Posted on 24 May 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

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.

Posted on 17 May 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

Oh my god, I can’t believe that Archer is the future Shirou Emiya!….said no one who watched this episode. But yes the cat is out of the bag. Archer is Shirou turned cynical and jaded after playing executioner for a couple of decades. There was a small bit showing how he contracted with the world and there were some flaws with how it was presented. Namely that in the flashback Archer still had red hair when it should at least start turning white. Do I really care though? Nope, not in the slightest. It’s a minor detail and you can just wave it off as him gaining the hair later. Admittedly the reveal and explanation was the weakest part of the episode as it does show the flaws of Nasu’s writing. Namely the long winded and roundabout approach of explaining the simplest of matters. In a previous post on this series I basically summarized the topic of counter guardians that took well over five minutes to explain here. The visuals did there best to keep things interesting but I bet the animators had a tough time figuring out just how to make over ten minutes of roundabout dialogue engaging. This my friends is why I unlike many type moon fans say that including the inner monologues would not make things better. Quite honestly any time I see Archer lecture on about heroes I am reminded of a skit in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia called “Justice and the kitten”. In it Archer saves a kitten from a tree and three girls thank him for it and call him a hero of justice. Which in turn spurs Archer into a big speech about how heroes of justice are bad and that his action may have been a bad thing for the kitten. The skit makes it seem like Archer was just really embarrassed and his little speech was him just acting tsundere. So every time I see Archer monologue on I can’t help but smile and recall that skit.

I do think this is a better episode than the last few weak ones. You could get invested in the dialogue and the events happening with Rin were very engaging. First of all, props to Ufotable for not going too far with Shinji feeling up Rin. We are not out of the woods yet but at least this scene was made as painless as possible. This gives me hope that the distasteful scene to come is treated with restraint. Plus I really cannot stop watching Lancer punch Shinji to the floor. On first viewing I rewound and watched that shot at least three times. Truly satisfying. Kirei’s entrance made this all the better with Shinji dumbfounded at the side while Lancer, Rin and Kirei have a serious discussion. Like a kid standing at the side while the adults talk. Really Unlimited Bladeworks isn’t Kirei at his best as this is still the point where he was still a rather generic villain in the Visual novel. With knowledge of Fate/zero this scene has a lot more impact. Having Kirei admit to killing Rin’s father was excellent and even Rin saying that she suspected it. It’s actually rather interesting. Kirei’s father never seen his true nature, neither did his wife or Rin’s father for that matter. But Rin may be one of the few to see him for his true nature from even a young age.

Once again, Lancer gets the short end of the stick and to those who watched Fate/Zero this might be an ironic end for him. Having Rank E luck will do that to you. It’s a pity he wasn’t given more screen time as he only was really starting to shine here. Admittedly the scene isn’t over yet but the next events will be brief to say the least. The end of this episode is what really stood out to me though as it promises great things for the next and gave me the thing that Fate/Zero’s music composer Yuki Kajura did not. Fate/Zero did have a good soundtrack and while she delivered on the iconic song “Sword of promised victory”, she neglected the other most iconic song from the game soundtrack. Yet as the episode closes, Archer and Shirou walk towards one another to fight and my ears hear that beautiful melody. Undeniably it’s “Emiya”, the theme tune of both Archer and Shirou and when it plays that means things are about to get awesome. Ufotable, the next fight is a defining moment. It is a time to wash away any distaste I may have. Break open the budget, bring out all the guns and make this the anime fight to end all anime fights. Make it beautiful Ufotable. Make it beautiful.

