I have to admit that I never finished Studio Deen’s adaptation of Fate/stay night, namely the Fate arc. It is not because I was side tracked, but Fate/zero instantly wowed me, which is the prequel of that said visual novel. Despite not writing a review for that said show, I was very impressed with Ufotable’s production values since Deen’s in comparison were questionable at best.
Since Ufotable have done Fate/zero, it is expected that Fate/stay night will get the same treatment and it did. While the Fate arc did not get a do over, they decided to make an anime adaptation of Unlimited Blade Works arc in addition to making a movie for the Heaven’s Feel arc possibly next year. With that, it is time to share my overall thoughts on their version of Unlimited Blade Works.
The Unlimited Blade Works arc is the second arc in Fate/stay night that happens right after the Fate arc. Unlimited Blade Works focuses more on Rin as Archer’s past is gradually revealed. While most of the events are similar to the Fate arc, it splits off when Caster is brought into the picture. Why is Archer is despises Shirou’s ideal of becoming a Hero of Justice to the point that he wants to kill him? Also, what mysteries lie behind Archer’s past?
While I only watched six episodes of Studio Deen’s adaptation of the Fate arc, it is obvious that Unlimited Blade Works is a big improvement, especially with the two one-hour specials, one of them showing Rin’s point of view on how she summoned Archer and eventually saved Shirou before he summoned Saber. The first actual episode is told from Shirou’s point of view. To me, having these two one hour episodes gives the viewer a better feeling on how the story goes, especially for someone who have not watched the first adaptation or experienced visual novel.
Aside from that, Ufotable have done a good job adapting most of the story from the source material, aside from the production values, which are great. In addition, they also expanded on some things that never happened in the visual novel. Some of the notable ones are the back-story on Caster’s former master and Illya’s experiences before entering the Grail War. Of course, the epilogue also had a lot of great moments with Rin and Shirou finally living together and Shirou having a brief encounter with Waver.
However, the show is not completely flawless. While I enjoyed most of the fights, there were a few flaws. Aside from Shirou and eventually Archer (for obvious reasons) becoming annoying at times, some of the parts felt a bit rushed. It is noticeable with the nineteenth episode since the big reveal on Archer’s past left out a few important details on future Shirou making a pact with Alaya to become a counter-guardian. It is confusing since future Shirou looks exactly like Shirou. He did not have the white hair. By not changing his appearance in this scene, they confused the Anime-only viewers into thinking that Shirou was the one who made the pact.
It is clear that they left out the one important detail about Archer’s appearance. The dark skin and white hair was a result of his extensive use of projection mage craft with the signature red overcoat that was given to him by the Church. To me, they could have given more time expanding upon Archer’s past rather than focusing on Saber’s in that episode.
Overall, while I obviously skipped that Illya scene, I enjoyed Ufotable’s version of Unlimited Blade Works quite a lot. The fights and new additions to the story were nice. While the show is not perfect, I definitely recommend watching this adaptation, although you will probably understand the story more if you watched Fate/zero and/or Studio Deen’s version first before watching this even though it is not required. Even so, considering the amount of detail and effort they put into the Unlimited Blade Works adaptation, it makes me wonder if they can keep it up with the Heaven’s Feel movie. We will see once it comes out.
Overall Rating: 9.2/10, A-, Very Good ¶