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Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works Episode #21 Anime Review

4 min read

FateStay Night UBW Episode 21It’s the best ten-year reunion around.

What They Say:
Shirou’s battle with Archer continues. But then an unexpected visitor appears, and new information unfolds.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There’s a lot going on right now. The big deal has been the battle between Shirou and Archer, and it was clear that we were about to reach its conclusion. As the two were still very much at odds, it required some hashing out to resolve itself for more reasons than simply one fighter overpowering the other. This is a case in which the outcome is patently obvious before the battle even begins, but given a lot of the points that have been brought up to counter the inevitable victor’s fundamental basis of thought, the real intrigue comes in how the other side will be won over by the antithesis of the philosophy that’s even more intrinsic to his being.

In the end this was never going to be a conclusion that everyone would be satisfied with, but for what it was I’ll give Nasu and the adaptive staff at ufotable due credit for making it work in a way that feels relatively believable. Archer’s actions at the end of the battle may seem a bit too hammy in that typical anime way, but the fact that the person working so hard to change his mind was in fact his former self lends a lot more legitimacy to this particular application of that trope. At the very least, some of the visual spectacle of the final strikes is powerful enough to appreciate outside of the writing, although the actual animation wasn’t the most involved for this series.

It may have seemed like there wasn’t enough left to this fight to take up the bulk of the episode, though, and that assumption is correct. We don’t get to feel like we’re concluding one of the most important and taxing conflicts of the story for very long before an old Archer arrives to remind us that he’s the big villain everyone should be worried about, regardless of whose route they happen to be following. It’s exciting to see him come into the forefront with all other aspects of the story dealt with, but the transition between the two was less than ideal, making the former slightly anticlimactic and the latter a bit too abrupt to feel as weighty as it should.

The “answer” that the title refers to may be the answer to the question of how the struggle between Shirou and Archer would resolve itself, but just as the similarly subtitled episode two weeks prior answered a great deal about the Unlimited Blade Works aspect of the story, Gilgamesh arrives to answer most of the remaining questions one might have about this world in regard to Fate/stay night and even some points that those who had seen Fate/Zero may have still felt unclear on. It’s another case of exposition being a necessary evil, but this is important enough information, and in the style of Nasu’s highly detailed mythos, that just learning of it is likely to be compelling enough for many. Gilgamesh seems a far less complex villain than he did in Fate/Zero, but as the final boss he’s still an impressive figure to have. With that, there’s just a little more cleanup and preparation for Gilgamesh to do, and fortunately they go hand in hand pretty well. If it was supposed to be anything but comical we may have a problem in execution, but I’ll take it as a just end to a guy who long had it coming.

In Summary:
The big battle we’ve been entrenched in ends fairly early on, providing one last bang before a bit of a whimper to end it. The real final boss then makes his entry, and reveals just about everything you might be wondering. It’s important and fascinating to learn, but the flow could be smoother.

Grade: A-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Custom-Built PC, Sceptre X425BV-FHD 42″ Class LCD HDTV.

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