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12:15:12 PM Jul 4th 2013
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I know the topic below is quite old (and was quite heavily dreailed in a way) but it still is an interesting thing to think about; What would happen without Shrou. One point that isn't brought up is if Arturia isn't summoned then who acts as Saber in the war? Shirou's command spells would have to be transferred to someone else in the city and Saber would have to be summoned since the whole point of the war is to have servants summoned so they can die. This adds a lot more complications to the what if scenario since we have to pick another magus (Zouken seems like the only magus not initially involved as far as I can remember unless there are people similar to Shirou hiding out there) and a completely different Heroic Spirit with different abilities and noble phantasms.
10:24:42 PM Aug 28th 2010
Transplanted from the What If? JBM entry. Quite an entertaining discussion so far, but far beyond the realm of off-putting plot holes.

  • Well, it would likely give Zouken an easy way to activate Sakura (like he did in HF), or even to persuade her to fight of her own accord (to get the Grail in order to revive him), doubly so if she knew that Rin had been there and just left him to die (especially since Rin would be responsible for the cover-up). Archer would fight to win Rin the Grail and protect Ilya. Ilya would either decide that she had nothing to fight for any more or else would go after Lancer. Shinji wouldn't care less, except perhaps for what it would mean to Sakura (especially if she decided to take Rider back). Taiga would do precisely sod all (except cry), because she would not have the foggiest clue what was going on and the Yakuza are no match for the Magic Association anyway. Likely it'd end up going a bit like HF, only with Sakura more willing and succombing to the corruption earlier, which is probably very bad news for Rin, especially if Sakura discovers that she had chosen not to save Shirou.
  • Rin and Archer would have won the war. I'm pretty sure that's actual Word of God (based on Rin being technically the most skilled Master, Archer being far stronger than he seems, and Kotomine having a vested interest in Rin winning). The real question is what would happen when they won...
  • Well, Shinji is directly responsible for Shirou being there that night, and Shirou was pretty much his only friend, so I'd imagine he'd react somehow. And, well, even if there is a cover up, Taiga has the connections to at least find out something is awfully weird about the whole thing. That's really what I was talking about.
    • Shinji couldn't care less if Shirou is dead (Sakura, on the other hand, would, and Shinji might tell her that her sister had been there just to stir things up), and no, Taiga really can't find out what's going on. The Yakuza have precisely zero power over the Magic Association. As for who would have won the war, it's not stated anywhere. Rin would be in with a great chance, yes, but a lot depends on what Kotomine decides to do with Lancer and Gil, and whether Archer would beat Gil (and, no, Kotomine doesn't have a vested interest in Rin winning, he simply wants to give the Grail to someone who will use it (preferably unwisely...), and since Rin won't, he won't want to give it to her). However, people are ignoring Sakura here. With Shirou dead, it's quite possible that Zouken would be able to persuade her to fight in the war (because by winning she could use the Grail to revive Shirou), and that is even more likely given that it will allow her to get revenge on the people who killed her Sempai. If that happens, then she will turn into the shadow just like she did in HF, only she'll succumb more quickly since she's fighting of her own free will, and that would make her the likely winner. Also, Fate shows conclusively that Archer would lose to Berserker, and with Shirou dead (and Rin showing that she's going for the "true magus" approach by not reviving him), he would likely not want to defeat Berserker, since to do so would mean Ilya getting used as the Grail by Rin. It would likely come down to a matter of whether Sakura was activated or not. If she was, then she would probably turn dark pretty quickly, take down Berserker using her magic, capture Ilya and then attempt to summon the Grail to revive Shirou (only for Zouken to take her body). If she wasn't, then it would come down to which of the three battles (Gil vs. Archer, Gil vs. Berserker and Berserker vs. Archer) happen first. If it's Gil vs. Berserker, then the war would come down to Archer vs. Gil, the victor of which is not entirely clear (since it depends entirely on how seriously Gil takes Archer). If not, then Gil wins unless Archer vs. Gil comes first and Archer wins that, in which case Ilya wins due to Archer refusing to let her die.
      • Fate doesn't show at all that Archer would lose to Berserker. It shows that a near-mortally wounded Archer, saddled with a special non-healing wound from Saber, would lose to Berserker. HF and Nine Bullet Revolver shows clearly that a full powered and sufficiently motivated Archer would kick Berserker's arse with no trouble at all. Minus Shirou, Archer's main goal in the Grail War would be the destruction of the holy grail and the prevention of the release of Angra Mainyu, as per his role as a Counter Guardian. So I see Archer beating Berserker as Saber did in Fate, eventually leading to a Fate style ending plus a detour under the temple to blast the Great Grail.
        • Archer in Fate was just as capable of using Nine Lives as Shirou was in HF, injury or not (and, BTW, Archer did not have a "non-healing wound", Saber did, from Lancer. Saber doesn't have the ability to do that, and by the time of that battle Archer was at least 95% healed). But, he never thought of it because, honestly, why the hell would he bother to attempt to trace a lump of rock? Shirou did so because he never had any other option. Plus, Shirou would have lost that battle if it were normal Berserker, likely without even getting a hit in. Fate shows that Archer can't beat Berserker, at least not easily. As for Archer's goal, if Rin let Shirou die, then she would go all-out to win the Grail, and thus he could not support her. In particular, he would not want to let her defeat Ilya, because Ilya is the Grail and thus Rin must necessarily kill her to win the war. And Archer in the Grail War is not a Counter Guardian. He hates the job, so there is absolutely no reason to believe he'd go out of his way to act on it even at the expense of Ilya. Also, he doesn't know about the Great Grail, so he sure as hell wouldn't be able to destroy that. Plus, you're still ignoring Sakura here. If she gets activated (and it's likely that she would, because with Shirou dead she'd have no reason not to fight and every reason to fight, plus Zouken would end up making her blame Rin for it) then she is 90% certain to win, because none of the servants or masters could stand up to her (especially with Zouken assisting using True Assassin, who he would summon if Sakura were involved like he does in HF).
