Fate/stay night Unlimited Budget Works (1st Cour Impressions)

UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS

-I am the bone of my sword-
体は剣で出来ている。
-Steel is my body and fire is my blood-
血潮は鉄で心は硝子。
‑I have cre­at­ed over a thou­sand blades-
幾たびの戦場を越えて不敗。
-Unknown to Death-
ただの一度も敗走はなく、
-Nor known to Life-
ただの一度も理解されない。
‑Have with­stood pain to cre­ate many weapons-
彼の者は常に独り 剣の丘で勝利に酔う。
‑Yet, these hands will nev­er hold anything-
故に、生涯に意味はな
-So as I pray, UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS-
その体は、きっと剣で出来ていた。

Fate/stay night Unlim­it­ed Blade Works is, hands down, the best ani­me adap­ta­tion I’ve seen of any­thing non-man­ga, peri­od. It sounds like I’m exag­ger­at­ing, but I’m not.

ufotable real­ly out­did them­selves here. Ever since their Fate/Zero adap­ta­tion, the stu­dio’s real­ly become Type-Moon’s lit­tle pet ani­ma­tion stu­dio. For good rea­son, too. I don’t know if the ani­mat­ed open­ings for the orig­i­nal visu­al nov­el and its Réal­ta Nua PS2 port were done by Stu­dio DEEN or some oth­er com­pa­ny, but it was real­ly easy to tell that Type-Moon switched to ufotable for the Réal­ta Nua open­ings on the Vita ver­sion. That dis­tinct ani­ma­tion style, that quality…

There’s real­ly tal­ent­ed staff work­ing at that ani­ma­tion stu­dio, and it shows. The only oth­er ani­me I’ve fol­lowed from ufotable were just OVAs and movies, such as their Tales of Sym­pho­nia and Kara no Kyoukai adap­ta­tions, which are nat­u­ral­ly some high-qual­i­ty stuff when it comes to ani­ma­tion. But the ani­ma­tion for Fate/stay night Unlim­it­ed Blade Works, a *TV series*, feels like it’s almost about the same qual­i­ty. In fact, bits and pieces man­age to seem just a bit more pol­ished than even their Tales of OVAs or their open­ings for the Tales of games in gen­er­al. Dayum, son…

GARcher by Ufo-tan

Cal­ad­bolg II: The Fake Spi­ral Sword

Any­ways, I’ll save more of my gawk­ing at the ani­ma­tion for lat­er and go over the actu­al adap­ta­tion qual­i­ty. I’ve read the visu­al nov­el, and so far, the ani­me is almost flaw­less and is as faith­ful as an ani­mat­ed adap­ta­tion could be. You can say it’s… opti­mal. That’s the best way to describe it.

Grant­ed, since it’s in an ani­mat­ed medi­um, there are a few lines of nar­ra­tion miss­ing here and there, but it does­n’t real­ly hurt it that much over­all, espe­cial­ly since ufotable finds ways to imply the same con­text by using the ani­me medi­um to its advan­tage. It’s not like its The Melan­choly of Haruhi Suzu­miya where Kyon’s POV nar­ra­tion is near-untrans­lat­able, even though that still end­ed up with a good ani­me adap­ta­tion regard­less. Either way, the ani­me makes up for any miss­ing bits with a lot of cool new scenes added into the ani­me that were writ­ten by Nasu him­self, so that’s a plus.

(Real­ly, the only scene that’s kind of wonky com­pared to the source mate­r­i­al is when Cast­er takes Taiga hostage in Digi­mon Adven­ture 02’s Dark Ocean instead of Shi­rou’s house and Archer appear­ing at the very last minute to save the day, but it’s real­ly, real­ly minor.)

