SPOILERS for S2, no LN spoilers for anime only watchers
Now that we’re all caught up on the madness that is Re:Zero, it’s time to begin the story proper. These first two episodes form an extended prologue to Arc 4, in which Subaru and Emilia are trapped in a demi-human sanctuary and must uncover the mysteries that lie within. A ton of new and old characters appear, there’s a ridiculous amount of foreshadowing for a 26-minute episode, and it all caps off with Subaru meeting my favorite villain in the series face to face. Strap in!
We open with a heartfelt farewell to Ferris and Crusch, who seem to be keeping it together okay considering what happened in the last episode. Subaru’s magic gate has been damaged from his fight with Petelgeuse, and even after Ferris’ healing he needs about two months to fully recover. But I’m sure it’ll be fine, right?
On the way to the mansion, Subaru tells Emilia that he loves Rem just as much as her! (Poly ship confirmed?) We also meet the new maids at Roswaal’s manor, Petra the adorable village girl and the mysterious sharp-toothed Frederica. Frederica tells them all about the Sanctuary, where there may be a secret to bring Rem back and help Emilia remember her past. But how does Frederica know so much about it, and why does she keep warning them about some dude named Garfiel? (No, not the cartoon cat who loves lasagna, but you better believe I’ll make some puns about it when he shows up.)
Never mind that; there’s another mystery to uncover with the sarcastic wonder spirit Beako! Beatrice is shocked to see the Witches’ Gospel that Subaru took from Petelgeuse, but she also seems to have known the Archbishop of Sloth personally – what gives? And when Subaru pushes her for more information, she freaks out and uses her powerful wind magic to kick him out of the library – a nice nod to their first encounter, but with a more sinister tone this time. Girl has some skeletons in her closet, and Subaru has to be careful to keep her on his side.
There’s a lot going on this episode, but most of it’s foreshadowing so I can’t spoil too much now. It might feel slow to anime-only viewers, but that’s on purpose. This arc of Re:Zero is all about mystery and suspense: the secrets of the Sanctuary, the truth behind the Witches and their cult, and whatever that bastard Roswaal is really up to. It’s not as action-heavy as the previous arc, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Author Tappei Nagatsuki could have done a better job not infodumping so much early on, but all the character moments and the trail of breadcrumbs he left for us to follow kept me excited through all the exposition-heavy dialogue.
After a lot of buildup, the episode ends with Subaru, Emilia, and Otto the Merchant heading off to the Sanctuary. Subaru notices the crystal Frederica gave to Emilia growing mysteriously, but before he can even do anything about it, Emilia passes out and Subaru finds himself in a mysterious forest. A pink-haired girl shows up seemingly out of nowhere to lead him to an ancient temple, and as soon as he walks in, he comes face to face with…
YES!!! Y’all, I was waiting for this. Echidna, the Witch of Greed, is the main villain of this arc, and I adore her in the novels. I can’t say too much about her yet, but she has a fascinating personality, ties into the lore of Re:Zero incredibly well, and explores the concept of greed in a unique and interesting way. I can’t wait to see more of her in the anime, and not just because she’s easy on the eyes.
And finally, after two whole episodes of waiting, the glorious new OP! “Realize” by Konomi Suzuki is a banger, with soaring high notes and a great alt-metal inspired guitar riff. It perfectly captures the dark romanticism of Re:Zero, and the haunting imagery sets up even more foreshadowing for the suffering to come. Despite the long prologue, Season 2 has been a delight to watch so far, and I can’t wait for next week to see Echidna take center stage!