I was reflecting on my drive home about anime that have made me legitimately angry. I think I cut out of Re:ZERO before I got to that point.
I don’t usually write posts about shows I dropped because negative criticism is A) hard, and B) not something I want to incorporate into my normal writing patterns, but in the case of Re:ZERO I think that it’s been long enough since I dropped the show that I can talk about it without working myself into a fury and that the case itself is interesting enough to merit talking about at length.
Let’s first establish a timeline: for me the final straw came in the sixteenth minute of the fifteenth episode of the show—to be precise, the moment Betelgeuse’s magic began to twist Rem’s limbs and neck around in inhumane and grotesque ways. Now, although I maintain deep dislike of body horror and brutal graphic violence (Rem’s fate qualified as both), this was not the sole factor in my decision to drop the show. Rather, it was the merely the breaking point for me after the small number of problems I’d had with the show since the beginning (but had been able to mostly accept) compounded on themselves starting with the first episode of the third arc of the show, episode 12.
Before I dive into specifics, I want to make one critical distinction. When I saw “problems I had with the show,” I mean specifically and precisely that. Do not mistake my coming criticisms of Re:ZERO as being directly specifically at the character of Subaru. The way I see it, the issues I want to talk about are structurally embedded into the show. Subaru may be the flash point, but I have no desire to make him alone the whipping boy. His show has done that job well enough already.
I think the beginning stage bothers of Re:ZERO do not need much explanation—generally speaking, I think most people understood them the same way I did. Subaru’s sort-of-fourth-wall-breaking-sort-of-not genre savviness often manifested itself in ways that were frequently obnoxious often feeling more like author-driven winks than an actual expression of his character. However, even this I personally found to have some nuance to it. Subaru at the end of the first arc drops into a weird stage-like persona when he asks Emilia her name and many other times leans into otaku-like behavior in awkward situations. Annoying or not, these antics I eventually came to see as bearable—sometimes even charming—coping mechanisms for a boy who just really, really liked a girl. Despite the artifact, I felt there was a genuineness to Subaru behind the mask. A heart behind the wink.
And thus, despite the essence of the show’s plot being something I didn’t much care for (post on that here), Re:ZERO and I got along pretty well through the end of the second arc, which concluded with some much appreciated sentimentality and warmth, despite the frustrations it had generated in the waiting. The “end of the puzzle” was thus satisfying enough to excuse the bumps of the journey there.
I would have preferred the show to maintain that structure rather than what came next. And I do confess, at the very least I appreciate that Re:ZERO appeared to make an attempt to avoid being just another light novel that has one or two fun arcs to start and then meanders into the lethargy of recycling its own premise over and over again. However, I can’t help but feel that this effort went of the tracks quite quickly—that is to say, it went about things in entirely the wrong way.
Although Subaru may be the nexus—he’s the protagonist, how could he not be?—of all this, I again want to emphasize that the third arc of Re:ZERO ultimately caused me to drop it not because Subaru is an insufferable idiot for most of it until he messes up so badly his sanity begins to slip. Rather, it was the way the show as a whole was built up around this bumbling, messed-up kid and the effects of those choices that induced a “rage quit.”
Perhaps central to all this is the idea that Subaru “deserved” everything he got. In one sense, this is true. The painful, eventually awful, things that happen to Subaru are without exception direct consequences of his actions. His fight and eventually distancing from Emilia? Subaru’s fault, despite the explanations that might be given for his outburst and progressively nastier words. Rem’s death at the end of episode 14, when he stumbles on her corpse in the courtyard? Subaru’s fault, for insisting that they leave the capital when they were told not to do so. Heck, even the whole conceit of the arc—Emilia at home, at risk—develops because Subaru wouldn’t just stay in and rest in as Emilia gently and insistently asked him to do.
On the other hand, though, this kind of cosmic viciousness in response to Subaru’s actions is… well, I find it fundamentally disturbing and misguided. I do not think Re:ZERO deserves props for identifying Subaru’s behavior as wrong: the logical extrapolations from his conditions to his actions (particularly if they are intended to function as a composite of LN protagonists for critique) are not satisfying to me. Perhaps they are for others. To put it in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, “All I will say is that…if Emilia told me to stay in my room and wait for her to come back…I would do that…”
Taken at face value, yes, that quote is unfair. I am not Subaru—and, again, there are arguments that can and have been made for why Subaru’s attachment to her grew so quickly and so poorly. The larger point is that at some point the show is responsible for drawing the arc of Subaru’s dysfunction in a coherent way. This I do not believe it ever did in a meaningful way. We catapult from Subaru having a touching moment with Rem at the end of the second arc (the fact that this moment is with Rem and not Emilia further emphasizes the gap—at some point the emotional wires got crossed) to a Subaru who responds to Emilia’s earnest entreaties with deaf ears.
Frustrating to watch on a basic level—even more so when his stubbornness seems merely to be folded into “Subaru acts rashly.” Somehow we have gone from Subaru wanting a date with Emilia (completely parseable via the show up to that point) through an arc in which his main immediate motivations are a) survive himself, b) save the children, c) save Rem and protecting Emilia is left as a vague idea that we can of course believe, but that is not stated, all the way to Subaru being unable to keep himself out of Emilia’s affairs. To me his complete insistence on joining Emilia was not justified within the story despite aligning with the obnoxiousness principle. In other words, I think it would have been more believable for Subaru to have listened to Emilia. But of course, he doesn’t, and so we move on. This is still digestible.
The end of episode 13 has been much praised, and many of the reasons offered I find convincing. Emilia assertively, kindly, and thoughtfully attempts to understand Subaru’s feelings, and ultimately stands up for herself in a display of agency like none she’s been granted before or since to end things. This is all good, as is the clear drawing out—in personal terms—why Subaru’s behavior is not only self-serving, but destructive. I didn’t enjoy this confrontation because of the reasons given above regarding the build-up to it, but at the very least I respected what it was doing, even if I felt the place Subaru ultimately ended up was perhaps too far distant from anything we’d previously seen from his character to feel emotionally logical to me.
While it was annoying to see Subaru’s story override what ostensibly began as an arc about Emilia, that was nothing compared to the fact that the sneering Subaru who utters “You should have a greater debt to me than you could ever repay” frankly feels like he emerged from an entirely different show. And, hold, I hear the objections already. There are valid metatextual reasons for this to occur—that vile entitlement, pettiness, selfishness, and cruelty are without doubt recognizable products of the rationalizing, guilt-refusing attitudes Subaru holds. But for them to be expressed in such an outburst within only two episodes of the arc’s start felt like the show had jumped ahead of itself in eagerness to achieve an emotional impact and some sort of commentary.
Though perhaps it says more about me that I felt all along that Subaru was at heart a good person who tried hard for others (remember “I’ve honestly never tried so hard at anything in my life”?) and that a heart like his, however battered, would never contort itself so quickly into such an inhuman form. I am not convinced my unhappiness on this point is the fault of my bias, but I offer up the self-reflection nonetheless. The eternal disappointment of one who believes in the fundamental goodness of humans, I suppose.
Confrontation of biases that may or may not be at work aside, the point is that the incongruence I felt in Subaru’s character is arguably in service of a larger point. But the shows that best blend characters and commentary do so in a way that allows such thematic weight to organically grow out of its narrative elements (see Concrete Revolutio for the best recent example of this via character, or SDF Macross for an old example of this via setting). But I could have accepted a little fault here had Re:ZERO followed up the pivotal encounter with the plot beats that really needed to follow it.
At its core, Subaru’s dysfunction is a relational one. His tragic flaw may be “Pride” (incidentally, I rather resented this play at a larger superstructure of context for his issues), but the victims of his attitudes are other people.
In other words, if Subaru is to learn, if he is to be “fixed” as the show set established through the entirety of episode thirteen, “Self-Proclaimed Knight Natsuki Subaru,” then the way that it needed to be fixed was in a relational setting. Up through the end of this episode, the consequences for Subaru’s actions are, even including his beatdown by Julius, relational in nature. He insults the knights, and is subject to their retaliation. He snaps at Emilia, and she cuts ties with him. Thus, the path to redemption must necessarily occur through a similar relational structure. Subaru needs to learn humility, respect for others, and how to listen. And learning relational skills requires being around people. The path for Re:ZERO to take, in my opinion, was crystal clear.
Well, we wound up quite a long ways from there, now didn’t we?
At last, we arrive at the fundamental structural issue of the third arc. Putting aside the fact that there’s a certain level of unavoidable(?) hypocrisy in the fact that an arc seemingly designed to deconstruct Subaru’s selfishness ends up focusing on him to the exclusion of all else (including the immense good of destructive warpath empress-elect Felt), the plunge into the external plot, rather than the character-based plot, following Subaru and Emilia’s fight was felt as if Re:ZERO had seen a way to resolve the arc sensitively and meaningfully, turned 180 degrees, and sprinted the opposite way as fast as possible. I don’t really even mean that hyperbolically—that’s really just how I felt when Subaru got tongue-lashed by Crusch and the bombshell that Emilia was in danger (again…) dropped. And for this to then end with Rem twice dead, Emilia presumedly also so once, and Subaru insane? What the heck does that tell us about Subaru? Nothing at all.
You know what would have actually undermined Subaru’s attitudes? For Emilia to never have been in danger at all. Or for him to arrive with Rem to find that Emilia and Roswall had eliminated the danger without so much as disturbing a flower in the garden. And then to proceed into relationship drama in which Subaru must contend with the consequences of his actions at the meeting of candidates. But instead we got Big Plot Things, and this created two issues: one somewhat acceptable and one entirely not.
