Preface: This series is an adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route of the Fate/stay night visual novel. I would definitely recommend watching the original anime adaptation of the visual novel, Fate/stay night, before this. This series makes minute references to information from Fate/Zero, but in a way that I would still recommend watching Fate/Zero after the completion of this series.
The majority of the English voice actors are different between all of the series and spin-offs (Fate/Zero & Unlimited Blade Works (TV) have the most similar English cast of any two), so, if absolute consistency is necessary for you, I’d recommend watching it in Japanese.
This review assumes that you have seen the original anime or played the main route of the visual novel (Fate/stay night), since this is an adaptation of an alternate route. Comparisons will be made to the other series. For a small tid-bit on the characters and other information, see a previous review.
To get the setup out of the way, the first episode (numbered 0) serves as a prologue to quickly catch you up to where the story begins without going through the same motions as Fate/stay night.
From the beginning, the animation is clearly miles ahead of the original series. Barring some jarring cheap CGI (mainly vehicles) and some noticeable quality deterioration, albeit a step-down to a still amazing quality, towards the ending of the second season, the animation is damned-near perfect. The action scenes, the scenery, the movement of the characters, everything . . . everything seems to have been gone over without fail to ensure a high quality end-product.
Rin Tohsaka’s facial expressions are noticeably done in more detail than the rest of the cast’s, and I can only assume that it is because she is this route’s heroine.
And, like last time, you know exactly why I am here:
Where Unlimited Blade Works lacks is in its focus on characters other than Shirou and Rin. Souichirou Kuzuki, Caster’s master, and Illyasviel von Einzbern, Berserker’s master, receive minute, unfinished backstories shoehorned into the episodes leading up to the climax that ultimately just help setup Shirou’s coming-to-terms; the characters becoming the lambs-to-slaughter for Shirou’s closure. Admittedly, this route is supposed to be more about Shirou’s struggle to realize his own life’s dream . . . with that in mind, the series does an pretty good job. It is still vague about what is to become of him, and offhandedly references what would usually be called parallel universes or alternate timelines, but, with Fate/stay night in mind, it closes up Shirou’s own personality struggle nicely.
The story’s resolution is much like that of the Fate route, but with Rin as the heroine. The ending is modeled after the True Ending of the route, with the final episode expanding on it . . .
There is also an OVA short, only about 9 minutes in length, that is modeled after the Good Ending to the route.
- Plot: 8/10
- Animation: 9/10
- Japanese Voice Acting: 8/10
- English Voice Acting: 8/10
- Overall: 8/10
Title: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
Released: October 2014 – June 2015 – 26 Episodes + 1 OVA – TV series with an OVA alternate ending
Director: Takahiro Miura
Original Story: Kinoko Nasu/Type-Moon
Licensed by: Aniplex of America