Fate/stay night – Unlimited Blade Works Ep. 10: Caster’s master will puncha yo buns!

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Rin’s bizarre dreams about Archer’s past experiences and how he came to become a Heroic Spirit honestly look like they would make a really cool anime. It’s just too bad we’re stuck in this high school setting. Earlier this week, I asked readers which anime would be better served focusing on a supporting character instead of the main character. It didn’t surprise me at all that most people mentioned this show. Defenders will claim that Shirou’s character can and should vastly improve as the story develops, but how long are we supposed to wait? Since when is ten episodes not enough to develop a main character? Ah well, here’s the tenth episode of Fate/stay night – Unlimited Blade Works.

— Rin’s right, though. Archer might think that Shirou’s useless, but you can’t put a price on loyalty. Nevertheless, her Servant puts in a good word for… Caster? Really? That lady? C’mon. Archer wants to frame this as putting “results over ideals,” but if we honestly want to be practical, you can’t trust Caster.

— Archer: “Ever since you met Emiya Shirou, you’ve acted strangely. Where has your cold rationality gone?” Sorry, every female character is contractually obligated to fall in love with the bland main character, thereby causing that “cold rationality” to melt into a puddle of pure dokidoki. I’m surprised that a character as cynical as Archer doesn’t already know this.

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— I want to put together an awesome new anime calendar: “Bland Anime Hero Holding His Head With One Hand as He Sits Next to a School Window.” It’s a mouthful of a title, but this is Japan, and they love long, convoluted titles.

— Dude has also been dreaming about Archer, but can we blame him? Archer is just so dreamy.

— But on a more serious note, Shirou’s trying to convince himself there’s nothing wrong with liking Archer’s swords: “I like them. Is that so bad?” Of course not. Just because you don’t like the guy or agree with his philosophy doesn’t mean you have to hate his weapons or fighting technique, too. I don’t even know why this is a problem.

— Nothing suspicious about this man! Nope!

— Shirou and Rin learn that Kuzuki has been staying at Issei’s temple for quite some time now. Well, isn’t that convenient? Shirou’s friend then goes on the describe the teacher as “the quiet type… a forthright and truly conscientious man.” See, if Issei had sandbagged Kuzuki, I would totally believed in the man’s innocence. But because irony is the height of storytelling, you just know that he is Caster’s master.

— Issei doesn’t want to be ruined for marriage.

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— Apparently, Kuzuki’s going to marry soon. So he and Caster are an item, and that is why they don’t care about the Holy Grail as much as they should? She’s going around, draining people of power just so that she can stay with him? Ah, a tragic love story… too bad we don’t know anything about Kuzuki other than that he’s stoic.

— Shirou: “I think it’s crazy to suspect someone just because he lives at Ryuudou Temple.” Not really. This is what you do. You have a lead, so you follow it up. I don’t necessarily agree with Rin either, ’cause she’s like, “We attack tonight!” Hold your horses, lady.

— It’s just peculiar to see Shirou freak out over thinking about Archer. He’s acting like a besotted schoolgirl. “Wh-what am I thinking? He’s terrible for me! I-I-I don’t like him!”

— So later that night, he and Rin wait for Kuzuki to come down the road. When the man does so, Rin fires off a spell in the teacher’s direction, and as a result, they discover his true identity as Caster’s master. Nevertheless, Shirou has no plans to go in with guns blazing. Instead, he wants to discern Kuzuki’s culpability. Look at his face, though, when he hears that this is the first time Kuzuki has heard of his Servant’s misdeeds. Ah, to be that idealistic. I mean, his face just says so much, doesn’t it? It literally makes Shirou’s day to hear that his teacher might not be a bad person. Not only that, he instantly believes Kuzuki’s words. Like, he doesn’t even pause to consider that maybe Kuzuki is lying.

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— Unfortunately for our hero, this universe seems to be full of bitter, nihilistic characters, so Kuzuki quickly corrects Shirou’s mistaken assumption that he is a good person: “The deaths of strangers, no matter the number are of no concern to me. Just as they are not the least bit concerned about my life.” Christ, dude, I’m sure someone out there cares about you. Here, I’ll care about you. I’ll send you a Christmas card.

— Kuzuki’s no mage! He is just a man who used to be a killer! Man, it sounds like every other character in this show has a better backstory than Shirou. Hell, I bet Saber’s backstory is better too even though she’s this generic knight archetype. Anyway, the “not a mage” thing explains why Caster needs mana from other people so badly, I guess.