Posted on 12 May 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

Well here it is. The name drop. The very thing the route is called after. And its….its…kinda bad. Of all the places to make the first visual blunder, why did it have to be here? Well Archers reality marble/noble phantasm Unlimited Blade Works was unleashed and Ufotable thought the best treatment would be to render it entirely in CGI. If it was just the sky and swords given the treatment it wouldn’t have been too bad but the ground was CGI as well and it shows, especially when the camera is panning. The texture on the ground is so flat that it resembles an early PlayStation one game and when you stick those colourful drawn characters in it the difference in looks becomes glaring. A lot of the core problems with this episode where in this scene. Fans criticized it because Shirou didn’t counter Archers sword rain the way he did in the visual novel but to me that’s minor problem. They also disliked how Archer materised the swords in the air instead of lifting the ones around him but again that’s minor to me. The main problem is that Archer pulls out Unlimited Blade works for nothing. He takes it out, tries one attack and then it disintegrates again. Even in the Visual Novel I remember after reading that scene thinking “Is that it?” Archer taking such a huge gamble and effectively doing nothing with it was always a head scratcher to me though Archers thoughts and actions during this route have been rather nonsensical.

This could have been the time to get the most out of UBW. All the fights of the second half have so far been short lived. This could have been the point where you could add material that would have benefited the story. Previous new material was nice to have but not needed but a fight here, even if it ends unconcluded, would have done wonders. True they could be saving the budget for the finale. Which makes sense as that’s the best time to go all out. But I am starting to get worried. This could be the beginning of a disappointment. I had full confidence in Ufotable last season but these last couple of episodes have shaken it. Now I fear that when I see the final confrontation I will be unmoved by it. Also as I have brought up many times before, there are 6 episodes left, yet at the rate they are burning through the material they will reach stories end by 3 or 4 episodes. I even heard word that the last episode will be forty minutes long. Just how do they plan to fill out that time? With more nice to have but not needed material? Fans say the story is rushing but honestly I believe the last thing Fate should do is slow down. What Fate needs to do is deliver. The build up has been built and the stage is set, it’s time for the fireworks.

A standout moment in this episode was Archer admiring that he should never have been a hero. There was a lot of emotion in that line and you could see Saber resonated with it. As her wish is similar. Rins explanation of Archers past was good though potentially confusing to those who don’t know what a counter guardian is in the Nasuverse. To those who don’t know, a counter guardian is basically a glorified hitman. Whenever mankind is threatened with potential extinction the earth summons up counter guardians to remove the cause. In other words, kill the person or people who are pushing humanity’s self destruction. They have no control or will of their own when summoned. Archer is a fellow who contracted with the earth to receive power in life and as a result was used as a killing machine after his death to bring stability. Hence resulting in him becoming cynical and jaded by the very ideal of heroism. Rins explanation on his past was fairly vague so I think anyone who doesn’t know the details will just be lost. But I say you get the basic idea. But the sure are driving the nail in about his identity at this point. I won’t say it until it’s stated outright but come on. The characters know and the audience know. If anyone is genuinely surprised when it comes out I will be shocked. The next episode has a scene I have been dreading and coincidentally is Shinji’s worse moment as a character.(In this route mind you. We still have Heaven’s feel and hoo boy…) Be cool Ufotable and handle this delicately.

Posted on 4 May 2015 with categories: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

There was a time when I believed that in order for an adaption to work it must stick to the source material as close as possible. More often than not an adaption failed because the director wanted to put his mark on it and disregard the very reason people love the story. However there can be times when something is adapted perfectly true to the source and yet ends up weaker all the same. This is what faces me here. This episode had two of my favorite moments in the route, them being the Lancer vs archer fight and Rin fighting castor hand to hand. There are those who claim this episode was rushed and I can see how they came to that conclusion. But the strange truth is that when you strip the descriptive text and monologues from the scenes they really are this short. So herein lies the problem, that text gave impact and significance to these scenes but there is no real way of satisfactorily transferring this to visuals. I remember reading about Rin beating up Castor was an adrenaline fueled moment but here its cut short because of it’s brevity. In terms of adaptation this is perfect as it really did happen like this in the visual novel. But the visual novel gave you time to revel in the moment and make it special. So in a strange turn of events, staying true to the source actually hurt these scenes.

