Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works 18 — Dropping the ball

I actually prefer the original CG to this

I must say… this is the first episode where I’ve been tru­ly, utter­ly dis­ap­point­ed in Ufotable. Every­thing about this Unlim­it­ed Blade Works episode was just a giant step down from how awe­some it could have been.

Expe­ri­enc­ing these scenes before, only done bet­ter, prob­a­bly con­tributed to my dis­ap­point­ment. But it’s not like a lot of my expec­ta­tions were impos­si­ble to pull off with­in the medi­um of ani­ma­tion. Ufotable blew my mind with almost every­thing before this, and to fall short when they’re just get­ting into the best parts of the route is kind of depressing.

If Morgan gave her a penis again, all her boners would be for all Emiya Shirous

Let’s start off with how much they rushed the scenes lead­ing up to, and includ­ing, when Archer first deploys his Real­i­ty Mar­ble, Unlim­it­ed Blade Works. They lit­er­al­ly glossed over over a lot of sto­ry-relat­ed dia­logue just to get these scenes over with. For exam­ple, in the visu­al nov­el, and (if I recall cor­rect­ly) the DEEN movie, the scene where Rin forms a con­tract with Saber has Archer react­ing to it, imply­ing that he had always planned on let­ting Rin make a con­tract with Saber, but only after he took care of Shi­rou. Don’t know why, but instead of hav­ing Archer mum­ble that out off­hand while being held off by Shi­rou, they just gloss over it entire­ly. We also had more exchanges between Archer and Saber (who tries to back off after Archer makes remarks, such as “Saber… I should have nev­er become a hero”, that reveals his iden­ti­ty to her) in the visu­al nov­el, such as when Archer puts Kan­shou and Bakuya away, which went some­thing like this (removed dia­logue in red):

Saber: Archer, does this mean you’ll give up now…?
Archer: Of course not. Don’t mis­un­der­stand me. I’m an Archer. I’m not some­one who fights using swords to begin with.

[cue an echo: I am the bone of my sword]

Saber: Stop, Archer! I do not wish to…
Archer: Saber… Some­day, some­one will appear and save you. It doesn’t seem like it’s gonna be this time… and next time, I will prob­a­bly have a con­nec­tion with you again.

[Unknown to Death. Nor known to Life]

Archer: “But that is still a way’s away. My only objec­tive right now is to kill Emiya Shi­rou. If you try to stop me… This world will not show mer­cy, even to you.” (Japan­ese line:「だが、それはあくまで次の話。今のオレの目的は、衛宮士郎を殺すことだけだ。それを阻むのならば―――この世界は、おまえが相手でも容赦はせん」—-> mir­ror moon’s fan-trans­la­tion of the VN mis-trans­lat­ed the last line as “If you’re try­ing to stop me, I won’t hold back against you, even in this world”, prob­a­bly because the rest of the dia­logue was Archer hint-hint-nudge-nudg­ing that he knows Saber…“elsewhere”. I guess it’s not so bad if the read­er reads “this world” as being UBW, but if the read­er mis­in­ter­prets “this world” as being “one Earth of many” because of the word­ing and con­text, it gives the read­er an addi­tion­al hint of Archer being from an alter­nate time­line)

[▅▅Unlim­it­ed Blade Works]

This and a bunch of oth­er tid­bits of dia­logue were either removed or com­pact­ed to make these events go by faster. Archer became a Counter Guardian… Saber, Arturia Pen­drag­on, is on the road to becom­ing a Guardian as well if she ful­fills her wish and obtains the Holy Grail. On top of that, Saber now real­izes that the man who stands in front of her is some­one she knows and cares about, who has become a Hero­ic Spir­it sim­i­lar­ly regret­ful about his fate. Because of this, there were real­ly good exchanges between them that add par­tic­u­lar­ly to Saber’s feel­ings towards this entire con­flict and her feel­ings about her own wish/duty, which they skipped over because fuck char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, we need to get to epic ther­a­py ses­sions as fast as we can.