          • Archer did have a non-healing wound. Rin discusses it in HF - normally damage heals, but the wound from Saber did not. See: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?action=showpost&postid=377304047 There's no indication at all that Archer was '95% healed' by the time of the Berserker fight. In the VN, there's no evidence even that Archer is left enough energy to use UBW. Additionally, Archer in the grail war *is* a counter guardian - sufficient in HF to suspend his grudge against Shirou when the Shadow appeared. Merely disliking his job does not suspend the terms of his oath. (And Archer hates his job specifically because he always appears too late to actually prevent the disaster instead of just doing mop-up, which isn't a problem this time round.) Archer in addition knows the rotten nature of the grail (since he's been through the war before), and so will never allow Rin to win the war and make a wish on the grail - nor would Rin want to, really. Instead Archer would adopt Shirou's role of ending the war by killing all the bad masters and servants, waiting for Kotomine to step in, then killing Gil, and then nuking the Grail instead of making a wish on it. Plus, saving Ilya is not a distinct goal from his duties as a counter guardian: Fate route Shirou destroyed the grail *by* saving Ilya. It's not at all clear that full power counter guardian Archer, cooperating with Ilya (and so capable of projecting the gem sword, amongst others), would not be a match for Sakura. And if Sakura manifests, Ilya will tell Archer what he needs to know about the Great Grail, if he does not know it already. (Canon has the Great Grail disassembled after the end of the grail war, so Archer may well have learned of it.)
            • Hmm, that is odd, but nonetheless it doesn't mean that he would have beaten Berserker otherwise. And, the reason Archer doesn't use UBW is because there's no point. It reduces the terrain advantage that may help Archer fight against an insane monster (since it's a flat wasteland) without giving him any benefits (since UBW sword-spam won't work on Berserker). As for Archer's actions, he is not a Counter Guardian, he is a summoned hero with his own wishes, conscience and motivations, just like everyone else. What he is, however, is Emiya Shirou, albeit a warped version of him. So, when the shadow manifests itself, it is only natural for him to attempt to destroy it. It has nothing to do with his Counter Guardianhood. Whilst you're right that he'll want to prevent the Grail being used, it's made quite clear in Fate that Archer will not harm Ilya, and I can't imagine Rin letting her live once she's defeated, because Rin wants the Grail (even if she won't use it), and that means Ilya. So, Archer will not be willing to take down Berserker, but would instead go for Gil first, resulting in Berserker obliterating the already-wounded winner of said fight (although I suppose Gil might still take him if he were to somehow defeat Archer). As for fighting Sakura, Archer does not have his Counter Guardian powers and, as long as he is Rin's servant, will not have them. He could not take her down, and because Sakura would be in a seriously angry mood Archer and Rin wouldn't last long enough to trace the Jewelled Sword once the idea came up.
    • Um...yes, in fact, the UBW sword-spam would work. That's kinda how Gilgamesh took Berserker down (hell, even after Berserker broke through Enkidu, he even finished him off with the Gae Bolg prototype). And there's no reason to assume that Sakura would become the Shadow. Zouken wasn't bothering in Fate or UBW, and Sakura never used shadow magic of her own volition until Shirou gave her the confidence to do so. And there's plenty of reason to assume that Archer is a Counter Guardian during the Grail War, since the Holy Grail itself is a threat to humanity, and he certainly had some help getting through the last days of the UBW route.
      • But, Gil's swords aren't reduced by a rank. Archer's are. Normally, that doesn't matter much, but when you're up against Berserker.... As for Sakura, Zouken never bothered in Fate/UBW because he couldn't get her to willingly fight, and attempting to force her wouldn't work. With Shirou dead, she'd get involved quite willingly. And, at the beginning of HF (or maybe in the later flashback to that scene), she is shown coming to him and asking if she has to kill all the masters, and he replies that he only wants the servants, which suggests to me that she is fully aware that she's capable of absorbing them and knows at least some of her powers (she never has anyone to use them on voluntarily). With Shirou dead, she has a damn good reason to fight, and thus would willingly do so. That would mean her being activated and absorbing servants like in HF, and thus would result in the shadow emerging. As for Archer, he is not summoned in his Counter Guardian form. Counter Guardians are forces of nature, devoid of free will. Archer thinks for himself and acts for himself. The world has no control over him whilst he's a servant. It is maybe possible for him to get backing from the world (although I doubt it), but the world certainly cannot control him or order him around, and he has no interest in simply fulfilling the role of a Counter Guardian (which, by the way, would be "flatten Fuyuki"). Yeah, he'd likely want to stop the Grail being used, but only because he wouldn't want to see it being used, and he certainly wouldn't be willing to harm Ilya to do it.
    • The Counter Force has no consciousness. It's like its name, a force that simply reacts to things, but it rarely takes direct steps. The Counter Guardians it deploys are humans, mystically-boosted to the functional level of servant spirits, and are very much conscious. That's kind of a huge factor in Archer's backstory; didn't become disillusioned the instant he was summoned into this war; his awareness during all of his previous deployments overrode his lack of memory. Oh, and the weapons Archer produces within UBW aren't reduced in rank. That's only if he doesn't deploy his reality marble and just uses projection magic. There's also still no indication that Sakura would be willing to fight, partly because it's still fundamentally against her nature, and partly because Shinji insisted that she hand over the reins to him. Even Shirou dying wouldn't necessarily remove those two obstacles.
