I suspect I'd like Kimikiss if I found the time to give it a good shot but that's tricky to find. I did watch a couple episodes of it at one point but not with the sort of serious commitment I seem to need to clear anything from my backlog.
I actually am making some good progress on clearing Yahari Ore S1, Kagihime Monogatari Eikyuu Alice Rondo, Onegai Teacher, Umi Monogatari and Asatte no Houkou from the backlog but that's because I'm watching those with my girlfriend when she's over to work on her costumes (we break when she hits really tricky parts). Asatte no Houkou has been a realy standout so far.
BTW, I've also been fairly impressed with recent Plastic Memories episodes though definitely not to a "it's a classic" extent.
There's something I've been meaning to ask you for years, but I don't think I ever did...
What was the inspiration behind your AS handle?
Clearly some of it is simple creativeness - It has a neat look to it. But I was wondering if it had anything to do with Sonic the Hedgehog or some other video game. Or is it just a reflection of your love of fox-girls?
My own handle is a simple reflection of how my real name has 3 R initials in it.
As I understand it, Fate/Stay Night had three routes: Fate (Saber), Unlimited Blade Works (Rin), and Heaven's Feel (Sakura), with completion of Fate being required to unlock the other two. So yes, this one is the Rin route. I understand Deen's 2006 version to borrow minor elements from all three routes but to mainly be taken from Fate.
For reference, originally, the VN was going to be released in two parts, with the first having Saber and Rin's routes, and the second having Sakura and Ilya's routes, but Type Moon decided to can Ilya's route, merge elements of it into Sakura's route to create Heaven's Feel, and release all three remaining routes as a single VN. (Also, the VN itself is a major rewrite of a novel its writer had written in high school years earlier. Having King Arthur be a woman - one of the defining feature of FSN as we notice - was actually a result of this transition, the novel had a female protagonist and a male King Arthur but Type Moon wanted a male protagonist for the eroge.)
I don't think romance was a strength of the Fate route, in fact "mana recharge" might be the most iconic example of a flimsy excuse for an eroge H scene there is. (Fun fact: Saber as we know her did not feature in the earliest versions of Fate/Stay Night, which were written as a novel rather than an eroge. Those versions featured a female protagonist commanding a male King Arthur in something closer to Rin and Archer than what we eventually got. The female protagonist was ditched when Type Moon decided to make the story into an eroge and in what I would regard as a moment of circumstantially induced brilliance Arthur became Arturia and took a level in idealism.)
I agree that Rin is an interesting mix of pragmatism and idealism, that's a good observation. I just wish she was as cool headed as I remember her having been.
Shirou/Rin is indeed the best romance I've seen in the Fate verse so far - previously I think I would have said Kitsurugi/Irisviel. And I think I'd agree that Fate/Zero is still the best work in the franchise overall. There's bits of it I'm not fond of (the opener is kind of slow and I'm not fond of how Kiriya's arc ended), I think Lancer is a bit too close to his FSN equivalent (though I like FZ Lander better), but on the whole I find it has a much more dynamic cast* that gives rise to more complex and interesting interactions. And, well, I think Kitsurugi's interactions with Saber are more interesting than Shirou's.
(*It's amazing how off my impression that Fate/Zero's core cast was going to be a bunch of thuggish men for whom the ends justify the means was. Just to give you an idea, I expected Irisviel to be nearly as much a wallflower as Rin's mother... yeah, no.)
I freely admit, of course, that Fate/Zero did benefit a lot from the groundwork the original FSN laid. My two favourite scenes in its opener were Rin expressing distrust of Kirei and Saber (a clear cut "goodie") being summoned, both of which rely on knowledge of the originals to have their intended impacts.
And yes, episode 15 was the one that left a deep impression on me. Partly the pure shock value of Gil blinding Ilya, and partly how they managed to make her relationship with Berserker touching. I don't really cry when watching stuff, but I came kind of close - in spite of my knowing Ilya was doomed because I remembered her (much simplified) death in Deen's much maligned 2010 adaptation of UBW. And the crowd?
The Fate/Zero part two premiere at Sakuracon 2012 was a little rowdy with tons of cheering and UBW part 2 this year was following much the same course. And a fair bit of that cheering was elicited by Gil - the charismatic, lovable villian from Fate/Zero, right?