Based Illya

My favorite ani­me expan­sion so far has to be the scene in episode three where Rin was bat­tling Illya. The scene just seems like a real­ly cool way to pad out the Saber/Archer vs. Berserk­er fight at first, espe­cial­ly since Illya uses an advanced ver­sion of Irisviel’s mag­ic from Fate/Zero which makes her way more awe­some than she already is, but if you’ve read the visu­al nov­el, you’ll real­ize that Archer’s total­ly bull­shit­ting when he said he was unable to kill Illya, despite being able to snipe down her famil­iars. Nice, ufotable, nice.

Based bath time Illya

To make up for Illya’s minor role in the Unlim­it­ed Blade Works route, we reward you with a bath scene. PRAISE.

ART THOU MY MASTER?

So many ver­sions of this shot now…

I sup­pose it real­ly helps that ufotable is just adapt­ing one indi­vid­ual route and expand­ing it with more scenes, rather than smash­ing a bunch of ele­ments that are vague­ly sim­i­lar to the oth­er routes into it and cre­at­ing a mess. The entire­ty of Fate/stay night only works as a nar­ra­tive with three alter­nate sto­ry­lines, all of which don’t real­ly rec­on­cile with each oth­er as one sto­ry no mat­ter how hard you try. Fate/stay night Unlim­it­ed Blade Works works well as a stand­alone ani­me, but to give ani­me view­ers the same expe­ri­ence as orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed, they’d have to cre­ate three sep­a­rate ani­me series for each route. They’re already turn­ing Heav­en’s Feel into a movie series like Kara no Kyoukai, so we have two routes down. The prob­lem is that Stu­dio DEEN’s old Fate adap­ta­tion would­n’t work as a replace­ment for the visu­al nov­el­’s Fate route due to its spoi­ler­ish nature. So as of now, if you’re only inter­est­ed in ani­me and noth­ing else, there’s no sol­id 100% order to go about things.

Well, that’s only assum­ing you’re not inter­est­ed in read­ing the VN. While ufotable clear­ly rec­om­mends read­ing the Fate route first before watch­ing their ani­me (an iOS ver­sion of it was released a lit­tle before the UBW ani­me pre­miered), I don’t think the Fate route is nec­es­sar­i­ly 100% required. Although it does explain a few things that the oth­er two routes don’t, the rea­son why I’d rec­om­mend read­ing the Fate route first is because I want the ani­me view­ers to expe­ri­ence the pro­gres­sion of the theme. The Fate route was the pre­sen­ta­tion of the hero, Unlim­it­ed Blade Works was the analy­sis of the hero, and Heav­en’s Feel was essen­tial­ly the destruc­tion of the hero. That’s the largest thing ani­me-only peo­ple will be miss­ing out on until ufotable ever remakes the Fate route.



SELF-EXPLANATORY

The good adap­ta­tion is com­ple­ment­ed by the amaz­ing ani­ma­tion qual­i­ty. There are no words to describe how much the ani­ma­tion gives jus­tice to the action present in Unlim­it­ed Blade Works, and it’s real­ly clear how tal­ent­ed the key frame artist, in-between­ers, etc. over at ufotable are. It’s one of the smoothest and shini­est ani­ma­tion I’ve seen in an ages, at least when it comes to ani­me with a ton of action. I’m exag­ger­at­ing when I call this “Unlim­it­ed Bud­get Works”, but c’mon. It’s as if Type-Moon, a com­pa­ny which makes what­ev­er it wants like Mahout­sukai no Yoru with no shits giv­en, formed a con­tract with a Ser­vant called ufotable, which has Rank EX in all of its stats. Thus, unlim­it­ed sup­plies of mana mon­ey was put into this.

I mean, damn, look at how much the Blu-ray costs. You get what you paid for. Even the clouds look god­damn amazing. 

Okay, in all seri­ous­ness, the Blu-ray’s day­light rob­bery. And the amount of detail in the char­ac­ter mod­els don’t com­pare to some oth­er shows ani­mat­ed by jug­ger­nauts like Mad­house, but that’s just Takeuchi’s art style.

