Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Through blood, sweat, tears, and maybe a few Return by Death, Subaru has finally saved all his friends. All that matters is to clean up the pieces and celebrate.
Since this is the last episode of the season, SPOILERS BE WARNED!
“I’d call it the perfect handicap”
With Emilia and the villagers on the ropes, snow storming around them and murderous demon rabbits ready to munch them out of existence, all hope seems lost. Until Subaru comes with a powerful ally in a flash of light. Through team work, Beatrice and Subaru and Emilia clean up the rabbits and manage to save the village. With the end of Roswaal’s plan, there’s only the atonement left for the perpetrators, healing for the wounded, and celebration for the victors. And in the season finale of Re: Zero, audiences get to experience all the good vibes they more than deserve.
In essence, it’s not as bombastic as the last season’s ending. While there’s still a threat of a powerful beast as a driving force of the action, it doesn’t carry the same weight as before. Probably because most of the character issues and arcs for the season were already tied up a an episode or three prior. Whether or not this means the season ending is bad would fall into personal tastes. As it is. It fits the overall season since action and angst, while present, only took a backseat of what could be described as Subaru’s pursuit to be everyone’s friend and therapist.
“No matter how old you get, you never really changed”
In a weird way, Re: Zero took a very mature and very fleshed out route to form the stereotypes you see in the isekai genre. While it took great lengths to make it not the case in the first half, focusing primarily on the pain and hardship of actually being in another world, it also didn’t avoid the beats of isekai. Subaru still got powers, though not the world bending hero kind, but through the respectful route of earning them. And not even earning them in a straight forward way. But through being kind and opening his heart, he managed to capture the respect and love of the people around him, which also lead him to developing a lot of plot armor in the process. It’s just one of the genius ways Re: Zero approached isekai.
There’s also the treatment of the “harem” trope, where it actually took the time to turn the characters into believable people with thoughts and beliefs beyond Subaru. And it actually took the time to give proper justification on why they’re so attached to him. It’s not a romantic harem by any means, and this doesn’t mean that the idea of harem is a justified trope to begin with. But at the very least, Re: Zero should be commended for breaking the barriers and showing everyone how to actually tell a story.
Of course its errors are still glaring when it makes them. In the 2nd season, there’s the unexplained power build ups that suddenly happened to Subaru. While they get explained in a roundabout way, it does betray the very theme it wants to tell. That sheer power isn’t the key. Only through trusting your friends and having faith in the good side of others can one succeed. And not in the Naruto “friendship is magic” method of making friends by sheer willpower. It’s through learning and understanding the individuals around him. And it feels weird how he just suddenly develops his abilities out of nowhere. Though, if one would think on it, it could be a theme of “power is just a bonus” kind of thing going on. But that might be stretching it since the problems of suddenly dropping plot points and moments is a thing that it loves to do.
Speaking of plot points, the biggest quirk that one can take from the entirety of the 2nd season is that it showed us how interesting the world they live in is if the story was focused on anything but Subaru. Emilia’s past? You can make the story about her and how she regains her memory and slowly realizes who she is and the games played by everyone. Very compelling. Roswaal and Beatrice? Compelling because the two are immortals who are both stuck in the drama of the past and it has driven them to do so many horrible acts. Ram? Actually feels like an interesting story on what it feels like to work for the enemy. Garfiel and Fredericka? A family story that is so ripe for potential with the tension they actually contain. Hell, even Otto has a wonderful backstory. But they all feel sidelined to focus on the clumsy story of Subaru. Even Subaru and his interesting drama is sidelined by his own story arc.
While the story of the 2nd season is all about how Subaru still has a long way to go, it also feels like it goes against the 1st seasons thematic arc. In the 1st season, Subaru ended by showing that he’s accepted who he is, as powerless and reliant on others. And it was focused on him realizing that it’s ok to be weak and take time to grow. And the 2nd season allows him to grow, both as a human and as a magic user. But why the choice of making him go through the same thematic arc? Realizing that he couldn’t rely on himself anymore and yada yada. It felt like it was really trying to hammer in this message that everyone already knew. The story could have flowed better if they removed the whole arc about Subaru realizing that he had to learn to trust others, and instead put all that energy into building up the characters, the thrills, and way he gains abilities, the way the story both introduces and solves its problems. The whole season could have flowed easier without it.
Also, why is this series so obsessed with undermining the empowerment of its women? Ram is 18 years old, it seems apparent that drawing Ram as a petite school girl looking loli is a bit weird. This is even weirder considering they ended her arc as Roswaal’s lover? Or like is in love with him? The same guy who technically caused a lot of her hardships in the first place? There’s Rem, who actually started the thrill of the second season when the point was trying to get to solving her problem. Though that might actually just be a link to the third season, but still. There’s also how the Witches, which were deemed as powerful and sources of fear, are all portrayed a little too much into the male gaze. Is there a reason to make the Witch of Sloth, Wrath, and Greed dressed in ways that undoubtedly is made to be sexual? It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have a character proud of their body, but it’s all in the intention of the creator that matters here.
But most of all, the lore and mythology that could have been introduced well was just all crammed in the second half of the second half. All that potential subtle nods and pay offs to introducing the other players to the story are all just set aside. There’s so much more the story of Re: Zero that could have made it coherent. But they’re all left out.
HOWEVER. Big however. There’s still some merit to the story. Regardless of whether these opinions are shared or not, there’s still the value in seeing how the story took a route of slow building friendship, of faith in each other. Battles aren’t centered on strategy, but heart. Plots aren’t angsty for no reason anymore, but are all done with an awareness of balancing both its positive and negative sides. Just like how Subaru focuses on proving to everyone how they can all be good people. It’s literally a more grounded approach to how every shounen protagonist deals with their enemies. And it’s honestly the wonderful. Also seeing the other characters get fleshed out is a huge plus.
“I think this scene just might be my ideal”
All in all, Re: Zero managed to end the season on a great note. While the 1st part made things difficult to enjoy in the 2nd part, it managed to tie everything up well enough that audiences and fans can anticipate the next season to raise everything up. Though people who weren’t impressed before won’t be impressed now. Still, Re: Zero – Starting Life in Another World Season 2 Part 2 is a fun and enjoyable watch.
Final rating: 7.5/10
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