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So I finally finished HF

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I explained in my last entry that I didn't read HF properly the first time I attempted to read it, and rushed the shit out of it to make it in time to watch Presage Flower.

My other experience with a lot of the plot relating to Sakura is actually playing through CCC, yes without a patch, by following along that old blog that translated everything up until Gil's ending (so I haven't read the true ending. And mainly kept away from spoilers on purpose.)

I mention this because I had a lot of mixed reactions while reading this route. One day I'll be so fed up with what's going on, the next day I'll have processed it better and actually manage to connect to what's going on emotionally. Overall however I just can't like this route's Shirou. At the worst moments, I fucking despised him, and at the best moments I didn't care about him (Read: any time I was starting to grow any sort of attachment to him I was too busy just loving other characters). Neither of those "worst" or "best" moments happen to be fight scenes, honestly. (The final fight with Kirei is an exception because if Kirei wasn't so damn great there maybe I'd have put more emotional stock in Shirou)

Sakura had some scenes where I wanted to rip my hair out thinking "this is like someone wrote down a list of how many horrible things can we have happen to this character in one route", and it was a constant wall keeping me from caring about her or empathizing with her. I only started to kind of care when Angra Mainyu's explained in detail and the idea of just taking someone who is relatively innocent and dumping a ton of horrible shit on them went from comically immersion breaking to "okay, I guess." Though I guess it's worth it to mention that Kirei's struggle is also comparable to Sakura's and Angra Mainyu's (not 1 to 1, but there are themes between all three) and that definitely had a hand in me finding it easier to accept than not at all.

Sparks Liner High was probably the closest thing to me being truly "emotionally reactive" to what Shirou was going through. I'm not particularly a Saber fan, so I guess this was HF managing to break through the ice surrounding my dead heart to invoke some sort of investment. It was a pretty good read, and it's not something I'll stop caring about in a day or two and forget to praise if asked about. Which is usually a sign something made me care in any way, big or minuscule.

Nine Bullet Revolver I actually did care in, but it was a moment where I empathized with Shirou wholeheartedly. However, not the Shirou who is the actual protagonist of this route! Get it?.. I think that's sort of funny. Anyways I did actually care about how Archer truly wanted to believe in this Shirou that he could find a different path and find happiness in a normal life that he never could. That was cool, and emotionally resonant in that if I looked back at a younger version of myself and saw him changing into someone else BUT he looked happy then that's bittersweet. And pretty cool.

Illya was great from start to finish, and I'm glad she got Kaleid so she can be used as a true main character somewhere that isn't here.

I still think this route has the best Rin, mostly because whether she ends up with Shirou or not isn't very important to me. She got a real conflict relating to her, and her moment(s) with Sakura were great to read. Even the ones where they are pushing each other away or whatever UNCANNY misunderstanding was being put on to push the plot further in order to corner the characters.

I thought, since I was so 50-50 and at times fed up with the route, that I wouldn't have wanted a happy ending for Sakura. But to be honest when I read the true ending I was glad to see her happier. She felt like a plot device at times (relating to my comments earlier about Angra Mainyu and "how much can we fuck up this character's life as writers" threatening my immersion) but at other times I did feel some fondness. I don't think I ever managed to have sympathy or pity for her other than a few droplets here and there, but that didn't particularly destroy my ability to like her when she was being well "warm" I guess. (Like the final smile in the True end, or back in class when she tells Shirou about the high jump scene.) Or her anguish after thinking she killed Rin. Actually, Rin scolding her and her accepting responsibility for a lot of what's happened was a pretty great moment overall because "it was all not my fault!" is kind of a horrible path for any person that wants to deal with their past. (Whether you believe it was her fault or not doesn't really matter.)

So throughout the journey, I was sometimes de-synced from the story as it was telling me to care about things I just couldn't give a rat's ass about. And that experience bounced back and forth until it fumbled its way to the end where I felt like I somewhat cared about some things. But truthfully the most important character to me in FSN is Shirou, and that's the main part I'll actually care to remember about reading this route in the future.

