Fate/stay night – Unlimited Blade Works Ep. 8: Rider gets ridden

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Shirou dreams about becoming Rammus, then wakes up in a cold sweat. Okay. I don’t know what he’s so concerned about. Rammus is a great solo queue champion.

— Shirou has made great strides in his training sessions with Saber. He’s not exactly elated, however, because he’s only finding success by been copying Archer’s technique. Or is Archer copying him?! Woaoaohaohoaha. Yeah, you can see the twist from a mile away. I’d say good try, but maybe the anime wanted us to find out about the twist early. That’s the only explanation for all those blatant clues in last week’s episode.

— Saber seems rather offended that Shirou has decided to copy Archer’s stance instead of her’s. I guess I just don’t see what the big deal is. If she wanted him to learn from her, maybe she should’ve given him more explicit instructions.

— No, Shirou, no! Dual-wielding can only lead to the dark side! The Gary Stu side!

— At school, Shinji just sits there and giggles creepily in Shirou’s direction all class long. Sweet.

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— Then during lunch, everyone huddles around the doorway and gawks at a frustrated, impatient-looking Rin. She’s obviously waiting for the protagonist to show his wholesome face, but man, the kids in this universe are weirdos. Don’t you guys have anything better to do? Oh wait, this is anime so it’s normal to treat certain students as if they’re idols.

— O-oh my god! The school’s idol was really waiting for the plain and unassuming male lead all along! Gaaaassp!

— Shirou’s so clueless, he had no idea that she had even wanted to lunch with him. Ugh, that dense idiot! Oh, how I would love for Rin-sama to simply eat in the same room as me!!!@!

— Rin assures Shirou that she’s used a Command Seal to forbid Archer from ever attacking him again. Considering how important Command Seals are, she must really, really like our bland hero.

— Rin and Shirou proceed to discuss a couple of topics, namely how her magic works and Shinji’s role in the Holy Grail War. I’ve said enough about the exposition in this series. however, so I’ll just leave it at that. If these two ever say anything interesting, I’ll let you know.

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— Thankfully, the conversation is rudely interrupted when a Bounded Field activates. I guess seeing Rin and Shirou together was the straw that broke his creepy back. So to retaliate, he decides to try and turn his classmates into lifeless husks? Well then, that certainly is the appropriate response.

— Everything will be solved if they can just stop Shinji. They might even save their precious classmates! But of course, it’s never quite that simple. Shirou and Rin will also have to contend with an army of skeletal-looking golems. Our hero is thus forced to use one of his Command Seals.

What an entrance!

— The characters repeatedly remind us that there’s a Servant on their floor, so you guys better not forget that.

— The door to Shinji’s room, however, suddenly open, and an unseen assailant attacks the creepy kid. Considering the way Shinji reacts — “Hey, what’s the big deal? How are you able to move?” — this must be someone that no one “suspects.” But we’re not idiots, so we know who to suspect. There’s only one possible candidate, and it’s that suspicious-looking teacher from a few episodes ago. Not only that, he must be Caster’s Master. I don’t really know why the show is being so coy with Kazuki’s identity. They’ve dropped obvious hints over and over that he’s a Master, so it’s just kind of silly to turn around and pretend like this week’s reveal is even remotely a twist. Hell, one of the first things we learned about him is that he’s different in the way that he moves and breathes. C’mon.

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— For some reason, Caster disguises herself as Rider, goes through the motions of attacking Saber, then strokes her opponent on the cheek. Okay then.

— This week’s action isn’t that great, because our characters aren’t really doing much. At first, I thought the setting was to blame. After all, it’s kind of hard to do battle in the hallways of the school. You’re sort of cramped, huh? But remember when Rin attacked Shirou a few episodes ago? They were also running through these same hallways, but the action there was rather well-choreographed. I guess they can’t do much the skeletal warriors in this week’s episode, since skeletons aren’t exactly strike me as the most nimble foes. But I still expected more.

— And just like that, Rider is dead. It was kind of cool in a gruesome way to see her neck uncoil right in front of us, but man, her character’s fate was rather anticlimactic, wasn’t it? We barely even got to see her do anything.