— Fighting inevitably breaks out, and Saber goes right for Kuzuki… unfortunately, he’s tougher than he looks. He proceeds to dominate Saber with just his fists. This show is full of exceptions. Most Masters stay in the backline? Not me! No one can dodge this unstoppable attack? Well, I just did! I bet the villain of the story will be this unstoppable Mary Sue character… who will be stopped by Shirou ’cause exceptions.

— But despite seeing this, Rin is still confident in her abilities to stop the guy. That’s rather silly of her, but then again, the adaptation has never given me the impression that she can stand toe-to-toe with a bona fide Servant. Maybe I’m supposed to know this ahead of time, because hurr hurr this is a sequel, you guys. Nevertheless, the story now has an excuse to put Rin in danger. And we all know what happens when the hero’s love interest is in danger…

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POWER! UNLIMITED P-P-POWER! Unlimited power to become a jaded Heroic Spirit, apparently. At the end of the day, however, it’s all about putting the hero’s loved ones in danger. You do that, and all of a sudden, the bland hero will go Super Saiyan on your ass. At this point, villains may as well just steer clear of everyone but the bland hero himself.

— In the aftermath, Rin is openly put off by the fact that Shirou never mentioned he could project… or whatever. Frankly, the exact terminology doesn’t matter much to me. Anyway, she’s likely more disturbed by the connection between Shirou and Archer, but she won’t air those thoughts just yet.

Elsewhere, Shinji meets up with that blond guy. Thanks to my readers, however — and quite indignantly, I must add, i.e. “HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW THIS!!!” — I know now that the blond guy is really Gilgamesh, i.e. some super important Servant. I guess this is how Shinji will re-enter the tournament. I would like to know how Shinji can go from being a normal student to this guy who is now eager to kill everyone and “eat up souls.” As much as anime might want you to believe otherwise, you don’t just become a willing mass murderer overnight. Still, Shinji hasn’t received much character development. He’s a villain whose story we’ve had not had the luxury to hear.

— Apparently, Gilgamesh has a disdain for excess. Okay.

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32 thoughts on “Fate/stay night – Unlimited Blade Works Ep. 10: Caster’s master will puncha yo buns!

  1. Anonymous

    So, wouldn’t it have been great if this show ended with one of the Bad Ends from the VN, where Shirou decides to help Saber against Caster instead of helping Rin, while Kuzuki punches Rin’s head off her body? :)

    Reply
      1. Naota

        In short, yes. The games enable you to do a staggering array of stupid things which result in Shirou’s death, and nearly as many smart ones the also result in Shirou’s death.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          The moronic display of shiro on this episode should have resulted in his death but freaking plot armor has to step in

  2. The Real Sugoi Sugoi

    The show was already really shonen. Now it’s gone full shonen mode with Shirou’s SUPAH POWAHS. Not that I have anything against shonens. Dragon Ball Z remains one of my favorite anime/manga series of all time. But with Fate/Stay Night, it’s just silly. Maybe it’s because of the gravitas and the whole grimdark tone juxtaposed with all these shallow shonen elements.

    Gotta say, though, that the Kuzuki-Saber fight was pretty good. Best fight in the show thus far. Short and sweet.

    > Defenders will claim that Shirou’s character can and should vastly improve as the story develops, but how long are we supposed to wait? Since when is ten episodes not enough to develop a main character?

    Here, let me summarize the two types of responses you’ll get:

    1. Variations of “YOU’RE STUPID. ARE YOU LITERALLY RETARDED?”

    2. Variations of “S-Soon! It’ll get better soon! W-Well, in the v-visual novel, it g-g-gets better. P-Please believe me, this is a-a-actually g-getting good.”

    And in 4chan’s anime board, you’d typically get a third response variation:

    3. Silencing and ignoring people who haven’t read the visual novel as “secondaries.”

    God, I fucking hate Fate/Stay Night’s fanbase so much.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Gotta say, though, that the Kuzuki-Saber fight was pretty good. Best fight in the show thus far

      I would’ve preferred a little more back-and-forth. The only fight I’ve really enjoyed so far is the one against Berserker, because the opponents at least seem like they’re trying to work out the victory conditions in their heads. The other battles in the show so far have seem rather one-sided.

      Reply
    2. jose peres

      > 2. Variations of “S-Soon! It’ll get better soon! W-Well, in the v-visual novel, it g-g-gets better. P-Please believe me, this is a-a-actually g-getting good.”

