My peculiar takeaway from this week’s episode is “Wow, this went by pretty quick.” Does that mean I enjoyed it? Nah.But for what it’s worth, I did enjoy it more than what I saw last week. I know that isn’t saying much, because the previous episode was horrible, but oh well, we’ll take what we can get with Mr. Subaru.
Minute 1: It’s not as if this week’s episode flew out of the gates with a head full of steam or anything. As always, we begin the story with Mr. Meta waking up from his death. I have no qualms with this, though. By its very nature, this is how every episode of Re:Zero should start. And although it isn’t anything to write home about, it’s worth noting that Subaru is much more shaken up this time around. I actually wish we could see him die more often just to see the guy’s mental state deteriorate more and more.
What is it like to constantly die? It’s an unanswerable question, because obviously, no one has ever had to experience such a cruel and grisly fate. At best, some people have come back from near death experiences, but who has ever gone through those more than once in their lives? So it’s a topic ripe for exploration. A better story would’ve run away with this concept, and really expand on the psychological strain of teetering between mortality and immortality. In essence, Subaru is immortal, but because people always forget their experiences with him, he’s also mortal in a sense. Re:Zero briefly touches on this idea, and this is, again, why the show is such unfulfilled potential in my eyes. Take last week’s episode, for instance. He nearly breaks down at the start of that episode, because no one remembers him. But that was it. He went back to regular ol’ Mr. Meta for the majority of the episode.
Minute 4: If I could photoshop a Slowpoke head onto Subaru’s body, I would. And oh yeah, he’s talking to Beatrice at the start of the episode again. Yawn.
Minute 5: Subaru falls into a flower bed, and is covered in manure. There’s a shitlord joke here, but I can’t think of one because Re:Zero have sapped all of my creative juices.
Minute 6: This is closest Subaru will ever get to a p-… I mean, it’s really quite meta, actually. We always piss and moan about how anime just recycles the same tired stories over and over. Re:Zero goes the extra mile and recycles the same events over and over in each week’s episode, and the crowd goes wild. How many times do I need to hear Emilia ask what -tan means? As many times as it continues to thrill and delight the audience!
Minute 8: Subaru says, “So this time, I’ll use these next four days to gather information and learn who the attacker is.” And he didn’t do this last week because…? But hey, here is a dramatic change in the loop for once.
Minute 10: And now, we try to world-build. Subaru asks if there’s a spell that makes you weak and such. This segues into a talk about shamans, curses, and the revelation that Beatrice was ultimately responsible for healing Subaru’s fatal wounds from the encounter with… what’s her face? I’ve already forgotten. I just remember that she’s scantily-clad assassin. In any case, this whole scene takes up three minutes of the episode, and I’m torn on whether or not this was a good scene. I generally dislike these attempts at world-building that just involve two talking heads in room. But it’s something new. It’s something different from the past two weeks of Re:Zero. As a result, it’s a welcome respite as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been so abused by the show’s recent slice-of-life shenanigans that I’ve now come to accept mediocre storytelling.
Minute 14: Subaru shares the story of the blue and red ogre with… I want to say Ram, but it’d be easier if I just said the red-headed twin. And oh hey, the twins also have blue and red hair respectively. Not-so-subtle hint: the myth is a metaphor for the twins!!! Man, you really took me by surprise there, Re:Zero.
This sort of blunt character development is to be lauded, I guess. Obviously, one twin’s constant self-sacrifice will make the other one feel guilty. I don’t need a myth to tell me that. The only upside is that, again, we’re not getting slice-of-life shenanigans, and as straightforward as this Naika Akaoni metaphor has been, at least the anime is using a slightly indirect form of storytelling for once. And, uh, I’m guessing one of the twins is missing a horn or something akin to one. Why that’s important, who knows? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Minute 18: Yes, the ogre storytelling scene eats up that much clock. We’re not done yet, either. More world-building commences as we get into something about Lugunica’s contract with a dragon. Meh. I’m significantly less interested in this topic. We haven’t seen enough of Lugunica for some dragon folk tale to really resonate. I mean, I really have no investment whatsoever in this kingdom. So far, it’s a pretty generic fantasy setting. Also, people are vying for the throne. Beyond that, there’s nothing that makes me want to remember this story about the dragon.
Minute 19: Subaru tries to bring up the topic of the Jealous Witch, but the red-haired twin suddenly has a shift in demeanor, and quickly excuses herself. Oh Satella, are you the Voldemort of our series? Is that why we won’t utter your name? It also struck me at this point that Subaru hasn’t really done much to gather information about his assailant. Seeing as how the whole ogre business tied up so much of the episode’s runtime, he’s done… what? Opened the doors to a few empty rooms, and talked to Beatrice a bit about magic?
Minute 21: The episode is almost over, and as a result, we can actually get to the semi-interesting part of the story. Subaru pretends to go on a trip, but he really intends to observe the mansion from afar. In doing so, he hopes to learn a thing or two about his killer. Subaru’s phrasing could be a little better, though.
Minute 24: After dodging a few fatal attacks, Subaru’s assailant is revealed to be none other than…!
Aha! It’s always the
butler cute maid! In all seriousness, however, next week’s episode will hopefully wrap up this arc. I’m really quite done with it. I’ve been done with it since the start of last week’s episode. Even though this week’s episode has less of the mundane “live through your daily life” mechanic that you so often find in visual novels, it’s still a slow-paced episode in which our hero finds himself having pleasant, little conversations with cute girls. There are only two major variables: the girl in which he talks to, and the room or scenery in which that conversation takes place. Sometimes, he’ll talk to more than one person at once. It’s rare, I know, but it can happen! But enough sarcasm. Let me just get right to the point: variety. The mind requires it. I was watching a Youtube critique of Dark Souls 2 the other day, and the guy doing the analysis raised a very salient point. Sure, you could make every single level a huge, sprawling maze filled to the brim with secrets, shortcuts, hidden areas, so on and so forth. But that would quickly tire the player out. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a straightforward, gauntlet-type level just to give variety. Change up the pacing. Keep things interesting. Don’t just do the missionary over and over.
Or take this quote from Gary Provost:
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”
How does this pertain to Re:Zero? The last three episodes have been too stylistically similar. Subaru wakes up, he spends the majority of the four days talking to the characters, then he gets murdered in the final couple of minutes.
The repetitive nature of the storytelling lulls me to sleep not just because the characters themselves are doing boring things like cleaning a bath, cooking a meal, or tending to a garden. It also lulls me to sleep because there’s no variety. The rhythm never changes. Now that the killer has revealed herself, yes, it’s likely that next week’s episode will be very different from the first three. But you needn’t wait that long to change things up.
Anyway, tune in next week to see how Subaru will manage to woo his killer anyway. If you can’t tell by now that she’s going to be a haremette, then run… run far away! Your mind has not been corrupted by anime, so you’ve still got a chance in life!