Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works Episode #03 Anime Review

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works Episode #03 Anime Review

Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works Episode 3

This isn’t your sweet little magical girl.

What They Say:
Rin and Shirou run into a girl named Illyasviel von Einzbern. She has a Servant who is a big mad monster! What does this girl want from them?

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s Illya time. For the past few years, that has amusingly meant a ridiculous magical girl adventure was about to unfold in not only the only Fate entry to include her name, but the only one to include the name of any character, and as that will continue for what looks to be at least a few more installments, it may indeed be the defining entry of Illya’s character. But now we’re finally back to the real Illya, and she sure isn’t coming across as the sweetheart that series depicts her as. In fact, even her depiction in Fate/Zero may seem closer to it than it does to her depiction here. But this is indeed Illya as she first appeared, and two things are clear: a lot has happened in ten years, and there’s a lot she’s not letting on. After all, from Shirou’s perspective, she appears to be a mysterious, evil little girl who somehow ended up in this brutal war with the most physically powerful, insane, and seemingly immortal Servant out there. Rin, on the other hand, knows what the surname of “Einzbern” implies, but is still surprised by her power given her size. Saber reacts the most subtly but also the most tellingly, conveying that she knows the most about what the truth behind this girl might be, and isn’t too happy about it.

And if anyone wasn’t a fan of the nearly wall-to-wall exposition of the previous episode, perhaps the nearly wall-to-wall action of this episode will prove to be what the doctor ordered. The brief squabbles up to this point have been impressive on a level beyond almost anything else out there, but now we’re finally digging right into the heart of the war in earnest, and three Master-Servant teams are involved, with all six participants as informed as one need be to start fighting, and all of them fully committed to doing so. The newest material to result from this is the raw, unfathomable power of Berserker and Illya’s magic that should look familiar to those who have seen Fate/Zero, which serves to impress and intimidate even the very competent Rin as they face off, also allowing the latter to show her skills in greater capacity than she’s had opportunity to thus far. Archer finally lives up to his name not only more than he has before this point but more than his predecessor ever did, unleashing not only relatively standard arrow strikes from equally inhuman distances but an attack called a “Noble Phantasm”… hmm, perhaps that name will prove rather important. There wouldn’t be much new to say about Saber’s own unmatched swordsmanship (beyond the perpetual drooling, of course), if not for her energy needing to be so focused that she magic hiding her sword lets up for a moment, revealing a particular golden glint. Shirou, despite only just having learned the most basic facts about the Holy Grail Wars, dives right in himself and the outcome is about what one could expect. Seeing him as a bit of a damsel is amusing enough, but the first (Shirou-viewed) episode made sure we know that he has a lot to offer as a fighter as well, an exciting prospect considering the scale of this battle without that.

Amidst all of this chaos, though, there is a quiet moment that returns to the lovably disgusting priest we spent a good deal of time with in the previous episode, and he’s joined by another mysterious man who was very briefly shown in the prologue and first episode proper. The amount that’s shown at this stage is very optimal given the unique aspects of this series; those who are new to the franchise will find this to be as mysterious as they should, while those who have at least seen Fate/Zero won’t exactly have to be strung along for half of the series or longer in anticipation of a dramatic reveal that they already know all about. The same can be said for Saber’s sword, and seeing these little pieces executed so expertly is exactly what I had hoped from this series.

In Summary:
After an episode of lots of talking, it’s an episode of lots of fighting. While I will defend this show’s use of exposition to no end, it’s impossible not to be in awe over the utterly breathtaking action that this team has mastered so fully. New character mysteries and teases to the bigger picture make it all the more engaging.

Grade: A-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Custom-Built PC, 27” 1080p HDTV.

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