「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.
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.