Fate/stay night – Unlimited Blade Works Ep. 1: Shirou talks to a lot of people

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So it’s back to basics, I guess. And by that, I’m referring to how the story will now adopt Shirou’s point-of-view from here on out. It’s okay, though. Like I’ve said before, I don’t remember much about the original Studio Deen adaptation. As such, it’s a new story to me either way. From here on out, however, I’m going to edit out any spoilers or unnecessary infodumping about the Fate/stay night universe in the comments below. Why? Hardcore fans everywhere always seem to have this insatiable urge to go into the comments section for every anime and post nothing but spoilers. This nonsense only gets amplified with a popular show like Fate/stay night. People can’t resist it. But when I’ve just sat through a forty-plus minute prologue full of exposition, what on earth makes anyone think I want to read more infodumping from the fans? Worst of all, these comments don’t lead to any discussion. They’re essentially just lectures. Yo, I get it. Some of the questions I raise in my posts will eventually be answered by the anime, but some of you guys can’t help but feel as though you’ve got to defend your show now… like right now! But y’know what? Let the goddamn anime answer my questions. I’m here to blog about the anime, not its fans. As a result, I should enjoy (or not enjoy) the anime on its own terms. It shouldn’t need supplemental help from you guys.

— So the episode kicks off with a cool-looking scene of a young Shirou standing amid the flames of a burning town.

— Afterwards, we return to the present where it appears Shirou is sleeping in some sort of storage shed. Even so, a girl has come to wake him up, because that’s just how these stories are supposed to start. It doesn’t matter where your bedroom is. It doesn’t matter if you’re surrounded by a bunch of tools — literally a bunch of tools. One thing for sure, you can never wake yourself up, because that’s your female friend’s job. I assume if you marry someone else, your waifu will just magically take over this responsibility.

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— Speaking of which — and this has nothing to do with Fate/stay night specifically, but I just feel like going off-topic — anime protagonists rarely seem to have true bros. They’ll have guys that they consider to be their best friends, but when do you ever see one of these male best friends come over and make sure that the protagonist is doing okay? Not too often, huh?

— Also, it seems as though a good part of this episode’s timeline will overlap with what we saw last week. In other words, we’re going to see Shirou get killed and revived again, huh? Oh well.

— Sakura’s voice is annoying already. Good lord, does she really need to say ‘senpai’ every other sentence? Luckily, we know right off the bat that this is supposed to be Rin’s route. I don’t know how I’d stomach watching Sakura as a main character.

— Huh, he just touched something and green light flashed on it. I guess he’s a magical mechanic.

— The OP is a peculiar mix of good animation and outdated-looking character designs. Mostly, I just think the Servants like Lancer and Archer look rather silly.

— And of course, Sakura cooks an entire meal for everyone in the household. She assures Shirou that she does it because she enjoys it. I rather dislike her archetype. I’m not saying I dislike her, because Sakura-as-a-character is still an unknown to me. I don’t really know who she is yet. C’mon, it’s just the first episode; I’m not that unreasonable. Rather, I’m referring to her archetype. Basically, she starts off as the sort of girl who’s pretty much meets all the qualifications for the perfect housewife. The downside? She also starts off boring as fuck. You’ll notice that characters of this archetype tend to have the same high-pitched voice-acting, too. It’s like one appeared out of nowhere, and the rest just decided to copy her until the end of time. Anyway, it’s of course very possible that Sakura’s character grows beyond her initial archetype, but as always, I’ll believe it when I see it.

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— We get a light-hearted scene involving Shiro and his homeroom teacher. It doesn’t seem particularly important, so that’s all I’ll say about it.

— Apparently, a rash of gas leaks have hit New City. That sounds rather hard to believe, which is probably why Shirou tells Sakura to be extra careful. She, however, is surprisingly proud of herself for checking the gas valve everyday. Okay then.

— Goddamn, I just noticed that this episode is forty-seven minutes long too. Twitter tells me only the first and first-first episodes will be like this. I’ll just have to power through this somehow.

— Nothing too interesting so far. Our hero’s using his magical powers to fix up heaters. He can listen to their kokoros.

— Goodie, I get to rewatch a scene from the previous episode. I guess we now get to see Shirou’s face when he utters that one line to Rin, but I’m not particularly sure what insight I’m supposed to glean from watching this scene again but from a different angle.

— These are some pretty ugly uniforms. They’re the color of cardboard, so I can’t help imagining that they’re all wearing cardboard.

— It looks like Shinji’s an asshole to everyone. Future villain?

