When ufotable creates a show, they don't disappoint. Their Fate/Stay Night adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route was a thrilling ride to say the least, and absolutely blows away a certain movie sharing the same name. The animation quality is stunning, bringing the fight scenes from the beloved visual novel to life. It's fun to finally see Archer's abilities in full glory, as opposed to reading about them as a plot device. Any newcomers to the series might be wondering why Archer draws his bow so few times, despite his name being Archer. In fact, you could count on one hand how many scenes Archer uses his bow in. Fate/Stay Night's creators Type-Moon seems to have a strange idea of what Archer means. In celebration of the end of Unlimited Blade Works, we'll go over Archer and his eccentric skills.
While most of the roster is filled with famous figures of legend, Rin Tohsaka’s Archer is an enigma. While an insightful audience might have already caught on before the shocking reveal, many were surprised to find that Archer is in fact the protagonist Emiya Shirou from the future. Between that and Archer’s long winded explanation of why he’s different from the average Servant left many in the audience scratching their heads. For those people, here is a very concise overview of Archer’s identity.
Servants can come from the past, present, or future. Archer is Emiya Shirou from a future when Emiya is able to become the hero of his dreams. He does this by offering himself to become a Guardian, a type of hero that is summoned to any time and place of great strife and danger to humanity.
Simple enough, but why does he want to kill his past self? In short, because he regrets his decision. After being summoned countless times to murder in the name of justice and order, he has realized his wishes were naive and dangerous. While he can’t undo his mistakes by killing his past self, due to multiple universes, he can prevent the Emiya of this universe from treading down the same road.
Archer comes with an arsenal fitting his background, but not his class. Refer to the character sheet below.
Anyone who’s played an RPG before is cringing right now. Everyone knows you put most of your stats into Agility. However, Archer’s strongest stat is Magical Energy. This is because Emiya is actually a mage, rather than an archer. In fact, much of Emiya’s life is reflected in his future self. Although they only subtly allude to it, Emiya was once the best member of his school’s archery team. Thus, we can see Archer wield the bow with devastating effect. Emiya has left the archery club and hasn’t shot a bow since, just like how Archer rarely shoots with his. Instead, Emiya chooses to go into battle with his conjured, or projected, weapons, a habit that carries onto his Archer persona.
That is not to say Emiya was just sitting around between the time of Unlimited Blade Works and his rise to hero status. Since the Holy Grail War, Archer had improved vastly on his projection magic, and is able to recreate legendary weapons such as Saber’s Excalibur and Rho Aias, a shield used in the Trojan War. On top of that, Archer’s greatest weapon, the Reality Marble known as Unlimited Blade Works, warps the surrounding around him into a battlefield strewn with weapons he can deploy to dispatch any entrants.
All of these things, and he loses to a high school version of himself. For shame, Archer. Maybe you should have done your job, and stuck to the bow.
Yes, that's how you shoo-Oh, you're shooting a sword. You were so close.