The the episode starts off with a small flashback to Souichirou’s past which wasn’t in the visual novel and isn’t the best place to dive into his backstory. Again, it’s likely only there to try and get the audience to care about him before his death. There were plenty of opportunities to go into this before without it being as out as place as this and really could have been handled better. Even more shoddy is that at the end of Souichirou’s speech we cut to a distasteful shot of Saber lying suggestively on the floor. I am not going to say than fanservice has no right to be in anime but gentlemen there is a time and place for it. This was most certainly not it. The highlight of the episode was obviously the Lancer vs Archer confrontation which was longer than the visual novel but still short lived. The clash of Gae Blog and Rio Aris was a beautiful sight, you could really tell it’s where the effort went to in this episode. One has to wonder just how Fuyuki is still oblivious to the holy grail war when there is the base equivalent of a nuclear explosion happening not far from the city. It is admittedly an issue in Fate/Zero as well as it’s never really explained as to why Fuyuki is so deserted at night and ignoring explosions and light shows. One thing that might confuse people here is that the three fights, Lancer vs Archer, Rin vs Castor and Shirou vs Souichirou take place at the exact same time. However the episode shows the fights one after the other, giving the impression that they follow each order in sequence. They added small things to the fights to try and show this like the tremors or the coughing up blood but it may not be clear.

Thus does Archer betray Castor and take her out of the running. The third servant to be removed anti-climatically. I would like to say that the visual novel gave these two more character building to make this moment more meaningful but that would be a lie. There death is exactly as it was in the visual novel and just as ineffective. Fate/hollow ataraxia was the game that gave these two some better characterisation and brought in their interesting relationship that felt like two socially awkward people trying their hardest to be a loving couple. But here the fate route didn’t show anything about them(Really Castor is unceremoniously killed off the moment she shows up.) and UBW is about as much attention as they get. Yet again the episode cuts off just when things were getting really interesting and the big reveal was about to be shown. I can’t say enough how much this story is not meant to be cut up into bite sized chucks. More and more I find myself leaving each episode unsatisfied. So much so that I am beginning to question if this story is really is as good as I thought it was. It’s a rather disheartening thought but after rereading the fate route of the visual novel I can really admit that it is truly bad. So I am beginning to fear that if I reread what is my favorite route of the series that it would come up short of how I remember it. But there are still plenty of episodes left and this is far from being a bad show. Still it is a question of how they plan to fill the remainder of the season when they are this far into the story.

Posted on 27 April 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

So at the start of this episode featured the big moment of Gilgamesh ripping out Illya’s heart and it was surprisingly underwhelming. It is true that in context this makes more sense and fits his character better. But it is a little disappointing. Strangely this wasn’t how it was in the visual novel and this is a rare moment where the Deen UBW movie is closer to the source than this TV remake. Basically Gilgamesh did first cut Illya’s eyes first rendering her blind but he ripped out her heart while she was still alive. There was images dedicated to showing him ripping the heart from her chest. Its a moment everyone remembers from the visual novel so to have it absent, even if it was to better the story, is a bit of a downer. Shinji once again shows up to point out that he still is a smug moron but again it comes across as rather funny. Maybe because it’s clear to everyone but Shinji that he’s in way over his head. It’s sort of endearing just how oblivious he is to his own situation. Also helping is that everyone is taking the time to knock him down a peg any chance they get.

