**Warning: There WILL be spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.**
Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World, or Re:Zero because no one takes the time to say the full title of anything, is a well-known, highly regarded isekai series. I absolutely fell in love with it after watching the first season, so I was stoked when I learned that a second season was coming. Now that I’ve finally had a chance to watch it all the way through (I do like full 25 or so episode seasons for pacing reasons, but it’s more difficult to marathon), what are my thoughts on it? Did it live up to the hype left by the first season?
Yes. Just flat out yes. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Spoiler right off the bat here. If it wasn’t obvious by my comments on this series from my anticipated winter series post, Rem is best girl in my opinion. As such, it was quite a blow when she was basically K.O.’d the whole season. Literally, the whole thing. We get a bit in one episode to see what happened to her, but that’s it. Despite that, however, I do understand the move, and it was clearly needed. This season was basically all about the other characters and their growth. Much of season 1 was focused on Rem, so something had to be done to shift focus away from her. I do hope that we see her recover at some point down the road, because again, best girl, but we’ll have to just wait and see I guess. It would be pretty unsatisfying if she was taken out of the story as a whole in that way, you know? With that out of the way, let’s get to the awesome.
This season was quite different from the first. First season, we saw several different plots that were loosely connected to form the overall story, with Subaru dying again and again until he found a successful route through each. This season, however, it was one big cohesive story, revolving around the Sanctuary and the witches themselves. The shift away from the trial and error approach, after Subaru’s chat with the witches (Satella in particular), really changed the whole feel of the series. But not in a bad way. It definitely felt like a huge step for Subaru, progression-wise.
Speaking of character progression and development, that was abundant in this season. I mean, they had it in spades this time around. With Rem out of the picture, much to my dismay, it made way for Emilia to play a much bigger role, and thus allowing for similar character growth to what Rem received in season 1. Not only that, we got to see her backstory during the trials. It was awesome, but also heartbreaking. Like, seeing what happened with Fortuna and Petelgeuse was beyond tragic. I feel bad for Petelgeuse now, after reaaaaaaaally despising that lunatic in season 1 (can’t really fault him for his descent into madness after that…). I’m not usually a fan of lengthy backstory dumps, but, while we spent multiple episodes in Emilia’s past, it was definitely warranted and worth every minute. All I can say is, poor Emilia…
While Emilia certainly got a big focus, she wasn’t the only one to get some love (funnily enough, both figuratively and literally). It’s like they were handing out character development like it was candy on Halloween. Ram and Roswaal have their characters fleshed out. The newcomers Frederica, Garfiel, and Ryuzu get quite a bit of development for new characters. We even get stuff for everyone’s favorite punching bag Otto. Shit, even that sick maniac Elsa got some attention. However, I think the two (well, one is more than a single person) that I enjoyed the most was Beatrice and the witches. Finally getting to understand the enigmatic Beatrice and her story was very satisfying (and can I just say, she was fucking moe as hell when flailing in the last episode as she held Subaru’s hand?). Additionally, actually defining the character of the witches was just awesome. After having them be a complete mystery, left to your own assumptions for a whole season, to finally have them shown and the realization that they’re characters aren’t as black-and-white as you were led to believe… It was just such a well-done piece of story telling. I’ll touch on them more later, as they were too awesome to not discuss more.
Now, let’s dive into even more spoilerific stuff so I can rant about a few of the things that really struck me. First off, as I had stated before, not having Rem basically the whole season was sad. It did what it needed to, for motivations and plot, but sad none the less. Especially if you’re a Rem fan like myself. I really hope Subaru can get her memories (for lack of a better term, I guess) back from that hungry bastard.
Another point, what is it with bunnies in fantasy series? Like, seriously, all of them are like this:
Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. Occasionally we get these too:
Are there normal rabbits in fantasy anime? Either way, another season concluding with a fight with one of the three Great Mabeasts. This fight, however, was significantly less interesting. The magical snowstorm that became associated with them was arguably more interesting. Yes, I know it was technically caused by Roswaal, but the association was made ever since Subaru walked out of the graveyard to see the whole place covered in snow. Either way, the snowstorm struck me as more fascinating for some reason. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Speaking of fights, however, the fight between Garfiel and Elsa was probably my favorite fight of the whole series so far. Is it weird that arguably the best fight scene didn’t feature Subaru? Possibly, as usually big fights have the protagonist. But, let’s be honest, he is terrible at fighting. He is certainly gaining some experience, as seen with his brawl with Garfiel, but he still can’t compete, especially against enemies as savage as Elsa. Typically, they just result in him dying super quick and promptly being sent to his last save point. I am excited to see how he grows, though. But, for now, we’ll just enjoy the brutality of Elsa versus Garfiel. Pretty intense scene all around.
I need to talk about the witches. Like, they’re just fucking cool. Maybe it was all the teasing they did in season 1, but getting to actually meet them is just so great. It’s like how you hear about some legendary or mythical figure in a story, and then you get this huge payoff when you finally get to meet them. It’s just intense and incredibly satisfying. Honestly, I didn’t realize there was basically one for each of the seven deadly sins (plus one if you include Pandora), so that was nice to learn. I should have guessed it, honestly, as anime love to lean on that trope. Either way, humanizing them was definitely the way to go. All of them seemed very understandable in their own way, and their unique differences made them even better. For instance, hearing Daphne’s reason for creating the Great Mabeasts was a prime example that they’re not as straight up evil as they’d initally appeared. Even Satella felt much more reasonable after she got a chance to talk to Subaru. It was almost heartwarming. But, of course, Echidna took the cake (not one of her gross ones from her tea party…) in this season, being the main focus of the witches, given her ties to the Sanctuary. As we got to hear from her more, I ended up liking her more with each visit from Subaru, plus all the backstory, courtesy of Roswaal, Ryuzu, and Beatrice. By the end of it, I really felt for her. Her slightly sociopathic tendencies is probably the one counterweight to this, of course, but it’s likely what defined her as a “witch”. Either way, I really hope we see more of the witches, especially since I have a suspicion that Pandora is going to be making an appearance in the future.
No, I didn’t forget about this. I was just saving it for last. Finally, FINALLY we get some romantic progression between Subaru and Emilia. WOO!!! That kiss was perfect. After a very cyclical argument, we finally see a breakthrough, and it was amazing. I still prefer Rem, but Emilia deserves some love. Especially after that horrific past… This was such a long time coming, and it was everything I hoped for.
Let’s wrap up this long post with some final thoughts. As with season 1, this season was excellent. The animation was excellent, the plot was beyond excellent, the characters are actually growing meaningfully, and the ending wrapped up the season nicely while leaving multiple plot threads for season 3 (which better be in the cards!!). Honestly, I have no complaints. … Okay, I’m sad about the lack of Rem. But I’ll overlook it for how stellar Emilia was. She’s really developing into a true heroine. I really can’t recommend this enough, and pray for continued awesomeness from this series.