(To clarify, this is the first episode in the 2nd cour.)
So, where did last cour’s finale leave us? With Saber taken by Caster, to be turned into darkness (“defiled”, ahem), with Shirou being left behind by Rin and Garcher. I do think it was a very awkward place to stop the cour, not on any high note of action or drama, honestly. That episode sort of robbed the tension at the spot it chose to end.
As most of my knowledge revolves around the first route, and here it’s more hearsay, plenty of stuff to surprise me is expected! This show is very chuuni, and takes itself way too seriously, but it’s still overall enjoyable to watch. The comedy was actually enjoyable, and hopefully we’ll get a lot more action in this cour.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Catching Up – Submission:
1) Weak and helpess Shirou is reminded of how helpless he is, and so, his thoughts turn to the last time he was entirely powerless.So, another turn around the rosie with Shirou’s ideals, but seems this time he actually reflects on them, rather than declaring them to convince others, to convince himself: He wants to become a hero, to make others happy. He is willing to sacrifice himself. Why? Because he wants to prove him existing in the world is worth it. Not by his existence, but by what he’ll do for others, because his life, his wishes, no longer matter. He’s someone who should be dead, so this second life isn’t his.
2) Oh, just your bent-over with behind revealed Saber… I thought this poster was just your usual fan-service fare, not taken from the show proper.”But your Servant body cannot resist me.” – Oh my, Caster right back with all of her forcefully suggestive imagery.
“Surely you can sense my Command Seals eating away at you, little by little!” – Caster, whose role in the show is to deliver the ultimate chuunified villain lines.
3) Caster’s submission for the crazy teacher, running towards him after he appears, to appease him. Everything about Caster screams “power dynamics.” Almost feels like someone who gets beaten, and then beats those weaker than her to take out her frustrations.
2) The Ruins of Cynicism:
1) “I don’t care how you accomplish it. All I need is the result.” – So the sociopath is going to watch the torturing of Saber. He’s also exemplifying, and living, the ideals Rin spouts but does not believe in, and the ones Shirou rejects.
2) A ruined world, where nothing but desolation and swords remain. A post-apocalyptic setting, the result of endless wars. That’s Archer’s mental landscape. Meaning, that’s how Nasu views cynicism’s effect and cause on us. Doesn’t look pretty. Abandon cynicism!Also tells you, his goal is just like Shirou’s, to save humanity, to help the world. But he’s given up on it after enough times. He’s telling Shirou because he sees a younger himself in him, and he hates it. Despises the naiveté.
3) The Fortress of Sociopathic Idealistic Solitude:
1) “If I can, I want to avoid having any regrets.” – So does everyone. And you’re asking the one Heroic Spirit whose entire personality is based upon the regret, the rejection, of his past naiveté.
2) “People who can live without regrets are [those who don’t make mistakes and] those who don’t think they’d make/made mistakes.” – Yes, without the stuff in brackets, that sounds about right. People who are self-righteous, so in love with themselves that they think they can do no wrong. Most people just lie to themselves about it, of course.
3) “They never regret or agonize over what they’ve done.” – Archer speaks of this as an ideal, and while always going forward is indeed something to strive for, it’s also how you give birth to monstrosities who cannot advance. I mean, without learning from what you’ve done, how can you do better? Hm? Hm. Then again, Archer’s messages are usually full of such rash and poisonous bravado, that’s his “too cool for school” shtick, he’s here for Shirou to reject his messages.
4) “Tohsaka Rin can believe in her own path to the very end without regret.” – Note he used her surname here.Tohsaka Rin, daughter to an existing magician line. Tohsaka Rin, who kept hearing such messages in her father’s name.
4) The Bond Betrayal:
1) This, Archer cannot allow. The return of Shirou, and not only that, but Tohsaka helping someone who is a rival, rather than taking Saber into her own fold? Tsk, tsk. So much for “Go forward, think only of yourself,” which was the subtext of Archer’s description of “no regrets”.
2) Rin is relying on Saber’s shounen spirit, that’ll allow her to resist the unresistable commands.
3) “You see, defeating her here struck me as idealistic.” – Archer’s role in this arc is: “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s people striving to be better!” Yes, this betrayal was slowly built up, over all the times he disagreed with Rin, and sided with Caster’s methods, and even goals. Well, UBW Archer sure makes different decisions in life than the Fate route one.
4) “Isn’t it only natural that I go over to the winning side?” – Archer’s patented No Regrets™ philosophy at work.
