Re:Zero Ep. 12: A distinct lack of deaths

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They say a 7-game series doesn’t really kick-off until a team loses a home game. The same sort of logic applies here: an Re:Zero arc never fully starts unless Subaru dies. And until then, I’m just horribly, horribly bored. But enough chit-chat. Let’s get started. 

— The episode starts off with Subaru and Emilia’s supposed “date.” Despite the guy droning on and on about how much he adores Emilia, when push comes to shove, nothing remotely romantic ever happens. It figures. This is anime, after all. He only knows how to chase, and the girl only knows how to act coy. The bland lead wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he ever did get the girl.

— This guy has only one outfit to wear, huh?

— I like how Subaru is recapping the events from the previous arc as if the audience has already forgotten what happened.

— When they return to the castle after their short-lived “date,” there’s a carriage out front. An emissary has arrived from the capital, and Emilia has some very important matters to discuss. On the other hand, we get to watch Subaru share fancy tea with the carriage driver. Riveting.

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— Oh hey, it’s a new character. His name is Felix, by the way. Yes, it’s a he. What? Because of his outfit? Just because the character is wearing a choker, a ridiculous bow on the back, spaghetti straps, and a dress, you think it’s a she?! Ugh. You people are such bigots!

— I really dislike how these scenes are composed. They’re so flat and boring. Then to top it all off, Subaru is an idiot even with complete strangers.

— Emilia needs to head to the capital for some official royal selection business. She wants to keep Subaru uninvolved for a couple reasons. First, it doesn’t really concern him. They haven’t really known each other all that long. Secondly, he apparently hasn’t fully healed up from the mabeast attacks yet. Nevertheless, Subaru convinces the girl to let him accompany her to the castle so he can see some old faces. She’s so naive that she buys it.

— Rem has gone full deredere. I was never really a fan of her character, but she’s completely lost any spunk she used to have. That is why relationships rarely come to fruition in anime. The girl just loses all personality when she falls in love. These writers just don’t know what to do with these girls.

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— Elsewhere, Felix is surprised that carriage driver dude even bothered to talk to Subaru. According to the latter, however, Subaru has “the eyes of one who has experienced death several times.” Um… sure…

— When Emilia and Subaru get to the capital, our hero wants the girl to stop holding his hand. She doesn’t want him to get in trouble, but she also makes another good point: he wanted to hold her hand on the date, so what’s the problem now? Subaru replies that he’s not currently physically and mentally prepared for them to hold hands. Good lord.

— Oh good, we meet the produce vendor. I totally wanted to catch up with him.

— Subaru and Emilia stop by a guard station where some purple-haired knight greets the girl with a kiss on her hand. Naturally, this sends Subaru into a rage. He’s not mentally prepared to hold her hand, but he gets worked up about this.

— Nevertheless, Emilia commands him to stand outside like the servant that he is. In the distance, he spots a pretty girl walking into a dark alleyway. Well gosh, isn’t that just the most inviting thing ever to our hero?

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— So we get to catch up with these dorks again… and finally, Old Man Rom. See, we’re setting up the story for the new arc, so it’s okay if you’re bored. It’s okay if we trot out old, familiar faces just for the sake of it.

— But hey, new girl! Her name is Priscilla, and for now, she’s got a bit of an attitude. Either she keeps it and dies later on in the story, or falls in love with Subaru and becomes another pathetic puddle of deredere mess. In any case, it’s a new arc, so we get new cute characters to drool over! After all, we’re done with Rem. She’s been conquered. It’s time to move on. Emilia is not exactly thrilled to see the girl. It’s obvious that this girl is also contending for the throne.

— Eventually, Emilia finds our hero, and she’s followed by a guy who looks like he just stepped out of a high-level Dark Souls run. Again, Subaru is possessive, and it’s odd how she never reacts to any of this. Emilia isn’t much of a fleshed out character. She’s blissfully mute or dumb during these moments. It’s like she’s not even there.

