After the (in my opinion) infuriating events which took place in last week’s episode (read my review of UBW 7 for a full description and an account of why Archer is now my least favorite character) I was hoping the series would do something to redeem itself this week. And goodness gracious, Unlimited Blade Works episode 8 certainly did not disappoint!
This episode had a lot of things I really liked. Action, heroism, teamwork, character development for Shirou, character development for Rin, and Archer nowhere in sight.
In the aftermath of the events of Unlimited Blade Works episode 7, Shirou has spent enough time recovering from his wounds and improving his (still not as good as they should be, but markedly better than they were before) fighting skills, that he feels safe returning to school. Once there, it isn’t long before Rin insists that Shirou come up to the roof with her so that the two of them can share a private lunch together, (an invitation which, as some students point out, girls often extend when they want to share some alone time with that special someone whom they like, but which Rin swears is purely so that she and Shirou can put their heads together, and plan out their strategy moving forward).
On the roof, Rin and Shirou grow a little bit closer as Rin apologizes to Shirou for the way Archer went against her wishes and attacked Shirou in episode 7, technically violating her and Shirou’s truce. In a show of sincere regret, and a desire to re-establish the bond of their friendship, Rin reveals to Shirou that she’s used one of her magical command seals (a very rare and precious resource) to ensure that Archer never disobeys her orders like that again. Shirou quickly forgives Rin (which is only fair since Archer’s rogue actions were never really her fault to begin with) and the two of them begin discussing the experiences they’ve had, the other mages and heroic servants they’ve encountered so far, and the best way to deal with their enemies.
When they arrive at the subject of their vile, abusive, egomaniacal classmate Shinji Matou, the weakest mage in the Holy Grail War, Rin laughs at what a pitiful joke of an enemy Shinji is. Her condescending attitude toward Shinji proves to be ill-founded however, because at that very moment, Shinji Matou (who is indeed the weakest mage in the war, and who has been using the fact that all the other mages look down on him and ignore him to his advantage, constructing a diabolical trap right under everyone’s noses while they’ve all been busy fighting each other) launches his master plan into action.
Shinji orders his servant, Rider, to cast a magic spell (which clearly took quite a bit of time to put together) which causes a gigantic red eye to appear above the school and project a cage of mystical energy around the building, preventing anyone from leaving the grounds, and draining the life energy of all the students and teachers trapped inside!
As all the innocent victims caught in Shinji’s trap begin passing out and falling into comas, Rin tells Shirou that, since mages are able to generate a uniquely large amount of mystic energy, Rin Shirou and Shinji should be able to remain conscious and move around inside Shinji’s trap. But if they don’t find Shinji soon and shut down Rider’s spell, everyone in school will die!
Shirou manages to summon Saber to help battle against Shinji’s evil magic. And together, the three heroes embark on an epic battle which rages throughout the school, searching high and low to try and sniff out Shinji’s hiding place so they can shut him down and avert this catastrophic crisis. As Saber battles against Rider, Shirou impresses Rin with his new and improved fighting skills as he and Rin work together to fight their way through a horde of magical sword-wielding skeletons that have been summoned to cut down anyone who tries to interfere with the power drain.
The battle reaches a fever pitch, the opponents clash in a thrilling climax, and when the dust settles, it’s clear for all to see who won this fight. Caster.
That’s right, folks. It seems the only reason Shinji was able to pull off such an uncharacteristically competent plot was because Caster slipped him the idea in the first place. Shinji was undoubtedly planning to use the life energy he collected from the school for some selfish evil purpose. But the even more selfish and even more evil Caster was apparently one step ahead of him. She waited until Shinji had gathered enough energy in one place to be useful to her, then she swooped in, stole the energy right out from under Shinji’s nose, and escaped back to her lair (brutally murdering Rider on her way out, which ends up undoing the spell, returning the school back to normal, and robbing Shinji of his servant, effectively eliminating his ability to compete in the Holy Grail War) all in one fell swoop.
Despite the fact that Caster was able to tangle with our heroes yet again and get away without being caught, Shirou and Rin ultimately feel good about the day’s events. They were able to cancel Shinji’s spell before any innocents lost their lives. Shinji was knocked out of the competition. And Rin’s level of respect for Shirou seems to have shot up several notches after witnessing the brave way he handled himself during this time of crisis.
I really don’t have much to say about this episode except that it was very eventful, a lot of fun, I greatly enjoyed watching it, and I can’t wait to tune in next time to see where the story goes from here.
Well done, Episode 8. Keep up the good (Unlimited Blade) Works.
Kaita Mpambara works every day to try and create shows, stories, and characters that are as exciting, energizing, and entertaining as the very best works that have been given to the world by both the western and eastern animation industries. Keep up with his musings on life, the universe and everything by following him on Facebook.