Emilia’s back story is average storytelling at best.
Re:Zero is taking some interesting narrative twists in regards to its back stories; Emilia’s backstory was less sinister than I expected. My overall feelings regarding Emilia’s backstory is that I am neutral about it. I don’t feel like it was great, but it wasn’t poorly executed either. I consider the story to be average. It was a bit of a let-down, but it’s not fair to always expect Re:Zero to be at peak storytelling. Looking at the content and context of the back-story it works in the overall greater narrative at play.
So how does the narrative work?
So overall the narrative itself does answer questions about Emilia’s past and gives us insight into what had happened many years ago. The reference or time frame is a bit skewed when it comes to Emilia. We have no exact time frame for her story. It’s left open, and there are no problems there. Subaru isn’t a true time traveler and can’t go back years on end to solve today’s problems.
We get to see what life looked like in the forest before it was frozen. It looks like there was a group of elves dedicated to protecting a seal in the forest. Emilia was the key to the seal. We don’t have much frame of reference for the seal. It just seems to be there, like a Pandora’s box, waiting to unleash chaos into the world. So while we get some answers, we are only viewing the story from a young Emilia perspective. We don’t get many answers.
While we don’t necessarily deserve all the answers, it would be nice to have more clarity. Everything seems a bit too ambiguous for me to get excited for it.
Emilia is viewing her past from the present, disconnected from the emotion.
While Emilia does get to watch her connection to her mother and watch how Betelgeuse (Petelgeuse) goes insane, it feels like Emilia is viewing the past the same way one would watch a show. While she is viewing the past, I am not sure that she is connecting with it. While on the surface it appears to give her character more depth, I still feel like she is still as flat a character as ever. Viewing her past doesn’t change her motivations or her thoughts about anything.
Emilia still wants to unfreeze the people in the forest. And while that motivation might have been strengthened, it’s still not as satisfying as it could be. If anything she gains some optimism and confidence that she can do it. But that optimism is just a shift of perspective, not knowledge or the power to actually unfreeze the people in the forest.
While Re:Zero is a show that is very much about shifting perspectives, an important step for character development, right now I am just left wondering if there is going to be a more satisfying pay-off later. I wonder if the other trials will make Emilia feel like a real character to me, rather than just an extra that Subaru is obsessed with. If anything I feel like I learned more about Betelgeuse than Emilia. His motivations and reasoning make more sense from the story arc before the sanctuary arc.
So we should just rename the Emilia backstory to how Betelgeuse went insane story. Re:Zero works best at a fast no brakes pace in regards to it’s storytelling. Slowing the story down hasn’t added as much entertainment value in my eyes. I am still optimistic that we might get some great pay-off down the road for Emilia, but so far I am still not fully convinced this is the right direction for her character.
Do you agree? What are your thoughts? I want to know!
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If you want to read any of my previous RE:Zero conjecture you can read more here: