ⓘ Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (2010 film)
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is a 2010 Japanese animated fantasy action film directed by Yūji Yamaguchi. Unlimited Blade Works covers the events of the second route of the visual novel Fate/stay night by Type-Moon. The film primarily focuses on two young mages, Shirou Emiya and Rin Tohsaka, who participate in a conflict between other mages and their servants known as the Holy Grail War. During the fights, Shirou often crosses paths with Rins servant, Archer, who seeks his death despite being an ally.
The film was produced by Studio Deen following the release of their TV adaptation of Fate/stay night. The short length of the film brought difficulties to the staff members as they aimed to cover a story arc which required far more time to tell in the visual novel. The film was released in Japan on January 23, 2010 on 12 screens and grossed 37.699.500 yen.
The critical reception was mixed. Praise was directed towards the development of Shirou, his interactions with Rin and Archer, and the exploration of his ideas in greater depth, which allowed for a greater understanding of his motives. These aspects, along with the animation of some fight scenes, were considered to be superior to the 2006 TV series. However, the narrative was widely criticized for its fast pace that cut large amounts of content from the visual novel, leading to confusion among viewers and an overall lack of cohesion.
Type-Moon later collaborated with the studio Ufotable to retell the Unlimited Blade Works narrative in the form of a television series, which first aired in 2014.
On the 10th anniversary of the great fire of Fuyuki City, Rin Tohsaka performs the summoning ritual and summons Archer. Archer soon fights Lancer, but their fight is witnessed by Shirou Emiya who flees but is found by Lancer and killed. Rin uses her necklace to revive Shirou but he is later attacked again by Lancer and inadvertently summons Saber who drives Lancer off. At the Church, Shirou is given an explanation by Kirei Kotomine about the Holy Grail War and decides to fight. Shirou proposes to Rin to be allies rather than enemies, but they are interrupted by Illyasviel von Einzbern and Berserker. A fight ensues until Archer ends the fight by causing a massive explosion with his bow attack. Illya withdraws and Shirou collapses from his injuries.
The next day, Shirou gets a weird feeling upon entering the school and meets up with Rin to investigate. They soon encounter Rider and her master, revealed to be Shinji Matou. Rin saves Shirou and Shinji flees back into the school. Shirou summons Saber and they find Shinji huddled in the corner of a classroom with a defeated Rider who disappears. Shinji claims someone else did it before running away. Later, Kotomine offers Shinji a new servant.
That night, Shirou sleepwalks to Ryuudou Temple where Caster attempts to take his command spells. Saber follows but is stopped by Assassin while Shirou is saved by Archer who then engages and overpowers Caster but spares her life. Shirou argues with Archer, who tells Shirou to accept that he cannot save everyone. Ignoring him, Archer turns on Shirou before being rescued by Saber. Returning home, Rin, Shirou, and Saber are ambushed by Caster who stabs Saber with Rule Breaker, a weapon that nullifies servant contracts. Saber resists her commands to kill Rin and Shirou before disappearing with Caster. Caster kills Kotomine and takes over the church and Rin and Archer soon confront Caster and her master Souichirou Kuzuki but Archer instead betrays Rin. Shirou intervenes before Archer tells Caster to spare them. Outmatched, the two decide to request Illyas assistance.
Shirou and Rin arrive at Illyas castle to find Illya and Berserker being attacked by Shinji and his new servant Gilgamesh who defeats Berserker and rips Illyas heart out. Rin and Shirou confront Shinji who offers them a chance to join him which they refuse, and Shinji and Gilgamesh retreat. Following a short argument, Rin and Shirou encounter Lancer, from whom they accept an offer of assistance.
Returning to the Church, Lancer engages Archer while Rin and Shirou engage Caster and Kuzuki. The two are suddenly saved by Archer who kills both Caster and Kuzuki and then resumes his attack on Shirou. Rin forms a new contract with Saber and Archer reveals a reality marble called Unlimited Blade Works. Archer unleashes a hail of swords at Shirou and Saber and takes the opportunity to kidnap Rin. Shirou demands Archer to confront him at the Einzbern Castle.
