Re:Zero Episode 29 – Hikikomori Subaru Confirmed

I am glad that we finally get some confirmed backstory for Subaru, sort of.

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Back in January I wrote about Subaru while watching the director’s cut of Re:Zero. My ideas about his background were more or less confirmed. You can read more about that here.

The core of the article is that perhaps I had judged Subaru too harshly. There are plenty of flaws about Subaru that I have never liked, nor will I ever like. In terms of an isekai protagonist his character has been the one I have least enjoyed. I had only ever really looked at his flaws.

In January I wrote that there is a reason for his flaws, and that he wasn’t prepared for the world of the isekai. I believed this in part because based on how Subaru responded to the isekai world I had guessed that he was someone who wasn’t very socially adept. I assumed he was a hikikomori because of how badly he handled the world around him and that when Subaru first arrived at Lugunica he assumed he had some crazy magical powers or that there was something special to make him the hero to save the world. These are not normal thoughts for someone who  just arrived at a new place suddenly and unexpectedly. I also believed that Subaru was a desperate individual due to his circumstances, trying to make the outcomes of the world favor him. If he didn’t have his ability return by death, the story would have ended many episodes ago.

What I liked about Episode 29, is that we got a chance to see Subaru back in the real world. I got to get more of an idea of who his parents are, what led him to becoming a shut-in, and what is really going on under the surface. Learning more about the underlying issues that plagued Subaru’s mind was a treat for someone with conjectures about who he was before he came to Lugunica.

While I was worried the episode could be in fact out of place for Re:Zero, it ended up answering questions that I had. It delivered on more than just answering questions as well. I got to see why Subaru became who he was. The reasons are understandable and for some I am sure those reasons are also relatable. Why did Subaru give up on life? He gives the answers to that in his own words when conversing with his father. The weight of crushing expectations and that he had to be more than who he was broke him. He goes beyond giving up, he wishes that his parents would give up on him and disavow him. We actually get the opposite of his expectations and his parents support him regardless of where he is standing in life.

Granted this has to be taken with a grain of salt because this flashback is in part Echidna’s creation. How serious can we take these conversations that Subaru in reality didn’t  have? Either way the episode is very interesting.

This is an interesting episode where Subaru can reconcile his past. The true shame of the episode is Subaru realizing that he will never have the chance to actually repay his family in the real world. Another shame is that these conversations never actually happened. Considering that Subaru went along with the conversations we can assume that the past Echidna created was as real as it could have been. It was a fiction inside of the mind of Subaru, but a beautiful fiction that I wish had actually been real for him.

Like Echidna I am surprised he resolves his past rather quickly. Maybe she is disappointed that there wasn’t more to his story.

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts? I want to know!

Is there anything you would like me to cover? Do you want to know my thoughts on anything? Have something I should know? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, comment below!

5 thoughts on “Re:Zero Episode 29 – Hikikomori Subaru Confirmed

  1. I’d like you to cover part of episode 16 of Re:zero, just the part that included Priscilla asking Subaru to lick her feet. I have not read the light novels, but I have a rather unorthodox interpretation of that particular event as portrayed by the anime.

    My interpretation of that scene given Priscilla’s extreme reaction to Subaru daring to consider licking her foot and her decision to grab Subaru’s arm and say to Emilia, “Is there a reason you stare at my manservant, half-wit?” is that Priscilla actually found Subaru to be attractive and possibly a potential lover after he had the moxie to show her that apples have red skin.

    To me, Priscilla saying, “It seems you really are just an insignificant man!” shows that she thought Subaru was more than just a loser before he made a fool of himself at the castle, and her challenging Subaru to lick her feet was an attempt to see if he actually had any dignity left and to see whether he’d show the same kind of attitude he had when they first met, which was one that didn’t show deference to her. When Subaru actually showed that he was going to lick her feet, she was outraged and said she would strike down any camp he was a part of even if the Witch Cult were defeated because that moment was a personal humiliation for her because it showed that her first impression of him as a potential lover was wrong.

    Another opinion of mine that deviates even further from mainstream opinions is that I think Priscilla will be the one who Subaru ends up with at the end, not Emilia. Although seeing Subaru’s room having models and posters of silver-haired women from anime does make me believe it will be an uphill battle to change Subaru’s feelings, I believe it’s completely possible for Nagatsuki Tappei to be telling a story that doesn’t involve Subaru ending up with his first love who is the main heroine or even a harem because his work is better than other mediocre isekai series. Subaru and Priscilla make for nice foils to each other given that Subaru is someone who has suffered humiliation after humilation while Priscilla is haughty, and I could see Subaru becoming someone more proud (but not too prideful) towards the end as he grows into the kind of person he wants to be while Priscilla gets taken down a few notches and becomes a softer and more kind person even if that change doesn’t happen until more than half the story is over (or even toward the end).

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    1. I won’t be able to cover that single part of the episode but I would love to share own thoughts about that here. I find your idea very interesting. It offers insight and perspective I didn’t think about and find fascinating. I didn’t read as deeply into the scene, nor did I consider Priscilla a potential lover for Subaru. But with Re:Zero anything could be possible. For me I take her words at face value, but this could also be my general anti-Subaru bias. Spoiler if you didn’t know but I actually don’t care much for Subaru, but I find his journey and this world fascinating. I haven’t really considered the Priscilla angle much because I haven’t seen much of her in the show, but she is bad news meaning that she is going to make for an interesting character and development sometime later in the story. This is of course assuming that she is planned on being used in the story later.