Thus in front of Illya’s grave do we subtly bring up the core message behind this series…yes that wording was indeed sarcasm. If at this point you do not know that Shirou regards others lives more important than his then I would claim you were either blind or asleep while watching the series. But take note that there are people who want this series to have more of Shirou’s inner monologues from the source and trust me when I say that compared to the visual novel, this is subtile. I am a fate fan and I say we don’t need ten thousand monologues reminding us that Shirou is selfless and suffering from survivor’s guilt. This is a pretty key aspect of the story however as it is an interesting one. To be selfless is an ideal, but to achieve selflessness in it’s truest form is just wrong. The very nature of a hero is built on being selfless and helping those in need but Fate brings up that it’s important to enjoy and do such a thing for yourself. That’s what makes Shirou so broken. He’s selfless but does not enjoy being selfless. He does it out of an obligation and while it’s admirable you can’t help but find it alienating. Many of the servants have pasts related to being alienated or suffering due to their heroics. Saber being betrayed because no one could see her as human, Hercules driven mad against his will to murder his family and even Lancer was put into the position of unknowingly killing his son. The point is that being a hero isn’t a good way to live a life and that it’s important to value yourself as much as others.

Lancer once again proves that he is a criminally underused character and I am truly glad they choose the option of Shirou letting him join them under one condition. There was another option with Shirou letting him join with no conditions which had both Rin and Lancer lamenting how dense Shirou was to Rin’s affections. Typical harem protagonist nonsense really. So I am glad they avoided that pitfall. I would like to bring up the background art for a moment cause I must say that it’s marvelous. Yes, it is rather redundant to bring up Fate’s ridiculously high production values but its truly amazing the level of detail in these backdrops. On seeing Rin sitting on a bench I can look at the bench and see the grain of the wood with some chips on the edges. The greenery in the surroundings is landscape art piece worthy. From the cracks, clouds to the cobblestones it’s truly awe inspiring just how much work went into parts of the show that most would just glance over. But this to me is what makes Ufotables work stand out as it does and makes it special. Next week looks to be the big reveal based on Rin’s last words of the episode. Of course I highly doubt you do not know what it is at this point. If by some miracle you somehow managed to avoid the couple of hundred fans shouting spoilers at every chance they get, the foreshadowing is so in your face that you likely have a very good idea. Even in the visual novel at this point it was obvious. But lets not forget that we have a big action scene next week with Lancer vs Archer round 2 and that I am most certainly looking forward to.

Posted on 20 April 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

The word that encompasses this episode in a nutshell would be brutal. Whether you love her or hate her, I say few would believe that Illya deserved this fate. The tragedy is ever more pungent if you know the full details of her past. Anime only viewers may not get the most out of this episode however as even with Ufotables efforts to make Illya more sympathetic, it’s hard to truly feel for a character who hasn’t been present for most of the series. Quite honestly while the flashbacks do explain how Illya became so ruthless and amoral, I would have prefered to forgo them for more action sequences. I think Ufotable missed an opportunity here. Now people do give Studio Deens 2006 Fate/stay night a lot of grief(And some even are audacious enough to claim that Ufotables version isn’t doing the source justice) but one of the most memorable scenes from that anime is a fight that was never present in the source material. I am speaking of Fate’s Archer vs Berserker fight, which is what many Fate fans refuse to admit was the one of the very few things that Deen did right. In the visual novel this took place all offscreen and only portrayed a weak conclusion but Deen took this moment and made it the highlight of the series. Ufotable could have done the same here. They could have took what was originally a one sided slaughter fest and made it into a full blown showdown. But instead the focus was on flashbacks to Illya’s past which was for the most part anime original.

My reaction to this material is mixed. As I said before, it does provide a reason for Illya’s psychotic nature but if does bring up some questions. People only starting from this anime will have no idea what’s going on and even I as a Fate fan am not certain as to what it was. Is it simply Illya’s imagination leading her to dark conclusions or a connection to a certain dark entity? The second option is feasible…I guess. But I am not certain if I am happy with it. It is understandable that they wished to give Illya some more attention before the big scene and this in turn does bring one of the faults of bringing Fate/stay night into anime. For you see the three routes of the Fate/stay night visual novel are not meant to stand independently. Each one is there to strengthen the others and are meant to be viewed in order. The fate route helps build a bond to Illya’s character so that her scene here would affect the reader more so than the characters themselves. But without it this does come across with weaker impact. The scene with the homunculi in the water chamber was also pretty bad. Just clunky exposition that wasn’t needed and doesn’t make much sense in context. The start of the wolves scene was also awkward with Illya standing up and more or less explaining to the audience what’s going on by talking to herself.