Later on, Shirou confronts Archer and deduces from an earlier comment from Rin that Archers identity is Shirous future self who seeks to kill his younger self to end his own regretful existence. Shirou and Archer begin their fight while Lancer rescues Rin from Shinji and Kotomine who reveals that he is alive and is Lancers master. Kotomine orders Lancer to kill Rin, but forces him to commit suicide after he refuses to obey. Before dying, Lancer impales Kotomine from behind, scares Shinji away, unties Rin, and sets fire to the castle. Shirou experiences a vision of the future that awaits him but continues the fight regardless, eventually defeating Archer and declares that he will not regret what awaits him. Gilgamesh suddenly interrupts the fight and critically wounds Archer before withdrawing due to the spreading fire. Rin later transfers a part of her magical seals over to Shirou so that he can utilize Unlimited Blade Works to counter Gilgamesh. Elsewhere, Gilgamesh implants Illyas heart into Shinji and he mutates into a large mass.
Arriving at Ryuudou Temple, Saber fights Assassin again while Shirou and Rin confront Gilgamesh. Saber helps Rin defeat Assassin and Shirou activates Unlimited Blade Works. Rin rescues Shinji and is about to be trapped until Archer intervenes. Saber uses Excalibur to destroy the unfinished Holy Grail and disappears, having exhausted her magical energy. Meanwhile, Shirou overpowers and severs Gilgameshs arm. This causes a void to open from the wound that begins to consume Gilgamesh. He attempts to take Shirou with him, only to be finished off by Archer. Rin reunites with Archer who tells her to look after his younger self. She promises to do so, and Archer disappears. With the war concluded, life resumes as normal, and Rin and Shirou begin a romantic relationship.
The idea of creating an animated film based on the Unlimited Blade Works story arc of the Fate/stay night visual novel was first suggested to producer Mitsutoshi Ogura of Geneon Entertainment in 2005. At the time, he was organizing the production of the anime series for the same game. Ogura felt that Unlimited Blade Works and Fate, which became the basis of the seriess plot, were the most interesting story arcs in the visual novel. Director Yūji Yamaguchi from Studio Deen had similar opinions, and noted that Unlimited Blade Works had many elements from to shonen manga, with a large number of bright scenes. He stated that he felt that the plot and dramatic components of the story arc could be conveyed well in cinematic format. As a result, the film making project was approved immediately after the work on the 2006 TV series was completed, and producer Norimitsu Urasaki joined the project.
According to Sato, the largest challenge for the production was the limitation on the length of the film. He had several meetings with producers in which he lobbied to increase the runtime to 107 minutes. This was approved. Yamaguchi understood that this runtime was extremely short in comparison to the 2006 series, where a similar sequence of events was told in 480 minutes. Therefore, he decided to try to create a balance between everyday scenes and battles by increasing the intensity and emotional weight of the latter, which led to a significant reduction in the content of the prologue shown earlier in the series. The director recalled that he originally wanted to demonstrate many everyday scenes between battles, which were prepared in Satos drafts, but most of them never entered the final script. In the initial planning stage, Archer was considered as the central character, but attention was shifted to Shirou later during production.
Since there had been a conflict between Fate author Kinoko Nasu and consultant Yamaguchi during the production of the TV series, Type-Moon only assigned a secondary advisor for the production of the film, and his opinion was taken into account only on general grounds. The director refused the complete exclusion of Nasu from the production team only because of fear of an excessive departure from the canons of the Fate franchise. The head of Type-Moon, illustrator Takashi Takeuchi, retained the role of a character design consultant. The only wish expressed by the creators of the visual novel to the producers was that the battle scenes should not become the dominant element of the film. However, Urasaki did not approve of this approach, as he feared that the audience might get bored, and gave the right to finally determine the direction of Yamaguchis work.
Shortly after the screenplay was approved in 2008, Studio Deen staff prepared a storyboard that was approved without major changes. Since the project budget exceeded the amount allocated for the 2006 series, it was decided that more work should be put into special effects during battle scenes. Special attention was paid to the rendering, since the creators sought to ensure that all the characters were equally well distinguishable and that there were no errors in the position of shadows relative to light sources. Staging of battles between masters was performed by Tsujitani, who took influence from the way tokusatsu Kamen Rider and Metal Hero tracked the movement patterns of the characters.
