Episode 10

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 10 of

The huge question lingering at the end of this episode is whether or not we'll even see another episode this season. It's not just the episode ending with Magane cheerfully proclaiming “Part 1: The End,” either; this conclusion would be a good seasonal break point dramatically, and this episode delivers the kind of spectacle you'd commonly close a season off with. We know that the series will run 22 episodes in all, but a 10/12 episode split between seasons seems a strange way to do it. If this really is the season's last episode, then perhaps some of the month-long gap will be taken up by the announced special programs, before the second cour debut on July 8. At least we'd only be waiting a month for the series to continue rather than a full cour or more, and at least it's not ending on a major cliffhanger.

As to the actual content of this episode, the battle from last week with Yuya and Meteora facing off against Alicetaria continues, but it soon expands to involve every significant Re:CREATORS character to date. This gives us the biggest and most expansive battle scene to date, with Altair getting directly involved for the first time since early in the series (unless you count her execution of Mamika), and even Rui and his fight-breaking mecha step into the periphery; his mecha is just so strong compared to everyone else that he has to be forced to fight a mirror-match in the sky rather than getting directly involved. I can see that being a big limiting factor for him going into the second half of the series too, unless another Creation shows up who can fight on his scale.

What follows is fairly typical fare for an epic mid-series battle. One of the villains is able to gain a new ability by taking something from one of the heroes, a bystander steps in at a key moment to defend a hero and talk down a misguided antagonist (though ultimately to no avail), a hero gets badly wounded by a cheap trick from an antagonist, another hero temporarily gains a new ability, and the main villain shows her face but decides that now is not the time to cut loose, so she retreats at the end with her henchmen in tow. What gives this familiar sequence of scenes the edge is the specifics in execution, the additional mechanics and background details involved. For instance, we learn that Yuya's manifestation Hangaku is actually a sort of curse, and Altair wasn't delaying her world-destroying plan just because she wanted to set things up perfectly; she has to delay until the right circumstances are in play, or it could backfire and destroy her instead.

Amidst all of the action, two scenes stand out. In one, Sota steps in and tries to convince Alicetaria that what she's doing isn't right. This significantly marks the first time Sota switches from passive to active mode in the conflict between Creations, perhaps heralding him being more actively involved in the future. Combined with last episode, this should finally give him the impetus to reveal what he knows about Setsuna and mark his place in this story; he's the representative of fans who consume the entertainment on which the Creations are based, so he can serve as the voice of those who love their stories. While that may not give him direct power, it's enough to give Alicetaria pause this week, since he's able to argue the case that fans aren't just crass consumers; they can grow to care for, respect, and idealize the characters and their struggles. That isn't quite enough to convince Alicetaria, nor should it have been, as she rightly makes the point that merely being an observer limits the impact of Sota's words, but it feels like Sota did successfully lay some groundwork for change, as well as perhaps making a defense of otaku in a more symbolic sense.

Of course, the other big scene is where Meteora's theory about how how Creators can change characters is put to the test. I liked the set-up, where Matsuraba rejects the badly-wounded Selesia's advice that he flee the scene to save himself by shouting that he didn't make her into a character who would “say such useless lines,” as it's a statement both of his pride as a writer and the personal responsibility he clearly feels towards Selesia. I had more of a problem with how fast the picture accumulated likes online, but time contractions like that are just part of the reality of anime storytelling. The effect was still impressive, and I'm assuming that its very brief impact time is a limitation based on how briefly it was established through hype for the fan base. That raises the interesting question of what might happen to a Creation if its source material gets left behind or forgotten by fans, but exploring that angle is probably outside the scope of the series' time frame.

Almost lost in all of this is Alicetaria's curious reactions to certain things. For as ugly a setting as she comes from and as gung-ho as she was about revenge, she seems uncharacteristically thrown by inflicting such a grievous, bloody wound on Selesia. I am interested to see where that leads, since it can't be an idle detail. In a technical sense, the way the camera briefly shifted out of focus during the scene where Sota was trying to talk down Alicetaria was a nice touch, though on the negative side there were a couple places where the musical score was too sharply abrupt in its transitions. Still, it was a fairly impressive episode overall, a good way to end the season if that's what we're left with for now.

Rating: A-

Re:CREATORS is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.

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