— There’s some weird exchange about the apples in Subaru’s possession. For some reason, the new girl thinks they’re not apples, so Subaru gives her one. Great…

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— When they’re finally alone again, Emilia asks Subaru how he managed to meet the new girl. Normally, when you care about someone, you’re also able to read that person’s body language. Emilia not only sounds concerned, she looks concerned. She looks stressed and worried. This is clearly a very important topic for her. Nevertheless, Subaru cracks dumb fucking jokes about how she’s possibly jealous that he’s with another woman. It must be frustrating to talk to someone who has to make light of everything. But again, Emilia isn’t actually a real girl or anything. Otherwise, she’d tell him to cut his shit out. Since she’s nothing more than a haremette, however, she drops the issue entirely when he goes, “H-huh?” Emilia-tan, why the serious face?” Yeah, man, why are you so serious? You’re only here on very important business, and there are people threatening to kill. So can you just chillax and stop PMSing?!

— Later, Emilia tells Subaru that she has to leave for the castle, but she doesn’t want Subaru to come along for the same reasons as before. He initially promises that he’ll behave, but once she leaves, he confesses to Rem that he wants to be with Emilia “when important things are going on.” Dude, why wouldn’t you just say this to the girl? Why do you wait till she’s gone to actually be serious? Fucking anime leads, man.

— So Subaru has to find his way into the castle. Luckily for him, Priscilla’s carriage just happens to be driving by, and she’s more than willing to give him a lift. Oh, she’s only just met him, and he looks like nothing more than a simpleton, but she’s confident his presence will make things very interesting at the castle.

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— When our hero gets to the castle, Emilia is predictably shocked to see him. After all, he made a promise to her. In response, Subaru does and says nothing. Uh, did he even think this through? Did he not consider what he was gonna say when he saw her?

— Priscilla amuses herself even further by referring to Subaru as her manservant. Subaru tells her not to give Emilia the wrong idea, but I think he’s the one who gave her the wrong idea…

— Emilia even asks him directly why he came. He can only give her a slack-jawed stare. He barely knows her, he’s afraid to hold her hand in public, he can’t read her body language, he breaks his promise with her, so on and so forth. What a man.

— By the way, the contenders for the throne are all girls. That’s because a stupid slab has been engraved with prophecies, and it states that one of these girls will become the dragon’s priestess. How neat.

— We also catch up with Reinhardt and Felix. Ho-hum.

— Oh yeah, there’s supposed to be five contenders to the throne. Reinhardt steps forward and announces that he’s completed his mission in locating the fifth girl! All of a sudden, in walks Felt!

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— And that is that. The episode is over, and nobody died. Yawn. Wake me up when Subaru is in tears and bleeding his guts out.

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14 thoughts on “Re:Zero Ep. 12: A distinct lack of deaths”

  1. “Oh hey, it’s a new character. His name is Felix, by the way. Yes, it’s a he. What? Because of his outfit?”
    There was once a time when I didn’t know of this thing’s existence. Those halcyon days are long gone now

    “Just because the character is wearing a choker, a ridiculous bow on the back, spaghetti straps, and a dress, you think it’s a she?! Ugh. You people are such bigots!”
    HAhaha! See what you did there.
    – Women’s restrooms are for women
    – Men’s restrooms are for men
    – Boku no BoiKitty restrooms are for traps

    Wait, is this even a “trap”? I thought traps are supposed to be ambiguous or initially questionable.

    That said, what is it with the bizarre fascination with presenting a trap character these days in anime? I remember when Guilty Gear’s Bridget was a scandal (nun backstory made it worse but ay haha), yet now it seems to be everywhere. Or is it just me?
    Maybe the internet is getting to me

    1. – Women’s restrooms are for women
      – Men’s restrooms are for men
      – Boku no BoiKitty restrooms are for traps

      I don’t care what restroom Felix wants to use, though.

    2. Subaru further shows how much of an ass he is when he says to this trap character something along the lines of “Oh, what!? What is the point of being this beautiful and having cat ears when you’re not a woman?” It is a comment that is dripping with chauvinism.

  2. “That is why relationships rarely come to fruition in anime. The girl just loses all personality when she falls in love. These writers just don’t know what to do with these girls.”
    To be fair it’s at least better than what happens to the guys…which is nothing, because the guys are Milquetoast.

    Makes you wonder, E Minor: Is it better to have had a personality and lost it or to never have had a personality at all?

    1. Damn. Is Subaru’s death the only thing keeping people to watch this show? I thought the creator was doing a good job building the world.

      Though, if politics is involved, then I’m disappointed Trump is not a contender.