The somewhat acceptable one is that Subaru’s agony suddenly increases exponentially in magnitude from the severity of his actions. All the terrible stuff he goes through and the resultant strain on his mental and emotional state is derived from bad, but not ultimately evil decisions. All those character logic thorough lines I dismissed as faulty before? Now is the time to trot those out to demonstrate that Subaru is not evil—and, as such, doesn’t deserve the trials inflicted on him as punishment for his actions. You don’t light your kitchen on fire to kill a few gnats. And even if he was evil, I’d have serious moral issues with saying this kind of universe-inflicted torture is a valid way of condemning him.
But even that might have been something I could stomach. What I could not was the way the choice to bring in the overworld plot impacted every other character around Subaru. Rem, in particular, suffers the greatest indignity, as Re:ZERO kills her once to make Subaru suffer and then wounds her, twists her body in awful ways, and makes her confess her love to him and die in his arms. Emilia dies at least once. Ram dies protecting a child. The village is sacked, graphically.
Let me break with an image here so you can start the next, critically important, paragraph with a clear mind.
If the point of this arc is that Subaru suffers because his actions cause the people he cares about to die, the mechanism of this arc for making Subaru suffer is inflicting horrific graphic violence on those same people. I quit the arc before Rem confesses to Subaru and dies, but I read about it later. I did not need heroic Rem die to know that Subaru is in the wrong. Perhaps Subaru suffers most in this, but the violence being inflicted on other characters to force his development is inexcusable—even more so since he apparently continues to not learn, thus prolonging the cycle. I dropped Re:ZERO because I will not watch the show physically mutilate the characters around Subaru in order to punish him and maybe-sometime-in-the-future teach him (another way of saying this ->). If there is a point to be had, it has been utterly lost along the way. If Re:ZERO wanted to communicate a larger point about the destructiveness of Subaru’s attitudes, it has failed.
To lighten things for a moment and to introduce another check on my own biases, I did consider the possibility that my reaction here is drawn primarily from the fact that it is cute anime girls on whom this violence is being enacted. To be quite frank, unlike in the other case, I can’t honestly say that I don’t know. It is a factor. But is it the only factor? I don’t think so. While it being Rem, the adorable round-headed maid, who is physically contorted undeniably increases my aversion, I am convinced that the same base reaction would exist—and that the arguments I’ve made to this point still stand solid.
So it was the final straw, but—as I hope I’ve show—not the only one. It was the intolerable cap on a tower of irritants, and the whole thing tumbled.
It should be noted that all this is mostly based on the most charitable reading of Re:ZERO possible—that it attempted to make a valid, even important, point and just messed up badly enough on the way, bad enough that I dropped it. Despite the mistake, the attempt itself can be respected and appreciated. The other way to look at Re:ZERO is far less pleasant. If the idea of all this was never to make a point, then the story suddenly looks warped and cruel. Subaru is tortured for the sake of being tortured, Rem dies for him because it’s dramatic, and everything I disliked for being misdirected exists not because of an honest failure, but because of spite. I’d rather not consider that possibility, though. It’s both far more upsetting and far more disturbing.
However, although I’d rather believe Re:ZERO just wound up a poor shot than a deliberately malevolent, it’s still not something I care to watch. The show just wound up so far off base—from both an in-show character arc standpoint and a possible theme standpoint—that I just can’t and won’t watch anymore. I though that perhaps I might come back if the arc ends and we go back to Felt Destroys the Kingdom Time, but I both suspect that time will never come and that even if it did the implications of the resolution of this arc would be too aggravating for me to comfortably proceed.
So that’s the story of why I dropped Re:ZERO. I hope I’ve explained myself in a way that invites conversation and demonstrates that this decision was not simply a hot-headed, illogical gut-reaction. I said at the outset of this post that I think negative criticism is really hard, but I’ve attempted here to provide an example (although it perhaps wound up overlong) of the kind of thing I’d like to see more of when people talk about things they dislike or drop. Not that anyone is obligated to talk on such subjects, but at the very least I hope I’ve modeled effectively the type of negative critical writing I personally am most keen on reading. Thanks for staying to the end.
67 thoughts on “Why I Dropped Re:ZERO”
I agree with everything in this post. You’ve seen my conversations with Zero-kun about this, so you probably know that I echo your “if this is a deconstruction, it ain’t deconstructing in a good or clever way” stance. The part where you said that Subaru needs to earn his redemption through his relationships (rather than being punished cosmically for it) rang especially true.
I think Re:ZERO is a story of mismatched expectations. I started the show expecting a fun fantasy adventure, and for the most part it delivered. While stories that seriously examine the shortcomings of the entitled male otaku are in short supply, I did not necessarily want or expect Re:ZERO to be that show. So while others jumped in glee about Re:ZERO heading in that direction, I could never quite accept the underlying assumption that this was a good thing.
Part of it was that, even in his worst moments, I actually sympathised with Subaru to a degree. I couldn’t believe that the “white knight complex” at his core was inherently a bad thing. It comes from a well-meaning place, or perhaps from a vulnerable and self-serving place, but certainly not from a malicious place. Seeing the entirety of his motivations condemned (mostly from the commentators; the show itself retains a degree of nuance, I think) made me feel deeply uncomfortable. He’s selfish, all right, but the punishment has far outweighed the crime.
After watching episode 15, my thought was: “Be careful what you wish for.”
Putting aside whether the show is actually a critique of the kimoi male otaku (I still have my doubts about that), did I really want to see such a critique play out on my screen? In the way that it does? If anything, watching Re:ZERO made me realise that I feel no ill will towards this type of person at all. I understand a lot of the problems with otaku culture, but I can feel no glee or vindication in seeing an otaku suffer in this way. Subaru’s fate is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy.
But, I still like and enjoy the show.
Why? Because I don’t need to find the show’s direction or handling of its themes tasteful in order to find it interesting on a purely intellectual level. Even if Re:ZERO turns out to be nihilistic at its core, it can still be entertaining (to me). Visually, I think it’s really well put together. (A nod here to washi’s post on episode 15: https://washiblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/episode-spotlight-rezero-15/) And
Like you, I may eventually tire of this series if it gets too repetitive (especially with the torture stuff… GEEZ lay off a bit), but I still enjoy all the side characters enough to get emotionally invested in what goes on. And since I’m more invested in the fandom than you are (it’s the only show I’m watching this season), I have extra reasons not to drop it despite finding a lot of what it has been doing lately distasteful. While I’ve given up on the possibility of more Felt and Reinhard screentime, there’s still fanfiction!! NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!! DO NOT GIVE IN TO DESPAIR!!!
This comment is turning into an essay in itself, so let me just finish by saying that I really liked your well articulated and deeply thoughtful response. The title and opening pic makes it sound like a pure hot take, but I’m glad that first impressions were misleading in this case.
(Of course, I knew that you wouldn’t be dismissive because you’re you, you. I have faith in you, Bless.)
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I perhaps got a bit too cheeky with the title/opening pic combo…
I think, for me, the other element to the misplaced expectations thing you mention here, so that some shows are simply better equipped to makes such jumps as the one I’m assuming Re:ZERO tried to make. As a fun, albeit with a darker edge, fantasy show, Re:ZERO is as strong an entry as I’ve seen. But it takes a different kind of writing to do more than that, a different kind of priority in imagination—and it seems Re:ZERO didn’t have that.
And yes, Subaru’s otaku attitudes may be awful. I still would never accept that his suffering is the correct antidote to them.
I suppose the other thing I’d say is that the key paragraph (the one under the Rem picture) is the reason that I couldn’t go on, regardless of bungled themes or whatever. I suppose I could have put this in the post itself, but making the side-characters suffer because of Subaru to me is either reckless or disrespectful to those characters or both. And that was just something that overrode everything else I enjoyed about the show, perhaps especially since those side-characters have been a great source of enjoyment for me.
If you write more Felt and Reinhard fan fiction, I will be there.
So I realize this is super thread-necro, but I’ve been torn about this show since it started airing, and this is (long after the fact) one of the first/few articles I’ve seen that not only (like me) has issues with the series, but thoughtfully analyzes them in a way that helps me think out my own viewpoints lol.
Be glad you didn’t watch the episode with Rem’s confession and death. That was when I tuned-out.
IMO, the whole internet backlash/critique of so-called ‘White Knight’ -ing is mainly because people online are amoral, cynical jerks, and because of a few bad apples giving the concept a bad name. I think in that sense Otaku culture is similar: at least, that’s what I’ve experienced living in Japan for a year so far. So in that sense, I simply could not get on board with the author’s seeming hatred/dislike for that culture. I mean…what a spiteful, arrogant thing to do lol. And how hypocritical. The show is marketed at otaku, kind-hearted fantasy nerds, waifu fans, etc…and then proceeds to do nothing throughout the show but insult and degrade them, to…what? Hurt them? I really can’t see any other goal. If the goal was ever good (to teach? Help? Encourage?), it surely got lost along the way.
But more than that, like you mentioned about it being a deconstruction: in general I find pure deconstructions hard to swallow. IMO, they provide little to no value to society. It’s like having a teacher who tells you your writing/math/etc sucks and then walks out of the room and never speaks to you again. Unhelpful. Because while a few thick-skinned people may ignore it and continue, blundering, along their destructive path, the others will simply be hurt and confused and possibly quit. Re: Zero, in that same pattern, is likewise totally unhelpful to whatever goal it may or may not have. If it is a deconstruction, it seems to be trying to be purely deconstructive. The few times I thought maybe it would reconstruct a theme/character, it let me down. And that’s where I get to Rem’s scene.
The show at first seems built up to critique and ‘reality-ify’ the relationship between Subaru and Emilia, and in a way, also critique the harem idea. But it quickly gets off track by, like you said, abandoning Emilia and almost forgetting her in order to focus on Subaru. Made me scratch my head for a bit until they started to bring out Rem as a possible ‘realistic love interest’. Ok, I can get on board with that… but her heartbreaking confession (proposal, really) and subsequent horrific death blew that idea out of the water. I could see no possible value in it except spite and bitterness, like starting to hand a crying baby an apple and then not just taking it away, but crushing it to a pulp in front of the kid and then shitting on it. Just because. WTF? Wasn’t what I signed up for.
