「親子」 (Oyako)
“Parent and Child”

In the midst of sweltering summer heat (at least if you’re me – 30+ degrees Celsius is nothing to scoff at when you’re prairie Canadian!), Re:Zero apparently decided that going all in on 30 minutes (!!!) of warm , fuzzy feels and burning love was the right move this week. And frankly amidst my overheating I cannot fault what we received. Although undeniably couched in the magic of one particular Witch and coloured by nostalgia, this was the episode which finally gave us a good deal on info on Subaru’s past, and most importantly, the driver which ensures this kid won’t be backing out of his mission partway through.

Considering what we learned of Subaru’s real-world history way back in season one, I suspect a few anime-only fans might be surprised to discover this kid was a NEET. A full-on, true to god NEET. While this premise is the meat and potatoes of many light novel/manga/anime stories these days, I must admit Re:Zero’s version is arguably one of the more realistic takes on the concept, especially considering who Subaru was to start with. In effect we got a kid who outgrew his specialness, and in a desire to avoid failing to meet perceived expectations, wound up acting out and then retreating into himself to avoid the hassle of disappointing those close to him—and himself. The midlife crisis has been a meme unto itself for decades (see The Hangover trilogy for its concentrated form), but as Subaru shows the teenage years often feature a similar crisis of faith. Most often kids rise above the challenges of social cliques, parental intentions (perceived or not), and planning for the future, but plenty these days fall through the cracks, and Subaru was one of them.

When looking on Subaru’s past it’s easy to find fault with his choice as he realized he was just another nameless face in the crowd, but part of the blame (at least for me) must also lie with his parents. No matter how hilarious mama and papa Subaru may be (papa especially), both owed it to Subaru to give him a literal kick in the ass when needed to prevent him from falling in on himself. While the likes of Rem and Emilia may have enabled Subaru to realize his self-worth and grow beyond the shadow of father, such a dramatic intervention need not have been required if Subaru’s parents were more forcefully willing to voice their obvious concerns and make their son realize yes, he is his own person, and regardless of choice he will be loved. It might just be me and my family situation or even Subaru’s take on his own memories in this instance (as one scene poignantly suggests), but parental responsibility demands ensuring your child not only knows of societal obligations, but also personal obligations. Retreating into yourself and building walls may seem correct when young and downtrodden, but it only hurts as you get older and realize the only way to truly get ahead is with the assistance of others. Makes it kind of curious then to know if those Return by Death chest pains were only part of Subaru’s Witch-induced reminiscing, or if he actually had them when he was back in the real world; the latter would certainly suggest some long-term planning on the part of one particular Witch and somewhat explain how Subaru was one kid able to so easily skip compulsory education.

Considering Echidna’s classroom appearance though we’ll know how this little trip down memory lane plays out. After all, if there’s one thing a Witch’s appearance in this show foretells, it’s the oncoming rush of suffering before the inevitable Return by Death resurrection.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Memento」by nonoc


  1. I really doubt that Subaru actually had chest pains in the real world. I think it was the circumstances of the trial that was causing him pain. What was real though was that Subaru apparently had anxiety attacks about going to school that would go away after 8:00 after he knew it would be too late to make it to school on time.

    This episode showing Subaru had daddy issues shines a new light on one of his interactions with Julius in which he said, “Don’t act like a big shot with your daddy’s name.” It sounds like he was projecting to an extent because that’s what he did back when he was younger, which was pretend to be a big shot who was the most fun of anyone.

    I really appreciate that Re:zero showed Subaru’s backstory because most isekai do not do this, and this is another reason Re:zero is clearly a league above most of the bad isekai series that come out these days.

    1. Yeah in hindsight it’s likely panic attacks IMO. Given the timing of his pains (early morning, in the presence of strangers) it makes better sense than something Echidna did.

      Also agreed on the projecting. This flashback effectively shows Subaru’s father as his sole role model, and when he failed to live up to that image, chose to act out in increasingly audacious ways to try and stay close to his ideal rather than improve himself. Ironically you can consider it a male case of daddy issues and explains a great deal about all that moxie Subaru showed at the start of the first season.

      1. What was the father job, anybody know?
        I’m quite curious.
        I don’t think he was anybody famous, as the mother described him as a jack of all trades that can do anything.
        Plus the home seemed pretty average.

        1. one of the things the anime had to condense and inevitably lost in the transition.
          the episode did highlight it, but very quickly. it wasn’t so much that his father was famous in a broad sense, but *everyone* (locally) knew his father. hence why multiple times you see Subaru hearing “that’s his son for you”. iirc, when he was walking around with his father, many people kept calling out to his father and saying hi. everyone knew him, liked him

  2. “♪ You’ve been hit by, you’ve been struck by, a Smooth Criminal! ♫”
    (And yeah, I can still swear those posters on Subaru’s wall are references to some other light novels.)

    “Yes… YES… YESSS! Come to Papa!

    While I’m pretty certain this is all a “dream world” set up by the oh-so-lovable Witch of Greed, it was still nice to see the grayish-tinged flashbacks to Subaru’s past and why he became the shut-in that he is. (Also, Subaru’s mom telling him to “take care” on the night he was isekai‘d… Man.) That being said, the skeptic within me can’t help but ask: Why would Echidna bother to help Subaru come to terms with his past life? What’s the catch?

