「月下、出鱈目なステップ」 (Gekka, Detarame na Suteppu)
“Offbeat Steps Under the Moonlight”

Kind of hard to think this was the finale for Re: Zero’s latest season, yet here we are and I cannot help feeling just a tad disappointed. Rushed or not (and half an hour is still long for a weekly anime episode!), we got the culmination of everything Sanctuary: Beatrice proved her worth, Roswaal atoned (and revealed), and Subaru has been officially recognized as Emilia’s one and only retainer. Also something something baby making through locked lips, but I think that meme speaks for itself. In the end it was quintessential Re: Zero with few obvious head scratchers left to rattle around the mind. And instead of delving into those rabbit holes (leave that for the inevitable third season), I’ll just get right onto final impressions – cute and pouty Beatrice demands it.

Final Impressions

At the end of Re: Zero’s first sequel half I held off on any overall impressions given the season’s original intent on being back-to-back, and with this second half complete I’m confident knowing I made the right decision. Undeniably this was a sequel that needed both halves to truly make sense of and judge appropriately – and in it identify both the strengths and weaknesses owing in part (yet not entirely) to its unique airing schedule. This is one series you need all the relevant material to make proper sense of, especially for arcs like Sanctuary.

Arguably the biggest fault for the Sanctuary arc adaptation is that jarring split cour delay affecting its latter half. Even compared to earlier material this was an arc with many moving parts, as everything from the past and motivations of Roswaal, Beatrice, and Emilia were fully delved into while Subaru’s own quirks and reasonings received their due attention – and that doesn’t include stuff like the secondary cast of Otto, Ram, and Garfiel/Frederica. As a result we got a veritable maelstrom of information, with key characters often rapidly jumped between and specific developments spread out over a prolonged period. Not really an issue in isolation mind you (many information-heavy series do the same and with less writing skill), but that singular season delay led to a lot of confusion given the ease of forgetting small details or other series quirks (e.g. the Great Rabbit, the other witches). Without a doubt the best enjoyment (and the most understanding) will be had by watching both halves of Re: Zero’s second season back-to-back with no interruptions.

Outside of structural issues though, this season also retained the blemishes which featured in Re: Zero’s first adaptation. Subaru and Emilia for example, regardless of their major developments here, are unlikely to convert many critics; Subaru still possesses his often overbearing (and occasionally cringeworthy) personality while Emilia has yet to truly grow past her damsel in distress state (albeit to be fair only really started this season) – one need look no further than this season’s divisive and likely jarring confession scene to get an idea of where potential improvements could be had. Couple it with some debatable focus at times on secondary characters (e.g. Otto, his past likely could’ve been handled differently in this adaptation versus the light novels) and it’s not hard seeing why some would find this arc questionable at times. Re: Zero has definitely improved since its first season, but it can always improve some more.

Nevertheless, however, such nitpicks are ultimately in the eye of the beholder; this was one season I definitely do not personally regret covering or blogging and was easily one show I looked forward to watching every week. The animation quality courtesy of White Fox, the voice acting strength from the likes of Kobayashi Yuusuke (Subaru) and Takahashi Rie (Emilia), the willingness of the producers to both faithfully adapt the source material and utilize all available screen time – everything came together to yield one hell of an impressive anime and show just how far a bit of talent and dedication can go towards maximizing the potential a light novel (or manga) series can over.

Overall Re: Zero may not be the absolute best show – or even the best isekai – from this year or last, but it can undeniably lay claim to being one of the best. No matter what comes up, no matter how long the wait is, I eagerly look forward to seeing the next anime which comes out of this franchise because one way or another you can bet this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Subaru and friends. There’s just too much story left in and popularity behind Re: Zero for this to be the end, so all we can do is hope that what comes next matches the fun and excitement we have now come to expect.

