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Thread: Heaven's Feel: A change of heart

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    Harder Better Edgier Optimus's Avatar
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    Heaven's Feel: A change of heart

    [Hello. I'm back to give my dues to one of the routes I feel that back when it was released, did not pay proper credit due to my lack of appreciation for it back in the day. The newly released movie series of HF, as well as a change of perspective and thinking, has made me want to write this down. Will try to keep it spoiler free, but there might be one or two, so ye be warned. The statements contained herein are, as with most forum musings, my personal opinion or interpretation.]

    Back when I finally got around playing Fate/Stay Night about 9 years ago, it was a experience like none other, which has probably conditioned my tastes for media and characters for the longest time. If I had to mention my "top 5" media series that did define my me during my formative eyars, Fate is there. I remember sitting on my old lappy's desk, devouring the back then unofficial translation available like no tomorrow, the hours reading upon the revered "Moon-rune interpreters" musings and ramblings trying to make sense of the Nasuverse and enjoying every second of it.

    It started you off with "Fate", which can be regarded as the baby steps route for both the player and Shirou. Here, Shirou and through him, you, begin your delve into the Nasuverse if you haven't consumed any of the prior works of Kinoko Nasu. After Rin's in medias res, you see how he slowly but surely makes progress as he wades head first into the Magus' hidden society, rules and Grail War with the assistance of his fated companion, the Servant Saber, one of his main pillars of support in combat, wisdom, and romance. It's a well told and well structured classic hero's journey which, although with its fair share of tragic moments and difficult situations, remains mostly upbeat and through adversity, both Shirou and Saber attain albeit not their desired outcome one that's better than how they began. It's the most balanced route in how it mixes happy slice-of-life moments with all out Heroic Spirit slugfests without lingering for too long in one or the other, and again, although there's adversity, there's little loss of hope and in the end almost nobody ends worse-off than they started out, so it's all good.

    Except, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered, like, who's that guy in the red robes Rin summoned? What was the deal with that Kotomine guy besides having a cool-as-heck voice and being the obviously evil minister of the Church? What's the deal with Emiya and swords, and with his personality? Most importantly, do I get to date that awesome and cute as a button girl who wears red and has an A+ rank in Zettai Ryouiki?

    Unlimited Blade Works is the answer to some of these questions, as well as a continuation of the hero's journey that begins in Fate, where Shirou was left at the threshold of change, but remaining mostly the same at the end. While still supported by the awesome as always Saber, he gains a new companion in the strong-willed, skilled yet feminine Rin Tohsaka, as well as a mysterious friend and enemy in her Servant, Archer. Here the focus is clearly on the conflict between Servants, as well as Shirou's own struggle with himself and his past and future tribulations. Here is where the hero's journey goes full cycle, where Emiya Shirou reaches his nadir yet with the help of his mentors and allies and goes through death and rebirth, a great battle where he finally attains the revelation of the truth that was hinted in Fate and emerges as a result at the peak of skill and prowess, ready for a climatic ending where he overcomes the adversary that back in Fate nearly destroyed him in what can be defined as Emiya Shirou's finest hour, overcoming his past self's failures and accomplishing what he couldn't in Fate.

    After this, where could the story possibly go? Emiya Shirou has gone full circle, having obtained the eponymous gift from his arduous journey and standing at his peak, with at least 1 partner and potentially 2.

    And, that's why Heaven's Feel is possibly the hardest pill to swallow. After seeing Shirou standing in triumph time and time again, this route feels grim, like the slave whose duty was to remind the triumphant generals of Rome "memento mori". You too, can die.

    One of the few first things in order is to remove one of his strongest pillars of support, Saber. Back in UBW, even if due to events that transpire is no longer his Servant, she remains doggedly loyal to him and helpful as a mentor and teacher. In fact, when she's the witness of Shirou's duel, one might as well think of her like a teacher who's overseeing her favored pupil. And poof, she's gone. Not with a bang, nor a heroic sacrifice. Shirou doesn't even get to see what could be her last moments, just his Command Spells vanishing. Now, he must battle the threat that's the Grail War with almost no guidance.

    And this is where Sakura also features. Sakura is an important character, for many reasons. While her quality overall as a character and some of her decisions can be called into question, what cannot is how she stands out from all the female characters introduced so far by Kinoko Nasu and Takeuchi. Saber, Rin, even Taiga amongst many others, even if sometimes faced with situations where they occasionally need help, can more than enough fare for themselves without help. Shirou, in both routes, is in a position where a partnership with these characters act as a springboard for him, where ironically, even though he wants to be a Hero of Justice, he ends up more often than not having his bacon saved by his countless mentors.

    Sakura is not in a position to be Shirou's mentor. She's not fighting fit. She lacks the mental clarity, emotional stability, financial resources or any sort of skill besides mundane ones that could make her useful in the frontlines of the Grail War that any of her predecessors had. She is even introduced as Shirou's underclassman, and makes a point of calling him "senpai", instead of Emiya-kun or Shirou like the prior 2 partners did. Furthermore, she is not only not an asset, but she is desperately in need of help. This change makes her an anomaly, as far as female characters in this story go, and it's without a doubt something that makes this character's inclusion into the series a highly controversial one. It's, seemingly, a classic "damsel in distress" situation.

    And it makes everything very different from the other routes.

    The fact that Emiya Shirou, tutorless, finds this person who is not only far from combat capable but in dire need of assistance, forces him to make serious moral choices, and most importantly, finds himself with a problem he cannot swing his swords at. In prior routes, despite mentions of his Ideal of heroism as broken, it actually almost never became an issue for him. At end's day, without doubt, he'd be able to use his powers one way or another and as long as he stuck to his guns and didn't give up, he'd eventually reach a conclusion satisfactory for everyone (even his mortal enemies themselves would come to accept his strength). Sakura and her issues are a problem Shirou's powers are not a help to solve. Directly applied force against a suitable enemy that is diametrically opposed to Shirou's values is no longer the way to go, doubly so with Saber gone.

    I think it's a rather interesting use of the damsel in distress. Rather than being a force for positive change as portrayed usually in media, here we're shown a crude, unusually realistic side of it; namely, how hard it is to help someone going through in their life. Unlike Rin, who was stoic and acted based on reason, Sakura often acts counter to her own interests, in unpredictable ways that often make the situation worse for her and everyone involved in the route. She refuses to ask for help when it would be reasonable to do so, cannot communicate her needs or wants in a proper way and unlike Saber or Rin, again, has zero combat ability when it counts. Back in the day, this was why a lot of posters, myself included, did not like her character and enjoyed bashing on her and her fans unapologetically. Now, with time, I do realize that Fate/Heaven's Feel is a very different sort of story from the others.

    Fate and UBW have already given you the "climax". Stories of heroism and success through adversity. Heaven's Feel is a far more human story; one where Shirou's mettle is tested, not as a hero, but as a human who has to deal with other people who respond in profoundly human ways. The route makes a point of letting us know this isn't a hero's journey anymore, as all the classic elements are removed one by one: the Gandalf-like mentor Saber is gone, and Rin has issues of her own that prevent her from fully siding with Shirou until the very end. Furthermore, Shirou's growth, unlike in prior routes, is no longer due to any effort of his own but circumstances outside of his control, and rather than benefit him in tangible ways it runs the risk of destroying him. This trend runs more or less the same for all the main players in the Route, even ones shown before to have little weaknesses like Rin, who are shown in a very different light than before, with their pasts actively haunting them and determining their actions in decisive ways. Even the worst bastard of all, the guy played to be the biggest asshole in the entire series, Matou Zouken, is shown to be so with a past reason.

    Heaven's Feel feels like a very different route, with a different aim: call everything you have seen before into question. It questions Shirou's ideals and role as a protagonist, questions Sakura's second line role, Rin's past, who or what is Illyasviel, Saber's unquestioning loyalty to her ideals and their inherent goodness by turning her into a fear-inspiring tyrant, the Holy Grail ritual, even goes as far as to call into question if "evil" is truly "evil". From an outsider to the Nasuverse's perspective, Fate and UBW feel "right" because they follow the usual heroic archetype, yet when you have read some of Nasu's prior works you realize this route is the most Nasu thing: a route where everything is called into question by its own main players, full of slice of life and of terrible metaphors for sex.

    And the answer, as always with Nasu, brings up even more questions, but in the process we see a side of the characters we learnt to love in the prior routes that we otherwise wouldn't have. After the fireworks parade of UBW in Shirou's glory, rather than try to ascend further it goes deeper, into the uncomfortable heart of the matter and showcases in its own climax some of the best scenes the game has to offer, ones where the focus are no longer the characters showcased in the prior routes, but the ones we'd seen as ancillary members of the cast, conditioned to stereotype them in our prior playthroughs of the game shine with light of their own and get people like me to think about storytelling and stuff.