      • No, they're not. Counter Guardians are humans, yes, but when they're summoned as Counter Guardians they have no free will, so that they can only act to fulfill their goal as Counter Guardians. Archer has free will, and thus is not a Counter Guardian. He is just the same as every other Heroic Spirit in the war, a copy of a hero taken from the Throne of Heroes who accepted the summons because he had a wish to fulfill. As for the weapons in UBW, it's never made clear if the reduction in rank applies in there too, but it's certainly hinted that it does. As for Sakura, with Shirou dead she would certainly agree to fight, with some prodding from Zouken (and even if she didn't the shadow would likely show up due to her despair at his death), and if Zouken is backing her wish to fight then Shinji is an irrelevance, because he won't dare stand up to Zouken. She only let him take the command spells because she didn't want to fight in the first place.
      • Counter Guardians are humans...or were. It's not that they don't have free will, it's that the Beast of Alaya doesn't give them any other options. Archer was pretty clear about that; his horror at his role was that he was only ever summoned after things had gone completely to shit and he was forced to kill everyone involved. Him being summoned as a heroic spirit rather than into his Counter Guardian is an absurdity. Counter Guardians pretty much are heroic spirits. Also, it's made clear in side material that the rank degradation only applies when he's using normal projection magic, not when he's within his reality marble. And with Shirou dead, Sakura would still not be guaranteed to fight. Hell, I'd almost go so far as to say it's incredibly unlikely. Having her one source of hope be killed is more likely to break her completely than drive her towards vengeance, especially as evidenced by just how much it took to get her to kill Shinji in Heaven's Feel (the combined and inadvertent efforts of Shirou and Angra Mainyu). And since Zouken is perfectly willing to allow Shinji to be a master in any of the routes, anyway...
        • No, when they're summoned they don't have free will. Otherwise, Archer could have gone around stopping the danger more surgically, or could have just outright refused to do the job. He simply does not have the option. As for summoning, what I meant by what I said is that he's no different from any other Heroic Spirit when he's summoned into the war. He's there to fulfill his own wish, and Alaya has nothing to do with it and has no control over him. As for UBW, I don't trust TM wiki enough to believe it when it claims that rank degredation doesn't apply inside UBW, especially since that would have made Archer not using it against Berserker just plain moronic (and don't say that he couldn't, because he does not show any signs of prana deprivation in that scene and if Shirou can manage to use it one night after making a connection to Rin, Archer sure as hell could have used it in Fate). As for Sakura, yeah it'd likely break her totally, but that's the point. Zouken's original plan for the war is to get Sakura to fight and to have her collect the souls and convert into Angra Mainyu. But, with Shirou around and fighting in the war, she refuses (which, given what she expects Zouken to do to her, takes a great deal of strength and courage). However, if he were dead, she would have no reason to refuse and, indeed, every reason to agree. Shinji fighting was only ever a backup plan for Zouken, to be used when Sakura can't be activated. Shirou's death, especially if Rin is partially to blame, would make activating Sakura utterly trivial, and thus the events would go much like HF, only with Sakura being a lot more willing to fight. In that situation, it would be simply idiotic to leave Rider with an inferior master when she had a much better one, who she is also more loyal to, who is entirely willing to fight in the war.
    • The point is that Archer is no different when he's summoned by Alaya and when he's summoned by Rin; he's the same artificial heroic spirit either way. Whatever his possible actions, his capabilities are the same. As for the Unlimited Blade Works thing...looks like that was a mistranslation on the part of the wiki; after translating the Fate/Side Material entry myself, the part in question reads roughly "Within this reality marble, all the elements needed to make swords are present, and if the original is seen it's possible to easily create it. However, reproduced weapons are lowered in rank by one." While that's 2 for 3 for the wiki from what I've seen, I'm still pretty sure that it wouldn't have mattered; I'm still quite sure that Word of God stated that Archer and Rin were more than capable of winning the war, and it's easy to see how Berserker could be dealt with (either eliminated by someone else, or taken out by Archer is something besides a standup fight). As for Sakura, she doesn't have a reason to agree. With Shirou gone, she doesn't have a reason to breathe. Everything has been taken from her, making her far more likely to agree with Shinji, who's participation was his own idea.
      • Actually, there are two major differences (well, other than the fact that, to be summoned as a servant he has to be shoved into a 'container' labelled "Archer", just like all the other servants, which weakens him a little). Firstly, as a Counter Guardian, Archer has Alaya backing him up, which means infinite prana, whereas as a servant he only has Rin's prana, which makes him a hell of a lot weaker and, secondly, as a Counter Guardian Archer has no free will, and has to simply kill everything in sight, whereas as a servant he can act according to his own wishes. As far as Archer winning the war goes, firstly I'm not aware of Nasu saying that and secondly there's a big difference between saying someone is capable of winning the war and saying that they would win it. If Archer and Rin were truly interested in nothing but winning the war, they would indeed have a great chance, because Archer could hide in the background and basically snipe everyone. However, they're not, and in particular Archer would not be willing to risk harming Ilya, which hamstrings him when it comes to fighting Berserker (note that Gil only won because he targetted her, thus forcing Berserker to take the full brunt of GoB. As for Sakura, she has a very good reason to agree. Revenge on Rin and, more importantly, the possibility to use the Grail to bring him back. Whether that's possible or not isn't certain (likely, it depends on whether his soul has been recycled yet), but Zouken could certainly use it. And, she doesn't even have to agree to fight. The very fact that Shirou has died, with Rin looking culpable, would likely be enough to activate Angra Mainyu inside her as happened in HF, and that would encourage Zouken to continue with his original plan. As for Shinji, his view is irrelevant. If Zouken orders (or even asks) Sakura to do something, then the only thing that will stop her from doing it is her own feelings (in particular, her unwillingness to fight against Shirou). Fear of upsetting Shinji won't affect her in that case because the fear of upsetting Zouken is far larger (for both of them). Shinji did indeed pressure Sakura into giving up Rider, but it only worked because Sakura really didn't want to fight in the first place, so she had to tell that to Zouken either way. If Sakura had been willing to fight, then her fear of upsetting Zouken by refusing would have meant that Shinji's pressure had no effect.
