Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-
by Kim Morrissy,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (TV 2) ?
It's almost a series tradition at this point for the people who once tried to kill Subaru to become his greatest allies. Otto snagged the role of MVP this episode with his touching declaration of friendship even in the face of self-preservation and greed. He sure has come a long way from that time he pushed Subaru out onto the road in front of the White Whale!
I'm so glad I finally have an excuse to talk about Otto in these reviews because he's one of my favorite characters in this series. He's had a background presence in the anime since the second half of the first season, but he always had a way of brightening up every scene he was in because of his guileless personality. His voice actor Kōhei Amasaki has delivered such a convincing performance as a cute and hapless boy that Otto manages to be charming even when the focus isn't on him. So I'm delighted to see him finally get some proper time.
This was an episode that made me reflect on some of the scenes from the earlier light novels that never made it into season 1 of the anime. In Otto's introduction scene in volume 5, he says that he feels a sort of connection with Emilia because he sympathizes with her struggles as a half-elf. That's a very unusual position for a person in this world to take, but I think that's indicative of Otto's compassionate nature, and it goes some way towards explaining why he strikes up a quick friendship with Subaru.
That intriguing opening scene with Beatrice also has me looking back on all of Subaru and Beatrice's interactions so far. When Beatrice reveals that she has only ever acted according to what the Gospel (suspiciously similar to what the Witch Cult Archbishops carry around) tells her, her conflicted expression indicates that this may not be the whole story. When Subaru tries to kill himself in front of her and she panics, I found myself recalling the scene in season 1 episode 17 where, after a failed attempt at saving Emilia, he pathetically asks Beatrice to kill him and she is too upset to comply. There's also a scene from volume 9 which didn't make it into the anime where Subaru tries to evacuate her from the mansion for her safety only for her to throw him out. She is clearly torn all the while, and when she's finally alone, she laments to "Mother."
Here is what I think: Beatrice has had her agency stripped from her due to whatever oath she has with "Mother." She wants Subaru to break her out of her shell, but she is also afraid. She might have a duty to help him out, but she is kind to him because she, too, considers him her friend. But perhaps she does not realize this herself. She is unfamiliar with friendship, and Subaru is the person she is learning it from. And since Subaru showed this episode that he is also the kind of person who doesn't recognize friendship until it yells at him in the face, the relationship between him and Beatrice remains rocky and complicated.
Speaking of rocky relationships, we learn that the source of Garfiel's grudge against Frederica is abandonment issues because she was able to leave the Sanctuary and he isn't. (It turns out they have different fathers, so Frederica has less beast blood than he does.) Garfiel has emerged as a proper antagonist now that it's been confirmed that the source of his hostility towards Subaru is the Witch's scent, but I can't help but get the impression that he's misguided rather than evil. For all his anger, I sense a kind of vulnerability in him.
Ryuzu, though... Yeah, I'm suspicious of her. I didn't bring this up when she was first introduced because she didn't have much of a presence in the plot then, but now that she's actively interfering with Subaru, I think it's time for me to mention that I've had suspicions about her since the moment I saw her. She looks identical to an antagonist from the second Re:Zero Ex novel, which tells the story of the Demi-Human War around 40 years before the events of the series proper. The two characters don't share the same name, but the resemblance can't be a coincidence, especially considering that Ryuzu is long-lived herself.
This season is hitting its stride, as the mysteries deepen and the bonds between people are tested. By pairing each and every one of its mysteries with strong emotional themes like "friendship" and "family," the mysteries have become more satisfying to unravel. Next week can't come soon enough.
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