It feels like the writers of Re: Zero are in a competition to see who can portray Subaru with the smallest IQ. In Episode 13, Subaru went completely off the rails: ignoring Emilia’s requests, fight pointless duels, and finally telling the woman he supposedly loves that she should owe him everything – like the guy who demands a woman be attracted to him because he has been really nice to her recently. Episode 14 dialed it up a notch with Subaru pissing off everybody else in his life and once again ignoring all possible common sense. Then, the write of Episode 15 played his trump card and turned Subaru into an actual babbling idiot and everyone thought he won. But the write of Episode 16 refused to give up and, once again, Subaru has become the least likable/interesting character in this show.
At the end of last episode, after the introduction of Betelgeuse, we got the first look of hateful determination in Subaru’s eyes. He had transformed from a man bent on making Emilia love him to a man bent on murdering the man who tortured Rem to death in front of his eyes – right before murdering a village of farmers, children, and others of his friends.
Subaru’s unique method of revenge involves Subaru demanding help from all of Emilia’s enemies while, at the same time, not listening to a word they say or taking any of the countless useful pieces of advice they give him.
Up first is Crusch who constantly tells Subaru that he needs to find something that he can offer in exchange for her help. Subaru makes very little effort to entice her, instead harping on the fact that she is about to let innocent people die in a domain that is not her own. He also has no problem giving up Emilia’s place in the royal selection nor does he attempt to find a way around it.
After Crusch comes Priscilla, the girl least likely to help anybody do anything, as was made abundantly clear in prior episodes. Once again, Subaru fails to spin things to make them sound interesting to anyone but himself, thereby exacerbating the situation by making Priscilla an enemy of his in perpetuity.
Last, but definitely not least, is Anastasia who takes the cake as the most surprisingly intelligence character of this show to date. She spends her conversation with Subaru giving him useful advice on how to negotiate and on how to portray himself as something other than a babbling lunatic – advice that Subaru ignores completely while comporting himself again as a babbling lunatic. Even after she gives Subaru everything he asks for (this being the one time he doesn’t ask for any fighters), Subaru is infuriated that she tricked him into telling her information that he didn’t actually care about.
Subaru showed two moments of intelligent thinking this episode. The first was that he recognized that he and Rem would be useless on their own. The second was his plan to get all of the merchants to help transport villagers from the city. A plan that seems to have failed, thanks to the giant creature that appears at the end of the episode.
While Subaru wins the award for worst character of the episode, the entire supporting cast is amazing this episode. Episode 16 really serves to introduce you to each of the other contenders to the crown. Crusch is depicted as a wise general while Priscilla shows actual hatred for Subaru’s worthlessness. Honorable mention goes to her knight, Al, who is friendly enough to Subaru while being slightly wary of his mistress – especially after she makes that crack about ruining his face more than it already is.
Anastasia and her vice captain Mimi prove that they are more than they appear. From the way Anastasia played Subaru to the fact that the whole restaurant was filled with Anastasia’s warriors, Anastasia prove that the diminutive girl we saw at the ceremony is more than she appears.
Episode 16 was a great introduction to the candidates for king of the country. Each character was better fleshed out while Subaru continued his act as a raving lunatic. The end, in Re: Zero’s cliffhanger style, leaves us wondering what creature has attacked the caravan which has the power to make people forget about their friends. And hopefully if Subaru dies here, he will learn from his mistakes and actually learn how to talk to people.