Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – 20

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In an initially cryptic prologue, a young man who looks like a more well put-together Subaru approaches a fair lass who looks like a redheaded Emilia. It’s actually a very young Wilheim van Astrea meeting his future love, Theresia, but I’m sure the resemblances aren’t an accident.

Theresia may be gone and isn’t coming back, but this entire grand battle is Subaru’s attempt to protect Emilia from a demise (and, in turn, himself from Puck’s primal wrath). He couldn’t do it alone, so he called upon those with common purpose, and the result unfolds this week.

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Watching him dust himself off and craft the plan and set up the pieces made for a World Heritage List-worthy outing; and while it wasn’t really in doubt that the payoff would, er, pay off, there was also a lingering feeling that Subaru was due for another setback. This is Re:Zero, after all. Not victory comes easily, nor on the first try.

That being said, the joint Karsten/Hoshin army packs a whollop, unleashing all their best attacks and dealing seroius damage to the whale, who is none to happy that the ambush tables were turned. One weapon even turns night into day, which makes the battle a lot easier to see. This isn’t ufotable-level combat, mind you, but it doesn’t need to be, and gets the job done.

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After Wilhem cuts out one of the whale’s eyes (GROSS!), it unleashes a cloud of fog, and its counterattack begins. We see concern in Crusch’s expression as the sky dims, and Wil remembers telling the lovely redhead in the ruins how his sword is the only way to protect someone as a knight.

He failed in that task, but not for want of trying, and is resolute in his desire to make up for the failure by vanquishing the whale once and for all.

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But the whale has more tricks up its sleeve: its fog cleaves the earth and utterly destroys a good chunk of the force. Many of the survivors succomb to the whale’s devastating, mind-piercing song, which makes them hurt themselves. Fortunately Felis is there to neutralize the effects with his healing magic.

Subaru sees that someone needs to step up and change the tune of this battle, and decides it should be him. He openly mentions Return by Death, which has the desired effect of infusing him with a fresh batch of the Witch’s stench, drawing the whale to him like a fish to a lure.

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This gives Wil a fresh chance to do more damage to the whale, but he ends up in the wrong position at the wrong time: right in front of the whale’s mouth as it scoops the earth around him up like a cloud of shrimp.

Wil stops and recalls one last time, the night he was saved by the Master Swordsman, who turned out to be Theresia. The fact is, he was never strong enough to protect her; instead, the reverse was the case. Even when he lashed out in frustration, Theresia proved she was the better swordsman, even if she didn’t understand why.

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But Wil never got over the face he could not protect the woman he loved, nor stop her from protecting him. He saw himself as the expendable one, and would have died happily if it meant she could live on, or even better, especially if she could then step down as Master Swordsman.

But that’s not exactly fair to Theresia, and I’m glad the show brings up the fact Wilheim’s desire for revenge, and putting himself in the literal jaws of the whale, may not have been the right thing to do, or indeed what Theresia wanted. She died to save him so he could live on. But he spent the last fourteen years living only for this day.

Whether he survived this battle or died fighting, he was going to end things. And I’m not sure Theresia would approve. Especially since we learn there isn’t just one white whale, but several. Talk about a Re:Zero knife twist!

What if now, Subaru has to die, plan all this out again, and the next time, include Priscilla and possibly others? I’m also weary that the Witch’s Cult will take advantage of the Karsten’s scattered, weakened army to launch their own strike.

The plan was sound, it just wasn’t quite enough to end things. Will Subie be able to accomplish what Wilheim couldn’t—save the one he loves—without sacrificing himself?

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Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – 19

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MAN, I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER.

It’s a tired phrase, but I can’t think of a more apt use for it than the latest Re:Zero, where Subaru gets to start over from Zero and doesn’t squander the chance. Rather than begging like a babbling loon for an obscure, partially-formed goal, he comes to Crusch Karsten—and Anastasia Hoshin, and the Merchant’s Guild—with a sensible, viable arrangement, with the White Whale at the core.

