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Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works Episode #22 Anime Review

4 min read

FateStay Night UBW Episode 22Definitely not sex.

What They Say:
Wishing to avenge Archer and destroy the Holy Grail once and for all, Rin and Shirou consider their options and try to come up with a strategy.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This is an interesting episode of Fate/stay night. The franchise started as a visual novel with sexual content, and while that obviously wasn’t the focus, the few scenes in each route are not without their plot relevance. In a way that’s better than having them simply thrown in to reach that market, but it becomes a bigger problem when versions of the story that shouldn’t have any such content (and in all other formats obviously couldn’t show it anyway) have to find a way to continue the narrative without making it too obvious that something was “censored” or skipped over. Studio DEEN was the first to have a real responsibility to pull this off, but considering the level of quality in those adaptations in general, it would be unreasonable to expect them to have the best method. Since then, many Realta Nua versions of the visual novel have been released with no sexual content, so at least there’s a more solid precedent to dealing with these matters now that ufotable has gotten to them a decade later.

Perhaps those with no prior knowledge would think it plays out more naturally, but I can’t say there wasn’t some sense of this being a replacement for content that they can’t – and wouldn’t want to – show in this format. For what they had to work with, though, they struck a pretty good balance of the original intentions behind the scene and a presentation that fits with the tone that the main Fate canon has generally been characterized by. Although there are no long strings of hilariously awkward sexual metaphors, this really does take up pretty much the entire episode, which is another reminder that maybe they didn’t need quite so many double episodes to adapt Unlimited Blade Works, but the importance comes across and again drives home that this is more than just a way of skipping over a sex scene used to sell an unestablished name back in the day.

This has to happen for the sake of the plot, but it’s important to note that it also serves to build on Shirou and Rin’s relationship in a big way, something else that could have very different results going between a sex scene and a fairly tame magical ritual. Shirou has confessed his love to Rin and Rin has been a top-notch tsundere all along, but the dream sequence Shirou experiences allows him to see that Rin has in fact been taken with him since far before this crazy war ever brought them together in such a way. Of course, he had completely forgotten about even seeing it and had no idea of what it actually was until Rin made sure to attack him for having seen it, but that’s our tsundere Rin, I suppose.

Now that that’s out of the way, the stage is set to move onto the big final battle, and at least this route gives a good reason to why Shirou should be the main fighter. It’s unfortunate to see how relatively minor a character Saber has been, but between Fate/Zero and that other TV adaptation we shouldn’t consider too much of a factor, I guess she’s gotten plenty of time to shine.

In Summary:
I can’t believe I talked about exclusively about the replacement for a sex scene, but that’s pretty much what this episode is. As expected, it doesn’t play out as smoothly as scenes directly adapted from the original storytelling, but considering the situation it was done about as well as one could hope for, and it even helps to bring the two closer in more than the physical sense.

Grade: A-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
HP Envy 14.

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