The crowd that filed out of that screening was sombre.
I'm now through 14 episodes of UBW 2014/15. I have a lot to say about it in the first spoiler space below. After that, will be a 2nd spoiler space replying to your 2nd last VM to me.
Spoiler for UBW 2014/15:
The most striking thing to me about UBW 2015 is how different its plot is from what I can recall of Deen's Fate/Stay Night. I vaguely recall the original F/SN having a much more straightforward plot, with Masters/Servants falling at a slow but sure and steady pace.
Here in UBW, I'm now over half-way through the anime, and the only servant to be totally eliminated so far is Rider. Caster's original Master was also eliminated, but that happened in a flashback in the same episode that we're introduced to him, so that had minimal impact.
UBW feels much more wild to me than Deen's F/SN. Caster's big move in Episode 12 truly took me by surprise, and I felt it made for an excellent plot twist. Archer turning on Rin to side with Caster was also pretty startling to me, making another good plot twist. UBW keeps me on my toes a lot more than F/SN did.
On the whole, I think I prefer the more surprising and plot twisty approach in the UBW narrative, though it does have some downsides. Through 14 episodes, Saber has had some nice scenes, but she hasn't had a single noteworthy victory. I recall her victory over Rider in Deen's F/SN being truly glorious and impressive to behold, and there's been nothing like that in UBW for Saber. I honestly feel a bit sorry for Saber through 14 episodes, and I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. She hasn't impressed as much here as she did in F/SN. Hopefully that'll change at some point. I also felt that Rider was short-changed a bit in UBW.
I like how UBW is using Shinji. Shinji here kind of feels like a very dark mirror image of Fate/Zero's Waver, particularly with the nicely surprising Shinji/Gilgamesh pairing, which as a whole feels a bit like a dark parallel to the Waver/Rider pairing in Fate/Zero. I should note that I think that Waver is less pathetic than Shinji, and I certainly doubt that Shinji will grow as a character like Waver did, but a lot of that comes down to that dark mirror reflection of protagonist vs. antagonist or even hero vs. villain. In any event, it's neat to see a sort of villain version of Waver/Rider.
So far, I find the Shirou/Rin romance more convincing and compelling than I found Shirou/Saber in Fate/Stay Night. Given that Fate/Stay Night is originally a romance route VN (which is easy for me to forget given all the action), I assume that UBW is the Rin route compared to F/SN being the Saber route? I hope so, anyway, because there's now no way I could buy Shirou ending up with anybody other than Rin given Episodes 10 through 14 of UBW 2015.
Shirou's bullheadedness is still exasperating at times, but I'm gradually finding it easier to roll with, largely because he keeps paying high prices for it. He's been beat up and gored quite a few times in UBW, and he ended up losing Saber and honestly looking pretty pathetic for awhile. He's clearly now in a huge underdog role - him and Rin - and that makes for a story with a lot of rich potential.
On the whole, UBW has been a very rewarding watch so far, and I thank you and Hooves and some other AS members for talking me into picking it back up. In most respects, I did prefer Fate/Zero, but UBW does have an edge in romance at the very least. And on the whole, I do like UBW more than Deen's Fate/Stay Night.
Spoiler for Reply to your last VM to me:
I get your criticisms of Rin. But what I see with Rin is an ongoing internal conflict between a sort of pragmatic rationalism and a softer moral idealism. In a sense, Rin is continually pulled between Archer and Shirou, and so it makes sense to me that she goes back and forth between them as her pragmatic mind (Archer-esque) struggles with her gentler heart
I find Rin way more compelling here than I recall finding her in F/SN. While Saber doesn't win me over as much here as she did in F/SN, the improvement in Rin more than makes up for it for me.
I agree with you on the action scenes. I'm glad they keep dialogue - particularly expository dialogue - down to a minimum. It does feel more realistic and entertaining that way.
Good points on Illya and Shirou vs. Saber. Saber's quieter virtuousness does come across a bit better than Shirou's very verbally forceful idealism.
Well... that went long. Hope you don't mind.
I look forward to hearing back from you on all of this.