5) Archer is flat out telling Caster that he’s with her because it serves his best interests, not because he’s “loyal” to her. It’s also a warning that should the situation change, he’d abandon her. This is like the good old days of playing Worms with my cousin against the PC, with our non-aggression pact till we take the PC out. The only question was who will betray the other first, not whether it’d happen ;-)
5) The Bondian Power-Plays Speechifying Continue:
1) “If I could not control you myself, it would speak poorly of my abilities.” – Caster, you need to find a new speech writer, really.
2) “I want to attach one condition to my joining your forces.” – Shouldn’t you have said that before handing over your command seals? Also, you have the same person writing your lines as Caster, Archer, and you need to switch as well ;-)
3) “My price is that you let them leave.” – And soon Archer will give us some reason, but it still feels idealistic.”I merely thought it’d be wrong for a Heroic Master to cut down his heartbroken former Master.” – Wow, that’s idealistic as fuck.
4) “If they are fools who embrace a hopeless fight, they will be cut down without mercy.” – And that is why Archer finally turned his back on Rin. Because she let ideals blind her.
5) “I side with the most powerful.” – Just like the veiled threat at Caster, this is a veiled promise aimed at Rin, if somehow she’d become more powerful than Caster, he’d have no qualms about rejoining her. Also, dat smirk.Also, everyone seems to be forgetting about a certain Berserker, and his diminutive master.
1) “You can gripe and moan once we get home.” – Emiya Shirou always knows what to say to girls.And then she actually cried and said he’ll make this right. The tsundere is strong within this scene. She’s crying over his empathy, over him pointing out she’s emotionally hurt, and it’s worse than his physical pain.
2) “I always mess up the most important thing.” – So much for “no regrets”.
3) “Failing doesn’t mean you’re wrong.” – While he has a point, this is the same form of hard-headed idealism that leads to the same position as Archer, where no matter what happens, you think you haven’t made a mistake. No regrets, just discarded bodies left in your wake.”I don’t regret things either” – He said it! And he even said Tohsaka is brilliant! Yup, this calls right back to the Garcher talk. Garcher might talk down of ideals, but he’s preaching his own form of idealism as well.
4) What an awkward love confession. Good stuff.LOL, her pushing him off the rock. Talk about super-stereotyped. Very cute. I couldn’t make this up even if I wanted to.
5) “I really do have feelings for you!” – “Baka!” – I thought you save “Baka!” for when they don’t admit it, Rin. Or well, when you don’t want to admit it, which I guess you don’t.
6) “I was really happy you saved me.” – Inorite? Anyone who isn’t Shirou is usually happy when they’re saved from being killed. But I guess it’s not as obvious in a world where people don’t die even when they are killed ;-)
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- Ah right, gone is Kotomine Kirei, or is he? His is not an easy to snuff out life.
- “Brilliant people shine more brightly than ordinary ones.” – Yes, that’s what the word “brilliant” means. Thanks for the dictionary, Archer :P
- “You think you have a chance against me, one on one? Are you not forgetting my trump card? – VILLAIN LINES DETECTED! DEPLOY COUNTER MEASURES!
- There it is, Garcher’s smirk! Unlimited Smirk Works!
- Man, what a gorgeous shot.
- Two of a heirloom pendant, of which there should be but one. Dun dun duuun.
OP – Much more “thoughtful” than I’d expected it to be, introspective? I don’t know what to call it, but quiet and deliberate.
ED – Ok? Forgettable, really. Don’t have anything bad to say about it, but also nothing good. It just doesn’t leave any impression.
This episode was Fate/Stay Night at its chuuniest in a long time, but I actually like this show when it’s chuuni. It’s naive and adorable and sweet. You just don’t need to take its messages too seriously. Archer and Shirou’s little spiels about “no regret” show exactly why, because you end up leaving the dried husks of everyone you no longer consider behind.
But the chuuniness was good, and the romantic talk between Shirou and Rin had been one of the show’s strong points up to now. No action, but we can’t have it all. A solid cour-premier, thoroughly enjoyable, just don’t try to act like this at home!
Why do you think that the show is telling us that either Archer or Shirou is right? The show seems to be going out of its way to show us that they’re both wrong, just wrong in different ways. Considering the fact that Archer is sort of like the result of following Shirou’s ideals through to the very end, wouldn’t it make more sense that Shirou learns from Archer and develops a new way of viewing the world, which is a synthesis of his own ideal with the Archer’s experience? Just a thought.
