Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (Season 2)
by Kim Morrissy,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (TV 2) ?
Before I dive into this week's review (heh), allow me to issue a correction for something I wrote last week: I thought that Garfiel deflected Elsa with his abs, but it's actually because of his shield bracers. The former would have been funnier, but alas my wishful thinking did not pan out.
Unfortunately, the production issues are definitely catching up with the show now that it's reaching an action climax. This episode juggled multiple battles while only showing the bare minimum of action required to establish what the characters are doing: First, we had Garfiel's fight with Elsa, then Subaru et al's showdown with the mabeasts. We also get a very brief glimpse of Ram and Puck's confrontation with Roswaal during a conversation with Emilia later in the episode. Of the three, Garfiel's sequences looked the best, but there was a distinct feeling of brevity about it. As for the mabeasts, they're depicted with almost comical 3D designs, so that bit wasn't much to write home about. At least Emilia's introspective second trial got the justice it deserved, but it definitely felt like a compromise born out of the production reality more than a choice that was necessarily best for the narrative flow.
For what it's worth, I did enjoy how the anime depicted Emilia's second trial. It portrays an "unthinkable present" in the form of a hypothetical reality where Fortuna and Geuse are still alive. Emilia's first trial might have been my least favorite part of the season so far, but despite retreading similar ground, the focus of the second trial is firmly on Emilia's character development. The moment when she rejects the unthinkable present to embrace who she is now is a standard beat in this kind of storyline, but it was satisfying nevertheless. Overall, I have mixed feelings about how Emilia's past was handled, but at least that subplot ended on its best foot.
Visually, this was also the most interesting part of the episode. There are a handful of moments that stand out, like when Emilia faces her reflection in the water by literally diving into it, an action layered with symbolism. It affirms that Emilia literally hasn't been able to face herself up until this point. I also liked how Echidna was depicted in this episode: at first standing behind Emilia in a relatively higher position, only for her torn and helpless expression to come into view. When she speaks of how she detests Emilia, it's the first time I felt true emotion from the enigmatic witch.
The episode ends with Emilia poised to take her third trial: "The disaster that is yet to come." In the first cour, we saw Subaru take on the first two trials, but this one, which seems to be concerned with the future, will cover completely uncharted territory. Go get 'em, EMT!
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