Fate/Stay Night

December 25, 2010

I don’t remember why I didn’t want to watch Fate/Stay Night when I had the chance to many years ago. Even if the local TV station did air it and even repeated its run, I was still reluctant. Till a few months back. I really don’t know. Maybe because something in my gut told me that I shouldn’t miss out this action-cum-romance-cum-thriller series. Even if I needed a reason, probably it was Saber. Yeah, love her outfit design.

Based on a game of the same name, the setting is Fuyuki City in Japan and our hero protagonist, Shirou Emiya who is an amateur mechanic, though he has basic sorcery skills and only uses them to Trace objects like reinforcing them. As usual, he gets involved in a battle of the Holy Grail between 7 magicians known as Masters and their 7 classes of Servants and the last one standing receives that said cup that will grant the winner a wish. There’s just a basic gist of it. There are several terms and jargons in this series like Noble Phantasm (powerful artefacts or abilities) and Command Spells (a spell that will force a Servant to perform an action and each Master is limited to only 3) or rules like each Master can only summon 1 Servant. But for a person like me, if I don’t think so much, I could get by enjoying the story without having figuring out what is what. Just accept it as it is! And that Master-Servant term doesn’t make it sound like some S&M play!

So yeah, episode 1. The previous Holy Grail war 10 years ago resulted in a great fire over Fuyuki City. Perhaps much worse than the one in England. Young Shirou is supposedly a survivor of it. Back in the present, another Holy Grail war is taking place so Rin Tohsaka tries to summon a Saber (considered an all rounder class) but summons Archer instead. Meanwhile we see Shirou, the adoptive son of the late magician Kiritsugu living up to his ideals to become a man of justice. That means he can’t turn anybody down if they’re in dire need of help. Since he is living alone in his big mansion, you can’t help that his childhood friend Sakura Matou and homeroom teacher-cum-guardian Taiga Fujimura always pays him a visit to do chores and such. Recently on the news there have been spates of gas leaks and murder sprees in the city. More reason for Shirou to be a hero of justice sooner. Rin and Archer go around the city in search for other Masters and their Servants.

In episode 2, Shirou and Sakura go to school. More characters introduced like Shirou’s best friend and student council president Issei Ryuudou and Shinji Matou who is Sakura’s elder brother and archery dojo vice captain. You can tell this Shinji guys is the kind of jerk everyone loves to hate because of his narcissist and arrogant attitude. How the heck did he and Shirou became friends? After school, Rin and Archer come face to face with another servant, Lancer (because he loves using lance as his weapon, duh). As the servants battle it out, it seems the school isn’t totally empty yet because Shirou has been made by ass Shinji to do his part to clean the archery dojo. See what I mean when he can’t turn down help? Seeing that there is a witness other than the participants to the Holy Grail, Lancer shifts his attention to Shirou and chases him. In short, Lancer kills him. How can a main character be so when he dies as early as the second episode? Thanks to tsundere Rin of course. Yeah, she uses her magic crystals to bring him back. Why does she pity a normal guy like him? Because she likes him. I’m guessing that as well. Must be. So Shirou still shocked over everything goes back home. But he gets another chance of dying because Lancer is back to finish what he started. Why didn’t he do it properly the first time? As Shirou fends off Lancer’s attack, Shirou’s magic accidentally summons Saber who calls him her Master.

Saber instantly takes on Lancer in episode 3 and though Lancer uses his ultimate move, it still wasn’t enough to beat Saber. Lancer makes a wise move to withdraw. Saber then senses Archer nearby and attacks as Rin summons her Servant to disappear though Saber wants to hunt him down but is stopped by Shirou. Rin learns Shirou as an amateur magician so it’s understandable that she can’t comprehend how he summoned a Servant she wanted most. Because Shirou knows nuts about the Holy Grail war, she takes him to see Kirei Kotomine who lives at a church to tell him what that kid needs to know. Kotomine is also a moderator in the current Holy Grail as his dad was in the previous one. So he lays down the rules and the Master-Servant thingy. Then something about the Servant is free to join other Masters if the Master can’t control the Servant and that the Master need not die to be out of the competition, just the Servant. Kotomine adds that the previous winner of the war wasn’t a fit Master and this caused the city to be engulfed in flames. So if you’re planning to let everyone wipe each other out while you stay in the shadows and take the final glory and beat the weary one left standing, that doesn’t mean the Holy Grail will acknowledge you as the true winner. Since Shirou was deeply affected by that great fire, he has no choice but to join in order to prevent another such catastrophe. As the gang leave, they meet a little Russian loli, Illyasviel Von Einzbern AKA Ilya and her Servant, Berserker. Man, are you going to really face up to that monstrous tank?