19 Comments

  1. Looks like I was right that if Subaru lost his bet with Roswaal that he’d become Roswaal’s lackey and be forced to not save everyone since Roswaal saying that he himself was laying some groundwork for the next time shows that Roswaal thought their bet would carry on into Subaru’s next life, which means it is something Subaru could not undo. This was somewhat confirmed in Episode 45 when Roswaal said that because of their wager that Subaru had become an ordinary person, which shows that their bet has an effect on the soul, the only thing that doesn’t reset when Subaru dies because his body fully resetting means it’s his soul that retains his memories from past lives. This bet was an interesting way to add tension to the story for those who say that Subaru resetting everything kills any tension in the story.

    Vance
    1. They have more than enough material for another 24/26 episodes if they want too. Infact they could probably do Arc 5 this year if they want, but will they? Probably not. The web novel is on Arc 7 and isn’t that far along. I can’t imagine they’ll want to use up too much material as it’ll limit what they can do with the anime in the future.

      Lyfe
      1. The published light novels are also far ahead of the anime, and are on Arc 7. If you consider that a lot of anime shows are produced to push the sales of published material there’s very little reason why they can’t go straight onto Season 3. I guess the money people behind the scenes will be looking at how well stuff is selling before deciding.

        Lyfe
  2. My take on this season isn’t as glowing as others on youtube and the like. I don’t think it’s really bad, but I do think there are some flaws in this arc. The things that are bad are pretty bad.

    I have issues with the material itself. This arc had a lot going on. It had so much going on that I mentioned once there were 9 things to resolve involving Garfield, Echidna, the 3 trials, Elsa, the Ma-beast girl, resolving Beatrice’s position, the Rabbit and we were getting closer to the end and by episode 20 I was like “We still have like 7 things to go!”

    There was a lot of information. There were a lot of flashbacks that I didn’t really think were that important to the plot. There were a lot of scenes with Ryuzu that looking back I still don’t really understand. It just tried to do SO much that it took 24 episodes to get through, and even at the pacing, it felt like near the end it rushed through things because the author wanted it to be over. I mean I wanted it to be over too, but I didn’t think the Rabbit would be killed with a metaphorical Holy Hand Grenade that Beatrice could apparently do this entire time.

    Trial 1 we spent a lot of episodes on. We spent 3 to 4 episodes with flashbacks with Emila, half an episode for Trial 2, and not even 5 minutes with Trial 3.

    The Rabbit is dealt with before the opening titles…Like Smaug.

    That was my issue. It did too much, it asked too much of me, it was not paced very well,
    but regardless of all that there were lots of really good moments that I liked fine.

    I really don’t think all this should have been 24 episodes. I really felt the pacing. I really felt the drag and sometimes scenes I could tell were there to buy time.

    I hope Season 3 doesn’t try to do something like this again cause it’s been years and I feel it man. It feels like it took years to get through this season. I still like this show and it’s characters…But like I said before this Sanctuary arc felt like a side quest that overstayed its welcome by a few months. It was a gigantic Burger that left me starving afterwards.

    spikerman87
    1. Nawh I wouldn’t fret too much about differing opinions, personally I liked this arc’s adaptation but I’m not blind to the issues.

      What I think harms the Sanctuary arc the most is that it’s transitory; outside of Roswaal and the mansion there’s no real threat to Subaru or his goals, it serves more as an explanation for the past and setting up the pieces for the future, particularly in terms of getting Emilia on track. As a result we get a lot crammed into a comparatively short period of time with little room to actually dwell on the details.

      As I mentioned in the post I believe the split cour arrangement aggravated this issue, but even if both cours were held back to back the problem would only be muted. Regardless of praise for the faithfulness of this adaptation, in hindsight White Fox ironically might’ve done better with some selective pruning of material to help make a more streamlined production. It would’ve certainly helped flesh out and streamline some of this season’s more rushed aspects.

      1. I think I may have liked this arc if it was 3 arcs. Like you could do:

        The Sanctuary Trials
        The Attack on the Mansion
        Dealing with the Rabbit

        If Subaru could complete these one at a time and he “succeeds” and moves to the next I may have felt like he was making actual progress, but this arc feels like SpiderMan 3 where it’s a few movies in one. Season 1 did something like that where they were small and when he succeeded you felt that he accomplished the loop. It may have helped the characters that were relevant to their own plots, like the witches, not feel as overwhelming. I don’t know.

