OP: 「Redo」 by Suzuki Konomi
「再会の魔女」 (Saikai no Majo)
“Reunion with the Witch”
I can’t decide if this frustration is the right one or not.
Is This the Right Frustration
I can see the delicate line this story is going to have to walk. The intent seems to be to foster a sense of frustration, helplessness, and despair, like Haruhi’s infamous Endless Eight arc, only hopefully not quite so shit. (Bring it on, haters.) But when frustration and despair are your goal, you have to be careful to either draw the viewer in gradually before you start fucking with some heads, or go completely overboard from the beginning ala the Dark Souls franchise. If you don’t follow one of those paths, you risk making the story frustrating in the wrong kind of way, i.e. the way that will cause people to put it down and walk away.
I fear this story is being undercut by slightly subpar writing, either by the scriptwriters or by original creator Nagatsuki-sensei. Some of that’s in dialogue, such as when Reinhard (Nakamura Yuuichi) volunteers that he feels crushed by his family’s expectations—that’s called telling instead of showing, and it’s storytelling’s number one sin. More concerning is the character moments that don’t make me go “This world is horrifying and despair-inducing,” but rather “These people are idiots.”
It takes three deaths for Subaru to clue in to the Return by Death mechanic, which is too much, but not a deal breaker in and of itself. Then Felt attacks him relentlessly, which is a borderline case. More concerning is when Subaru keeps shouting “Listen to me!” instead of telling her something that might make her listen. Or when Felt destroys her own shack. Or when Subaru isn’t honest with them in the loot house, and doesn’t appear to have come up with a plan to convince her. Or hasn’t considered how a cynical thief might react to his actions, or how a suspicious half-elf girl might react to a cryptic warning (from Reinhard, I think we can assume).
None of these would be noteworthy problems in another story, because people make mistakes and don’t always have a chance to think things through. But this isn’t an action-adventure. It’s a puzzle/mystery, and puzzles are most interesting when the protagonist is bringing their best to the table. To elicit the right frustration, Subaru should be doing everything right to the best of his abilities in each reincarnation, and still losing. That would evoke the same feeling of despair that Steins;Gate managed, though to be fair, the lack of details in that crushing montage helped keep it from bogging down.
To clarify, Subaru running into Elsa and being scared is fine. He didn’t know he would meet her suddenly like that, nor suspect how scared he would be, so he couldn’t prepare. Him not being able to get past Felt’s skepticism is also fine, ’cause the girl has lots of it. But not seeming to have a plan to convince her other than bowing earnestly seems like bad planning, and it’s liable to turn viewers against him and the author instead of getting us on their side.
To clarify again, I’m not turning against this show or anything. It’s the second episode, I hardly know it. But where last week left me pumped due to the unexpectedly solid premiere, this one returns me to some of the concerns I had prior to the season’s start. There’s a fine line they need to walk here, and I think Subaru is going to stop half-assing and really think things through for me to totally get on board. This isn’t the kind of story where you can wing it once you have info to work with. Whole-ass or gtfo.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – This must walk a fine line between being frustrating b/c of fate, & being frustrating b/c the characters are being idiots #rezero 02
- This OP is a meaty sequence. I like all the Subarus, and all the screaming.
- That Elsa scene was hella tense. As if past events haven’t already made this clear, you don’t want to fuck with her.
- Don’t be so patronizing, kid.
- Whether-I’m-going-to-blog-this update: I’m more on the fence than last week. Episode three might be do-or-die for the coverage decision. We’ll see.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Even if you see it coming, it can still work, Batman does not kill. Superman does not kill., Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?, and Superhot: Storytelling through gameplay.
ED: 「STYX HELIX」 by MYTH & ROID