Fate Something or Other Ep. 18: The princess is in another castle

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It’s my favorite time of the week: watching and writing about Fate something or… other… yay…

— To take stock, Archer had just killed Caster and her Master, and now he’s ready to kill the one person he has always been gunning to kill: Shirou. Why? ‘Cause his life sucks, so I guess if he kills Shirou, he himself will stop existing? Is that the gist of it? Who knows, ’cause as many of you have pointed out, I don’t really pay attention to anything I watch.

— I just wonder how he knows that the timeline wouldn’t just diverge as a result of his actions, ergo he’ll still stick around even if this Shirou does die. But ah well, he’s a Heroic Spirit! He probably knows the ins and outs of all this stuff anyway! Why question it!

— So Saber tries to defend Shirou, but she’s pretty much out of mana. Oh, what’s a Servant to do when your Master isn’t a true mage?

— Ooh, ooh, let’s just form a contract with someone else right there and then! It’s kind of interesting how easy this sort of thing looks. So much that wonder why this sort of thing wasn’t done earlier.

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— And just like that, Saber no longer has to wear that dress for no reason whatsoever. But where did the dress even come from? Is it a Vera Wang? I’ll never know.

— Soon enough, it’s Archer’s turn to run out of mana? Oh you guys… but it’s okay, because apparently, he can still do whatever he wants for two days a so, a fact which he makes quite explicit to his enemies. For a guy who supposedly always goes for the highest chance of success, I’m not quite sure why he’s so open and direct with his plans and capabilities. In fact, he’s already deceived everyone once. Why not pretend to be Shirou’s ally again only to stab him in the back when the latter least expects it? Why approach the guy head-on and thus incur both Rin and Saber’s wrath?

YO DATS THE NAME OF THE ANIME!

— Archer then unleashes his Noble Phantasm, and this teleports everyone to his inner world. It’s this barren landscape with swords sticking out of the ground and giant gears in the distance because… uh…

— And the Servant then reveals that he can copy any weapon. This includes Saber’s weapon! Sure, it’ll end up killing him, but in the process, he’ll also kill Shirou!!!

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— Really? Another character who can stand still and hurl swords at his enemies?

— So Shirou heroically charges at those floating swords, duplicates them, destroys them, screams and then…? The whole place falls apart? And that’s it? We’re done? They’re out? Some Noble Phantasm that was. Seriously, that was anticlimactic as fuck.

— But when our hero comes to his senses, Archer somehow has Rin in his arms. He and Shirou then agree to meet up at some castle to do hash out their differences once and for all. Pretty convenient.

This part looked nice, though. See? I don’t hate everything about the show. The visuals are good 90% of the time. It’s just too bad about the narrative…

— Take the following scenes, for instance. We get more of Archer’s backstory, but only through a monologue of Rin’s. So we had eighteen weeks to get to this point, and instead of using one or two of those weeks to let us see, for instance, Archer dying with a smile, we opt instead to just have Rin say what happened. Yawn.

— Then we get these blurry ass images as she continues to tell us crucial information about the guy. For someone who has such an integral in the story, Archer’s backstory feels rushed as fuck.

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— I want to see the guy get exploited. Not because I would enjoy it, but because it would at least help me empathize with his character. Don’t just tell me he suffered. Let me see how it went down, and in doing so, I will come to my own conclusions. Did he really suffer? Was he actually betrayed? Did he do all that he could and still fail? Let me answer these questions on my own. In doing so, I essentially make a decision; I essentially decide how I personally feel about Archer’s character. I thus would understand his motivation to kill Shirou at all costs. It’s like Inception and shit, man. Sure, you could tell the audience why Archer is doing the things that he does. But the effect is so much stronger when the audience feels as though their own thoughts and feelings are on the line. In theory, I would be invested in what Archer ultimately does, because I personally made a judgment call on his character. Unfortunately, I don’t actually get that opportunity in practice. Rin simply tells me Archer had it bad, and I should just take her word for it. I mean, she’s crying and shit, and course, you must always feel sad when a cute anime girl cries! But since she’s just telling me what to think, I’m not invested in any aspect of Archer’s story whatsoever.

— It’s like the Caster thing from last week. At first, I might think, “Wow, this Archer guy is a jerk.” But when I see what he had been through — assuming I can even see that — I would then think, “Well, the guy’s not perfect, but I can see how he got to this point…” It’s this back and forth that creates drama and tension. But there’s no chance of that when the guy’s backstory is fed to you through a monologue and some half-assed montage of blurry scenes. Oh oh, Archer looks mad in them, too. Can’t forget that.

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— Then when Rin finally wakes up, they don’t even really have a conversation. It’s just exposition awkwardly relayed through a rant, but it’s nothing we don’t already know. It’s like filler.

