By Tappei Nagatsuki and Shinichirou Otsuka. Released in Japan by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jeremiah Borque.
Well, we knew this was going to happen. Given that the previous book had, with the exception of the final scenes, been a delightful and mostly lighthearted volume showing off the entire main cast, it is no surprise to see that in this next volume, Everything is Terrible. This is not to say that Subaru is doing dumb things out of stubbornness – we’re long past that stage. Heck, he can even participate in battles now, wielding a whip he received training in (I suspect this training was in another unlicensed short story, ah well). But yeah, by the end of this book we have a ton of corpses, an even bigger ton of transformed monstrosities, and even those who are not dead or turned into something else tend to have wounds that constantly bleed and the like. If your idea of a fun Re: Zero book is seeing terrible people doing bad things to good people, well, good news! That said, there’s also a bit of non-violence here that’s fun to read.
When we left off, Subaru was having to deal with the shortest “return by death” he’s ever had to experience – he has fifteen minutes to figure out and fix things. Needless to say, this leads to quite a few Subaru deaths in the first quarter of the book, and he’s not alone. He tries solving the problem himself – he fails. He tries getting Reinhard to solve the problem – this fails. He tries asking Beatrice for help – this actually succeeds, but it doesn’t mean things so well, as we have not one, not two, but THREE Witch Cultists to deal with. Now Emilia is missing, Beatrice is in a coma, Subaru is heavily wounded, and a number of the cast are absent. Oh yes, and Capella, the Witch Cultist who has control of City Hall, says to get her “the Witch’s Bones” or the city is doomed. There is, as always, too much on Subaru’s plate.
I was at first vaguely annoyed when, halfway through the book, the focus shifted away from Subaru and focused on Garfiel. Don’t get me wrong, Garf is a fine supporting character, but given everything else that was going on I did not feel in the mood for “I’m not the strongest in the land woe is me”. And indeed we get that to start, but things quickly become FAR more interesting after Garfiel rescues some children from a potential boating accident. When returning him to their family, he runs into someone whose existence is impossible and yet is also the thing he wants more than anything in the world… but he just can’t actually reach out and take it, because, well, circumstances. Honestly, it’s really refreshing to see something that devastates a character that is a POSITIVE thing, and I really hope that this goes somewhere in future volumes.
As the book ends, everything is even more terrible than it was in the last book, as we deal with the worst of all possible enemies: an arrogant incel who only cares if girls are virgins. Hope he dies! Till then, enjoy the suffering that is this series’ bread and butter.