I Am The Bone Of My Sword Essay Outline

What is a hero? A miserable pile of ideals? Wikipedia defines the word as a person who selflessly and courageously faces danger for the sake of a greater good, while it defines superhero as a person who protects the weak and innocent by fighting evil. Heroes are ubiquitous in fiction, long before the days of Superman; the concept of heroism extends into the days of mythology, when the world was a radically different place.

Thus, it’s only fitting that Emiya Shirou, the main protagonist of Fate/stay night, should share something in common with these summoned heroes that he must fight alongside and against. His wish is to become a superhero, to save everyone and eliminate the need for sacrifice. It’s a naive ideal at first, possibly as frustrating to the reader as it is to Tohsaka Rin, but the moral battle grows ambiguous when the red knight arrives to play Devil’s Advocate.

The sword is Emiya Shirou’s life. It can be viewed as a literal representation of his desire to grow stronger or as a symbol for something more subtle, but from nearly every perspective, the meaning is the same: his life revolves around the sword. Or, to be more precise, his life revolves around a world filled with swords. His magical ability to mentally construct and project weapons is tied to his ideals, fighting with nothing to create something. He’s as much of a “faker” in combat as he is in the heart: he borrowed an ideal, his life’s mission, from the man whose face lit up when he saved a boy’s life; he borrowed his swords from the warriors of past and present. Shirou is hollow inside, in a sense; if every fiber of his being is dedicated to something that isn’t his, something so selfless that he disregards his own life, it’s no wonder that he was never able to find happiness.

Archer’s point of view is rather straightforward. He stuck to his beliefs until the end, and realized too late that they could never be fulfilled. Interestingly, it wasn’t that he never found happiness in his life; it was that his ideal was impossible, regardless of his own happiness. Archer accomplished everything that he wanted to during his life, becoming a warrior so powerful and so devoted that he would be remembered in history as a Hero. But he couldn’t become a Superhero. Unfortunately for him, he can hardly be classified as a tragic hero either. He fought to the best of his ability and reached a plane higher than humanity, but his ideal of becoming a superhero and saving everyone was an impossibility from the start.

I am the bone of my sword.
Steel is my body, and fire is my blood.
I have created over a thousand blades.
Unknown to Death.
Nor known to Life.
Have withstood pain to create many weapons.
Yet, those hands will never hold anything.
So, as I pray – “Unlimited Blade Works”.

And now, Shirou:

I am the bone of my sword.
Steel is my body, and fire is my blood.
I have created over a thousand blades.
Unaware of loss.
Nor aware of gain.
Withstood pain to create weapons, waiting for one’s arrival.
I have no regrets. This is the only path.
My whole life was “Unlimited Blade Works”.

Contrary to their years of parody, the Unlimited Blade Works incantations act as an important summary of the route’s two main characters. Archer speaks of the pain of the path he chose and the burden of eternal life, and finally acknowledges that he will never find the end that he seeks. In retrospect, perhaps his final “prayer” was to kill himself and end his life as a Heroic Spirit. In contrast, Shirou acknowledges the pain of his path and the inherent meaninglessness and selflessness in his goal, but concludes by stating that his sword – his ideal – is his life’s meaning in itself.

Looking back, it’s difficult to pinpoint a winner and a loser. When Archer admitted defeat during the battle of ideals, realizing ironically that his past self would never give up and that he wasn’t wrong to begin with, it seems clear that Shirou would be figuratively given the power to fulfill his dream. However, the evidence from the rest of the story remains against that. If his love for Rin helps him keep his feet on the ground, then what if he never succeeds in growing strong and saving everyone? Or, if her existence doesn’t change a thing, then wouldn’t he eventually become as twisted as Archer? Worse yet, Archer was never released from his duty as a Heroic Spirit, so the “answer” that he found was not permanent. If anything, it was a figurative solution, a solution based on ideals rather than reality. But isn’t that the point of  the whole story?