Another battle in episode 4 with Saber taking on Berserker but is injured. Rin’s magic could do no help. Shirou tries to be a hero and pushes Saber away from Berserker’s cleaver and ends up getting killed. Again. So everybody is so shocked that a Master would sacrifice himself for a Servant, Ilya doesn’t like it too and withdraws (possibly she has taken an interest in Shirou. Why are more girls flocking over to him? Is this a harem anime?). Yeah so Rin has the honour of carrying Shirou back to his place and something about Saber’s wounds can regenerate and have some of that transfer to Shirou to bring him back alive too. Of course Shirou tells Rin he is not interested a single bit about the Holy Grail but rather to stop evil people from doing evil things. Rin hopes he won’t say that to Saber because it is every Servants’ dream to obtain it so by not wishing so might be considered an insult. After more ‘advice’ from Rin and she leaves, Shirou goes see Saber in another room. She doesn’t like his fighting style because she believes Servants should be doing the main fighting but Shirou asserts that one doesn’t need a reason to save others. Even if they’re both loggerheads, they have to accept that they’re both Master and Servant tied down to a contract. Well, she’s not considering another Master, is she? Don’t worry, that thought has never crossed her mind. Better start understanding each other.

Because Shirou feels bad about locking Saber away in another room while he eats with Sakura and Fujimura in episode 5, he brings her out to meet them. Oh, do they need another woman in this house? That distant relative thingy isn’t going to cut it either. Fujimura challenges Saber to a duel but her cockiness is just for show because Saber beats her flat even if she cheats. Though Saber is allowed to stay, both ladies decide to stay for the night just in case. Ahem, ahem. So next day the girls are very assured that they can leave Saber alone with him and don’t need them staying. Shirou heads to school while leaving Saber behind. She insists of being by her Master’s side in case of any attacks but he assures her that he will use his Command Spell to summon her if he needs to. She can actually sit there the whole day? In school, Shirou learns that a female member of the archery club has been missing but the school is trying not to make a big fuss about it. Shirou stays late after school and bumps into Rin. She isn’t happy that the idiot came without his Servant and attacks him. What’s a guy to do than to run? Hey, how is hiding in a classroom and reinforcing a desk going to help him get out of this mess against Rin’s German chanting spells?

Their battle is interrupted when they hear a scream in episode 6. Shirou uses this excuse to go investigate and postpone their fight. They see a girl unconscious and her mana sucked out. At this rate, she may die. Rin concentrates on healing her when a spear is thrown her way. Shirou uses his arm to block. Shirou goes to investigate and in the woods sees another Servant, Rider (does she always like doing sexy poses? Maybe must be her outfit). Shirou is attacked and badly wounded and you may think he’s going to die again because he refuses to summon Saber and bring her into this mess. Luckily Rin was there to shoot Shirou free and Rider makes her escape. Rin also mentions that there is another Master in their school and is using a barrier if activated will drain the life of the entire school to strengthen the Servant. The duo head back to Rin’s place and she proposes a truce between them. She learns about him and his dad before having Archer escort him home. Archer mocks Shirou’s fighting style because that kid doesn’t believe in killing people which makes it impossible to win the war. Even if their ideals clash, it sure made Shirou think real hard about it. But what are the chances of this numbskull changing?

Shirou gets another howling from Saber in episode 7 after learning what happened and not summoning her. Saber wants to follow Shirou to school but Shirou disagrees. Good news: At least Saber doesn’t become a transfer student to be close to Shirou and causing his classmates to go gaga over the new pretty girl. Rin mentions some reverse psychology trap that Servants won’t attack him if they don’t see Saber with him. Yeah sure, like that will help since Shirou is like the weakest among the magicians so far. In school, Rin and Shirou discuss about destroying the several spell marks around school to delay the barrier’s activation and force the Master out of hiding. Shirou uses his ability to detect them (some in unlikely of places: Boy’s toilet) while Saber destroys them and they did a pretty good job destroying many of them. As they leave, Shirou feels something strong coming from the archery club. It’s mind boggling how come they missed this big place. Shirou is shocked to see a large spell drawn on the wall. Then Rider comes in and her Master is no other than Shinji.

Shinji doesn’t want to fight him in episode 8 but wants to offer an alliance. However Shirou refuses. Think about it. If everybody makes a pact with everybody, then there’s no fight, right? Plus, Sakura doesn’t know anything about it due to some family tradition of leaving magic to their first born son only due to the thinning heirs of their family’s magic capability. Something like that. Noting that Shinji is the Master that Rin is detecting, before he parts, Shinji tells him about another Master who lives at the top of the Ryuudoji Temple, supposedly a witch. So happens this is where Issei lives and when Shirou asks him if anything weird has happened recently, he mentions his dad the head priest brought in a woman to take care. Shirou goes back to tell this info to Rin and Saber. He also learns Servants are past heroes summoned and depending on the Master’s personality, the Servant summoned will be according to his/her evil or good nature. If this guy hasn’t got a handful of problems to deal with, here’s another one to add. Why, it’s Rin inviting herself to stay at Shirou’s place! Oh great! More women in his household. So it’s no wonder that Sakura feels ‘threatened’ when this model, smart and pretty girl comes living with him. Hey, they’re allies, right? Yeah, even Shirou knows this will turn out problematic. First problem arising: Saber wants to sleep with Shirou to protect him better. Like hell he’ll allow that. Not even when Rin says one don’t have to treat Servants like humans. Like hell he’ll listen to that. So Fujimura won’t allow another immoral act but smooth Rin manages to convince and change her mind via words rather than action this time. Because Shirou still won’t allow Saber to do anything, that night she goes off alone to the temple and comes face to face with a Servant: Assassin.