— Afterwards, Issei tells Shirou that the latter needs to learn how to say no. More importantly, someone’s going to take advantage of him one day because he’s so kind-hearted. This sounds like some not-so-subtle foreshadowing. It also tells us a bit about Shirou’s character, and where it might go from here. Like most anime protagonists, Shirou appears to be the hard-working, never-give-up sort of hero. But maybe like with Sakura, that’s just his archetype for now. Time will tell if he grows beyond it.

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This is supposed to be the second route, though, and people claim that every route is quite different from the others. As such, I can’t help but wonder if this Shirou will stay the course.

— I mean, the girl he picks would have to reflect his life choices somewhat, right? Since the first route — and thus the first adaptation — had something to do with Saber, and she seems to represent somewhat of an ideal, I have to imagine that that Shirou ended staying true to his archetype from start to finish. Will he really be the same with Rin, someone who appears from the outset to be somewhat morally gray in her characterization? After all, she doesn’t even have a wish. Most goody-two-shoes would at least say, “Oh, I hope to achieve world peace” or something lame like that. Rin outright tells us in the previous episode, however, that she just wants to fight. If our super kind-hearted protagonist is going to fall in love with her, something’s got to change.

— Later that night, Shirou runs into some midget girl with white hair. We always need a midget character. Anyway, she tells him he’s going to die if he doesn’t summon his Servant soon. Of course, our hero doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Pfft, I hope she dies.

— When he gets home, Shirou gets scolded some more for helping people. It’s kind of funny if you take it out of context. Still, we’re not learning anything particularly too interesting other than that he’s like his father. This episode’s pacing is kind of slow.

— Later, after failing to strengthen some metal bar, Shirou bemoans the fact that he doesn’t have a clue how to become a hero of justice. Boy, have I got a Holy Grail for you!

— So far, all I’ve seen from Sakura is her waking the protagonist up, cooking, and cooking some more. Oh, but now she has a bruise on her left hand. It’s the same location as that thing we saw on Rin’s left hand from the previous episode, too.

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So I must ask, is Sakura going to be a Master too? Shirou immediately thinks Shinji’s responsible, and it doesn’t help that Sakura feeds him horribly cliched lines: “I, um, got this when I tripped and fell.” Who in world has ever believed that?

— Yeah, the pacing is super sloooooow. Now we’re watching Shirou eat at the cafeteria and conversing with Ayako. Maaaaaaaan. Dude’s not going to get stabbed by Lancer until the episode is nearly over, huh? Episode zero had infodumps, but I’m not exactly sure what episode one has to justify it being this long. These scenes aren’t filled with too much exposition, but they’re not exactly brimming with deep, meaningful characterizations either. And yet, here I am… watching Shirou have a conversation with everyone at school.

— Remember how Rin turned Shinji down in the previous episode? Now you get to listen to Ayako gossip about the consequences of said rejection! Again, I don’t really see why I need to know any of this.

— Shirou goes looking for Rin, I think? Instead, he learns about a murder that had just occurred nearby. Alright, c’mon, this is what I’m talking about. More of this, please, and less “Hurr, all bad guys say they’re not Shinji!” Sadly, we’ll have to shelf this murder mystery for now, as it isn’t brought up again for the rest of the episode. Oh well, there’s always next week.

— We then see a flashback where a younger Shirou had first met his father. The guy hilariously asks, “I’ll come right out and ask you which you would prefer, being sent off to an orphanage or being taken in by a man you just met?” Nurse, I’ll go with the strange, disheveled-looking man in the black coat!

— Dude then comes right out with the revelation that he is a magic-user. I’m a wizard, Harry! You? Uh, sorry, you can’t be a wizard. You’ll just be able to fix heaters and shit…

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— Shirou: “It makes me mad when people who try so hard die.” Me too, buddy, me too. He then asks if it’s greedy to wish for a perfectly happy ending where no one gets hurt. Not sure how that’s greedy. Naive, maybe. Foolish, perhaps. But greedy? In any case, his own father didn’t agree with him: “Saving one person means being unable to save another.” In some situations, yeah. But it’s not true all the time. More importantly, a hero of justice isn’t realistic. His father goes on to say, “You see, a person can only save those who belong to the side they’re on.” My point is, the more power you have, the more people you can save. It’s implicit in his father’s words, of course, that we are limited by what we can do. But while that might’ve been true for him, it might not be true for Shirou.

— What’s with this homeroom teacher? She’s in her mid-twenties, but she needs to wait until the protagonist comes home before she can eat? Is she really that incapable of feeding herself? Even an idiot can fry an egg.

