By Tappei Nagatsuki and Shinichirou Otsuka. Released in Japan by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jeremiah Borque.
This book slid in RIGHT under the wire in avoiding spoiling English-speaking fans. The book came out literally the day before the episode aired which animated the first part of it. It also brings to an end the 4th arc in this series, in a mostly satisfying way. Some of the beats feel very obvious, but as always with Re: Zero, they feel that way because we’ve spent so long setting up those beats with the previous go-rounds. This series also does a very good job of keeping all the fights it has to have here interesting, either through breaking them up by moving from the Sanctuary and Emilia’s trials to the mansion and Subaru’s pleading and back again, but also because, much like Banner of the Stars, this series runs on banter and there is a lot of that. Still, by the end of the book our heroes have won the day, though… not without some cost with a last minute bitter sting in its tail. And we’re ready to move on to a new arc!
Beako is on the cover, and deservedly so. Garfiel, Emilia and Ram/Roswaal’s stories also come to a conclusion here, but there’s no real surprises in any of them on an emotional level. Emilia’s trials two and three feel almost anticlimactic – after failing so hard at the first trial over and over, she sails through them. But that’s to be expected, as she has moved past the trauma that held her back. Garfield too had most of his issues resolved in earlier books, allowing him to be the muscle that’s required in order to beat the immortal nightmare that is Elsa (who gets a shred of backstory here, but honestly I think works best as simply a grotesque impossible to stop enemy). But Beatrice’s story is the one that needs Subaru, and, true to form, he fails over and over again to convince her to leave the Library of Forbidden Books and come with him. Not even the entire mansion burning down can sway her.
The high point of the book, as I just said, is Subaru and Beatrice, and I loved every scene with both of them in it. The rest of the book does not QUITE reach those heights. Emilia, in particular, suffers from the author wanting her to grow up and move past her trauma but also being an innocent boke who knows nothing about anything. Sometimes this is hilarious – her comment on “Ryuzu’s mother” may be one of the best jokes in the series – but announcing she’s pregnant because she and Subaru kissed fell a bit flat to me. (Presumably he explains later – or more likely Ram does). Oh yes, and there’s another character who I thought was gone for good who shows up again to help kick Roswaal’s ass, which was great. Actually, there’s a scene which mentions that the entire cast take turns punching Roswaal at some point, and I deeply hope this gets like an entire episode devoted to it in the anime.
Where will this go next? There’s apparently the series’ first time skip coming up, and presumably we’ll see more of Anastasia, Priscilla and Felt. Till then, though, please enjoy Garfiel punching forever, Subaru and Otto being bros, and Emilia being even more earnest than Rem, if that’s even possible. (Technically Rem is in this book a lot, but sorry, she still does not wake up.)