It isn’t as good as the first season.
Okay! Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get into the second half ReZero: Starting Life in Another World! after the cut!
As I said when I examined the first cour, I made it a point to prepare myself for watching the second season, in that I made my expectations as low as possible. ReZero was the anime that pulled me back into this medium after years of being away from it. The journey of Natsuki Subaru and the self reflection he went on really drove me in, and the latter half of that first season is just what a lapsed anime fan like myself needed. That being said, I knew that the story was far from over, and that I couldn’t expect, nor that I should, the second season would have though highs. So I went in with zero expectations, and in the end, I am glad I did.
ReZero’s second season is at its best when it is moving the story forward. Like I said last time, just because Subaru ate his helping of humble pie doesn’t mean that the world is better. He’s still stuck there, still able to return by death, and still stuck between a rock and a hard place. The whole dilemma of trying to help Emilia through the trial, but also to save the manor from attack is the driving force behind the story, and Subaru simply can’t be in two places at once. So much of this second half is our lead character trying and failing to do both, and throughout, finding the courage to both accept help from others, and give Emilia the courage, and space, she needs to confront her own fears.
Those ideas, the courage to confront reality, and the courage to not shoulder the world on your own shoulders is the central theme of the second season. Emilia, Subaru, Roswaal, Garfiel, and Beatrice all go through a journey of realization and self-discovery. The have their world views challenged, the safety blankets taken away and are forced into the deep end of reality. It’s sink or swim, and the series best moments are when each of these characters reaches that moment of realization. It is especially fun to see Subaru step into a leadership role, having made peace that he can’t simply do everything himself and be the support that Emilia needs. But that support is no longer the blind adoration of the first season, instead it is love that is both kind and tough, and Subaru knowing when to push Emilia into the ‘deep end’ shows marked growth for him as a person.
Yet, this second cour also suffers from the same problem as the first, in that this is an arc that rarely, if ever, gives the viewer time to breathe. Everything is important, everything is key. Looking away from the screen for one second might rob you of a crucial plot detail or moment of character growth. This isn’t a show that you can have on the background, it something that requires your upmost attention, and while many people will love that, I can’t deny that it felt at times overwhelming. Shows like Steins;Gate and Unlimited Blade Works, reward viewers for paying attention to key details, but doesn’t ruin the experience if you miss them. ReZero is the opposite, it punishes you for not giving the show your full focus. It is a show that almost asks you to watch it again, which is not a hard ask considering the story is great, but it can also feel like homework. I expect that from a Type-Moon series, not something like this.
Still, I can’t deny that ReZero didn’t have me engaged throughout the run, and the climax of this second cour feels deeply earned, a great triumph after exhausting marathon of the entire arc. I have to wonder if that was the point, that we are supposed to feel as exhausted and worn out as Subaru does by the end of it. This is a show that I am going to have to watch again to give you my full thoughts, but what is there is a solid and good continuation. Whatever your thoughts may be, ReZero is not a show content on playing it safe, or jogging in the same spot, and I can’t deny that I didn’t feel a strong pull of emotion in those final scenes as Subaru’s character arc comes full circle. ReZero: Staring Life in Another World remains a solid show, and while this second season doesn’t hit the first highs, it’s strengths are what some other shows could only wish to have. Give the series a look if you are so inclined, but try to clear your schedule when you do.