Okay, I lied. Last episode was still build-up–flashy conflict build-up mind you, but build-up nonetheless–and this episode was the delivery. One Servant down, one Master down, five Servants and six Masters left to go. Let’s talk about how it all got there.
The Kariya-Tokiomi conflict was as short and pathetic as it needed to be. The anime has been kinder to Kariya than Urobuchi’s novels were (in a variety of ways I might get to in a novel-anime comparison post), but they spared no punches here. Brutal. What’s more interesting about the fight was the aftermath; looks like Tokiomi won the battle, but he may have lost the war with Kirei defecting and saving Kariya’s life. To those unfamiliar with the TYPE-MOON universe, healing magic is a painful process, hence the screaming, but whether the act was out of the kindness of Kirei’s heart or something else within him is still up in the air.
And just as Kariya lost to Tokiomi, Berserker lost to Archer. The Servant had about as much dignity as his Master, what with his sporadic style of fighting and grunting, but unlike Kariya, the dark mad man put up a hell of a fight. The aerial dogfight was better done this episode than it was done in the last one, and the last one was perfect. I wonder whether Berserker could’ve beaten Archer if he hadn’t been attracted like a dog to a bone to Saber (guessed his identity yet?), but it’s fitting he and his Master suffered the same fate.
But the real event this episode was Saber’s, Lancer’s, and Rider’s battle with the monster of lake. Yes, Saber got her powers back and destroyed her foe with her haXX0r move, but not before Rider and Waver had a moment to be awesome. I love how Rider gathered the other two servants and commanded them like a boss (excuse me, king), and I really love his brief scenes with Waver. That’s a relationship built on affection and trust. The biggest downer this episode was that we didn’t get to see his army attacking Caster within the Reality Marble. That would’ve been a sight to see.
But maybe it’s better that way because, amazing as Rider and his army are, nothing could have been more beautiful or badass than Saber’s Noble Phantasm. Yeah, it’s a cheap trick, but the animation here wasn’t. This is how you do an attack that basically amounts to a single strike and a shiny light: build it up, ramp it up with music, capture every angle, make it scream epic to the heavens and back. It’s an overrated word, but this moment warranted it.
The move also caught the attention of Archer and Rider, but what was more fun here was Archer and Rider’s interest in each other. These two have the boldest personalities of all the characters, so naturally, their conversations together rank among the most animated. Rider pointing out that Archer wouldn’t fight him because they were both injured was one of his better moments, and he’s had a lot of them at this point. I can’t wait for their hinted fight, but I’m guessing we’ll have to wait a few weeks for that one.
If the preview is any indication, a Lancer versus Saber confrontation is in the works instead. Lancer is without one spear, and Saber is without an injury, so I wonder what Saber will do to level the playing field, which she’ll naturally be compelled to do. And I wonder what Kiritsugu, the puppetmaster we heard but barely saw this week, will do when his ideals clash with his Servant’s. He’s in the game to win, and he’ll use anything–ruthlessness, chivalry, children, whatever–it takes to do so.
Oh, and Caster. He died, just as expected and just on time. Without Ryuunosuke, there was nothing interesting about the guy, unless you’re really into tentacle porn. He’s about as close to a brainless monster-of-the-week as it comes. In another Master-Servant parallel, he received the same kind of death as his master: a happy one that he didn’t deserve. RIP, you murderous buffoon. By the way, your biggest COOL was kind of lame.
I should probably spare some notes on the directing, which I’ve mostly ignored in favor of content. I don’t want these posts to get repetitive, so I’ll be blunt, and get it over with: I think this is a badly directed, badly scripted series most of the time. There are many moments of brilliance. The series can deliver some really sharp dialogue, and okay, all the fight scenes are great when characters aren’t chatting. But when the action’s off, the series is so stiff; it reads too much like a wordy, psychological novel than a dark action anime. The series is propelled by excellent ideas, but not much else.
All that said, the direction this episode was a good sign. Ufotable really captured Kariya’s inadequacy, Tokiomi’s disdain, Berserker’s madness, Kiritsugu’s stealth, Excalibur’s beauty, Caster’s false redemption, and Rider and Waver’s growing rapport–not just through Urobuchi’s words, which the series has relied on way too much, but through timing and flawless animation. This is TYPE-MOON, so there’ll always be lots of talking, but the show restrained itself and delivered its best and most beautiful episode yet.
But what did you think of the episode? What are most looking forward to in the episodes to come?
Thanks for reading! See you next week!