— She was one of the cooler-looking servants too, and it’s not because she’s a scantily-clad lady with chains and a blindfold. She just had more personality than the other Servants. Berserker just looks like a guy on steroids, Saber is a generic knight, caster is a generic mage, so on and so forth. Archer gets to be a little different, because, well… you know who he is. And oh yeah, Lancer almost completely slipped my mind! But he’s not interesting-looking either.

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— But with Rider’s death, the Bounded Field disappears so… maybe it was a good thing she died.

— For some reason, Shinji won’t tell our heroes who attacked him. I mean, it’s obvious to us who attacked him, but c’mon, why is he keeping his lips sealed about this?

— Conveniently enough, their classmates are still alive. It’s not that I want to kill a bunch of kids off or anything, but it just feels like the anime is pulling its punches. Rin told Shirou that she wanted him to take the Holy Grail War seriously. But when the anime had the chance to really drive home just how terrible this conflict can and will become, it allows every single student to survive. Hey, that’s cool, too. We don’t need to kill everyone. But I can’t really take you seriously if the only victims are the ones not related to our heroes in any way, i.e. Caster murdering random people.

— Nevertheless, right before the episode ends, Shirou tells Rin that he’s used to seeing dead bodies. Oh my~

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23 thoughts on “Fate/stay night – Unlimited Blade Works Ep. 8: Rider gets ridden”

  1. I am starting to believe that ufotable is not trying to hide the true identity of archer. Sadly Rider only shine in Heaven´s Feels, we can say the she is the main servant in that route, but she has a weak role in the others 2 routes. Before watching this episode I was expecting to see how the teacher(Kazuki) kills Rider, but this dissapoint me.

    Poor Shirou, he ignore the power of Rammus or it could be that he was defeated by a lot of Rammus in pre level 30 games and for that reason he has a Rammusphobia XD.

  2. Doesn’t Shinji say something to the effect of, “You want me to tell you who killed Rider? Well, screw you! I’m not saying anything. Have fun figuring it out before he comes after you, too”?

  3. Due to the fact that you managed to point out the pink elephant in the room on your own anyway (Archer’s identity), let me just say that the visual novel was much more subtle about the twist. Do you still remember Rin’s mistake when she summoned Archer while the clocks mysteriously went forward? You teased the character how blatantly obvious it was and due to shot framing, it really was, but again, in the visual novel it was so subtly hidden (because one has to slog through so much text), that the reveal felt like a properly set up Checkhovs Gun.

    I am not trying to defend anything here, just noting how the change in media format makes formerly very subtle (and easily missable clues) easy to figure out. Though something like framing can be done in a VN (through the use of CGs), it is of course sparsely used. Apparently, when producing a visual novel, CGs are the most expensive component and in the case of Shirou/Archer you can probably guess that the original source abstained from doing anything this obvious.

  4. > No, Shirou, no! Dual-wielding can only lead to the dark side! The Gary Stu side!

    I really don’t know what so many people find appealing about dual wielding. This seems especially common in anime. One of the games I’ve been recently playing a lot is Persona 4 Ultimax. The main antagonist is this edgelord who has an x-shaped scar on his face and dual wields katanas.

    > But we’re not idiots, so we know who to suspect. There’s only one possible candidate, and it’s that suspicious-looking teacher from a few episodes ago. Not only that, he must be Caster’s Master. I don’t really know why the show is being so coy with Kazuki’s identity. They’ve dropped obvious hints over and over that he’s a Master, so it’s just kind of silly to turn around and pretend like this week’s reveal is even remotely a twist.

    This show can’t help but be ham-fisted about everything it does. It either tries to shove everything down our throats with these blatant “hints” or are heavy-handedly just dumping dialogue on us to make sure that we, the idiotic viewers, absolutely understand all that’s going on. I say “idiotic viewers” because any director that makes a show this insulting to viewers has to have a super low opinion on them.