    1. I think that Echidna is a neutral party. She doesn’t seek to aid nor hinder Subaru. The point of the trial was for Subaru to face his past and he would only pass the trial if he finally went to school which is why Echidna stated that Subaru went to school earlier than she thought.

    2. So Echidna (or presumably her soul) is basically an observer whenever someone has to do the Sanctuary’s trial. (If Subaru was sent to a strange “dream world” to face his past, I can’t help but wonder what Emilia’s own trial is like.) That said, I sense Echidna wants to get something out of this situation, and whatever that is might be to the detriment of Subaru (and Emilia).

      On a different note, according to the sauce bosses on Reddit’s r/Animemes, the two white-haired girls on two of the posters in Subaru’s room are Julie Sigtuna from Absolute Duo (left) and Kirin Toudou from The Asterisk War (right). (And from what I’ve heard, the anime adaptations of those two LN series were…mediocre at best, terrible at worst. Hope they still have some decent fanservice.) Now if only someone can ID the leftmost poster (seen in Kenichi’s moonwalk sequence).

      1. And all along, I’d believed that Subaru liked Emilia because she was beautiful, smart, capable and decent. But maybe he just has passions for women with silvery-lavender hair.

        While those two shows weren’t especially good, I can’t help but think that the original stories were not good either, so I wouldn’t call out their adaptations independently.

        1. LOL, if Azur Lane premiered during Subaru’s time before being isekai‘d, would he have found Belfast attractive? (And I’ve already had my fair share of white-haired waifus even before Re:Zero.)

          On a more serious note, yes, Subaru was definitely attracted physically to Emilia (and influenced by his LN/anime waifu preferences), but learning more about her personality (deep sense of empathy, plus everything else you mentioned) did make Subaru simpfall for her even more–even with Rem vying for his affection and accepting his shortcomings (past timelines aside).

          I’m actually tempted to take a look at Absolute Duo and The Asterisk War and make my own judgment about them (instead of forming opinions based on hearsay), but the only reason I’m not doing so is because of all the other anime I’m following this Summer 2020 season. (Plus Agents of SHIELD and the occasional Trash Taste podcast… Still beats the drought of last season, though.)

          1. Belfast, Enterprise, Javelin, Edinburgh, Illustrious, Kaga, Laffey, Prinz Eugen, and Sheffield… he would have joined the navy the next day and instead of becoming a butler, would have tried for admiral. Whatever else there is about that show, it doesn’t have a lot of creativity when it comes to ship waifu design.

            Well, far be it from me to discourage anyone from watching a mediocre show. There are worse ways to waste a few hours (but there are better, as well). Watching an episode is a cheap enough way to make a decision though.

            Last season was definitely lean but at least it had two shows which I really enjoyed. Nothing like that this season, so far.

          2. @Mockman: Isn’t Javelin’s hair color more closer to pink? Granted, having her as a starter may give a better chance of getting Royal Navy ships[1], but she’s definitely not white-haired.

            To give a better idea of the amount of white-haired shipgirls in Azur Lane (including collab characters), here’s a “Helltaker Dance” parody video.

            Let me guess one of those shows you watched from last season: Kaguya-sama season 2? (Pretty much stuck with PriConne once the other shows I followed got delayed.)

            (Note [1]: Though feel free to correct me if it doesn’t work that way in-game. I was thinking of a similar mechanic to Diablo II‘s “magic find” in AL‘s ship construction RNG.)

            @Pancakes: As for Roon…a yangire heavy cruiser (a paper ship, at that) that rips and tears through most enemies and could crush you with a hug? Even with Satomi Satou’s voice, that’s still a “Nopenopenopenope, f**k this shit I’m out… Nigerundayo!” for me.

          3. @Incognito

            I did watch that show, and I did enjoy it, but it wasn’t one of my two standout shows. Those were Kami no Tou and Gleipnir. I watched an episode of Princess Connect but never got into it. I’d put Kaguya-sama into the season’s second tier for me.

            As for Javelin, you’re probably right but I did say ‘silver-lavender’ because sometimes you get characters who do have some colour in their hair but it doesn’t really stand out. She’s probably more purple than lavender and not as pale as the others though so I shouldn’t have included her.


            I have no criticism of Roon but isn’t she more of a straight blonde (well, with red streaks)?

            More generally, the award for best white-haired ship waifu in an anime would go to Hamakaze from Kancolle but I didn’t mention her because the pool of ships was declared as AZ.

  3. Subaru chest pain were a result of his fear to go to school, they probably happened in real life too.
    In the episode he clearly says that the pain usually stops after 8am, that’s probably because at that time lessons are supposed to be starting and he can finally say to himself that it’s too late to go.
    Some LN reader told me that there is more to the parents story, regarding his past which I doubt will get animated, it’s a peculiar detail, if you wanna know read below:

    Show Spoiler ▼

      1. No worries inserted the tags for you. Did you use <*spoiler> <*/spoiler> tags (without the *) or something else? If it’s the former and it didn’t work for you I’ll see if we can track down the issue.

