Re:Zero – Forced Romance

In typical Subaru fashion, he picks the worst time for expressing romantic feelings. 

In Episode 40 of Re:Zero we got an unexpected romantic moment from Subaru. We get that first awkward kiss with Emilia. It’s not something I wanted to see, but I can understand the progression from a storytelling perspective. While I might not like the situation and circumstances, nor wanted to see this story progress in this direction I can accept it for what it is. In a situation of weakness from Emilia, Subaru forces his feelings on her while ignoring larger issues at hand. It’s practically the most Subaru thing ever. While I might critique the situation, it is a plausible situation and outcome for Subaru in the grand scheme of the story. 

Given that I am unsure of if Subaru will survive this iteration of the sanctuary, I am unsure if the romance will actually last. 

There are reasons why this works as a situation. Given in other iterations of the sanctuary arc, there was one moment that Emilia actually tried forcing herself on Subaru. It was sick and twisted but it did happen. I largely ignored it, but it seems relevant given the circumstances now. If there were any feelings for Subaru by Emilia they were certainly expressed there beforehand. 

While I like romantic anime and situations to be ultimately more romantic, with couples learning more about each other and deciding that pursuing a relationship would make them happier overall, how exactly would romantic developments happen in RE:Zero? Given the overall dark nature of the series feelings would certainly be warped or at the very least one sided. We have already had one character, Rem, confess  her feelings to Subaru in what was a very one sided love affair. Subaru does not have feelings for Rem. And Rem developed feelings for Subaru after a single conversation of Subaru telling Rem she does have value. So Rem’s feelings, while strong, came from a place of misplaced confidence in Subaru. 

But lack of confidence from characters is a recurring theme. It’s not only Rem, but Subaru and Emilia that lack confidence at times doubting themselves or their abilities. 

How does Subaru end up convincing Emilia of his love?

Subaru has been nursing a crush that he has had on Emilia from day 1 of coming to this world. He certainly had the chance to walk away from his situation and maybe explore other elements of the world. So it makes sense that after suffering and working so hard to win over Emilia that he would go for the worst situation I could think of for a romance. 

When confronted by Emilia for his lies and breaking his promises, he ignores the situation at hand. Now granted Subaru has extenuating circumstances for not being able to come clean to Emilia. He can’t tell anyone about his ability Return by Death. So he can’t really defend himself and he doesn’t try. 

Instead he says that everything he is doing is for Emilia because he loves her. It’s a line he has repeated before and gotten nowhere with. Emilia hasn’t accepted that as a reason in the past. Subaru’s obsession with Emilia has always been a one sided choice on Subaru’s end. When asked why he would love her Subaru focuses on her physical appearance, and while Emilia is attractive it’s absurd to suffer and die many times over for her hand. Subaru’s reasons are vain and shallow, but it’s not surprising given his character. Subaru is a flawed character, but those flaws make him an interesting protagonist. 

So is it really a surprise when Subaru can’t convince Emilia with words? He basically forces the kiss onto Emilia. And while she let’s it happen I have serious concerns for their future relationships should it continue to develop. Given that it’s RE:Zero, Subaru could die and reset and everything in that scene would be gone. I suspect it’s probably going to be something that sticks. 

Do you agree? 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!

There is one love story I do like in RE:Zero! Read more about it here.

3 thoughts on “Re:Zero – Forced Romance

  1. My impression of the episode is that Emilia did not fall for Subaru. She was just emotionally vulnerable and felt abandoned and was in spirit demanding Subaru to give her a reason to trust him given that this was the second time Subaru broke a promise to her, a spirits arts user, for whom promises are very important, and the only way Subaru felt he could prove his “love” and get Emilia to trust him was by kissing her. Even with the pink glow the animators used for the kiss, I am not convinced that this was meant to be seen as some very romantic scene.

    Yeah, the scene pleased people who are actively rooting for them to be together, but I sensed a huge power imbalance in that scene with Emilia wondering whether she’d even still be the same person after all her memories come back and with her frantically bawling and asking Subaru why he broke his promise and wouldn’t make her trust him. Subaru also mentioned things in loops that only happened to him, which confused a vulnerable Emilia even more. He also went on a rant about why she can’t be as cute as he wanted her to be, at which Emilia told him not to talk to her as if she was a doll. My takeaway from that scene is that Subaru gave Emilia the strength to move forward, not that it was some amazingly romantic scene, even after considering the use of that pink glow and that Emilia’s eyes reflected Subaru at the end. It was like what Rem did for Subaru in episode 18, only it wasn’t as raw and great given how Subaru refused to tell Emilia what he was doing instead of staying with her after she had asked him to. I know Rem and Subaru’s confessions were very different, but the purpose of their confessions were to give the recipients some strength to move forward instead of running away from things.

    Here is my character analysis of Subaru:

    At the beginning of Season 1 of Re:zero, Subaru thought of himself as the main character of an isekai story who would no doubt also be rewarded with the affections of a pretty girl. I now propose that to an extent, he still thinks of himself in that way, possibly as a coping mechanism for him to continue living on this world in spite of all the suffering he must experience even though his initial expectations of him being really strong were proven false. I will draw upon things he has said in 4 occasions across both seasons of Re:zero to support my analysis.

