Category Archives: Fall 2014

Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 23 & 24

“Know this..In this moment, you are powerful.”

That particular moment where Gilgamesh acknowledged Shirou’s power gave me the chills – for someone as confident as Gilgamesh to acknowledge the strength of someone as humble as Shirou speaks magnitudes as to how much more powerful he truly got.

At first, I was feeling as though the narrative post Archer’s defeat was disconnected with the overarching theme and central conflict with the show. To that point, I could not be more wrong (And I feel stupid now that I figured it out) – Archer was only a part of the whole puzzle in Unlimited Blade Works. The true focus of the narrative has always been and continues to be one person: Shirou Emiya. Throughout the run of the show, Shirou’s ideal of how he should live his life has been brought into question several times: You cannot save everyone – is it truly right to sacrifice one to save others? Is humanity even worth it? Shirou has even been called a hypocrite several times as this ideal is not even his own – it was born of his admiration of Kiritsugu Emiya and his hope to not only emulate his late father but carry on his wish.

Shirou’s answer to those questions seem to be as follows: So what if these ideas are not my own? I will make them my own. So what if humanity is selfish? I will save as many people as I can.

In many ways, Shirou has constantly, unflinchingly rejected any and all ideologies that have dared to stand in his way, and for that he deserves respect. Even a heroic spirit like Saber has bared witness to all that Shirou has stood for and fought for the right to protect. And protect he did.

Gilgamesh, while he may possess several thousand noble phantasms, has never mastered even one of them, which ultimately gives Shirou the upper hand. They are opposites in more ways than simply “One is the weakness of the other” – they are opposites in their view of humanity’s worth, purpose, and desires. While nothing in the Type Moon universe saves Tsukihime or Kara no Kyoukai has ever had anything extremely profound to say in regards to humanity, it is powerful nonetheless.

Thus, the grail was destroyed by Saber, who’s contract was complete and disappears. Somehow Rin managed to save Shinji as well. Also, Archer was alive? Uh – I’m not really sure how that can be possible – for him to be manifested in this world again, someone would have had to make a contract.

His reminder of his humanity before he disappeared did make me smile. Shirou’s existence has come full circle.


Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 22

MORE FISH IN PLACE OF PHYSICAL INTIMACY GUYS!!!

Man aren’t you glad you have me around to give such edgy, awe-inspiring words like this? Haha, ok, get ready for more uninteresting drivel of a similar sort.

So, Shirou is deduced to be Gilgamesh’s opposite – something that Rin has figured out in part due to his unease and feeling of being threatened by Shirou. Mankind has corrupted the grail and with it, Gilgamesh seeks a way to wipe out the “trash” that is humanity. Whoever survives will have been deemed to be ruled by him. Yes, there is not much more to expect from Gilgamesh, who might be one of anime’s biggest egomaniacs.

Rin, Shirou, and Saber all know that Shirou cannot take Gilgamesh on even in spite of this huge advantage. Despite Saber’s protests, it’s been decided that she will storm the gate and destroy the grail, as she is the only one who can do it as a servant. Saber reluctantly agrees and Rin transfers her mana to Shirou in as awkwardly a way as possible. It would appear as though Ufotable has decided to go the clumsy DEEN route and I can’t really say that I blame them – I don’t feel as though Rin and Shirou’s relationship is developed enough for them to have a, uh, extended scene of physical intimacy. I feel as though if it were to happen as it did in the visual novel, it would feel forced.

I feel as though their relationship is only beginning – and only at a time of great emotional connection and strength between the two of them would a scene like that feel tasteful and strengthen their story. But, eh, oh well.

Instead we got a whale. Enjoy your weird fuckin’ CGI whale thing. I think he was cool. He was green too. Green whales are cool.

The scene where Rin watched Shirou doing the high jump in school was really, really cute and touching to me for some reason. Sometimes, a little dash of personal touch like that is all that’s needed to make a connection.

Saber’s talk with Shirou made me beam inside. Saber is the most noble motherfucker under the sun. I don’t even think anyone deserves her as a guardian, she’s so good. She values Shirou’s thoughts and life even though she has no obligation to give a shit. To me, that is amazing.

Next week? We put the plan in motion. If you watched the preview it would seem as though a friend of ours hasn’t quite left this world yet! It’s going to be up to Saber to deal with him.

Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 20 & 21

Yes, Shirou possesses Avalon. There was lots of data dumped on us this week so let’s get started!

Saber continues to bear witness to the monumental fight between Shirou and Archer. Meanwhile, Lancer somehow survived impaling himself and kills Kotomine in one fell swoop, and also forces Shinji to retreat (although I really wish he just killed him). What an amazing guy. He spends his last moments remarking on what an incredible woman that Rin is, and how he wishes that they could have met under different circumstances. Lancer, rest in peace, you fantastic bastard, you.