Both Servants trade blades in episode 9. Saber is surprised Assassin freely tells his true identity: Kojirou Sasaki, a famous swordsman. Meanwhile Rider enters the temple and is faced with lots of undead creatures. She easily disposed them and faces the witch. Rider knows she can’t beat her so she retreats. Assassin pulls off his Tsubame Gaeshi move but Saber is able to evade it seeing that they’re fighting on steps and this didn’t give Assassin enough room for his foot for his technique. Saber is going to use her ultimate move as her invisible sword starts glowing and causing a tornado. Shirou has realized Saber’s disobedience and is on his way to the temple. He sees someone watching the duel from the bushes (Rider) and yells out. This catches the attention of Saber and Assassin. Assassin decides to withdraw since his mission is to protect the temple gates. Saber collapses since she used too much energy. When she wakes up in Shirou’s home, another round of argument because that guy doesn’t want her to get hurt by going off herself and she isn’t happy he’s treating her as a woman rather than a warrior. Though Saber accepts Shirou’s decision to fight alongside her, she decides to train him in swordsmanship.

I guess he’s using this excuse to skip school, huh? Shirou undergoes intensive training in episode 10 but still loses out to Saber. Of course the shape he’s in. Kept count of how many times he died and nearly? During the break, Shirou learns that Saber wants the Holy Grail to redo something in her past life that she failed to complete. Shirou goes out to buy groceries when he runs into Ilya. Don’t worry, she’s not here to fight him. At the park, seems Ilya really does take an interest on Shirou and she’s acting quite close to him as though she has onii-chan complex. When Shirou gets home, he learns that Rin was being offered an alliance by Shinji but she rejected him (yeah, he was rejected by her when he previously asked her out. Got his ego dented again, eh?). My guts tell me Rin likes Shirou though she gives an excuse she made an earlier pact with him. Later Rin has Shirou strengthen his reinforcing ability of creating a weapon out of nothing. Since Shirou isn’t at an advanced level yet, she makes him start with lamps. But he’s not doing well either since he’s breaking every of them. The last thing Shirou needs is another sarcastic criticism-cum-advice from Archer. He says at his current form now, if he can’t defeat somebody, might as well imagine something in his head that he can defeat that person with. Oh sure, it’s always so much easier to fantasize your own victory.

More practice for Shirou in episode 11 whether it’s Saber’s sword or reinforcing lamps. Yup, he’s still pathetic. Later Rin shows Saber a shed filled with metal objects. Something about Shirou’s ability isn’t reinforcing but creating things out of nothing. Shirou gets a call from Shinji to meet him at school. When he arrives, he sees lifeless bodies of the students and the barrier has been activated. You can say he is the culprit behind this. Shinji’s intention is to show arrogant Rin who is number 1 and let her know her place. That means to defeat Shirou right here right now. Shirou is upset that Shinji would go this far to hurt innocent people so he fights back. Now Shinji turns into a chicken and could’ve been toast if Rider hadn’t come to his aid. Rider kicks Shirou out of the window and he could die (again) at this height so with no choice, he uses his Command Spell to summon Saber. Continuing the battle, Saber takes on Rider while the Masters duke it out. Shirou corners Shinji and wants him to give up his Command Spell and Rider once again has to come to that jerk’s rescue. She unleashes her Noble Phantasm to escape by stabbing her own neck. Wow. That power decimated the entire floor. When the duo get back, yet another argument because Saber isn’t happy Shirou is trying to fight alone. Hasn’t he learned anything all this while? Well maybe this time it could be his changing point because he would fight alongside Saber for now on though he is adamant that what he did then was right.

Obviously Shinji has turned into a crazy psychopath in episode 12 because he just wants to kill everything. With news that those students are taken in for treatment and their lives aren’t in danger, Shirou and Saber head into town to find Shinji and Rider. Shirou is still injured and falls asleep at the park. He wakes up with Saber by his side as they talk about his wish for winning this Holy Grail war is to repay for those who died in the previous war by ensuring no one else does rather than preventing more victims as Saber speculated. Then Rider attacks them and leads Saber up a building. Like Master like Servant, Shirou is stubborn to listen to Saber’s advice to stay below so he rushes up the building using the old fashion way stairs. Huff and puff, dude. Unknown to him, Ilya and Berserker are there too. At the rooftop, Rider rides a Pegasus (her real identity is Medusa) to fight Saber as she builds up her power for her ultimate move. Saber thinks it’s okay to pull off her Noble Phantasm move since Shirou isn’t around as her sword starts glowing till it is revealed to be a gold sword, Excalibur. As its powers build up, Shirou appears. Dang. Saber swings her sword and the ultimate beam hits charging Rider and kills her. Coward Shinji flees but Shirou can’t go after him since he has to attend to Saber who really collapses this time.

