This review contains spoilers.
I had watched Re:Zero almost until the end a couple of years ago, so I recently felt the urge to finish it, and seen it in a short time.
This allowed me to have a good overview of the anime, and a good opportunity to start publishing again on this blog!
An otaku with a shallow life gets dragged into a fantasy world. This beginning – which is kind of overused and that usually doesn’t add anything to the story – does work in this one, as it describes the role of the character, his problems, and, lastly, is a good premise for him to not know anything about the world (it would be bad if it was just the last one).
Subaru is, in fact, an outcast, has no good virtue, and no reason to be an hero. He still gets this role because of a mysterious spell cast upon him by the “Jealous Witch”, the villain overlord of the story. The fun thing is, this “Jealous Witch” never shows up.
Whenever Subaru dies, the spell makes the world rewind to a certain “checkpoint” in the story. The spell “saves the game” conveniently, without getting the protagonist into trouble.
This, of course, defines the structure of the plot. Subaru uses this mechanism to his advantage when he reaches some “bad developments”: for instance, when Rem dies because of the magical beast curse.
Sometimes, though, he seems to forget this perk, and decides to keep on going for a while even if really bad developments happen. This may be explained by the fact that he is afraid of dying – it is a frail explanation but works – although not perfectly.
The Hero’s Non-Growth
There is a pretty fun thing about the main character development. Enduring hardships is a key element of Re:Zero, as the character can “undo” things with great ease due to the curse. Also, death means just “suffering and retrying”, making this theme a main feature. While enduring hardships, Subaru does grow: he develops guts, wit and finally the determination he needs to finally be a true hero, the one that determines change.
This is nothing surprising. The nice thing is that Subaru’s egoism keeps being HUGE. In the scene where Subaru thinks to escape problems together with Rem, the dialogue follows this plot:
- Subaru wants to run away with Rem and live a happy life with her
- Rem tells subaru that she would be glad, but wants him to be the hero. Wants him to change things for the better, without running away.
- Subaru complains, says that he’s not enough to be a hero, that he is a scum.
- Rem cheers Subaru, telling him that she loves him no matter what.
- Subaru decides to be strong – not to be a hero, but to get what he wants: Emilia’s love.
- Rem takes the hit, agrees, keeps smiling.
- Subaru asks Rem to help him pursuing his goal, being at his side, and totally ignoring her love for him.
- Rem takes the hit, agrees, keeps smiling, as he his “her hero”..
- Subaru is satisfied by him becoming his journey to be the hero – and finally get what he wants. Tells this whole thing to Rem, not as a friend, but as a master.
- Rem takes the hit, agrees, start crying.
- Subaru embraces Rem, without looking at her, bathing in his renewed self-esteem.
This is, for sure, the path to become a villain. Subaru isn’t interested about making the world better. He is totally, willingly oblivious about other people will or problems. He has what he needs to become a hero, which is just a means for him to get what he wants, which is: Emilia’s unconditioned love.
There is proof of that, apart from this speech (which is inexcusable and well enough by itself:
- Subaru doesn’t care about Emilia: when Subaru is asked by Krusch about why he wants to go to Margrave’s mansion, he says that it is because he wants to kill Sloth’s cultits. Which is totally true. He is said that his cause is slaughter, not a good one, as he never mentioned her. Which is also totally true.
- Subaru doesn’t care about Emilia’s wishes as well: when she asks him to wait her with Rem while she goes to the ceremony for the Royal Election, he ignores her needs and goes as well. When Emilia tells him that this is bad, he just shouts in her face. He apologises in the end, without learning, of course.
- Sloth’s archbishop tells him “Isn’t this Pride?“, thinking that he may be Pride’s Archbishop. This is a nice guess, and opens up a great opportunity for character development – towards the dark side, of course!
- Last but not least: Subaru doesn’t care about Rem: She is useful and trustworthy, so he actually uses her. When he finally goes to save Emilia in the end, he leaves her behind. He says “because you’re wounded”, but I think this is, totally, false. He just throws her away. He could bring her to be by his side without fighting, for instance. It’s just so unsensitive to leave her in the city alone. Rem never leaves Subaru alone, even when everybody else abandons him: EMILIA INCLUDED.
A Would-Be-Nice Evil Character
I have something to say about Emilia too. Emilia seems a really good girl all around: she is a spirit speaker, she is usually caring (at least about Subaru), she is sweet, in the end, when she says that she maybe doesn’t deserve so much happiness.
Well, she seems to be a really fine girl, and a really fine ruler. But…
…what if this is all a makeup?
Subaru is a bad character, blatantly, he never tries to hide this, as he maybe even isn’t aware about it. He may be Pride, after all.
Emilia is not. There are no bases to say that Emilia could be evil. And I think she’s not.
Being a half-elf, though, she is a potential vessel of the Witch. Why is the Jealous Witch making time rewind, helping Subaru reach his goals? Let’s think about this for a moment.
Subaru’s final objective is Emilia. To be specific, this could be better expressed as “Having Emilia”.
What is the Jealous Witch’s objective? Isn’t it “Having Emilia”?
As said before, Subaru doesn’t really care about Emilia. In a sense, he wants her “as a vessel” too.
If, in a possible season 2, the Jealous Witch manage to clutch Emilia through Subaru, I won’t be surprised at all.
If Emilia is turned into an evil character, still retaining some of her features, she could make for a really good evil-induced character. Of course, Subaru doesn’t need to be made evil – he’s already a perfect Pride and potential Emilia-Witch right hand.
Roswaal, Rem and the Dragon
There is a tale that gives some information about the anime world: there is a dragon that protects it (under some kind of contract) and an almighty witch that gained the power of all Sin Witches.
A “Cult of the Witch” came out, and each Sin now has an Archbishop – the villain is not there anymore, though, so they worship the Witch.
Roswaal L Mathers whispers to Ram that he wants to “kill the dragon”. Why is that?
Also, the relation between Ram and Roswaal is shady: it seems Roswaal is taking care of Ram by giving her some magic energy through the point on which her horn was.
Also, he tells her everything, even his will to slay the Dragon, and Rem doesn’t comments on this. Isn’t this ill will? Isn’t the Dragon the embodiment of goodness in this fantasy world?
It is to be noted that Roswaal has strong magical powers and is probably seeking ambition through supporting Emilia’s rise to power. As Emilia is eligible as the Jealous Witch’s vessel, he may want to support the Witch in world domination.
There are many, many other open points in the anime, and, while it seems it’s still not been announced, a second season is really needed.