding good woman? Fate/Grand order just put out the design for your master, Scáthach and that’s most definitely a fine woman. Amazed you could keep your mind on training. This is the last we will see of Lancer here but at least he went out with a bang.
One of the biggest complaints of this episode is Archer using Unlimited Bladeworks again. Admittedly yes, this is a huge waste of mana when he is already nearly out of it and yes, instead of making use of the reality marble he seems to just be using it to make a point. The big question that I really need to ask is….do I really care? The answer to that is no. No, I do not. Because A) even without this huge expense of mana, Archers mana problem don’t make any sense to begin with and B) this means that Archer actually uses UBW for more that just some weak one off attack on Saber. And finally C) Shirou and Archer get to fight in unlimited bladeworks, which is a perfect place for them to fight and is badass. Thankfully the CGI for unlimited bladeworks is much, much better. I wonder why it was they couldn’t do this for it’s previous appearance. So far it’s less of a fight and more Archer hammering in the points that anyone annoyed with his hero complex has wanted to say to him for a long time. I can’t really fault Archer for this. If I met myself from ten or fifteen years ago I would likely beat him bloody myself. But it is interesting to see Saber react to what he is saying as a lot of it applies to her as well. Archer isn’t speaking to her but you can tell his words are cutting her to the core. Even Shirou is getting dispirited.
Then there was the Shirou monologue and realization. Where in the battle Shirou is knocked down and the show basically shows a mental landscape and memories to represent what he is thinking. And damn, this was done magnificently. The imagery of Shirou pulling out the sword from the ground, mirroring Saber pulling the sword from the stone. Shirou walking into the hell he experienced ten years ago to show him taking the path that will lead him to his ruin. Pulling scenes from Fate/zero and showing Kiritsugu giving him Avalon. Just, perfect. Truly. I always worried how they would handle representing the monologues in this route but this made use of the visuals and dialogue to get the point across for more poignantly that the source even did. My one criticism is the song used. The song itself isn’t bad but when the chorus comes into it, it clashes a bit with the mood. It’s a little too cheesy. I see they tried to explain Avalon healing Shirou’s wounds here but this is another reason why it may be best to watch Fate/zero before this. As this really does seem like it comes out of nowhere if you don’t know about Avalon. That is something that has become strange with this series. The original way to experience it was Fate, Unlimited Bladeworks, Heavens feel and then Fate/zero. However due to the Deen version of Fate being subpar and Fate/zero being more accommodating to newcomers, the “proper” to view this story is a little skewed. Diehard fans still claim that UBW must be watched before Zero but in all honestly that may not be the best method to experience it. UBW is dependant of knowledge gathered from the Fate route. You are not supposed to dive into it first. Fate/zero gives the knowledge that is needed for UBW and as a whole may be a better introduction to the series than the Fate route is. Sure Fate/Zero spoils elements of Heavens Feel but Heavens Feel also spoils elements of Fate/zero, so really no matter what you start with, you are getting spoiled on something. Finally if we are to recommend that anime only watchers view UBW first then we might as well tell them to wait about five years or so for the Heavens Feel movie/movies before checking out Fate/Zero seeing as that is the intended order. But that’s just downright unreasonable. Hoping for more action next week but Ufotable, good job.