However seeing the wolves knock Illya down and proceed to attack her was a difficult scene to watch. That wasn’t the only scene that was hard to watch. Anyone who read this route knew it was coming as it is one of the most defining moments of the route itself. And make no mistake, Illya’s death was just as sad as it was there though missing a certain heart wrenching finale. Made all the more tragic by Rin desperately holding down Shirou to prevent him from running out to try and save her which I thought was a good change as in the visual novel he just waited and ran down the stairs when it was already too late. It makes more sense for his character to jump into action immediately rather than watch over silently.  There is some disgust with the fanbase over Berserker breaking the chains of Enkidu as that should by all means be impossible. In the visual novel it’s just said that he escapes it somehow but doesn’t break it. Honestly though, this is the Nasuverse, where every unbeatable thing has an exception or several. I will admit that I am disappointed as to how this was handled. The flashbacks broke up the action and messed with the pacing. The new material was not the best. And cutting out the last part of the scene, while understandable as to why they did it, still left me wanting. Well now things are not looking too good for Rin and Shirou with the man turning his blades at them and them no servant to hide behind. But from the look of the preview a neglected fellow is about to get some spotlight.

Posted on 12 April 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

As a reader of the Fate/stay night visual novel I can confirm that the majority of this episode was anime original content. However instead of being about castors history like I thought, it’s of his backstory with her first master. In all honestly making the episode be about her history with Jason would have been a better way to make her more sympathetic but still I am not against this either. This is the first time Castors former master has made an appearance as in the visual novel he was only briefly mentioned. I am not exactly keen on making him so one sidedly jerkish for the purpose of making Castor look better in comparison. Though the thing I find odd is his acceptance of technology which in the visual novel is something that Magi abhor most of all. (Hence why Rin is so terrible with machines.) But he did mention that his family was new to magic. The pacing was a little fast for this backstory but from what I hear it’s been confirmed that seven minutes of content was cut from this airing episode. Hoping for that Lancer vs Castor fight or Media’s history.

Now my main concern is that while this material is nice to have, it isn’t necessary. I said before that I worry as to how UFOtable plan to fill out the rest of this season as they already have gotten though a large amount of the visual novels route. If their plan is to expand the route with scenes like this then I am in favor though I hope they have more impact besides adding in action scenes or filling up space. For example, giving Lancer more scenes to show off his character because if there is one character who is greatly underused it’s without a doubt him.

Though the placement of comedy may be questionable, I really laughed when Illya only lightly shocked Shirou with her field but blew away Rin when she entered. It was priceless. The extra scenes really showed off Sella and Leysritt who were actually barely present in the visual novel at all. It’s nice that the two of them had some time to shine bullying Shinji before the blond servant came in. And Shinji…they sure are playing him for laughs. So much so that it’s sort of becoming his thing. Being ridiculously overconfident and then undermined at the slightest threat. It a good way to go with his character, seeing as his role as a minor villain is one dimensional. By making him someone who has no idea just what he has got himself into actually by some miraculous oddity, makes him slightly likeable. Though if they are to continue this route there is a rather distasteful moment involving him in the future that would need to be treaded carefully. If it can be that is. There was a surprising amount of gore in their deaths, though with ridiculous amounts of blood but hey, anime. It looks as though the next episode will focus on Berserker and Archer fight which I am fully geared for. I am all set for an animated explosive brawl that wasn’t even present in the visual novel.