    • There's no reason to believe that Alaya gives its Counter Guardians infinite prana. There'd be no reason to have more than one in that case; that one would be like the human equivalent to Primate Murder (who's explicitly stated to be a match for five Counter Guardians) or Archetype Earth. Arcueid's probably even the better example, in that case, since she's able to call on more of Gaia's power in genuine emergencies, which would go a long way towards explaining just how Archer could last four days after his betrayal while surviving insane amounts of damage and making free with his projection magic (even assuming normal weapon reproduction is trivial, he still projected Rho Aias twice, activated the full reality marble once, and used a blade rain once). It's only ever stated that Alaya grants its human devotees a surge of power and keeps their souls after death. Archer taking the off-site approach to fighting Berserker and winning while never touching Ilya is also perfectly reasonable. After all, he killed Berserker once in UBW with Caladbolg, and he was perfectly capable of killing him five times when backed completely into a corner. As for the other...If Sakura had been willing to fight. What activated Angra Mainyu in HF was the confluence of her becoming more confident ("Shirou loves me for who I am. Maybe I'm not a worthless wretch.") and violent ("Wait, maybe I can do this to everyone who oppressed me."), having the effect of turning her completely psychotic ("The world owes me!"). And it's a bit paradoxical to talk about how Sakura refusing Zouken would be impossible, since she clearly does so in every route. Even with the Grail loophole, it's unlikely Sakura would be stupid enough to believe Zouken or Shinji would allow her anything on the matter (remember, for however much she hates her sister, she hates her brother and grandfather even more). Assuming she's coherent enough to understand that, and hasn't gone screaming off the deep end into total catatonia.
      • Err, infinite prana /= infinite power, because it still has to be chanelled through the magic circuits of the person in question. Dark Sakura is explicitly stated to be about equivalent to a Counter Guardian, due to her infinite prana supply, and indeed could likely take on Archer even in his Counter Guardian form, but she's still not all-powerful, because she has to process the energy through her own magic circuits and, thus, is limited in what she can do. The same would apply to a CG Emiya. However, Archer in FSN is not summoned as a Counter Guardian. Whilst it is possible that Alaya is providing him with a little power in UBW to sustain him so he can help defeat Gilgamesh (although,given that his goal through most of it is just to kill Shirou, there's no reason why that would be the case), his method of thinking is not that of a Counter Guardian. A Counter Guardian has no free will, it just shows up and kills everything in sight. Not because everything in sight has to die, but because that's the only way Alaya (which has no true consciousness and has no interest in the lives of individual humans) can be sure of solving the problem at hand. If a CG Emiya had free will, then he would attempt to save as many innocents as he could, rather than just killing them all, because that's how Shirou is. As for defeating Berserker 'off-site', maybe Archer could, maybe he couldn't. But, his motivation would not be solely to destroy the Grail, and in so far as he wanted to do that it would be for the same reason that Shirou wants to do it, not because he's acting as a Counter Guardian trying to stop a tragedy. As for Sakura, I'm talking about the initial activation, the one that happens on the third day, where Zouken talks to Sakura about her giving up Rider. Once that has happened, she becomes able to act as a Holy Grail, and whilst her transformation into Dark Sakura is not guarenteed at that point, the appearance of the shadow is. Also, without Shirou around to stabilise her, and in a state of despair at his death, Sakura may well be more inclined to fall under it's control more easily. But, even if she's not, Zouken will still try, because he underestimates Sakura's resiliance. As far as Sakura refusing Zouken goes, remember that she's had "I must obey Zouken" beaten into her by eleven years of constant torture. For her to defy him and refuse to fight in the war requires her to have a very good reason for not wanting to fight. The fact that Shirou is a master gives her that, but with him dead she no longer has any reason to risk his wrath by refusing, and whilst she may well not believe him about the Grail, she loves Shirou enough that she'd likely try anything to get him back. And, if she does go catatonic, then Angra Mainyu would take over almost instantly, because her mind is then too weak to resist.
    • What would Archer's "free will vs. mindless" motivation (we can certainly agree that whether or not he has free will, he's still aware of what he's doing whenever he's summoned) have to do with his power? If Archer can borrow power from Alaya to defeat a threat against mankind (i.e. Gilgamesh and the Grail), what difference does it make if he was summoned "as" a Counter Guardian? If he's still able to call on that power, he's still a Counter Guardian, and it's probably in his contract with the world that he's allowed to call for more power in case of emergency (much like with Arcueid and Gaia, in fact). Archer's easily a match for Caster and Assassin, there is no Saber, Lancer and Gilgamesh are under Kotomine's control, and Berserker is a manageable threat. I'll concede that a catatonic Sakura would probably still be ripe to be transformed into the shadow, but it still wouldn't make sense for her to willingly fight for Zouken when she has literally no reason to keep living. Her enduring for eleven or so years was partly based on her surprising mental resilience, but likely hinging on the desperate hope that she had a sister out there who would rescue her (according to her screaming rant at Rin at the end of HF), and later that she could at least interact with the man she loved. She'd already lost hope of rescue by Rin; without Shirou, her most likely action would be to sit down and wait for Zouken to get annoyed enough to kill her (she doesn't obey him because he's brainwashed her with torture, she does it because her hope makes her endure). In which case, either Rider goes unused or is weakened under Shinji's control (and easily dispatched by either Archer or Caster). And even the shadow is still fairly easy to deal with, partly because Archer recognizes it, and partly because Kotomine is motivated both by his supervisor role and personal goal to destroy it, and he commands the strongest Servant. Really, the only real wildcard would be whether Zouken would summon True Assassin...which would probably depend on whether Rider is used or not.
