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Re: Zero – Starting Life in a New World Season 2 Part 2 Ep. 9 – What if?

Both Emilia and Subaru have roles to play. But will the plans of Roswaal push through? Will Emilia free the Sanctuary in time? Will Subaru manage to not lose to Roswaal?

This time, you’re gonna let me drag you out into the sunlight

Emilia looking at her reflection as she falls from a cliff
Who am I?

The latest episode of Re: Zero starts with a bang. A stylish beginning where Garfiel and Elsa “The Bowel Hunter” Granhiert are clashing metal in the halls of Roswaal’s mansion. As the two fight, Subaru and friends are trying to escape with Petra and Frederica. But as the events play out in the same sequence of violence, just like in Subaru’s previous Return, things are slowly becoming more dire. All the while, Emilia begins the next trial and must be ready to find another part of her challenged. Whether or not they survive is something to expect in the next episode. Especially considering Subaru’s new philosophy of not using hi Return by Death power. But while the bigger source of thrills are from the Mansion, the heart of the episode is once again focused on Emilia.

With the new trial, Emilia is faced with the test of “facing an unfathomable present”. And these words should have been warning because the episode is a tearjerker. If you’re a fan of Emilia, and a lover of the previous trial’s angst, then this episode takes those emotional wounds and rubs an entire jar of salt on them. Because what’s more painful than a painful past? The lost ‘what if?’ and the present that could never be. And that, in some cases, is a harder test for some.

You’re such a stubborn girl

Elsa "The Bowel Hunter" fighting against Garfiel in the halls of Roswaal Mansion
Drop dead, she'll be gorgeous

As always, the visuals tell the story. Moments of stillness, the changes of color, the artistic flourish of lighting, all are given a spotlight as always. It’s a big help to tell the variance in the characters, giving them a whole spectrum of traits and personalities and building them up as more than just plot devices or as stereotypes. From the Witch of Greed, to Betelgeuse, even Roswaal, all feel like real people. And maybe it’s the fact that the story is moving at a proper pace that cements how these characters are feeling like characters, but it creates some nice internal conflict considering the stakes at hand. It also helps that the story is settling more since this small story about a group of people trapped is actually a very important piece of development for Emilia. And Subaru meshes more with his role, which is saving the mansion. With the two main characters finally set and flowing with what they have to do, there’s a form of solidity to the story. Like everything feels ok because things are gonna get better.

And this is just a sign of great things to come because Re: Zero loves to absolutely DESTROY happy endings.

One thing interesting in the series so far is the characterization of selfishness. There’s an intelligent approach in deconstructing the expected character arcs for Subaru, Emilia, etc. It was said best by Roswaal to Subaru when he realized just how much Subaru wanted. “Absolutely greedy” was the phrase. Or how the Witch of Greed called Emilia “selfish” for her desire to be better was because she didn’t want to be the old version of herself, but someone admirable. And the show frames this value in a new light. Not as a form of evil, but as a trait that can be used for the better. A drive that pushes people to improve, even if the point is a little selfish. It’s one of the show’s more intellectual themes, using the idea of seven deadly sins and reversing the way they’re applied.

Where Subaru’s lust (which is the basic attraction based on an ideal image) of Emilia became a genuine love and respect for her and treatment as her equal. Where Emilia’s open heart revealed an unwillingness to face her darkness, thus making wrath and greed necessary to push her to be a better person. There’s the way how sloth is manifested in Subaru in his acceptance of his abuse of ‘Return by Death’ power, because he never tried to find a better way to solve his problems, and arguably becomes better when he stopped trying and accepted help (a twist to sloth). And it could be just over-analysis, but given Re: Zero’s track record of being thematic to the point of dispensing with a straight and understandable narrative, it’s honestly not far from being possible.

I just… hate you so much

The Witch of Greed crying
Tears from the wicked

And in essence, that’s the biggest strength of Re: Zero as a whole. Despite being bad at balancing which storyline it wants to tell, despite the troubled cohesion of the story of Subaru and the story of the others, it’s incredibly nuanced with themes and is a beautiful sight to deconstruct itself. If nothing else, Re: Zero is consistent in the quiet build-up of its ideas. And despite not being good in actually putting those themes to the forefront with a story, it still manages to tickle the brain.


Re: Zero-Starting Life in Another World Season 2 Part 2 Episode 10 will be released Wednesday, 10 of March 2021 at 10:30 PM (JST).

Official Anime Website: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World

Official Anime Twitter: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World

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