      2.B: Wait for the movie!!!

      Haha

      Reply
    3. Emmannuel Alexandre

      That’s the exact same reason I never write my opinion down in any forum directed to FSN fanbase. And even though I have the VN with me right now and have read through the whole thing many times, I can’t help but give this article its merits. People tend to be satisfied with power-ups and badass characters and often forget about the MC’s changing of their line of thought, which is the main problem concerning the protagonist in this show/VN (two fights that will occur during the next cour have driven me SOOOO mad, geez…). During my journey through the VN, his ideals drove me over the edge, and I thought that way even before Archer began his lectures in a hope to warn him/correct his naive beliefs. At the very least, the viewer does not have to deal with his “Hurr durr you’re a girl, you can’t fight” crap this time, but even so, it’s been so difficul to cope with him.

      Reply
  3. flamerounin

    Rin’s bizarre dreams about Archer’s past experiences and how he came to become a Heroic Spirit honestly look like they would make a really cool anime

    Yeah, that made me wonder. Why hasn’t Type-Moon bothered making at least an OVA centered around Archer’s life as a hero yet? Or am I missing something?

    Reply
  4. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    “He proceeds to dominate Saber with just his fists.”
    SLAM! Stupidity just reached near-critical levels in no-time flat!

    You have to understand, mate, that this is just about where I dropped the whole VN entirely. See, it was explained and regurgitated in the show, but in the novel the disparity of servants and masters was hammered home WAY more strongly.

    In fact, the only way to reach THIS point, was to read through the entire VN’s first route called the “Fate” route, meaning readers who got HERE already had an entire novel’s worth and then some of world-building and rule-affirming. Think about that for a second. Imagine that. You get through ALL of that story, ALL of that text with exposition atop exposition, and then wind up here.
    _I want to know why anyone would blame anyone for dropping this shit right now. It’s literally the absolute breaking point of Suspension of Disbelief.

    Servants are like superheroes, and Saber Class servants are like Super-man Mk20. They’re indomitable even for other servants (mostly). Now we see this random human, apparently a martial artist, dominate Saber. I don’t care if you’re IP man, you’re not landing a single blow on a fucking superhero! It’s retarded.

    Also, it’s so much worse in the show dude. In the VN, Kuzuki managed to dodge Saber’s attack and swing his fist “like a quick hammer” at the back of Saber’s head. The VN was dumb but it tried its best to explain (of course) that it was more due to Saber’s underestimation of Kuzuki that he managed to land a blow on her at all. He got lucky once and wouldn’t get lucky again.
    –Oh, and somehow his one blow cracked her head open a bit and made her tumble across the ground. Because kung fu, I guess.
    Here we see him get her in the typical villain choke-hold, which is SO much dumber I can’t even deal with it.

    Anyway, I ultimately didn’t stop reading here and it was a bit later on that I stopped when the story just…broke entirely. But man was this awful.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      What I dont get is that kuzuki is somehow not a mage despite being able to magically enhance my body to be able to fight one on one against saber? This show cant make up its mind.

      Reply
        1. Anonymous

          Nothing in that scene conveys such implications and in fact show caster with a huge gasp expression as kuzuki was being attack. And this also freaking hilarious because the show took a sec to state that saber was magic resistant (information we were already told about) but nothing about caster enhancing kuzuki’s body.

        2. C.C.

          For whatever reason, it won’t let me reply directly to the posts below, so….

          It is shown that Caster is strengthening Kuzuki. If you watch the fight again and look carefully, you may notice that around wherever Kuzuki is striking, there’s a faint purple glow around his hands, the same colour associated with Caster’s magic. When he catches Saber’s sword, the elbow and knee he manages the catch with are similarly glowing. Finally, when he’s circling around Saber, part-way through that act, his body glows and he starts moving faster.

          While Caster was empowering Kuzuki, she was surprised by the degree of combat skill he possessed. If anything, I figure she was enhancing Kuzuki with the expectation that he would use the power granted to get off the battlefield, and was shocked to see him actually be able to apply said empowerment to overwhelm Saber.

        3. Anonymous

          “she was surprised by the degree of combat skill he possessed”

          That is something that hard to swallow when the show implied that kuzuki was the one that killed rider.

        4. heatth

          “That is something that hard to swallow when the show implied that kuzuki was the one that killed rider.”

          Rider is considerably less competent as a fighter than Saber. Shirou himself mentioned she seemed weaker compared to the other servants a few episodes ago.

