Well… That just happened.
This was an epic episode of Re:Zero – so much so that I have difficulty figuring out where to begin. So, in the vain of criticism, I will start by saying that nothing this episode excuses Subaru’s actions the last two episodes nor do they redeem him. That said, this episode was amazing.
Starting from where Episode 14 left off, Episode 15: The Outside of Madness begins in the village where Subaru comes across the corpses of Rem as well as all of the villagers. And I mean all of the villagers. The Outside of Madness does not shy away from showing you the barn full of children’s corpses. Subaru then enters the castle, only to find Emilia’s pendant covered in blood and the corpses of Ram and Petra – the little girl who disappeared after the shaman dog attack several episodes prior. Pushing even deeper into the castle, he finds a room covered in shiny ice where, after he loses a few fingers on a frozen door, he freezes and shatters.
And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for – Subaru’s rebirth. Surprisingly, Subaru does not reawaken in a bed as per usual. Instead, he awakens in front of the appa vendor’s stall. This is the second time the appa vendor’s stall has been a place of rebirth for Subaru which is interesting in and of itself. It’s one of the many questions Episode 15 leaves you with, bringing back the joy of mystery from the first season that had felt so lacking recently.
Subaru, for his part, doesn’t think too much about the place of rebirth or, for that matter, anything else. The senseless destruction he witnessed drives him into a state of catatonia where he just mumbles the names of the dead. His condition is so severe that Rem decides he needs to be taken back to the castle to heal.
The journey back seems uneventful to start. And then the ground dragon loses its head. Chopped clean off – causing the carriage to collapse. What follows is a battle between Rem and the Witch’s cultists – seen prior in the ogre twins’ flashback as the ones who destroyed Ram’s horn. The action here is quick but awesome with Rem performing some excellent acrobatics before taking a knife to the back and a fireball to the face. Then one of the cultists runs off with Subaru and Rem enters full rage mode with one of the greatest Rem quotes to date.
I honestly thought the dragon’s head being chopped clean off would be the major WTF moment of the episode. That is until a chained up Subaru is introduced to the head of the cultists, Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse is probably one of the best psychotic villains I have seen in an anime. His crazy is centered around his political fanaticism and a focus on his title as the sin of sloth. Every moment with him is wonderfully creepy, including when he beats a cultist to death for failing to finish off Rem and later when he tortures Rem in front of Subaru, causing Subaru to exit his state of catatonia and replace it with a state of rage as he swears he is going to kill Betelgeuse. Note, this is the only time Subaru has actually had a desire to kill someone.
Rem proves to be more resilient then expected and drags her ruined self to Subaru so she can use the rest of her life to free him. The moment when you realize that Rem is still alive is horrifying, given the destruction of her limbs in the aforementioned torture scene. With new found freedom, Subaru trudges back through the village which is once again filled with corpses. This time Ram’s body is found outside a hut in the village.
Subaru – having obviously never seen the 1988 Tim Burton classic – continues angrily muttering the name Betelgeuse as he takes in the destruction. Then a wolf rises from the castle and Subaru freezes with Rem in his arms. And then for good measure, his head falls off.
Episode 15 had a lot going for it: excellent action scenes, a terrifying new villain, Rem being awesome, and a lot more questions. Why does he keep restarting at the appa vendor? Who is the giant wolf who keeps freezing him to death? Why does the giant wolf say “sleep, along with my daughter”? Why was Petra in the castle? Why was Ram in the village the second time? What happened to the other residents of the castle? Are there six more sins to go along with Betelgeuse, a.k.a. Sloth? What will angry Subaru do next? I have to say, I’m excited to see what will come next.