As expected there were no real surprises for Re:Creators’ conclusion. Sure we didn’t have a time skip, no resurrections for the feels, and of course some explanations were not forthcoming (looking at you Altair materialization), but hey, it wasn’t that bad of a happy ending. Matsuraba and Tanaba have the satisfaction knowing Celestia and Alice are not really dead, Souta’s mind is eased enough to delve back into creation, and even poor Hikayu learned that ecchi can be a force for good. Occasionally.
The hilarious bit though lay with Meteora and her inability to return home. Spell doesn’t allow the user to cross the portal? Nonsense, little miss magic just doesn’t want to share the bounty from the world of the gods. Seriously, just look at that face, does that look like the face of mercy? Plus we all know now that Meteora actually created the entire story for her own amusement. Alright it’s all tongue in cheek at this point, but it’s nice seeing Re:Creators still willing to pay homage to some fan theories right before curtain drops. All in all it not a bad way to go out.
There is no denying that Re:Creators is unique. It comes from the imagination of Hiroe Rei, plays up our meta crossover/multiverse fantasies for all they are worth, and had a solid theme under all the fluff and circumstance. We never even really encountered any production issues or glaring shifts in pace or narrative which plagued TROYCA’s other big(ly) original work in Aldnoah.Zero. It was an all-round good show. Yet this views hides a lot of issues under the surface which (in my opinion) hindered the show in a few ways.
The most prominent issue with Re:Creators was arguably its focus. The show had a fantastically unique theme in the trials and tribulations of story creators, but it never particularly emphasized this aspect. We saw creations brought to life, a few quick moments of real world exploration, and then several episodes of static, room-panning info dumps and a quick shift into the strategy of dealing with Altair. Creator struggles, the highs and lows of world building and the fears of making work public? Hardly touched on explicitly, and largely relegated to Re:Creators’ latter half once Altair’s raison d’etre became front and centre. This was a show of ideas that all but required its audience glean them from secondary sources or pour copious amounts of thought into after the fact. We hyped up small moments, received ambiguous answers for our troubles, and always hoped next week would inevitably reward our patience. Sometimes Re:Creators provided satisfaction (particularly in the last few episodes), but more often than not, we wound up with more of the same.
What specifically generates this criticism is what Re:Creators lacked: action. By this I refer not to pretty explosions or over the top fights (which did feature), but simply showing in place of telling. The show as mentioned had a heavy reliance on info dumps for its plot advancement, which while necessary at points in any story, quickly wore out their welcome. Couple that with Meteora being our source of nearly all plot-related information, and it’s no surprise many grew tired of Re:Creators narrative approach. The show simply had little of the cosmetic filler which keeps an audience invested, the character interactions, the small adventures, the ubiquitous single episode arcs. Sure we received all the important answers and plot details early on, but it wasn’t especially entertaining. The audience wants to see the characters live in the world around them and explore its intricacies, not statically give and receive data through boring presentations. By refusing to emphasize those quintessential slice of life moments, Re:Creators effectively became an academic work instead of a living, breathing universe. In place of a story, we arguably got an accounting.
Now with all that said it does not imply Re:Creators was terrible, far from it. Even with all the aforementioned criticisms the show remained a joy for me to watch, and never once noticeably stumbled. What irks me in hindsight is that it could have been so much better. Simply replacing those early info dumps with “showing” slice-of-life moments (a la the recap episode) for example would have made things fun and lively while retaining the required drip of plot-based information. Focusing more on Altair and her party earlier on would have improved our impressions and made her finale more impactful. Hell showcasing more of the other creators beyond Souta would have greatly increased the depth of Re:Creators’ thematic exploration. In a way the show geared up, but wound up stuck in the middle gear early on, producing a story too large for a single season, but stretched awfully thin over two cours. Whether due to time constraints or production committee issues, Re:Creators had a disconnect between its story and its structure and held itself back because of it.
In the end though without a doubt, Re:Creators will leave its mark. With anime original series seemingly only growing rarer as time passes, having a show willing to explore certain concepts and do so well is enough for some serious accolades. Criticism or not (and don’t take my thoughts as the end all be all!), Re:Creators took a chance and produced a show giving us countless weeks’ worth of discussion, debate, and viewer imagination. It may not have been the best thing ever to grace our screens, but denying its impact would be premature and unfair. After all with this show potentially being the first of many (not like there aren’t plenty of potential jumping off points), it’s not like we’ve truly seen the last of it just yet. Re:Creators has easily laid a solid foundation, it’s just up to its creators to see if there’s anything else which can be added on top.