Back at Shirou’s home in episode 13, Rin says that Saber has used up most of her mana and will disappear if it isn’t replenished. There are 2 ways to do so. Either get it from the Master (Shirou don’t know how so he can forget about it) or kill other people and drain their mana (wanna bet he will object to this method?). Shirou sits by Saber and sees her dream. OMG! Saber was King Arthur of Britain! King Arthur was a woman! History rewritten! Shirou sees her pulling out the sword from the stone and leading her army and people to victory. But he notes the sword in the dream looks different than her Excalibur. When he wakes up, probably another of those criticisms from Archer has Shirou taking a walk to town for fresh air. He bumps into Ilya again. She tells him that she knows Saber is on the verge of disappearing and was there when Saber-Rider’s battle took place. Then she hypnotizes him unconscious. He wakes up tied up in Ilya’s room, a large mansion located in the forest some distance away from the town. Ilya gets to the point. She likes him and wants Shirou to be her Servant. This isn’t play time, girl. But I guess she’s pretty serious because if he refuses, she’ll kill Saber and Rin. Of course he couldn’t answer a yes or no but says she shouldn’t take this killing thingy as a game. She is unfazed because she already killed a Master. And that was Shinji while he was escaping then. He is shocked to hear that and since he still does not agree to be her play thing, Ilya leaves for her killing mission.

Rin, Saber and Archer go in search of Shirou in episode 14 and find themselves outside Ilya’s mansion. It seems too easy when they sneak in, free Shirou and then sneak out. When they reach the front door, Ilya is waiting for them. She has been watching them all along and orders Berserker to kill them all. Rin orders Archer to buy them time while they escape. Is he serious taking on that behemoth? Like he’s got a choice. Archer must be Shirou’s personal advice guru now because he imparts more of them before he escapes. “You are not one who fights but one who creates”. Archer summons a pair of swords to fight Berserker though it doesn’t seem to be doing much damage. Not even the explosion he created from his sword and bow made any scratch on Berserker. Then he uses his Unlimited Blade Works technique to put up a good fight but in the end Berserker kills him. We know that is true because the Command Spell on Rin’s hand vanishes. They have to continue running through the forest as not to waste Archer’s efforts. Ilya orders Berserker to heal himself quickly and catch up to the rest. What’s this about Archer killing Berserker 5 times? How many lives does he have?

Saber is still weakened as the gang take refuge in an abandoned hut nearby in episode 15. But they’re not out of the woods yet. Rin mentions the only way for Saber to replenish her mana is to establish a connection between them. That is, Shirou has to give part of his magical circuit to her. Though this will deter Shirou to be a full fledge magician, he doesn’t care about that and wants to save Saber’s life. Part of the ritual is to have close skin contact and it gets a little steamy here. Thankfully this isn’t hentai though we got a bit of yuri (Rin getting a little physical with helpless Saber) and romance (Rin kissing Shirou. On purpose or what?). Morning comes and Saber is back to her normal self. Both Master and Servant back away seeing that they’re in a position that would easily lead to misinterpretation. At least they’re not naked. Back to business, Rin comes up with a plan to surprise attack Berserker and finish him off before he has any chance to counter attack. Ilya and Berserker arrive and only see Saber and Shirou. The fight begins but as expected Saber doesn’t have a chance. Rin then jumps out from the tree she’s hiding and freezes Berserker’s arm and weapon with her magic crystal. But he grabs Rin with the other hand. Rin still has some tricks up her sleeve and uses her remaining crystals to blow his face up. Well, nothing much happened. Well actually Berserker (whose real identity is Hercules) did die but came back to life. As Ilya explains his Noble Phantasm gives him 12 lives! Oh sh*t! More than what a cat has. Now he has 7 lives left. How are they going to kill him 7 more times?

What else more to do in episode 16? Just attack lah. Can’t be singing a lullaby, right? Saber has no choice but to use Excalibur but Shirou uses his Command Spell and force her not to use that move. Remembering Archer’s words, Shirou imagines and traces a sword like Excalibur and cuts the arm Berserker is grasping Rin. Noting there’s some flaw in it, he traces the same sword but with more focus now. Recreating another Excalibur, Shirou and Saber use it and thrust it into Berserker. The awesome part was that the sword was so awesome that it killed Berserker 7 damn times in a single strike! Wow! Berserker’s death leaves Ilya shocked and she’s no more that arrogant pushy loli now, eh? Okay, maybe not because things are going to get more complicated. Back in Shirou’s home, it seems Ilya decides to stay with him! She really makes it seem she has onii-chan complex. How the heck did she snuggle close in his bed while he’s sleeping? Beats me, but the thing is since Shirou allows her to stay seeing she is no longer a threat (yeah, loli without her giant are never threatening. Ever heard of yandere potential?) and this doesn’t sit well with Rin and Saber. More women in the house? What more a loli and you can’t blame them if Shirou gives in to his lolicon side. Back to the story proper, Saber and Shirou talk about the former when she was King Arthur. Something about a scabbard that made Excalibur invincible but was stolen. Meanwhile the witch, Caster (another Servant) is talking to one of Shirou’s teacher, Souichirou Kuzuki. Noting that Berserker is gone, their only threat would be Saber and Lancer. She plans on summoning the Holy Grail but they need someone who has the lineage of magicians. Her ideal person is Rin but they know her tough character to refuse so I guess the next ideal target would be Sakura.