Unlimited CGI Works

Then dur­ing the actu­al Unlim­it­ed Blade Works scene… well, for starters, while I still think the Real­i­ty Mar­ble looks cool, in terms of the ani­me, it looks way bet­ter when it was shown as a vision pre­vi­ous­ly. The actu­al one looks very… well, it looks like a mon­ey saver, at least in com­par­i­son. Real­ly goes to show you that despite the jokes, this ani­me real­ly isn’t Unlim­it­ed Bud­get Works. Behind the over-processed blue auras and glit­ter, Ufotable’s just a very con­sis­tent ani­ma­tion com­pa­ny with tal­ent­ed peo­ple. But any­way… here are the problems.

SWORD RAIN ALPHAAAA

1) Ufotable missed the entire point of Sexy Red Man’s inner world. Here, we see Archer pro­ject­ing his rain of swords.

He pro­ject­ed them.

The whole point of Unlim­it­ed Blade Works is that the cast­er does­n’t need to do that! The swords are right there. With­in Unlim­it­ed Blade Works, Archer (Emiya Shi­rou) no longer needs to expend much men­tal ener­gy into trac­ing weapons, he just needs to use what he has already record­ed right in front of him. Ide­al­ly, had Ufotable done this scene right, Archer would have raised his left arm and the swords near him would have float­ed up and become the rain of swords. Even the DEEN movie got it right.

Alter­na­tive­ly, it could be explained that he just called upon oth­er swords that were fur­ther away in the des­o­late world, but that’s just pret­ty damn unnec­es­sary. I was also hop­ing that the staff of Ufotable would use their tal­ents to make each sword from the Sword Rain have var­ied appear­ances, which would have been a huge improve­ment from the source and oth­er adap­ta­tions where Archer does his sword thing.

SHIROU IS THE RED MAN!

2) Voice act­ing should have made up for the lack of mono­logue. At this point, it’s clear to Shi­rou that Rin knew Archer’s true iden­ti­ty all along. Rin is not sur­prised by Archer being a magus and by his inner world. How­ev­er, since those inner mono­logues are miss­ing, visu­al and vocal cues in the ani­me should make up for it by stay­ing con­sis­tent to canon. But nope, for some rea­son, as opposed to how dis­in­ter­est­ed she man­aged to make Rin sound in the voiced visu­al nov­el as described in Shi­rou’s first-per­son POV, Ueda Kana made Rin sound the oppo­site in the ani­me’s ver­sion of this scene. I adore Ueda Kana’s voice act­ing, but that lit­tle bit just fur­ther took away in-sto­ry context.

The cogwheels breaking down was kinda cool

3) The god damned pac­ing. The tran­si­tion from the Real­i­ty Mar­ble to real­i­ty is too abrupt and end­ed too quick­ly. When Shi­rou coun­ters Archer’s rain of swords, fans are divid­ed on whether or not Shi­rou made his own rain of swords or blocked hun­dred of swords with two hands with shounen willpow­er like in the DEEN movie, because the text in the visu­al nov­el is ambigu­ous whether or not he suc­ceed­ed at cre­at­ing a rain of swords (I sub­scribe to the for­mer belief that he did, in fact, cre­ate a rain of swords, at least on a small­er scale). Regard­less, the scene is sup­posed to last until the Real­i­ty Mar­ble shat­tered. The ani­me just goes from Shi­rou about to deflect the swords in slo-mo and then sud­den­ly we’re back into real­i­ty again. It’s just so rushed.

4) The lack of music pissed me off. Silence has its place in set­ting atmos­phere in ani­ma­tion, but in Fate/stay night, music real­ly helps set its own mood in var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions. In the visu­al nov­el, once Archer revealed his inner world — a des­o­late world that is the clos­est thing he has to a Noble Phan­tasm — Whirlpool of Fate kicks in and not only did it fit the des­olute sur­round­ings of the Real­i­ty Mar­ble, but it added a dra­mat­ic flare. Archer just fuck­ing revealed the true nature of his pow­ers.

Hell, this edit that adds the BGM to DEEN’s ver­sion of the scene made theirs a crap­ton times bet­ter than it actu­al­ly was (which orig­i­nal­ly was not that great):

In ret­ro­spect, I actu­al­ly still think Ufotable’s ver­sion of the scene is leagues ahead of DEEN’s, but at the same time, it fell short. It’s just ter­ri­bly dis­ap­point­ing that one of my favorite scenes in Unlim­it­ed Blade Works turned out way worse than it should have been.

