Re:Zero Musings – The Problem with Main Heroines and Shipping Subaru X Rem

Me as I finished episode 18

Me as I finished episode 18

Note: This post contains massive spoilers for Re:Zero especially for episode 18.
Please don’t read this post until you reach that part.

Stepping away from all the “shitty LN” jokes, Re:Zero’s actually pretty decent. However, it does has it’s own fair share of problems, and one thing that irks me the most now is episode 18.

Yes Subaru, you're going down the wrong route.

Yes Subaru, you’re going down the wrong route.

Episode 18 is pretty much one huge confession scene. And normally I would praise a harem LN show like this to actually establish a canon pair, but going with Emilia here doesn’t make much sense. I know the story has been building up Emilia as Subaru’s main love interest so far, but after Rem’s arc, the latter looks like the more natural contender for Subaru’s love interest. The story just has such a perfect context for this relationship, but unfortunately, the story, and Subaru chose Emilia — in which, the only reason I could give is simply because Emilia is the main heroine, and main heroines always win.

But first, let’s compare other LN shows with established couples:

  • Sword Art Online – Kirito X Asuna
  • Shakugan no Shana – Yuji X Shana
  • Toradora – Ryuuji X Taiga
  • Zero no Tsukaima – Saito X Louise

Those are the only ones I can think of so far, as aforementioned, shows with established couples are already few and far in between. But let’s look at this short list — so all these are canonically established couples in their respective series and yes, if you notice it, ALL of them are main heroines. It doesn’t help that main heroines are usually the ones to get the most focus.

And in Re:Zero, the main problem with it is that you have a “third wheel” character-Rem, in this case, who has just as much, or even more focus than the main heroine. I guess long story short, Subaru X Emilia just doesn’t make sense. The story really tried it’s best to stir towards this direction, but in the end Subaru X Rem is the one that sounds like a more logical approach.

JUST LOOK AT HER. I mean, all my captions are Cap Locks for my blog's theme, but I genuinely wants to shout in Cap Locks here. SUPER HRRNNG

JUST LOOK AT HER. I mean, all my captions are Cap Locks in default, but I genuinely want to shout in Cap Locks here. SUPER HNNNNGG

I mean, come on, you have Rem making one of the most heartfelt anime confessions I have seen in recent years. The confession is so good it can melt any men’s hearts even if they didn’t have any romantic interests in her before, the confession is so good it can melt fucking steel bars. In fact, you know you are doing something right when you can make a confession scene lasts an entire episode without it feeling stretched out.

[HorribleSubs] Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.13_[2016.08.29_19.23.15]

One thing I like about the confession so much is that it literally brings up the past 17 episodes of context into the scene, and we are given some character motivations for both characters. Subaru feels like he has been tossed aside by everyone, telling him they don’t need him and he can’t save anyone — yes, even including Emilia. It’s also here that Subaru vent out all his feelings, his insecurities — he was a NEET in his own world but he feels like he can start his life anew in this new world, but nothing has changed, he’s still petty, pathetic and powerless, and has to rely on other people for help to even accomplish anything.

[HorribleSubs] Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.46_[2016.08.29_19.24.33][HorribleSubs] Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.50_[2016.08.29_19.24.43]

Now I know I’m not alone when I say this, but Subaru is loud and annoying, in fact, the show is pretty much filled with 80% of him yelling and crying. But at the very least, one thing that I can appreciate about his characterization is that he is self-aware, he is self-aware of the flaws that made up of so many other LN harem characters, and the narrative is serious and dramatic in tackling this characterization. No contradictory bullshit — Subaru is truly insecure about his dull life. Maybe because of that, he is obsessed with the idea of chivalry despite being weak, and being sent to another world gives him the perfect excuse to try exercise it. He may or may not genuinely wants to save anyone, but he definitely wants to save people to satisfy his own obsession with chivalry.

[HorribleSubs] Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.56_[2016.08.29_19.26.36]

But sometimes, it’s fine not to overthink people’s motives. If you actually managed to save anyone, then that’s a job well done regardless of motives, and that’s certainly what Rem thinks so — all this goes back to Rem’s own lengthy story arc but nonetheless this is another thing I like about this, many harem shows focus on a heroine’s arc, only to forget about her in future arcs. Re:Zero however, continue this story about Rem even after her arc concluded. This is consistent relationship development in display, and is the main reason why I feel the story going with Emilia as the established main couple just doesn’t make sense.

