Fun with Subaru and His Parents
Re:ZERO season 2, episode 4 (or 29, depending on which numbering scheme you subscribe to),“Parent and Child,” hit me like a bag of hammers. It reminded me a lot of season 1 episode 18, “From Zero,” when Subaru and Rem basically stood around and talked. Seriously, now: how the heck does Tappei Nagatsuki make that kind of thing so interesting? In this episode, I just watched a kid hang out with his mom and dad for 20 minutes until he met a witch. And I’m emotionally exhausted!
Before we get into the episode, how are things with you, Irina? Having a decent week?
So far so good. We’ve been having a cool wet summer so far and I’m certainly not complaining. It’s perfect for staying at home and enjoying some anime! Admittedly I would probably have done that anyways.
Irina will be in bold this week; there will be spoilers.
I will and there will!
I don’t know what Echidna’s end game is. She might flip Subaru into a fire and roast him for dinner in the next episode, for all I know! Though there’s precious little foreshadowing for that… But whatever her goals, she just gave Subaru a tremendous gift. Four of them, in fact. Let’s walk through them one at a time.
Subaru at Home
Subaru’s mom had an interesting approach to breakfast. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The first several scenes established that Subaru has great parents. His dad is way over the top. Everything he does is huge. Everything he says is loud. But there doesn’t seem to be a cruel bone in his body. His mom’s mind is sitting at about a 50 degree angle to reality; her views seem to only loosely coincide with the flow of time. But she’s a gentle soul who loves her son, and I could listen to her voice all day. It’s so calm and soothing!
Were his parents what you expected, Irina?
You know, we so rarely see parents in anime that I sort of forgot they existed. I just never really thought about what Subaru’s parents might be like at all. I did like them though.
It’s weird. Subaru started out as a bit of a bummer and a bum. He didn’t exactly have the best attitude, but he has such loving and supportive parents. Oh well, teenagers, what are you gonna do, am I right?
I sort of felt bad for his mom at the beginning. The episode seemed to be brushing her aside but they gave her some time to shine towards the end so it all worked out.
I was happy to see that, too.
Subaru and His Dad Take a Walk
Subaru’s dad kept asking him if there was a girl he liked. Trying to get him to remember Emilia? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Suburau couldn’t — or didn’t — remember anything from the world of Re:ZERO. By the way, do we know what it’s called? I’m going to call it Witch World until someone corrects me. Anyway, Subaru’s dad keeps asking if there’s a girl he likes. The question seems to give Subaru a shooting pain (great sound effect, too). Finally, on a walk with his dad, the pain gets so bad that they have to sit on a park bench so Subaru can recover. That’s when he hears Emilia’s voice call his name. Dad heard nothing, of course, and to get past the awkwardness of his son hearing things, comments that when Subaru woke up, there was something about his look that was better. When Subaru answered he didn’t want to change, he felt the worst, and last, shooting pain. Seconds, later, he heard Emilia saying “It’s been rough, hasn’t it?”
In a show packed with emotional moments, that’s one of the stand-out scenes in the first season. It was in episode 8 (original cut), around 18:25. Now, for Subaru, it triggered his memories of Witch World. He saw an ethereal form of Emilia. He also heard her ask “Why do you always save me?” I think that was from episode 25. His answer then was because he loved her.
He finally answered his dad and said, “There is a girl I like.”
His dad asked about the girl he liked half a dozen times. It would have been funny if Subaru pictured a different girl every time. I mean, he sort of did, but not as explicitly as I was hoping for, and only with 2 girls. C’mon Subaru, you can do better than that!
It was obviously not his actual dad and most likely not a real person. He didn’t ask for a picture or any specific details or give him a speech about respecting women. Those are all the basics for a real dad and son talk or so anime has taught me.
Echidna’s First Present
Subaru was finally able to say that yes, there was a girl he liked. I’m not sure I’ve even seen him with such a peaceful expression. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Echidna’s first gift was Subaru’s reconciliation of his childhood with his present self. He had lived in his dad’s shadow. As a growing child, he’d tried to live up to his vision of his dad, but he ran into the law of diminishing returns. He finally gave up and became the Subaru who walked out of the house and ended up in Witch World. Now, though, he was able to review his life through the eyes of a young man who’d come back through Return by Death more times than he’d like to count. He’d found someone he loved who had nothing to do with his dad. He found someone who loved him (Rem) not knowing anything about his past.
Irina, am I over selling this moment?
I’m not sure exactly which moment you’re referring to but it seems like a pretty good description of the episode. I think they might have used those exact lines at some point.
He didn’t explain to his dad that the girl he liked and the girl who loves him are two completely different people. I would have liked to hear the parental advice on that situation. Would he have scolded his son or given him serious advice but been secretly sort of proud his kid turned out to be such a playboy? I can sort of see that.
Echidna’s Second Present
Dad asked Subaru to take care of him and his wife when they got old. Turns out, that’s not going to be possible. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The next gift came moments later, and I have to say, having just helped place my inlaws in assisted living, it was hard to watch. Subaru’s dad, being the up-beat person he was, brushed aside Subaru’s apology for being such an adolescent. His dad told him that if he really wanted to be make it up to them, all he had to do was “Take good care of your mom and me when we’re old, my eldest son.”
Does Subaru have siblings? I looked it up but I didn’t find anything so I’ll assume he’s an only child.