Episode 17 begins with Saber’s flashback as King Arthur. Some of his subjects note she is a cruel king who will sacrifice a village to ensure victory and doubts her capability to rule over her people. As Shirou and co have dinner, more news report on the gas deaths. Shirou, Rin and Saber discuss about this and Ilya wants in. She provides them valuable information that Assassin’s Master is Caster whose real identity is Medea (a mythological Greek witch). How can this be? Well, Caster’s class as magician allows her to summon another Servant. Simple. Plus, she killed off the Master who summoned her since she is powerful enough to begin with. Her current ‘Master’ at the temple is just an ordinary human. They investigate this and once it is confirmed that Kuzuki is that said person, Rin proposes to ambush him. However Caster protects him. We learn that Kuzuki isn’t interested in the Holy Grail war or anything associated with it. He’s just doing this because he loves killing! So I guess all those recent deaths must be his doing. How did this cruel guy become a teacher without anyone suspecting? Or is he moonlighting as a teacher? Saber attacks but with Caster casting a spell on Kuzuki’s fist, he’s practically invincible. Rin also attacks but fails. Though Shirou’s tracing of a weapon makes him fare on par with Kuzuki. Caster suggests that they form an alliance. No deal, baby. Caster mentions of summoning the Holy Grail using a magician’s body as a vessel and has somebody in mind. The gang thinks they’re after Ilya who is sleeping at home and rushes back. Saber reaches back first and sees Sakura collapsed on the ground. Sakura wakes up but is possessed by Caster as she stabs Saber with a dagger, supposedly to seal her Noble Phantasm. She challenges Saber to come to the temple if they want to rescue this girl.

A flashback starts off episode 18 regarding Caster. Right after she killed her Master, she’s like so lost without direction soaking in the rain. Kuzuki picks her up and treats her. He allows her to do anything and if she needs help, he’ll do so. Is that how she followed him? In reality, Shirou, Rin and Saber head to the temple but notice a different route to its actual entrance. Inside, they see a mini city created by Caster. They are faced with Assassin but he lets Shirou and Rin pass as his wish is to continue his fight with Saber. Assassin reveals his Kojirou identity is just a fictitious character and thus does not crave for the Holy Grail but to have a worthy duel. Rin heads ahead when Shirou offers to face Kuzuki. Rin see Sakura clad in tight sexy black leather outfit in the middle of the arena and the process is taking place. Caster mentions that she can let Sakura go anytime but wonders if she really wants to go. She whispers into her ear and childhood memories of her and Rin flooded her mind. Not sure about the part that Rin and Sakura were being separated when they’re young. Sakura screams in pain and the magic she emits start attacking Rin. Rin initially evades but concludes that she has to attack to free her. She does so and is successful in stopping the summoning while holding unconscious Sakura in her arms. Did Rin allowed herself to get stabbed by Sakura? Caster seems unfazed seeing that she only needs 1 magician as a sacrifice. Either one lah.

Saber and Assassin’s duel continues in episode 19. Assassin pulls off his Tsubame Gaeshi and Saber also unleashes her technique. In the end, Saber is victorious and Assassin has no regrets and dies. Shirou is getting punched left and right till he falls off and down to where Rin and Sakura are as Saber makes her entrance. Caster thinks of letting Shirou live if he lets Saber be her Servant. Suddenly a knight in golden armour appears and he isn’t happy Caster said something like that because Saber belongs to him. He starts raining the thousands of swords at Caster and Kuzuki but Caster uses her body to block and gets pierced in the process. Obviously not enough to shield Kuzuki because he too got sliced by some. Caster is happy that she fulfilled her mission of protecting him and as she dies, Kuzuki soon follows. With Caster gone, the surroundings start crumbling so everyone leaves, including the knight. Back home, Saber reveals that knight is of Archer class and she fought with him during the last Holy Grail war but didn’t win. He proposed to her then but she outright rejected him. Shirou thinks if a Servant wins the Holy Grail, he/she can remain but Saber thinks otherwise. She’ll die once that happens because she wants to return to her time and land to redo the process of choosing a suitable king for her people. Saber adds that in the previous war, Kiritsugu was her Master but he used his Command Spell on her to destroy the Holy Grail, causing that huge fire. Shirou goes to see Kotomine so the letter reveals that a Servant who drinks from the Holy Grail can remain in this world albeit in that current Servant form. Shirou mentions about the 8th Servant so Kotomine will investigate it.

