Berserker’s master introduces herself as Illyasviel von Einzbern, with both Rin and Saber reacting to the name. Rin is also shocked to realize that in terms of raw power, Berserker is the strongest Servant of the current War. She tells Shirou to run, but he decides to stay and fight.
When Archer’s stealth tactics prove ineffective, Saber and Berserker fight one on one. Despite his size and madness, Berserker’s agility and swordsmanship match even Saber’s. Rin uses gem magic to freeze Berserker in place long enough for Archer to hit him…but the enemy Servant easily survives a seemingly fatal blow.
Elsehwere, the priest Kirei talks to a mysterious blonde man, who interrogates him about his encounter with Shirou and Rin. Kirei expresses his desire for a Master to successfully claim the Grail, regardless of how much death or destruction it might take.
While the Servants contiue to fight, Rin goes after Ilya directly. She uses her gem magic to take on Ilya’s familiars, but is nearly defeated before Archer’s assistance causes Ilya to flee. Rin meets up with Shirou, whom she berates for not running away despite his inability to contribute to the fight.
By briefly allowing her (usually invisible) sword to appear, Saber successfully stabs Berserker, who is immediately resurrected. Archer fires a large sword from his bow, which causes a massive explosion…which Berserker yet again survives without a scratch. Ilya declares that her plans have changed and withdraws along with her Servant. All seems to be well…until Shirou collapses, apparently seriously injured.
First, can I just say how thrilled I am to see Ilya’s ‘true’ personality back in action. Her last appearances were briefly as a child in Fate/zero and as the main character of Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILYA, a rather bizarre entry into the Fate universe which features Ilya as a magical girl. Her personality in kaleid liner is significantly sweeter and more innocent. Fate/stay night Ilya, in contrast to the other Masters introduced so far, is cold, calculating, and unafraid to kill. She and her mute, massive Servant Berserker provide one of the most consistently dangerous threats in Fate/stay night, and it’s great to see them in action here.
Unlike the exposition-heavy Episode 2, Episode 3 is entirely action, with our first full scale Servant-Servant fight…and it’s a doozy. I love that ufotable also chose to include the duel between Ilya and Rin, because they are two great characters who deserve more awesomely animated fight scenes. Of course, though, it was Archer and especially Saber who stole the show – though let me say for those of you less familiar with the Fate/ universe, you ain’t seen nothing yet. That wasn’t even close to any of their most powerful attacks.
This intense action sequence was beautifully animated as well, with Ilya’s delicate familiars contrasting with Berserker’s brute-force attacks, Saber’s grace, and Archer’s constantly surprising bag of tricks. Shirou was rather annoying, not only doing absolutely nothing but also lamenting his own uselessness, but luckily he got minimal focus this episode and Rin, Saber, Archer and Ilya were allowed to shine.
Without spoiling anything, let me also say that Unlimited Blade Works is doing a great job with foreshadowing and dropping hints about the mysteries and surprises that will be revealed later. For those in the know, these hints are fun to keep an eye out for, and those new to the story can start guessing and coming up with their own theories. Of course, I won’t say what the nice foreshadowing this episode was – that’d be a spoiler!
I really have nothing bad to say about this episode. Full marks from me.