        I agree that this was more info for later and that didn’t feel good. You can for sure hint at things to come, but there still needs to be meat to what you’re doing at the time.

        spikerman87
        1. This was like the longest arc in the series to date, about 40-50 chapters longer than the others. You won’t have this problem with the next few arcs which are around 70-90 chapters in length.

          Lyfe
    2. It certainly felt like the author wanted to make something grand but halfway decided to abandon it… Which left a few problems that really bother me.

      – Witches went from supernatural nightmares to weird women with weird powers. Introducing them “at once” without actual plot relevance was a really bad idea.

      – The show now has multiple viewpoints… which is kind of a mixed bag. Otto’s backstory was one of the high points of the season, but losing focus on Subaru really hurts the show’s core concepts, and slowly shifts the show to generic isekai/fantasy.

      – And the worst one is how everyone is suddenly protected with plot armor (and even some plot powers). I loved this show especially because it tried to stay away from it (even if it failed sometimes).

      Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the 2nd season, but the concept of a 3rd season sadly does not excite me as much as it should.

      Arken
      1. The good news at least is future arcs are much more focused and limited in approach. Regardless of faults, Sanctuary was necessary in the sense of filling in gaps for multiple characters and providing a suitable foundation for which to yield proper conclusions. With it complete there’s now opportunity to finally start tackling some of Re: Zero’s more prominent aspects, with Rem’s restoration arguably being highest on the list.

  3. Part 2 was good and had its hight points, but it had pacing issues and I probably still prefer part 1 due to the trademark despair and the interactions between Subaru and Echidna, the latter being a new character that I enjoyed the most which is why episode 8 was my favorite.

    What’s up with her different looking face anyways? Who’s the “real” Echidna?
    Anyways, no sequel announcement hurts and means that it’s finally time to hit the LN if I want to find out how they manage to save Rem.
    Thanks for the coverage.

    boingman
  4. Lol, they made Puck statues.

    Memorable parts:

    – Even though rabbits were brutal and a remarkable enemy. Subaru combined his new gain powers and witch’s scent plus cute lolly and Emilia to manage the situations.

    – “I will be difficult for us the parents to raise the baby with the royal selection going on” .. “Pardon”

    – I am glad to see a happy ending, no more deaths for Subaru in this season. Come on guys, he deserved it!

    10/10

    Caesar
  5. Eh? So Subaru and Beatrice (with an assist from Emilia) figured out a way to defeat the Great Rabbit? *Sees that only 5 minutes have passed into the episode* There’s more to this, isn’t there?

    *Watches further for any sign of one Great Rabbit that got away, sees none* Umm… OK, then.

    Other fragmentary thoughts on the season finale:
    – So THAT (and the scene in the previous episode) is why Beatrice is also considered “best girl” material.
    – It’s good to know that Puck will return someday. In a time of great need, perhaps.
    – Dat Emilia blush… Even her elf ears are red!

    Subaru: “Pardon?”
    Damnit, I can’t hear that now without being reminded of a certain VTuber rabbit girl with a peculiar laugh and verbal tic, peko… (AH↓HA↑HA↑HA↑HA↑)

    Well, that puts to rest the Sanctuary arc, though Rem is still a vegetable (or doing DomeKano‘s “Coma strat”–as Gigguk puts it), that Witch’s Cult high priest who put Rem in a coma is still at large, and the Great Serpent is still out there… And remember that guy who attacked Echidna and her disciples (Beatrice, Roswaal, Ryuzu) while she was creating the Sanctuary? What happens if he comes back?

    Man, I’m really starting to become a masochist for wanting to see what happens next on this show. Though it’ll be a while before answers to those questions are revealed in anime form. The pains of being an audio-visual aniphile…

    Incognito

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