GEE I WONDER

I won­der who Archer real­ly is?

CAN'T BE THIS GUY

Can’t be this guy!

Oth­er than that, I thought the rest of the episode was mod­er­ate­ly sat­is­fy­ing. In Rin’s flash­back dream con­cern­ing Archer’s (Shi­rou’s) life, I loved how Ufotable added sil­hou­ettes of his friends, such as Saku­ra. Also, the gal­lows at the end (I’m still not sure if he was hanged or — spoil­er in the link — skew­ered by swords).

At the same time, I don’t like how some impor­tant infor­ma­tion was left out. With what hap­pened ear­li­er in the episode, I expect­ed Ufotable to remove one or two lines, but I cer­tain­ly thought Rin’s expla­na­tion about how Hero­ic Spir­its worked would have been left in. Basi­cal­ly, the Hero­ic Spir­its sum­moned for the Holy Grail Wars are basi­cal­ly copies of the ones that exist in the Throne of Heroes or wher­ev­er else they can come from. Once they dis­ap­pear, they return to their main bod­ies, but the main bod­ies don’t retain the mem­o­ry of their sum­moned dou­bles. Instead, the mem­o­ries are stored in records, com­pa­ra­ble to a per­son­al library of each of their indi­vid­ual sum­mon­ing. Saber being an excep­tion. The nov­el explains it bet­ter, and I don’t mind Nasu info­dumps being cut down in ani­ma­tion. But here, they don’t try to men­tion it at all.

No Illya route is suffering

Also, there was a pret­ty good line in the VN that Rin said in her mono­logue, which summed up Archer’s life per­fect­ly: “The boy who said he did­n’t want to see any­body cry… could only see humans cry­ing for­ev­er.” I wished they slipped that in there dur­ing the visions of Archer break­ing down doing his Counter Guardian work.

FEIKAA

FEEEEEIKAH

Why are you even angry

I hat­ed what they did to the scenes where Lancer decides to tag along with Shi­rou for just a while longer. While I don’t mind the place­ment being changed (in the VN, it was right after Shi­rou and Saber left the Church), I did­n’t like how they com­plete­ly got their… emo­tions wrong. In the ani­me, Saber looks and sounds fuck­ing pissed and Lancer’s look and tone are way too calm.

Truth­ful­ly, Lancer should be fuck­ing pissed at Archer for kid­nap­ping Rin, enough to sur­prise Saber. “Well I say… What kind of mag­ic did you and Rin use to get him on your side?

I hope they don’t remove the bits of Lancer teas­ing Saber like he did with Tohsaka…

dis anime is so bad becuz teh high skewl humor

TO BE CONTINUED

5 thoughts on “Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works 18 — Dropping the ball

  1. it’s been a while since I’ve read the visu­al nov­el but I didn had a vague mem­o­ry of how things went in it and when I saw this apisode I was not thrilled at all, out­sise of the ovbi­ous, like the not unlim­it­ed bud­get, I could­n’t place every rea­son why, you just did for me, so detailed! thank you!

    1. @hens­light: Yeah, I had to reload one of my saves from the VN to dou­ble-check, but even before that I felt some­thing off and rushed about this episode.

  2. I have to admit that it feels a bit rushed even if I haven’t played the visu­al nov­el. It makes me won­der if they could­n’t fit every­thing into one episode and they could­n’t air a 48 minute episode. 

    Hope­ful­ly, they will recov­er from this in future episodes, I hope.

    1. @chikorita157: I agree, this episode would have worked much bet­ter as a longer episode or two episodes.
      I’m hop­ing they do recov­er after this, because we’re right at the part where — at least for me — you could­n’t stop read­ing until you got to the very end in the VN.

      Here’s Archer deploy­ing UBW in the VN, if you’re curi­ous (found it on YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuQ2eEycn_A

      Also, rec­ti­fied a glar­ing mis­take I made regard­ing a trans­la­tion I made in my post.

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