In contrast to the 2006 series, shades of red were emphasized in the color palette, which, according to the director, should have" added to the film entertainment and adult atmosphere”. Due to the intense work with the script, Yamaguchi did not have enough time to track the accuracy of the transfer of the original character design, and this part was completely given to Takashi Takeuchi and studio staffer Megumi Ishihare.
The position of the recording director was given to Koji Tsujitani, retaining his position from the 2006 series who decided to trust the experience of the previous adaptation of "Fate/stay night". All the voice actors selected in 2005 for the series reprised their roles in the film, and were notified before starting work on the animation part. According to Junichi Suwabe, most of the voice actors were not told that they would be working on a film version of the Unlimited Blade Works route, and only Ayako Kawasumi, who played the role of Saber, managed to find out the exact information. Suwabe and his partner Kana Ueda, who voiced Rin, stated they were happy to be invited to participate in the film version of Unlimited Blade Works, as their characters were the main focus of the route.
The actors recalled that they were surprised by the abundance of dialogue in a relatively short film – in total, the entire script took up about a thousand pages. The dubbing took place over four days in the fall of 2009 and lasted continuously from morning until late evening, during which, according to Ouedy, the tired seiyū made a large number of errors. However, according to Suwabe, the entire cast did well with their work, because for three years since the release of the series, they had also participated in voicing new versions of the visual novel and other material of the Fate/stay night franchise. Also, Sayu noted that this experience, obtained through familiarization with the original source material, gave them a more complete understanding of their characters, which they tried to reflect in this film. Nevertheless, Tsujitani was dissatisfied with his own work, because he believed that he could not request the voice actors to give fundamentally different performances, and seriously thought about a complete rewriting of the voice track. However, after listening to the final version, Yamaguchi rejected this suggestion of the recording director and considered that the play of the seiyū exceeded his initial expectations.
The DVD and Blu-ray version was released on 31 October 2010 in Japan, with Sentai Filmworks releasing the DVD and Blu-ray to North America on 12 June 2012. Manga Entertainment released the DVD and Blu-ray on 30 September 2013.
2.1. Production Audio
The films soundtrack was composed by Kenji Kawai, who also composed for the 2006 TV series. Kawai wrote an entirely new soundtrack that incorporated almost no music from his previous composition for the television series. The only exception to this was the composition" Emiya”, which was included with a new arrangement at the request of the producers. Compared to the series, the composer decided to increase the number of tracks with chorus that were performed by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, and also used more digital sound processing. Compositions were created according to the already finished visual series since Kawai noted his own inability to work with the storyboard without feeling the clear time frame of the melodies. The use of the compositions was jointly approved by Tsujitani and Yamaguchi, but the composers opinion was also taken into account by the producer, with a number of key decisions on the choice of tracks made by Kawai paired with Tsujitani. So, the recording director decided to impose leitmotifs of the servant characters on the main melody of the scene composition, in order to emphasize references to the history of these characters at the right moments.
It took one month to create the entire musical soundtrack of the film. Kawai spent only one week directly on writing all 27 tracks, and the rest of the time was spent on negotiating, fine-tuning and recording, for which the Dolby Digital system was used. The most difficult, according to Kawai, were the compositions for the scenes in which the dialogues of the characters overlapped the battles between them as in the battle between Saber and Assassin servant bound by contract with Caster, because the composer had to accurately select the rhythm so as not to destroy atmosphere of the action. Kawai emphasized that the main thing for him was to get as close as possible to the pace of what was happening so that the viewer would not have the feeling that he was listening to music, and not watching the movie. Nevertheless, Kawai estimated the final result of his work on this painting as" the work of an artisan, not an artist”.
