Alright so, this episode of Unlimited Blade works has quite a few interesting things to talk about. The first being Shirou and Archer, which is itself a core aspect of the show itself.
Archer, despite not having too much screen time in this episode, is still a very key focus for it. Namely its due to his connection to Rin and rivalry with Shirou, and how those dynamics are being tested. While at first, Rin and Archer got along fine, now due to Shirou’s partnering with Rin there seems to be more of a divide. Rin wants to work with Shirou because she does care about him and because, while a novice, he’s definitely loyal. Archer focuses more on the practicality of it all, pointing out how Caster is taking this seriously and is effective as a mage, even with corrupt methods, making her a powerful ally. Funnily enough, this goes against what he said in episode 0, when he stated he’d never use that method of stealing people’s energy for victory. Its quite clear that Shirou is causing Rin to “go soft”, and Archer isn’t happy about it. Of course, Rin knows Archer is after Shirou, and so has been distancing herself from him, not bringing him along on their outside missions. She also seems worried about the idea of Archer being around Caster, so its very curious to see how their relationship continues to evolve/unravel.
Shirou himself seems to be having his own dilemma with Archer. Despite hating his guts, he can’t help but admire his weapons and fighting style. He seems drawn to it even though he doesn’t want to be drawn to it, which leads to his frustration, naturally. This pays off much later in the episode in a very dynamic way.
The mystery of who Caster’s master is is shortly revealed. Anyone remember the creepy teacher with a stare that could pierce souls? Yeah, looks like it could be him.
Shirou’s not convinced, its not really in his nature to think the worst of anyone. So, they decide to do the most sensible thing-stakeout till he’s heading home and hit him with a spell.
Still, they get ready. I must say, one interesting thing they do is have the winter setting. While a lot of shows focus on summer, its nice to see a winter show. It works very well with the design, and just works so well for the scenery as they move about.
They launch their plan and oh my God they were totally right. Now that was pretty predictable especially with Kuzuki being shown earlier and having that very intense scene with Saber. However, what makes this interesting is seeing Kuzuki, what he’s like, his thoughts on it. I find him incredibly interesting. He is a completely normal human, has no knowledge of the mage world, but none of it fazes him. He shows none of the concerns or insecurities people like Shinji, who lacks any mage talent, or Shirou, who lacks any mage experience, have. He’s rather matter of fact about the whole thing. Even moreso, when Caster’s crimes are brought before him, he says he didn’t know…but he doesn’t care.
It relates to this very unattached way he’s been shown. He doesn’t care if people die because of Caster’s actions. People all around the world die of tragedies and injustices, but the average person isn’t concerned about them. To him, a person dying by their mana being drained by Caster and a person dying by being hit by a car are the same thing. And then we get to the next thing he says…
I saw the original Deen anime, and even then I found Kuzuki absolutely fascinating. We are given no background information, not detailing who he has killed, why, and how it could have made him as he is. Was he once a serial killer? Did he fight in a war? Was he part of some other catastrophe? We have no idea. He seems completely normal, which I find intriguing and also rather scary about him. He isn’t a monster or a villain, he is a very cold sociopath, but not with the usual charisma that entails. He feels quite real, and I find him to be the most intimidating character in Fate.
Oh, and the fact he can fight Saber hand-to-hand and BEAT THE EVERLOVING SHIT OUT OF HER!
I mean seriously, look at this. While there are a lot of factors contributing to it (Caster’s reinforcement on his body, Saber’s weakness in mana due to Shirou), Kuzuki, a regular human, can beat Saber by having a martial arts style she’s never seen. Even Berserker didn’t toss around Saber this badly. And after beating Saber, it only makes it more intense when he goes after Shirou and Rin, taking out the latter with one punch.
Meanwhile, Caster’s ready with her own gambit, holding a strange weapon and making her way toward Saber. Its only the battle between Kuzuki and Shirou that stops her from doing..whatever she was going to do to Saber. I’m certain this in no way be important later at aaaaaall.
Anyways, back to Shirou. Here, another piece of the puzzle is revealed. Shirou actually knows another form of magic than strengthening, projection. However, its considered a lame art and not worth exploring…that is until Shirou summons Archer’s twin swords.
Yeah, not so useless no more. This continues Shirou’s conflict, being drawn naturally to Archer’s swords and fighting style despite him being so antithetical to Archer’s actions. And it gives us a pretty epic fight, Shirou able to hold off Kuzuki till Saber gets her second wind, and Team Caster decides to retreat. Overall, it leaves our heroes in a very interesting place. I wonder how they will deal with Caster now. Oh well, we’ll find out next epi-…..no…no there’s one more scene. But involves…who else but Shinji.
Shinji’s got a new servant, who’s blonde guy who’s been hanging with Sakura. Normally I’d keep it a spoiler, so, but most people already kinda know him. I’ll say this servant seems…surprisingly accepting of Shinji as a master, by which I mean he hasn’t tried to kill Shinji brutally, even when he actually touches him.
Our blonde friend gives the last bit of the episode saying his own desires for the Grail, while fulfilling his major role for this scene, giving Midnight deep poundings in her chest. Namely, in his time, there were less people, and so their worth was greater. They were indispensable. However, with the population of the world in the billions, there’s many ‘unnecessary’ people in existence that need to be removed. In other words, he wants to “decrease the surplus population.” Its a nice little insight to his character, which we will see when the show decides to reveal more, like his name.
Overall, this was a great episode. It didn’t have an insane amount of things happen, but it did move our characters further along, gave us an amazing action sequence with Kuzuki, as well as a taste of what’s to come. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I’m more than pumped for next episode.