      • Where do you get this "Archer can draw power from Alaya" thing from? He is not a Counter Guardian when he is summoned in FSN. He is a servant, like everyone else. Alaya only provides him with power when he is summoned as a Counter Guardian, to clear up a mess. Alaya lacks the consciousness to clear up such messes before they happen, so it cannot do so. If Archer were able to ask for power from Alaya whenever he liked, then Shirou would be toast and, indeed, Archer would have won the battle in Fate. As for Sakura, she has been through years of abuse designed to make her just obey Zouken's orders. Without Shirou there, she was just a doll who did whatever he told her to. It's only having Shirou around that gives her enough humanity to be able to disobey him. So, yes, she does obey him because she's been brainwashed by torture. Whilst she did indeed endure a lot out of hope, that hope gives her the ability to disobey him, rather than forcing her to obey him out of some hope that she will be be saved. She makes it quite clear in HF that she doesn't expect to be saved by Shirou, and indeed doesn't want to be, since it would put him in danger. She is just happy to be able to be around him for as long as she possibly can be. As for her response to Zouken, if he was merely going to kill her then, yes, she might well do that, but he wouldn't. He's not stupid, and he knows that Sakura has nothing to really live for. If killing her was his only recourse, then she would have died years ago, because she spent seven years under his control without even the comfort of her relationship with Shirou. He can simply throw her to the worms and torture her until she succumbs. If she has a good enough reason not to want to fight, that won't work, but in the absense of such a reason, he can easily force her to do so. Also, you're underestimating Sakura here. If she knew that there was a possible way to save Shirou, she would take it, rather than collapsing into despair. Even in HF Normal, her problem is simply that she can't accept that he's gone (other than that, she lives a perfectly normal life). As for the shadow, Archer does not know what it is, other than that it's dangerous. His comment about fighting things like that before is generic, because problems like the shadow are things that Counter Guardians clear up after all the time. He does not know that the shadow is Sakura. If he did, he would have told Rin, at least. And saying that Kotomine wants the shadow dead is laughable. Quite the opposite, in fact. Gil wants the shadow dead, yes, because it's killing people and he sees himself as the only one with the right to do that, but Kotomine is perfectly happy to let it keep running around eating people, especially since he wants to release Angra Mainyu. As for Zouken, he would summon True Assassin iff he thought that Sakura was going to be activated. If she was, then it is worth the risk of him getting involved, but if she's not, then he may as well wait for the next war.
    • I got it from your concession that Archer "might possibly have been drawing power from Alaya" at the end of UBW. It's very plausible that Archer can draw power from Alaya in a situation like that (and therefore still be considered a Counter Guardian) while his normal plan to kill Shirou goes unaided: Alaya may have no reason to help its coincidentally free-willed Servants to accomplish their own goals, but it has a very vested instinctive interest in keeping its Counter Guardians alive. Clearly, Archer doesn't have this extra help all the time (since he still counts as one servant when Ilya gets his soul), but it's a resource he can potentially draw on. And if your definition of "infinite prana=/=infinite power" (and by assumption not equaling immortality) still stands, then there's no reason to assume that he should have outlasted Berserker in a stand-up fight (and considering his confidence beforehand and how much destruction he caused, he might even have been using Alaya's power then, and simply got overpowered or took an unlucky shot before Herc could go down twelve times). We're never going to agree on Sakura and I can't think of anything else to say on her without repeating what I already said. On the other hand, Kotomine does have an initial vested interest in not allowing the shadow to spread. Even if he doesn't know that Zouken is behind it (he was willing to accept Dark Sakura by the end because she seemed to have the same goal, of manifesting Angra Mainyu) it's still a wildcard addition to the conflict and a threat to his own plans. Whether he knew it was another Grail or not, it wouldn't matter...hell, if he knew, it would make him more likely to intervene, especially with the limited number of servants available (good luck convincing Gil to make a villainous sacrifice) and the relative difficulty in capturing Sakura alive versus nabbing Ilya.
      • Well, no, Archer is not a Counter Guardian. Even if he could indeed draw prana at the end of UBW (which I suspect is actually pretty unlikely), that does not mean he is a Counter Guardian, merely that Alaya has 'recognised' that it needs his help and thus allows him to do so. Further, if he is getting prana from Alaya, the amount he's getting is pretty limited, since he can't fight Shirou at anything like his normal ability. Alaya has no reason to keep Archer alive, since if it needs a Counter Guardian, it can just send one of its own. As for Sakura, yeah, we're not going to agree here, but you're totally wrong about Kotomine. He knows full well what Sakura is in HF (as does Gil), and yet saves her anyway because he wants to see her give birth to Angra Mainyu. Remember that the shadow is Angra Mainyu (leaking out through Sakura), so there is no reason for him to wish to stop it. Further, Kotomine doesn't really have plans, he just does things for the lulz and wings it accordingly. So, if the shadow is out there, he will not attempt to stop it. Plus, if he doesn't know what it is, then there's nothing he can do, and if he does, then it means that he knows Sakura has Angra Mainyu implanted in her straining to come out, which means that he will protect her (or, at least, not kill her). Gil is another matter, but Kotomine and Gil are merely allies who work together because they have a common cause. If they cease to have a common cause, then they will stop working together.
