After four years, fans of Re:Zero were finally gifted with a second season. Not only is the second season a fantastic continuation of the story, but it has some of the best character development of any show I’ve seen. For fans, this should come as no surprise, as the series has always been about self-acceptance and self-love. Throughout this season, this theme spreads like wildfire among the entirety of the main cast. Between this and the phenomenal work by the team at White Fox, Re:Zero quickly became, not just one of my favorite anime, but one of my favorite shows of all time. Spoilers for Re:Zero season 2 ahead, so if you haven’t watched Re:Zero yet, please go watch it. It is one of the best fantasy stories ever told.
Immediately following the ending of season 1, Re:Zero season 2 begins with Emilia and Subaru on a carriage headed towards the mansion of royal candidate Crusch Karsten. However, when Subaru decides to be honest with Emillia and tell her that Rem loves him, she gives him a puzzling glance and says “who’s Rem.” This one statement, and the events that led to Rem’s erasure from existence for everyone except Subaru, completely changes the direction of Re:Zero. Subaru now has to go through every trial the second season puts him through without the person he could most rely on. Subaru once again feels alone. He is the only one that remembers Rem, so he feels like he is the only one that can carry that burden. He has people that care and want to help him, like Emilia, Patrasche and Otto Suwen, but he refuses it because he doesn’t want them to be burdened.
Because of this, not only is Subaru blind to the people who wish to help him, but he is blind to the one who needs him most. Despite his unending love for Emilia, he still doesn’t see her own struggles with loneliness. Without Puck by her side, and with Subaru trying to carry the weight of everything on his own, Emilia feels like she has been left behind and lied to by those that say they care about her most. Along with the burden of completing the trial and being forced to confront her past, Emilia becomes desperate for belonging and attachment, just like the Margrave had planned.
Margrave Roswaal L. Mathers quickly rose the ranks of my most hated anime characters with nearly every action he took this season. His devotion to Echidna, the Witch of Greed, who likely used him for his desire for knowledge, causes Roswaal to place several obstacles to make Subaru’s life a living hell. With the knowledge that Subaru can “Return By Death,” Roswaal attempts to force Subaru to adopt the same philosophy as him: that people are inherently weak and the only way to achieve one’s goal is to serve only themselves and no one else.
Echidna holds a similar belief. Being the Witch of Greed, she desires everything, but immortality most of all. Ryuzu, Beatrice and Roswaal all act as conduits that she used to achieve her goal, but it is Subaru who could grant her the opportunity to live once more. Subaru’s Return By Death effectively makes him immortal, allowing him infinite attempts to find a way to beat fate. Echidna’s knowledge of the ability, as well as Subaru being able to openly discuss it with her, is what tricks Subaru into trusting her. Echidna desires to feel all that Subaru feels and to be the only source of emotion in his life, and that is what ultimately leads to her bond with Subaru breaking. No one in their right mind would lend all of their love to one person, especially when there are so many others they believe are deserving of it.
Echidna and Roswaal both act as the main antagonist of the season, but neither can be defeated by punching them until they give up. Their ideologies, and the way they choose to act on them, are what must be defeated instead. It is not about whether Subaru or Emilia can defeat Elsa or the White Rabbit, but about how the two of them conquer their weaknesses to prove Echidna and Roswaal wrong. It is poetic to me that Emilia is the one to ultimately defeat Echidna by showing the strength Subaru and the others have given her, despite the tragedies of her past and fear for her future. What could have been or could be do not matter; all that matters is what there is in the present.
White Fox’s dedication to adapting the entirety of Tappei Nagatsuki’s fourth arc of Re:Zero over the course of season 2 is commendable. There is not a single second of any episode wasted, with them not only animating through the credits, but sometimes not even showing the opening despite how much effort likely went into it. Their devotion to animating this story in its entirety should serve as an example for every studio adapting a story. It takes every exceptional piece of Nagatsuki’s writing and translates it perfectly into animation.
I’ve written entire articles discussing the relatability of Subaru, Emilia and the rest of the main cast of Re:Zero, and this season is no different. However, much of the weight these characters carry is due to the voice acting, and if you have been listening to Nerdsplosion, then you know that I am a die hard fan of Bang Zoom!’s English dub. ADR (automated dialogue replacement) director, Chris Cason, brought out some of the best performances I’ve heard from the cast this season. Every single voice actor in the main cast had their moment to shine. Sean Chiplock (Subaru), Ryan Bartley (Ram), Zach Aguilar (Otto), Zeno Robinson (Garfiel Tinsel), Kira Buckland (Beatrice), and even Ray Chase (Roswaal), each brought me to tears at least once over the course of the show’s run. Even some of the considerably smaller roles had some serious talent behind them, such as Skyler Davenport as Minerva, Kellen Goff as Kenichi Natsuki, Mark Whitten as Geuse, Kyle McCarley as Regulus and Amber Lee Conners as Fortuna. However, easily the stand out performances were Kayli Mills as Emilia and Anairis Quinones as Echidna. The level of emotional depth the two gave through their performances is unparalleled among the rest of the cast. I hope we get a third season just so I can get to hear Kayli as Emilia again.
I loved this season of Re:Zero. The amount of time dedicated to developing each character, especially Emilia, Garfiel and Ram, is something I wanted, but never once expected to be as fulfilling as it was. This season made me grow to love so many of the characters I had despised at one point or another. Well, except for Roswaal, whom my opinion of only grew worse as we learned more about the terrible things he had done. White Fox knocked this season out of the emotionally depressing graveyard and I am craving a third season. You can watch the entirety of season 2 subbed and dubbed on Crunchyroll.