Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – 09

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This week served a full plate of contradictions. The tasty morsels included: Subaru recounting the aspirations of each village child to compel Rem to participate, king of exposition Roswaal wearing reasonable clothes and flying off without any exposition, and Rem and Emilia devouring scenes bond-strengthening with Subaru. We also finally learn the source of the curse and witness some brutal combat in the forest.

Of all shows, Re:Zero has been remarkably good at packing its plates—often skipping opening or closing credits—and even though very little narrative has actually happened, the density and emotional impact has always earned it for me. Unfortunately, parts of this episode were slow, as if intentionally dragging its feet for an unearned cliffhanger ending. Additionally, many of the slower scenes were static, and the general animation quality was noticeably lower than normal.

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Focusing on the good, Re:Zero just nails Emilia’s character. She could very easily be the perfect nice girl central love interest, but the fact that she really doesn’t know Subaru’s motives—that she really doesn’t understand him at all—but accepts that he’s probably a good person anyway gives her a lot of nuance.

Her best scene this week is no different: she enters mid conversation, not even knowing what Subie’s said to Rem and Rin, gets the gist, and gives him a little prayer for safety. Their back and forth is compact, simple, but full of lovely facial expressions. Seriously—just watch how her mouth subtly changes when she’s happy, exasperated, or bemused.

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Rem gets two solid scenes as well, and while both are much more Subaru-pushed than the scene with Emilia, they are still quite touching. Also, narratively advancing, as we learn a little more about the need for barriers to protect human settlements from the creatures of the witch, and that Subaru reveals he knows she can smell the witch on him.

I greatly appreciated how these scenes are painted as less romantic than Subaru’s scenes with Emilia. Here he has a kind word, makes a pinkie-promise, and shows his trust in Rem. It’s friendship, not harem-building, and that adds nuance to the format that easily could be about getting all the girls.

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Intentional or not, the last strong scene starts and ends poorly. The animation leading up to the fight was lackluster, there was a lot of static dialog, and we still don’t know the motives of the villain. That abruptly changed with Subie’s epic kill. Like his fight with Rem several weeks ago, this had a ‘screw you I can take a beating’ vibe that makes all of the Subie fights enjoyable to watch.

Rem’s fight was decent too, for the most part. I get the sense that it ate most of the episode’s budget and the brutality was sweet but the storyboarding was weak. Call me a grouch, but having back to back ‘saved by your partner’s sacrifice’ moves, plus Rem being smashed by what looked like a dodge-able earth attack, felt generic. Eye-rolling, honestly.

The uneven quality of the fight aside, Rem’s brutality is a nice contrast. Specifically, we’ve only seen this kind of slaughter from evil characters before and…that’s kind of the point with Rem.

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Because this episode really works or doesn’t based on it’s reveals, and you will probably only enjoy it more if you’re looking at some of the details, this review has largely been spoiler free.

Technical shortcomings aside, my biggest criticism is that for all the things I didn’t spoil, a lot wasn’t answered. As Rem says, she has a lot of questions and we better be ready to answer. And hopefully soon.

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My Hero Academia – 09

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As the press bangs on the door of U.A. High, anting the scoop on All Might, Midoriya’s class finally gets to do a normal school thing: elect a class rep. Everyone ends up tied with one vote except for Momo, with two, and Midoriya with three, all thanks to Ochako and Iida.

I guess no other groups of friends have emerged to the point they would align their votes around one guy, huh? Also, I’m curious who voted for Momo.

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In the middle of lunch, Midoriya faces his first test as leader, when an intruder alert and evacuation order are sounded. He fails spectacularly, getting lost in the crush of panicking students.

It’s Iida, not Midoriya, who has the presence of mind to use Ochako’s antigrav quirk to get to a place of prominence so he can calm the crowd. For that, Midoriya picks Iida as class rep (sorry Momo!), and Iida gains the nickname “Emergency Exit Iida”, since he looked just like the little guy in the sign.

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The cause for alarm? Press broke in. But the question is, who helped them by destroying the barriers? We saw a guy with blue hair behind them as they were complaining about not getting access. After the class is handed off to the famous Thirteen for rescue training at Universal Studios Japan (USJ), we see that guy again, covered in hands and emerging from a vortex with dozens of other villains.

It’s a nice change of pace: what seemed like yet another training session for the kids suddenly and unexpectedly turns into a far more hazardous situation. Who are these villains? Why are they attacking UA students? What’s with all the hands on that guy?

I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to finding out, and meanwhile, All Might is presently tapped out after having to do numerous heroic deeds on his way to school. So Aizawa, Thirteen, and the students will have to be enough to deal with the baddies. Oh yeah, on the bus trip, Frog Girl Tsuyu of all people made Midoriya blush, while Bakugo, serial teaser, got a taste of his own medicine as everyone came to the consensus his personality sucks.

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