A few months ago, on a whim, I went back and watched the rest of the show, and I can say that it did not solve any of the problems you bring up in the end. If anything it seems to have completely forgotten that it HAD a point and ended almost completely focused on Subaru (no side characters). Maybe as a hook for a second season? I dunno. But, in the end, it failed at whatever it wanted to do. It reminds me, a lot actually, of Game of Thrones. If you’re at all familiar with that series, you know that it also can be quite gruesome and brutal. I’ve said many times that it is fantasy not because of the dragons and zombies, but because everyone is so evil all the time. I have NEVER, in my life, met so many outright assholes and rapists and etc etc. Re: Zero felt the same way to me. While some characters’ reactions were realistic, on a whole they felt too preachy…in a negative, ‘evil’ way. That is, preachy just to make the point that people are selfish jerks who hate Otaku or whatever. shrug
Not my thing.
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Wow, I think you’re the first person who has seen the end of the show and hasn’t come back to me and said, “Oh you really should pick it up, it gets better.” I always suspected that “getting better” was only a view people who were still on board with it would hold, and not people like myself who wound up with serious misgivings about the show.
Lots of people described to me Rem’s confession as if it would redeem everything else I disliked about the show, but it’s always seemed to me like it would only continue the feelings of dissatisfaction begun earlier the arc. One moegirl confessing her love for a protagonist character I dislike does not an opinion change.
I’m sorry it took so long to reply: I told the site to notify me via email if you replied but…>.< Whatever lol.
I’ll follow your site now that I know that A: you’re cool enough to understand these things and B: you actually respond to your readers (even longwinded replies like mine!) 😀
There is a sense in which it does get better. That is, Subaru finally starts to ‘fall’ (and I really mean fall, not transform or grow or anything) into a hero role, so that by the end, we get some of the more typical ‘flags’ and events of fantasy stories.
But no, Rem’s confession rubbed me entirely the wrong way. It just felt cruel. And I am tired of embittered authors using me as their punching bag lol. The world is crappy enough as it is without my leisure time turning on me. I very very rarely cry DURING a show: usually, if a show (western OR anime) is deep enough and moving or relatable enough, I cry at the end. All the emotions sort of build up over time and come out when I realize ‘that’s all there is: there is no more,’ to quote Madeline.
But being honest here, I cried my heart out throughout all of Rem’s confession. Everything she said, the look in her eyes, everything. I was like, “I WILL MARRY YOU REM! I AM ALREADY MARRIED, BUT I WILL JUMP INTO THE TV TO SAVE YOU!” lol. And by the end (her confession is long btw, it’s like half the episode, maybe 9 minutes), I started to believe the writer was going to prove me wrong: that everything would actually, contrary to modern storytelling technique, work out WELL. That Subaru would have an eye-opening moment and realize he loved Rem, the ONLY LOVABLE CHARACTER IN THE DAMN SHOW the entire time. But, nope. sigh
It was at that moment that I realized I hated the show. There are aspects of it that are cool and enjoyable, but I hate it for going so far out of its way to make me (and probably others) feel miserable.
Well, I feel you might be projecting yourself and your Rem love (I personally like Emilia and Felt much more than I like Rem) into the show, but I can see what you’re saying with a big dramatic confession that only gets turned down. That’s what fanfics are for, I guess!
I come from the future.
Subaru first fell in love with Emilia, and comes from our world, where polygamy is frowned upon. That’s why he can’t accept Rem’s feelings so easily. It’s a shame that the anime didn’t show what happened before the battle against the White Whale. At that time Subaru admits that he has “certain feelings” for Rem, so he feels like a bad person. And Rem asks him to accept her as his second wife. Subaru tells her that if Emilia agrees, then so does he. And after the battle against the White Whale, Rem pretends to be dying and Subaru ends up confessing that he also loves her.
Hi, great article. Really enjoyed it.
I agree with most of what you wrote, but I’d like to offer maybe just an alternative point of view to a thing or two.
You say that you felt the actions of Subaru incongruent. I would have thought the same, but when Subaru finally snapped at the end of episode 13, I inmediatly remembered all those little (and some big) moments when Subaru was kind of child before, kind of an asshole, kind of immature. All those moments I dismissed initially as some “typical LN MC”, that I thought told me more about the author than of the character, and that in any other LN show would have amounted up to nothing, suddenly meant something to me here.
In the precise moment you felt all of this as incongruent, I remember thinking “Huh, this is kinda obvious in retrospective, yet unexpectedly surprising”, and I wondered if maybe this would have been less surprising and more obvious in retrospective if I were to make less assumptions of how LN MCs should behave.
I have nothing to say to your other points. I think the show turned into suffering porn for suffering porn lovers for the most baffling reasons (or maybe it always was?), and I would have probably dropped too for similar reasons.
Unfortunately, I want to believe that all of this is building up to something big that justifies absolutely everything up to this point. I know I’ll be dissapointed, but I still want to believe. Maybe at some point I started to feel emotionally attached to the characters.
And yeah, I can see the perspective you offer here working for some people. It just didn’t work for me that way, perhaps unfortunately.
But as for things that are not unfortunate, I’d say there’s no misfortune in still believing the show is going somewhere. Like you, I was emotionally attached. I’m glad that emotional attachment is keep some connected to the show, rather than distancing them from it as in my case.
I really don’t understand why people need to make lengthy posts and videos explaining why they either will not watch Re:Zero or that they are dropping it. In the end there are only two reasons. They think RE:Zero is a generic LN lost in another world story or they can’t deal with all the suffering and death that the main character and his friends have to go through.
There is nothing wrong with taking either position it just means that shows like Higurashi etc are not your thing. Everything else is just nitpicking because if the main character suddenly got superpowers and started owning everyone all of those who dropped the show would happily ignore the so called inconsistencies and flaws.
Re:Zero is one of those rare anime where the main character gets nothing for free. He is not OP, does not get a free pass on unacceptable behavior, does not have MC powers that allow him to win allies and trust with a speech and has to suffer and struggle to earn his happy ending. All of these shows are difficult to watch especially if you like the characters. If that is not your thing so be it.
The suffering in arc3 of RE:Zero is not simply sadistic. Subaru has to learn that a lot of things he takes for granted are not true, that this is a different world with its own rules and he is one of the weakest and most pathetic people in a world that values strength. While he may see himself as the MC everyone else, even those who love him, see him as weak and pathetic and are unwilling to trust him without proof or rely on him to get anything done. The maids were not just making fun of him. They were being honest. This is how he is seen by default in this world. He also needs to learn that his actions have consequences and create impressions that cannot be washed away because his motives are pure. To solve his problems he needs to understand the situation, the people involved and figure out how to get them to help him knowing he has trust issues and is seen as weak and pathetic. The author has decided that Subaru will learn these lessons the hard way over much grief.
If you’d like, you can imagine the title of this piece as “A Critical Analysis of Re:ZERO and Cruelty of Cosmic Punishment.” That is to say, while the post being an explanation of why I dropped the show is certainly one function of it, I also consider it an exercise in negative criticism, which is why I’ve attempted to make my arguments clearly and more or less without extreme emotion.
Perhaps it’s also an exercise in vanity, but if that’s so the same claim must be laid at the foot of all criticism. In short, I believe there’s value in writing this piece beyond it simply being an explanation of why I dropped the show.
You may blame the mildly click-baity title if you like. ^_^”
My simple response to Re:Zero reads as so: I won’t enjoy this, but I think it is important to appreciate and understand what this show is trying to say.
No, this is not a deconstruction of any sort to me. This is to me a tragic character story that tries to explore the idea of self-glorification, self-importance and most IMPORTANTLY, facets of the psychological construct of human beings that no show will find easy to explore without being dreary or depressing (EMPHASIS on psychological mental disorders, depression, fear and despair: mental damage/conditions that I never experienced to the extreme). It wants to show just how dangerous, damaging they can be and MOST IMPORTANTLY, emphasising the fact that these conditions EXIST. Not every show needs to be relatable in order to be important or insightful: no one I know will relate to Subaru, I will NEVER relate to Subaru, but I take this opportunity to make myself more knowledgeable about conditions like this.
Sure, you can say Subaru is a ‘deconstruction’ of the trapped in a MMO setting or Shounen/superhero/action tropes overall, exploring how the lack of plot or protag armour will result in the ‘main character’ (no such thing exists, when one considers an actual, existing world) being killed, tortured, mentally broken and just plain being unable to survive, basically from the get go, especially considering how stakes usually includes saving the world, defeating Satan or something fancy like that. But this is only a side effect of the series’ premise: it does touch upon that, but ultimately, this is a dark fantasy, almost…horror-genre based series that wants you to notice and acknowledge the reality, that extreme cases of insanity of which Subaru suffers (post-tragedy trauma, depression, N.E.E.T/chuunibyo tendencies, extreme overconfidence, etc) do exist, and should be made aware of.
I know, pretty depressing take, but sometimes, literature and mediums that deliver stories and narratives aren’t supposed to be enjoyable: it exists to shine a light on the worst of the world, and to make us get a taste of it.
While I can appreciate the point you’re making here, my issue continues to be the way the tragic effects here so greatly outpace the sources from which they’re generated within the story. If this is a story that is trying to draw attention to the awfulness of the personal dysfunctions Subaru is inflicted with, in my view it is doing so with an utter lack of empathy. If Re:ZERO wanted to make these conditions visible, using them as launch points for unimaginable suffering seems the most cruel way possible to do so.
That’s how I see it at least. The extremity of the violence obscures any commentary because it is just so cruel and detached from the severity of the “crime.”