Megane Rin

ufotable Rin (Ani­me)

Visual Novel Rin

ufotable Rin (Visu­al Nov­el OP)

Speak­ing of art, it took some time for me to get used to Rin’s design in the Unlim­it­ed Blade Works ani­me. It’s not bad or any­thing, but her facial struc­ture is real­ly dif­fer­ent com­pared to how she looks in every­thing else. Even in the Réal­ta Nua Vita open­ings ani­mat­ed by ufotable, Rin has a lot more… fat in her cheeks? Oth­er­wise, she’s a real qt in the new anime.

The only cons I can think of so far is the sound­track that they use for the ani­me. It isn’t bad or any­thing, but it does­n’t feel quite as pow­er­ful with­out the famil­iar VN sound­track and even the arrange­ments of it by Kawai Ken­ji for the DEEN ani­me. It’s not that big of a deal, but they def­i­nite­ly need to play the EMIYA theme and Die Lorelei dur­ing their respec­tive scenes in the sec­ond ani­me adap­ta­tion. The for­mer is, well… icon­ic by now and its own arrange­ment for Kir­it­su­ugu in Fate/Zero of all things, and the lat­ter adds to the Illya feels in Unlim­it­ed Blade Works and Heav­en’s Feel.

Like­wise, I don’t mind Ide­al White as the open­ing theme, but the Réal­ta Nua Vita open­ing would have been way more fit­ting as an open­ing theme. I mean, com­pare the actu­al open­ing for the ani­me with this fan-made edit:

One word: Superior

It was pret­ty neat hear­ing the orig­i­nal F/sn theme song “this illu­sion” being sung by LiSA at the end of episode 12, though.

Sto­ry-wise, as a per­son who already enjoyed Unlim­it­ed Blade Works in the VN and expe­ri­enced the slideshow-of-a-movie by DEEN, I have my own spec­u­la­tions on how they’re going to han­dle the rest of the sto­ry­line in the sec­ond cour that’s going to air in April. First off, in the visu­al nov­el, there are deci­sion points in Unlim­it­ed Blade Works, and depend­ing on affec­tion points and what­not from the choic­es you make, you’ll either end up with the true end­ing or the good ending.

From what we’ve seen of Fate stay/night Unlim­it­ed Blade Works so far, they’ve gone with a few choic­es that are Saber-cen­tric, like Shi­rou tak­ing her on a tour of his school. I’m pret­ty sure they’re going for the good end­ing, or at least a com­bi­na­tion that involves it. If you’re a new­com­er and it gets to that point, feel free to look up the true end­ing on YouTube or something.

Based Baseball Saber

They actu­al­ly did the unseen base­ball incident

Inter­est­ing­ly, there’s one choice that you can make that’s help­ful for get­ting on the good path, which Shi­rou did­n’t go for in the anime. 

After Shi­rou strips down Issei to prove that he’s not Cast­er’s Mas­ter, he either chooses:

Wor­ried About Saku­ra, go to Matou
(this hap­pens in the anime)

  • Runs into Rin while try­ing to check on Saku­ra at the Matou household
  • Rin tells Shi­rou to hide to hide with her. They spot a blonde for­eign­er out­side the Matou house
  • After that, he tells her about the strip­ping inci­dent in person

Or

Meat’s on Sale, buy for Saber

  • He goes shopping
  • He finds Liz (one of Illya’s maids) hav­ing trou­ble buy­ing some­thing because of the lan­guage bar­ri­er, so he helps her
  • Shi­rou goes home to call Rin about Issei.

The whole point of the alter­nate scene is


So ufotable either decid­ed to for­go that scene because they felt it would have made the twist of UBW more obvi­ous than it already is, or it was just a holdover from the voice­less ver­sion of the VN that oth­er­wise makes no sense with the voice actors that they cur­rent­ly have.

Saber's too cute

Any­ways, bot­tom-line. The UBW ani­me is awe­some. You should go watch it.

I look for­ward to the sec­ond cour com­ing this April. Cheers!

BROserker

Anime BROserker

イリヤバーサーカーは、強いね―――

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I am the leather of my wallet

TO BE CONTINUED

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