I went back to watch the Shirou vs. Gilgamesh fight in ufoTable’s Unlimited Blade Works anime a couple of days ago, and even though I’ve seen the fight at least a half a dozen times, every single viewing still gets be hype as fuck.
Not only is this a fight that the narrative has been building up for the last 5 to 6 episodes, but the rise and crescendo of Emiya UBW playing throughout, punctuating every sword slash, jump and Noble Phantasm launched sends shivers down my spine.
But most importantly is the motion. The motion of Shirou dipping and diving, of Gilgamesh’s quickly rising rage transferring into his transition from simply sitting back and shooting weapons at Shirou into grabbing a couple of long swords and charging in for close combat.
And then there’s the conclusion of the fight.
That 4 seconds of animation is a masterclass of using motion to impart information. It shows us Shiro’s trajectory, the path of his slash from beginning to end, and even the way Gilgamesh was holding his sword before it found itself involuntarily removed from the man’s body. But what’s most impressive, at least for me, is how the arc of Shiro’s sword also informs us exactly how his body shifted from free fall to his landing position.
Fate/Apocrypha does not have that.
The movement here is not only boring, but it also does nothing to impact the fight itself, no clash of ideals like the fight between Saber and Lancer in /Zero. It does nothing to change the status quo like the Archer and Lancer fight in /Stay-Night does in dragging Shirou into the war.
Red-Lancer attacks the neutral observer Servant Ruler, she fights back briefly, Black-Saber shows up to 2v1 , Ruler says no, she’s gotta be neutral as fuck, Red-Lancer and Black-Saber skirmish for a bit more, the sun comes up, Red-Lancer fucks off, Ruler maintains her Neutrality and nothing else happens.
I mean, we get B-Saber’s backstory and motivation, as told through flashbacks interrupting the fight, but there’s no reason for it to be told at this point. It just kind of happens.
And that is super upsetting, because the Apocrypha story has the potential to illustrate some really gorgeous encounters, especially with how bouncy Mordred has been shown to be so far.
I suppose its just going to remain exactly that, potential.