    • He wasn't getting any power when he was fighting Shirou. He didn't need it, he wasn't in mortal danger until his Go B pincushioning, and it's doubtful he would have asked even if he was. And if he's getting any power from Alaya, he's by definition a Counter Guardian, an artificial heroic spirit in the service of Alaya who can call on Alaya's power...and no, just because he's not technically doing Alaya's will at any given moment doesn't mean he's not a Counter Guardian at that moment. That's like saying Joan of Arc isn't a Counter Guardian because she's hanging around unsummoned at the moment. And Kotomine's "doing it for the lulz" only applies to his overall goal. While he was perfectly willing to wing it when a more appropriate Master for his master plan came along (who better to subvert than his mentor's daughter? His nemesis' adopted son), he still has a vested interest in an appropriate master "winning" the Grail, and if there's anything that can put a crimp in his plans, it's Zouken winning. That was the message behind the whole "mapo tofu" scene (along with his admission that he wanted Shirou or Rin to win), not to mention his motivation for rescuing Ilya. Until after his throwdown with Zouken and True Assassin (when Dark Sakura's goal becomes clear), I doubt Kotomine and Gilgamesh's goals were all that different.
  • Well in any case, I believe we can all agree on one thing if Shirou was killed by Lancer that night. Whether by a vengeful Sakura or a vengeful Ilya, Lancer is screwed.
  • Also, another point is that Kotomine wants to *free* Avenger. This means that keeping an activated Sakura around, with Sakura as Avenger's Master, is in fact definitely counter to his plans. Hence, he only acted to eliminate Zouken, who can be another Master of Avenger, and only interfered with Shirou after he broke the contract between Sakura and Avenger.
    • Err, no it's not, because the game makes it quite clear that Angra Mainyu will take over Sakura's body when her mind dies (as it inevitably will). So, whilst Kotomine does indeed want to stop Zouken, and acts to eliminate him, he protects Sakura as much as he possibly can, because she is the one who is needed to give birth to him. Also, Kotomine likely knows what is going on with Sakura from pretty early on, because he did spiritual surgery on her, and Gil certainly knows. Plus, one of the interludes implies that he does. There is no evidence that Kotomine would act to stop Sakura or the shadow. He'd act to defeat Zouken, yes, but not Sakura. As for the "mapo tofu" scene, Kotomine is, as usual, telling half-truths....
      • Kotomine really does not protect Sakura. You forget the bad ends where he straightforwardly lets Shirou and Rin kill Sakura, even though he still has Gil to hand.
        • Well, whilst Gil would tell him to fuck off if he tried to order him to protect Sakura (he'd already gone and told her to kill herself at the beginning of the game), you are still right. However, he makes it quite clear throughout that it's their decision, and quite clearly tells them just enough that he will be able to quite legitimately say "I told you so" to Shirou later on, but not enough that he'll give Shirou little option but to kill her (and, thus, make him and Rin feel less guilty about it). So, whilst he indeed does not actively protect her from Shirou or Rin (at that point, anyway), he certainly doesn't go out to stop her at any point, and seems perfectly content with how events in HF are going, except for the fact that Zouken is still alive. So, whilst keeping Sakura alive is not his only goal, and he's willing to forgoe it in return for breaking Rin totally and making her go into "cold magus" mode, he most certainly doesn't have any reason to actively go out to prevent the actions of the shadow, and clearly withholds some information from Shirou and Rin in order that they'll keep protecting Sakura until they're in too deep to back out.
    • On the other hand, "not caring to encourage Sakura's death" and "protecting Sakura where convenient" aren't really the same. He would certainly consider the shadow to be something to fight against as something outside his original plan (and something that is strictly under Zouken's control, which would be the clincher), and the shadow's death would really be nothing but convenient for him. He's not committed to serving Angra Mainyu in whatever its forms, he's committed to Angra Mainyu being born from the Grail completely unhindered. Hence, while he's rightly apprehensive about Zouken's instrument becoming the Grail, he's also willing to go out of his way to rescue and protect Ilya, who's much easier to capture and control. Kotomine's devotion to the shadow only starts when Dark Sakura explodes his non-existent heart.
      • Kotomine doesn't really have a plan, as such, and the shadow does not in any way go against what plan he does have. As for rescuing Ilya, that was explicitly because Zouken was going to use her as the Grail and then take Sakura's body, which would mean no Angra Mainyu. He had no interest in Ilya herself (he was working with Shirou, who was always going to protect her and, in any case, Gil was dead, so he couldn't use her as a Grail even if he wanted to), he was just trying to keep her out of Zouken's hands. From the half-way point in HF (when he first cures Sakura) he is explicitly working towards the goal of getting her to give birth to Angra Mainyu, although it's only towards the end that he is whole-heartedly doing so (as opposed to just not acting to stop her). Remember that Shirou never tells him who the shadow is, and nor does Shirou tell him what Sakura is doing, so he has to have worked it out on his own. Also, note that the shadow is not "strictly under Zouken's control". He has a lot of influence over it, due to his ability to easily communicate with (and, therefore, manipulate when acting unconsciously) Sakura, but he does not actually control it.
