Re:ZERO – Starting Life in Another World has been a very engaging and thought-provoking anime. Each episode, while seeming repetitive and chaotic, is often filled with subtle nuances that reveal a lot about the various characters. The makers have infused a lot of personalities, but none have made as much progress as the protagonist Natsuki Subaru. Episode 21 and its amazing ending offer a lot of clues about the once-awkward boy who is on his way to becoming a true hero.
[Warning: Re:ZERO Episode 21 spoilers are ahead]
Episode 21, titled A Wager That Defies Despair, offers a refreshing and optimistic outlook not just for the rather fatalistic narrative of Re:ZERO, but primarily about Subaru. Moreover, the episode has given the fans of the series a lot to cheer about the hero, who was acting rather boastful and losing his credibility in his vain attempts at sounding heroic and brave.
The white whale appeared to be one of the toughest challenges for any hero, especially for one who is as unprepared as Subaru. The boy was thrust into such a battle without even facing a few simpler challenges that would have prepared him. The whale was surprisingly defeated despite having multiple weapons including one that drove its victims insane. The battle was undeniably won with the help of Subaru’s new-found allies. With the whale and its avatars killed, Subaru can proceed in his journey and towards his ultimate goal of confidently reuniting with his fair maiden Emilia.
The makers of Re:ZERO appeared to have let the fans know that Subaru can win, because so far his failures were not only numerous, but they had become painfully repetitive. It seemed his failure in this episode was all but guaranteed and inevitable. The hero’s win seems even more satisfying than it actually is probably because Subaru’s deteriorating mentality suddenly takes U-turn for the good.
The central theme and lesson of Episode 21 of Re:ZERO‘s third arc seems to be accepting the past and not running away from it, by routinely showing Subaru’s failed attempts at trying to avoid the past, instead of carefully examining and changing it. The protagonist has certainly grown by leaps and bounds after each fatal defeat which forced him to start from a preset “checkpoint.” The makers seem to be constantly reminding the fans that Subaru isn’t a hero in the traditional sense, and any of his attempts of fulfilling his presumed heroic narrative will end badly and with his death. Though the hero’s intentions originated from juvenile mindset, the anime’s progress shows the development of the boy who was described by multiple Japanese media buzzwords, like chuunibyou, otaku, hikikomori, NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training).
Episode 21 of Re:ZERO Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu is undoubtedly a crucial one for Subaru as it shows the true potential of the hero and how well he has outgrown his original personality. By his actions, Subaru has successfully altered for the better, Anastasia and Crusch camp’s perception of him. The way Subaru negotiated the finer aspects of the hunting party that ensured everyone had something to gain, belied his bungling antics that once humiliated him and Emilia in front of the royal court.
Natsuki Subaru may have entered the fantastical world as a rather coward and inexperienced boy, but his bravery becomes apparent when he steps forward to act as a lure for the white whale. Having such confidence in the face of such a powerful floating enemy in the sky that sends many warriors cowering in fear isn’t easy. To top it all, his misplaced and oftentimes painful-to-watch arrogance, revealed by his disgraceful boasting, was completely wiped clean after Subaru selflessly credited Crusch and Wilhelm for defeating the white whale instead of bragging about the triumph.
Will addressing quite a few character flaws help Subaru face his next challenge without dying multiple times in Re:ZERO – Starting Life in Another World?
[Image via MF Bunko J/White Fox]