    So, the reason why I made this thread was A) to share my thoughts and shine some light into the route and B) to hear you guys opinions on the subject. Also, C), to reminisce about the bad sex scene memes. God, they were awful.
    [22:42] <Leo> look it's not our fault we can function properly with a cock in our mouthes

  2. #2
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    I can also agree, for media that really got to me during formative years, this was one of them.

    Reinstalled both Tsuki and F/SN and planning to make time to re-read.

    HF being a heavy hitter, I wondering what you think of the movies.

  3. #3
    HF was basically the story of letting go of the past. We have Rin who gave up the way of typical magus (Tokiomi's style) and chose her sister, Sakura gave up on her grudge against probably the entire world, Illya gave up on her grudge against Kiritsugu and Shirou, and most importantly, the long lasting wish of the three families that no longer should be realized, especially Zouken.
    But before HF we have Fate and UBW which were telling "it's okay to live with it too", so HF can become a slap on your face depending how much you think highly of the ideal that Fate and UBW introduced

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    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    Nasu did say that you can't have two and all of the routes existing at the same time. That was more for ontological purposes but you can also think on yeah, the conclusions of Fate/UBW and HF are fundamentally incompatible.

    I suspect the man is not saying HF is the ultimate verdict on how Shirou should live and the other routes were just thematic build up for forsaking the heroic ideal, as is posited by some others who see this as a linear progression.More like these ends still have meaning on its own besides the existence of other choices which doesn't invalidate what you believe.

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    Harder Better Edgier Optimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LJ3 View Post
    I suspect the man is not saying HF is the ultimate verdict on how Shirou should live and the other routes were just thematic build up for forsaking the heroic ideal, as is posited by some others who see this as a linear progression.More like these ends still have meaning on its own besides the existence of other choices which doesn't invalidate what you believe.
    Couldn't agree more. The more I think about it, the less Heaven's Feel is meant to be a definitive "last answer" for Shirou, but it ought to be appreciated as one of the many paths that Shirou can take throughout his life, one that makes a stark contrast with the other 2 routes and cleverly deconstructs everything that had been achieved especially by UBW Shirou as if its meaning is there's no right answer, which is further reinforced by the last fight with Kotomine. As the last route within the game it's an odd choice, yet also the most Nasu choice, one that falls much in line with the nihilistic themes present in his other works; it doesn't try to make sense out of Shirou, after all, that's what UBW accomplished with Shirou's hero journey, instead it's kind of a what if story that relies on the prior 2 routes to make it far more impactful.
    [22:42] <Leo> look it's not our fault we can function properly with a cock in our mouthes

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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors weeblord's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LJ3 View Post
    I can also agree, for media that really got to me during formative years, this was one of them.

    Reinstalled both Tsuki and F/SN and planning to make time to re-read.

    HF being a heavy hitter, I wondering what you think of the movies.
    i’ve been telling myself I should re-read Tsuki for a while now. My memories of it are super hazy.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by LJ3 View Post
    Nasu did say that you can't have two and all of the routes existing at the same time. That was more for ontological purposes but you can also think on yeah, the conclusions of Fate/UBW and HF are fundamentally incompatible.

    I suspect the man is not saying HF is the ultimate verdict on how Shirou should live and the other routes were just thematic build up for forsaking the heroic ideal, as is posited by some others who see this as a linear progression.More like these ends still have meaning on its own besides the existence of other choices which doesn't invalidate what you believe.
    Quote Originally Posted by Optimus View Post
    Couldn't agree more. The more I think about it, the less Heaven's Feel is meant to be a definitive "last answer" for Shirou, but it ought to be appreciated as one of the many paths that Shirou can take throughout his life, one that makes a stark contrast with the other 2 routes and cleverly deconstructs everything that had been achieved especially by UBW Shirou as if its meaning is there's no right answer, which is further reinforced by the last fight with Kotomine. As the last route within the game it's an odd choice, yet also the most Nasu choice, one that falls much in line with the nihilistic themes present in his other works; it doesn't try to make sense out of Shirou, after all, that's what UBW accomplished with Shirou's hero journey, instead it's kind of a what if story that relies on the prior 2 routes to make it far more impactful.
    Nasu also said that UBW presents you an answer and HF shows you a practical application of the same answer, so I don't think he sees them as mutually exclusive either. He definitely sees them as complementary and I don't think nihilism is the point of HF either, like at all.

