Well, here we are at what has to be one of the most anticipated anime debuts of recent times and certainly the most anticipated of the season. Before we start, let me just tell you about my thoughts on season 1, since I don’t think I ever reviewed it. To be honest, I haven’t watched it in a while, and I realized pretty quickly that I had forgotten some details. But still I do remember that I enjoyed the first season quite a bit. I liked the groundhog day device, I really enjoyed the high fantasy world and even the political machinations were interesting to me. And I remember that it got really brutal towards the end, and I enjoyed that as well. It seemed like a natural escalation and the shock worked on me. This said, I think it could have used more Beatrice, because most things can, and the love triangle plot was by far my least favourite part. Just don’t like love triangles… Except maybe in Utena… also remember that I found the ending of season 1 very disappointing but I don’t remember why…
How about you Crow? Any thoughts on season 1 before we start?
It’s a challenge, because the series has become almost like a mental myth for me. The original OP, Redo, blew me away, but that was nothing compared to the effect the ED Styx Helix had. Lines like “And we’ll die waiting for a new day, never again…” really engaged my imagination. And those are just the trappings! Between Rem and Emelia and the rest of the amazing cast, the first season was a singular experience. It pushed the genre hard.
When you suggested we review season 2, I have to admit I was apprehensive. How could any series live up to an experience that has become almost legendary? Yeah, I get that I’m a bit hyperbolic about this series. But this is the show I would have written if I just had the skill. So I’m really, really interested to see where they take it.
And boy, they didn’t waste any time in this episode, did they? I had to walk away for a minute after what happened to Rem. Even though it could not possibly have gone any other way and still be realistic…
So this is a review of episode 1 of season 2 of ReZero, there will be spoilers for what happens. Also a lot of screencaps!
If like me you are a bit fuzzy on the details of last season, I suggest you do a quick recap, maybe read the wiki or something, because episode1 throws us right in the action and it can be a bit confusing. The only element that was really properly reintroduced to the audience was Subaru’s reset ability. Otherwise all the relationships and the rather complex political strife is just picked up from where we left off and it took me sometime to get my footing again. There was some kid named Petra??? Don’t remember her at all…
I’m glad you said that, because I don’t, either. She’s listed in the cast for season 1, and she looks like she might be one of the children they saved. Still, I don’t remember her being so interested in Subaru!
In broad strokes, Emilia and her entourage Subaru et al. are still aligned with Crusch, and they are still vying for control of the kingdom. On their way to… hummm… maybe Crow wil tell me (Lugnica?), it has a large castle so maybe it’s a capital or something… the caravan gets attacked by the witch cult who are these powerful dark wizard guys targeting Emilia. Emelia and Subaru happen to be in a completely different wagon so they end up avoiding the fight, but Crusch and Rem as well as a whole bunch of poor mob characters end up defeated and everyone seems to have forgotten who Rem even is. She is, however, still there, but in a coma. Subaru’s reset can’t help Rem so the best they end up with is an unconscious Rem and an amnesic Crusch. Turns out one of the baddies is called the Authority of Gluttony and they can eat memories to make their enemies forget and their enemies’ names to make their enemies be forgotten.
The rest of the episode is basically just exposition between Felis, Crusch, Subaru and Emilia, which sets up the premise of the season. There’s a bit more between Emilia and Subaru at Rem’s side, which tells us what the more personal plot will be and creates an emotional moment.
Do you know what hit me hardest about this episode? When Subaru found the unconscious Rem, he was able to psyche himself up to put a broken sword hilt through his throat. And it wasn’t enough! He found out for the first time that the save point didn’t go far enough back. His go-to tactic for saving the day was useless.
This series is relentless in pursuing its core ideas!
I also thought it was particularly effective what destroyed Subaru’s emotional control. It wasn’t insults, it wasn’t hardship, and it wasn’t even seeing Rem lying unconscious and unresponsive. No, it was Emelia showing him kindness, just like it was in the first season.
This is sort of random but I really like names that are abstract ideas like Authority of Gluttony, although I have a feeling it may be a tite. It reminded me of The Intention of the Abyss from Pandora Hearts (that one is a name).
I thought it was clever what the show’s doing with those characters, like how they act out their namesake vice. Last season, we saw how much trouble Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti was. This season, we get two arch-bishops of similar power! Talk about an uphill battle!
Back to the episode. I gotta admit, tonally this was a bit too dramatic for my tastes. ReZero was always a plot driven story to me, and to ask me to deeply care about all these characters’ deep feelings right off the bat like that simply didn’t work, for me.
This said, the premise that it was setting up was pretty great. I like the cult as antagonists. They’re powerful and for some reason remind me of the homunculus in FMA. I can see them as interesting rivals that present a very concrete threat despite Subaru’s trump card. I also really like this idea of losing one’s identity in a fight. Death in ReZero doesn’t exactly hold the usual stakes, so this new threat is smart in my opinion. And even making Rem the helpless damsel in distress for the season, (which is by the way super rude of the narrative to a character that’s gone through so much to gain some agency) is a pretty great way to immediately get your audience emotionally invested. I would rather watch that than another love triangle all season.
All in all, good first episode, maybe just a pinch exposition heavy. Any thoughts Crow?
I think you nailed it: great antagonists, a clear threat that off-sets Subaru’s main (only!) real skill, and putting the widely adored Rem in immediate peril is a great way to kick off a season.
And I’m not going to lie. Seeing Rem go down swinging, all the while professing her faith in Subaru, was absolutely heart-breaking. Subaru’s going to have to work hard to live up to her expectations!
And is it just me or did Emilia’s voice actress sound amazing this time? Was she always this good? I could just listen to her narrate the rest of the season.