Probably one of the most anticipated episodes is finally here, the Shirou and Archer showdown within the Unlimited Blade Works.
Archer is running low on mana after severing his pact with his former masters. As a servant, with no master, he has to sustain his body with the leftover mana that he has. This was why he gave Shirou an time limit to come save Rin, he had to settle one he came to do and was done playing around.
Kirei certainly is a twisted man. He not only killed his former teacher, the man who took him in and taught him magic, but now he’s prepared to kill his student. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge any personal relationships, no matter how long he’s known them, or what they’ve been through. The fact that he can emotionlessly prepare to kill Rin says a lot about his character.
Thankfully, Lancer comes to save the day. It would have been depressing to see such a great person, who fought for what he thought was right, die to his own weapon against his will. He manages to redeem himself by taking out Kirei and scaring off Shinji. He managed to keep his word to Shirou about saving Rin, and die an honorable death.
I think it was a bit anticlimactic that Kirei would meet his end here. Especially after he had carefully planned out the events from the start. He had been preparing for this day from the start, and he get’s done in by his own carelessness. He lets his guard down and gets killed after all of that effort. I guess it’s kind of like poetic justice since he killed his master behind his back, just like Lancer has done now. Unlimited Blade Works doesn’t focus on Kirei as much as a character as well, but thankfully Fate/Zero explained more about his character so I could understand him better.
Shinji himself is an amusing character. He’s your typical bully who talks big when the odds are in his favor. Otherwise, he’ll cower away to cover his own rear end. The second Kirei was killed, he came back and acted like he was the top dog again. As soon as Lancer rises from the dead once again, he flees for his life.
Each time Shirou and Archer clash, Shirou gains “memories” of himself. He’s able to progress his magic and sword skills at an accelerated rate with all of this. Every time he interacted with his future self earlier on in the series, he unlocked more of his potential. He has also seen his “future”, the end that awaits him if he blindly follows down his current path.
Shirou himself is an empty person. He never really had any real aspirations for himself, and only lived for others. He saw the happiness Kiritsugu had from saving another person, and wanted to experience the same thing. Kiritsugu didn’t just save someone out of the kindness of his heart though. All of this time he had been sacrificing others, more than saving. When he found Shirou, it was the first time he chose to save someone’s life which brought a huge amount of relief to him.
Shirou had no real dreams or desires of his own. He took Kiritsugu’s failed dream and basically forced himself to see it through. He mindlessly sacrificed himself for the sake of others which would eventually lead him down the path of becoming Archer. Having nothing to protect, he fights for other people and will eventually awaken to see that he’s done nothing but slaughter others. It’s impossible to protect everyone, and by clinging to this ideal he’ll never be able to rest easy since it is unattainable.
While Shirou’s spirit was crushed, he remembers the reason why he took on Kiritsugu’s ideal. He was saved. He should have died along with everyone else, but for some reason he was able to live. There must have been some purpose for him surviving. Shirou did have a purpose in the end. Having witnessed the mass destruction in the past, he desired to never have to see this sight again, which was why he adopted Kiritsugu’s beliefs. Archer must have lost sight of this at some point down the line which is what drove him to where he is today.
Kiritsugu really trusted everything to Shirou. That day he found him, he implanted Saber’s Avalon within him, which basically set his fate. It established the connection between the two, enabling her to be summoned as his servant, as well as always protecting Shirou. He has reaffirmed his belief, and is prepared to see his ideal out until the end.
You can watch Fate Stay Night UBW Episode 20 on Crunchyroll