Keep in mind that Subaru now remembers where he’s been. I think he knows his time on Earth is limited. He just learned that the one thing his dad asked him for is something he cannot do.
That’s not the gift. The gift was giving Subaru the chance to say, “I won’t be able to make anything up to you before… I never see you again.” The gift was Subaru having the chance to confess that to his dad so he didn’t have to leave anything unsaid.
I know there’s a lot of things I’d like to say or ask of my dad, who passed away a few years ago. The opportunity would be painful, certainly, just like it was for Subaru. In fact, seeing how much this hurt Subaru, I reflected how glad I was I’m not a character in Tappei’s works!
Did you think Subaru handled this well, Irina?
I lost my own dad when I was in school. I think he should have said bye. But why does Subaru think he’ll never go back? Like I said, I forget a lot about this story. An unnatural amount, it’s a bit worrisome.
Were we ever told Subaru can never go back home? If I remember he was kind of sucked into another word. Most of those stories end with the protagonist getting back home. He could even bring his girlfriends with him, or they also have Earth counterparts he can get to know all over again.
Then his dad can make fun of him for being all dramatic over nothing.
Or maybe there’s a good reason he thinks he can’t go back and it was explained in detail like two episodes ago…
I don’t recall anything in particular from the first season. My guess (and I hope our readers pipe up!) is that he feels like the Witch of Envy just won’t let him go.
Echidna’s Third and Fourth Presents
His mom told him to take care. Unlike the time he left for Witch World, he had the chance to respond. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
The third gift was with his mom. The two of them were walking towards his school when she asked if someone other than her or his father had done something to help him grow. He answered yes and said he didn’t deserve them. “But you won’t give them to anyone else, right?” his mom asked. You can imagine the fervor with which he answered, and that’s the gift. In Witch World, he’d been running so hard for so long that he’d had no time to reflect. He had to give all of his attention to keeping himself and his friends alive. Now, he could reflect on just how much they meant to him.
The last gift was probably the hardest to receive, maybe because it was two gifts in one! When he left the house before ending up in Witch World, Subaru had been so surly that he hadn’t responded to his mom’s “Take care!” Now, as his mom headed for the convenience store and he headed for school, he stopped and said, “Mom! There’s something that I need to do! So… I won’t see you for a long time. It’s kinda far away… so I don’t think I’ll be able to keep in touch! But no matter where I am, I’ll be thinking of you guys. And I’ll never… forget you.”
He said I’ll always be happy to be your child or something to that effect. It was super cute.
He got to say goodbye. He was able to do the next to last thing that would let him live in Emilia’s world. The last thing was the second part of the gift.
“Take care,” she called to him. And this time, he got to respond.
Re:ZERO season 2 Episode 29: A Powerfully Emotional Episode
Subaru received a rare gift: the chance to fix a painful oversight. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I really haven’t conveyed the emotion in these scenes. I feel bad about that; they were sublime. Maybe it’s because of the regrets in my past, or maybe it’s because I’m a dad and could identity with Subaru’s parents, but this scene and the others carried a lot of weight. What’d you think, Irina?
This episode was way more sentimental than the ones we have had so far. Maybe except the first one, with Rem getting hurt and all, that was pretty emotional as well.
I’m guessing the point of this test was the classic face your inner demons but it was much calmer than what we usually get. Except for that heartburn Subaru had at first. This said, the way I saw it, those weren’t actually his parents at all. I wonder if Subaru’s real parents are anything like that or it’s just representations based on his wishful thinking or even on Echidna lulling Subaru into a false sense of security or something.
Maybe there’s gonna be a butterfly effect since he undid a core aspect of his identity. Maybe he’ll be a completely different person now. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will affect his personality. Like will he be less inclined to blame himself for everything now that he has relieved some of that guilt so he won’t be so desperate to save everyone himself without asking for help? That would be a really nice growth moment and a chance to give other characters some needed agency.
That would be cool.
Echidna Makes an Appearance
What is it that makes this character so attractive?
The last scene was Subaru opening the door to the classroom. Echidna was the only one there. Smiling in that uniquely Witch of Greed way, she asked how his confrontation with his past had gone. I’m thinking she intended to give him the chance to say goodbye. Don’t know if it was an act of compassion or pragmatism so he could focus on whatever goals she has for him, but I don’t get an evil vibe from her.
Or maybe she’s got me fooled?
Irina, what do you think?
For a second I thought it was Emilia. Those design similarities man… Also am I misremembering (probably) or is Emilia the one girl in the episode that Subaru never ended up seeing clearly? Like she remained a hazy shape. Does that mean he’s forgetting her? Is Echidna somehow trying to take Emilia’s place maybe in an attempt to leave the graveyard?
Those could be crazy theories but I wouldn’t be disappointed if that was the plan. Somehow… I haven’t worked out all the details in my head but that’s why I’m not a witch!
Or maybe that’s just what you want us to think! But if you are, then I’m pretty much in big trouble…
Well now that you’ve told everyone….
Reviews of the Other Episodes
- Re:Zero 2 episode 1 – Like Dejà Vu All Over Again
- Re:ZERO 2 episode 2 (ep 27) – The Lost Forest of Clemaldy
- Re:ZERO 2 episode 3 (ep 28) – The Long-Awaited Reunion
- Re:ZERO 2 episode 4 (ep 29) – That Should Not Have Worked
- Re:ZERO 2 episode 5 (ep 30) – Once More Unto the Breach