    • ...apparently I'd made a mistake. Kidnapping Ilya was apparently Sakura's idea. Either way, that doesn't really contradict what I said, except maybe placing Kotomine's devotion to Dark Sakura slightly earlier (maybe when he realized that she had enough servant mana to summon the grail?). Either way, it meant his motivation towards the shadow was initially to thwart Zouken, who he immediately pegged as the reason for the shadow when Shirou mentioned it. And no, he doesn't explicitly work towards Sakura giving birth to Angra Mainyu as soon as he finds out what she is. He's still perfectly willing for her to die at Rin's hands, to keep Zouken from interfering (it's not a large leap to assume Zouken's involvement with his adopted granddaughter...even if Kotomine didn't notice the "false nerve" around her heart). It also doesn't make sense that he'd need a servant to turn Ilya into the grail, since servants explicitly can't touch the grail (though Gil apparently managed fine on his own in UBW), and Sakura managed to do it herself (meaning Ilya probably had that capability as well). And note that the shadow is under Zouken's control in the sense that he created and has sole control over its appearance (until Dark Sakura appears).
      • No, Sakura took Ilya under Zouken's orders. And, whilst he was willing to allow Sakura to die if that was what Rin willed, that was because he didn't want to intervene. If he wanted to bring down the shadow, he would have killed her himself. And, whilst he doesn't need a servant to turn her into a Grail, he needs a servant to use the Grail. It's made quite clear that the Grail can only be handled by a servant, not a master. Anyway, Shirou would simply not have allowed it, and nor would Rin. He was quite clearly there to rescue her solely in order to stop Zouken using her, and he explicitly says as much. He even tells Shirou that his intentions (at that point) are to have Sakura give birth to Angra Mainyu, and that he wants to stop Zouken for that reason (and this is when Shirou first asks him for help, too). As for the shadow, the first time it shows up in front of the protagonists, Zouken starts screaming "no, it can't be" and running away, which somewhat suggests that he does not have full control over it, and similarly its eating habits (other than servants) have nothing to do with him. Also, he never created it, he merely made Sakura into a Grail, and she was unable to control the connection. Of course, once it was there he was more than happy to use it, but it's pretty clear that he never expected it to show up like it did.
    • Hence, he doesn't really care to encourage Sakura's death. The only weakness I can see in my point is if Kotomine noticed Zouken's hiding and didn't bother removing it (which wouldn't gel with his later actions, since he'd have known exorcising Zouken was pointless). His actions make more sense if he just didn't consider Sakura worth his time until her fall (since he thinks to himself after "finishing" Zouken that Sakura wouldn't give birth to Angra Mainyu while he was alive)...while admittedly, in that sense, I was wrong on his motivation over Ilya. On the other hand, since again it's explicitly stated that servants can't use the Grail themselves, and because recreating the Third Magic requires all seven servants to die, it makes no sense that Kotomine wouldn't have been able to use Ilya as a grail without Gilgamesh. All that's required for the grail is the mana of servants, not their direct intervention. As for Zouken...what he was saying was "Impossible! Impossible impossible impossible—!" He may not have expected it to show up exactly where he was at the moment, but that shouldn't suggest that he's not the one who turns Sakura into the shadow at night. After all, he clearly has enough control that he could summon Dark Caster, he most likely directed it to Ryudou Temple after getting True Assassin to strike at the place. It's more likely he'd gotten distracted enough to lose track of its whereabouts, and he's certainly not immune to being eaten...and bear in mind, at the time he was screaming that, he'd been sliced in half by Archer and was in a blind panic.
      • Well, firstly why the hell would Zouken send Sakura around eating? it serves no purpose for him, and results in the possibility of him getting caught. It's made quite clear in the game that she is doing that on her own (subconsciously), because she is 'hungry'. It's quite clear that, when the shadow is fighting, Zouken is in control (mostly), but it's also clear from the actions of the shadow that he is controlling it through Sakura, and her subconscious can modify or even ignore his orders (even though it usually doesn't, because Sakura has had "I must obey Zouken" beaten into her by eleven years of horrific torture, and without her conscious mind to give her the strength to resist she just automatically does what she's told 9 times out of 10). As for Kotomine and the Grail, it's quite clear that he had no intention of using Ilya to summon it. He could not get away with it (Shirou and Rin wouldn't let him), he doesn't have a servant (and, whilst some aspects of the Grail can be used without one, I believe that what he wants it for cannot) and, most importantly of all, Ilya does not have the required souls (Sakura does), and he is fully aware of it.
    • ...yes, why the hell would Zouken send his tool around eating servants and gathering mana? I have no earthly idea why he would want her to gather the stuff that powers the Holy Grail (especially not since he had no intention of using Ilya as a grail, either) or replenish the mana that the worms devour in her. Who knows, maybe he just turned her into a lesser grail and had Shinji rape her because he's a dick. Sarcasm aside, he seems to summon the shadow by agitating the worms; no worms in Fate or UBW, no hungry Sakura. And again, you don't think that those instances of Sakura defying Zouken, both consciously and subconsciously, might indicate that the eleven years of torture didn't beat "obey Zouken" into her? That's not what makes her obey him. I'm not sure why you're saying I underestimated her when I've been saying she never broke. Sakura obeys him consciously only when she has no choice (to save herself or to protect Shirou), because he persuades her ("Accept the shadow and kidnap Ilya. It'll be great." "Sounds fun!"), or because the worm in her heart just forces her to. She has too much free will otherwise (and her Motive Rant to Rin about her treatment makes less sense) if his control over her was as prosaic as Stockholm Syndrome. I don't quite get what you're saying overall. Zouken has control over the shadow (it's more like "direction over the shadow," really), but doesn't have control over the shadow, doesn't want to use Ilya as a grail core, but still sends Sakura out to capture her and is pissed off when she fails (and Ilya expressly states that he wanted. And that he somehow considers Shirou and Rin a plausible threat when he does tell Sakura to nab Ilya...unless you mistyped again and meant "Kotomine." In which case, like I mentioned, it seems more like Kotomine's devotion to Dark Sakura started when she had enough mana for that (specifically, after she absorbed Gilgamesh). Also, Ilya expressly states that the only purpose for the Servant spirits is as magical fuel (not gonna screencap them, but the whole speil is on the 15th day). They're explicitly unnecessary beyond that. And this is getting really, really long, wanna copy all this into Discussion and continue there?
