Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (Film Version)

Writing about this one post is also kind of interesting. I mean, this film is about the second route of Fate/Stay Night. Very original at the time it was adapted, but there is a very famous anime series of it now. Both obviously cover the same content and story, but the tv version is the complete version that a lot of people call definitive. So this film is in two awkward places now because maybe it shouldn’t be around or considered in that place because it can be ignored. Yet, I really enjoy it. For something that covers who knows how many hours of visual novel in a short amount of time, I think this film does it the best way possible, possibly even better than the series.

So yeah, this is the story of Fate when Rin and Archer get a larger focus compared to what was in the 2006 version. That change causes a lot of collateral things in the grand scheme of things compared to the first route. Saber does have a presence as Shirou’s servant, but their story is lessened so that Rin and Shirou can have their relationship moved further. That also means that Shirou faces a lot of the tension of who Archer really is to push that development further a bit.

That also means who the main villain of the arc changes a bit. Or at least how the tournament goes by itself. Caster, who had a small arc in the first route, has a larger part in the story causing the berserker to be a lot lesser in appearance and the newer archer to make an appearance there too. I feel like there is a good self examination of who Shirou is and why he is going about his day being a hero so he faces his trauma in a somewhat different way. All by facing all of that drama directly.

For an hour and a half + film of a larger route there, it is very well paced. I mean, it is a pure action film with fate being the vehicle for it. The highlighted moments were somehow presented with the right context and pacing to make it not confusing or a drag. A lot of the talk of mechanics of the system were also ignored when to great that larger context of all the things into there. It was merely important moments and then fights and for this specific film, it really works somehow. Much more than one would expect with decent continuity.

That pace does damage some things though. For instance, the speed of it can be so strange. Like in the beginning when Shirou got his wound from his death before he was revived five minutes ago. So yeah, he was taken to church by Rin to go over that logic and then fight another servant after the church and he still had the blood on his shirt from that incident. He literally had no time to change his shirt at all. A bit further on, it gets better but that is an example of the breakneck pacing on display here.

Now, I’m going to start saying some controversial things. I say start, because there is more to come. I like the way this film looks a lot more than what Ufotable did with the series. (Fate/Zero and Heaven’s Feel look good though.) Yeah, you can call that shocking. I like this more traditional style of movement and animation compared to a lot of what Ufotable does with really pretty looking still frames that have all the detail in the world and then combining that with CG because that merging doesn’t work for me. Some of the character designs were simplified, but I liked how all of the abilities were shown too. Everything looked shiny and powerful.

I hinted at this before, but like this film more than the Ufotable adaptation of the series itself. Yeah, it’s a hot take but I believe it.  I find that second cour of the slow so frustratingly slow and generally aggravating to the point that I am going to say this. The first cour was decent enough in its set up and delivery. I just can’t get how awful the second cour was to me out of my head because it was way too much with how its sledgehammer execution ruins all of that build up. I have been rewatching all the fate series slowly and I really do not look forward to watching Unlimited Blade Works again. At least with this, it’s an ok action movie once you know some of the context behind it. You know, even if it’s a very in and out sort of experience. It also looks cool and moves well. Not much substance as one would expect from fate but that’s ok.

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