      In terms of who ends up with Subaru romantically, the coin is still very much up in the air. The main contenders right now are Rem and Emilia, but Subaru seems dead set on Emilia. I am not sure what it would take to break those two apart, even a rejection of Subaru’s feelings for Emilia by Emilia might not push him away. While Subaru and Priscilla do make for nice foils, I am not sure their is any real mutual interest there. This is just my opinion on the matter for the time being, and maybe other developments may shift my thoughts on the matter.

      Also as a side note have you considered blogging? If you already are what is your website? I will be sure to check it out. In the amount of effort you put in to commenting here is certainly enough for some short posts. I find your ideas interesting, even if they are not mainstream.

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      1. I want to go more into detail about what I thought about that Priscilla scene. The reason I didn’t take Priscilla’s words at face value was because of just how offended Priscilla actually was. She lectured him about what he displayed not being an act of loyalty or devotion but more akin to a pig’s greed, leading her to say she would strike down any camp he was a part of, and this tells me that Subaru’s decision to lick her foot was something that was the complete opposite of what Priscilla wanted even though on the surface she made it sound like favouring his miniscule pride would lead to an undesirable result. I believe Priscilla decided that she would make a weak pathetic Subaru her mortal enemy was because he did something that insulted her to the core, and for someone as extremely proud and confident in herself to the extreme as Priscilla is, it would be to show that she was wrong about her judgement in some way, and that would be that Subaru showed that he was pathetic and not worth her time after she would go as far as to try and make Emilia jealous by grabbing his arm and suggesting that Subaru was her (Priscilla’s) manservant at the Royal Palace.

        I know it’s a tough sell since it’s just one scene from a character that has only showed up in 3 episodes so far, but Priscilla’s outrage along with her body language during the scene which included her playing with her hair and uncrossing and crossing her legs says to me that she thought of Subaru as being more than just a clown or jester. I have seen some people say that the author has a mean streak with that Priscilla scene and was being nasty to Subaru for the hell of it, but I think that that scene had a lot of care and craft in how it was presented. I do acknowledge that it’ll be extremely difficult to convince Re:zero watchers that this particular interpretation is correct barring the airing of additional unreleased content that might be on the longer side of several seasons away, but I try my best to put myself into the shoes of the characters and see whether their interactions made sense, and coming to the conclusion I did was the only way I could make sense of Priscilla’s outrage in that scene. Her reaction changing from disappointment initially (judging by the voice acting and the line, “It seems you really are just an insignificant man!”) to rage is why I believe what I do about that scene.

        Having said that, I do want to find out more about Roswaal. If Beatrice is right, we’ll find out more about his intentions either in this cour or in the anime’s next cour in 2021.

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      2. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I can see more clearly the road you took to get to your position of Priscilla potentially being the end game lover of Priscilla. You are right to present your position and argue for what you see as a inevitable. This is the basis for interesting discussion and dialogue. I often enjoy listening to a well-thought out position even if I don’t personally agree with it. In fact I believe there is more to gleaned from an opposite position of my own position. I already know my own thoughts, so its logical that the other person might have insight that I don’t have.

        To explain a little of my own thought processes I try to be careful of reading too much into any particular scene or event. In the past I used to be more willing to entertain ideas that required more boldness in the position. Over the years I have found that the bold assertions have led to learning more about myself, and the more I discover the more I understand that I need to hone in on my reasoning. As a competitive and perhaps to a fault stubborn person I dislike losing arguments about my own positions and what I believe. I should be challenged with what I believe, and peers often challenge me the most. In trying to understand anime, reading books, or manga I want to take a position that lends the most strength to my argument. Its because I want to have a strong argument, or something to fall back to, I tend to be very careful in my reading so when I have a dialogue or discussion I can look at my point and say this is how I interpret it. I try to stand on ground that is irrefutable.

        Of course two people can interpret a scene entirely differently, as is our interpretation here. In fact I agree with you about Priscilla and how you see her. I agree with the personality traits she displays are a foil for Subaru. I also agree her expectations were subverted when Subaru goes to lick her foot. Where I disagree is in the interpretation of her reactions. I think she is right to see Subaru as a greedy pig, and that her judgement of him is spot on. And because I believe her words at face value, I am not persuaded at this time that they could ever be anything beyond enemies.

        Of course this in mind, it doesn’t mean that I am right. It could end up being that something more comes of the relationship between Subaru and Priscilla. In fact if the author is smart she will be used later on in a way that makes the story more interesting, and will create entertainment value out of the few times we have seen her. She is certainly suggestive in the scene, but that alone could just be an act and not true romantic interest.

        Does the author have a mean streak? Yes. He utterly humiliates Subaru and reminds Subaru that he isn’t worthy. I find that this treatment leads to more entertainment value in the show as a whole. I find that Subaru deserves some of the humiliation, as he brings a lot of shame to himself. While I don’t like Subaru, the author is very keen to make him an interesting protagonist. Subaru is unlike any other isekai protagonist I have met. He is no Kirito, if you have seen Sword Art Online, who has something going for him. Subaru has nothing going for him, besides return by death. While Subaru is flawed, its those flaws that make him interesting. Even if I dislike him for those flaws. Without them he becomes a generic isekai protagonist, and Re:Zero would actually struggle if Subaru wasn’t as flawed. The conflict in Re:Zero isn’t entirely of Subaru’s making, but his actions antagonize and change the world around him.

        I too want to know more about Roswaal. I am sure we are close to finding out more about him.

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  2. I don’t blog, but Re:zero is one of the few shows that have inspired me to comment on comments section of blogs by other people. I think the first anime that I posted on other people’s sites somewhat regularly was Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita (Humanity Has Declined).

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