The chips are down for Shirou, but he’s never out. His resolve and unwillingness to relent to Archer surprises even him – time and time again Archer stares with amazement at the fact that Shirou just does not and will not give up. We’ve seen this sort of event take place many times in anime but rarely done this well – I was on the edge of my seat and everything inside of me was roaring in applause every time Shirou’s resolve forced him to stand up and fight again. Even now I can feel my blood pumping in sheer awe. Shirou, you’ve come a long way, my friend.

Archer recalls Kotomine and what his early life meant to him – and while I’m unsure if it was intentional or not, allows himself to be struck by Shirou, effectively ending the duel in Shirou’s favor. It isn’t long before Gilgamesh appears to destroy Archer, the “faker”. Archer gives his last remarks to Shirou, entrusting Gilgamesh’s defeat with him.

Gilgamesh comments on how the grail itself doesn’t grant wishes, but is instead a corrupt depot of curses and death. Many would say that this is because of the wishes of Diarmuid, the lancer from Fate/zero. While I’m not completely certain if that is true, it certainly makes that scene all the more powerful (Fate zero may be due for a rewatch at this point). The very summoning of the grail 10 years ago by Kiritsugu Emiya is what caused the current landscape of destruction that Shirou was ‘born’ into. This time, Gilgamesh promises a much wider scale. Thus, our heroes must regroup.

How can they defeat Gilgamesh though, someone with whom even Saber had difficulty? That was the question going through my head upon realization of the “end game” here, anyway.

Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 19

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and no, I didn’t forget about this series – I’ve still been watching but it has been challenging to find the time to write to this blog! Thankfully, work has simmered down slightly so I’m back into the swing of things.

Enough about that though. Let’s talk TYPE MOON, motherfuckers.

Rin is captured with the intent of being used as the host vessel to the holy grail. In order for the grail to materialize in our world, it needs the body of the magus. For whatever reason, Kotomine has determined Rin to be the most suitable remaining vessel (I guess when your other two choices are Shinji and Shirou, I’d pick Rin too). However, it isn’t long before Lancer saves the day and punches Shinji’s face literally into a wall. Kotomine has other plans though and uses a command seal to force Lancer to kill himself.

So even Fate/stay Lancer has proven himself to be based as fuck – although it seems as though he cannot escape the inevitable suicide through command seal. I suppose them’s the breaks though, as Rin is now at Kotomine’s mercy. Great. And Shinji just has to still be alive, because everybody really thinks he adds so much character to the story.

Shirou has finally connected the dots and sees that Archer is the disgruntled and world-weary guardian he will one day become. In order to stop Shirou from ever becoming who Archer is now, he plans to end him as previously revealed. At stake is much greater than simply a battle to decide who lives or dies – no, this is a battle for what’s right, for what it means to stand by what you believe in. For Shirou to relent is to accept that Archer is correct, and vice-versa. How can Shirou defeat someone who is himself after several, several years though? Sounds impossible – to this effect, Archer is referred to as Shirou’s “ideal” more than once.

Ideal, indeed. What does it mean for Shirou to overcome himself? We’ll find out, shortly.

Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 18

I am the bone of my sword.
Steel is my body, and fire is my blood.
I have created over 1000 blades.
Unknown to life.
Nor known to death.
Have withstood the pain to create many weapons.
Yet those hands will never hold anything.
So now, as I pray, Unlimited Blade Works!

We finally get to hear this classic incantation (and no, the single “I am the bone of my sword” from earlier doesn’t count) in some semblance. And what a payoff it was! The entire scene choreography and associated build up were nothing short of fantastic – they really had me excited even though I knew exactly what was going to happen.

Also, Shirou? He’s actually really cool. I’m happy that the rest of the world that is unfamiliar with the Fate/Stay visual novel get to see the true Shirou Emiya, rather than the one presented in the Deen adaptation, who was a bit off his normal character, much more reckless, and 10,000x more annoying. No, ladies and gentlemen, this is the true Shirou Emiya, the one that Nasu wrote, the real deal. This is also the same Shirou that eventually turns into Archer too, so don’t get too chummy with him!

Interesting to note is that it seems as though Rin and even Shirou had deduced Archer’s true identity, although I’m at a loss as to whether or not Archer had figured out his own identity yet. I’d assume he has, hence the newfound determination to kill Shirou, sparking his abrupt “heel turn” personality change. No doubt Archer is spurred by something greater than simply the realization of his own identity, and rather seeks to destroy that for which he once stood – his altruistic outlook on life. The question is – is he doing this to liberate Shirou so that he does not end up as himself, or is he doing this for more selfish reasons of self satisfaction and showing Shirou the futility of his ways? No one can say for sure which it is, but in due time Archer intends to make it clear.

