Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 1

Damn, motherfuckers. YSILLY.CAUSALITYou went all out on the budget for this one. Two consecutive one-hour episodes of this shit already, all in gorgeous HD animation? Good stuff for the eyes, ladies and gentlemen.

I remember the original Fate/stay night anime back in 2006. Eight years ago, huh. Time flies. I do have my bones to pick with the Fate/whatever universe, namely its overly complicated backstory that plays a huge part in all the characters’ motivations, yet can’t be introduced to the viewer smoothly in the anime due to how obtuse it is. Try reading the wiki on this stuff, people. I give you three sentences before it loses you on the nature of the Third Magic and why the fuck any of this shit is happening. Anyway, the Fate/whatever series have really always come down to crazy action and beautiful animation mixed with bombastic philosophizing, all done with a respectable amount of class. (Remember that?) I prefer to describe them as masterpieces of execution, as the underlying material isn’t very deep or thought-provoking. You come for the ride, because the ride’s done well and won’t throw you out of your seat while making you vomit, like some other series I’ve recounted on this blog already. Fate/zero was superb in this regard; I have high hopes for this outing.

This episode recounts the same period of time as Episode 0 from last week, only focused around Shirou Emiya, the adopted son of Kiritsugu. This was the worst facet of the episode, as Shirou has never been a compelling character to me. He’s just too much of a goody-two-shoes who stumbles through the series thanks to an insane amount of dumb luck, in contrast to the deliciously brutal competency of his father and almost every other participant of the previous Holy Grail War (with the exception of the hopeless douchebag known as Kayneth El-Melloi), which made Fate/zero so fantastic to watch. Competence porn is the best porn, hence why I always root for Rin. She’s naive in some ways, but focused, intelligent, and very much up to the task when push comes to shove. She earns her victories; Shirou gets many of his through writer fiat. From what I know about the plotline of UBW, though, I think Shirou is likely to be compromised to a certain degree and tapered into a more developed character compared to the last Fate/stay night anime. We’ll see, but first we have to get through the initial half where Shirou preaches on about saving people and shit without taking a hint. Ugh.

Also very pleased to see the return of Lancer, badass extraordinaire from the Emerald Isle. I’ve always liked his ability kit; Gae Bolg is an impressive weapon, to be sure, but his ability to reverse causality and ensure his spear hits his target’s heart is nothing but imposing. Saber only dodges it because she has her own divine luck that allows her to narrowly escape the blow; to be honest, that’s always been something of a lame cop-out for me, as I’d rather have seen Avalon regenerate the wound, but if Saber died in Episode 1, there wouldn’t be much of a series. Eh well.

It’s about time I had an anime I thoroughly enjoy watching, letting me wash away the pain of Zankyou no Terror with all due haste and eagerness.

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