Re:ZERO Season 2 is about to start, so here's a refresher on what happened in Season 1
After a delay earlier this year, Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-’s second season is about to begin. To help catch people up with the story so that anyone can jump onto the newest episodes more easily, I wanted to briefly detail what happened in the first season.
However, I realized two things. First, this is a show that jumps through time and rewrites a lot of events, so it’d be surprisingly difficult to write out the plot and character developments without confusing people. Second, there’s a more direct way to talk about the story, that being what parts actually stick. The audience gets to see all of the time loops and understand what Subaru is going through, but then to the characters, he looks borderline insane and just happens to somehow have great intuition and observational skills.
So instead of going through each episode and listing out what happens, what Subaru learns from his mistakes, and how he then utilizes that knowledge, we’re going to cut straight to the final part of that list and look at what the rest of the world ends up seeing him accomplish.
The first arc of the show, where Subaru meets and befriends Emilia, is almost entirely gone when the time loops are taken out. Instead of wandering the city with the Half-Elf Dragon Priestess candidate looking for her stolen candidacy insignia, Subaru gets saved by the knight Reinhart and then goes to the slums on his own to talk to Felt the thief and Old Man Rom to buy it from them.
Due to Subaru not being around, Emilia makes it to Rom’s loot house much faster, allowing her to show up before the assassin Elsa. However, that means when Elsa eventually shows up, a full-on fight breaks out, with Subaru only managing to survive more than a second or two due to his experience from previous iterations of fighting her and some help from the others.
Subaru eventually convinces Felt to go get help, and Emilia holds off Elsa for long enough for the thief to get the knight and Sword Master Reinhard, who manages to defeat Elsa, blowing up the loot house in the process. The first arc ends with Felt holding the insignia, it glowing, Reinhard becoming extremely agitated, and Elsa managing to get one last attack off on Subaru, slicing his stomach open before escaping.
The next arc begins with Subaru waking up in an unfamiliar room, his wounds healed and treated. He wanders around for a while before opening a door to a library with a strange girl, Beatrice, reading. Once she drains his mana, he passes out again. This is one of the few scenes in the first season that is never redone. For whatever reason, Subaru waking up the second time is his new save point for future time loops.
When he next wakes up, Subaru meets Rem and Ram, twin maids of Roswaal Mathers’s mansion, Roswaal being Emilia’s sponsor in her bid to win the right to rule the country. In the final time loop, Subaru becomes Roswaal’s servant and is friendly and outgoing with the various townspeople in order to locate the shaman who cursed him (and as a result, killed him) in a previous loop.
After Roswaal leaves for an urgent situation, something Subaru notes didn’t happen in any other loop, he goes to Beatrice to get checked for a curse and realizes that the small stray dog the children showed him is the shaman.
Subaru leaves in order to save the villagers and locate the dog, Rem coming with him as support. In the village, they find that the magic barrier keeping mabeasts away is damaged and that several of the children are missing.
They find the children quickly, but the kids are all bitten and thus cursed, meaning that the only way to save them is to kill the mabeasts who bit them. In the ensuing chase, Subaru is clearly outmatched by the mabeasts, and Rem can only fight off a large amount by going into her oni form, which gives her heightened physical abilities but makes her lose her reasoning. The only way Subaru can think to snap her out of it is to push her out of the way and start getting mauled by the mabeasts again.
When he next wakes up, Subaru is in the village, his wounds treated and healed again, save for some scarring. After he checks on the kids to make sure they’re fine, Beatrice informs him that he has at most half a day to live, since all of the mabeasts cursed him. After realizing that the only way to not die is to kill all of the mabeasts, Subaru realizes that he doesn’t know where Rem is.
Ram then joins the conversation. She and Subaru go back into the forest to find Rem, who is still fighting the mabeasts to try and save Subaru. The ensuing fight eventually ends with Roswaal showing up again and killing all of the mabeasts with a barrage of fire attacks from the sky, ending the arc.
The next arc focuses on Emilia going to the capitol for a ceremony to start the selection process, and Subaru coming along because he needs his gate healed and wants to be around Emilia.
The gate is how most people can use magic in Re:ZERO’s world. Subaru damaged his in the fight against the mabeasts by using the only spell he knows in order to blind the enemy for a few seconds. Rem comes along with the pair as well, to ensure that Subaru gets properly healed, rather than just running off on his own into more danger.
Once Subaru convinces Rem to let him run off to join Emilia at the ceremony, he meets Priscilla, one of the other candidates, and she allows him to get in by being part of her entourage. In the ceremony, Subaru proclaims himself as Emilia’s knight, angering every actual knight in attendance.
After being thrown out of the room, another confrontation leads to a duel between Subaru and Julius, the knight of Anastasia, another of the priestess candidates. The final two candidates are Crusch and Felt, the thief from the first arc.
