Our heroes try to make a move on Caster, who retaliates in brutal fashion. Also, season break!
Much like Fate/Zero before it (more like after, actually, seeing as how F/SN was released first), this war’s Caster-class Servant takes center stage as the story’s midboss, creating a threat to the entire Grail War. While Gilles de Rais was just a psychopath who wanted to murder stuff, Medea is clever and ambitious, even attacking the neutral ground of the Church to gain a more advantageous position. By the end of episode 12 (though based on UFOtable’s propensity for double episodes in this series, we’re basically on episode 16), Caster’s faction controls three Servants and has already eliminated one. Disregarding the wild card known only as “Goldie”, that means Caster has approximately half of the combined power in the entire War. With Saber under her thrall, she’s effectively untouchable, with the possible exception of Berserker.
It’s probably also worth placing Kuzuki (“CASTER NO MASTER“) among her battle assets, considering the beatdown he put on Saber in episode 10. Nasu’s big hard-on for making rules only so they can be broken strikes again during the fight sequence, where an ostensibly normal human handily defeats a legendary hero in single combat. Shirou notes during the battle that Kuzuki’s body was being enhanced with magic, but the show isn’t particularly clear that it’s Caster’s Era-of-Gods level magic doing so, worlds beyond anything a modern magus could manage. Kuzuki isn’t a magus to begin with, only serving as Caster’s tether to reality; she’s receiving the bulk of her mana from draining the townsfolk.
three four episodes also highlight Shirou’s own growing abilities, as he projects Archer’s twin swords Kanshou and Bakuya to fight Kuzuki and suffers the magical backlash for the entire next episode. Caster’s acquisition of Saber also removes Shirou’s sheathe-derived healing powers, seeing as how he no longer has a magical contract going on with its owner. The Unlimited Blade Works route comes after the Fate route while playing the visual novel, so normally none of this would be much of a shock, but I imagine a fair amount of the audience has only seen Fate/Zero. Suffice to say that Shirou’s ability to project swords is related to the fact that he can strengthen bladed weapons more effectively than other objects. In other news, oranges are orange!
Overall, I have to say that UFOtable’s been doing a great job adaptating Fate/Stay Night, staying exceptionally true to the source. The much-hyped anime original scenes have generally been quite good as well, with Taiga’s quiet visit to Kiritsugu’s grave adding some welcome depth to her character. The other major one starred Kotomine and his infamous “Urobuchi-style” Baji Quan, which is a fun bit of action. His brandishing of Black Keys is a nice nod to fans of the universe; disregarding F/Z and the Heaven’s Feel route, they were previously only used by agents of the Church in Tsukihime. To put the cherry on top of the fanservice sundae, the first cour closes out with an all-new rendition of THIS ILLUSION, the original OP to both the Fate/Stay Night visual novel and the 2005 DEEEEEEEEEEEN anime.
The second half of UBW promises UFOtable stoking the cash bonfire for a series of crazy fights, including the much-anticipated return of Lancer, so I’ll see you all come spring season. Look forward to it.