    It's just another way for the "Tin Man Emiya Shirou gets a human heart" metaphor to work. That's the entire main narrative of Fate/stay night after all. Even Last Episode is exactly about that too.
    Last edited by yokushi; September 1st, 2019 at 09:28 AM.

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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Yggdrasil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weeblord View Post
    i’ve been telling myself I should re-read Tsuki for a while now. My memories of it are super hazy.
    I save you the pain: it's boring. Really, really boring.

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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Menwearpink's Avatar
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    Agree to disagree on that.

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    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    Quote Originally Posted by yokushi View Post
    Nasu also said that UBW presents you an answer and HF shows you a practical application of the same answer, so I don't think he sees them as mutually exclusive either. He definitely sees them as complementary and I don't think nihilism is the point of HF either, like at all.

    It's just another way for the "Tin Man Emiya Shirou gets a human heart" metaphor to work. That's the entire main narrative of Fate/stay night after all. Even Last Episode is exactly about that too.
    The practical application of the same answer being Heaven's Feel does have me scratching my head, trying to see it. It kind of suggest that any real challenge would cause it to break down.

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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Yggdrasil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yokushi View Post
    Nasu also said that UBW presents you an answer and HF shows you a practical application of the same answer, so I don't think he sees them as mutually exclusive either. He definitely sees them as complementary and I don't think nihilism is the point of HF either, like at all.
    From what I remember, it was "Fate and UBW pose the question of how Shirou should live, HF is one of the possible answers".

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    Surpass her level, if you dare. hayate's Avatar
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    For me, Heaven's Feel is a route where it showed me the psychological and emotional effect of Magi rules on children. And as it turned out, they have their dysfunctions.

    Combine that with someone who has survivor's guilt and a child brainwashed to parental abandonment wherein the latter's situation is not discussed in earlier routes and you have this.

    Rin for instance, although she has reservations, decided to kill her sibling since she endangers the ritual instead of asking her first who or what she truly needs right now.
    Not dealing with it...

    Why even try?


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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Yggdrasil View Post
    From what I remember, it was "Fate and UBW pose the question of how Shirou should live, HF is one of the possible answers".
    Now that you mention it yeah, I just checked it and I don't know why the english sources perpetuated this idea about UBW being an answer (I guess "answer" being a scene there).

    The final Tiger Dojo talks about how Fate and UBW present the reader the question about Shirou's way of life and HF gives one answer to the distortion. I guess that Last Episode also acts as another answer as the whole "robot becomes human" narrative it's also resolved there.

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    Fuckin' chicken grill!!! Kotonoha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yokushi View Post
    Now that you mention it yeah, I just checked it and I don't know why the english sources perpetuated this idea about UBW being an answer (I guess "answer" being a scene there).
    Because Nasu said it is


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    also this one
    ――『Fate』の物語で描きたかったテーマは?
    奈須:『Fate』には3つのルートが存在します。全般を通していうと“自分との戦い”というテーマがある のですが、各ルートごとにもテーマは存在します。1つめのルートは「理想のカタチ」。次のルートは、「理想 の自分との対決と、その打破」。3つめは「理想と現実の摩擦と、その返還」ですね。本作では各ルートごとに ヒロインがいるのですが、主人公は衛宮士郎1人です。ある意味一番精神に問題のある彼がどのように成長して いくのかを描いていきます。最初のルートでは彼の凝り固まった考えを見せて、次のルートでその解決を描き、 最後のルートではもう1つの、人間としての解答を描いています。もっとも、『Fate』というゲーム上では 段階として描かれていますが、どの結末も等価のものです。それぞれ違ったカタチの解答、と思っ てください。

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kotonoha View Post
    Because Nasu said it is


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    also this one
    Okay, then it's a new case of Nasu changing his mind with the years.

    This also fits better his new narrative about all routes being equal, that way all of them present some kind of resolution. It's nicer that way.

  16. #16
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors TheSeaDragon's Avatar
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    Kinda on topic . I came across a youtube top of Fate MCs that instead of take Shiro as one entity , separated him by rutes. That would not be a problem, but this person put HF Shiro dead last, even below Sieg and the self insert FGO MC, because.......he betrayed his ideals and therefore is not Shiro anymore. With all respect , even if this person has a fate themed channel, it does not look like he got the novel messages. This person also said Miyuverse Shiro is Hf shiro done right, but oh well...its youtube

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