    > But when the anime had the chance to really drive home just how terrible this conflict can and will become, it allows every single student to survive. Hey, that’s cool, too. We don’t need to kill everyone. But I can’t really take you seriously if the only victims are the ones not related to our heroes in any way, i.e. Caster murdering random people.

    That’s just because the anime is just pure edginess. God, I fucking hate this show (and the visual novel it comes from) so much. It has a lot of neat ideas about fantasy underneath, but its execution is just so awful. It doesn’t help that it has one of the top 10 worst fanbases I’ve ever encountered in anime.

    1. “This show can’t help but be ham-fisted about everything it does.”
      No, that’s just the visual novel. You see, for every exposition-laden droll expanse of wasted life you have in the show, that time is multiplied in the visual novel and then multiplied further if you are reading through another story route. It’s not good.

      “That’s just because the anime is just pure edginess.”
      Apart from a certain character, everything in the original “Fate” route of the visual novel is actually well handled. Sure it has the same issues of superfluous detail and many other of the same issues this anime has, but one thing I can say is that at no point did the Fate route come across as “DmC/Shadow the Edge-hog” edgy. At least, aside from that aforementioned character, who is actually just a mirrored-foil for Saber and works fine as such.

      “God, I fucking hate this show (and the visual novel it comes from) so much. It has a lot of neat ideas about fantasy underneath, but its execution is just so awful.”
      I think the major issues are that it has TOO many neat ideas and that, with every proceeding read-through, the narrative’s world comes apart at the seems due to its need to fit all of these elements into one story. It shatters its own rules for the sake of fitting these elements in and in doing so breaks the Suspension of Disbelief its worked so hard on crafting after tons of exposition.
      _Though again, that’s why I prefer and endorse the Fate route of the VN, as it has the least amount of random shit and thus maintains a clear focus throughout.

      “It doesn’t help that it has one of the top 10 worst fanbases I’ve ever encountered in anime.”
      That’s how it usually goes for anime/visual novel “classics”. I’d say that Evangelion (the anime, not the manga) has a far worse rabid fanbase if only because their narrow adulation comes with a hardened layer of pretentiousness over it. But it is true that Nasu’s fans can be pretty damn obnoxious, too.

      Though really I think the only classic anime that hasn’t had an obnoxious fanbase was Fist of the North Star. Probably because most fans are too busy getting fit to bother shitposting

      1. It shatters its own rules for the sake of fitting these elements in and in doing so breaks the Suspension of Disbelief its worked so hard on crafting after tons of exposition.

        This so many times over. In everything Nasu writes, he seems to be labouring under the delusion that the setting he’s crafted obeys a strict, all-encompassing system of rules, but the truth is that the only rules he’s following are those of dramatic storytelling. His rules inevitably need breaking for the stories he’s trying to tell, so rather than going back and editing sensibly he backpedals. He writes in confusing and arbitrary counter- and side-rules. He covers everything in asterisks.

        All of his stories make absurdly bold claims: “no human being could ever stand toe-to-toe with a Servant!” “this weapon can never miss!” “this shield can never be pierced!” “you will die if this happens, and nothing can stop it!”

        …but something always stops it. The weak always end up defeating the strong in a battle of strength because they’re pure of heart. The attack that always kills is used five times and only kills once. The unavoidable weapon is dodged more often than not. People don’t die when they’re killed. If the guy would just ‘fess up and either stick to his guns or stop fudging his own rules, his writing would be so much better for it.

      2. > No, that’s just the visual novel.

        That’s true, but that doesn’t mean that the show is entirely free from the fault of allowing the droning exposition to be carried over from the visual novel to the show.

        The job of an adaptation is to improve upon the shortcomings of the source material. Or if there aren’t shortcomings, it should eliminate things that don’t translate well to screen. And one of the shortcomings of the original source material of F/SN is the mind-numbingly boring exposition.

        A creative director will find a way to transform that source material to make that shit entertaining or to skim it as much as possible or find a way for images to express all the words. A lazy director looking to just make a quick buck will not care and will just translate the material to screen as literally as possible without bothering to exert any effort.

