Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-
Episode 9

by Kim Morrissy,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (TV 2) ?

There comes a point in every long-running anime/manga series where the character designs start getting progressively more Extra, and Re:Zero has officially reached it.

This episode introduces some of the other deceased witches: Pride, Wrath, and Gluttony. Even compared to the other members of Re:Zero's colorful cast, their personalities are larger-than-life to the point where their introductions honestly felt like whiplash. On one hand, we definitely needed a palette cleanser after the murder bunnies from last episode; on the other hand, I can't be the only one who thinks that Daphne's character design goes a teensy bit overboard. An underage-looking girl in a spider-beast bondage coffin? Okay.

I appreciate that this episode was not as dense with the backstory of the witches as I thought it would be. Instead, the focus is on explaining and contextualizing the events happening immediately around Subaru. We gain a little insight into the mechanisms of Return By Death and we learn about how to deal with the rabbits. The larger mysteries in the extended world of Re:Zero are almost certainly tied to the witches and the fate that had befallen them long ago, but this episode gives enough direction for Subaru to go on for now while also maintaining the intrigue.

Speaking of intrigue... What an ending, huh? This episode marks the first time the witch Satella has physically appeared in the world, and it's expertly directed, even by Re:Zero's standards. The way that scene juxtaposes the shadows with the lonely figure of the witch gave me the shivers and reminded me of the Heaven's Feel arc of Fate/Stay Night. Even after everything, I can't bring myself to despise Satella, and I think Subaru has mixed feelings about her as well, even as he clenches his fists and declares that he won't let her get away with her meddling. The way Yusuke Kobayashi delivered that last line was hoarse and angry, but I didn't sense wrath. Even when Satella slinks off towards the mansion, presumably to kill Rem and Petra in her jealousy. Even when it's strongly implied that she took Emilia's body.

Honestly, at this point in the season, I can't begin to imagine how Subaru will get himself out of his current dilemma. There are threats everywhere he turns, and his only allies either possess little fighting power, or are dead in the real world. Doing the trials on Emilia's behalf seems like Subaru's only way forward at this point, but leaving Emilia by the wayside puts a bad taste in the mouth. If previous arcs are anything to go by, then the true solution will involve everyone coming together to help out. That's clearly not happening in this loop, because Roswaal in the post-credits scene literally says, "Try not to make any mistakes next time." (This scene also confirms that Roswaal possesses the second book of prophecy and knows about Return By Death.) Intriguing stuff, but for now, this is yet another run where Subaru has to take the L.

As a final, miscellaneous note: The rabbits were identified this episode as the Great Rabbit, one of the Three Great Mabeasts. The Great Rabbit actually appeared in the first Re:Zero Ex novel, although I didn't make that connection until now because it's translated as "Giant Rabbits" there. Crusch managed to successfully fend off the Great Rabbit from her domain, which is one of the reasons she's so respected. I don't think Crusch will be coming back this arc to help (besides, she's forgotten about what she did), but that part of her backstory does contextualize the role the Great Rabbit occupies in this world, and proves that Subaru's gruesome end didn't come out of nowhere. It boggles my mind just how relevant those Ex novels are to stuff happening this season, even though they're about characters who haven't appeared at all in this arc.

Rating:

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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