Unlimited Blade Works begs two questions: what is a hero, and what is the significance of an ideal. It has already been established that Archer (and therefore Shirou) has the power to become a Hero, surpassing humanity’s standards and fighting for a selfless belief. However, that leaves the final, ambiguous question: what is an ideal, and what is the significance of striving toward an ideal?

If the Nasuverse bends the laws of reality to allow an ordinary human to reach the level of Heroic Spirit, then we can see the story as a “what-if” scenario: what would happen if a person were given the physical strength and opportunity to become a superhero? UBW conclusively proves that it can’t be done, that the ideal of saving everyone is an impossibility. However, when Archer looked back on his past self’s mindless charge against the being that obstructed his ideal, why did he, in his wisdom of eternal life, not end it? Why did he not prove to himself that his ambition was nothing more than naive?

It’s because it wasn’t, because he found solace in the determination of a boy who wanted to become a superhero. Even if it’s impossible, even if it’s futile, even if he will be betrayed by either his peers or himself, it didn’t matter. Heroic Spirit Emiya knew that he wasn’t wrong, that there was beauty to be found in the pursuit of an ideal. As he himself realized when he admitted defeat and faded into the sunrise, facing an eternity of meaningless incarnation, it isn’t always the end result that matters – because when he saw himself fighting to the fullest, he knew, remembered, that his path was not incorrect.

~ ETERNAL
つづく

Tagged as: Fate/Stay Night, TYPE-MOON, Unlimited Blade Works

This page is about the Reality Marble. For one of the scenarios in Fate/stay night, see Unlimited Blade Works (route). For the movie, see Unlimited Blade Works (movie).

Japanese name:

Unlimited Blade Works: Infinite Creation of Swords (,?, localized as "Universe of Endless Blades") is the Reality Marble of Shirou Emiya and the Noble Phantasm of the Heroic SpiritEMIYA and his Fate/Extracounterpart. EMIYA does not have a true Noble Phantasm that is the crystallized embodiment of a hero's existence like many demonic or holy swords, but if a Noble Phantasm is considered to be a symbol of the Heroic Spirit, then the Reality Marble is his Noble Phantasm. It is a high-class thaumaturgy that embodies their internal worlds and imprints them upon the World as a Bounded Field for a short amount of time. It is their one true specialization of magecraft, the result of "Sword" being both their Origin and their Elemental Affinity, and the basis of their projection and reinforcement skills. It is the definite answer obtained by someone whose life was saved by a sword, actually merged and lived with a sword, and acted as a sword all of his life. A magus who specialized in forging swords over one's entire lifetime while struggling to arrive at this one land very far to them. Shirou Emiya has no penalties from the World while utilizing his version of Unlimited Blade Works.

InvocationEdit

Both Archer and Shirou use an incantation to facilitate the invocation of the Reality Marble. It is close to a "Ten-Count" aria, using a poem about the caster as the basis, a sorrowful elegy in EMIYA's case, used to activate High-Thaumaturgy.[5] Shirou describes it as a suggestion to change himself and the words that will "connect Shirou Emiya". Their chants differ slightly due to the different experiences in their respective lives. The lines of the incantation can be said at any time without requiring preparation, and Archer is able to stop between lines to speak and then resume without issue. The first line is often used in order to strengthen a projection, such as with Archer's use of Caladbolg II and Shirou's use of Rho Aias.

Once the incantations have been completed, an illusionary fire that does not emit any heat spreads out to form a boundary and wall for the Bounded Field. The bright light fills the vision of those present, and manifests an open, barren desert with monolithic black gears gyrating in the distance. It is a kingdom of rubble littered with thousands, perhaps a countless number, of swords anchored in the ground like grave markers in a wasteland, yet are well preserved. It is a world likened to a steel mill, filled with weapons, flames, and giant gears. The basis for the world in the Reality Marble is a hill of swords that spreads infinitely in their minds. It is the final illusion Archer saw on the verge of death, the only pride left within himself, and it is where Shirou makes his vow to uphold his ideals during the Unlimited Blade Works route.