— Sakura doesn’t want the protagonist to get the wrong idea, okay? She can’t come over to cook for him for a while, but it’s not because she has friends or anything! Anyway, why doesn’t she have pupils in her irises? She looks weird.

— Seriously though, this feels like the longest episode ever.

— Apparently, Shirou has a bruise on his left hand now too. That makes sense. He’s going summon Saber eventually, after all.

— Later that day, he has the lamest confrontation with Shinji. First, he accuses the guy of hurting Sakura, but then he admits that Sakura had said otherwise. So in the end, Shirou ends up apologizing to the asshole instead. Man, if you don’t have a plan to confront the guy, why even bother? To make matters worse, Shinji tells Shirou to make it up to him by cleaning the dojo… and our hero agrees to it! Is this a choice you can make in the visual novel?

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What I mean is, can you tell the guy to fuck off? Or do you really have to sit there and read as your character agrees to clean the dojo like a chump?

— So this explains why Shirou had stayed at the school so late that day. He stupidly agrees to wash and fix everything at the dojo. Heroes of justice can save lots of people, because they don’t agree to perform such menial tasks.

— We all know what happens next: Lancer kills Shirou and tells the dying kid that he’s just unlucky. Afterwards, Lancer speaks to his unseen master, then disappears. Finally, Rin comes by to save him with her pendant, blah blah blah.

— Why did Rin save the guy only to just leave him there? I also thought his jacket would be a little more soaked with blood considering the pool of blood we had just seen earlier, but I guess not.

— But put that aside for now, ’cause Lancer has returned to finished the job again. But this time, he intends to toy with Shirou a bit, and like how it always works, when the bad guy is cocky, he allows the good guy to save himself. Out comes Saber, and hey, at least she has pupils.

— The fighting’s cool. Too bad we had to wait even longer this time to see it. Oh well, at least future episodes will be shorter. It still amuses me that this has better choreography than 90% of the shows this season. Sure, sure, it’s a labor of love, but c’mon, anime needs to step it up in general.

— Apparently, Saber can conceal the identity of her weapon, which gives her an advantage over her opponents. That sounds cool. But you haven’t seen anything yet. Lancer has a move that “reverses cause and effect.” Essentially, his attack is sure to hit you even before he even makes his move. O….kay… There’s literally no dodging it!

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Luckily, Saber just “dodged [his] undodgeable blow.” Kinda. It didn’t hit her heart, so she’s okay. See, the Saber thing is cool and somewhat believable. Lancer’s attack, on the other hand, is just silly.

— Lancer’s master, who continues to be unseen, calls him back, and unfortunately, the best thing about Fate/stay night has come to an end for now. Even so, we know from last week’s episode that Rin and Archer are closing in on Shirou’s location, so Saber just dashes off again to fight them. She seems kind of reckless.

— But the episode comes to an end when Rin greets Shirou. Eh, that was a horribly-paced episode. Hell, I think it was even worse than the prologue. I really don’t think I needed to see half of the shit I just saw. Again, Fate/stay night has some awesome-looking fights. No joke, it really is the best thing about the show. Everything else… I could do without.

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21 thoughts on “Fate/stay night – Unlimited Blade Works Ep. 1: Shirou talks to a lot of people

  1. Good Taste

    I was kind of bored throughout the entire episode. At least the writing is a million times better than the awful visual novel.

    Reply
      1. Good Taste

        If you talked to fans of the series, you would believe that F/SN is some kind of masterpiece of literature. At least the anime has gorgeous battle scenes and the world is interesting enough.

        Reply
    1. noko

      lol nasu. I’ve never actually read the VN, just other people endlessly explaining it at you. Which was probably the better experience.

      Reply
  2. SP

    They should have compressed these two episodes into one single regular length episode. That would give it much tighter pacing & omission of unnecessary talks that plagued these two episodes. While Nasuverse/type moon fan may like the faithfulness to visual novel, episodes like these turns off newer fans who are watching it for the first time after hearing good things about the series. A good adaptation should make the newer fans go & grab the original source while establishing itself unique from the source. Overall, till now the show looks like it’s targeted more towards the older fans than newer. However, now that the intro is over, the battle royal should be an enjoyable ride.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      However, now that the intro is over, the battle royal should be an enjoyable ride.

      That’s the hope, isn’t it? So far, however, the show has been a disappointment.

      Reply
  3. Akuma

    Wow, that’s alot of time spent doing nothing. I don’t think any of the characters are interesting enough to justify a normal life segment. If this is for ‘true’ fans then they should have probably cut much more quickly to the meat of the series, cause this format is not doing anyone any favors.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Honestly, that was one horrible adaptation screenplay…much like they cut&copy&past from VN but do not improve it one bit.