[HorribleSubs] Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.30_[2016.08.29_19.40.00]

In the end, Subaru managed to genuinely save someone. He may look clumsy, silly and idiotic in all his struggling attempts, but he can confidently say that he genuinely save someone — he saved Rem. And really, that’s truly the main theme behind all the time-looping chaos that is Re:Zero – hero complex.

Because of that, this relationship makes perfect sense. Subaru in his quest to quench his empty heart, in his quest to satisfy his “white knight complex”, so to speak, has found the perfect partner that is Rem who appreciates his overly-valiant efforts so much she even developed feelings for him — she literally sees him as a hero. Rem sees Subaru as someone who finally freed her burdens and helped her start anew in her life. In a way, despite Subaru being close to no help in a real battle, it’s as if Rem, quite literally a demon-in-disguise, is the one who’s the damsel-in-distress here.

The world around Subaru instantly brightened up as Rem proclaim Subaru as her hero.

The world around Subaru instantly brightened up as Rem proclaimed Subaru as her hero. Subaru X Rem is a relationship
driven through need.

That’s what I like about this ship — Subaru X Rem is a relationship driven through need, they need each other. Subaru is at his wit’s end, and he feels like every single person in the world has rejected him, but Rem needs him. Subaru hates himself, but Rem loves him. Subaru feels empty and to which Rem says he can always starts his life anew, starting his life again from zero — Re:Zero.

And damn it, it makes so much sense, the dialogue, the context, the story, their developments, their relationship progressions — it seems like everything has been building up just for this ship to set sail. But the thing is…

[HorribleSubs] Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 18 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.23_[2016.08.29_20.22.03]

Ahh Subaru, why is your taste so shit. It feels like the story is choosing Emilia just to ascertain that she is the main heroine, despite the fact that Subaru X Rem made much better sense. Subaru X Rem has a strong context to solidify their relationship, whereas I feel Subaru X Emilia doesn’t seem as convincing. I haven’t watch past episode 18 at the time of this post yet but I’m sure the anime is going to desperately try to convince me that Subaru X Emilia is good, but it’s too late, I’m now a firm believer of Subaru X Rem, and the fact that the story strays away from that direction only makes my conviction stronger.

Stepping away from Re:Zero discussions briefly, I really dislike the idea that it’s either the main heroines who win in harem shows, or the show ended without establishing any main couples. Do you know any harem shows where the main character actually ended up with a non-main heroine?

Also, this is important so I feel I should repeat it again before I end this post — Subaru has shit taste.

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This entry was posted by Kai.

18 thoughts on “Re:Zero Musings – The Problem with Main Heroines and Shipping Subaru X Rem

  1. CinnaRem ftw.

    My theory is that Emilia is to Subaru as Subaru is to Rem. Emilia is Subaru’s hero, so thats why he wants so desperately to help. I still agree that’s shit taste and that CinnaRem is too precious for this world, but Rem is definitely in Subaru’s heart, esp. according last last week’s episode. Without too much spoilers, he does say that he’s got a definite “number 1 and 2 in his heart.” We can all hope that #2 becomes #1 someday, right?

  2. After Subaru’s shitstorm in episode 14 or 15 or whatever, I can’t bring myself to like him as a character anymore. Granted he was never that good of a character to begin with, but he was tolerable. Now he’s just “ughh” — partly because of how he refuses to put the “relation” in the Rem ship (it’s there for the takinggg), but yeah the whole “I’m weak *sob*” gets so old when he acts like crap most of the time.

    OreImo kinda did it for some time (with Kousuke x Kuroneko), until the release of “true end”

    • Well yeah, it’s pretty frustrating to watch Subaru going “Emilia, Emilia” all the time when Rem’s been with him thick and thin, life and death, literally :p I do admit that he acts like a jerk at some point (especially to Emilia in one episode), but at that time, he’s still struggling with his own flaws and Emilia really struck him at his core, exposing all of his flaws right in front of him. Also tbf, it’s really hard to be a completely nice/sane guy when you literally face death over and over again.