  5. I too was surprised by how Rider was quickly killed off. She seemed to be rather adept to combat… Maybe it was the close-quarters that did her in? Disappointing she’s gone so fast.

    1. Most likely it was having to work for Shinji. She has to attack random passers-by and resort to tricks like we saw this episode to stay alive, because just like Shirou he isn’t a proper mage. Being dead, Servants basically need to siphon off magic and/or the life of other people to exist, leading to a half-starved Rider.

      Still, this always was the worst part of the story – any servant that isn’t Saber or Archer gets absolutely minimal development and rarely interacts with the rest of the cast. Even when Rider does play a larger part, you learn almost nothing about her past or her character past the surface motivation, and she spends most of the time invisible.

      Coming from the guy who wrote Kara no Kyoukai and Tsukihime, the majority of F/SN is either battles, exposition about battles, or in-depth descriptions of what Shirou is stuffing his face at dinner (and in who’s company, and with what condiments, and how many dishes need washing…) Everything gets resolved with a fight; in other words, it’s a shounen battle tournament taking up the mantle of two supernatural-themed psychological thrillers.

  6. Is this the hangout for the “I hate everything that people like club” or are you’re reviews made especially for people to laugh at you’re stupidity?

    1. Can’t tell if this is parody or not. Then again, Poe’s Law.

      Oh well, at least you showed you’re emotionally hurt at a post calling this show’s shounen tropes. Not necessarily a bad thing, but when people abroad claim this is the best show ever without any knowledge or analysis of the media they praise…

  7. “At school, Shinji just sits there and giggles creepily in Shirou’s direction all class long. Sweet.”
    Okay I have to get this out of the way first: In the visual novel Shirou introduces Shinji as “an old friend and someone I just can’t bring myself to hate”.
    YOU ARE NEVER, EVER GIVEN A REASON NOT TO HATE OR AT LEAST BE PUT-OFF BY HIM
    It bugged be then and it’s bugging me now. There is nothing likable about him, nothing sympathetic, nothing even remotely humanizing. There’s no reason anyone, especially someone as hip-deep in the ideas of justice as Shirou, would ever be friends with this guy. He is what is says on the tin: a horrible little shit.
    _In comparison, in the well written but poorly implemented game Fate/EXTRA, Shinji is exactly as this description implies. He’s conceited, whiny and acts like a Call of Duty multiplayer kid in all manners but screaming into the microphone, and you come to find out why after you best him.
    But this is Fate/Stay Night, not EXTRA. I wish that game had good gameplay at all so I could recommend it more…

    Anyway, I can’t get passed the damn shark faces these characters have, especially the girls. It’s hard to get into the moment when their faces are nearly melting in expressions, too.

    Nice cameo from Caster. I’m sure that bit of nothing will have plot relevance at some point.
    …Right?

    1. If he’s such an old friend, it’s kind of odd that Shirou doesn’t try harder to reason with his buddy. Watching the adaptation, I have never felt as though they were even close. I always thought their relationship was icy. Whoops.

      1. That is one big problem of this anime. In this adaptation we have never felt that Shirou and Shinji were good friends in the past. Other problem is that Shinji is an crappy, immature, and unidimensional antagonist, in Fate Extra the stupidity and immaturity of Shinji is justified.

        1. To be fair it you don’t really get the feeling that they’ve ever been close in the vn either.
          Their relationship is only really adressed in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia.

  8. I honestly don’t care who is who, I just want more of Archer’s backstory, like how Saber appears in a battle field because she was a king and stuff, but what the fuck happened to Archer, I’m just a big fan of “wooh tragic past life edgy (literally) backstories” scenes and this show has them nailed down, I can imagine what happened think about it for a second but I still want more.

  9. “Shirou dreams about becoming Rammus, then wakes up in a cold sweat. Okay. I don’t know what he’s so concerned about. Rammus is a great solo queue champion.”

    First, I just chuckled about this comment, but when I thought about the last, penultimate fight in Heavens Feel and how Shirou “wins” the confrontation, your remark turns out to be hilariously and creepily on the mark. You having prophetic powers?

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