This can best be classified as a “Breather Episode.” Not wanting to drown its audience with an overload of violence, destruction and explosive action, Unlimited Blade Works decided to take a short break after the pulse-pounding events of episode 8 and allow the characters to rest, recuperate, and regroup as the various factions strategize the best way to move forward into the next phase of the Holy Grail War.
Since Caster currently stands as the greatest threat to all the other players in the war, Rin decides to take advantage of the lull by working together with Shirou to try and identify Caster’s as-yet-unknown master, explaining to Shirou that if they can find the master and neutralize him, they should be able to eliminate Caster from the Holy Grail War before she can cause anymore chaos. (And taking several opportunities to grab Shirou, sneak off alone with him, and squeeze close to him in the course of their search. Coincidence? Possibly. But the bird-watcher inside of me senses that these may be the first steps in the mating-dance of the red-bellied Tsundere.)
Shinji, in typical spineless sniveling cowardly fashion, runs off to find Kotomine Kirei (the overseer of the Holy Grail War) and weaves together a long dubious self-serving story about why the recent defeat Shinji suffered in the war is absolutely everyone’s fault except Shinji’s. When Shinji wails that he would have fared better if only he’d had a more powerful servant, Kirei decides to help Shinji (while wearing one of the most sinister smirks I’ve ever seen) and instead of disqualifying the obnoxious little reprobate (as a proper neutral overseer is supposed to do) Kirei offers Shinji a newer, more powerful servant. (And so, like a stubborn turd in a toilet, just when we thought Shinji had been flushed, it seems he may return to stink up the room once again.)
Saber suggests a new strategy that she believes will help defend against attacks from evil enemies: Sleeping with Shirou. Er, that is to say, sleeping in the same room as Shirou so that she can protect him if any enemies sneak into Shirou’s house with intent to kidnap or kill him. Shirou feels that Saber’s suggestion could potentially lead to several…awkward situations, but due to the fact that enemies have in fact attacked him in his home on two separate occasions, he’s forced to admit that Saber’s idea does have some merit. So he meets her half-way and allows her to sleep immediately outside his room. (Uh-oh! The yellow-headed Badass may be moving in on the same prize desired by the red-bellied Tsundere! Watch out nature fans. I smell a love triangle approaching on the wind.)
And finally, as night falls on the city, Shirou reflects on a deep and eternal truth of the universe: Archer is a douche.
Overall, this was far from the most action-packed episode of Unlimited Blade Works. And a less charitable reviewer than myself might go so far to say that there were times when it felt slow. I would NOT however, go so far as to say that it was a bad episode. It may have traded UBW’s normal excitement for a day of lackadaisical calm. But I suspect we’ll soon see that this week’s events were merely the proverbial “Calm before the storm.”
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.