 

Posted on 5 April 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

It’s back and still as beautiful as ever. Sadly not a fourty minutes long and still leaves me hungry by episodes end. It does seem to cut off suddenly rather than end. So after telling Shirou to stay away and stating how only masters should stay in the war, Rin is thrust into the exact same position. Archers betrayal isn’t an unexpected development but to do so coldly and quickly was quite cruel of him. They may have only known each other a few days but these are two people who trusted each other with their lives. I like that instead of just Archer declaring his betrayal in the visual novel, they have him actively display it by pushing away Rin and defending Kuzuki. It not only looks better visually but makes sense in context. It’s an exhibition to show Castor that hes has tossed his master aside. The reasons for the betrayal are somewhat sketchy admittedly. It makes more sense later but even then there are some questionable aspects. But looking at Rins plan objectively, it was rather foolhardy. Castor may not be able to use Assassin at the church but she still has Kuzuki and Saber. Rin was obviously not thinking clearly, even declaring that she would handle Caster. In the Fate route of the visual novel Rin said it was outright suicide for a master to go up against a servant. Naturally being a rule Nasu wrote there are numerous exceptions but anyone could tell that Rin was outmatched. But the most telling thing that showed she was not thinking this through was the very statement that likely made Archer defect. That when she rescues Saber then Saber could reinstate the contract with Shirou. Now take note that right from the beginning Rin wanted Saber to be her Servant. Even more after meeting her so when a perfect opportunity to take Saber for herself has come it’s odd that the thought never entered her mind.  It would be tough for her to support two servants but I say she would be more than capable of it. This isn’t about taking down Caster, this is about getting Shirou to be her comrade in arms again. A moment of her true feelings slipping through the facade.

I at least thank UFOTABLE for not being excessive with the Saber and Caster scene. It was one of the more unsavory moments of the visual novel. But the basement of the Church does seem rather spacious to the depiction in the visual novel. There was a change in scenery for the last scene as in the visual novel it took place in the graveyard. But truthfully while it is visually more interesting to have it in the graveyard it doesn’t make much sense for them to relax in such a grim place that just so happens to be so close to the church. I also wish Rin had taken off her jacket for the scene but again it does make more sense this way. This is without a doubt the most vulnerable Rin and Shirou have ever been. Now serventness, with the only refuge being taken over by the enemy. Not that the two would have taken that refuge as both are determined to see this through to the end. Rin crying was a powerful scene, I actually thought it was a mess up when UFOtable showed Rin taking Archers betrayal not as hard as I would have thought but to have it all hit her at once when Shirou mentions it is really just perfect with her character. Also bravo Shirou, you confessed wholeheartedly to the girl you like. You have done what an overwhelming majority of male protagonists have failed at for years. Even pushing Rin into Tsundere overdrive, well played. We are now over two thirds through the Visual novel story which leaves me to wonder just how UFOtable plans to cover the remainder of the episodes. The title of the next episode makes me wonder if they shall splice in Castors backstory from Hollow Ataraxia which I think is an excellent idea. It would give her better character development and lend thematic weight to events to come. So another long week till the next fate episode…

Posted on 28 December 2014 with categories: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

The last episode of this half of the series. I better make things clear, I do not intend to write a review of this half. The full review will be of the entire series as judging it based on only half the story would be a disservice. But ladies and gentlemen today is a momentous occasion. Not because it is the conclusion of the first half of Unlimited blade works. No, today marks the day that a girl in anime asked out the boy she likes. Hallelujah! Praise the sun! Forgive me if I am blowing this out of proportion. But I have seen dozens of episodes dedicated to a girl trying to tell a guy she likes him, have hijinks ensue at every turn and at the perfect moment where she finally says it and is drowned out by fireworks or something. Followed by a “Oh well, I tried.” Yet here we have a Rin sit down and just says “Hey, we are going out on a date” No messing around, just gets straight to the point. Just, finally. Rin knows full well that Shirou likes her and she’s playing him like a fiddle. It’s refreshing to see and unlike many harem girls, Rin genuinely seems like a person who would be fun to hang out with. The date was essentially fanservice for long time fans with plenty of Saber and Rin faces. And this may be wishful thinking but was that moment where they put glasses on Shirou a Tsukihime reference?