        5. Anonymous

          “Rider is considerably less competent as a fighter than Saber. Shirou himself mentioned she seemed weaker compared to the other servants a few episodes ago.”

          I dont ever recalling that being said ever. Regardless rider is still a servant that should considerably be way beyond a human being. She should have a noble phantasm that should just destroy any freaking human no matter if they were some super ex-killing machine. But rider was defeated almost without any significant struggle. This is probably another case of poor adaptation but it still presents huge contradictions.

    2. E Minor Post author

      Well, from my point of view, the adaptation is separate from the visual novel. In other words, if the adaptation hasn’t made it a point to emphasize Saber’s strength, then it must not be the case in the adaptation. Maybe the visual novel is as silly as you say it is, but I’m not going to worry about it.

      Reply
      1. jose peres

        Well, I didn’t play the visual novel, but I’m thinking that this show is an introduction for the future movie and if the game is as IonCaron says, the people who played it and really know the rules after all that text, will be entertained with the visual quality an specially with all this exceptions that make it less predictable (or logical?) and more contradictory. Because it is Unlimited and not Fated? XD.

        Reply
  5. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    Pretty funny observation about Shirou and his fascination with Archer. Good review all around.
    I suppose if the pace continues then the next episode will be where I dropped the VN. After that I won’t know any more about the story than you do, so it’ll be interesting to finally look at it with the kind of fresh eyes you have.

    As for the blond guy: I guess everyone also told you what kind of character Gilgamesh is and how idiotic it is for his character to remain in the story after losing his purpose to the plot and themes. See, as I’d hinted at before, dude was the perfect foil to Saber. He’s brash, selfish, childish and evil to the core. This Gilgamesh is a bishi version of the Gilgamesh at the beginning of the Enuma Elish, or the Epic of Gilgamesh, long before his growth to maturity.
    _As it stands his purpose here in the “UBW” route is basically to repeat his role as a foil from the first “Fate” route, which is lazy in my opinion, but since you never read the VN or really watched the first anime, you might appreciate his character’s role more.

    Reply
  6. Akeem

    I thought this episode was pretty good especially the fight. It took me by surprise to see saber get handled like that especially after they made it seem like masters like he said support their servants. Well I’m still a little knew to this so I guess that’s why it didn’t bother me like it did the VN players. The fight was gorgeous too and I did notice the purple majic but I thought it was coming from him not caster.

    Reply
  7. heatth

    Hi, I am new here and I want to add my indignation about people spoiling you things from F/Z. F/SN UBW is not, in fact, a sequel. Specially not of F/Z. You can argue it is an adaptation of a sequel, as UBW is the second route in the Visual Novel, but it is clear the anime made sure first timers could enjoy.

    Please don’t be bothered by people claiming you “should already know” stuff. That is really not truth. Specially not things that were revealed on F/Z, which is a prequel that kinda spoil half of the big plot twists of F/SN.

    Anyway, I think I am enjoying your coverage (still need to read the previous posts). I like your a bit cynical in your opinion, but giving the story a fair chance to prove itself.

    Reply
  8. Laevetein

    My God, this episode annoyed me. Too much damn talking, too much stupid characters. Anyway, I´m probably number 607 to say this but Fate/Zero is SO much better (After the boring history lesson that is the first episode, anyway) mainly because there´s more action and absolutely no obnoxious highschool character that looks like he/she came out of Akame Ga Kill. Another great post, though.

    Reply
    1. Naota

      I wouldn’t really say Fate/Zero is better in everything – for one, its characters are flat as anything past their initial motivation.

      None of them really develop as the story goes on or properly capitalize on the excellent situations the plot finds them in. I should’ve felt something for Kariya, but I really didn’t. Caster’s master should have been as entertaining to watch as Ladd Russo, but he wasn’t. Kotomine’s betrayal of Tohsaka should have been powerful and gut-wrenching to watch, but it just seemed perfunctory because Tohsaka wasn’t an interesting or compelling person in his own right.

      Yeah, if you only care about action, Fate/Zero has more of it to offer, but I think there’s more to a good series than how much of its running time is spent depicting fights. Shingeki no Bahamut is such a pleasant surprise this season because it has compelling, colourful, entertaining characters and also a quick pace full of swashbuckling action that never gets bogged down in tepid exposition. If you ask me, Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Zero are two parts of an ideal whole – one has better-realized characters and the other has a better grasp of its narrative and rules.

      Reply

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