Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

      Welcome back everybody. Here its part two of our journey into visual novel known as Fate Stay Night. Looking back at my article of the Fate route I wasn't really all that satisfied with how it came out. That storyline was just a bit frustrating at times and I was surprised by how long it was so trying to remember all those details and bits of information as well as construct a decent structure for reviewing it was kind of a challenge. I only got the job half done however so I will be keeping the same format but I will be approaching today's topic differently. I will be discussing the plotline BUT I will not spoil any major reveals or plot twists but just my overall impression of the story and how felt it was handled. I will talk about the characters and how I felt they were handled BUT wont reveal any major plot points connecting them to other characters or the story although I might do so for minor characters. The endings will go unspoiled But I will give a basic idea of what I thought about them.

      So in this review you will be getting an analysis and review with some unfilled in blanks because I feel that this route as well as Heaven's Feel need to be experienced. Now that is all cleared up lets get started here!

The Plot
    Unlimited Blade Works is mainly about Shirou and the ideals he continues to carry for his adoptive father who has long passed as well as the conflict between him and Rin's servant; Archer.
    As opposed to Fate, the Grail War gets knocked a bit off the rails so a lot happens throughout the route. This is partly due to much of the world building having been already taken care of in the previous route so as a result the pacing in Unlimited Blade Works is solid not to mention it felt like Nasu had a an idea where he wanted to take the narrative. Of course there are always new things to learn but the bits of exposition we get are no where near the truckload we had to swallow before hand.

     For the action junkies your cravings with this route will be sated as its has a ton of battles and some pretty jaw droppingly epic scenes. I could name few favorite moments of mine but you know...spoilers :/. Just know that this for me was the route where I could not tear my eyes away from the screen. However don't think that its just all action though as it goes into some deep subjects of ideology, dreams, and regret all of which I thought this route handled very well and really its these things that make Fate/stay night what it is because the whole war for the Holy Grail is just a big backdrop to the questions, themes, and issues this and the other two routes tackle.


    If there are any negative things to say there would be a couple of minor things that come to mind. An example would be how poorly handled Saber is since she has no further development or importance to this route at all or the how I feel that this storyline didn't need a central villain. Nothing huge that hurts the story all that much but they did kind of bug me.

     I could say more but here but I can already feel that I might end up tripping one of the many spoilers hidden the landmines all around me.....

The Characters

Shirou: In Unlimited Blade Works the focus shifts from the ordeal of the route's heroine to what has always been the main subject of the visual novel: Our protagonist. Shirou Emiya to me is one of the most interesting and underappreciated protagonist I have seen. When he was saved by from the fire that destroyed the town years ago he was essentially a broken and empty shell. But ever since his promise to the man who saved him he has lived only to help other no matter the cost to himself. He never really thinks about what he wants and his sole goal is becoming a "Hero of Justice". Seeing things through Emiya's eyes was one of the most interesting parts of Fate/stay Night especially when you tie his ideals and thoughts to the themes of the three routes not to mention the visual novel as a whole. Unfortunately too many folks are quick to write him off as "stereotypical Shounen hero" or based the entirety of his character from what they saw in Deen Studio's flop of an adaptation.

Rin: In this route Rin takes the role of heroine becoming Shirou's greatest ally, guide, and even love interest. She has some pretty awesome moments here and I liked her interactions with Shirou a lot especially when the two bicker with one another but strangely enough she doesn't get a whole lot of character development when compared to the final route Heaven's Feel which is often joked as being Rin's second route. It actually makes since though since Unlimited Blade Works(and the visual novel as a whole) is about Shirou despite those who keep insisting that because she is the route's heroine that she is the main character. Regardless this character is just layers upon layers of ice hiding a warm and tender heart. That along her mischievous personality always puts a big smile on my face.

Archer: Rin's mysterious servant steps on to the stage to play a huge role in the route. Its difficult to really describe him although the fandom has a term often used when talking about him: GAR which translates to Gay For Archer in regards to the guy's sheer levels of badass which after reading this route I believe the term is pretty accurate. Aside from just how awesome the guy is when he whipping out an arsenal the guy is a bit of a dick...okay that's an understatement he is a huge dick. But once you read this route you'll understand why especially as the cloud of mystery around him begins to dissipate.