In episode 20, Shirou is on his way home and reflects on things. He realizes he is in love with Saber. I saw this coming since he first summoned her. Shirou talks to Rin about the Servant wishing upon the Holy Grail and Saber’s wish to fulfil her duties as king. Shirou thinks of taking Saber out on a date tomorrow and this causes Rin to laugh out loud. She couldn’t believe it either. But he’s serious. Saber doesn’t understand what that means so Rin defines date as “A secret meeting between lovers”. Oh yeah, that really (re)defines it. Shirou and Saber blush. Annoying Ilya wants to date Shirou but Rin knocks her out so the lovebirds could be spend time uninterrupted by a third loli force. The date includes a visit to the aquarium and plush toy store. By now we should understand why Saber’s favourite animal is a lion, eh? At the end of the day at the bridge, the duo talk about reasons for fighting. Shirou feels she should do things for her sake now considering that was the past. Saber is still bent on returning to her time opposing to Shirou’s desire for her to stay here. Upset Shirou has had enough and tells her to do as she pleases and storms off. Usually girls do this kind of reaction but a guy? He goes back to sleep but is awaken by Rin when she’s concerned that Saber hasn’t returned. Not the case of getting dumped, eh? He rushes to go look for her and sees her still standing at that same bridge spot. She stood there for hours without moving? She was confused when Shirou gave her the freedom to do as she pleased and eventually couldn’t decide on what to do or where to go. Shirou takes her hand and that her obvious place to go is his home. Suddenly they see the knight and he’s not too happy that Shirou is taking his property. So he considers women as things?

They both attack the knight in episode 21 but with the snap of his fingers, Shirou gets impaled by his swords and left bleeding. Saber also gets her arm pierced. The knight reveals his true identity as Gilgamesh, the only king of all heroes and the world when it was still one. Gilgamesh produces another blast to severely injure Saber. Weakened Shirou gets up and traces Excalibur to fight him. Gilgamesh mocks him that his duplicate that can never be as good as the original and that this Excalibur sword is based on some legendary sword that he is about to use on him and destroys his Excalibur easily while injuring Shirou even further. Shirou isn’t giving up yet and traces another powerful weapon. It starts glowing so Saber feels it is Excalibur’s scabbard and wants him to put the sword into it. A mighty blast occurs and wounds Gilgamesh so he retreats. Shirou collapses and Saber realizes he is her scabbard. Shirou has another one of those Saber’s dream. This might be confusing because we see Saber fighting with herself. Or at least someone that looks resembles closely to her. Oh wait, that is King Arthur’s daughter?! King Arthur was killed by his (her in this case) own daughter?! History rewritten once more! Shirou wakes up with Saber by her side. But she walks away since he insists she staying by his side. Then he grabs her hand and holds her close. He says he loves her and kisses her. The moment that we’ve all been waiting for. Hooray, applause! Hey, he kissed the king! Was a king. So she’s feeling more of a woman now, eh? Next day Shirou goes to see Kotomine but he isn’t in. He senses something and heads underground but to his shock sees several corpses. Then he gets pierced by a familiar lance. You thought the producers had forgotten all about Lancer, eh?

In episode 22, Rin informs Saber that she has found out about Lancer’s Master. He’s dead. And a pretty long time ago. Which means, he’s got a new Master. They discuss that there is something amiss since based on the rules, one can’t be a Master by stealing Command Spells so it has to be one from the previous war. Since Shirou hasn’t returned, Saber goes to find him at the church. She sees him lying in his own pool of blood and Lancer in her way. They both duel till Kotomine shows up. Then they talk about summoning the Holy Grail and that great fire 10 years ago and if Shirou wants the Holy Grail to redo it and save everyone but he replies he doesn’t want it because it will be meaningless for those who have died. He tosses back Shirou to Saber (who partially heals him) and asks if Saber wants the Holy Grail, she has to kill Shirou. Though she wants the Holy Grail but declines to kill her Master because she wants him more than that cup (realized her feelings for him?). Kotomine isn’t too happy with the outcome and summons Gilgamesh. He was Kotomine’s Servant in the previous war and was allowed to stay in this world by feeding people’s soul to him (those corpses). He further reveals how he was defeated by Kiritsugu when then cup appeared before him. He touched it and that’s when the fire occurred because he wished for everyone to die. He states the fire would’ve happened even if he didn’t win. Yup, so he started the fire. Plus, the Holy Grail is nothing more than a weapon of mass destruction that destroys everything except the winner in this sick game. Kotomine leaves and lets Gilgamesh and Lancer to clean up the mess. However Lancer sides on Saber’s side because he too has he beliefs. This gives them time to escape but eventually Lancer gets killed by Gilgamesh. Outside, Saber further heals Shirou. She explains the scabbard is inside him and it was Kiritsugu who placed it inside Shirou and saved his life during the fire. He didn’t need the Holy Grail, the reason he wanted to destroy it. Saber realizing that she doesn’t need the cup now, she agrees with Shirou to go destroy it.