    Geez, the real big problem with ufotable is that they just don’t know shit of how to adapt the god damn story….wonder when will they notice and solve this stupid problem, meh.

    Reply
  5. flamerounin

    Man, Taiga (the homeroom teacher) was annoying in the Studio Deen version, and is still annoying here. How the hell did she even graduate to become a teacher?

    And I must say that the high school antics is something that I really dislike about FSN. It kinda drowns the weight of the Holy Grail war as emphasized in Fate/Zero.

    Reply
    1. sensualaoi

      They might as well have set the vn after they all graduated and were working. Workaholics like shirou and tousaka act so driven they don’t belong in a school setting studying arithmetic anyway. I can’t see any reason this story should be set at a school rather than a factory or some other workplace. The series / pacing improves when the author forgets half of those minor school characters even exist.

      Reply
      1. flamerounin

        I can’t see any reason this story should be set at a school rather than a factory or some other workplace.

        Yeah, that;s really a hard pill to swallow. You go from Zero, were you have highly competent professional mages, with Waver being the only novice, to Stay Night, where half of the masters are high school kids. Makes you wonder how they actually choose the Masters for the grail wars.

        Reply
        1. Michael Ho

          Its a giant cup. It’s not so much as “They” as a giant super-powerful quas-sentient cup of pure power. The reason Tosaka Rin is chosen is because she is the last in line for the Tosaka family (the “three original founding families of the Holy Grail” are automatically given dibs on being master, and in fate/zero since most of the adults in those families are dead that leaves the children left. Shirou is that one novice the Grail decide to pick.

  6. Roa

    I thought this was surprisingly watchable. I didn’t like the first adaptation of this show, but this new one is looking like they learned a lot of good tips from Fate/Zero.

    Reply
  7. andmeuths

    “Anyway, it’s of course very possible that Sakura’s character grows beyond her initial archetype, but as always, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Not in UBW unfortunately. It’s not her story, it’s more properly Rin’s story (and a rebuttal to Shirou’s characterization in the Fate route, in many ways). Heaven Feel is more properly speaking, Sakura’s story (and a rejoinder to the Shirou of UBW) – but since this is not Heaven’s Feel, Sakura’s archtype isn’t really dissected thoroughly. I think the scene is meant to be fanservice for the Fate/Zero and the VN reader audience -we know what’s up with Sakura at home, and hence those scenes with Sakura hold a different meaning from a person entering the Fate Franchise through UBW. But I’d be very surprise if the anime makes it explicit.

    “– Shirou: “It makes me mad when people who try so hard die.” Me too, buddy, me too. He then asks if it’s greedy to wish for a perfectly happy ending where no one gets hurt. Not sure how that’s greedy. Naive, maybe. Foolish, perhaps. But greedy? In any case, his own father didn’t agree with him: “Saving one person means being unable to save another.” In some situations, yeah. But it’s not true all the time. More importantly, a hero of justice isn’t realistic. His father goes on to say, “You see, a person can only save those who belong to the side they’re on.” My point is, the more power you have, the more people you can save. It’s implicit in his father’s words, of course, that we are limited by what we can do. But while that might’ve been true for him, it might not be true for Shirou.

    Hold on to that thought. This is the center character conflict that UBW tries to explore in Shirou – how do you resolve the contradiction inherent between both positions? Whether or not UFOtable can do it well is another matter, but the fact you picked it up without foreknowledge of Shirou’s character indicates at least they have managed to get a good start on Shirou’s character development arc.

    Anyway, Kiritsugu’s position comes straight from the outcome of Fate/Zero. I really think those scenes were executed in that manner for the sake of fans going on into UBW from Fate/Zero – in other words, I think the intention is for the Fate/Zero audience to see it as the scene where Kiritsugu’s internal character and moral conflict in Fate/Zero is deliberately picked up, and continued in another tangent through Shirou Emiya. It’s abit ironic, because Kiritsugu’s answer from Fate/Zero was basically Urobuchi giving a finger to the Shirou’s character conflict in FSN.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      but the fact you picked it up without foreknowledge of Shirou’s character indicates at least they have managed to get a good start on Shirou’s character development arc.

      Eh, not really. I expect any story to be able to do that much. This is just the bare minimum.

      Reply
  8. Jojo

    Sometimes I wonder if the people who comment on this blog even like anime.

    They hate all the bad anime… and hate all the good anime too. They never name a single anime they actually like.

    Reply

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