Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – Final Thoughts (Review)

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – Final Thoughts (Review)
フェイト/ステイナイト [Unlimited Blade Works] Review

***MILD SPOILERS***

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - 00Having started my journey into the Fate/stay night franchise by watching the first anime series back in May of 2009, hearing that the series was being redone by a new animation studio (ufotable) and that instead of following the original visual novel’s “Fate” route with bits of the other routes mixed in, this new anime adaptation would follow the visual novel’s “Unlimited Blade Works” route, I naturally was very keen on watching this. Having watched this new anime adaptation, my enjoyment of this franchise was taken to a new level, thanks in no small part to ufotable stepping up to the plate and doing a very impressive job of bringing this story to life.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - 01In brief, Fate/stay night centers around the Shirou, a high school boy with weak magical abilities to fix and strengthen things, somehow summons a powerful Servant named Saber and becomes an ignorant participant in the fifth Holy Grail War. While the “Fate” route was all about Shirou hooking up with Saber as they attempt to win the fights against other mages and their Servants, the “Unlimited Blade Works” route is about Shirou hooking up with his respected classmate and fellow mage participant in the Holy Grail War, Rin. As such, even if you’ve watched the original Fate/stay night anime, the Unlimited Blade Works anime is a completely different animal, even though it is still telling the story of this round of the Holy Grail War.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - 03Because ufotable isn’t attempting to pull elements from all three routes, as Studio DEEN did with their adaptation, ufotable is able to have a story that flows much better. In addition, ufotable also takes the time to produce a double-length prologue episode (taken from the visual novel), thus giving an introduction to this amazing anime that is almost never seen in any other anime, whether as an adaptation or as an original story. For the most part, ufotable is able to get all of the things from the visual novel into their anime adaptation, though some things (like character thoughts) aren’t always included.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - 25Plus, when all is said and done, ufotable gives the series an amazing aftermath episode showing what happens to Rin and Shirou two years later, which I absolutely loved. Too often, non-comedy anime titles don’t have proper aftermath episodes to wrap things up. Thankfully, ufotable doesn’t go down that route. Further, I felt that their aftermath episode was so well done, I would love to see Nasu-sensei, the author of the Fate/state night visual novel, write a story about Rin and Shirou in college for ufotable to adapt. It wouldn’t have to have quite the serious nature of the three Fate/stay night story routes, but it could tell an excellent story and add comedy as well.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - 18On the animation front, ufotable does an amazing job, so much so that people started jokingly calling the series “Unlimited Budget Works.” The battles between the various Servants were often very amazing. ufotable really brought to life the speed and incredible power these Servants have. Not only that, ufotable showed how impressive mages could be. We got to see Ilya using her magic abilities in battling Rin, and we got to see Rin’s magecraft and magically enhanced physical abilities for the first time. If one has only watched the original anime adaptation, these changes will seem amazing, but this is how the characters truly are, which makes them and their abilities all the more impressive.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - 17For the most part, the Unlimited Blade Works story works pretty well. I really liked getting to see Caster’s backstory since it helped explain her character and also turned her from just a 1 dimensional evil character to a more sympathetic character who’s doing things for a specific reason, even if those things are evil (and still not justifiable). I was torn up when one of the mage’s suffered a cruel death. And I loved the progression of the romance between Rin and Shirou. The only thing that didn’t work for me is when Rin saves one of the other mages at the end of the war, when this mage’s body was turned into a massive flesh mass. Even in this world of magic, this mage’s rescue didn’t feel believable.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - 18In the end, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is an amazing anime with a very engaging story, interesting characters, and great animation. Because of ufotable’s great work here, I am really looking forward to them adapting the Heaven’s Feel route, which they will do in a movie (or series of movies). I honestly hope that ufotable will also also adapt the Fate/hollow ataraxia story and then move on to adapting other Type Moon visual novels. Based on their work with Unlimited Blade Works, I’m sure future adaptations will be just as great.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works - 17

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5 Responses to “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – Final Thoughts (Review)”

  1. Lan says:

    Here here

  2. cold_menthol says:

    I also found the last episode to be very well done I even forgot my disappointment that it wasn’t a double-length episode. It not only told the epilogue of UBW, but also gave nods to Ataraxia/Kaleid/Zero, and I think it was amusing.

    About the mage Rin saved, yes it did feel confusing physically (animation-wise) judging from one of the previous episode, but at least psychologically, there is a plausible reason why she saved that mage.

    Spoiler Inside: Just in case.. (F/z watchers know about this) SelectShow

    When watching this series, I get the feeling that the story was somehow modified a bit to also accommodate those who have only watched Fate/zero before. I can’t put it into words well, so I’ll just say “Saber”, among others.

    With Heaven’s Feel coming up, I think now I can recommend people to watch F/z -> ufo’s UBW -> HF without recommending the VN or deen’s Fate. After all, visual novel as a medium is still less popular than manga and anime.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      When watching this series, I get the feeling that the story was somehow modified a bit to also accommodate those who have only watched Fate/zero before.

      That’s possible. I have felt that things were modified to allow the flow of the story to work better.

  3. Mattcgw says:

    I’ve just finished watching UBW. It’s not a good impression.
    Sadly, I think this was absolutely boring. Part 1 had no fights for the most part, after berserker. Archer has too much screentime, the dialogue inregards to Rin was poor. Most’ve all, its poorly edited as well as paced. Anytime, there’s moment. It cuts away or ends and the next episode is far removed from the action.
    Most of all, everything is so contrived. Like Berserker vs Gilgamesh, we never see any effort, and remains as method to get out of a narrative corner. Especially since Illya’s screentime was abrupt. Also, the stuff with Shinji and Sakura. Why did Gil meet her? If she wasn’t his master.

    The entire series feels like it buckled under time constraints and fighting to justify its budget, it spends 85% of its dazzling the viewer with as much high grade 3D as possible, to concel that the character animation is sub-par, noticeable with Saber’s sword amounting to 5 lines of vapour.

    Caster being the antagonist, then not. Ruined the any flow the series had. And I still remained numb and bored, when became ostentatious with its combat choreography.

    In summary, the series was a dissatisfactory chore.
    That couldn’t even begin to rival Fate/Zero, in any capacity.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Sadly, I think this was absolutely boring

      Wow. Boring wasn’t how I saw things, but that’s just me. Have you read the original visual novel or watched the first Fate/stay night anime adaptation?

      Anyway, I’m told that this anime pretty faithfully followed the UBW path from the visual novel. In fairness, the entire story is told by following all three paths, even though the outcomes and hookups are different.

      Why did Gil meet her? If she wasn’t his master.

      I don’t remember why. Someone posted extensive spoiler info in the different episode review comments and I think they explained what happened there. I don’t know if it is more spelled out in the Heaven’s Feel route or not.

      Interesting that you didn’t enjoy it. But we all have our own tastes. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ^_^

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