In this manner, Subaru unwittingly becomes the catalyst for a grand battle that was in the making long before he arrived in this world. EVERYONE detests the White Whale. Thanks to his past lives, he not only knows how to properly approach and negotiate with these people—from a position of strength and common cause, and pride—he knows where the White Whale will show up next, and most importantly, when, thanks to his “metia.”

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When Subaru is speaking to Crusch, and Felis, and Wilheim in a manner that makes them receptive, he seems to find the unlikely hero within himself, a hero who has united groups with various opposing interests in less important areas but a shared loathing of the White Whale.

And because of the way he composes himself and presents his plan, everyone is not only willing, but eager to hear him out. Crusch is suspicious at first, but she can see the wind of dishonesty when someone lies, and Subaru, though clearly still intimidated, is making an honest, courageous effort that she doesn’t overlook.

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Part of me hated Crusch for so cruelly refusing Subie’s assistance the first time around, but I couldn’t blame her, as he was giving her no reason to help or believe him. Here he did his homework, recalling all the various goings-on in his past lives (combined with Hoshin’s major burn) to uncover the battle Crusch was preparing for anyway, and offer something that could give them all a decisive advantage over their foe.

Everyone works through the night to get ready, and Subie meets Hoshin’s mercenary captain Ricardo, numerous veterans who came out of retirement to, like Wilheim, avenge their lost loved ones upon the Whale. Subaru sees this is bigger than him, but none of this would be possible without him. He’s making it, damnit…he’s making it!

And God, it’s so good just to see everyone smiling and laughing again, even if it is, in part, to hide how goshdarn scared they all are of the task before them.

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This week, Subaru succeeded in all the ways he failed in previous attempts to save Emilia all by himself, or with last-minute help from others. Even though Priscilla isn’t a part of the alliance (and is totally absent this week), her reaction to Subie trying to kiss her feet was a powerful lesson Subie keeps with him, and is brought up again when he chooses his ground dragon, a breed known for its intense pride. He can’t accomplish anything alone, and he can’t inspire or convince others without that pride.

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Last week was ALL Rem and Subie, elevating Rem to “best girl of the year” status for many. I don’t have many strong arguments against that, so I’ll let it stand, especially when she doubles down this week on her absolute faith in Subaru, keeping his spirits up even when he starts to doubt if his cell phone will actually help them (considering how cruel this show can be, I too was worried this to all be for nothing).

But now Rem isn’t the only one trusting of or grateful to Subaru. He’s convinced two candidates battling for the throne to join forces, for crying out loud. And the merchants! As for stern-faced Wilheim, he gets a lot more fine strokes this week as one of those older men in this world who lost something to the WW, and is grateful for the opportunity to avenge his wife (who was once Master Swordsman, underscoring how dangerous the WW is).

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Perhaps one of the best moments of a highly satisfying and morale-boosting episode, another gem in a show full of them, is the moments of silence as the hour of the Whale’s arrival approaches. There’s so much built-up tension, combined with the possibility that it might not show up, or that the Witch Cultists would ambush the army.

Then the silence is broken by a strange electronic musical noise that took be totally off-guard (even though he said he’d set it earlier): Subaru’s cell phone alarm.

The cheerful chime feels like a terribly foreboding harbinger to some foul occurrence, but then the whale makes its appearance, and Subaru charges in first with Rem loosing her magic with prejudice. That changes Crusch’s face from terror and worry to a defiant smirk, and the battle begins.

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Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – 02

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In the latest iteration of the timeline the first episode ended with, Subaru doesn’t fare too well; calling Satella ‘Satella’ has the same effect as calling someone ‘Voldemort’ in the Harry Potter world. When Felt snatches her insignia, she assumes Subaru was only meant to distract her and runs off, and when he’s short with the three thugs in the alley, he gets stabbed to death and returns right back to the fruit stand.