When they return home in episode 23, they see wounded Rin close to death. She was attacked by Kotomine who was here to take Ilya for his plans to summon the Holy Grail. She tells them he is at the temple to perform that process and gives Shirou her dagger that is believed to be able to defeat Kotomine (she wasn’t strong enough, the reason she didn’t use it on him then). Shirou returns the scabbard to Saber’s body before heading to the temple. They are faced with Gilgamesh, who is still bent on making Saber his and seeing her expression when he makes her drink from the cup. As both Servants fight, Shirou heads deeper to see Ilya hanging in mid-air and being used in the midst of the unholy ceremony. Kotomine blabs about his twisted belief about humans’ value in the face of death and that he loves humans more than anyone else. While summoning the black ooze to bind Shirou, he continues to mock him. He is happy when he found out a descendent of Kiritsugu is alive and will have another chance to kill ‘him’. In addition, he reveals he was the one who killed Kiritsugu because he couldn’t stand that magician for defeating him and sparing his life. He mentions Kiritsugu’s mistake was he thought he could stop this war by destroying the Holy Grail. Kotomine is going to give Shirou the same fate as his adopted father. Meanwhile Saber and Gilgamesh trade power blows with their ultimate sword, Excalibur and Ea respectively. No matter how many times Saber hits away his swords, Gilgamesh still has the upper hand (he’s got lots of swords to pick from, right?). He thought Shirou is a goner since he has defeated Saber. But she mentions of her strong connection with Shirou so she gets back up and counterattacks him while mentioning how he ruined his own country when he criticized her country destroyed her. Gilgamesh gets serious to wipe her out now.

In episode 24, Shirou traces the scabbard, Avalon to break free from Kotomine’s grasp. He dashes forward and stabs him with Rin’s dagger. Remembering he gave it to Rin 10 years ago, he realized how weak he has become before breathing his last breath. Saber is also successful in cutting down Gilgamesh so he too has no regrets that she’s defiant till the end. After rescuing Ilya, Shirou, thinking back how much he loves Saber and will not taint her pride, orders her to destroy the Holy Grail as his last Command Spell vanishes. Saber is glad she is able to fulfil her oath to him and tells him 1 last thing before she disappears: She loves him. Well, it took 24 episodes, eh? Life returns to normal for the living. Sakura still makes Shirou breakfast, a new rivalry breaking out between Ilya and Fujimura and Shirou meets Rin on his way to school and have a short chat. Shirou reminisces the times with Saber and the things that’ll stay in his heart even if he can’t catch them. But he believes they can be together even if they’re far apart and may reach what he aims for if he sets his goal far enough. Saber wakes up by her subject, Bedivere’s side, right after a war. Mentioning a dream she had that provided her invaluable experience, she wants her to take her sword and throw it into the lake. Bedivere does so and returns so Saber says her slumber may be longer this time and closes her eyes… Maybe she wants to continue her dream?

I suppose that kind of ending is kinda okay. Shirou wasn’t able to live with Saber like he had hoped for but he can’t be selfish since he has to live up to his dad’s ideals of being a man of justice. With the Holy Grail gone, I’m guessing there won’t be any more wars in the future. That means no more summoning of Servants so the possibility of Shirou every becoming a Master to summon Saber would be totally impossible. Like he would wish for another of such bloody war. There are a few questions that still bug me. About how Kotomine did manipulate and got himself into this war. Isn’t there supposed to be a moderator? Or he was just manipulating it all along? How the heck did the Holy Grail came to be in the first place? If it was a mass weapon of destruction, shouldn’t all civilization have ended and left the ‘winners’ intact each time? Seeing that this is the 5th war already.

However it isn’t so much about the Holy Grail or whether or not it could grant one’s wishes. It’s mainly about Shirou and Saber and their growing feelings for each other. You could have told that this kid started to have feelings for her when he disallowed her to enter any fight. I mean, you wouldn’t want to send your loved ones to a battle and end up getting hurt, right? Shirou always sees Saber as a woman first before a warrior but it’s the other way around for her. In that sense, it was really problematic for them but ironically they were the last Master and Servant left standing. At least they did confess their love to each other in the end. I’m not sure about Rin because she’s tsundere and with Saber finally gone, maybe she has a brighter chance? Just my wishful thinking. And there’s Ilya and Sakura to deal with. Ilya seems pretty docile after she lost Berserker. Not sure if she’s still interested in Shirou because she seems more preoccupied quarrelling with Fujimura than jumping into Shirou’s arms. Then again, she’s still freeloading, I mean staying at his place. Sakura? She seems happy just doing her daily chores for him. Isn’t she sad that her brother’s gone? Well, I never did sense any closeness from those siblings.