By the film itself, it was decided to make the opening and closing songs, the performance, and composition of the texts to which, as in the series, were entrusted to the singer Sachi Tainaka. To create the texts, Tainaka specifically acquainted herself with all the works of the Fate franchise that existed at that time and tried to show the connection of the original sources themes with the real world, which, according to the singer, made the work for this film the most time-consuming in her career. As a result, two songs" Imitation” and" Voice ~ Tadoritsuku Basho ~” was created. In the first one, Tainaka tried to reflect the feelings of the protagonist about the need to have a loved one, and in the second to emphasize the emotionality of the entire storyline. The producers also asked Kawai to write music for the third song, which was planned to be included during the final battle between Shirou and Gilgamesh, but the composer refused, saying that" he cannot write three songs in a row about the same thing”. As a result, the composition" Emiya” was used for the second time during the film.
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works received generally mixed reviews. Its relatively short duration, which strongly affected the development of the characters, was highly criticized. Anime News Networks Theron Martin commented that the total screen time was reduced by 80% relative to the series. Reviewers criticized the abridged prologue, which was shortened to three minutes, for hindering understanding of the premise, and that the first 25 minutes of the film repeated the plot of the first eleven episodes of the 2006 TV series. Various critics emphasized that the story progressed very hastily, with numerous jumps from one scenarios scenes to another without any explanation. Todd Douglass Jr. of DVD Talk said that this resulted in a "rushed, incomplete feeling as the story jumps from one scene to the next and one fight to the next."
John Rose from The Fandom Post wrote that the pace of the narrative" balanced on a thin line with complete incomprehension”, which caused irritation among viewers and impeded immersion into the atmosphere. Rose considered that the creators implicitly recognized this fact and therefore allotted significantly more time to fight scenes during the culmination in an attempt to compensate for the weak narrative. Several reviewers asserted that the film failed to properly establish narrative coherency and that it was too confusing to be enjoyable for newcomers to the franchise. For this reason, critics did not recommend the film to viewers unfamiliar with the visual novel or the television series, and stated that the film did not work as an independent production.
In a highly critical review for the UK Anime Network, Ross Liversidge stated that he felt the film would only appeal to fans of colorful fighting scenes, as he considered the story "completely broken". However, Theron Martin and Chris Beveridge from The Fandom Post still thought that newcomers, though with difficulty, would still be able to understand what was going on.
Other aspects of the film received more positive feedback. Theron Martin noted that, compared to the TV series, the film did not involve elements of the harem genre, and that the romance between Shirou and Tohsaka Rin was well-developed. Chris Homer of The Fandom Post noted that in comparison to Shirous unpopular characterization in the TV series, the film depicted how Rin helped him learn from his weaknesses and maintain his" heros ideology”, even giving lessons to Archer. Homer also praised the development of Archer, who he called "the main star of the picture", and believed that the film successfully illustrated his opposition to Shirou. Martin also singled out Shirous idealism as the main theme of the film adaptation and noted interesting similarities between Archer and Kiritsugu Emiya, including " how to become a hero and not turn out to be cynic”. However, The Fandom Post reviewers noted that although the different development of the characters in the film contrasted with that of the 2006 TV series, they welcomed the films ending.
In comparison to the 2006 TV series, the films visuals were praised, with reviewers noting that this was to be expected of a film adaptation. All critics gave high marks to battle scenes between servants, the most spectacular of them recognized the battle between Saber and the Berserker. Chris Beveridge, however, emphasized that although the films visuals were superior to the 2006 TV series, they were visually inferior to the later Fate/Zero series produced by Ufotable in 2011. Ross Liversidge commented positively on the color scheme of the film. John Rose negatively reacted to replacing content from sexual scenes in the visual novel with" inappropriate neon inserts”, but acknowledged it would have been difficult to include the original version due to its mature content. Kenji Kawais music also received praise.
Chris Beveridge said that the film was good on its own, but looked" just ridiculous” in comparison to the anime adaptation of Fate/Zero. The film was the last joint project of Studio Deen and Type-Moon management. Four years later, Type-Moon contracted Ufotable to make a television adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works storyline, following their previous successful adaptations of Fate/Zero and The Garden of Sinners.
3.1. Reception Box office
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works grossed $3.205.829 worldwide, including ¥280 million $3.2 million in Japan and $5.829 in Taiwan.
- 劇場版 Fate/stay night UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS: 公式ガイドブック in Japanese. Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten. 2010. ISBN 978-4048544627.