This week we lull in the aftermath of the great supernatural battle, and Our Heroes have to face more mundane trials, like delivering lunch, accidentally calling people fat, arranging impromptu slumber parties, and… magical skeleton monsters??
[To note—from here on out, I’ve decided I’m going to put all discussion comparing things to the VN or the prequel in the additional notes. Travel onwards relatively spoiler free!]
As this is a lull episode, some professional somewhere clearly made the decision that to maximise viewer attention they had to animate some bare skin. We start off with a fantastically creepy cold open of Ilya expressing her intent to murder, how one normally does, on the way into a bath. Now, this could have been a genuine opportunity for a neat little reveal about the strangeness of Ilya’s body (because—and this is the last spoilery thing I will say—there is something interesting going on there), but all we really got out of it was uncomfortable fan service. Whether you’re uncomfortable because you’re watching a prepubescent girl’s body wander across your screen amid steam or because she’s declaring her eagerness to make Shirou suffer “in Kiritsugu’s place” with a smile, is up to you.
They do their best to make up for it by flinging Shirou’s shirt somewhere far out of frame, but it still felt wrong. I’m all for equal-opportunity fan service, as long as it’s actually equal. A problem I had with Psycho Pass for instance: there’s an equal-ish amount of semi-nude men and women, but the contexts are infinitely different. The women are often exposed while they’re in vulnerable situations, i.e. having been or about to be murdered, while the guys are mostly stripped down when they’re working out or injured from being a badass, thus in a more powerful position. It rubs me the wrong way, and I felt a touch of that this episode. But I’m not here to talk about Psycho Pass, am I? I’m here to talk about Shirou’s self-healing abilities. Wait, what?
I feel it’s true to Shirou that he breezes past that though, because frankly, the kid’s learnt so much crazy stuff over the past 24 hours that I don’t think he’d want to waste time being surprised by anything new. He’s not even too flustered about having Saber around, in fact they fasten their friendship even further. It does get a little awkward when she insists on bodyguarding him all the way to school and ends up getting checked out by Mitzusuri, leader of the archery club and very bad at hiding her gay side if she is in fact attempting to.
She also runs into a man we’ve glimpsed before, a teacher named Kuzuki, who has the immediate personality of an ominous brick wall and, according to Saber, a strange air. He certainly makes a contrast to Taiga, who has for some reason been put in charge of sharp projectiles when she can’t even pack her own lunch. As if there wasn’t enough going on, Shirou now has to integrate Saber into his household, which causes an immediate unspoken clash with Taiga and Sakura. You could have had your suspicions it was curious jealousy that got Sakura staring at Saber, but something more comes into play (though it’s bundled cleverly into the rest of the manic conversation) when she reacts with such shock to hearing her name.
While Shirou’s trying to make peace over dinner and Taiga has decided that ‘chaperoning’ is synonymous with ‘cockblocking’ and invited herself and Sakura to stay over, Rin and Archer are having their own rooftop adventures, coming face to bony face with some very spooky creatures. She discovers that the “gas leaks” that have become an epidemic in town of late are a mage at work, sucking people’s energy in a steady path towards the mountain. Archer reckons it’s the work of Caster, which is pretty smart, and also that she’s an angry woman, which I’m surprised didn’t earn him a frown from Rin. Then again, maybe you don’t have time to smack down sexist observations when you’re fighting off skeletons, and being livid that someone would get innocent people involved.
Another juxtaposition within Rin as she looks ahead with her human feelings in one hand and her duty as a mage in the other—she makes a decision at the end that Shirou is no longer her buddy, and she will kill him. There’s a war going on and junk. Something’s going on at the school. Something’s going on with Caster. Something’s going on with Sakura. Something’s definitely going on if Ilya has such a thirst for vengeance against a man we’ve only seen to be connected with Shirou.
This episode was a lull, but it was a satisfying lull, buzzing with an understated heartbeat of something going on and energised build-up. I think you’d better get your head in the game, Shirou. Cooking to impress your houseguests will soon be the least of your problems.
- Seriously? Ilya has a full body Command Spell. What other reason could there be to get her naked other than to show off or at least foreshadow that? This isn’t Prisma Ilya, people!
- Obviously this was decided to be the “get the Einzbern-Emiya kids’ tops off” episode. Buffness on show or otherwise, I actually just think Shirou’s adorable. They’re making real headway with his body language and expressions and general aura of likeability. Saber too—she just looks so content. I’m sure she’s not used to it
- On that note, Shirou was pulling that story about Saber being an old friend of Kiritsugu’s out of his ass but… little do they know.
- Shirou’s dream was also very interesting… blades… rather a lot of them. Almost an unlimited amount…
- Sakura was relevant in this episode!