I think this Shirou, on that rainy day, when Illya came to talk to him... simply swapped one obsession with the other. If he wasn't then the ending fight with Kirei would not work, as he would not still be "empty" at that point for Kirei to be his foil. But he was. The only difference is, Sakura is saved, in other words, his obsession... his goal was reached. And he's finally able to settle down and live happier because it's "over".

When referring to UBW's final episode Nasu talked about his manuscript for it, and essentially Shirou's path after UBW is that he somehow "achieves" his goal with Tohsaka by his side without becoming Archer and they get their "happily ever after" after that. Essentially the same ending but you just swap one obsession that was completed with the other obsession that got completed. Either way, he's only "cured" from his obsession once he's achieved it.

I don't think I'm going to ever budge from seeing it that way. In that sense, I believe in this more than Kirei believes in his way of life that he died for twice between Zero and FSN. Heh! I'm stating it here, just to explain that it's useless to get me to interpret things differently because much like Kirei and Shirou... Myself and this route are simply irreconcilable. It comes from the heart, not the mind.

Anyways, I can finally say I gave every single route in FSN a proper read and concluded the whole thing properly. I used to sing its praises to hell and back in my friend groups without having done that, and now that I have I've got to say as a whole package I'd rank it a bit lower than I initially projected. It's just that what you imagine is always going to be better than reality, and I've sort of made myself think that FSN was something I loved so much that it was untouchable. But then I went ahead and realized I wasn't a big fan of its longest route, so none of that can be valid anymore. Just another reason as to why I'm so excited to see CCC get a patch released, and the same for Mahoyo. I've got a 'favorite' to locate once more. Zero was pretty fun but it shares a lot of things with FSN, and I can't lie I think Urobuchi does tragedy way better than Nasu. (I certainly never got my immersion put at risk due to not being able to buy into all the "bad things" I'm supposed to feel bad about when going through Zero. And that's not really because of [insert list of bad things], it's just execution. That's just based on how a writer.. writes. And how much the reader can like that writer's... writing style. I guess. What I'm trying to say is it's kind of subjective.)

I think the reason UBW was chosen to be a "sequel" to Zero by Ufotable is probably because the only true 'theme' or 'plotline' that doesn't crossover (reused/rehashed/addressed/whatever) between FSN (the VN) and Zero is Shirou and Archer's struggle and their conclusion to keep going forward in each one's path. HF sort of has Shirou abandon Kiritsugu's ideals the most but he does the same things as him. Kirei points out Kiritsugu throws his feelings away but then picked them back up like they're the most important thing. HF Shirou saves a single person, like Kiritsugu did in that fire, and they're both emotionally 'saved' as a result as they just live out the rest of their life and die quietly. Essentially, if I had to pick a specific route to be a "sequel" where something in it feels truly new and fresh that wasn't already a conclusion or theme in the prequel, it'd be UBW.

I only try to imagine being in Ufotable's shoes because I want to be a director, not because I'm trying to say UBW is the TRUE and CORRECT sequel because that would be stupid because Zero didn't exist when FSN was made so any themes that reappear in it are taken from FSN and not the other way around.

Anyways. I'd say my stubbornness puts Shirou to shame. But posting this is for myself, to process what I feel and my thoughts, and also in case someone reaches some sort of idea worthwhile from reading this babble. (No, reaching the conclusion that I'm stupid and you have a MUCH MORE PROFOUND interpretation of HF is not a new and worthwhile idea. Pondering some of the stuff I said and disagreeing/or agreeing while having a new takeaway, is.)

Thanks for reading? Maybe comment something if you want to.


  1. Escavalien's Avatar
    I completely forgot to mention the reason why I even brought up CCC at the top of the post. It's because Sakura has a lot of ideas from FSN HF get rehashed for her in CCC (it's not just a copy paste job but the inspiration is criminally obvious) and I personally have my liking of her(them?) in CCC massively enhanced now that I have finished HF as it allows me to understand her(them?) way more now.