Tragedy in all its glory.

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This is my first journey through the “100 Days of Anime” Challenge, an ambitious project that I’ll be taking. For the full list of prompts, click here.

“Saddest anime scene?”

Major spoilers for Re:Zero Episode 15 and possibly beyond. Also some pretty spooky images. Beware!

We’ve all experienced it in one show or another. A death that leaves us stunned, a love unrequited, betrayals from the least likely companion, and more. These scenes represent a turning point in the story, introducing tension and emotions that otherwise the viewer wouldn’t experience. Done incorrectly, and we might find ourselves wondering why we care at all. But done properly? The scene will be a defining moment in the show, inspiring discussion from the community months after the season is over.

Re:Zero takes this theory to another level.

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A completely broken Subaru is ushered into the carriage by Rem, completely oblivious to Subaru’s rather dismal journey through time. Subaru is at his lowest point in the show, the heavy weight of despair rendering him useless.

To make matters even better, the Witch’s Cult strikes and he is dragged away to our favorite villain’s lair.

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What follows is a deluge of emotions as we get to witness all in one episode:

– Rem’s futile attempts to rescue Subaru.

– Subaru powerlessly watching.

– Twister

– A love confession

– Various scenes of genocide

– Denial and Death

Seriously, that’s a lot to take in.

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The dynamic for Subaru is a little different. With the ability to rewind time after his death, I figured character death would be downplayed emotionally. “Oh, I’ll just reset time and try again.” What we get instead is an emotional impact that the viewers can feel. No words are spoken as Subaru carries Rem’s broken body towards the mansion. Men, women, children; none were spared from the massacre as Subaru trundles over one after another. I remember seeing Ram’s bloody body impaled; shocked, like a knife twisting into my heart. Yet I couldn’t help admiring the detail that went into these scenes. As I viewer, I didn’t need to see the action to know what happened. Tell-tale signs of resistance, magic blasts that ignited the buildings, blood trails and bodies desperately seeking shelter inside homes before being abruptly ended, and Ram fighting to the very end.

A theater of death, showcasing the antagonist’s heinous acts.

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Gore and murder isn’t the only reason why this is particularly memorable. The one who made this scene masterful was Subaru. The scene isn’t just sad, it is utterly tragic; a glimpse of the ramifications for failure: Subaru’s failure, his failure to act in his despair, his fear and uncertainty. He KNOWS that each and every one of their deaths could be prevented, but chose to despair.

And this realization causes him to sink further into despair.

The ending scene to the episode gives me chills, as the soundtrack kicks in to Subaru’s frozen body, still tightly holding Rem. The credits kick in and I’m forced to sit and stare amidst a blizzard that consumes everything in its rage. It is absolutely beautiful, a scene that left me feeling empty in its dismal final act.

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A masterfully directed episode that had me at the edge of my seat (in horror, for better or worse). The appalling moment when Rem crawls towards Subaru, bone and body broken is a testament of her love, upping the tragedy levels to near unbearable. At this point I don’t empathize with this relatable every-man, but feel absolutely sorry for him. For his situation, for what he had to see, for his experiences, for his death.

And that is what cemented Subaru as my favorite tragic hero in all of anime.

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