“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.