        And in hindsight you’re probably correct. I first associated those pains with the times he grabbed at his chest when mentioning Return by Death, and it seemed to fit given these memories were dredged up by Echidna. A panic attack would make more sense considering when they occurred.

  4. Hell the author did it again,
    Like in ep 18 with Rem, and the Frozen bones OVA, the author tries to reach to a certain point (in the most pathetic way imo) and pass us a certain message, but after the message already been reached he keep passing it again and again, passing the point and keep repeat too many times to the point it lost its meaning (also usually ends with Subaru crying again and again in one of the most pathetic ways I’ve ever seen) .

    I have no issue with the entire of ep being about Subaru past or about hom crying ***ONCE****, I do have an issue when the ep keep digging and repeating on the same thing again and agian as if the creator thinks we won’t get the memo untill it will be shown at least three times

    Subaru did needed some closure with his parents, but the author could’ve dam well just make both the father and the mother dialogue appear in the same frame over make us see the same conclusion twice~

    1. While I do agree with this in part (particularly in regards to when he clears various stages), I think it wouldn’t have worked as well combining both moments together in this case. Even limited to the anime it’s pretty clear Subaru had different perspectives regarding each of his parents, with his father being the cause of his mental state and his mother the one simply allowing him to work through his thoughts. Both needed to be dealt with separately in order to properly reconcile and find closure; tying it together would’ve IMO missed some of this scene’s importance.

  5. ‘Arguably one of the more realistic takes’ among isekai… Now that’s the most vicious damning with faint praise I did ever see.

    I’m not really sure what the point of this episode was, other than as a masturbatory exercise on behalf of the author. Nor do I understand why this couldn’t fit into a regular-length episode (not that this matters but there’s self-indulgence and then there’s self-indulgence). The only other justification I can come up with is to give the episode a singular focus before Subaru’s steeling himself at the door and then those final 20 seconds with his charming new classmate. I’m not convinced.

    Of course, some of the moments are synthesized but I’m not sure how or by whom so I can’t really gauge their significance, e.g. when his mother told him that she didn’t bother trying anything for him because it wouldn’t have worked out, but luckily, he met some people who did. And is this vision part of the path that Subaru is now ready to walk?

    By the time he’d NEETed himself, he’d already failed to meet imagined expectations (not perceived). FWIW, I’m only interested in the anime and always assumed that he was a NEET — what’s an isekai without stereotypes? Or as Aqua might affectionately call him, a hikiniito.

    All the soft blurring and haloing, the saturating or de-saturating of colours, the pleasant inanities of life with his warm and kindly but helpless parents… I don’t really want to watch this reeking episode again but I can’t help but wonder if there were nuggets of meaning to be found therein.

    As an aside, it was kind of lame of him to promise to think of his parents always when he hasn’t spent even a frame thinking of them in the course of 28 prior episodes.

    1. If anything this episode was just the customary flashback/backstory episode, only spruced up and appearing far after the usual airtime. Re:Zero has set itself up as being the “mature” isekai (although how much that’s believed is up to the individual) so exploring Subaru’s past to such a degree at least for me makes some sense – got to further audience involvement and catharsis somehow.

      Personally I didn’t see this episode being particularly bad (or for that matter exceptionally good), but it’s true you’d get the most out of it and likely enjoy it more if you came from the light novels. There’s a lot here which was condensed or not well explained (like the specifics regarding Subaru’s father), so many tidbits were easy to look over.

      As for looking out for his parents, I think his promise now holds some weight considering it looks like he largely brushed them off and ignored them before being isekai-ed. Hindsight and regret led him to realize what he did wrong and desire to try and make amends for it.

      1. His promise may become meaningful but isn’t currently as he hasn’t begun to fulfill it (and he certainly wasn’t working on it during the run-up). At this point, it’s just another New Year’s resolution. I don’t actually fault him as he’s had a lot on his plate since he first landed in Emilia’s lap (so to speak). But his parents have been less than an afterthought all this time — if they haven’t been important to him, why would they be important to me as a viewer? And really, it’s only (apparently) due to Echidna’s efforts —or whimsy— that his parents even exist. So the catharsis, which is a good point, is unearned, at least for me.

        Isekai standards are absurdly low (maybe non-existent or exclusively commercial) so Re Zero can be both a mixed bag and an exemplar without making any real effort.

        As an aside, for those interested in isekai-type stories, it might be worth checking out, Lord Foul’s Bane, by Stephen R. Donaldson. It’s the first book in a trilogy (which was followed by a second trilogy). It goes back a few years so I’m sure that many might not know of it.

  6. Really enjoyed this insight into Subaru as a character, his flaws and what he tried to make up for it. Kinda wish Overlord might do this for Ainz’s human character as hinted in the anime, there was more to Ainz’s original world than the story lets on. Subaru here is crushed by the expectation he places on himself and never found a way to break through his own shortcomings. As this is most likely a dream sequence caused by the trial, I would wonder if Subaru would ever desire to return to his original world to set things right with his parents eventually.


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