If this show is setting out to be a meditation of mental illness, it’s a poor framework within which to do it. Unless of course we find in the final episode that he has been in a delusional state for 24 weeks, in which case it still will have given us no insight into how someone suffering from a mental illness actually deals with navigating the real world. It would merely be a prurient wallowing in a poor soul’s suffering.
Forced drama and suffering just for the sake of seeing the characters in a sorry state is bad writing and taking advantage of morbid curiosity, one of the worst feelings in the human being, and the author bases his work on that thanks to Subaru’s power.
LNs are aimed at teenagers, so it’s easy to get why it’s popular. But when you’re a bit older (like me) you ask for more in a series, not just the easy way out to banal emotions.
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I think adults can get a lot MORE out of this story than teens. I am a teen myself, about to reach 20 in age, but I think I am insightful enough to see that there’s reason in this series’ unrelenting onslaught of dark material and narrative directions.
If you haven’t already read it, consider to refer to my above comment.
Hmm…this might be the one time I actually agree with the use of the term “forced suffering!” It’s certainly unnecessary to getting the point across.
It’s actually quite interesting to read about the problems of Re:Zero because it is at the same time being entertaining and being sick. While I’m sticking with the show and enjoying it quite a bit, at the same there is something uncomfortable about the show. The series is constructed to narrow the sight of audiences so they can’t actually see what is coming, but as you find out everything on Subaru’s trial is designed to be hostile, and by putting characters into extreme situations twisted side are shown. But does it have to be THAT hostile? And toward all those characters as well? That’s why I think it’s author is having a sadistic taste and have a tendancy to show the twisted side of human nature.
There’s a charm to the way the story is being told. It tunnels down the sight of audiences and keep things happening and being intense. While tormenting Subaru, it’s not only twisted side is seen, but also the shiny side of people fighting for the better. And when problems can be solved, it’s usually very rewarding.
I can see there’s actually a point to the 3rd arc, it’s to show the twisted side of every wish fulfillment. When you want to be hero, then you’re wishing for tradegies. When you wish there’s a girl loving you with her life, then you’re wishing her to losts her life. When the audience is building affection toward Rem for her love toward Subaru, it’s at the same time laughing us at the face. The author sure have some very good taste on human emotions, very alike to that of Kotomine Kirei, and the depth the show step into human emotion is surely one of the charm.
I deliberately avoided using the word sadistic as I was writing this, but I have heard it from light novel readers.For some people, it’s their cup of tea—but it’s really not mine.
And you’re right, there certainly can be a point to this third arc—but for it has just been lost in everything else that’s going on.
I don’t think I’ve disliked a character more than Subaru in my life. He’s an obnoxious, immature moron that lacks any sort of qualities I’d consider “redeeming”. Subaru squanders this amazing power he’s given because he seemingly can’t learn from his mistakes/past experiences. Every time he “respawns” he takes an almost completely new path instead of trying to retread the parts of his previous experiences that worked. How come he never beat up those alleyway muggers again? He should know exactly how to defeat them because he’s already done it.
But that was just the first time he annoyed me with his complete inability to approach a new start with even a sliver of knowledge gained from his last life. What really put me over the edge was the outburst during the ceremony in episode 13. The way he reacts to someone speaking ill of Emilia was a terrible, immature joke. I relate it to an aggressive fanboy on the internet leaving a nasty comment on a YouTube video of someone sharing an opinion that wasn’t in line with their own. Now, some might chalk this up to Subaru being a teenager, but I believe this is a problem of mental maturity. You do not need to be above a certain age limit to be a reasonable human being. And Subaru is not a reasonable human being.
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Oh, yeah, I forgot about Subaru freaking out over Julius. Was not much a fan of that either.
But for me it’s still more of a narrative irritant than an irritant with Subaru as a character. I’d like to see the show actually allow him to grow, rather than keeping him in this suspended state of nastiness.
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I guess who that is the point, Subaru is inmature…for reasons (i know who he is a NEET and is supossed to be a desconstruction of Kirito and other Isekai MCs, but most Isekai MCs are smarter than Subaru)
Watching him for the perspective of a critique of the Otaku dont work because we hardly know about Subaru´s life, he is NEET but he is Ok after go to a world with no internet?
Watching him for the perspective of a desconstruction of the Isekai MCs don´t work because the Isekai MCs are smarter than Him, even with the White Knighting.
While I can understand your misgivings about Subaru, I can’t help but disagree about the development of his character. As viewers, it’s easy to view his actions as impulsive and immature, but we tend to forget that, even though the story continues on, Subaru has died and done so repeatedly. How can we judge his personality and mental state when he is enduring a trial that no one alive in our world should possibly be able to fathom? How does one’s mind progress after it has entered a state of death and “rebirth” multiple times over? His methods and actions may not be agreeable, but I feel like we don’t really have room to criticize the emotional/mental stability of a character who’s had to repeatedly suffer through his own death and the deaths of his loved ones multiple times in succession.
On a similar note, as an avid fan proponent of the horror genre of fictional writing and games, I feel that fear, or more specifically, the fear of death, is one of the most honest and damaging emotions a human can have. Someone who is truly afraid will, most often, act more deliberately and desperately than with any other emotion. Fear warps us at our core, and significantly alters the flow of our actions in ways that most other feelings do not. When we know that our greatest fear is just around the corner, we will almost invariably do everything to avoid it, and when it is thrust toward us, we will do everything to escape it. That’s what Subaru did in the aforementioned episode. He was so desperate to avoid being confronted by death, that his mind switched itself into a mode in the hopes that he would not: seeing no other outward means of escape, he chose to escape within himself. In this regard, I think the writers were spot-on, intentional or not, in capturing such basal human emotion.
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Being a victim of circumstance in this case doesn’t necessarily put Subaru in a place void of judgement. If anything, he should be under more scrutiny considering his the power he wields. We fear death because that’s the end and there’s no coming back from it. With this power, that threat is removed and so eventually that should affect Subaru as a character. It should inform his decisions and influence his actions in a way much more intelligent than what he’s seemingly capable of. My argument was that it’s frustrating how terrible he is as learning from his experiences, and because he has the possibilities for all the experiences in the world, he only becomes more off-putting as a character.
As for his mental state, I agree that the amount of death and pain he’s witnessed could have a deep, emotional impact on him the likes of which we might never be able to comprehend as mortals…but as a gamer I do feel like I would have some experience with having the ability to respawn, and in my experience that only manages to lessen the stakes, not aggrandize them.
The sad thing about this is that we all know eventually, after the show spends multiple episodes torturing its characters, Subaru WILL end up succeeding. So how exactly is that different from usual self insert protagonists? The author, instead of teaching Subaru a lesson, just simply replaced the gary stu unbeatable fights with suffering. So now Subaru will suffer, Subaru and those around him will die horrible ways, torture and stuff will happen and then Subaru will succeed, which kind of makes the point moot.
While I have problems with HOW Subaru’s descent started(He made a lot of very strange decisions till that bedroom scene, which all felt like Author intentionally forcing the situation to go that way), what I dislike even more is how everything after that is handled.
Why are we dealing with those creepy villains and actual danger to Emilia here? Wouldn’t it have been easier for the show to drive the point home if Emilia was NOT in no imminent danger, thus proving the selfishness and ridiculousness of Subaru’s behavior? The show chose the path of shock and suffering in order to leave an impression upon the viewer, yet in progress of doing that, not only it is undermining the whole point it is trying to make, but also it is losing the focus on the story – it is so easy to just throw horrible things at Subaru and other characters in order to retain viewers via cliffhangers – you can just reset it and do it again and again. But we are not exploring why Subaru was wrong. All of the danger just validates him as right, yet the show’s narrative, having taken form of intangible cosmic luck-affecting entity, just punishes him for being wrong.
We just need to look into one of the loops in Arc 2 to see how it COULD Have been done – the loop where he stays in the library and Rem ends up dead from poison. The narrative lets Subaru understand what his actions caused. It does not have her die in grotesque fashion in front of him, no. The impact comes from Subaru’s realization that his selfish and short-sighted behavior has led to her death and affected everyone around him in a more psychological way. So he consciously forgoes his well-being and his benefit and does things differently. Yet what do we have in Arc 3? The narrative does not allow Subaru to understand WHAT he did wrong and WHY his actions were wrong – instead it literally throws new plot at him and new deaths at him. In the end its less about “Subaru has been a selfish idiot and acted in very awful and possessive way” and more about “Subaru did not listen to his waifu so he will be punished now by her being in danger and by those he cares about dying!”.
The narrative tries to pretend that Subaru is not important yet throws so many things at him that it only does the opposite.
I agree with what you say – the show should have made it clear that Emilia is in no danger and instead of focused this arc on Subaru coming to self-realization at what kind of person he was being. To come to terms with the fact that he does not matter – the universe is not going to punish him for his behavior and there are no other roadblocks except for his own behavior. So after realizing how insignificant he is, he then can actually apologize and act like a normal person in front of her. Maybe even give up his “romantic” obsession That would have been a far stronger story arc.
Instead the show took a more “shocking”, more “gory” path and is literally going out of it’s way to create new shocking dangers. I dropped an episode after you and let me assure – it only gets more ridiculous in trying to shock the viewer with new ways to punish him. And does nothing to contextualize Subaru’s character or make him grow or redeem himself in the eyes of the viewer.
Re;Zero took the easy way out. The edgier and more “shocking” way out that will sure draw a lot of mainstream attention to the show. But ReZero lost the point in the process. And now its stuck in a rut in trying to SHOCK the viewer(and then reset it) to keep the audience. And it is sad.
The first half of the show has showed that you can have intensity and consequences without resorting to edgy gore and suffering. The second half seems to have missed the memo in that.
