WARNING FOR BIG SPOILERS!!
“I am the bone of my sword…” – Archer
Up till now all the plotting, betraying and taunting has been lagging us along for quite a few weeks since the beginning of the season. Finally, we’ll see the fight break out, for real, between Archer and the other servants. It’s a shame Saber is still pretty out of commission in this episode but most of Caster’s drama is resolved by the end of the episode.
To be honest I preferred the development of Caster’s story and the conflict with side in the unlimited blade works route more than the huge conflict with Berserker in the original Fate route. While Berseker was a formidable enemy and I enjoyed the epic battle between both Berserker and Archer and Berserker and Saber, the core of the unlimited blade works conflict teased out a lore more of the themes of morality behind heroism, sacrifice and the concept of “wishes” in this Holy Grail War. All of this cumulating into the big reveal we’ll get out Archer’s identity in episodes seventeen and eighteen.
I was immensely impressed with Rin’s strategic plan against Caster. Since Rin knows she’s definitely not a match for Caster’s sorcery, she opts for the old-fashioned hand to hand combat once Caster’s defenses are down. But the real action isn’t in the prolonged match between Rin and Shiro vs Caster and Souchirou, but between Lancer and Archer. Seriously, Lancer dies WAY too early in the Fate route. The complex betrayal plot has given the writers a chance to show off Lancer’s honour and loyalty as a heroic spirit as well as his battle prowess. He even puts Archer on his toes in full frontal battle. Lancer unleashes his Noble Phantasm in battle, Gae Bolg, the spear that kils with a single blow. Archer takes the spear head on and blocks with Rho Aias, a conceptual (pretty darn impenetrable) magic defense developed from Ajax’s shield, the shield that stopped Hector’s javelin in the age of the Greeks.
Once the battle between Archer and Lancer ends, Archer returns to Caster’s battle and sends a handful of swords flying in Souichirou’s direction. In order to protect him, Caster takes the blow for him instead and dies moments after. 2015 Caster is REALLY PRETTY GEEZ they should have gotten the hood off quicker =.=” But we have no longer to tarry on Caster’s death as Souchirou squares himself up to face Archer… a completely anti-climactic death that happens as an afterthought to the Caster ordeal.
Sidenote 1: If Archer hadn’t “missed” throwing swords at Shirou and Saber after Souchirou’s death, the two would have been dead already and the series would have been seriously shortened LOLSS But of course we MUST drag out this drama to have the almost obvious confirmed to us concerning just exactly WHO Archer is/was.
Again this is one of the moments I’m grateful I watched both episodes in one sitting…
“My will creates your body, and your sword creates my destiny…” – Rin
Things seem to take a turn for the worse with Shirou, Saber and Rin when he’s got everyone out-powered. Saber, in her outstanding loyalty, vows to protect Shirou despite their severed Master/Servant oath.
Sidenote 2: Saber should keep the ponytail instead of the bun. The ponytail is cuter. And the dress was nice too LOLs Caster has good taste.
While it’s admirable that Shirou continuously charges at Archer to fight him head on, he’s really no match for the Servant. The more he pushes his magic circuits, the more flashbacks he gets about… a hill… with swords. So many hints have already added up, at this point, there’s no way the anime-only viewers don’t know Archer’s true identity.
Archer is a seriously condescending bastard in this episode. But the extremities of the war have pushed us to one of my FAVOURITE moments in the entire Fate franchise, and a moment in the visual novel I’ve wanted to see animated on screen for SOOO LONGG. THAT EPIC MOMENT WHEN RIN AND SABER PARTNER UP!!! Also thumbs up for Shirou for distracting Archer long enough for the pact to be forged.
Saber emerges renewed and recharged with mana, ready to fight once more. In the Fifth Holy Grail War, arguably there is no better, stronger and more strategic pairing to win the Grail.
Archer’s obsessions over killing Shirou is what has driven him so far in this game. To REALLY make a point to his opponents, he summons his Reality Marble, his noble phantasm – Unlimited Blade Works. Everyone is baffled, and yet not. Goodness the animation is gorgeous in the Reality Marble. BIG SHOUTOUT to the animation and art direction team for making such a tragically beautifully landscape with the perfect palette and tones (and lighting) to express Archer’s emotions and legacy.
Unfortunately things end on a somewhat anti-climactic note as the Reality Marble dissolves due to Archer’s lack of mana. By the halfway mark of the episode, we’re awkwardly paced into a standstill as the two sides part and decide to resume their fight the day after next.
I did however appreciate the brief break to hear more of Rin’s monologue on Archer, which basically reveals to us Archer’s back story, his sacrifice for his ideals and the betrayal he experienced from the world. Before things can simplify, they re-complicate with Gilgamesh and Shinji in the mix of things. The big question posted subtly to viewers here is the Archer vs Archer fight and the Archer vs Saber fight which will definitely come soon. Lancer gets in on this as well (is he just bored? Lolz) and we hit a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end of the episode.
A HELL of a lot went on in this episode, all of it so intriguing and suspenseful. Things I’m looking forward to? ACK I just want to see Gilgamesh in his lovely gold armour again. And of course, I want to see more Unlimited Blade Works scenes cause the animation is just SO gorgeous. I suppose most fans of the long-running franchise and even anime-only viewers will be forgiving of the series’ awkward pacing or any mishaps JUST BECAUSE everything is so gorgeously animated and most of us love the characters so much. Can’t wait for more Fate next week!
Sidenote 3: Junichi Suwabe-san’s English has gotten A LOT better since the 2006 Fate series; makes the dialogue so much more dramatic.
What are you pondering today?