With the Emiya estate filling up with boarders and Saber off on her own, Shirou’s life is getting far too complicated. And with Shirou’s best friend Shinji being the Master of Rider, far more dangerous, too. The Servant guarding Ryudou Temple is Saber’s concern while Rin and Shirou are more worried about what Shinji may be up to. Type-Moon’s Fate/stay night series is only going to get more interesting from this point on. Geneon Entertainment brings the third of six volumes to America with Fate/stay night: Master & Servant.
Audio: English 2.0 DD, Japanese 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English, Signs-Only
Extras: Rider’s Diary, Opening & Ending Music Clip, Preview Trailers
Notes: Review is based on a Screener copy of the final product. Preview audio clips are available.
Episode nine picks up right were we left off on the last volume with Saber confronting Ryudou Temple’s Assassin servant, Kojiro Sasaki. From the trees, Rider watches as Shinji’s plan to take down the temple’s hiding Master starts to come together. With Kojiro and Saber busy demonstrating their own personal skills and styles with a blade, Rider takes this opportunity to get onto the temple grounds to find the residing Master. As the two blade experts continue to battle, Shirou can sense something is the matter with Saber. Checking on Saber in her room, he’s shocked and angry to find that she disobeyed his order to not go after the temple’s servant. Shirou gets on a bicycle and heads for the temple while Saber begins to realize that her opponent is more skilled than she gave him credit for. Rider is also having a difficult time taking down the powerful Magus after having defeated the guarding monsters so easily with her signature weapons.
Knowing he has no chance in battle unless he gets some proper training-time in, episode ten finds Shirou finally giving in to the full demands of Rin Tohsaka and Saber. Saber works on sword techniques and teaches Shirou what it truly means to be beaten in battle. Shirou gives in to her constant thrashing in just a couple hours. He also asks Saber a question that has been bothering him: what does Saber want to wish for when she gets the Holy Grail? She gives a somewhat-coy answer, but Shirou lets it go. Having been defeated repeatedly, Shirou needs a break; it’s lunchtime, anyway. Shirou goes to the market to buy food when he runs into Illyasviel von Einzbern. Illya manages to browbeat him into going to the park to talk. Shirou is cautious, but starts to find out about Illya’s background and how innocent her soul is despite having the insanely-scary Berserker as her servant. Meanwhile, Shinji approaches Tohsaka about partnering up, but she repeatedly declines, finally ending it by punching him in the face.
The final two episodes bring to a head the battle that had been brewing. Rin leaves Shirou to reinforce a room full of small lamps to help train his magical abilities further. However, while leaving Shirou alone to work, Saber and Rin find out the true magical gift Shirou has been blessed with. Having broken almost all the lamps in the room, a phonecall gives Shirou a small break from the chewing out he knows will be coming soon from Rin. On the phone, Shirou is told that Shinji is at the school and has some important information for him. As usual, Shirou leaves instantly and runs to the school without telling anyone. He manages to arrive and get inside the school just in time to feel Shinji’s barrier activate and cripple the entire campus. Shinji steps out from around the corner and confronts Shirou. Shinji wants to prove himself the superior Master, and Shirou is going to pay the price. Shirou manages to make it past Shinji’s minor spells, but Rider is a different matter. Facing a threat he knows he can’t beat, Shirou uses one of his marks to call Saber to his side.
The pair manage to force Shinji and Rider to turn off the barrier over the school, but Rider still has a deadly secret-technique: the Noble Phantasm. In a bloody flash of violence and explosions, the entire hallway is ripped apart as Shinji and Rider escape. Completely used up, Shirou collapses from expelling too much magical energy during the fight. When he comes to, Shirou finds Rin watching over him. His miraculous recovery from the brutal injuries must be connected to Saber, Rin assumes. Visiting Saber in the dojo, Shirou gets a scolding from the knight for having put his concern for everyone else’s life above his own. Knowing that they need to find Shinji and Rider soon, the pair spend the day searching the city for the troublemakers. As day turns into evening, Shirou needs to take a break. The park gives Saber a chance to better understand why Shirou would rather risk his own life than the lives of the people around him.
Back in the city, Shirou and Saber find Rider watching from the side of a building. Saber chases after the other servant, up the skyscraper’s side. Meanwhile, Shirou figures out that Shinji must be at the top of the building. Racing up the side of the building, Rider and Saber begin the second part of their epic battle.
Fate/stay night features the fan-favorite battle in this title as Saber and Rider finally get to face off against each other. The Japanese cast gets good marks for presentation as the main cast has finished tightening any possible weakness that would pop up on occasion. Ayako Kawasumi and Yuu Asakawa are especially fun in this volume as they play off each other in the deadly meetings between Saber and Rider. The English production by Bang Zoom! Entertainment continues to beat down a fair delivery of the characters, but this volume is helped by the performances of Kate Higgins and Karen Strassman during the Saber/Rider confrontations. If the script didn’t make so many dull choices, watering down some of the original dialogue that would have really brought out characters’ personalities, you could have something pretty good here.
Fate/stay night: Master & Servant brings us to the shocking halfway point as Saber’s secrets are revealed and supporting characters step up to enhance the plot. The video issues of the previous volume are not in volume 3, so you can rest assured you’ll recieved a solid, clean video presentation. The subtitles also present no major errors. The main DVD extra is Rider’s Diary with Rider spilling the details about her work with Shinji. This is pretty damn funny because she does nothing but complain about the little jerk. The other extra available is a music clip from the music videos for the opening and ending themes. The clips are cut specifically to what you hear during the opening and ending, so don’t expect two full music videos. Fate/stay night: Master & Servant is a major turning point in the series and a solid reason why you should grab the first three volumes right now if you haven’t already. Fate/stay night is looking to be one of the best series of the year.