The battle between these two “Ways of life” are far more important than the physical battle that is about to take place. Brace yourself.

Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 16 & 17

Destiny/Static Evening: Limitless Sword Mechanism

Berserker and Illya are truly dead. Gilgamesh claims his prize – Illya’s still-beating heart, and I am not being figurative here (Which wouldn’t even make sense if I were as she is very dead.) Now comes the part where Shirou breaks the plan off and engages Gilgamesh, who thankfully is saved by a combination of Rin’s gambit of threatening Shinji and the fact that they’ve “run out of time”, whatever that means.

Shirou and Rin later form a hasty alliance with Lancer who later helps them assault the church that Caster/Kizuki are holed up in, thankfully without assassin. I never thought I’d be cheering for Lancer to win in a fight against Archer, but here I was. I must admit, Lancer does seem to be more honorable than I originally had thought of him. Lancer has clearly been taken by Rin’s prowess and personality, and Shirou’s staunch beliefs. I found this more than a little charming as it truly makes them feel as though they are brothers and sisters in arms, even if it is only a temporary alliance to their mutual benefit.

Caster is defeated, surprisingly, through a cunning ploy by Rin which involves close combat – this really makes sense when you think about it as, despite being a talented magus, there’s little reason to believe that Rin can defeat caster in a magic battle. She gets the upper hand but Kuzuki intervenes; Shirou clearly was being a clueless moron and not distracting him like he was supposed to. It doesn’t matter, as Archer moves in to finish off Caster, as finish her off he does. He effortlessly dispatches of Kizuki afterwards (If he gave Saber trouble, how did he manage to defeat him so easily?!)

Archer reveals his intention as a “trojan horse” (which I think many of us initially suspected but quickly discarded) – but soon afterwards holds Rin in place and expresses his desire to end Shirou’s life. With Saber loose and on our side once again, I do not think he will so easily accomplish this.

Fate / Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 15

“Farewell, Berserker”.

What I was expecting from this fight was something considerably less pitiable and brutal than what we received. We’ve all seen “some shit” in anime but I certainly wasn’t expecting Gilgamesh to blind her and let her pitiably fumble about the room looking for Berserker’s corpse. I don’t particularly like her but that was hard to watch and unbearably sad. These are the things that make Gilgamesh a great villain though – his unyeilding nature, his unrelenting mannerisms and brutal tendencies. I never thought I’d say this, but poor Illya…I didn’t even like seeing the wolves attack the poor girl. I suppose my emotions are easily manipulated, but it is decidedly sad…

In any event, Berserker’s resolve and refusal to die impressed even me, and we all know that he’s not one that is killed once and done with. Unfortunately for him, Gilgamesh bled every last drop of blood out of him several times, something that had even Shiro writhing. Ultimately, Tohsaka was unable to restrain him and he revealed his presence to Gilgamesh. Great!

We were also treated to a rather heartwrenching flashback featuring Illya and the source of her lack of trust in others – mostly she was fed a lie by the corrupted grail from Fate Zero that told her of Kiritsugu’s “Betrayal”, when all of us know it was not so black and white. As for why Kiritsugu did not revisit Illya, that I am unsure…perhaps an explanation was given or hinted and I was too dense to pick up on it (It’s happened before!)

Illya and Berserker are now out of the picture, leaving our two heroes without allies once again. Given that they stand against Assassin, Caster, Archer, Saber, and Souichirou, they certainly have their work cut out for them as on paper this is quite an unwinnable situation. My advice would be to pit some of their enemies against each other in the hopes of narrowing their numbers. For now, Shiro and Rin have more pressing matters – that is, dealing with the King of Kings, Gilgamesh. Hopefully they can escape alive.

Fate / Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 13 & 14

Back with a vengeance! Fate stay night returns and brings us to our japanese word of the day – うらぎりもの, romanticized as ‘Uragirimono’. Get used to it, it’s a word you’ll be hearing quite frequently over the course of episode 13!

So, sarcasm aside, Archer finally “betrays” Rin and sides with Caster, making Caster’s master, Caster, Saber, and Archer one force (and quite an intimidating one to boot). Shiro also kind confesses that he likes Tohsaka? No shit, but that was interesting. They’re the only two left and despite initially feeling that they may have no stake in the grail war anymore, they continue to fight on.

They are convinced that their best bet is to enlist the help of other masters (I am inclined to agree), and agree to meet Illysvana with the intent of speaking with her. Oh, except for the fact that Gilgamesh shows up for some reason and destroys Illya’s two humonculi. I could have told them that fighting him was futile, but people rarely want to hear it. Berserk is called upon to help fight Gilgamesh but it’s going to surely be an unholy massacre next episode, strong as Berserker is.