      • Because the Grail runs on the souls of servants, perhaps? Collecting mana from the townspeople is meaningless (ignore the shit that the anime spouts in the Caster arc, it's not canon). As for Sakura, yes, the shadow is clearly formed initially due to Zouken activating the main worm that is connected to Angra Mainyu (which he can only do because he finds a chink in her armour), but the method for summoning the shadow is unclear. And, yes, you're right that she's not fully broken, and can indeed resist him, but she has still had eleven years of "I must obey Zouken" beaten into her, so her default position is to obey him (understandably, considering the alternative is usually worm-rape). Whilst she is indeed perfectly capable of resisting him if she has a good reason to, the shadow runs off her subconscious, and in that state she lacks the mental reasoning to go on anything more than her first instinct, which is usually "I'd better obey Zouken". There are instances when it's not, of course, and those are the instances when the shadow doesn't follow his wishes. As for Dark Sakura, yeah, there he has less complete control over her, but Dark Sakura also has significantly deadened reasoning abilities, so cannot resist him as easily (nevertheless, she still manages it in the end), plus what he's getting her to do makes a certain amount of sense. It's not Stockholm Syndrome, BTW, because she doesn't like him one bit (Shinji could perhaps fit that category, though, to a certain extent), it's just a case of her default reaction being "I must obey him" due to the consequences she forsees for not obeying him. As for Zouken's control over the shadow, he does not control it directly. Sakura's subconscious does, and he then controls her (to a certain extent). With Ilya, Zouken does indeed want to use her as the Grail core. However, Zouken has Sakura, who has all the other souls. Kotomine does not. And, whilst you're right that the servant souls are merely magical fuel, they contain a lot of magical fuel. Sucking mana from the townspeople simply won't make a dent in the required amount. And, yeah, I typoed "Zouken" for "Kotomine".
11:32:39 PM Aug 28th 2010
The grail may run on the souls of servants, but the shadow swallows everything...after all, even if normal people don't have the capacity to support the grail, they can still give mana and slake Sakura's need (bear in mind, Caster draining the town wasn't an invention of the anime; they're a legitimate mana source for things less costly than the Grail). And the servant spirits clearly didn't help (possibly because using their mana required the Third Magic, and therefore the Greater Grail), since even after absorbing them, she still turns into the shadow, and she still needs to bang Shirou.

That was the impression I got for not only how Zouken summoned the shadow in the first place (which would give new meaning to his encouraging Shinji to rape her), but also for how he directs it. Not so much telling the shadow exactly what to do (he does say out loud that he needs Sakura to keep it reined in), but him inside Sakura whispering where to find food... especially Ryudou Temple where she eats Lancer, Caster, and Saber (each time, Zouken and/or True Assassin was there to confirm their positions), and the Einzbern forest where she eats Berserker. There would be two exceptions to this. One would be the normal nighttime wanderings; while I wouldn't put it past Zouken to put the worm on autopilot, it may have also been to make a point, or to try to make Sakura more pliable (it took Shinji's death to do that...meaning it probably worked, in a really roundabout way). The other would be the attack on Rin and Archer that nearly got Zouken himself killed (War Balance Randomizer). I already mentioned how I interpreted Zouken's panicked lines as more "FUUUUCCCCK! FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK--!" than an actual expression of disbelief (especially since it was probably translated from the word "masaka," which is a fairly generic expression), and that Zouken was too distracted to notice where the shadow was until it was almost too late and he didn't have a means of escape faster than dragging his stump away at top speed. As for why the shadow struck there, maybe it could tell there were two or three servants there, maybe it felt Zouken summon Dark Caster and instinctively turned that way...or maybe it was just a coincidence.

As for the other...I can't tell if you're actually agreeing with me. I maintain that Sakura's obedience to Zouken isn't subconscious in any way. Her being subconsciously obedient (which was the impression I got from your "obedience beaten into her") doesn't gel at all with her character trait of incredible mental resilience, it doesn't take into account the shadow not always obeying Zouken (the exception tests the rule), nor does it seem to fit with the Zouken's End scene, where he and True Assassin speculate that she's not leaping at his word because her conscious mind is destroyed. She certainly obeys him consciously due to threat (and only disobeys when there's a good enough reason to risk his wrath), and it's pointed out that he can straight-up force her to obey sometimes, but obedience to the man as an instinctive reaction, especially since even after her fall to Dark Sakura he had to wait for her to wear down (and she would have, had Kotomine not weakened Zouken), doesn't seem to work. Oh, and probably off-topic, but Stockholm Syndrome doesn't require love, just loyalty.

As for Kotomine, until Dark Sakura, he probably wouldn't have been fussed at all by her death...or even after, if by some fluke it came to pass. Setting aside the "Rin and Shirou" bit (keep in mind, that didn't stop him in Fate, and under normal circumstances he can curb-stomp either of them), there's reason to assume that the characters believe Sakura's death would cause the captured servants to revert to Ilya. A small part of that is because their absorption by Sakura was explicitly unnatural; it was a result of the shadow eating them before they were drawn to the true lesser grail (right before, in the case of Caster, who was killed by Saber). More importantly though, Kotomine operates on Sakura and knows about her connection to Angra Mainyu by day 9...after she'd already eaten Caster (who Shirou and Rin saw Zouken summon), Lancer (death witnessed by Kotomine), and Saber (death felt by Shirou). By that point, only four servants remained...and Kotomine was still willing to let Rin kill Sakura.
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