Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Episode 1 – Heroes versus Utilitarianism, Fight!

Blog will slowly truck back into activity as I recover from an extreme case of Diablo 3 addiction, and get caught up on the new season, weekly round-up, seasonal overview for Summer, September month in review, all coming up, but for now:

So, Shirou died last episode, but he’s our main character, time to get some stuff done to fix him up, eh? Note: This episode follows episode 0, don’t watch it first. There’d also be some references to Fate/Zero and Madoka, but shouldn’t be too spoilerific.

Thoughts and Notes:

Screenshot album.

1) Slice of Life Home-Time:

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV) anime episode 1 notes - Emiya Shirou eating dinner with Fujimura Taiga

Cozy, silly. Before the storm.

1) “Good morning, Sakura”, and we pan up her breasts, to end in the half-bust LN-esque shot once more.

2) “And thank you, Senpai” – She said “Ohayo gozaimasu”, bloody hell, that’s “Good morning”.

3) Oh right, Shirou living with the teacher, and Sakura always eating with them, almost forgot this setup. And we see Shirou, always alone, applying himself, constructing things, fixing things, including himself. I guess the person Rin worried about if Shirou died was Sakura (I knew it was Sakura, but tried to avoid spoiling for first-time watchers, having watched the original).

4) That silly teacher, that homey atmosphere. Reminds me of Neon Genesis Evangelion, though definitely with many differences. Also makes me think somewhat of Elfen Lied’s slice of life segment. Or maybe Index.

5) “You using that nickname is the one thing she hates.” – Certainly a visual novel adaptation.

2) Encroaching Darkness:

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV) anime episode 1 notes - Matou Sakura checked gas-leaks

An example of a “VN-esque shot”, bust-only. Also, safety first!

1) “Gas leaks”? More like someone drawing on those people’s energy, as we’ve seen in episode 0, but not as gorily messy.

2) Plain Shirou, using magic, which no one here would suspect. Remember Rin? “I’d know if there were another mage in my school.” Small, low-key stuff. He’s using magic to aid his life, rather than his life to pursue magic, ala Rin. This is as far from “High Magic” as one could get.

3) Shinji, still a shit-heel, but look at Emiya, opposite of Rin, smothering him with kindness and being frank. “If I can help you somehow, I will, just ask.” – That’s Shirou’s nature, straight as a razor, straight as a saber.

4) “You get used to it the longer you know him.” – Or like Rin, you can just avoid him and tell him to get lost. Shirou, accepting things as they are.

3) On the Nature of Kindness:

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV) anime episode 1 notes - Ryudo Issei says Emiya Shirou is too kind

A big moralistic play, coming from an heir to a temple, of all people.

1) “There’s such a thing as being too considerate. You should learn when to say no.” – It’s so interesting to think of Urobuchi being involved with a story dealing with these themes, when it’s not his, as he was with Fate/Zero. It’s not the same, but it’s so interesting to think of Shirou as compared to say, Madoka.

“You’re opening yourself to being taken advantage of by the inconsiderate”, as opposed to a message of hope that believes everyone’s worth helping, worth saving.

2) Shirou is right, “You shouldn’t help people so much” is sort of funny coming from someone who’s being helped by him, right now. But that you get helped doesn’t mean you don’t worry about the cost to the other side.

3) Panning up Illya’s body was just weird, considering he didn’t fall on the ground and is thus looking at her from the bottom up. Those anime/VN touches.

4) “Onee-chan” – Just a way to address someone older than you, but having watched Fate/Zero by now, which wasn’t around when I’ve watched the original Fate/Stay Night, that statement by Illya towards Shirou has more meaning, eh? Of course, that she’s a potential love interest takes another meaning as well.

5) “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”, a neat phrase.

4) Dreams and Reality – Homes and Families:

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV) anime episode 1 notes - Matou Sakura

Everyone got a shitty home situation in this show. Also, such original writing.

1) “When kids see immature adults, they get funny ideas in their heads.” Does that also include Kiritsugu? And for Rin, how about her father, with his obsession for power and the grail war? In a sense, everyone in Fate/Zero was a kid, on the human side, so the next generation was warped by it as well.

2) “How do I become a hero of justice?” – So, he hasn’t given up on the dream. Go Shirou!

3) “It wasn’t Shinji, I got this when I tripped and fell.” Stellar writing.

4) “If you say it happened on its own, then I’ll leave it at that.” and moments later, “Why are you apologizing, it’s Shinji’s fault” – So he still doesn’t take her word for it :P

5) “Helping others and being a Hero (ally of Justice) aren’t the same thing.” – Aren’t they? I wonder.

6) Kiritsugu is really bad at “people” stuff, eh?

5) Utilitarianism and Heroes:

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV) anime episode 1 notes - Emiya Kiritsugu explains to Emiya Shirou the nature of heroes

Old Cynical Kiritsugu laying down what “heroes” truly are.