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That quick sequence of events is enough to convince Subie of what we already know to be the case: he’s caught in a time loop, returning to that fruit stand every time he dies. He even gives it a name: “Return by Death” (which is a little plain but accurate).

(I’ll mention, I thought it was weird how the fruit vendor knew about Subie finding his lost daughter in this timeline. Did he find her again off camera, or is the vendor simply mixing up his memories from a previous go?)

Now that he knows the score, Subie initially considers simply selling his cell phone for some fat stacks and simply enjoying life, but he can’t ignore the fact he knows what happened (or will happen) to the old man, Felt, and Satella. So he decides he’ll maintain course: trade his phone for the insignia and give the insignia back to Satella.

The next time he meets the 3 Stooges, he tries something different: calling emphatically for guards. A distinguished swordsman named Reinhard answers the call, and rather than being a hardass, his “nice guy index” goes off the charts. I imagine we haven’t seen the last of him.

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In committing to this plan, Subie is naturally hoping to bypass the whole everyone-gets-killed-by-Elsa scenario by making the required transaction as efficient as possible, but it doesn’t help matters when he bumps into Elsa in the street and she can smell his fear and anger…and even compliments him by using humor to conceal his aggression (taking note of her dark beauty)

It also doesn’t help that he starts snooping around Felt’s hut, provoking her into attacking him before he can explain himself. I will say he hangs in there pretty well in the fight with the nimble thief—right up until her hut collapses on him.

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He does eventually sort out his intentions with Felt, who can’t be too careful, as she doesn’t intend to spend her whole life in the slums, and means it when she says “Live Strong.” She admits were she not a successful thief she’d probably have to sell her body.

It’s a small detail, but Subie does seem to know how to talk to women after a fashion, first by appealing to Elsa’s beauty, then mentioning offhand that Felt does pretty well for herself in the looks department despite not wearing makeup.

That being said, he pushes his luck a bit by being empathetic to Felt’s situation and petting her head, which she does not like and responds by biting him…after giving fair warning, of course!

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Subaru is intent on getting the phone appraised by Rom and making the exchange before Elsa shows up, but Felt is suspicious of the hurry he’s in, and doesn’t want to close a deal without letting her other client make an offer. Subie thought he could sway Felt by getting Rom on his side, but Felt won’t budge, and when a knock comes at the door, she opens it without reservation, even though Subie warns her they’ll all be killed.

But something very different happens than happened before. It isn’t Elsa at the door; it’s Satella (or whatever her real name is), having apparently asked around and tracked the thief who stole her insignia to the loot house.

That doesn’t mean Elsa isn’t far behind her, ready to kill them all…nor does it mean Subie will be able to form the same easy rapport with this Satella as the first one, but the important thing is, everyone is still breathing, and the episode ends without Subie back at the fruit vendor. …Progress!

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P.S. I liked the OP, which features some backwards percussion and a beginning that’s the reverse of the end. Vocals aren’t bad either. Likely a future Monday OP.

Working!!! 3 – 08

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Yamada may have moved back home, but she remains at Wagnaria after Otoo and Kyouko allowed her to keep coming in like Takanashi’s little sister to help out, and spending the night there when her mother isn’t home. So in a way, there hasn’t been a major change in the status quo, aside from the fact Yamada is usually going home and is now on better terms with her mom—though not her brother Kirio.

After that Aoicentric episode, this one is more of a grab bag, with a little story involving just about everyone from Otoo reuniting with his wife to Souta having to get a birthday present for Yachiyo (he actually gives her four for the four years he’s liked her).

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Many of these stories involve a Yamato in one way or another. Takanashi is annoyed that Kirio is talking so pleasantly with Inami, because he likes Inami, but won’t acknowledge that. He ends up beating Kirio up too much, and must recite a long-winded compliment that Takanashi thinks sounds like a joke, and it’s also how Inami interprets it, embarrassing her. So no real movement there.