Yes, this is another good point about the issues introduced by the overplot appearing in episode 14. All relational progression, which is so key to Subaru actually being able to grow, has been completely halted by the need for Subaru to again “solve” this problem. And sure, maybe in the course of him trying new things to (yet again, ugh) save Emilia, he will learn the lessons he needs to learn. But his inevitable success will simply repeat the same structural issue. It is the easy way out, as you say.
Great comment, I’m obviously pretty much in agreement with you here. Thanks for reading!
I haven’t dropped the show yet, but I share many of the criticisms you level at it here. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that Re:Zero went from having Subaru suffer through repeatingly dying horrible deaths to having Subaru suffer by having others repeatingly die horrible deaths, in the process fridging Emilia, Ram, the villagers and especially Rem.
And as you say, that’s a copout. It looked to me at first as if Re:Zero was going to explore what that mechanism of repeated timeline resets through Subaru dying would do to his relationships with Emila and Rem and co, how the mismatch between his experiences of repeatingly dying while trying to save them and himself and their reality in which he has always managed to save them or at the very least buy enough time that somebody else could come in and save them would do to his relationship with Emila. You could argue that his actions up to that bedroom scene and Emilia’s reactions are driven by that dynamic, but everything else after that ignores it for more torture porn.
It’s disappointing and it has made me enjoy the series much less, but I want to keep watching it to the end and see if it can recover itself.
First off great writeup. I saw the writing on the wall in that episode 13 outbursts and spoiled myself. Then jumped of the train.
It seemed to me that whrn it comes to the male Otaku The writer has axe to grind.
And I am naturally defensive when it comes to lectures. Yes, Subaru is immature. But he’s not a BAD person. He’s full of pride, but the writer clearly doesn’t think that’s a bad quality as the Knights have it. So much so in fact that Julius beats him up and humiliates him just to defend it.
What the writer dislikes is Folly. Otaku who believe that if circumstances changed things would work out perfectly. He dislikes it so much that he is willing to write novel after novel lulling them into a false sense of security only to then bludgeon.
This is an uncharitable reading but the one I think is true. I think ReZero is a Trojan horse anime designed around making the consumer of its very own product feel horrible for who they are.
I don’t think that’s a nice thing to do and I bailed 3 episode ago and I wish I could have written an article explaining why but I think yours is perfect. We clearly disagree on some points but I also can’t abide torture. There is too much media out there to sit through slavery, torture, violence towards woman and children and any kind of sexual violence. Good stories have been written with none of those and I am tired.
So thank you for the article and sorry for the spelling errors
So, I have to admit I was a little lost on the specific references to Re:Zero since I haven’t watched it (I dismissed it, apparently incorrectly, as another LN power fantasy trip when it first started airing), but you did a fine job when it comes to the negative critique bit. Great post!
I had been reconsidering my decision not to watch Re:Zero recently due to all the hype I’ve seen about it on Twitter, etc. But while I wouldn’t call myself an otaku per se, I have leanings in that direction, and I generally don’t like media that makes it a point to be deliberately mean-spirited towards anyone, let alone a subculture that tends to have a high rate of self-loathing to begin with. That’s the reason I couldn’t bring myself to watch WataMote, and it almost sounds like Re:Zero is worse in that regard because at least in the case of the former, the show is pretty up-front about it from the first episode. (I know you are aiming not to assume that malice towards male otaku is the goal of Re:Zero’s author, but although I realize I’m speaking out of ignorance here, from the facts you stated about the show and some of the other comments here, I get the impression that that’s at least how I would interpret it. But then I also get the impression that I’m a good deal more cynical than you are, haha.)
Anyway, thanks for writing this! I think I’ll save myself the frustration and avoid Re:Zero in favor of something a little less needlessly dark.
Great post. It perfectly lays out your perspective, and it makes sense, regardless of whether I agree or not. It turns out I was watching a pretty different show.
The major point of divergance from your point of views are the following:
(1) I didn’t feel like the show wanted me to feel like Subaru deserves to suffer. Instead, I felt that we had the misfortune of being drawn into a bad situation and he’s trying to cope. I also didn’t feel the characters were being “fridged” for his sake: I think, that ultimately the connective tissue in the show is the Witch, and I think that’s the connection Subaru and Emilia share, though neither of them understand that at that point.
(2) I didn’t feel that there was ever any turn in the direction the show took. Instead, my impression is that what we have is a meticulously plotted show; but the complexity of the plot comes at the cost of characterisations. All the characters are a bit one note (and I’d include Subaru here). It’s a competently plotted epic fantasy (of the chosen-one type, with the twist that he’s been chosen by the villain(?)), with avarage characterisation.
Example: I don’t remember when I noticed this, but it was probably around the time someone on Animesuki pointed out that “the Jealous Witch” was a mistranslation and it should be “Witch of Envy”. Remember the very beginning? Just before Subaru was transported to the other world he was watching a dating couple and he was experiencing a pang of… envy (am I misremembering that?). Later it turns out that he has been cursed by the Witch of Envy. Then, in the episode that triggered your dropping of the show, we hear Betelgeuse muse that he might be “Pride”. You say you resent that play at a larger superstructure, but I was actually waiting for something like this.
I also think there’s something in Subaru’s past, Japan-side, we don’t know yet. One thing that struck me as odd in the first episode was that Suberu could hold his own against the thugs, and that his explanation was that as a shut-in he had to defend his shelter (again, I might be misremembering). I found that so odd that I remembered it. At the time, I thought it was just an excuse to give him some basic fighting ability, but now I think that there might be a reason for why he knows self-defense, and possibly also for his being a shut-in in the first place. (The anime cliché here is that he hid – or was hidden by mum – while someone [mum] was being mugged, which resulted in survivor’s guilt.)
Now take that all together and you have the Witch cast out for “chosen ones” who have a fatal flaw like that, and feeling envy is what draws the attention. Or take a step back, and there’s some sort of supernatural force that creates those villains as some sort of cosmic balance (we’ve heard about a lot of powerful entities such as the dragon or the whale).
Re:Zero is no master piece, but I feel it’s always been what it is now. It’s never disappointed me. It’s a competetently plotted epic fantasy of the chose-one sub type with an identity of its own, average characterisation and quite a bit of style.
The brutality doesn’t bother me in this one, though I’m not sure why. I hated, for example, Akame ga Kill, where I suffered through quite a few episodes before it dawned on me that it was a two-cour and there was no way I’d make it through that. I’m fine with Re:Zero, though.
Thanks for writing this, Bless. I was on the fence about picking Re:ZERO back up after the buzz I was hearing from other viewers (and I did kinda like the first episode even if I ultimately dropped it), but this helped me make up my mind to stay away. I get the sense I’d be breathing fire if I had watched this arc, and nobody wants that, self included. ^^;
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You know, an illogical, knee-jerk gut reaction would be okay too. This isn’t Debate Club, you can embrace or discard a cartoon-show for whatever impulse happens to arise.
Having said that, I read with interest your rationale for dropping Re: Zero. I’m soldiering on with the show despite experiencing some similar problems. At some point Subaru’s and Emilia’s emotional logic, if there is such a thing, just seems to have become uncoupled from anything I can grasp. Things have begun to ring false, emotionally, and as you mentioned maybe we are seeing peril for the sake of peril in a very prurient way. Perhaps there is more to it, but at this point it seems like mere torture-porn. If evens become anything more than that, I’ll give you a holler.
Oh! my love-hate relationship with this show. It has dropped way down in my rankings.
But I can’t add or take way away anything except some of the fandom is also over the top. It is far and beyond being a good anime. Popular yes. I remember Akame Ga Kill getting flank for killing off almost everybody but it reached a conclusion without resetting ! Erased did a much better job of
going back setting things right!
I immediately see you mention Erased, and I can’t help but just see your rankings be flawed. Erased was Horrendous, the story was garbage, I’d rather watch Sword Art Online over that overhyped PoS, though I will give it that the animation is quite great though. I feel like people who were to have Erased so highly on their list, they don’t like Re:zero in the slightest. I’m the opposite. Re:Zero has to be my top anime this year, actually, ever, by far. Erased has to be my lowest, probably lower than Boku no Pico at this point, way lower. I still as though don’t think Erased has a place in talking about them both. Yes, I get it, both deal with time Bullcrap, but they are entirely different, in many ways than one.
Subaru is a horribly flawed person, and to escape the hell that he’s trapped in, he has to conquer and overcome his flaws. The story is thematically similar to Groundhog Day in that respect – he is doomed to repeat the same sequence of events, over and over, until he finally does everything “right.” There is a very precise strategy that he must follow in order to overcome his trials, and in every arc, the correct strategy is to always acquire more allies, to befriend more people, to establish stronger bonds. He was not able to ensure Elsa’s defeat until he became acquaintances with Reinhardt. He wasn’t able to survive his stay at the Roswell Manor until he earned the trust of the twins. And as recent episodes have proven, he can’t defeat the Witch Cult without persuading the Royal Candidates to lend their support to him. And to make friends with any of these people, he has to expiate his sins, correct his shortcomings as a person, learn from past mistakes, and above all else, become a better person. Smarter, more restrained, more insightful, and more empathetic.
All of this eventually happens.
It’s a pity you dropped the show before reaching Episode 18. Subaru, having endured unimaginable torment, has nearly crossed the despair event horizon, but then Rem gives him the mother of all pep talks. It’s a heartwarming, touching, absolutely beautiful scene – Subaru pouring out his heart and soul, spelling out his failures and shortcomings as a person, and Rem being almost saintly in her compassion, warmth, and understanding for him. Some of the best writing in the show is on display here. By the time the two of them have finished bonding with each other, Subaru is a new man. Reinvigorated, fired up, focused, and most importantly – hopeful. He’s now a man with a plan. The character development he gets because of the previous tribulations he went through can’t be understated.
