Eight episodes in, Re:Zero shows no signs of slowing down. Subaru confronts a hangry Garfiel in full beast mode, meets the second of the three great Demon Beasts, and talks about Return by Death for the first time without anyone dying. Arc 4 has officially kicked into high gear!
Last time, Subaru and Otto met up with Ram and were planning to escape the Sanctuary again. But Subaru still has questions for Roswaal, so he goes back for another tense grilling. Roswaal plays coy this time, but we learn that Beatrice’s book isn’t a Witches’ Gospel. It’s a book that can predict the future with 100% accuracy! That raises a whole bunch of questions about the metaphysics of Re:Zero‘s universe, but I’m more concerned with how Beako got it in the first place. It had to be created by someone as powerful as a Sin Witch, if not a Witch themselves. And who would want such a book, more than anything…?
Subaru and co. plan to return to the mansion, but Garfiel quickly stops them in their tracks. Turns out, Frederica isn’t the only one in the family with a beast mode! Ram and Otto try their best to get away, but Subaru almost immediately gives up once the angry cat catches up to them and threatens a group of innocent bystanders. He goes up to Garfiel, ready to die and restart – only for Otto to rush in and sacrifice his own life instead. And before we can barely catch our breath, Best Dragon Patrasche does the same thing, throwing Subaru out of harm’s way and dying just as as Frederica’s gemstone transports him away from danger.
When he comes to, he’s back in what appears to be the dungeon. Outside, the whole Sanctuary is covered in snow. (Never a good sign in Re:Zero, unless it’s the Memory Snow OVA.) The only sign of life is a tiny white rabbit, with an adorable horn and glowy red eyes.
PSYCHE! Yup, this anime literally does The Killer Rabbit from Monty Python straight, and somehow still nails it. This is the Ousagi (Great Rabbit), one of the Three Great Demon Beasts created by the Witch of Gluttony. The other one we’ve seen is the White Whale, who raised so much hell back in Season 1 that it took an entire army to bring it down. Sure, one bunny isn’t bad – but what about thousands of them, constantly multiplying, eating you alive and driving you so mad with hunger that you start eating yourself too? I swear, I thought Nagatsuki was fucking with us when I read this scene in the novel, but it works. Somehow.
Subaru respawns in the temple with Emilia, but he’s too shaken up to even notice her. He has a complete meltdown, banging his head on the floor so hard it starts bleeding – only to be magically transported again to a nostalgic dreamworld with a familiar face.
Of course, any time Echidna is on screen, Re:Zero becomes exponentially better, and this scene is no exception. She has some great lines in both her femme fatale and tsundere modes, but the real gut punch comes when Subaru realizes she knows about Return by Death. She had to have seen what he went through in the other timelines, to find him qualified to enter the trial again. In fact, in Echidna’s World, Subaru can freely talk about his ability without fear of him or anyone else dying. It’s the first time he has ever been able to since the show started, and it takes a minute for him to even process it.
I think the worst part of Return by Death is not being able to tell anyone about it. He has gone through all kinds of hell in dozens of darkest timelines – but he can never open up to anyone about it, or get anyone to understand what he’s gone through. One of the most important parts of overcoming trauma is talking about it in a safe space. That’s literally what therapy is for. But the one person he can talk to about this isn’t Rem, or even Emilia – it’s the Witch of Greed, who could easily be as scary as Satella yet always treats Subaru with respect and empathy.
We finish with Echidna comforting a crying Subaru and soft music over the end credits. It recalls the best scenes of Season 1 – Subaru’s “lap pillow” with Emilia, his death from the monstrous Puck, and Rem’s love confession – but it doesn’t feel forced or obvious. Overall, this was another great episode. If I had to criticize it, I’d say the pacing is a bit wonky this time around. There were so many intense scenes back-to-back that it was a bit hard to keep track of everything that was happening. But that’s just a nitpick, and I generally prefer slower-paced episodes for Re:Zero anyways. Echidna is great as always, and I still can’t wait to see the other Sin Witches in all their anime glory!