Rin and Shiro certainly have their work cut out for them, as while Rin is a skilled magus and Shiro is beginning to understand his abilities, the two of them would easily get annihilated by any competent or even weak servant. Given that I am familiar with what happens in “Unlimited Blade Works”, I can only say that one event that is upon the horizon is wholly satisfying – just you wait! Actually…doubtless 90% of you are also familiar with the story, so uh…well, why do you need to hear what I have to say anyway?

It was interesting to see Caster’s backstory, even though I still think she’s a slimy bitch. Even caster doesn’t deserve to get punched in the face after being rendered powerless anyway – her old master was even more of a scumbag than she is. Well, good riddance to him.

Next up – Berserker vs. Gilgamesh. Like anyone else who is ever “Vs Gilgamesh”, we know the outcome already.

Fate / Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works – 4 – 12

Unlimited Blade Work’s first season comes to a close, with more playful “Shiro = Archer” references than you are probably comfortable with.

So what happens? For the first time in the show, Shiro does something truly stupid and ends up losing Saber as a direct result of being really, really dumb. During a close confrontation with Caster, he orders Saber via use of a command seal to “Stop”, which allows her to be vulnerable long enough for caster to strike her directly with her noble phantasm, Rule Breaker, which makes Saber her servant. To make matters worse, he is forced to come to terms with his own mortality after being stabbed by Saber and realizing that her mana helped him recover stupid fast from the injuries he received.

Kotomine, as much of a seething, mendacious bastard that he is, is attacked by Caster who obviously has little regard for the neutral zone that the church is supposed to be, shortly after speaking about the Grail and the “Lesser Grail”. Unfortunately for her, Kotomine is extremely capable and isn’t to be taken down easy. Why has he ordered Lancer to stand down and watch, though? No matter how it is cut, that doesn’t appear to be wise, although I doubt Kotomine would make such a clear move not in his favor.

Archer and Rin go to do battle with Caster in the hopes that defeating her is the best way to put an end to the curses she lay on Taiga. Shiro is advised, as anyone would expect by Rin, to stay out of the battle now that he is no longer a master. Shiro, while powerless, is intent not to let Saber lay at the hands of Caster. Shiro sees Saber as a person while I get the expectation that Rin and Archer see her as no more than a chess piece. This may be the key to understanding the way communications often break down between Shiro, being the most emotional, Archer, being the most pragmatic, and Rin, a combination of both elements.

The remixed version of the original Fate / Stay Night VN opening as Rin jumped off to confront Caster was really sweet.

Unfortunately, we have to wait until April to see the second half of Unlimited Budget Works. Until then, gentlemen.

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 4 – 12 (END)

Probably the most egregious combination of episodes I have done yet. Again, sorry for that.

So What is Inou-battle all about? Supernatural powers with a small bit of conspiracy and intrigue that was not quite as fleshed out as I would have liked – but more importantly, about the main cast of characters and their relationships, feelings for one another, and the bond that helps them get through anything.

While it would be easy to dismiss Inou Battle as a “harem anime with a twist” – and perhaps you could do so – I would not be so hasty as the host of other elements it brings to the table make it seem unfair to slap such a label on it and be done with it. While superficially nothing special, I found myself loving and rooting for all of our main characters as the story wore on – perhaps I’m just an easy person to make an impression on. I was really hoping Tomoyo was going to pour her feelings out when she and Andou were in that “secret fireworks” spot. I felt my emotions rushing, I thought the time was ripe!

I always love how shows like this can make my feelings resonate so strongly with some characters – I can see a younger version of myself in the same situation where I might have wanted to give myself an extra push. Sometimes it gives me ideas or interesting locations to think about taking Missi someday – I actually love to ponder on this. Many measure success in different ways, and many anime that I’ve seen throughout my life have toyed with what the definition is – for some in the “Sakura Hall” anime, it was to be a game designer, or a light novel writer. For me, it was always one thing, which should be obvious from this.

Andou’s “Darker and dark”‘s second stage had quite a dark side effect, but I was impressed by what tenacity he employed it with to defeat what appeared to be the final antagonist. While I feel the final confrontation combined Andou’s friends in a satisfying way to conclude “their” story, at least for the moment, I felt it did nothing to bring the whole “Fairy war” to a satisfying end which makes me wonder whether or not this show will continue beyond what we’ve seen here. It felt like a “Well, this isn’t really a conclusion, but here is something” kind of ending, almost like the final episode in an arc but not in the entire show. I will not be too harsh here though as it is possible it will continue.

I only hope this isn’t the last we see of our friends, as I feel there’s a whole hell of a lot more potential and stories to be told.

Also, Kudou is so cute. Seriously, I wanted to hug that poor thing at the very end. Andou, as much as I love the other girls, Kudou is so adorable, do what must be done, please.