The reflection of this inner world depends on their state of mind and their experiences in life, which means that they are completely different and incompatible with each other. Archer's is formed from the basis of having been betrayed by everything, including by his own ideals, and in the end having only been granted this one single spell. Shirou is able to realize his version upon deciding that his ideals and dreams, while borrowed, flawed, and hypocritical, are still worth striving for and upholding.

Shirou's version is bathed in twilight from the extended horizon, while Archer's version has its view opaqued by a thick haze formed from embers and wisps of black smog rising from the ground, produced by the forging of iron. If their perspectives are to interact, such as when Shirou obtains Archer's arm, he is able to utilize the recorded knowledge of stored weapons, but is unable to actualize the Reality Marble due to the difference in their internal worlds. The version of Miyu's brother is a dark winter scenery with blowing snow; the reflection of this inner world symbolizes how Shirou chooses to disregard himself and the lives of others for a single person's happiness.

UsageEdit

The Reality Marble's purpose is a steel manufacturing factory that produces the countless famous swords that are without their owners, extending into the horizon. It contains all of the raw materials and sorcery needed for the formation of the weapons, and it records and analyzes all weapons and defensive armaments encountered by the user. The number of unique weapons encountered and recorded by Archer exceeds numerous thousands, most of which are Noble Phantasms each possessing deadly powers. Their entire histories, compositions, and designs are all perfectly recorded, allowing for instant proficiency with the weapons by inheriting all combat skills and techniques utilized by their original owners. This allows for the reproduction of Noble Phantasms, which would generally be impossible for a faker. They can also be modified to the user's taste with reinforcement as shown by Archer's Caladbolg II and Kanshou and Bakuya. During his lifetime, EMIYA would customize his weapons from their usual states, projecting Noble Phantasms that appears to have been arranged with designs that are easier to use.[2]

Close combat weapons such as swords, spears, and halberds are the main focus of the Reality Marble in accordance with Shirou's Origin of "Sword", which also makes it impossible to record or reproduce modern weaponry like guns and other mobile weapons.[6] Shields and defensive armaments can be reproduced with a much greater struggle as the cost in magical energy is high, two or three times greater than a sword, and the effects are merely transient compared to the originals. Weapons encountered are immediately analyzed with a single glance, enabling them to be projected immediately afterwards, and once projected, they are stored within the Reality Marble for later use. Shirou is able to instantly recognize dozens of weapons being fired from the Gate of Babylon at an extremely high rate and instantly counter with projections of the same weapons before they can strike.

The analysis of weapons is limited only to the direct use of human senses, meaning that blueprints and materials will be unable to provide the necessary information for a proper analysis. Shared memories, such as dreams shared with a Servant, can allow for weapons to be analyzed and projected, even if they have been lost like Caliburn. The quality of projected weapons will always be degraded by one rank due to humans being unable to fully conceptualize the existence of an object through only one sense, and they will never equal the originals without a technique such as detonating them as Broken Phantasms. The one exception for Shirou is Avalon, which can be projected perfectly due to having been fused with him for many years. Archer of Fate/Extra, under the conditions of the Moon Cell, is noted to be able to project objects with no inherent rankability (EX Rank Noble Phantasms) should he have support from the original owner.[3]

Without being deployed, the Reality Marble allows for projection and reinforcement in the real world. Weapons are produced within Unlimited Blade Works and then brought into the world, greatly lowering the cost of reproducing them and allowing for numerous weapons to be prepared at once to be projected. Weapons can be summoned directly to the user's hands, or they can be summoned to levitate within the air and fire upon the enemy as arrows much like the Gate of Babylon. Once the Reality Marble is deployed, all of the weapons are available for use without the need to project them from scratch as they are physically there in the Reality Marble, and any weapon can immediately be called to the user's hands, pulled from out of the ground, or levitated even while the user is in direct combat.[7] The weapons reproduced once the Reality Marble is first activated will not consume magical energy, but those used or destroyed within it will add to the cost of maintaining the Bounded Field. The amount of energy used to reproduce weapons that did not exist after the Bounded Field was expanded and the amount of energy used to recreate weapons destroyed while it is activated is extremely costly.[8]