1) Here we see Emiya’s wish, that everyone survives, and is friendly with one another afterward.

2) Hm, Kiritsugu’s answer, the utilitarian answer. Shirou wants to save everyone. Kiritsugu tries to save the most, and it’s different, as we saw when Kiritsugu shot down his own adoptive mother, in order to help the greater good. He knows of sacrifices. Again, Madoka is one who wouldn’t be content with “greatest good” (that’d be Kyubei), but who chose “Save everyone“, at a cost to herself, of course.

3) “That is the very definition of a hero of justice” – “Someone who saves those on their side.” Meaning no redemption for their enemies. And yes, they strike them down with righteous fire, eh? “Saving one person means abandoning another.” Save one guy by killing the other. That’s Kiritsugu’s life, and raising Shirou, over raising someone else, say.

4) “I’m not interested in salvation that’s inherently limited to a set number of people.” – He understands, but doesn’t accept. Comparing Shirou to Madoka is indeed interesting. And Kiritsugu to Kyubei.

5) “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t get the wrong idea.” – Not that she’s into him, that she’s not into him.

6) And here we go, Shirou being made use of by the inconsiderate. And as we saw last episode, his considerate nature then led to his death, because he was at school way too late.

7) See, Lancer is a hero, and he killed an innocent – because heroes only help those on their side, not others.

6) Servant Action:

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV) anime episode 1 notes - Lancer states the ridiculous

Such great writing.

1) “People die when they are killed, yet here I am, alive.” Heh. Also, “Curse being born without power and without luck.” That’s Shirou’s version of being a hero, of helping those without luck and power, which would require power from him, or conviction. He is The Good Man, as we see it, even if he’s not a “hero” along to Kiritsugu’s cynical definition.

2) Yeah, that kick had so much physicality behind it, that a sword slash or spear jab just can’t match. That meaty impact.

3) “So, you dodged my undodgeable attack!” – Is this JoJo, or a movie from the 60s? I laughed.

4) “You’re not a proper master, yet all the same, you are my master.” – Dealing with things as they are. Can’t wish for something else.

5) The servants, and especially Saber, so very goal-oriented, and humans who might not wish to fight those they must, eh? It’s not easy being a considerate human.

OP – Very pretty, good music, good vocals – reminded me somewhat of Transistor’s “We All Become” (I love that songso much). But of course, it’s based on a romance VN, so we finish the OP looking at all the girls.

ED – Also nice.

Post Episode Thoughts:

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV) anime episode 1 notes - Emiya Kiritsugu and wishes

Past and Present Generations. The Holy Grail War is all about /wishes/, after all.

Shirou, and especially his voice, are much less annoying than they’ve been in DEEN’s version, as memory serves. So, we’ve had a lot less “Unlimited Smirk Works” this week around, with considerably less servants around, but had a lot more standard anime/VN-style “relationships” and high-school stuff. The anime comedy was actually amusing, and I liked Fujimura and Shirou’s relationship. Sakura is still a doormat non-character, at this stage.

It was an enjoyable episode. Not great, but good action, alright high-school stuff, some minor drama, some light comedy. Solid but not really inspiring.

Also, double-length episodes? I could get used to that, but not with note-taking :P

Kiritsugu. His words are there to show us Shirou’s philosophy as contrasted with his own, someone he’s looking up to, someone who shaped his personality and actions, and someone he disagrees with. And yet, watching those words after watching Fate/Zero gives them considerably more weight than when they stand on their own. A lot of things are ironic, when considered in this light.

The most interesting aspect of the discussion, which is actually quite common (“What’s a virtuous man?” “What does being a hero mean?” and the nature of self-sacrifice) was comparing and contrasting with Madoka. Urobuchi is known for dealing with utilitarianism. His characters most often reject and outgrow it. Shirou in this sense would be a perfect protagonist for an Urobuchi show.

2 comments on “Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Episode 1 – Heroes versus Utilitarianism, Fight!

  1. Lorpius Prime says:

    Welcome back to the reviewing game. Glad you realized that you can’t actually leave.

    The Madoka parallel you’re drawing is quite appropriate, you could probably even call the UBW route of the story the Madoka Route. I’m not sure I’d go quite as far as to call Kiritsugu Kyubey, though. He’s certainly not as satisfied with the whole system as Kyubey was. This is definitely a story about almost identical themes, though, and I suppose it’s no wonder Urobuchi wrote the prequel. I wonder if FSN actually comes to the same conclusions as Madoka, however. It’s a messier story just in its presentation, but I think its answers might be less neat as well, if perhaps more human.

    So many little nitpick-y points I want to argue about, but I am restraining myself. :-P

  2. mbrennock says:

    Though I recently watched this series, I am enjoying your blog and your thoughts on the series. I’m still having trouble working out whether I like Fate (the show) as a work that both comes close to the mark while missing it for some reason (the execution? some contradiction in its worldbuilding?) as a simple guilty pleasure?

    In any case, thank you for your post!

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