There were changes to the source material in this episode. The best change was the extra scene of Taiga visiting Kiritsugu’s grave. A loving nod to the prequel. However they greatly changed the scene with castor taking Taiga hostage. In the original she did this at Shirous house. I am not very happy with this change. It does not sit well for me and I see the change of scenery for this part was mainly to make it more dramatic. Out of the changes Ufotable has made this is by far the biggest and is the one that I most disapprove of. Other than that it was a very good episode and ended on a cliffhanger that will make the wait unbearable with Saber now under Castors control and Shirou helpless. Though speaking of which here’s a fun fact. There is a version of Saber called Saber Lily. This version has no real backstory and is mainly just a alternative costume for a fighting game. However in an interview with Nasu and Urobuchi Gen when asked about her, Gen proceeded to speak about a backstory he thought up about Saber lily being a Saber who was seduced over to Castors side. Even Nasu noted the genius as in japanese culture Lilies are often being associated with….well a google search will finish the rest. The extra scenes with Kirei were very welcome however brief. Even ten years later the man has still got the moves. But the greatest fanservice was the ending song. A remix of Disillusion(Or This illusion if you prefer), the very first Opening theme of the Fate/Stay Night visual novel. Some may dislike it as it is LiSa performing it but for me the nostalgia factor just makes it beauty to the ears.

While a season review is off the table I don’t think it would be out of line to give my impressions of this half. In terms of adaptation, Ufotable could not have done better. Excellent work all around. That said while I as a Type Moon fan is satisfied with this, I can understand how some could be disappointed in this. Part of the blame would be on the Type Moons fans hyping the series to kingdom come, I myself am guilty on that front. I admit the hot cold pacing of episodes even was getting to me and I certainly wouldn’t complain if we got more action. I have heard that the Blu-ray dvds will have over 90 minutes of new material. That’s about three episodes worth to add. I am hoping for them to expand on some scenes such as Shirou’s battle with Lancer and possible even show Riders fight to the death. But I would like for them to show what the other masters are doing. The biggest question in this was what was Illya doing the whole time. I have heard that she often attacked the temple and was driven back offscreen but it would be nice to see one of her attempts. The second half should have plenty of action and climaxes but I am concerned as with where the anime left off I am not certain there is enough material for another 12 to 13 episodes. The wait till april will be long and hard. May the second half of UBW be as glorious as it has been in my dreams.

Posted on 21 December 2014 with categories: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

Well here’s something you don’t see often in shounen series. Consequences. It’s another quiet episode and due to Shirou pulling that magic trick last episode he is now suffering from after effects. Having what looks to be a painful night and going through the day with the left side of his body numb. Though it is fixed by the episodes end, it was nice to see a character having repercussions for a risky move. I can certainly make a list of times I seen a character go through some new risky power up training with threats that it could kill him or have serious consequences. But it never does. It usually turns out fine and the rookie grows ten times more powerful than the people who actually worked hard for that level of power for years. Though after Archer fixes Shirou up we have another debate on the nature of heroics. Presentation really sold this scene as while it did look good we are just treading on old territory. This really has all be said before and it just getting repeated in a different way. Repeated well mind you, be we are not learning anything new. Other than that we had some good comedy and interesting talks between characters.

