Re:Zero Series

Anime Hajime Review: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2

More from the Re:ZERO series:

Original Run: July 8, 2020 - September 30, 2020
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Isekai
Based on the Series Created By: Tappei Nagatsuki

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Following the hard-fought battle with the Witch’s Cult, Subaru Natsuki (voiced by Yuusuke Kobayashi) believes he has finally achieved peace in this parallel world. Sadly, the nightmare is only just beginning.

Subaru learns that his closest ally and friend, Rem (voiced by Inori Minase), has been attacked by another branch of the Witch’s Cult. Although she has not died, Rem’s existence has been erased from the minds of the people she knows (minus Subaru).

Determined to save Rem, Subaru decides to reunite the villagers who escaped to the Sanctuary during the cult’s onslaught. There, Subaru and Emilia (voiced by Rie Takahashi) agree to take on the Witch of Greed’s trial.

This test will not be easy. Not only will Subaru encounter his most dangerous adversaries yet, but he will also come face to face with the Witch of Greed herself, Echidna (voiced by Maaya Sakamoto).

Series Positives

Considering everything that happened in the last installment, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2’s (Re:Zero 2) brutality wasn’t unexpected. However, chapter two took things to a level I did not see coming. Essentially, this was the How-Thoroughly-Can-We-Torture-Subaru-Natsuki Show. If season one made you squeamish, then consider this your warning.

With that said, Re:Zero 2 was a perfect escalation of its predecessor. You could feel the stakes rise the moment episode one began because the alls-well-that-ends-well finale of the first season was kicked right in the nuts. Did you think Subaru and his team won? That victory lasted all of about five minutes. Yeah, this installment didn’t waste any time getting into the thick of it.

In the original Re:Zero review, I said Rem represented this series’ hope – for both Subaru and us, the audience. I feel validated with that assessment when Rem was taken out of the equation. Once it became clear a time-reversal wasn’t going to change this outcome, I could feel my heart sink. After all, the one person who stood beside Subaru when he was at his lowest was suddenly not there.

Be that as it may, Re:Zero 2 took this as an opportunity. This series didn’t just push the story forward; it demonstrated how much its characters had grown, particularly with regards to Subaru.

I once again must refer back to the previous review. In season one, Subaru did a sort of regression between two major plot arcs. All the determination and fortitude he built appeared to disappear when presented with his next challenge. This wasn’t the case in Re:Zero 2.

In this installment, Subaru sought out how to turn his time-reversal ability to his advantage. He came to accept that he could try again if necessary. Subaru was much more willing to activate a restart on his own accord, although the prospects of excruciating pain was frightening to him. So, don’t go thinking this made things easier. On the contrary, the real horror of his ability/curse was on full display.

Thus far, I can only think of a single instance when Subaru died a painless death, and that was last season. In Re:Zero 2 alone, he was disemboweled, crushed, beaten, and the one I found most disturbing, devoured by a ravenous swarm of killer rabbits. That last one might sound silly, but I assure you, it very much wasn’t.

Not only were the manners of Subaru’s deaths brutal, but once again, he was usually the last one to go. Before time could restart, he had to witness his friends meet their ends in equally graphic fashions.

But that’s all old news. The first season defined itself by its cruelness towards Subaru and the people around him. What was the “real horror” I mentioned?

That distinction, dear readers, belongs to Subaru’s silence. No matter how many times he died, no matter how much pain he suffered, no matter how much atrocity he saw, it would have been more bearable if only Subaru could tell some about it. The “real horror” was he couldn’t.

On top of being cursed to relive hardships, if Subaru were to utter a single syllable of what he could do, the person he told his secret to would die. Rem was so crucial to Subaru in season one because she accepted he couldn’t tell her the whole truth but vowed to stand by him regardless.

In Re:Zero 2, Subaru met someone who could listen to him.

The scene where Subaru let out his anguish was easily my favorite of the season. I also want to highlight this scene because this serves as a seamless transition into talking about this Re:Zero 2’s breakout character – Echidna, the Witch of Greed.

When Rem was taken out of play, she left behind a void. Although Echidna filled that void, it is essential to know that Echidna was not Rem’s replacement. Rem’s goal was to protect Subaru and be at his side no matter what. Echidna’s goals were – well, that’s the thing; I don’t know.

Echidna was a total wild card. Was she an ally of Subaru’s; was she his enemy? Was Echidna benevolent, or were her motivates more self-serving? Although I suspect – and this season’s finale hinted at – the latter, both possibilities exist, and that was what made her so incredibly fascinating.

I can firmly say that I didn’t trust a word she said, and I will continue to do so until I have a better idea of what her endgame is. Additionally, I don’t believe she has to be either Subaru’s friend or advisory. She could be a neutral force of nature. Plus, I loved the rapport the Subaru and Echidna had; they were both willing to jab and poke at each other without any hint of malice or venom.

If Echidna does turn out to be an antagonist, she’s well set to become one of the best I have seen in a long time. Her attitude, her personality, the way she carried herself, they made her intimidating. She didn’t need to resort to threats or bloodlust; you knew that she could simply end a person whenever she felt like it. I wish other villains in this show understood such a concept, but more on that in a moment.

And now I think this section has run its spoiler-free course. I highly encourage you to watch this series; thus, I don’t want to deprive you of any of its power by saying too much.

There were many things to like about Re:Zero 2. As I said, this season reinforced and enhanced what made its predecessor so much fun. This series is in striking position to be amongst the best anime of 2020. You better believe I am excited to see where this story goes when Re:Zero 2 Part 2 comes out.

Series Negatives

This is not going to be a long section. Re:Zero 2, like the first season, had a real knack for grabbing and holding one’s attention. That is the mark of any anime worth watching. When there are faults in a show, are they even really there if you don’t notice them?

The answer to that question is, “Yes, they are.” But more importantly, in a series that does a fantastic job of keeping you focused on what it wants you to focus on, mistakes that do catch your eye tend to leave a mark.

In the case of Re:Zero 2, all the villains were the same.

To better clarify: When I say “villains,” I mean the people who were trying to kill Subaru and his friends in every restart scenario. Every single one of these characters was a sadist who loved nothing more than death and destruction. That wouldn’t be a problem if there were at least some variety. But having to listen to the same I-want-to-see-what-your-insides-look-like-esque speech five different times, the spiel loses its wow-factor after a while.

Also, you don’t need a bloodthirsty murderer to establish how seeing a room filled with the butchered remains of your friends might be a little upsetting. This is why I think Echidna – if she went down this road – would be a great antagonist. She wouldn’t have to sell how horrible she could kill someone; you just know she could. 

As for the established villains of Re:Zero 2, we already saw what it looks like when they lose in season one.

Final Thoughts

As I said before, I’m excited for part two of this season. Thinking about everything that has happened up to this point, I can only imagine this series getting darker and more brutal before any hope of victory.

I’m down for the ride if you are.

This installment continued what its predecessor did so incredibly well. The story was still impossible to put down, the characters were fascinating to follow, and the sense of all-enveloping intrigue was more alive than it has ever been.

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2 has earned a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

More From The Re:ZERO Series

Anime Hajime Review: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-
Anime Hajime Review: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Season 2 Part 2

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