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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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…
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.