I will take a moment to talk about the music of this series. I am sure there are many who lament that Yuki Kajura did not return to do the OST of this series as she had done for Fate/zero. I however was not one of them. She was never a fit for the fate series truth be told and her OST for Zero and Kara no Kyoukai only really worked because of it’s bleak tone. Kajura has talent but a limited range. If you want something with lots of string instruments, tons of choirs and bleak atmospheric sounds then she’s got you covered. If you want something different…well tough. But I think the main issue is that, strange as it sounds, Kajura does not seem to understand that BGM stands for background music. I am sure anyone who has watched one of the series she did the music for can remember a time when the music just jumped to the front and it was by far the most noticeable thing on the scene. This can be effective for some scenes but it also draws attention to the song and it can be distracting. Especially when she has used one song for the umpteen time. Hideyuki Fukasawa on the other hand does not have this problem. He seems to know that the music is not the star of the show. There are some who may claim that he is weaker as his music is less noticeable but I honestly believe he is stronger. His music doesn’t steal the stage, it accentuates it. The music, visuals and sound join into a harmony that I thought was only possible for the visual novel medium. True it never jumps out and catches you. But like a bass player in a rock band, it’s there helping the melody work in harmony. The mark of a truly great soundtrack is to sound just good on it’s own, but when combined with visuals and story become something great.

I would also like to bring up the tsundere archetype. I often felt that Rin was the tsundere which should have been popularised. However the archetype went a different way, going for girls who tend to use physical violence to cover up their embarrassment. The funny thing is that I once saw a manga which took this archetype and put it in a realistic setting. The manga wasn’t really all that good but one moment really stood out. At one point the girl was approached by a boy and he held her hand to take her back to the classroom. To cover up her embarrassment the girl quite literally beat him half to death. The boy was hospitalised for a couple of weeks. But it brought home the fact that in a world where wounds don’t automatically heal, a tsundere of that type is less endearing and more genuinely dangerous. But take note of Rin here. How many times has she beaten up Shirou to cover for her own embarrassment? How many times has she been completely unreasonable with him? Because I can’t think of any occasion. Rin has gotten angry at Shirou but she’s never quite resorted to violence when dealing with her emotions. In this episode she got angry with him because he mentioned that he does not really find magic fun despite putting so much effort towards it. She’s a lot more logical in that regard. Rin as a character likes to be in control and has at times acted flirtatious with Shirou. So it’s only when something unexpected puts her off guard that brings in her tsundere side. In that way, she’s far more charming than that of your standard tsundere as when her emotions get the better of her at least she won’t potentially murder you. If my information is correct, next week is an hour long episode and then we have a break. So it looks like we will be getting a nice helping before the long wait for the second half. Sigh, this is almost sadistic.

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  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 02:17 AM)
    I’m going crazy waiting on that new ghost in the shell movie and those two new ovas…
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:43 AM)
    https://www.livechart.me/fall-2015/all
    Heres a look at the fall season ^
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:42 AM)
    Better start writing it up. As well as catching up with Arslan though I am not sure if there is a point to that anymore
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:42 AM)
    Cool, new devilman’s a movie, less worry about censorship then, awesome.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:41 AM)
    Ah crap I am gonna have to do a new preview post soon.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:38 AM)
    That Aria follow up might be anime original content, having enjoyed the manga years ago, I’m up for more.
    I don’t really know if I care about Ks second season or not I probably won’t watch it.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:35 AM)
    I’m not seeing anything of interest in the upcoming summer anime season, so I think I’ll be skipping out on it most likely, however the fall season seems to have potential, theres the new lupin out which I can’t wait for, I’m a big tezuka fan and it seems someones coming out with an origin story for blackjack, some seinen horror/demons thing in there too and two murder mystery stories.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 01:32 AM)
    @Bam, Nah. Tried that. Thing kept telling me that the blu-ray was acc coded and wouldn’t play. I then tried following steps which were said to fix the problem but it didn’t do a damn thing. Spent nearly 3 hours on this shit.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 12:58 AM)
    @Aidan: yep, Bluray quality is like a sore dick, it’s hard to beat. You should be able to use VLC to play Blurays. What you gotta do is open the folder, find the main menu file using VLC and just run it from there. You do need the right plug-ins but they are usually packaged with the newer VLC and BSPlayers.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 26. 2015 12:28 AM)
    Still, in general I don’t really care all that much for video quality so long as I can at least follow whats happening.

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