Surprise, surprise… Ayako has gone missing. And people were really trying to tell me that that conversation she had with Shirou wasn’t suspiciously out of place. C’mon, I’ve seen enough of these stories to know how they work. I knew something would happen to her after she had such a banal chat with the main character. Anyway, Ayako was last seen arguing with Shinji, but of course, who doesn’t argue with Shinji? He’s one-dimensionally portrayed as the asshole of the story, after all. Still, he isn’t the only primary suspect. The story wouldn’t introduce the incredibly shady-looking Kuzuki-sensei if he wasn’t somehow involved as well. And that’s the thing that always gets me about how these characters are portrayed. If you’re trying to fit in — if you’re serious about pretending to be a high school teacher — wouldn’t you do a better job not to look so goddamn suspicious? You would, wouldn’t you? But in our fiction, there are always obvious tells just in case some people in the audience don’t catch on. As such, Kuzuki is obviously hiding something, but the characters within the universe itself are completely unaware. The end result feels unnatural. The audience is instead left wondering, “How did they not see this coming?”
Rin is a terrible actress. At first, she is completely shocked to see Shirou at school without Saber by his side. In other words, our wholesome hero is completely defenseless. Well, he’s got a few tricks up his sleeves, but he’s not a seasoned fighter by any means. He hasn’t been trained to kill. So when Rin sees Shirou again later that day, she charges at him. She fires spells at him that could seriously hurt… it’s just too bad that it is obvious from the get-go what the girl is trying to do. First, Shirou isn’t taking this seriously enough. Like Rin says, why the hell is he just wandering around an empty school without Saber by his side? Is he stupid or is he stupid? Second, if she can’t scare him off, she can at least force him to hand over his Command Seals, and thus forfeit the game. Either way, she will accomplish the same thing: protecting Shirou in the most tsundere way possible. ‘Cause again, he’s not a seasoned fighter. There’s no way an accomplished mage who has been raised to participate in this Holy Grail War would have any trouble with Shirou. It is so easy for Rider to get the upper-hand on the guy, so Rin has to be playin’. Yeah, she lands a few “hits,” but they’re nothing more than surface wounds. When Shirou actually suffered a serious injury in his attempt to shield Rin, she shows her true colors.
And that’s just the thing. There are attempts at misdirection here and there, but there are so many obvious tells in the story that you can’t possibly misinterpret these characters’ actions and motives. So long as you’re not a character within the universe, that is. Shirou, our wannabe hero of justice, is none the wiser. He doesn’t have much of a reaction either way, to be honest. He’s not clued in enough to see what Rin was trying to do, then when she suggests a truce between them, he doesn’t wonder about her hot-and-cold personality. Dude just goes with the flow. He’s kind of flat and uninteresting, which is sadly just par for the course when it comes to wholesome anime protagonists. I still wish the story had been centered around Rin instead, but that ship has sailed. Still, she’s more interesting than Shirou. Hell, Archer’s more interesting as well. But he’s not in this week’s episode, and he was barely in last week’s episode. Instead, we follow the boring hero of justice around so we can watch him talk to his classmates at school. Watch as he visits various locales and asks people about Ayato! Exciting! Thankfully, the action came fast and early this week, so the story’s pacing wasn’t too bogged down by Shirou’s attempts to play detective.
Unfortunately, the encounter with the new Servant ended abruptly when Rin showed up to save Shirou from getting his eyes gouged out. I guess the former retreated because she doesn’t know if it’ll quickly be a 3 vs. 1. Then after Shirou gets all bandaged up, he and Rin sit around and talk until the episode is over. Their conversation is nothing too compelling either. The gist is that Shirou’s father prioritized being a father over a mage, but when it’s done in such a dry conversation between Rin and Shirou, I’m not moved. I’m just bored. So anyway, the episode’s ending is a letdown. As always, the fight scenes are the show’s saving grace. They’re not amazing by themselves, but they’re amazing by anime’s standards. But outside them, the anime hasn’t done a very good job convincing me to care about Shirou’s fate whatsoever. In fact, he’s kind of a chump. In a visual novel, I imagine that since you control his actions, you can perhaps connect with the guy because you identify his actions as yours. In an anime adaptation, however, this crucial bit is missing. So it should’ve been bolstered with something else — something to make Shirou seem more appealing. At the moment, he’s just a dullard. Rin tries over and over to get him to wise up, but he opens up to her as if they’re best buddies or something. Oh well.