Fate/stay night: The Night of Rider
“There must be something wrong with me – I’m giving advice to a person I want to kill.” Archer to Shirou Emiya
Beneath a moonlit sky, Saber confronts the swordsman guarding Ryudou Temple. He reveals himself to be Assassin – but because of his samurai code of honour, he also tells her his name – before launching into what proves to be the first significant duel of the series. Meanwhile the slinky Rider (who’s been spying on them) takes advantage of the distraction to try to slip into the temple – only to be confronted by another Servant and her minions: the veiled Caster.
Saber insists on training Shirou in using a sword so that he knows what it truly feels like to fight. She also admits her true motivation in wanting to fight for the Grail in an uncharacteristically revealing moment. Meanwhile, Rin is also training Shirou to develop his (practically non-existent) skills as a magus.
When Shirou escapes from the house to go food-shopping, who should he run into but the white-haired child magus, Illyasviel, whose Berserker Servant nearly killed him? But it seems that Illya’s not out for a re-match, she just wants to chat. Is she – the daughter of a wealthy and ancient aristocratic house – lonely, perhaps?
It’s not long before Shirou senses trouble at his school. In a situation again reminiscent of ‘Buso Renkin,’ he discovers that all the staff and students are being sucked dry of their Mana and have collapsed unconscious in the classrooms. And the culprit? None other than Shirou’s classmate, Shinji. Rider, Shinji’s servant, is draining the Mana so that she can produce a Noble Phantasm: the ultimate display of a Servant’s power.
After another bitter argument with Saber, the stubborn Shirou admits that he realizes that he can’t fight without her. As Shinji sends Rider in to attack with her dazzling Noble Phantasm, Saber at last is forced to reveal the true identity – and extraordinary power – of her sword.
‘Fate/stay Night’ gets back on track in these four episodes, delivering some spectacular duels between the Servants. Although it’s improving in portraying the awkward, yet nascent relationship between Saber and Shirou, it’s definitely at its best in the dazzling nocturnal action sequences. The music continues to enhance the magical atmosphere – and there are some tantalizing hints as to what’s to come, as well as more unanswered questions. Who are the Masters controlling Caster and Assassin? Why is Illya fighting – and how can a young girl control a Servant as powerful as Berserker? And what does the enigmatic advice given by Archer to Shirou really mean?
The usual extras (trailers, opening and ending songs) are enhanced by a plus for fans of Rider: Rider’s Diary: fun!
At last the action begins to hot up (it is an action series, after all!) and we get to see Saber in her full warrior-maiden splendour.