Too bad there’s lots of deaths and blood in this series. It was sad that all the Servants had to die but then again, they were past heroes or evil beings whether real or made up so it doesn’t matter if they’re gone because they don’t need a second life. But for Saber, at least she wasn’t so obsessed about redoing the wrongs in her life anymore before she bites the dust. Seeing that she was summoned again for the 5th Holy Grail war, would it mean that she first had this ‘dream’ when she got summoned during the 4th one? And trying to return to that dream is like wishing for a 6th one, eh? Then there are some original Masters like Caster and Lancer’s. We don’t really get to see them because they’ve been disposed off. The point? I wonder how they could be participants in this war if they were so weak and got killed a long time ago. And that no emotion Kuzuki guy who really enjoys killing, even when he met his fate he’s like got no problem with it. Play with fire, get burnt, eh? He knew it was going to come like this.

Another little thing that bugged me was some of the classes of Servants that don’t seem to actually live up to their class name. For instance Archer’s class should have indicate that his specialty would be long ranged attacks but here in this anime, we see him having a penchant to fight close combat. There are times he does use his bow but that is just limited as compared to the swords he drew. As for Saber, as far as I know her class is an all-rounder but so far I’ve seen her only pulling off tactics using her sword. I mean, even her class name suggests that but even so I thought at least the class would use other types of arsenal as well. Then for Assassin, his class here felt like he was a traditional swordsman more than anything else. Doesn’t really conjure an image of that stealthy hitman. And Rider, she’s like riding her winged animal just before her defeat otherwise she was like a fighting ‘M’ class. Gilgamesh’s class as an Archer is another eyebrow raiser. But if you think about the floating swords he pulled out from his dimensions, then it may seem like as though he’s firing long ranged weapons, right? Maybe they should rename classes or add new ones like Thief, Paladin, Hunter, Knight, Mage or Cleric. Sounds like an RPG game, eh? Though not mentioned in the anime, I read somewhere that Archer’s real identity is supposed to be Shirou’s alter ego in another parallel world. Wait a minute. As mentioned Servants summoned are supposed to be past heroes, real or fake. But a parallel world? He was a hero there? No wonder they seemed alike but yet so different.

The action and the fight scenes aren’t too bad either. But I’m not saying that they’re exceptional but if you’re the kind of person who likes some sword swinging action, then I guess this one isn’t too shabby either. The power fights may be a little exaggerative but hey, there are magic elements so you can’t discount that there will be sorcery in play to give the Servants a little edge during battles. I may not remember some of the special moves and techniques the Servants pull off since I don’t want to hurt myself thinking and interrupt my enjoyment of the action. There are a variety of background music ranging from fast and dramatic (Unmei No Yoru – which I think is the elegant main theme used especially in battles. Yes, there are several variations of this tune too) usually employing orchestra voices and instruments, to slow and calming pieces to dark and gloomy ones to even casual and light.

I remembered another reason why I wanted to watch this show. There was this (in)famous line that Shirou said and has been used as a butt of jokes across the internet. “People die when they are killed”. Erm… Seems nothing wrong grammatically, right? But if you think about it, it’s like stating the very obvious, which makes it very funny and hilarious. Said when he was returning Saber’s Avalon, I guess many viewers find it too curious to pass it up. Yeah, you mean there may be other things that will happen to people if you kill them? And if you don’t die when you are killed, that shows that you haven’t been killed, right? What am I saying here? Another thing is Rin’s casting spells which are all said in German. I’m not proficient in the Deutsch language but it felt like you know, just like how Japanese talk in their ‘Engrish’…

I have never played the game before but browsing nonchalantly through Wikipedia and other sites was enough to give me an impression that his is one heck of a game considering the various scenarios it has. Not to mention a few video games spawned after that too. Then there are lots of other adaptations as well such as the manga and a light novel called Fate/Zero which chronicles the events of the 4th Holy Grail war before the current one. Before the release of the movie Unlimited Blade Works in January 2010, there was a reproduction of the TV series into 2 episodes. From what I understand it is a condensed recap of the series with a few additional footage and the likes. How can they put an entire 24 episode series into a 60 minute episode each? Well, just cut out most of the unnecessary parts, duh. I don’t know. I’ve never seen it so I can’t comment further which parts were unnecessary.

If I were to summon Saber (by accident or on purpose), probably I would do the same as Shirou in the sense I wouldn’t want to send her to the battlefront lines. I’d rather keep her safe and have her serve me as an anime cafe waitress. Hey, it’s still that Master-Servant thing, right? What a waste to put such a beautiful face to combat and stain it with the blood of others. Hope she won’t slay me down like some of the fate of the other Masters. Hmm… Saber in a maid outfit… She’ll definitely look good and moe in that too. Maybe if I win the Holy Grail, I can have that wish come true. Can I continue this dream then?

 

Fate/Stay Night

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