If there is one weakness in Re:Zero, it is the consistency of Subaru’s character. He transitions seamlessly between extremely useless, to barely competent, to mastermind. While he is most annoying at his extremely useless stage, his mastermind stage can also be frustrating. The enjoyment of the central device of Re:Zero is that the audience knows what Subaru knows and the audience understands why Subaru has that extra knowledge. When Subaru starts pulling knowledge out of thin air, it devalues his Return From Death knowledge.
As is probably apparent from the above rant, Episode 24 of Re:Zero features Subaru’s Return From Death after Julius killed him at the end of Episode 23. This time, Subaru’s save point has been moved to right before the attack on the Witch’s Cult. Thank goodness, too. Another fight with the White Whale would have gotten tedious.
As Subaru stares off into space, Felis wakes him up with a bite on the ear. Moments like these – which I rarely discuss in my reviews – really help elevate Re:Zero into an enjoyable anime. They are rarely overdone and they tend to be really enjoyable. Specifically, Felis’ cat moments mixed with Subaru’s discomfort with everything Felis does creates a nice break between the serious parts of the show.
When Subaru wakes up, he does the one thing he almost never does. He shares all of the information he has. In my opinion, it is best thing Subaru does this episode because almost everything else he does feels too omniscient. By explaining to his group that Betelgeuse can take over other bodies, Subaru actually prepares his group for success in a believable way.
Most of the rest of the episode involves Subaru doing something awesome followed by an explanation of how he set it all up. Some of the set ups make perfect sense based on the knowledge Subaru has. For example, knowing that one of the carriage drivers was a traitor, Subaru gives him faulty information in order to disrupt the plans of the Witch’s Cult.
Some of the other set ups feel like they come from left field. For example, Subaru wears an old cloak of Emilia’s which magically obscures the face of the person wearing it so that he can give Emilia advice without being recognized. The use of the cloak is slightly pointless – because he is not really necessary for any of those conversations. But more importantly, it is never explained how Subaru understood how the powers worked or how he got the cloak from her in the first place.
A similar situation occurs in the battle with Betelgeuse where Julius explains that he connected a spirit to Subaru so he could use Subaru’s vision to see Betelgeuse’s power. Subaru had no way of knowing that Julius’ spirits could transfer senses. The only spirits he ever saw were the red one which just burned things and the group of them which broke Ram’s confusion spell. Yet somehow he figured out how the spirits worked and proposed this plan to Julius. While there are definitely ways it could make sense, they would involve way more explanation than the show gives us.
The quick recap method does work well in a few areas. It would have been way less fun to re-watch Subaru explaining the evacuation to the villagers or convincing Ram that he was not an enemy. In those places, the quick recap allowed the story to push forward without being hampered by having to replay events we just watched an episode ago.
While I have spent most of this review complaining about Subaru’s omniscience, his actual confrontation with Betelgeuse was magnificent. First, it was wonderful to see Betelgeuse frustrated by how much Subaru was in control of the conversation. It is even better watching Subaru actively mess with Betelgeuse. Second, Betelgeuse finally explained the purpose of his attack on Emilia – to determine if she was a worthy vessel for the rebirth of the Witch. And to top it all off, Betelgeuse explains that the Witch would be reborn regardless of the results.
Episode 24 suffered a lot from what made prior episodes of Re:Zero so great. Previously, each death surrounded a mystery. Subaru would gain a little more information and trudge forward, only to fail again. But with each death, he got a little closer. In Episode 24, he recovered from the death too quickly. He woke up, knew exactly what to do, and pulled off the perfect plan. There was very little mystery and very little purpose for his death in regards to the story. Additionally, the cliff-hanger of Julius’ attack on Betelgeuse did not leave me wishing for a next episode as much as usual for the show.