— Shinji and Gilgamesh eventually show up. Again, it feels convenient. After all, even though Shirou and Archer are going to hash it out, you never really feel as though the latter would do anything to Rin. But now there’s a sense of urgency! Random threat of rape out of nowhere! Woo!

— Elsewhere, Shirou finally recovers to tell us that his magical circuits are still cool. I was really concerned about them, too. In any case, Saber swears that she’ll always protect him. Perhaps in the Saber route, they spend enough together that I would be convinced of her undying loyalty for the guy. In this particular series, however, I don’t really see why she cares so much. Like what’s even in it for her anymore? It’s a rhetorical question, by the way. If you try to answer it in the comments, I’ll just gloss over the details anyway. Again, I want the story to show this stuff to me.

— Ah well. When they leave to confront Archer, Lancer shows up to join the party once more, so he’ll get to do something cool, I imagine.

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— After the credits, more people fall into a coma while Gilgamesh looks on menacingly. Woo…

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10 thoughts on “Fate Something or Other Ep. 18: The princess is in another castle”

  1. I really don’t get it. There is so much to explore about Archer’s backstory as Alternate timeline Shirou (okay, let’s stop pretending that this isn’t something we already know at this point from all the blatant hints). I mean, come on, I’ve read that backstory (being a fan of the franchise after all), and I can tell you, it is rather rich. Add to that the influence of Fate Zero’s Kiritsugu on Archer/Shirou and you have some rather impressive character material (done right, of course), that could have given this series a narrative perspective that is distinct from the VN. But no, the series still stupidly insists on treating this plot development as some closely guarded, shocking twist that no one knows about, in much the same way the VN treats it.

    Ahhh, but the die-hards would again insist, “but you will learn more about those when the Heaven’s Feel movie comes out.” If that’s the case, what are we watching UBW for then?

    On a lighter note, I did find Archer’s engrish incantation to be amusing.

  2. I didn’t really get it, so Rin was mad at Archer for doing what he did (in his life) but she’s ok with it when Shirou does it? I mean, she was mad at Shirou too but Shirou was like “bitch, I do what I want” and she just said ok and moved on.
    Why doesn’t she dump Shirou for Archer at this point too? They are the exact same guy, except Shirou will probably never be as cool.

    1. Yeah, she should totally go for the guy that betrayed her willy nilly, kidnapped her and who has now potentially gave her away to a rapist looking dude without any hesitation. The show might be filled with problems and all but that’s a stupid idea if I’ve ever seen one.

      1. It is really a race to the bottom because both are honestly terrible. What’s worse, a person who considers you completely expendable or an incompetent that puts you in just as much danger again and again with no benefit? In all honesty the only person seemingly halfway competent with Rin’s safety in mind is Lancer.

        1. Well you can’t say Archer’s terrible because of that since his goal was never to guarantee Rin’s safety or victory in the first place. As for Shirou, well at least the kid is trying his best right?…right?

          Well to be fair, most of the masters and servants in the prequel, Fate zero were incompetent hacks as well, with some of them playing the role of your typical saturday morning cartoon villain where you could see their demise coming from a mile away. Then there are others who would skip on a golden opportunity to end an adversary because of their pride or chivalry, or some crap excuse of the sort. So much for the whole “death game”/dark atmosphere that they were going for when stuff like that are happening constantly. Guess things haven’t changed much…

  3. I think you summed it up pretty well when discussing the aspect of the audience’s choice in how they feel. It’s a shame the writer behind this story didn’t realize that people don’t like being told how to feel. They vastly prefer feeling it for themselves. This is why reading (or watching) is in part a co-operative experience.

    If you want the reader to feel, don’t take away that control from them, but give them the details of the story and let them feel it for themselves.

    It’s that much worse when in a visual medium because unlike in a novel, where backstory exposition can be imagined/visualized by the reader even if it’s told via a monologue, you have all the tools you need to visually convey the story to your audience.

  4. This series probably has the biggest lack a respect for viewers’ intelligence I have ever seen in a show. It has archer fight lancer that resulted in archer’s defeat and depleted of all his mana only to have lancer leave because the job is done, all that bullshit banter of how much archer’s characters disgust lancer meant nothing. “Lancer your job is done now, you may leave now” said the writer of this shit. Then archer who just use all his mana fighting lancer apparently has enough to one shot both caster and her master effortlessly and even use his noble phantasm. Despite the fact that archer one shot caster and her master, who are very clearly more competent than either saber and shirou (especially shirou), archer avoids all fatal blows and just kicks him around to talk more bullshit that no one cares about. OMG there are just too much crap to talk about in this show that it could be made into a novel that equals the length of its original source material.

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