EMIYA and Shirou have access to a large number of Noble Phantasms that they have encountered during their lifetimes, which include Caladbolg II, Durandal, Hrunting, Kanshou and Bakuya, Rho Aias, and numerous weapons from the Gate of Babylon. Divine Constructs, such as Ea and Excalibur, are unable to be replicated, though there may be degraded Noble Phantasms with similar abilities stored within the Reality Marble.[6] Archer claims that it is possible to reproduce an imperfect version of Excalibur likely to drain him of all of his magical energy in a suicide attack. Shirou using Archer's arm in the Heaven's Feel route states that he would be able to project it if Saber Alter were to give him time, but believes that he cannot handle the sword and that the difficulty of doing such a high level projection in battle would make it impractical.

Shirou, during Heaven's Feel, requires a weapon to destroy the Greater Grail and uses his image of "The greatest Noble Phantasm I know of." The image in his head is that of Excalibur, and the weapon utilizes a large beam of light as an attack at the cost of his life during the normal ending. The conditions for where wrought iron is possible are enhanced within the Moon Cell, removing the limitation and allowing for the projection of holy sword-class weaponry. Their performance is still inferior to the actual weapons, limiting Archer of Fate/Extra to projecting a degraded version of Excalibur, Excalibur Image.[7] Characters in the world of Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA show some ability to replicate Divine Constructs through special means.

The Reality Marble is a natural counter to Gilgamesh, allowing Shirou, a below average magus, to completely overwhelm and defeat him. Though Shirou would be no match against other Servants who have mastered their own weapons to the utmost limit, Unlimited Blade Works being a somewhat troublesome ability to them, the fact that both he and Gilgamesh are "owners" of numerous weapons places them on a level playing field. Neither has a specialized weapon with which they can be called a "wielder", so Shirou's ability to counter each and every weapon fired by the Gate of Babylon places Gilgamesh at a disadvantage. Outside of the Reality Marble, Shirou is barely able to keep up with Gilgamesh's assault while he was simply playing around with Shirou.

Once within the confines of the Reality Marble, all of his weapons are produced and ready to attack, which means that the Gate of Babylon's slightly slower summoning rate allows Shirou to hone in on Gilgamesh to fight and defeat him at close range. He is unable to handle Shirou's attacks, which forces him to allow his own weapons to be destroyed in order to counter Shirou's projections, and Shirou even has time to instantly recognize Ea as Gilgamesh is drawing it and quickly chop off his arm before he can utilize it. Even with the advantages, he claims that Gilgamesh would win if he were to have time to regain his composure.

Known ProjectionsEdit

Edit

The Reality Marble is able to invade Shirou's body in the form of numerous blades during severe trauma to heal and overwrite wounds. It changes the nature of the regeneration provided by Avalon into an indirect form that “changes his muscles into blades in order to knit his wounds with swords.” It replaces and reinforces broken bones and muscles with swords after he is wounded, allowing him to survive a blow to the chest from Rider's dagger. It also allows him to survive a kick from her that would normally gouge out his stomach. When she realizes his innards are too durable to fatally wound him, she kicks him out of a window to kill him instead, and the ability goes out of control after he hits the ground during the "Rafflesia Umbrella" bad ending where blades burst from his chest and cause a fatal wound. The ability manages to keep him from having his entire body destroyed from an attack by Gilgamesh, and makes him appear to have "masses of blades shaped like muscle fibers" as he heals.[9]

