Re:Zero Ep. 14: Half-elf lives matter

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I actually don’t really know how to cover the last two episodes, and that’s mostly because Re:Zero doesn’t get my attention until someone actually dies. You must think that’s perverse of me, huh? But what would you have me do? Talk about the royal selection? C’mon, you know I don’t care about that. Other than Emilia, I barely even know any of the other four girls, and even then, Re:Zero universe hasn’t shown me enough of its politics and Lugunica itself for me to care who ends up ruling the kingdom. From a cursory glance — and that’s all we’ve really gotten — the kingdom looks to be doing alright to me. Sure, it has its slums, but every country has pockets of poverty. Felt’s radical desire to tear everything down isn’t really indicative of anything. I’m not going to just take the word of some random girl no matter how impassioned she might be. I’m not saying she doesn’t have a point, but I don’t have enough information to lean one way or the other. I don’t have enough information about anything other than that, well, people really distrust half-elves.

In last week’s episode, Subaru’s antics finally caught up to him. You can only break so many promises to a girl before she gets fed up with you. And y’know, when everyone already treats Emilia differently due to her half-elf status, it doesn’t help Subaru’s case to put her on a pedestal. So yeah, it isn’t hard to see where Emilia is coming from. But again, it’s hard for me to really root for these two kids, because like the show’s politics, I haven’t really gotten to know Emilia’s character all that well. I would even go so far to argue that Subaru doesn’t know her very well either. There was a moment in last week’s episode where he’s practically in tears, because he thought that Emilia of all people should understand him. Dude, you barely know this girl. What is her history? What was her childhood like? How does she feel about the whole royal selection business? What are her short term goals? What are her long term goals? Subaru doesn’t actually know Emilia at all.

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And at this point, it struck me that it’s incredibly difficult to have a serious conversation with the guy. Y’know, when the chips are down, when things appear to be dire, that’s when the serious Subaru truly comes out. But how often does Emilia get to encounter that side of him? Re:Zero fans love the guy, because of his light-hearted quips, his meta references, his silly demeanor, so on and so forth. But they also love him because they get to see him 24/7. Emilia doesn’t have that ability nor does anyone else for that matter. You also can’t play the clown, then expect people to take you seriously on a dime. So he expects Emilia to understand his feelings even though he has difficulty conveying his thoughts through words. He doesn’t really understand her as much as he would like either. Where does that then leave me, the viewer? From my perspective, she’s just a kind-hearted girl who wants to take the throne and enact some sort of equality for all policy. Well, that sounds nice, but that’s not enough to get emotionally invested in a character.

When Emilia lost her trust in Subaru, and left him behind at the capital, that sure seemed like it should’ve been some sort of pivotal moment in their relationship. Something serious just went down, huh? But ‘huh’ is the operative word. ‘Huh’ was basically my reaction. I shrugged and just said, “Huh.” There was neither a puzzled nor a questioning inflection to my “Huh.” It was just simply “Huh.” Because at this point in time, it sure feels to me that he has a bigger emotional connection to Rem than he does with Emilia. As a result, I’m afraid I don’t really care that Emilia doesn’t trust him. I don’t really care that she misunderstands his intentions. But that’s all we’ve got. Take away the timeline resetting gimmick, and what’s left is a really underdeveloped political subplot, and an equally underdeveloped romance between Subaru and Emilia. After fourteen episode, this is all we’ve got. And people are going to be like, “It isn’t fair to just take away the one defining characteristic about the series!” But I’m not the one who did it! Re:Zero did this to itself! Subaru hasn’t had to reset his timeline once in the past three episodes.

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Midway through this week’s episode, Subaru gets some bad news. Through some sort of special demon twin brain link, Rem senses that Ram is in trouble… I think. Whatever, the point is that Emilia is likely in trouble, and of course, Subaru has to disobey her wishes once more and hurry back to the mansion. And okay, he cares about her, because she’s nice to him, and she’s profoundly touched him through her actions in timelines that have been overwritten, yadda yadda yadda. But like I’m saying, that’s all from his perspective. From my perspective, it’s hard for me to care one way or another about the girl. So even though Subaru is desperate to return to the mansion, that same sense of urgency doesn’t translate. I’m not feeling it. I didn’t really care either when those two had an argument. I never saw them as a couple anyway. Couples should bond on multiple levels. His inability to be serious with her as much as he needs to raises all kinds of red flags.