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In another non-Yamada-related tidbit, Takanashi notices Popura may have shrunk, and Souma confirms she’s lost around 2cm, causing her to become depressed, because as much as she likes being pet by Katanashi, she also wants to grow more, not less. Turns out she actually did grow a centimeter, only because Takanashi grew three, she didn’t gain any ground, causing her to become depressed again.

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Back to Aoi, who convinces her mom over a period of six weeks to buy her a cell phone, then sends her mom a text, waits 30 minutes, and gets a blank reply back. Kirio, full of hidden talents, interprets the blank text as a long-winded inner monologue going on in their mother’s head about what Aoi’s original text meant and how best to respond.

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Finally, Kirio is sick of Aoi not acknowledging him as her true big brother (thanks to that natto theft incident), so he tries to become her big brother by becoming Souma’s little brother, which he attempts in the most ridiculous, true-to-the-Yamadas manner possible.

It’s actually Souta, whom Kirio asks for advice, who tells Kirio to take this route, in order to best annoy Souma as payback. But it isn’t long before the plan backfires and Kirio is annoying Souta to the point he must retreat from his own kitchen. Don’t get involved with Kirio; it isn’t worth it!

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 03

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“You don’t have to try so hard.” Nice understated flirting here.

Ah, this episode really tickled my funny bone, alone with my “charm bone”, further solidifying its rightful spot on my Fall watchlist. It’s got comedy, but it’s also got lots of great inter-character chemistry, a carefully-building love polygon, and an overarching mystery…and a lot of heart, to boot.

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Take the several scenes where the whole club is together. Even if they’re not super-crucial to the plot, watching everyone goofing around gives us more exposure to them during downtime, and they’re a ton of fun to watch.

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Keep in mind that Kana joined last week, but it already feels like she was always a part of the gang. When she reacts to the adorable animals Tsugumi sewed on their cushions by teaming up with Ikkei to get Tamamo to tell them what The Fox Says, it’s a very surprising but welcome pop culture reference…at least I think it was!

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Relaaax…she’s just measuring his waist for a costume.

This episode includes two non-members who deal with their status as outsiders in very different ways that fit their characters to a T, even though we’ve seen very little of either of them, they make perfect sense as their stories unfold.

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I guess an ambulance would be overkill in this instance…

Let’s start with Music Princess Misono Senri. The whole first half of the episode we cut to her being alone and miserable. When Tsugumi, Tamamo and Ikkei show her the text referring to her, Senri is confronted by a teacher at the same, scolding her for skipping optional lessons. Then it rains, she doesn’t have an umbrella, and she gets a fever. Tsugumi told her to email her if she needed help, and she does.

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The Library Club mobilizes and Tsugumi takes charge of nursing Senri back to health. Senri is bemused by her “unprovoked kindness” but is too weak to refuse it. By the time she’s in bed on the mend, she’s squeezing Tsugumi tight as if she were her mother. And when Kyoutarou sees that interaction, he catches another glimpse of exactly why he’s a part of “Happy Project.” Sometimes they’re just passing out flyers in costume, and sometimes they’re making a positive impact on the life of someone desperate for love and kindness.

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I love how Tsugumi keeps Kyoutarou appraised of the situation via email; and more to the point, Kyou seems to appreciate the updates. That night, he dreams of being led away by an adult with a suitcase, with someone out of sight saying “don’t go.” Is it a coincidence that he wakes up to the sound of his neighbor and fellow library lurker Kodachi Nagi spamming his doorbell? It is not.

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Something rare happens here: Kyoutarou steals a look…but doesn’t get caught!

Nagi’s tentative, apprehensive observation of Kyou throughout this episode (and past ones); her being disappointed that he doesn’t remember her; the way she casually makes herself at home in his room; his dream…all of it points to Kyou and Nagi having a past that only Nagi seems to remember, but she’ll be damned if she’s going to let Kyou keep forgetting. She just needs to find the right way to refresh his memories — or otherwise just make new ones. That won’t be easy with the bright, shiny Tsugumi around.

