「泣きたくなる音」 (Nakitaku naru Oto)
“Sounds that Bring Him to Tears”
Honestly if I wasn’t painfully aware we have a season break before the arrival of the next episode this would’ve been one hell of a midseason setup. The truth of Satella’s undying love (or at least part of it); Echidna showcasing just how she’ll get what she wants; Roswaal ripping the band-aid right off and driving the shiv firmly into the gaping wound—oh yeah, it was all hands on deck, including our boy Otto who’s quickly proven he’s much better than the comic relief we’ve taken him for thus far.
While we’ll get more on Subaru’s state of mind next time, the key takeaway here is his selfishness. As made clear earlier in the season with Echidna’s first trial, Subaru believes himself to be weak and worthless, and to get over that chose to save those he’s come to know with the powers he’s been insidiously (in his mind) granted. Except that’s not why Satella’s given him the “gift” of reincarnation. If anything, Return by Death can be seen as Satella’s way of getting Subaru to find self-worth, to find a way to love himself for who he is, warts and all. Giving himself fully to the peace and painless happiness of those around him? Not the intended state as the likes of Minerva and friends made obvious, although this discussion does ironically highlight what ties Subaru so closely with the Witch of Envy and why she probably chose him originally. Subaru may no longer overtly desire being seen as the jack of all trades “hero” he considered his father, yet deep down he still longs to be seen in a similar light and to be known—if only to himself now—as the one who took in all the bad alone so everyone else can experience the good. There’s a reason envy is considered a deadly sin, and Subaru’s vainglory is Re:Zero’s penultimate example of it.
And if Subaru’s latest issues weren’t enough, Echidna and Roswaal certainly put the stakes home. Echidna’s antagonist status shouldn’t be in doubt for anyone sitting on the fence now for example, as Subaru’s refusal to give her what she desires—i.e. new experiences through Subaru’s repeated demise—leaves her greed woefully unsatiated. Removing Subaru’s ability to take Sanctuary’s trials is effectively her way of forcing his hand, as the possibility is strong that Subaru’s Return by Death checkpoint could now update and leave another someone he cares about in the same position as Rem. Enter Roswaal, who in his own desire to mold Subaru into his desired state (read: treating Emilia as just another piece on the board) actually ordered Elisa’s attack on the mansion and murder of its inhabitants. Besides this bit likely surprising the hell out of some, it puts Subaru in a serious conundrum because unless he’s willing to give Echidna what she wants, he’s going to have to put Elisa down—and we know how well that worked before.
It’s arguably the biggest fork in the road before us in Re:Zero right now, and it’s definitely going to be one hell of a wait to find out just what Subaru does in this situation. I will say though that the potential options become slightly clearer once you consider the status of Beatrice and Garfiel in this picture, and what everyone else—Ram and Otto—in particular would be willing to do to help their friend.
With this arc only halfway finished I’ll hold off on final impressions until the winter (yes, I’m obviously covering that season too!), but I’ll simply say if you thought things were crazy already just wait to see what happens next. The Sanctuary arc isn’t considered one of Re:Zero’s best for no reason, and we’ve only just breached the surface of the ridiculous carnage to come.