If you’ve come for the action, I have an episode for you.
What They Say:
Fujimaru and entourage, in order to rescue the people left behind in the fortress city of Nippur after communications were severed, begin their battle against the fake Enkidu who had been awaiting them. With Fou’s help, they were somehow managing to keep things even, but in the midst of battle, the Goddess of the Demonic Beasts finally appears. Even Merlin is at his wit’s end facing her overwhelming power. Meanwhile, Ushiwakamaru and Leonidas I engage in a spectacular battle, standing up defiant against the Goddess of the Demonic Beasts. In order to break through the situation where it is hard to deliver a wounding blow, the two Servants unleash their Noble Phantasms with desperate resolve.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After an episode packed with a wide variety of content but building up to the largest-scale battle of the series thus far, word began to circulate about the following episode bringing on many top-tier animators to deliver the highest quality sakuga sequences possible. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. This episode is pure action spectacle all the way through, and it’s visually staggering on several key occasions.
In addition to incredible storyboarding, direction, animation direction, and key animation, the sound design of the episode is noticeably impactful to accentuate the force of the combat. Listen at a decent volume on a decent sound system and you may be concerned about it blowing up when the big moments hit. The music of this series doesn’t compare to the sweeping grandeur of Kajiura’s work on the installments of the franchise that she’s contributed to, but what they do have to work with is utilized well enough in conjunction with the powerful sound effects to ensure nothing feels lacking in the technical presentation.
This isn’t to say that the episode is devoid of emotional investment. Series that build up to enormous action climaxes like this would be remiss not to use the opportunity to parallel emotional climaxes. The strategy of dedicated quieter or more lighthearted scenes to exploring certain characters immediately before an episode like this is very often a lead-in to those characters’ fates being tied into the coming battle, and if the idea is to deepen the investment in those characters as much as possible during these grand climaxes, it’s only natural that they take center stage and reach the epitome of inspiring heroism. Obviously I’m not going to spoil anything major here, but several characters get to show off in this manner here, but their outcomes are different enough that it’s unlikely a fresh viewer would predict them exactly.
I have to acknowledge that Ushiwakamaru’s wardrobe design combined with her essentially flying around in every direction is somewhat distracting from the impact of her scenes, although it is admittedly impressive that her barely-concealed breasts remain under wraps at every angle. These gravity-defying physics are commonplace in anime, especially for both action and fanservice, but this goes so extreme without drawing particular attention to the sexuality of the situation that it strikes me as especially bizarre. It’s like the character was designed for pure fanservice but then utilized for much more serious content without any attempt to back away from the initial intent. It still works well enough, but it is slightly silly.
This series has had impressive animation since the first episode, but now that it spends an entire episode on action of a scale not seen prior, the quality is ramped up to a staggering degree. It’s hard not to appreciate a sakuga spectacle such as this, even if you’re not fully invested in the story. With such a focus on fighting, it is lacking in a lot of the nuance and world-building that many of the episodes have offered, but through several of the characters stepping into the spotlight to add to the intensity of the battle, there’s still opportunity for emotional resonance, both from the inspiring climax and the aftermath.
Streamed By: Funimation
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