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She has it tougher than Senri, who connected with the club simply by receiving an email from the Shepherd saying “a new world is waiting for you after school”, three days before meeting the Library club, who also got a email from the shepherd, saying Senri would “teach them something important.” All very neat and tidy…but to what end? The perceived address of the Shepherd is a long-deserted apartment. Curiouser and curiouser. 

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 02

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The Shiomi Happy Project is shaping up nicely. While Ikkei is present as a token second guy (and the less bookish, more enthusiastic of the two), let’s not kid ourselves: a harem is in the making. At various points Kyoutarou has what could be construed as flirtatious moments with Tsugumi, the newest member Suzuki Kana, and the “Song Princess” Misono Senri.

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That last one seems to have some kind of Secret regarding The Past, one she and the school radio host Serizawa Miyu seem to share. As Tsugumi sets the club to work picking up trash on the school grounds to built trust with the student body, the finding of her tuning fork makes Senri the first direct recipient of the Happy Project’s assistance.

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That’s if you don’t count the blonde, Suzuki Kana, who joins the club quickly and seems to fit right in. She seems to be withholding certain information about her circumstances; it could be, for instance, that her old cell phone didn’t break, but she didn’t have one to begin with until Kyoutarou helped her pick one. That, in turn, would mean Kakei, Tsugumi, Tamamo and Ikkei were her first contacts. She just had a lonely vibe about her.

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Speaking of lonely, Kodachi Nagi is on the periphery of this episode, observing the growing club occupying what was once Kyoutarou’s Fortress of Solitude. While it’s pretty clear she’s at least partly responsible for bringing the various club members together (she means to get Senri to join too), when she’s interacting with them, it’s only to tell them to pipe down, which is clearly an act, because they wouldn’t be in there making noise if she hadn’t done…whatever she’s doing!

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One of the side effects of agreeing to participate in Tsugumi’s Happy Project is that he’s becoming a lot more tolerable of things that aren’t books, like people and non-reading activities. He even volunteers to accompany Tsugumi to Senri’s house at night, concerned for her safety. And after seeing her wait outside the door, he finally decides to give her the key to the clubroom, and leave to make copies for everyone.

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Tsugumi means to convince him to stay with her past Golden Week, and she’s off to a good start. Similarly, if Nagi, as a member of “Shepherd” is gauging Kyoutarou’s own shepherding abilities through experimentation, well, she’s off to a good start too…as is the show itself.

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There’s a pleasant, understated earnestness about it, along with a warm, amiable energy. Kyoutarou is aware that conditions around him are shifting rapidly, but not for the worse, and he’s willing to go with the flow and see where Tsugumi’s light takes him.

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Working’!! – 09

At Souma’s sly suggestion and with Kyoko’s indifferent blessing, Sato comes with Yachiyo to get her a cell phone, something she’s never had before. Yohei and Mitsuki return to continue helping Kyoko, and Yohei gets snagged by Kozue, who’s lamenting another dumping. Takanashi is tired of Yamada’s lollygagging and tells her to write everything he tells her to do down, but she misses the point.

Mitsuki is quite correct; Yachiyo is cute, and always has been…but so shy, and as this episode indicates, hopeless in all non-work-related social situations. Still, the cell phone sales rep barely conceals her contempt for what looks to anyone like a couple in Sato and Yachiyo, and they would be one if Sato had the guts to set things in motion (and Yachiyo had only the slightest awareness. As things stand, she only has eyes for Kyoko).

As for Kozue, she may be drunk and loose, but her intuition isn’t wrong. Even if she is just teasing Mitsuki, Souma is in fact sadistic, Sato is sweet beneath his rough surface, and despite his oh-so-subtle gestures, he’s definitely into her, even if the crushing futility of ever attaining anything more than friendship weighs him down. When one can’t be direct in their like for someone, they typically tease or otherwise mess with them instead. Oh yeah, there was more Yamada Being Yamada, and for once Inami didn’t punch Takanashi (she was barely in this, though). That is all…


Rating: 3