This is the episode I was waiting for. Of all the spectacular moments of Arc 4, my favorite reading the novels was getting to see all the Witches of Sin. Tonight we were introduced to Typhon, Minerva, and Daphne, the Witches of Pride, Wrath, and Gluttony, respectively. And the Big Bad of the whole series, Satella the Witch of Envy, finally made her appearance. It was all well worth the wait!
After opening up about Return by Death to Echidna in the last episode, Subaru gets a lesson on his dark power and the Witch who gave it to him. Though Echidna doesn’t know why Satella granted Subaru such an extraordinary ability, she posits that there is no limit to how many times he can die and be reborn. He just has to suffer and die over and over again until nothing else can hurt him or his friends, like a karmic Dark Souls.
When the questions turn to the Great Rabbit from last episode, Echidna tells him he can get the best info from Daphne. And this is where things get a bit weird. Subaru goes into some kinda Vulcan Mind-Meld with Dona and wakes up staring at the tiny, chipper Typhon. She’s so happy to see Subaru that she rips his arms and legs off out of sheer excitement. But right after, Minerva, the Witch of Wrath, beats her up and puts Subaru back together in an over-the-top magical girl sequence. By the time we can even process what the hell just happened, Daphne shows up in an upright walking coffin!
To be honest, I don’t like it when anime introduces a bunch of important characters all at once like this. I feel like it diminishes their individual presence, and makes it harder for you to remember all of them. I hate making the obvious Fullmetal Alchemist comparison, but their Seven Deadly Sin villains were introduced more slowly and had more screen time early on. It helped them stick out more individually, and watching them grow and develop along with the heroes made for some epic confrontations by the end. But this is the Witch’s Tea Party, and they’re all great. Their personalities are vibrant and they’re campy in that great Re:Zero villain way. Minerva is my favorite of the bunch, although she’s still not as great as you know who…
Anyway, Daphne tells Subaru about her finest creations, the Demon Beasts. She gives him a couple tips to defeat the Great Rabbit, and explains the reason for their creation. They’re meant as food, for humans! The fact that they eat people is just her way of playing fair. It kinda makes sense, in a creepy Darwinist sort of way. At least she’s a bit less one-dimensional than FMA’s Gluttony, though that’s not saying much.
Subaru returns to Echidna, now appreciating how chill she is in comparison to the other Witches. She accepts the handkerchief Petra wrapped around his arm as payment for her services, saying that whoever made it clearly was concerned for him. But we also get a glimpse of Dona’s dark side, as for all she’s done for Subaru, she has no interest in helping Emilia pass the trial. It almost feels like she’d prefer it if Subaru just forgot about Emilia and became completely dependent on her… but surely the Witch of Greed wouldn’t have some kind of ulterior motive, would she?
Subaru returns to the temple, but something’s wrong. Emilia’s not there! When he hurried outside, all Subaru sees is a black fog covering the entire Sanctuary, and a dark lady who looks eerily similar to the one he loves so much.
FINALLY! After a season and a half of nothing but rumors and teases, we finally come face to face with Satella herself! This is the Witch of Envy who nearly destroyed the world 400 years ago, who has given Subaru the curse of Return by Death and seems eerily obsessed with him. She tells him, “I love you” so many times it becomes a mantra of madness, and appears to swallow our hero in darkness completely before he’s saved by… Garfiel?!
Okay, that was a pretty clever fake out there. They even put the title card up and everything! Our ferocious feline has been almost entirely antagonistic to Subaru so far, so his quick turnaround seems out of place – but remember that this is still a new loop, so Garf is meeting Subaru for the first time. Subaru may have the scent of the Witch on him, but that’s probably nothing compared to the stench from the genuine article!
But the episode’s still not done yet, as after another phenomenal ending credits we close with Roswaal being swallowed by the dark mist, showing his copy of the Gospel, and asking Subaru to “not mess up next time” – meaning yes, he knows about Return by Death now! It was heavily foreshadowed before, but this brings a whole new dimension to Roswaal’s character. What else does he know about Subaru, and how did he figure it out in the first place? He’s definitely the most cryptic of the bunch, even more than Satella herself.
Despite my minor gripes with pacing, this episode was yet another banger in Re:Zero’s now infamous second season. I was so excited to see the Witches’ Tea Party in full anime goodness, and White Fox’s stellar adaptation did not disappoint. The visuals and music were amazing as always, and the new villains have lots of personality. And we still haven’t met the Witches of Sloth or Lust yet, so get ready for some more moe horror goodness in the episodes to come!