Sorry for delayed reply. My back has been a real nightmare for the last 36 hours without warning.
I think, as you've pointed out, there are cultural factors at play. Stop me if you think I'm wrong about this one, but I'm going to recall something I heard Crispin Freeman say when he was at AVCon in 2012.
In Japan, the notion of heroism is very different to what the US/The West thinks. In the West, it is about vanquishing evil, sending villians to oblivion. In Japan, it is more about bringing redemption/balance back. At the very least. FSN certainly delves into what it means to be a hero. The endless self-sacrifice which Shirou is notorious for - and one could put Saber in that category as well - is ultimately self-destructive. Shirou does not exist as a character to be liked. His views are heavily flawed and drawn from a man who was equally flawed - Kiritsugu. The way of the hero was not something Nasu championed overall. There were positives to being a hero, but following that ideal in totatily was ultimately undoing that person.
I think the reviewer misses a point my friends have agreed on in the past regarding FSN - the viewer isn't meant to like Shirou. He doesn't exist to be worshipped, pitied or idolised. Merely he was willing to make sure evil didn't prevail even if he didn't agree with the Holy Grail War. Shirou's ideals aren't written to be championed. I think the reviewer expected Shirou to come up with an argument to counter Archer or Gilgamesh since that was how they experienced things in Fate/Zero. The trinity of flawed male ideologies about women in Fate/Zero coming from Kiritsugu (sacrificial), Kiriya (they need to be saved) and Kirei (they are damned) serve a purpose, set up anti-hero/villain status, perhaps tie the ideology to something tangible in an argumentative sense. But Shirou was never designed to have a viewpoint that made sense from a logical perspective.
As for the gender things - I think anyone knows there are creepy elements to FSN. But the claim by the reviewer and others that they exist for shock value and to be derogetory just doesn't sit with me. At what point did Nasu ever condone such actions? And what ultimately happened to those that perpetrated such heinous actions? They eventually met a bitter end as they deserved. In the Nasuverse, those who did wrong, particularly from a moral sense, didn't get away with it.
While in Fate/Zero, what irked me most was that every significant female character met a very cruel end. Irisviel had an utterly painful death and was defiled by Kirei in the process. Maya was left to bleed out in agony. Aoi was murdered. Rin lost her family and her kindess. Ilyasviel lost her family and innocence. Saber was left alone and felt that her life meant nothing. Sakura was left abandoned to rape and torture. Whereas the majority of the major male characters either lived to fight another day or died in glory/quickly. Female life didn't seem to mean much of anything within Fate/Zero, from what I saw.
And yes, while Saber and Rin may not be true examples of independence/not being objectified, they still made their decisions within the FSN saga on their own terms. They never let themselves be utterly defiled. In the end, they do prevail. Shirou was heavily reliant on them to succeed. At the end of Fate, Saber did choose her own path, regardless of what had happened with Shirou. She chose her own end to find her own peace. She wasn't existing just to be with Shirou - she was always after salvation. Rin's intentions changed somewhat over the process and her heart returned. I feel regardless of which route it was, the female always gained more than Shirou did. The female that was the core of their respective arc meant more than Shirou.
Perhaps in the end, this review was designed to seek attention. Or perhaps this person genuinely believes everything they wrote. I find it flawed and contradictory. You can't claim moral high ground with Fate/Zero and condemn Fate/Stay Night in the same breath but this person sure loves to.
1. I'm certainly willing and happy to discuss this with you, but I might choose to take some of it to PMs, for various reasons.
2. I haven't watched UBW's latest episode yet. I'll probably watch that later tonight or tomorrow. I'll want to watch that before going more in-depth on what this ANN reviewer wrote.
3. I agree with your points on Fate/Zero vs. Fate/Stay Night (and UBW). Both have a couple elements that I think could reasonably be considered sexist, but they're mostly minor elements, thankfully. I wouldn't consider either work a sexist work overall. Both shows have some female characters that I think show an admirable degree of agency and/or personal goals and/or independence.
4. I think this review's main weakness is Ameriocentrism. This is a growing problem I see with many video game and movie reviews, particularly when it comes to video games and movies not made in America and/or with a non-American setting for the game. Japan isn't perfect, and it's fine to point that out, but America is far from perfect itself. I think it's important to keep the immediate cultural context of a work into account, and I don't get an impression of that in this ANN review.