Saber: Due to her character arc being completed by the end of the Fate route our blond knight doesn't have much to do at this point. Sure she has a few battles and there a options to interact with her which(with the right amount of points from her and Rin) will get you one of the endings but that's it really. She pretty much becomes an extra wheel who is often in the background who contributes very little to the route's narrative. Its like Nasu had no idea what to do with her so she just stands around looking pretty.

Caster: During the Fate route our heroes were attacked by a mysterious servant whose appearance was rather short lived before being turned into a human pincushion. Here she has her chance to shine becoming a major threat to our heroes. We also learn about her identity and past and see there is a lot more to this hooded figure than meets the eye.

Shinji: Our seaweed headed little weasel plays a larger role than just being an evil counter part to Shirou and we get a bit of insight to him as well but that's really all I can say in this regard.

Unlike the Fate route; Shinji's servants Rider doesn't really do anything. She sucks the blood of a couple of students(She does this to obtain energy because Shinji cant provide her with any) and has a skirmish with our heroes before getting an anvil dropped on her head by the plot.

Gilgamesh: To be honest there is not much to say about him really here as his only real purpose here was to give this story a villain although in my opinion the actual focus of Unlimited Blades Works and its resolution could have been a finale on its own.

Lancer: Oh yes Lancer is the shit. He easily became one of my favorite parts of this route. While we don't get much out of him in terms of character depth he has been often considered to be the biggest bro of the cast and for good reason. He has just a likability to him that you can't help but adore the awesome bastard when ever he when steps into a frame.


The Romance

    Compared to Fate the romance between Rin and Shirou was a big improvement. These two in my opinion have some great chemistry and in a way compliment each other. Its not a major focus here but strangely enough made it feel more natural as the two grow closer to each other despite the obstacles they face during the Grail War. It may bot be the deepest thing but I really liked these two together in fact they might be might my favorite pairing in the whole visual novel even if they have the absolute worst sex scene...just trust me that scene sucks the big one.

The Endings

True End: I could have stopped here and I would have been completely satisfied with the VN it was that fantastic.

Good End: Despite being a "Good End" its...not very good(should have thought of something more clever). It just doesn't fit with the theme of the route or the entire VN in general its simply the best case scenario for our heroes and that's it.

The Good

+ The pacing is vastly improved when compared to the Fate route and when it gets going it gets going.

+ Romance. While not a big part of the story it feels a lot more natural than what I experienced while reading Fate and I loved the chemistry between Rin and Shirou.

+ The Scene "Answer". I wont tell you what happens here but for me it was the best moment so far in the visual novel thus this far. I am using all my will power not to spoil anything it was that great. :)

+ A roller coaster of excitement this route is chock full of many exciting battles.

+ Aside from Rider this route was big opportunity for the Servant characters to shine among them being Lancer, Archer, and Caster.

+ Tackles its themes in both a gripping and provocative manner and in my opinion does it the best out of all three of the routes.

The Bad

- The Good End is really lame in comparison to the True Ending making the whole journey feel hollow by the end of it and just comes off as complete fanservice.

- Holy Woman Violated........this scene just....this fucking scene. Its just as embarrassing to read as any of the crappy sex scenes that's all I can say really. :X

- The narrative probably would have been a bit stronger without needing to have a villain. This is a minor issue though.

-  Because of having no new character development or real importance Saber feels like prop on a film set that gets very little use.

The Final Verdict

     Overall I thought Unlimited Blade Works was a very enjoyable route and I am so glad that I read it.  The pacing is great, the romance is cute, it was exciting as hell, I found Shirou to be a compelling protagonist, and the themes which the story tackled to be very thought provoking and interesting.

     If I had to give it a score it would be probably be an 9 out of 10. Its a great storyline but there are some problems that keep it from becoming legendary.

    I cant believe I let this damn article collect as much dust as it did. I think it got a little trickier to finish since I tried to prevent any major spoilers so I couldn't go into as much detail as I wanted to. I'll be doing the Heaven's Feel article the same way so expect that sometime soon. It was a bit tempting to just go right into spoiler territory but I had smack that urge over the head with a shovel and bury it six feet deep. What I will probably do is a future article where I can go crazy with the spoilers and give you folks my complete thoughts on this visual novel.

     Apologies for the lack of new content I need to get my head into the game. Thank you for your patience guys!

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