I think that you misunderstood Shirou’s speech to Rin at the end, or maybe I misunderstood it. The impression I got from his speech was that he was comparing Rin’s approach to failure with his own. As reality pokes holes in Shirou’s idealism, he’s just trying to patch his ideal up with stiches, ending up with something sort of raggedy and crummy. By contrast, he feels that Rin is brilliant because, when she makes a mistake, rather than trying to patch up her failures, she destroys all her failures utterly and starts again, refusing to accept anything short of a perfect product. So, even if Rin regrets losing Archer now, that regret won’t last long, since Shirou expects her to perk back up, think up a plan to blow Caster to kingdom-come, take her servant back, punish Archer appropriately for betraying her, and return things to the way she likes them.
The show is selling Shirou as noble, and Archer as cool and powerful. It’s selling us on both of them being “right”. Even if they get some details wrong, or they set out for good and got cynical after they were betrayed, etc. Archer, not really. Shirou? Yes. He’s the hero. Even if he’s naive, his naivete is sold as a strength, and his ideals as good. It’s in how the show is presenting them and the arcs.
Your comment is born out of knowing how things turn out, with regards to Shirou and Archer, but that’s bollocks, in the end, because Shirou still believes, and still makes it better. He’s the Madoka Magica. Shirou is right, Shirou is the ideal. Also, try to avoid posting spoilers, which this is, in the comments. Also, I’m more familiar with the franchise than merely watching the DEEN animation, but I haven’t, and have no plans to actually play the VN.
Shirou is honestly just spouting nonsense to Rin. A combination of, “I will cheer her up,” and “I’m in love with her and she can do no wrong.” – Shirou is blind to Rin not actually believing in her way, and second-guessing her upbringing, so he thinks she’ll just bounce back up. It’s not “starting again,” he believes she didn’t make any mistakes, that her trusting in Archer and him betraying her weren’t an error, because they’re ideals, such as “trust”, and he believes in ideals.
Shirou isn’t saying his ideals are a patchwork, but his belief in himself is, constantly setting him up again as “right”, but honestly, it mostly comes off as angsty stuff.
No, Shirou is established as severely mentally ill in the first route. Some proof:
-Cleaning up his own blood with a mop at the school after he is revived by Rin’s jewel.
-Jumping in front of Berserker to save Saber.
-Cleaning the dojo for Shinji like a slave.
-Trying to practice his magic everyday even though it’s very dangerous.
-Kotomine pointing out that he wants the war to happen just so he has people to save.
-His inability to accept Saber fighting again after the Berserker fight because it triggers his PTSD.
-Thinking like a machine during battles.
-Trying to understand and cheer up Illya at the park even though she’s extremely dangerous.
-Being unable to accept Saber’s wish to undo her past (to save her kingdom by making someone else king) because it makes him feel like like a hypocrite for not trying to use the grail himself to save the people from the Fuyuki fire.
-The many times in the story he treats death as a normal thing.
-Implies his heart emptied out after he practically died in the fire 10 years ago.
At the end of the Fate route he moves past his survivor’s guilt but remains trapped in his same patterns. In the second route he increasingly moderates his adherence to his ideals. Eg. In Fate you have to pick the suicidal choices to avoid bad ends (used to convey his unhinged mind) while in UBW you have to wait for the best openings to take action. The character development in this route is that he ceases to take his ideals as absolutes but rather as guidelines to follow. Instead of obsessing over impossible goals like Archer or Kiritsugu (and in Archer’s case taking actions in denial of one’s true wishes) he seeks to find happiness in the struggle itself. That is why Archer is unable to destroy his will in the beautiful ‘answer’ fight sequence in the visual novel.
Also, Archer becomes increasingly unhinged in this route. There’s nothing done to make him seem any cooler than the other heroic spirits. In the other routes where he’s too injured to act as a free agent, he is still interested in observing Shirou and his relationships and giving criticism.
No, the director Takahiro Miura simply misinterpreted his character. Shirou is never naive. He knew his ideals were impossible from the prologue of the story. He is highly astute as a person with a damaged mind.
Sadly, this is one of the most misinterpreted stories by Westerners because of bad anime and a lack of official VN release.
You should read the VN. The philosophy in UBW comes from Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus”. Not really something that would be taught at your analytic school university.
The original Japanese VN is worth trying. It actually avoids the bad characterization/dialogue you had problems with. The characters are super eloquent and express their feelings nicely.
Here is one of my favourite parts:
The 10+ year old fan translation of this game is a very shameful catastrophe however. I hope it can be localized and put on Steam or another platform.
Witch on the Holy Night and Fate/Extra CCC are also worth reading (Japanese only sadly).
The Heaven’s Feel movies have finally refuted all the idiots who thought the UBW anime or the VN fan translation had accurate characterization and dialogue. Enjoy.
And I do mean enjoy, because it’s the first Fate/Stay Night anime that isn’t a disappointment in terms of scripting. xd