      1. I think a royal selection would matter a lot more to us if:
        -We saw evidence that a new ruler was needed in some way during the last two arcs (famine, oppression, lawlessness everywhere).
        -We knew at least one of the candidates had a specific need of rulership to accomplish something important to them, giving them a good reason to want to win.
        -We knew something – even just a little, about the places they came from.

        At the moment it’s only really interesting as a way to finally learn a little more about this world, rather than as an event in its own right. There aren’t obvious consequences for any particular candidate winning or losing at present, so it’s hard to get too invested in the outcome.

  3. I really dislike how these scenes are composed. They’re so flat and boring. Then to top it all off, Subaru is an idiot even with complete strangers.

    Despite actually enjoying the series so far, this has been bothering me since the first episode. Only recently did I stop to think about what exactly is going so wrong, though. Re:Zero literally feels like it takes place in a 2002 CG background.

    It’s not just boring composition – it’s backdrops made entirely of cheap digital painting, ambling crowds of CG horrors, and often with absolutely no consideration for lighting (not in a dramatic sense for certain, but frequently not even in a realistic or practical one).

    If you check out the scenes in the palace from this episode, they’re a prime example: a too-perfect endless hallway of the same overly noisy digital texture scaled down to simulate depth; all of the guards are drawn cheaply in low detail, but they’re shaded by the animators, while the backdrop has no shadows or light sources; colour everywhere, but no logic applied to where, so it all comes off as a garish mess. The lack of lighting makes everything feel extremely flat, so the digital painters threw a marble pattern on almost every exposed surface – now the background is just a blur of visual noise, and still has no depth.

    This palace is supposed to look breathtaking and impressive, but it somehow achieves the opposite effect: not only does everything in it look cheap, flat, and underwhelming, but all of the shortcuts used to cheaply create such a large and detailed space end up making it feel small and fake instead. It’s the anime equivalent of a misused green screen backdrop, except it doesn’t even look good in isolation.

    I can only imagine that this studio just hates matte painting. We’ve got characters with lots of detail and carefully-designed outfits that stay on model more often than not, cool fight scenes with fluid animation and neat effects (namely the first), and they did a double episode to start the season off, so they’re clearly not all that hard up for time or money. But every time we step outdoors, they throw every shortcut in the book at rendering an environment. Or at least… any environment not full of trees? I’ve… got nothing.

    1. Now this is absolutely not a fair comparison, but I figure it had to be made to show the importance of lighting a scene like the one in Re:Zero.

      When working in a two-dimensional medium with a fixed perspective, lighting is literally how we perceive depth. Both of these images contain probably four times as much repetition and copy-pasting of textures and shapes as this anime, but because attention is paid to rendering the lighting you almost don’t notice any of it. Meanwhile, I can count the dozens of things in Re:Zero’s every scene that look completely identical, or blend right into the background plane because they lack any sort of shadows or highlights.

      1. is the second picture is from harry potter? anyway i never sew those little details digital images and backgrounds in this show but after your post and watch episode 11 and 12 you right. while i also enjoy it very much those palace backgrounds in episode 12 was not good at all it was only noticeable to me at this episode

        1. That’s Assassin’s Creed and Dark Souls 3 respectively, though as I said it’s probably not a fair comparison – video games cost a lot more money and time to make, and have lighting systems built into them to accomplish detailed shading with minimal effort on the artists’ part. It’s a handy way to demonstrate just how important good lighting can be when you’re working with a lot of duplicated scene elements, though.

          Another thing that’s probably worth pondering is that these backdrops are the only elements of Re:Zero that are completely original. Everything else existed first as an illustration or description in the novel, but drawing up the look and feel of city streets, villages, and the mansion is something left entirely to the anime studio’s creative discretion. They don’t seem interested in crafting a world with its own unique visual identity, and just went for the boilerplate anime-fantasy-setting look instead. Kyoani this is not.

          Another theory: if they outsourced their backdrops to the same company responsible for the hellacious CG puppet-crowds and their terrible animation loops, these generic low-effort backgrounds begin to make a lot more sense.

  4. @naota what your opinion about the backgrounds in the death scenes and the dark scenes?. for example the scene when this arm tried to chock subaro when he tried to talk about his ability.

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