Before this episode, Subaru tried to cope with the advent of the Witch’s Cult in the worst way possible. Won’t go into specifics, would take a while. But he sabotages his own chances of besting them by being angry, impulsive, and unrestrained, at the worst possible moments. But after the Rem therapy session, he does a 180 and this time approaches the problem from a rational, analytical perspective. He puts together facts that he has learned in a haphazard fashion over the previous episodes, not seeing the big picture until he finally calms himself down and thinks everything through. He negotiates with allies, having learned the hard way what not to say if he wants to win their support. And he demonstrates a level of shrewdness, insight, and cunning that he has not previously demonstrated. The result? By episode 19, Subaru has put together a force that is actually capable of protecting Roswell’s domain from the Cultists, and is on favorable terms with powerful people that he had pissed off in previous loops.
From spoilers I’ve read from the light novel, this precedent will stick, and Subaru’s character only improves from here.
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I second this comment.
You mentioned in your post that any point to Subaru’s relentless suffering was lost throughout, but by Episode 18 that point is made clear and finally realized: Be a better man. And if the reactions by the audience is any indicator, the payoff is immensely satisfying and impossibly worth all the loom and gloom the previous episode put everyone through.
If you stand by your decision to never return to this anime, then no one can blame you. But you’ll be missing out on one of the greatest writing of this anime season by one of the best female anime characters this year.
This anime is very interesting, satisfying and touching especially when they engage with the White Whale. Also the mystery background of each characters is very exciting. You will just come up with an expectation but your expectation is not happening because this anime twist is really great and full of surprises that makes you want to watch more and cant wait for the next episodes.
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Don’t forget some of the foreshadowing of the previous episodes.
I’m not going to type on long because I feel like wasting more of my time here would be… Well, a waste of time. I’ll just say one thing and one thing only, you should have dropped after the first episode. The plot basis was EXTREMLEY obvious from the get go. It was your fault for watching beyond that.
While i haven’t bothered to go through the various back and forths here… Well not all of them I do have a few things to say. From my personal perspective i entered this animme with no expectations even reading the synopsis of return by death meaning the character dies repeatedly obviously. I wqtched and eventually became engrossed especially after episode 17. In my opinion this show reflects a lot of life in ways just as harsh as life is. I’m not a positive person in the least. My life (in the scheme of the way a decent life is always portrayed) has been a barrel of crap. No subaru doesnt reflect the exact archetype I lived (bullied incessantly until reaching a point where i decided to stand up for myself and others) but what i see in his character is someone doing their absolute best to protect the people they care about and failing again and again and again. Everything you do is meaningless but you get up and try again anyway. I guess maybe I’m getting too deep into this jut to be fair and open i have people in my life I would willingly die for. This guy is willingkly dying for those people repeatedly. Think about that. A lot of people are terrified by death and others arewnt scared of it at all. I wasnt until i watched this anime tbh. I have a family and everything but was like whatever they don’t need me. This guy to some extent might have thought along those lines but befire his repeated deaths saw how his own failings had disastrous results. I don’t fear much but my greatest fear is failure. Its not hinted at or ewvwn mentioned in the least in this show but what if that is subarus greatest fear and hes being forced to face it at such harsh levels again and again. You assume the character isnt learning anything but perhaps that image of not learning is the character’s bravado written in for that very sake. To say hes learning nothing is egregious. Theres no way he didnt see his massive failings.again perhaps im reading to far but maybe you’re not reading far enough. Aftee so long all the stories are rhe same and movie goers and anime fans well.. Any kind of story gets predictable… Perhaps thuis was done with that in mind. The main character seems to learn nothing and keeps up his farce because he knows the people around him so well. He keeps the memories even after dying. They only keep lemories from his successful advances. In effect hes keeping up apppearances for people he knows but doesnt because they arent the same as they were in any of his previous lies which gives off. The feeling he isnt leqarning anything. In any case that bit of rambling is done. My other bit is personal tbh. I can’t stop watching this anime and enjoy it despite the awful heartbraking happenings of failed attempts. I can kinda relate to Subaru. Doikg your absolute best to keep the people you love safe and being ostracized and seen as useless when you’re doing the absolute best you can. I guess you’d have to know what it feels like to be human garbage for no fault of your own to relate to this charcter but i sure can. It hurts, everything hurts when you do everything you can and all you can do is watch everything come undone.
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But what happened in ep 13 was entirely his fault and had nothing to do with “trauma” or whatever. Since ep 0, Subaru was shown to clearly want to be the hero. Someone who humbly denied any actual reward, but wanted those rewards more than anything.
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I feel as though you were being too close minded. From the very first ep, it was shown that Subaru was an otaku thinking that he was the hero and wanted to be hailed for it. And a, “good person” isn’t just flawed as in they have a short temper. No, those are “cute flaws”: flaws you can’t hate someone for. Too trusting? Ahh, that’s a problem, but it’s so innocent, you can’t hate the person for it.
However, all good people have an ugly side that even the person themselves hate, which is exactly what ep 13 truly exposed. He suffered because he was being selfish because that’s the kind of person he is: someone who wants to be the hero and show it, yet not actually be heroic and consider others before himself, hence Emilia’s dialogue about him doing what he did for himself (pride), instead of for her.
Moving on, ep 14 were the characters going to Emilia’s side to help out or whatever. Ep 15 was much more plot relevant, showing the new issues of the arc: a cult coming in to massacre a village.
If Rem hadn’t been, “killed” the way she had, it wouldn’t hint at Beetlejuice’s power and allow a possibility of Rem still being alive for a few moments to free Subaru.
You stopped watching the anime RIGHT when Subaru began to change. Episodes 16-17 show his downward spiral into emotional madness because of how useless he is and how horrifying the situation is. In ep 18, he breaks, gives up playing the hero, but decides to try again after an entire episode’s length worth of a conversation, and changes for the better.
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[…] of the tonal debates that rages between the arguments, considering it either overly indulgent torture porn or brutal honesty. Subaru navigates through multiple respawns, repeatedly failing at multiple […]
[…] occurring in front of him after previously being mentally reduced in a past loop into inaction. The gratuity of the violence was enough, in part, for iblessall to abandon his viewing of Re: Zero together. I defended my […]
I’m glad I stumbled upon this piece, because I’ve been hoping to see someone sane echo what seems so plain to me; that this is an incoherent, juvenile mess that can barely pass for any real plot.
Good essay—I’m really glad that you were able to articulate a lot of my mounting frustration with the show. But like you said, this is also a very charitable interpretation of the story, and honestly, I think you give the show much more credit than it deserves.
Subaru’s absurd pretension and decision-making aside, the idea that this entire world enables him and believes him to be someone worth listening to is far beyond my suspension of disbelief. That the (time-pressed) royal court would enable the arrogant ramblings of such an obvious moron is nonsensical, and would be clearly illogical if some other, random half-wit ran into the hall and did the same thing.
Subaru is special because we are told he is, not because we are shown he is. The foundation of true character development is through character choice, and we have seen time and again that Subaru chooses badly, and those around him choose to ignore those failings, without fault.
And so we begin to see that these are not characters, but rather affectations of personality, like a writer’s crude idea of what might pass as real human beings in order to justify a structure and progression they’ve set in mind.
Anyway, it’s just nice to find someone whose frustration boiled over at literally the exact same time (episode 15) that mine did.
I watched the whole thing and it was basically every other LN fantasy I’ve ever seen.
Yeah, you can say there were grander themes or commentary, but eh, I feel like the show really didn’t care about that by the end of it so I don’t see the point of commenting on it.
Very interesting read. I’m gonna say the ending was pretty bad so you really didn’t end up missing too much, however–even though this is months late–I will say:
Episode 18 addresses almost all of your concerns.
If nothing else, I would take some time to watch that episode alone. Episode 17 only serves to have Subaru snap after pulling the worst possible ending, where he tries to just explain himself to Emilia, and in the process her heart exlpodes because the Witch decides to attack HER heart instead of HIS for trying to reason with her. I’m fairly certain you’d find that disgusting, so it’s not worth it.
Episode 18, however, is basically the pivotal moment of realization the main character needed. I’ll tell you right now I was about to drop the show as I was watching Ep. 18, and then Subaru started talking with Rem. What followed was probably the most legitimately tear-inducing display of affection I’ve ever seen in animation.
I know it’s been months and you’ve moved on from this anime, and probably aren’t reading these comments anymore, but I implore you to at least check that out. You’ve enough context to watch that episode just to experience one of the most genuine confessions in anime.
Of course the end of that will probably piss you off anyway so hey :^)
Oh, man, yeah, if I had got to 17 I would have been absolutely livid. I was sort of toying around with the idea of finishing the show, but from what I’ve heard it would probably just continue to upset me, so I’ll consider trying 18… but no promises! 😛
An absolutely great read! But there is one thing that I absolutely have to say:
Watch Episode 18.
Even if you do not plan on continuing the series afterwards and your opinion stays the same, I implore that you watch this episode. There’s no need to watch the previous episodes. They’re just more of Subaru’s descent into madness. Episode 18, however, serves to ameliorate some of the concerns that you have, particularly those related to Subaru’s character development. It’s a little silly for me admit, but that episode was the single greatest episode that I have ever seen. It more than made up for the faults that I had with the show as a whole. While it doesn’t conclude the third arc, it concludes the “Prologue” of the story. At the very least it should serve to conclude your journey with Re:Zero in a more satisfying way than the bitter aftertaste that you left off with.
Thanks for writing!
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[…] a very digestible approach. Mage In A Barrel is extremely well structured, producing some compelling arguments even in the face of popular works. Wave Motion Cannon Ran by Josh Dunham, WMC has plenty to […]
Ok, just to let you know. (Now that the series has ended.) Most of the reasons why Subaru had to endure the torture was released and thank god, Subaru saved everyone. Also, the series was very gory from the start, and it appears that the gore from arc 3 is actually much less disturbing than from the other arcs (To explain: Subaru had his intestines fall out and have his bare bones showing at least one or two times.) (However it was so bad that it got censored.)
