Finally, we get some much-deserved action.
— These names, man: “I’m Illya. Illyasviel von Einzbern.” Isn’t there a crappy spinoff about her attending school? Scratch that. I don’t even want to know.
— After the OP, Rin takes one look at Berserker and says, “In terms of raw ability, that thing outclasses Saber.” For me, this typifies anime’s need to overstate and over-explain. I don’t really need her to put this information to words. Just have them fight and let the chips fall where they may. Whether Saber wins or loses, we should be able to come to this conclusion on our own. Of course, readers will say that I am nit-picking, but to each his or her own. I’ll always make mention of something if it bothers me.
— Do they need to be so formal with each other? Let’s say I’m that short, silver-haired loli. With something as powerful as the Holy Grail at stake, I’d just get a jump on these dorks and smash them into the ground. I wouldn’t stand there and wait for them to ready themselves for battle. So far, however, three of the known Masters are kids. Yeah, yeah, the Fifth Holy Grail War started early, but that just sounds like an excuse to justify their young age, not the other way around.
— As I’ve previously stated in previous weeks, the action is pretty fucking slick once it gets going. In terms of visuals alone, Fate/stay night probably gives us the best-looking fight scenes of the season. That doesn’t mean they are the most meaningful fights. The jury’s still out on that particular front.
— Quibble #1: the characters like to stand still and stare at each other more than I would like. How awesome would it have been if Archer had provided support while Berserker and Saber were still busy fighting each other? Instead, when he landed his first attack, everyone was just standing in one place, gawking at each other. Why?
— Still, if you’re into high-octane fight scenes, the show might just be worth watching for them alone. You’d just have to get past all that boring exposition.
— Quibble #2: Rin continues to offer commentary on the sidelines. It’s like the driver from The Dark Knight. You know the one. When the bad guys pulled out a rocket launcher, he screamed, “That’s not good!” Gee, ya think? It just ruins the atmosphere because these characters feel the need to state the obvious. It’s like the characters start feeling uncomfortable if they haven’t said anything in a while. Yes, the Berserker is moving quite fast for a muscle-bound freak! I noticed that too!
— Quibble #3: the characters randomly pause to kiss Berserker’s ass. What a mighty warrior, blah blah blah. I’m actually thankful that Berserker himself is actually mute other than a handful of roars.
— Rin tells Shirou to run, then he falls to his knees and cries, “I couldn’t do anything…” Well, you haven’t really tried to do anything, bro.
— Did he really just punch himself in the head? Anyway, I’m of two minds here. Of course, he should stay and fight because he’s the hero. He’ll have plot armor on, so this will be easy! But logically, if he’s really this weak, he’d just hold Saber back.
— After a brief and rather dull conversation between Kirei and some blond guy — it felt like filler to pad the length of the episode out — we return to our boy hero, and he’s followed our combatants into the woods. Not a big fan of the ground breaking up in this fashion. Looks kinda silly.
— Those bird familiars under Illya’s command look pretty cool. And in her duel against Rin, it’s nice that at least one of them is running and moving about. I tend to not like duels between mages in most stories, because they usually won’t do much but stand there and hurl spells at each other. Having our heroine on the ropes is better than nothing.
— Luckily for Rin, Archer saves her from being skewered at the last second. So why is it that Archer isn’t actively helping in the fight? He’s supposedly using his class’s usual methods, but it doesn’t seem like he’s done much of anything. He’s attacked (I think) three times? If Saber has Berserker all tied up, why can’t Archer just go after the midget girl? He can’t track her like he can track Rin, but hey, just hunt her down the old-fashioned way.
— I know, right?
— Shirou: “If I die for nothing, what business is it to you?” Really? Most people don’t really want others to die, y’know. What kind of question is that? In fact, Rin was the one who told him he didn’t have to participate in this game if he didn’t want to. What a doofus.
— Rin now tells us that Archer can’t really help. Well, okay, but it still seems like you could’ve just teamed up against the midget girl.
— Saber lands what appears to be a decisive blow, but upon death, Berserker can somehow reverse the flow of time and therefore come back to life. Archer thus uses this small window of opportunity to score a big blow. The result is an almost nuclear-like explosion. I wonder if anyone’s going to mention this on the news the next day. Or, y’know, notice how there’s a giant crater where a cemetery should be…
— Oh, so that’s how Shirou can be useful: he can pull Saber to safety!
— Somehow, Berserker is still standing, but Illya suddenly decides to suspend the fight. Apparently, she now has an interest in Archer, so this means calling the whole thing off…? Uh… that’s kind of lame.
— Then we get some stupid anime bullshit where Saber tells Shirou to let go of her armored hand.
— Nevertheless, the episode is a huge step up from the previous three (if we’re counting episode zero). A huge step up. It hasn’t squeezed itself into my top five anime of the season or anything, of course. After all, it still has some issues. But when the show does it right, it gets it right pretty well. Hopefully, this is the direction that the anime takes from here on out.