He is completely invaded by Archer's Unlimited Blade Works after taking his arm during Heaven's Feel. The more he uses the abilities from the arm, the harder it becomes for him to suppress the Reality Marble. It will create an infinite number of blades inside his body rather than outside, causing a thousand blade to eventually pierce and kill him instantly if he lets it go fully out of control.[10] The arm eventually begins to start permanently replacing parts of his breaking-down body with blades as it frantically tries to keep him alive due to him overusing its abilities. His joints gradually become harder to move properly as they begin to take on a metallic, grating sound when he moves, and hundreds of blades protrude from numerous areas on his skin as they prepare an inescapable death by skewering. He comments that "I am the bone of my sword" when thinking over that fact. During his duel to the death against Kirei Kotomine, it makes the latter unable to strike Shirou without also hurting himself on the blades, and it increases Shirou's durability so that only a fatal strike to his head will kill him. Before his body completely gives out, he states that even his senses are turning into steel as well.[11]

VariationsEdit

ArcherEdit

 I am the bone of my sword
 Steel is my body and fire is my blood
 I have created over a thousand blades
 Unknown to Death,
 Nor known to Life.
 Have withstood pain to create many weapons
 Yet, those hands will never hold anything
 So as I pray, Unlimited Blade Works.

 My body is made out of swords.
 My blood is of iron and my heart of glass.
 I have overcome countless battlefields.
 Not even once retreating,
 Not even once being understood.
 He was always alone, intoxicated with victory in a hill of swords.
 Thus, his life has no meaning.
 That body was certainly made out of swords.

 体は剣で出来ている。
 血潮は鉄で心は硝子。
 幾たびの戦場を越えて不敗。
 ただの一度も敗走はなく、
 ただの一度も理解されない。
 彼の者は常に独り、剣の丘で勝利に酔う。
 故に、生涯に意味はなく。
 その体は、きっと剣で出来ていた。

 Karada wa tsurugi de dekiteiru
 Chishio wa tetsu de kokoro wa GARASU
 Ikutabi no senjou wo koete fuhai
 Tada no ichido mo haisou wa naku
 Tada no ichido mo rikai sarenai
 Ka no mono wa tsune ni hitori, tsurugi no oka de shouri ni you
 Yue ni shougai ni imi wa naku
 Sono karada wa kitto tsurugi de dekiteita

I am the flesh and bone of my own sword.
Steel flows through my body, and fire is what courses through my blood.
I have created over a thousand blades.
Unknown to death.
Nor known to life.
Many times I have withstood enormous pain to create thousands of weapons.
And yet, those hands that have braved so much will never hold anything.
So as I pray now, I call forth 'Unlimited Blade Works'.

I am the bone of my sword
Steel is my body and Fire is my blood
I have created over a thousand blades
Unknown to death, nor known to life
Through the centuries, I have withstood great pain to create many weapons for you
Yet the hands I speak of will never hold anything ever again
So as I pray to you, I pray, give me Unlimited Blade Works!

ShirouEdit

 I am the bone of my sword.
 Steel is my body and fire is my blood.
 I have created over a thousand blades.
 Unaware of loss,
 Nor aware of gain.
 Withstood pain to create weapons, waiting for one’s arrival.
 I have no regrets. This is the only path.
 My whole life was Unlimited Blade Works.

 My body is made out of swords.
 My blood is of iron and my heart of glass.
 I have overcome countless battlefields.
 Not even once retreating,
 Not even once being victorious.
 The bearer lies here alone, forging iron in a hill of swords.
 Thus, my life needs no meaning.
 This body is made out of infinite swords.

 体は剣で出来ている。
 血潮は鉄で心は硝子。
 幾たびの戦場を越えて不敗。
 ただの一度の敗走もなく、
 ただの一度の勝利もなし。
 担い手はここに孤り、剣の丘で鉄を鍛つ。
 ならば、わが生涯に意味は不要ず。
 この体は、無限の剣で出来ていた。

 Karada wa tsurugi de dekiteiru
 Chishio wa tetsu de kokoro wa GARASU
 Ikutabi no senjou wo koete fuhai
 Tada ichido no haisou mo naku
 Tada ichido no shouri mo nashi
 Ninai te wa koko ni hitori, tsurugi no oka de tetsu wo utsu
 Naraba waga shougai ni imi wa irazu
 Kono karada wa mugen no tsurugi de dekiteita

Emiya Shirou (PRISMA☆ILLYA)Edit

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