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Tldr; of this article: “i do not like graphic imagery”.
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I have a question, so after all you dropped Re zero just because Subaru being a decontruction character ? And yes i am a big fan of Re zero like the biggest of biggest but everythings you say in this blog, most of it i agree. But i still wondering why you hate the tragic death and Subaru like that or maybe beacuse you don’t like tragic ? Idk
[…] how high its rating is and hated within the community due to the main character being an “insufferable idiot”, that’s why this review makes me really anxious. This would be the second time I cover a series […]
I’m sorry but there are a lot of clear holes in your logic.
The series was gory from the start, I would hardly call it “torture porn” since most of the suffering is derived from Natsuki Suburu being weak, and near useless quite often and needs to think, grow and adapt to overcome the situation, which turns this genre on it’s head and gets a realistic twist to the genre I personally find appealing, we are Suburu, if something like this happened to you or I we wouldn’t be automatically competent, just like our protaganist here, also the show makes it clear that the world Suburu arrives in is VERY cruel and frought with danger, even simple travel can easily lead to death, the plot also makes it clear early on that the “scent of the witch” brings danger to Suburu, the puppy curses him for that reason, Rem kills him for that reason, the witch is hated by society and attracts monstrosities, the author doesn’t even try to hide this yet you completely neglect it. Likewise the audience knows very little of this world because Suburu knows very little of this world, it makes sense and it puts you in Suburu’s shoes as much as it can, if you woke up in a foreign land would you really expect to get all of the exposition right off of the bat? There is a very clear theme in the LN/show that a glitzy surface hides the ugliness within. It’s literally shown in the settings of the first episode, notice the clear contrast between the slums and the market? On top of this the plot makes it very clear that Emilia has already embarked on a hard and perilous journey. When you ignore these premises completely of the plot it makes me question your prowess to properly criticize literature and media. In all honesty it looks more like this show doesn’t appeal to you mainly because it isn’t your typical shallow shonen anime. If you can’t handle violent imagery and prefer anime aimed at a younger audience then well the rating is right there so I really do not know what to tell you. There are certainly problems with the plot, but I don’t believe you’ve accurately conveyed any of them. The plot becomes tangled because of the “Return By Death” ability. This leads to some story sections that are repititive and force the story to a snails pace, which is unfortunate. Also when considering the RBD ability you have to wonder why Suburu doesn’t use his time to become more effective and to learn more about the world he is in which is a flaw. I also think the character connections move unrealistically quickly when you consider the timeline by anyone other than our MC’s perspective, however most anime/manga do this so it’s more of a personal gripe than anything, besides that I imagine the lifechanging events experienced in anime can propel such connections.
The premise of the show is that it’s not easy, it’s not fun, it’s not a game. This world becomes reality for the protagonist, and really how frightening would such a world be for someone without the abilities displayed in the show? The fact that there is gore reflects this realism that the other doesn’t hide whatsoever yet that you couldn’t even seem to grasp and drives this point home. The story isn’t particularly cheery all the time, the good times are fought for through sheer effort and willpower, but I fail to see your assumption that a story needs to be happy in order to be good, that seems like a rather childish perspective. Was Of Mice and Men cheery and happy? The Great Gatsby? No. A story doesn’t need to be a happy go lucky simple shonen to be good and not liking it because it isn’t that shows that you’re clearly being subjective, and not objective.
Seriously not one but several of your main points are “Suburu should have waited” when the early plot clearly sets Suburu up to feel special because of his RBD power, and it indeed is a useful ability that is special, but it doesn’t solve his shortcomings which is where his connections with the poeple around him come in in a way that I don’t think the show/LN could have made more obvious since it outright says it multiple times. This directly lines up with the typical character archetype in these shows.
Also I would say that the show making Otaku’s out to look bad is a stretch at best. Not nearly every Otaku acts like Natsuki. The point of Natsuki is that he is human, he is weak, he is a three dimensional character with personality flaws such as conciet and immaturity which is not something oft seen in this genre. I wouldn’t even say it really even say that the show throws much shade on Suburu because you can empathize with the situation he is in and it takes very little critical thinking to understand his actions, so I don’t see why you couldn’t divulge that yourself. This show makes it clear very early on that this isn’t your typical all about the MC and their glory type of anime, it should not have taken you more than the first 15 minutes of the show to come to that conclusion, it’s made very clear… It doesn’t set Suburu up to necessarily be a bad guy for his actions, it sets him up to be self absorbed, and like it or not when you’re self absorbed you do end up hurting people around you, if you’re an adult you should have firsthand experienced someone like this or done it yourself since it’s a very common character flaw for obvious reasons. Since you couldn’t even finish the arc it seems silly to critique it by saying it directly goes against the premise it set up. It set the premise up that Suburu can’t do everything himself, and needs to be considerate of others. After his second death this arc it becomes increasingly more clear that the characters and plot punish and look at Suburu disdainfully because he acts greedy, concieted and entitled to help instead of earning it, when this is reset is when Suburu learns his lesson from the last attempt, and we see HUGE character growth from him. I also would like to add that calling Suburu’s near vegatative state a “rage quit” is laughable, there would clearly be psychological damage from seeing your friends die multiple times and dying yourself, your mind breaking as a result is completely understandable.
Really, the audacity of suggesting the author is lazy when your own critique is no more than a surface value assessment of something you didn’t even finish and that is fundamentally flawed since it ignores direct plot points and direct character growth is a bit ridiculous.
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Your critique also too shallow. The author is too manipulative and introduce torture to make it appear as “new” or “groundbreaking”. I watched and read the whole L.N. You disagree or not this reviewer got her point.
This Re:Zero insult people with real mental illness like saying on their face. “Oh, stop pretending to feel depressed because it’s just state of mind.” It’s patronizing lectures against otaku accusing them as idiot, entitled or egoist, you’d better contribute to society even how selfish that society can be.
I honestly couldn’t have agreed more with you. I don’t know where these idiots get all this garbage from. I have yet to see a valid, or reasonable argument on a single point against Re:Zero. It just baffles me how people like this are even ALLOWED to give their opinions on anything, let alone make an ENTIRE WEBSITE to do so.
You know, I hate this anime to the core that I am writing fanfic after fanfic to destroy this toxic God Tappei’s universe called Re:Zero.
I dislike Ram and Priscilla most because most character in Rerezo universe are conceit and arrogant. They treat characters with ego bigger than universe as if they are doing nothing wrong and there is no retribution but they blame MC for that entire’s universe problem.
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“You know, I hate this anime to the core that I am writing fanfic after fanfic to destroy this toxic God Tappei’s universe called Re:Zero.”
Your comment is absolutely ridiculous.
How about ignoring the anime and focus on something you enjoy.
“I dislike Ram and Priscilla most because most character in Rerezo universe are conceit and arrogant. They treat characters with ego bigger than universe as if they are doing nothing wrong and there is no retribution but they blame MC for that entire’s universe problem.”
This is their character design which makes the reader / watcher angry at them for being this arrogant. Therefore the author made a pretty good job with the two characters since you disliked them.
The result is that they are good characters
Your opinion is absolutely garbage and I would not be surprised if your family and friends abandoned you for it.
Hey @iblessall, that is a huge lot of words to say that re:zero sucks.
It is not worth reading so much about why it is not worth watching.
Whatever. I understand the need to express the indignation.
For me it is very simple.
This show is violent and abusive, and not because of the gore content, but because of how the writer tries to indoctrinate the audience by force-feeding them his personal (highly questionable and if you ask me rather pathetic) values.
He seems to think that we are a bunch of poor insecure pubescent teenagers who are lost and useless without his moral indoctrination, just like Subaru thinks that Emilia is useless without him.
A highly dysfunctional person whose emotional problems go way beyond the excuse that he is an immature teenager.
His prehistoric delusional maniacal possessive idea of “love”, his utterly bipolar personality, jumping withing microseconds from over-the-top hyperpositivity to the most pathetic unjustified cry-baby drama-queen tantrum, his severe lack of common sense and inability to any minimally clever problem-solving…
Jeez, he can come back and correct things as much as he wants, and yet he keeps going in shock when his friends die.
He is stubborn and dull in the worst possible way, and instead of finding a way to warn people of a danger and organize a team work, he idiotically tries to do all by himself, like a fly pushes against the glass of a closed window, showing zero trust in the people he claims to love, apparently thinking that sooner or later they will realize how much the poor boy sacrificed himself in silence. So pathetic.
My intuition tells me that the writer has either put himself in this character, or he sees us as Subaru, either way he should seriously consider going to therapy before ever again writing anything more serious than a shopping list.
I consider myself a very open minded person, vastly tolerant of other points of view.
And yet I just can’t understand who (if not insecure romantic-dramatic easily manipulable teenagers) can ever like this carnival of psychoemotional abuse.
Here. I had to vomit it out, all the bullshit he force-fed me till now…
I just picked this show up, binged the first 11 episodes because they were so great (with many problems, but still fantastic), then trudged through episodes 12 and 13. Dropped it after that. I was confused about how terrible the show had suddenly become, so I started searching for answers and found this, and it basically was perfect, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting my mind at ease about my distaste for everything after the Mansion arc.
I’m a casual consumer of these types of things, I scarcely view them through the lens of literary analysis. I’m a fanatic for worldbuilding, lore, and believable characters that are treated with respect by the writer. My critiques always amount to something within those realms.
“The magic system was so incoherent that I couldn’t get through an episode without getting pissed off.”
“The worldbuilding makes no sense, no one would form an allegiance with this terribly distasteful, uncharismatic character.”
“If they can literally transform a person from being old into a younger version of themselves using the beaming technology, why do they need medicine? Why don’t they just use a previously saved “version” of that character and beam them up using the transporter to fix all their problems? Is it because they know that the beaming technology kills people and recreates them, as proven by the episode where we find another version of Riker who had been stuck on that planet (ship?) for years? Aren’t they all aware that they’re just clones of clones of clones?”
