As the battle against Caster’s monster rages on to no result, with Archer and Berserker still fighting it out above, Rider and Saber are forced to withdraw upon seeing how ineffective their actions are.
Arghhh, I’ve typed too much…
Leaving them with little other option but for Rider to drag Caster into his Ionian Hetairoi while they formulate a new plan, leaving Waver with Irisviel to act as his eyes outside. At this point though things begin to get worse as the sight on the river begins to draw attention and Archer and Berserker’s dogfight grows more and more intense, further straining Kariya as his strongest attacks fail to even reach Tokiomi who simply responds by setting him aflame. Meanwhile Kiritsugu makes contact with Irisviel and Waver where he reveals what might just be the way to stop Caster, Saber’s Anti-Fortress Noble Phantasm, however due to the wound taken by Gae Buidhe it remains unusable.
The revelation shocking Lancer that she would hide such a crucial option from them but Saber tells him that she sees such as a symbol of the chivalry he showed her and that she’s proud of it, to which however Lancer responds by putting the matter aside entirely, and unable to forgive Caster’s acts of evil as a knight destroys his own Noble Phantasm. Counting on her to defeat him. However the activation of Saber’s Noble Phantasm draws some unnecessary attention, Berserker, who upon recognising it abandons his duel with Archer and madly pursues her firing the now Noble Phantasm machine guns on the F-15. And elsewhere at this point Kirei finds Kariya’s lifeless body and remembering Archer’s words, betrays Tokiomi by using his specialty in Magecraft to heal Kariya. At which point in order to deal with Berserker, Lancer intercepts with Gae Dearg, however this isn’t enough as Berserker simply tears the gun off and leaps from it, being taken down by none other than a disgruntled Archer. And as Kiritsugu gives the signal where to dump Caster, Waver passes it on to Rider through the envoy he sent.
So with everyone out of the way Saber readies her Noble Phantasm, which Irisviel explains shines with the light of the gathered forlorn hope of everyone to ever swing a sword hoping for a miracle, Excalibur. Which with a single swing pierces Caster’s monster and reaches Caster inside, greeting him with a vision of Jeanne d’Arc as it obliterates him. And in the aftermath Archer and Rider meet again, with Archer asking him whether he would still wouldn’t accept her after such a sight, Rider responding by pointing out the tragedy of it and the sacrifices she would have made to do it, her own humanity. But Archer simply sees it as beautiful, wondering how sweet the shattered tears she shed would have been. Putting the two kings at odds, but because neither are at their best, particularly Rider, they agree to part in peace for the time being, Archer remaining to look a little longer.
Well I must admit even after the high level of quality that this series has maintained I was impressed with this episode, it brought about some interesting advances and the entire scene of Saber activating Excalibur was simply glorious. In all it provided a nice finish to what could almost be seen as the first half of the series.
First off, Excalibur’s activation was amazing, I had high hopes ever since Ufotable’s version of it was shown off in the first opening, and what we saw in this episode definitely fulfilled them. The light rising up, Irisviel‘s narration, and a Kajiura version of Sword of Promised Victory (the original) all sent shivers down my spine. What followed it was interesting as well, Rider seems to be a bit more accepting of her ways but can’t help but notice the tragedy in it all and how she sacrificed her very humanity for it, while Archer’s impression of Saber has shifted to love. Which I almost can’t help but wonder whether it’s because he’s reminded by her of Enkidu (the world’s first bromance), and that he’s trying to find a replacement in her. Then again to confirm that, there’d probably have to be a flashback for him, and I’m not sure how I’d feel about the Nasuverse’s current version of Enkidu. Unless he has a transformation for a Noble Phantasm or an Ability akin to what Rider had (Monstrous Strength: Rank EX?) to better fit in as someone literally molded to be Gilgamesh’s rival and physical equal it just doesn’t fit at all.
As much as I like Ryohgo Narita’s stories and Morii Shizuki’s art I just can’t see this matching this.
The glimpse of Jeanne D’Arc was nice as well, and it has me wondering whether everyone has a vision of their uttermost wish upon being Excaliblasted. Tragically Caster seemed to regain a bit of sanity and met her again after falling so low, while he couldn’t save her he was able to at least meet her again. If only they had enough time to touch deeper upon, like Lancer’s, all of the Servant’s stories, they all add another layer entirely to their characters.
Before that though, while simple I really liked the way the confrontation between Kariya and Tokiomi ended, it may have just come down to Tokiomi shrugging off his attacks before setting him ablaze, but the way it ended just seemed to say something. That no matter how hard Kariya trained or worked to achieve his goal he didn’t even have a chance of coming close to Tokiomi, that bug attack would have been his strongest attack and Tokiomi’s simple flame attack made it completely worthless. Tokiomi wasn’t just blocking it, he was crushing all the effort and making everything that Kariya had sacrificed for naught with a simple wave from his hand. Moving on it also provided an interesting piece of development for Kirei, he could have killed Kariya at any time in this and the last episode but intentionally chose not to, directly betraying his master in order to prolong Kariya’s suffering by healing him (ironically his specialty in Magecraft), he’s found his way and the seeds of betrayal that Archer planted are beginning to blossom. It was the birth of a villain.
Finally once more the action was great, once again the continuing dogfight between Archer and Berserker was exciting to say the least as it began to get more and more intense, even moving a little too close to the others, and while we didn’t see Rider and his Ionian Hetairoi go up against Cthulhu it wasn’t really a problem. What we saw of Rider and Saber futilely going up against it beforehand was good again, personally I think that it was all that was needed for it, and the combined effort between Lancer and Archer to take down Berserker and his F-15 turned Noble Phantasm was pretty cool as well, though Lancer seemed to let Saber run about dodging bullets for a little too long. That said he did just snap Gae Buidhe for her, which while he isn’t the type to bear a grudge given the circumstances still must have been pretty painful to do, as a Servant his Noble Phantasms are practically part of him, intentionally destroying one would have been equivalent to cutting off a limb. But anyway, with an arc focused around him coming up next I’ll hold off from further talking about him and his chivalry. This post is far too long already.