      Both ReZero and OreImo fell in the same problem with main heroines — that they both have obvious Best Girls, but this genre’s culture dictates that they have to choose the main heroines. Truly unfortunate.

  3. I never watched it, but I heard Mashiro Iro Symphony ended with the guy choosing a non-main heroine. It was an obscure ass show, so I can excuse everyone for forgetting its existence.

    • You’d be right on Mashiro Iro Symphony having a non-main heroine ending up with the MC dude, but the nature of their relationship feels really awkward to watch as a viewer. It’s as if the author had the sole intention to subvert the approach to standard harem endings, and the resulting relationship doesn’t feel very romantic at all. There’s no proper conclusion with the main heroine, she kinda just disappears off to the side without much objection to the status quo… (so pretty much a more infuriating ending than Sakarasou, since you know, it’s the main heroine in this case).

      Even so, I’m not a big fan of Rem X Subaru, because their reliance on each other feels unhealthy to me. I feel that if Re:Zero conveys its themes about respect and human interaction properly, Subaru will be satisfied with ending up without somebody he can call his “main heroine”.

      • “Even so, I’m not a big fan of Rem X Subaru, because their reliance on each other feels unhealthy to me.”
        Their reliance on each other may seem unhealthy, but I just like that the ship has context, whereas Subaru X Emilia has close to none other than blind adoration from Subaru’s side.

    • I never watched it, but knowing you, I was about to make some “froggy is lewd!” jokes but after a quick search, it doesn’t seem particularly lewd. Damn it froggy, why are you suddenly so pure?

      But then again Mashiro Iro Symphony is a visual novel, and as most visual novels have a branching story, it doesn’t seem that surprising, lol. Though it’s still nice to see a harem anime stepping away from the usual pattern.

  4. It’s rather hilarious how he can be so fond of Emilia who obviously isn’t really interested in his affection, she treats him like a little child tagging along. Of course Emilia is cute, polite and beautiful, but because of that she is above Subaru’s league. Subaru is an annoying character, his personality and acting are nearly obnoxious.
    Well, since the show is twisted, Rem x Subaru can’t be the happy couple, they obviously could be.
    The screentime Rem & Subaru had so far was always meaningful, in the long run Rem could apparently fix the bad aspects of the annoying boy, Emilia can’t do that, she makes things worse “unintentionally?”

    • While I’m replying to these comments, I realize something. That the dynamics between these two ships is very different, but most particularly — Subaru X Rem is equal to each other whereas Subaru X Emilia is just one-sided, blind adoration from one side, honestly doesn’t take rocket science to know which one is better, lol.

      I do admit that Subaru’s character can get a little annoying, but don’t agree with the idea that the whole show is bad just because the MC is annoying, which is actually a pretty common opinion on ReZero.

      Well, I mean their differences are like night and day xD

      • you’re just being bias, comparing apples and oranges.

        tell me, how many times have emilia trusted him before rem redeemed herself? emilia trusted him for the entirety of the roswal manor iterations until he broke her trust, that’s what.

        what did subaru do before the bed scene? he broke a clearly stated promise that he repeated himself, “i understand, i won’t use magic..” (as puck said, breaking a promise is equivalent to a sin to a spirit arts user, and even before subaru learnt about that being a sin, he already had an ashamed face when priscilla and he sees emilia in the royal room) and came to the capital, humiliate all the knights, emilia, and himself, disregarded his life for a very stupid and petty fight.

        his injured mana gate is a very big issue, but he knew nothing of this world and was so reckless all the time, even in the dragon carriage… he could have died anytime just because of the mana gate malfunctioning. that was why emilia was so worried about him that she tries so hard to convince ferris ( where even roswaal commented was quite a feat) and later form a formal contract with another candidate just for him, and still uphold the contract for subaru, and asked rem to stay with him after their dispute.

        i really hate rem fans like you who forget things so easily.

  5. ffs BOTH emila and rem are main heroines also in ep 21 subaru also stated his love for rem too (anime skipped the love confession) but was still implied with “they always stay togther”. tbh the whole waifu-war is annyoing and pointless when he has feelings for both girls

  6. Pingback: Kai’s Favorite Anime of 2016 | deluscar

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