There are 2 main things that turned me off from the show.
The first one is that, after the Mansion Arc, we’re essentially given a whole new cast of characters. None of the characters behave as they did before. For Subaru, I suppose it’s believable that dying so many times has begun to drive him insane and paranoid, but characters such as Rem, Ram, and Emilia are just completely different from before. I appreciated the agency they gave to Emilia, but the cost of her character was a steep price to pay.
The second one was simply the enjoyment factor. One of the greatest boons of consuming media casually is that I don’t have to critically analyze a work to tell you why it’s bad. I can simply say “I’m not enjoying this”, and that’s precisely enough to say the work is a failure (to me). I don’t care how clever the themes are or how creative the vision is, if I’m not enjoying it then I have no reason to continue, and thus all the time and effort spent carefully constructing the ideas has been wasted.
One thing I’m sick and tired of seeing is stupid, detestable protagonists, and that’s what we got after the Mansion Arc. It’s entirely possible to deconstruct a character archetype without making that deconstruction detestable. Look at Saitama, for example.
Anyways, much appreciate your time. I hope you somehow stumble upon this comment even though it’s 5 years late.
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I responded on Twitter as well, but I just wanted to also mention that I think knowing exactly what you are looking for as a casual media consumer and having such a clearly defined boundary (I am/am not enjoying this) is really healthy and a great way to tackle things! I write a lot less not, and that’s something I’m trying to work back into my own anime watching since I don’t do as much critical processing of things.
I feel like I came into this show expecting a more lighthearted fantasy anime about adventure, but I think the plot became too dark and twisted for me, with no let-up in sight. Having trials and tribulations that a character has to go through is both important to a story line and also character development, but when the problems that they are going through go on for too long, the show becomes unenjoyable. Subaru’s stubborn nature and refusal to learn from his mistakes just made the arc drag on unnecessarily long. HOWEVER, by no means am I placing the blame on Subaru for the way that he acted, and I feel like often times viewers see themselves as infallible creatures who would never act the same way were they placed in that very situation, allowing them to be harsh on these characters and the actions that they take without having to put things into perspective.
Aside from all that, I felt like the arc went so off the tracks after Betelgeuse was introduced into the show. The arc started out with Subaru and Emilia going through a hitch in their relationship, and what I thought was going to be Subaru learning about his own personal shortcomings through his friendship with Rem and others, and learning from the mistakes that he made in his past lives. As we know, the arc just turned into us watching not only Subaru, but the rest of the characters getting mercilessly beat down by the harsh nature of the universe that he exists in. I don’t know if watching such a grueling scene unfold was supposed to be entertaining, but personally it just made me not want to watch the show anymore, and was much too difficult for me to stomach. Anyway, that was my personal reason why I was unable to continue watching Re:Zero~!
Everyone in this comment section has ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what they are talking about. Okay, let’s go over the points: “Re:Zero is suffering for the sake of suffering”. “Re:Zero is not a good deconstruction because the suffering outweighs the character development”. Those are the two I keep seeing. Listen, in any NORMAL sense, the way the story goes about developing Subaru as a person would be extreme. I mean, he dies and he dies and he dies and he see’s everyone else die repeatedly. It’s not soft on the dark side. But that’s exactly the POINT!! Re:Zero is NOT a normal character deconstruction or development story. Instead of going a normal route with doing this through other means, it does it in a horrific way. In the way where people die. Saying “It’s disgusting how everyone has to get hurt just for Subaru’s characters sake” is an incredibly idiotic argument to make. Because, let’s just say for example, Re:Zero was an anime where Subaru get’s his character development through normal means. He has the character flaws, and people end up hating him, or he cant get people to trust him, so he changes on his own. Okay, fine. But that’s where the twisted beauty of what IS Re:Zero comes in to play. Subaru does NOT get his development through normal means at all. Instead of him being in a situation where there are no outside issues happening, there are many things he has to deal with. You guy’s keep saying he didn’t need all of these horrible things happening for him to change his character. But WE SEE that in the show, even AFTER all of these things keep happening to not only him, but to everyone else as well, HE STILL DOES NOT CHANGE!! Subaru is unwilling and too weak to change, he’s too self-entitled, he’s too selfish, he’s too slothful. And this makes so much more sense when you see that the theme of Arc 3 of the anime, is Sloth vs. Diligence. Arc 1 is Pride vs. Humility and Arc 2 is Wrath vs. Patience. Subaru instead of being forced to change himself through normal means, is forced to endure and overcome all these other things at the same time. And it gives an amazing confliction to Subaru’s character. We want him to overcome these horrible scenes and make it to the end. We want to see him change. But at the same time we understand that it’s his fault. He doesn’t change, and he doesn’t even try. You guys cant say the suffering outweighs the development, when the REASON Subaru is going through all of this, is because he won’t change. We watch Subaru go through this all, and we have conflicting emotions between disgust and embarrassment, and pity and sympathy. Yes, it sucks he has to go through this all. And it sucks he has to drag everyone else in. But again, it’s his fault. And we see this too. After Rem’s confession, where Subaru is ready to finally give up after so many attempts and failures at setting things right, he gains his courage and will back after Rem confesses to him, and tells him she loves him and believes in him, and that it’s not in his nature to give up. Which it really isn’t. Subaru had been going strong that entire time, not giving in when it hurt the most for HIM. He was doing everything with good intentions, but was going about it all in the worst ways imaginable. And after Rem’s confession, we see how EASY it ends up being for Subaru to slowly, but surely change. It was such an amazingly well written moment. We’re put through this slow boil of Subaru being everything that could be wrong with a person, making so many stupid moves, only to almost GIVE UP in the end. But, it all pay’s off. We get Rem’s confession, where the 7 episodes of torment for the viewers, as well as Subaru comes to an end. We go through this gloriously dark and sick and twisted Odyssey with Subaru, pulling our hair out at the fact that he is being so stupid. But in the end, we us, as well as Subaru, get our redemption. Now, you could make the case that “7 episodes worth of this is too much”, or “There’s no reason we needed to go through this that long”. And to that I say… yes… yes we did. Because you see, Re:Zero is not the type of story you view once, and be done. No. In my case, I did not like the show at all when I first watched it. I didnt understand why everything was so stupid, and I didnt get the point of anything, and I dropped it around episode 15. But sometime later, I Re:Watched it just because I thought I should just finish it and get it done. And when I rewatched it, I realized how good it was. I realized that I completely missed the entire point of the show. Re:Zero is the type of story that you need to view more than once in most cases to understand just what it’s trying to do and say. The reason its such a long haul from point A (start of arc 3) to point B (Rem’s confession) is because it has replay value. But its not even just THAT. The long journey convey’s just how serious Subaru’s condtion is in, and builds amazing depth to his massively flawed character. Subaru, in season one, is NOT a likeable character until the very end. He stops being cringy, he stops being stupid, he stops acting like he’s the protagonist, and in season two, he is an AWESOME character. He is still flawed of course, which is good, but he is just so great, and we see him instead of JUST being this weak loser douchebag, we see him being the pillar of support for the cast, ESPECIALLY Emilia, who also gets wonderful character development. Overall, everything you commenters are saying is crap. It’s just complete garbage. If you would like to read more about why these idiots are wrong, find a comment by a someone called “ValorOfMessiahs”. Its a pretty hefty one, but it explains a LOT in subject from mine to these morons, and it’s even better since not one of the idiots responded to his claims HAHAHAHA!! Oh, and I’d recommend reading the Light Novel series too. I feel like the story is conveyed SO MUCH better in the novel, and I think if you enjoyed the anime, you’ll gain a new found appreciation of the story if you read it. Thanks. That’s all.
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The author doesn’t agree with the idea of character development by suffering. He even said that Subaru would have moved past his hikkimori state if he had stayed in his original world. The story of re:zero is not only Subaru moving past his Otaku state but making him into a even better person than he could ever become in his real world. Although his RBD has many disadvantages, it creates a more mental health issues and is not really a good coping mechanism, it still has proven to give really good character development as far as i have seen in the story.
I can’t believe all these people saying they dropped Re:Zero at episode 13/14 for reasons that the show explicitly addresses just a few episodes later! Subaru is not a great person – he’s just a good-ish guy that has some MAJOR flaws, and “major” is putting it lightly… and what he goes through makes him even worse. Other characters even call him out on his issues, everyone from Emilia to Crusch. It was always glaringly obvious to me as a viewer that this was intended, and my stated dealbreaker to Re:Zero was “Either Subaru better be going through one hell of a character arc or this is the worst story ever told.” So, yeah, I cried when I got to episode 18 and saw it was indeed a character arc, but you wouldn’t know anything about this if you just went Blah I don’t like Subaru and stopped watching at his most despicable point. I appreciate that he isn’t a fluffy lovable MC. I love that the people and circumstances around him change him so vividly. And I LIVE for that suffering and gore, because horror is my bag, and really I will tell anyone that this anime is a fantasy HORROR isekai. I love this show so much that I’m currently reading the light novels, and there’s even more suffering and gore to the point of abject despair and even every single attempt at lightheartedness is darkly clouded by the glaring fact that it’s just Subaru trying to cover up for himself and I. AM. LOVING. IT. If you don’t like suffering and gore, fine, don’t get involved in Re:Zero. The rest of us want that stuff, so don’t complain for paragraphs in twenty different ways that you don’t like gore. As an aside, I’m also fascinated by the fact that the anime doesn’t tell us Subaru’s sense of self until he states it aloud in episode 18, while the LN has the reader in his head from page one, telling us continuously exactly what the anime viewer doesn’t know for the first 18 episodes. The difference in the way Subaru’s intentions come across is interesting, and yet both the anime and LNs work.