I think the reviewer is missing some important elements to Shirou's character and his idealism by insisting upon a very Ameriocentric frame for pretty much her entire review. Here I think she's missing how Shirou's idealism may have nothing to do with gender, per se. I suspect that Shirou's heroic altruism may be about his character being a strong representation of Japan's generally collectivist/social harmony spirit. That's not to say you can't critique that national spirit itself, as its not without its downsides. But if you're going to do that with UBW and Shirou, then you should do it with Madoka Magica and Kaname Madoka as well (she likewise reflects that spirit, I think), whereas this reviewer compares Madoka favorably to Shirou.
Feel free to share your take on what I've wrote so far. I'll probably write more to you about this soon, after watching UBW's latest episode.
While I feel there are 'some' valid points in there.....an underlying basis of this person's argument is that Fate/Zero wasn't sexist/objectifying women and that Fate/Stay night is. And that's something I can't abide by at all....
Certainly there are characters who are cruel/sexist and objectify women in Fate/Stay Night. Undoubtedly. But to say that Fate/Zero didn't, I can't agree with that. To say that Fate/Zero thematically justified it, I can't agree with that. To say the females in the entire Fate/Stay Night trilogy are mere bystanders/objects and that this is all about Shirou - I can't agree with that.
I don't like how this person's review has started an internet witchhunt. ANN seems hellbent on crucifying Nasu. Their editors are backing up the reviewer's words to the extreme in the very large thread that resulted. Certainly opinion is divided between those that replied.
I feel that something has been lost here. Nasu's strong sense of morality seems to have been cast by that site's higher-ups aside along with Urobuchi's obssession with damnation for the characters he likes most. Doesn't seem so long ago that ANN was ripping Fate/Zero to pieces with Carlo Santos - now they're doing it to Fate/Stay Night and trying to claim the moral high ground.
If you feel like discussing this, I'll properly expand my thoughts on this.
Foxy, AW - if either of you see this and feel like commeting, please do.
That's fine (referring to your latest VM to me). Whenever I really like a game or show or book, I also like telling at least one other on-line friend about it. I'll just consider your last VM to me to be a very strong recommendation to go along with what you VMed before about Life is Strange.
I'll probably give the game a try sometime soon. Your current avatar certainly looks great, and from what I've searched on "Life is Strange", it looks like it comes from that game.
I also have some PMs to get back to you on. I'll try to get to that later tonight or sometime tomorrow. Thanks for sharing all those doujins with me.
I just played through the newly released Episode 3 of Life is Strange....my brain just imploded....I saw the eventual outcome of this episode coming from a fair way away but damn...this episode was mind-blowing...I thought 2 had a major impact, but what happened in 3.....I can't find the words...
Seriously, this is THE title I've been searching all of 2015 thus far for....an utter miasma of positive and negative feelings with a ton of impact, solid characters, decent writing overall, unique visual perspective. Also confronting with social issues and moral conflicts. And its perspective on time travel...that really comes to the forefront in Episode 3....
Sorry if I sound like I'm ranting about something you're not interested in. Just that this has been what I've been waiting all year for.
This one, while suffering the odd lapse in dialogue quality, is quite something. Rare to see a story this involving and inmpactful in gaming.
It's called Life Is Strange. 1st part came out in January, 2nd part in March, 3rd part came out a couple of days ago. Parts 4 and 5 will be out by the end of this year. It's choice driven and has some serious consequences based on them.
It's essentially about a girl called Max Caufield and her time at Blackwell Academy. She's recently turned 18 and has moved away from her parents to return back to their original home - Arcadia Bay in rural Oregon (aka redwood country). She is a photography student, a bit quiet in that she doesn't open up to many other people but is a good person and overall reliable friend. She learns through a traumatic incident that she now has the ability to rewind time. As a result, Max learns that there are several sinister happenings at play, threatening to unravel her campus and the entire town. But the closer Max gets to the truth, more people will do anything to stop her.
I'll only link Part 1 for now. I'll see what you think of it. It may seem a little weird early, but trust me, once Chloe appears to team up with Max, this game is stellar. Time travel, possible yuri subtext, great story, far better than average of handling social issues, adult females. I think you'd like this.