    First, I will draw upon something he said in the first arc in episode 3. “For all the injuries I got, all the crying I did, all the pain I felt, and all the fighting with my life on the line… my only rewards were her name and a single smile. Jeez, talk about unequal compensation.” Subaru here already thinks he’s entitled to a lot more from Emilia because of what he went through, but it’s my belief that you should never expect something from others when you do something for them. He has made it clear he believes in common isekai tropes before in episode 1, and I believe what he said indicates that he thinks of himself as the main character of an isekai who will no doubt be rewarded with Emilia’s affection. Yes, Subaru took note of how kind Emilia was for being the only one who helped him when he was struggling alone with no benefit to yourself. He also became aware that Emilia helped the appa guy’s daughter on more than one loop even when he wasn’t present, which showed off her saintly behaviour, and this fueled his initial attraction to her, but as of episode 41, I still find that he feels entitled to Emilia’s affection, and I am not liking what I see about this behaviour.

    After the second arc, in which Subaru succeeded in foiling a mabeast tamer’s attack, which resulted in him killing a single Ulgarm and even fighting a huge Ulgarm which he landed blows on, Subaru became way in over his head, thinking he was some big shot. When Emilia was met with derision by the Council of Wise men as well as other nobles and Priscilla, Subaru went and forcibly tried to make a case for her, culminating in him declaring himself to be Emilia’s knight partly because he felt that what Reinhard and Julius felt for Felt and Anastasia was no less than what he felt for Emilia. After Subaru felt belittled and humiliated by Julius, he lashed out, saying that knight’s are just born into the job and that it’s not a big deal to be a knight. After this outburst, Emilia and Subaru had a talk in the room Crusch had provided to him, and he told her what he really felt deep down from the ugliest depths of his mind after failing to justify his actions, which was that Emilia should have a greater debt to him than she could ever repay. Episode 3 already showed Subaru’s sense of entitlement around Emilia, and the end of episode 13 was the ugliest example of that.

    Then fast forward to episode 25, Subaru says, “As far as I’m concerned, it’s written in stone that you’ll give me an answer, and it’ll be a positive one at that.” Now, this may seem like an innocent remark, but I’ll tell why when I saw Subaru say this that I reacted with anger and was fuming for a few hours after I finished watching the episode. When I consider how to interpret dialogue, I consider a holistic approach that draws upon everything that had happened so far, and given Re:zero’s penchant for including foreshadowing in even the most unlikely places, I interpreted that as Subaru feeling that as the main character of an isekai story that Emilia would no doubt return his feelings even possibly thinking that it was destined to happen. I know this interpretation of that line will be very unpopular as most people will see it as just Subaru being confident, but considering Subaru says something very possessive and entitled in episode 40 during the second season, I believe it lends credence to my interpretation. With episode 25’s scene, I feel Subaru has merely gotten better at hiding that he feels entitled to Emilia rather than him no longer feeling entitled to Emilia.

    Now, here’s the final piece of text I draw on to support my analysis from episode 40. After a long exchange in which Emilia refuses to believe Subaru when he says that he loves her because he broke his promise to her, Subaru says, “All I think about is how to look good in front of you. I’m suffering for you here! At least try to look as cute as I hoped you would!” That last part demanding Emilia act as cute as he hoped she would shows that Subaru thought Emilia would take his confession much better than what actually occurred in reality. He had fully expected her to react in the way he had expected her to in his mind when he planned this all out and believed that she should act the way he wanted because Emilia would no doubt do what he the main character of an isekai story would want to since she’s the heroine. It was another moment in which he felt entitled and possessive about Emilia. Viewers were meant to take Emilia’s side on the matter considering she demanded that he not talk to her as if she were some doll.

    After saying all of that, I do want to clarify that I don’t consider Subaru to be a bad person. He’s just a guy with his own issues just like everybody else who is struggling to make his way through the world. However, I do think that Tappei included moments in the dialogue when Subaru reveals himself to be possessive and entitled because this is the stage Subaru is at right now. I personally believe that in true love that there is no sense of entitlement and that as long as Subaru has this sense of entitlement, regardless of whether it may be a coping mechanism to continue living in this world, I will not acknowledge his feelings for Emilia as being true love and will root for him to fail if he enters a relationship with her. I do want to note that I believe Subaru will get past this stage of entitlement by the end of the story, so it’s not that I wish him eternal despair. I just believe that when Subaru isn’t wallowing in despair, he thinks of himself as the main character as a coping mechanism to keep him going since the suffering and pain takes a toll on him mentally..

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    1. Vance blog when? These are some great thoughts, many of which I agree with.

      I am not rooting for this relationship either. I find it a twisted advance onto Emilia, and Subaru’s sense of entitlement has always sickened me.

      While it would be nice to see Subaru get past his sense of entitlement, I am perhaps a harsh Subaru critic in that I do wish him eternal despair at times. He is so thick at times, that he doesn’t seem to grasp basic situations at hand.

      Given his world views and his background I can understand why Subaru is the way he is. I can give him some slack realizing he is just a kid trying to make his way in this strange new Isekai world. He wasn’t dealt a good hand, and the situations finds himself in are basically impossible to deal with. I both love and hate Subaru, but at least he is a realistic protagonist with strengths and weaknesses.

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