So like I’ve said, what am I supposed to cover? 95% of the past three episodes is sadly just one long, elaborate set-up for the current arc. I didn’t tune into this anime to watch a half-baked romance between Subaru and Emilia. I didn’t tune into this anime to watch an incomplete political thriller feebly unfold. I tuned in because of Subaru’s ability to restart his timeline whenever he gets killed, and sadly, he still hasn’t died in three whole episodes. But finally, after all that talking, all that fanfare, and all those bedside tears, Subaru has returned to the mansion… only to find nothing but dead bodies piled upon dead bodies. Even Rem is nothing more than a corpse with a sword stuck in her back. Good lord, a three-episode long prologue. That’s what I just sat through. I had to endure three episodes of weak drama to finally get to the show’s meat and potatoes. It’s not that I want to see people get killed. But let’s be honest, it’s all Re:Zero’s got going for it. I expect to see Subaru die in next week’s episode. Thank god for that.

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10 thoughts on “Re:Zero Ep. 14: Half-elf lives matter

  1. elior1

    @E minor after watching those 2 episodes i now get why the LN fans like rem so much more then emilia. she have better interaction with subaro and more likable. this week proved it even more

  2. Mr. Flawfinder

    People keep saying “picture yourself in Subaru’s shoes” but it’s kinda hard to do that when he never seems to care about returning to the real world like I would if I was in his situation.

    And then of course, there are the people who like the shipping and the ones who like the show because it “feels” right. As long as you portray the actual emotions seriously, context is not necessary. Bonus points if said emotions are executed by a mecha.

    1. E Minor Post author

      When we write about these shows, it’s a given that we put ourselves in the characters’ shoes. It’s a rather pointless argument to make.

  3. QWERTYFish25

    You’ve summed it up quite well once again. And as I’ve stated elsewhere Emilia is a hard character to get behind. To me she is largely just a backdrop, she reminds me of Rem Saverm from Trigun. In the sense she’s the MC’s driving motivation for being the way he is. But rem, herself, actually does something and we can understand why Vash became the way he is. This one is still breathing, though. And we know very little about her past the tropes that builder her “character” as well as she being half-elf. That’s it. I’ve grown to like Rem much more than Emilia for the reasons you’ve mentioned. She’s more invested towards Subaru and has had a closer view of him when he decides to “get serious”. He was there when she faced a lifelong crisis and helped her through it. I can see her respect for him. While it was a tad annoying to watch her “fall” for him, it’s honestly way more legit than Subaru’s one-sided feelings towards Emilia. Right now, as always she is both a goal post and a railroad switch. He strives to reach her only to be in some way detoured to some convoluted route which eventually leads right back to her.

    1. QWERTYFish25

      Also, sorry for the double post. One thing that has become evident for quite some time is is the defense of Subaru being largely grounded in “mental illness” or being “mentally broken”. I just see him is any old protagonist taking the protagonist route. Strange how the mental states of countless other MCs are rarely considered compared to this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author simply mentioned it and that’s what they’re going by.

    2. Roy2

      Yup. This is one of the hardest things to deal with in a first-person or third-person limited story. Some characters get a lot of attention, but it is tough to balance it out. When looking at many discussions, the main topic is Subaru himself, and when Emilia is mentioned, it is only b/c she’s a part of Subaru’s internal conflict.

  4. Thatoneguywhoreallylikespotatoes

    Actually I am a fan of the show but I hate Subaru for being such an idiot, retard and otaku who gives meta comments who doesn’t get his shit together which is something I like because I don’t want to see another Gary Stu in another world that would be pretty boring and become repetitiive, that and that he is getting insane because of getting killed I don’t know he’s holding up with all that PTSD he is obviously getting and the fact that he can’t tell anybody must be awful so I expect him to break down in a few episodes after being killed some times which is something I would like to see, that and him getting killed
    Also the problem with Emilia is that Subaru fell in love at first sight and further fell in love when he helped her which is basically all we got of her so we don’t anything to care for her unlike Rem while boring actually has something going for her, also with the world we don’t know enough about it to actually care about them

    1. Roy2

      Normally his meta comments would be annoying to me too, but I do get a laugh whenever he pays the price for it. But yeah, if Kirito replaces Subaru in this show, I’m pretty sure tension would be thrown out the window.

      Subaru’s obsession with Emilia does come to attention, to the point where he doesn’t give blue maid much attention. This is just a theory, but maybe the Jealous Witch has something to do with his behavior as well.

      I can now see why Rem gets a lot of attention.

      Hopefully, Ram gets more screen time because I Subaru and Ram are a great comedy duo.

    2. elior1

      yes thanks to this episode i finally understend why so many readers like rem and i like her interactions with subaru more then with emilia

  5. Ignatz Goldstein

    Why do I get the feeling when I read your Re Zero posts that you are just trying to be as contrarian as possible. But it also could be that your taste is just pretty bad, ah well.


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