The duel is completely one-sided, with Subaru getting utterly destroyed, and even his blinding spell not having any effect. The fight only ends when Subaru, beaten and bloodied, is passed out on the dirt floor of the arena.
Subaru in bed after the duel is the next save point, but only after he and Emilia talk. More accurately, Emilia finally gets upset at Subaru always disobeying what she says and trying to do impossible things for her, getting himself in more danger, all while proclaiming that it is for her when it’s really for himself. Subaru tries to explain that she’s saved him in ways that she’ll never know (since many of the things she’s done were in other timelines), and finally admits that if everyone knew everything he’d done, they’d have a greater debt than they could ever repay him, and how every arc would’ve turned out worse if he hadn’t been there.
Since the ceremony is over and the competition for succession has officially begun, Emilia goes back to Roswaal’s mansion, leaving Rem and Subaru behind with Crusch so that Subaru can heal before returning.
This leads into the White Whale arc, where — in several time loops — Subaru tries to leave Crusch’s protection so that he can get back and be with Emilia, only to die from several mysterious causes ranging from cultists to a giant monster shrouded in fog to a different giant monster at the center of a blizzard so cold that it literally freezes people in place.
By the time we reach the final loop, Subaru has essentially learned politics, using the various candidates’ desires and interests, along with knowing more about the world due to the previous timelines, to incentivize them to help him out so that he can get back to Emilia.
Through negotiations, he manages to bring together Anastasia’s merchant resources for weapons and supply chains and Krusch’s military might, both agreeing in exchange for rights to part of Roswaal’s land and the opportunity to take down the White Whale, one of the monsters that had been a major obstacle for Subaru and which was a major threat to militaries and merchants alike due to its ability to erase people from existence when it killed them, meaning that the dead were not even remembered.
After a massive fight which included three Whales, an old man being thrown several hundred feet into the air, and Subaru actually being helpful in a fight for once, the army manages to cut down the massive Flugel Tree to trap and finally kill the White Whale.
The final arc in Re:ZERO deals with the cultists’ attack. Unlike in previous loops though, Subaru now has allies and an exhausted but trusting military to help him. While the main group prepares to fight the cultists, a smaller group breaks off to meet Emilia at Roswaal’s mansion to evacuate the nearby village that would otherwise be caught in the crossfire.
The cultists have been a presence as far back as Rem and Ram’s backstory, as a group of cultists were responsible for killing their entire village. However, they have only come into focus during the White Whale arc, when Subaru more directly confronted them in a few of the failed timelines.
The cult is specifically the Witch’s cult, referring to Satella, the Witch of Envy. The Witch is supposed to be a silver-haired half-elf, like Emilia, and due to Subaru having more of “the Witch’s Scent” every time he dies and goes back in time, the assumption is that Satella pulled him from Japan to the fantasy world, for whatever reason.
The cult itself is still fairly mysterious, but we get more information due to Subaru’s interactions with Betelgeuse, the leader of the group attacking Emilia. Betelgeuse and the White Whale are both Sin Archbishops of the cult — known as Sloth and Gluttony, respectively — and that the only Archbishop that hasn’t been located yet is Pride. Each of the Archbishops also seems to have a unique ability, with the White Whale being able to erase people from existence and Betelgeuse being able to summon invisible hands that can attack from long range. Additionally, we learn about the cult’s Gospel, which only members of the cult can read and is normally how they first get the Witch’s Scent.
After Subaru and his allies take down Betelgeuse and the other cultists, they learn that one of the cultists was a mole and had planted a bomb in the carts being used to evacuate the town and Emilia. Subaru rushes to catch up and save them, finds them near the Flugel Tree, and barely manages to get the bomb far enough away to not kill him before it explodes.
Finally, Emilia and Subaru are reunited, once Subaru wakes up a while later in Emilia’s lap. The two resolve the tension that had come to a head before Emilia left the capitol before, and Subaru fully admits that he loves her and is willing to wait for her to fall in love with him, however long that takes.
Originally, this was the end of Season 1. However, the Director’s Cut added a final scene to the finale. For the most part, the season is just lighthearted fun, ending with Subaru telling Emilia how Rem confessed her love to him. In response, Emilia simply asks “Who’s Rem?” which is exactly how everyone responded in one of the failed timelines where Rem was eaten by the White Whale.
Now you are caught up on Re:ZERO Season 1, just in time for Season 2 to start. Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing how some of the hanging threads get tied together. Roswaal mentioned his plan to kill the Dragon that created the country, Betelgeuse wondered if Subaru was the archbishop of Pride, we still don’t have any idea why Subaru was taken to a fantasy world in the first place, and I’m curious about how all of it is going to come together and how each disparate plot will manage to build on the others.
What are some of your favorite moments in Season 1? Let us know in the comments below!
Kevin Matyi is a freelance features writer for Crunchyroll. He's been watching anime for as long as he can remember, and his favorite shows tend to be shonen and other action series.
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