I haven’t done many anime impressions/reviews as of late, but I thought I’d write about this one episode in particular before all the hype in me dies down.
In the previous episode, Saber finished her long-awaited duel with Assassin, Rin pulled Shinji out of the Grail’s thick meaty grasp, and Shirou got blown away by an Ea blast that wasn’t even aimed at him. Sure, our main character got swatted away like a puny fly, but this is the climax! The episode where our “Hero of Justice” shines! The title of the episode is called “Unlimited Blade Works” for God’s sake! Unlimited Blade works in our Unlimited Blade Works episode in our Unlimited Blade Works anime adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route of the visual novel!
To get straight to the point, I really enjoyed the episode. I’ve been a longtime fan of Type-Moon, and I loved what Ufotable did with the series. They brought in splendid animation that really breathed life to its visual novel predecessor, along with original content that fit right into the story. Albeit, I would have enjoyed seeing them animate the Fate route, but Unlimited Blade Works route is truly where Shirou’s true worth as a character shines. We’ve seen him go up against enemies he could never dream of defeating, facing the impossibility and hypocrisy of his dreams and ideals, and even fighting a buff, tanned, sexier version of himself. Even against all those odds, he still persists and grows to greater heights. Although this climax lived up to many people’s expectations, I feel like it fell a bit short to mine.
The Animation Was…Dodgy?
Ufotable is known for their high quality animation, and their adaptation of this series even earned the nickname of “Unlimited Budget Works”. While the name certainly fits for this beauty of a show, the same can’t be entirely said of season 2. Animation quality dropped down occasionally during certain episodes (mostly during the Caster hostage episodes), and it may be because most of the budget went to the first season. My main issues with the animation in this episode essentially arose from the Shirou vs Gilgamesh battle.
Ufotable prides themselves in their style of animation by using CGI and special effects to add a certain feel of realism to their shows. However, this works against Ufotable, because having shoddy-looking people fighting in a super-detailed field of swords makes for a really weird contrast. I also understand that in order to have a greater sense of motion in animation a portion of detail will have to be sacrificed, but the battle seemed 80% motion and 20% detail.
But let’s not forget the laser-light show. Instead of shooting swords at each other, half the fight seemed like they were shooting laser beams. One of the reasons I liked the Ufotable adaptation is that they actually showed swords being shot, unlike Studio DEEN’s red laser beams.
Shirou Was a Badass
Aside from the fact that he brought out Unlimited Blade Works, the way he worked off of his strengths and weaknesses is what really made him cool in my eyes. Sure, his ability to create a world of swords seems cool and unstoppable at first, but it’s useless against almost any Servant. Thank God, Gilgamesh isn’t almost any Servant.
It takes a very small interval of time for Gilgamesh to launch his weapons, but it takes Shirou no time at all to launch his, since his weapons are already there. If Shirou so much as sees a weapon from the Gate of Babylon, he’ll cut them down immediately before they’re even fired. With this, Shirou doesn’t even give Gilgamesh the time to counter-attack. By realizing his strengths, Shirou wields them to the limit and defeats the King of Heroes.
I Wanted More Shirou vs Gilgamesh
This is the climax episode. It’s called Unlimited Blade Works. This is one of the most important episode in the series, yet we have the biggest fight interrupted by scenes with Rin and Saber. I’m not saying that those scenes weren’t important, but they really lessen the overall impact of the episode. I know this was how it exactly played out in the visual novel, but the fight felt very short because of it. It’s like someone taking away your lunch while you’re eating it, only for it to be given back 10 minutes later. I did like the scene with Saber fading away though. Goodbye waifu.
Goodnight Sweet Prince
The scene where Rin says goodbye to Archer was beautiful. What really captures the beauty of the scene were Archer’s reactions. The way he reacted towards Rin lamenting over his cruel fate, how he ruffled his hair up to get his old look back, and the way he smiled and gave Rin a very Shirou-like response. The track “New Dawn” gave the nostalgic feeling many fans of the visual novel adore. I give Ufotable an A+ for this scene’s adaptation. It literally brought me to tears (again).
I loved the episode. Easily my favorite out of all the episodes. My only qualm is that the animation quality could’ve been a lot better. Other than that, it had everything I wanted. “EMIYA” playing in the background, a high-paced fight with swords on swords, Gilgamesh being beaten like a boy beating his meat for the first time, and the heartfelt goodbye we were all waiting for. This series will be very missed. Let’s all look forward to the epilogue, shall we?