Fate/Stay Night UBW Episode 17-18

ubw18ubw“The Dark Sword Bares Its Fangs”
“The Beginning of the Circle”

Saturdays at 1:30 pm EDT on Crunchyroll

Lancer helps Rin and Shirou storm Caster’s stronghold, and Archer reveals his identity and his true Noble Phantasm to our heroes.

Iro’s Thoughts

Aaaaand Lancer’s moment to shine has come and gone. Yep, that Gáe Bolg toss was it; it’s basically the only time in the entire Fate series where Cú Chulainn gets to strut his stuff after having everyone talk him up, and it doesn’t even kill Archer. Granted, if Lancer had pressed his advantage instead of backing off, it wouldn’t have even been a contest, but… yknow, plot (and now I’m showing how much of a NEEEEERD I am for getting into Type-Moon power level discussion). For those not in the know mythology-wise, the name “Cú Chulainn” means “The Hound of Culann”, referring to when he killed Culann’s guard dog as a child and had to serve as its replacement for several years; this is why he got pissed when Archer started bringing up dogs. Really, Cú Chulainn’s legend has a whole weird thing with dogs, which has led to a few good gags in Carnival Phantasm and Fate/Hollow Ataraxia.

Rin also gets to show some of her moxie while fighting Caster. As hard as F/SN pushes the idea that humans – even magi – are no match against Servants (Ciel from Tsukihime – who is virtually unkillable and is literally ten times the magus Rin is – is said to be able to put up a decent fight at best), each route has at least one instance of a human defeating one, and this is one of the most memorable ones. Mixing martial arts with magecraft shows up a few other times in the universe (chiefly Bazette from Fate/Hollow Ataraxia and Aoko Aozaki from Tsukihime / Melty Blood / Mahoutsukai no Yoru), and each time it’s a cool concept that never really gets fleshed out. Lore-wise, the fight’s supposed to show that Rin is such an incredible magus that she can go toe-to-toe with Caster, even for a few minutes, but like I said, Fate really likes to talk up the Servants.

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Oh, and I guess Archer is Shirou from the future. I avoided saying this directly throughout our coverage, but anyone who’s watching this show already knows. If Saber being King Arthur is this show’s “Darth Vader is Luke’s father”, then Archer being Shirou is Fate‘s “Luke and Leia are siblings”. I was hoping for an anime-original flashback episode for Archer around this point, since we got flashback episodes for Kiritsugu, but alas, that would probably be too much to ask. According to what fans have pieced together from various bullshit sources (including some tidbits in Fate/Extra for the PSP), Archer came from a timeline that at least superficially resembled the Fate route wherein Shirou and Saber are the main couple, but there would have been large differences, such as Rin’s “original” Servant and myriad adventures after the Holy Grail War. What I really wanted to see was Ciel giving him his magical red cloak, which has only been mentioned in interviews and would be a great nod to fans of the universe.

Archer’s motives (and Rin’s long-winded obvious explanation thereof; thanks, Nasu) are one of the main reasons why I think Fate/Zero should be read after Fate/Stay Night. Archer’s path in life mirror’s Kiritusgu’s almost exactly, and F/SN spends plenty of time hammering into you that Shirou chose this because he wanted to imitate Kiritsugu’s unfulfilled ideal. Kiritsugu himself wistfully mentions how it’s an impossible dream in the flashbacks, and Saber’s references to the previous Grail War in Fate route raise the question of what exactly caused Kiritsugu to change. This lends a sense of dramatic irony to F/Z, where you can see for yourself how Kiritsugu went wrong and how deeply it broke him, especially when he’s speaking to Shirou and musing that his son will surely never follow the same dark path that he did.

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As for UFOtable’s work adapting UBW, episode 18 probably marks the first spot where I feel DEEEEEEEEEEEEN’s film did a better job handling things, specifically when Rin re-contracts with Saber, who is supposed to practically explode with magical energy. Here, she kind of stands around and tries to look menacing, which doesn’t really work since she still has the whole Saber Lily ponytail going on throughout the scene. Similarly (and DEEN screwed this up too), Shirou’s parrying of Archer’s projections within Unlimited Blade Works are supposed to also be projectiles instead of him blocking each by hand, although considering the hilariously abrupt cut to the confrontation’s aftermath, I can at least hold out hope they’ll fix it for the BDs.

Oh, and one last thing: Reikan Ryudo, Issei’s older brother and super minor character in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, makes a cameo as one of the comatose people transported out of Ryudo Temple. Since Shirou’s employer Otoko Hotaruzuka also cameo’d in an early episode, this means both of Taiga’s old classmates have shown up in this version. It’s weird to me that UFOtable would include details like this and then goof up other things.

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