This was written immediately after I watched the episode and is merely a collection of my unfiltered and unedited thoughts on the episode. If you disagree or found something else, please say so in the comments, I’d love to hear any other opinions. Spoiler warning moving forward.
The majority of the 9th episode was spent meeting the rest of the witches. While it was somewhat satisfying to get a chance to understand all of the witches a little, what there was to understand was underwhelming. All of the witches are very shallow. This should be completely expected as they’re all characters absolutely lost in one trait, a sin specifically. They don’t come to any big conclusions that can be followed down logical nightmares the likes of which a lowly human couldn’t comprehend, but more one, specifically sinful, attraction that they happily let control their entire being. For many, such as the healing one, this came across as utter incompetence. Though she’s a witch, she seems devoid of all thought together and just spouts out her feelings. This hardly makes a good impression of what a witch could be, a devilish and powerful being that merely resides on a different level intellectually to humans, though still being able to meet them at level consciousness like Subaru and the first white haired witch. Now, it feels almost as if the seriousness has been taken out of witches. If these are the absolute best/worst figures of sin and dangerous power, how can we take them seriously when one is a literal child and really only one is even as stable in terms of consciousness as most humans? Maybe my own expectations were too high, though that would only be a result of the show’s mistakes in accurately setting those expectations up.
The most serious of the witches, the witch of gluttony, seemed to actually provide commentary on the show’s and our own universe. As a society we often move away from the idea of killing others to survive, though we must as a species kill billions of animals to survive regardless of what we would like to do. Obviously we can always strive to hurt less animals and I believe that that’s the right direction for our society, but Re:Zero has no intention of addressing things like vegetarianism or other ways of reducing animal cruelty in its commentary, and the rest of this paragraph will follow those same terms for the sake of analysis. On those terms, killing other beings is necessary, and eating is the literal manifestation of this. We must literally consume other living beings’ bodies to fuel our own for only a short amount of time. Gluttony is the shameless consumption of one’s desires. The witch of gluttony, thus, seeks to challenge this lack of shamelessness in society. The reconciling with the necessity of killing to survive is paired with the idea of recognizing the animals we must inevitably kill as fully conscious, at least in terms of emotion, and we are in the end no more superior than the rest of them. As a species, we have risen above and dominated these animals, but the understanding of the cruel force we impose on them is the only way to be truly humble as a killer. As society has rejected gluttony, the witch of so is angered and feels no remorse in the killing of them with the 3 Mabeasts. The Mabeasts are a manifestation of gluttony, the rabbits having literally no other objectives than eating more animals and being incapable of acting otherwise. They are a shameless form of pure gluttony to contest the lack of such in the rest of society. In the end, the witch accepts everything as having natural interaction and does not reject the inevitable outcome. When Subaru asks her how to kill her beasts, she happily gives him information in confidence, despite Subaru having already killed the white whale. She recognizes the outcome of all of this and is not upset at him for the death of the white whale, as it was just another species with equal opportunity. It must kill to survive and so must Subaru. While the two don’t necessarily have to kill each other, this is the crux of the witch’s drive, to accept death by others’ hands as a fair end to any living being. She herself is dead, and while I’m certainly not familiar enough with the lore to comment on the circumstances of her death, it’s at least a connection to keep in mind as the story progresses.
An extension of these ideas of accepting death is presented by Echidna, though it hits much closer to home for Subaru. Though there is no limit to the uses of Return by Death, the consequences of its usage becomes apparent when you introduce others close to Subaru being lost to those cycles. Subaru still holds onto hope as Rem must be able to be saved since he has a checkpoint after her being “erased”. This hope is defied when Echidna explains to him the actual reasoning behind his powers as completely reliant on the witch and not himself. If Rem or someone else is not included in the witch’s vision, there is nothing about Return by Death saving them, and Subaru must deal with the consequences of that loss regardless. If he were to make another choice, other people would die instead. As inferred by the witch of gluttony, the witches have a pure and unbiased view of all life forms’ interactions, though they are welcome, as anyone, to attempt to interfere with this process as much as they see fit.
The witch of pride does… something with Subaru. The result of which is that he’s apparently not a bad person, but sees himself as such. She then comments on how he is a poor soul for being this way, being a good person that is burdened with others yet still being hurt by the guilt of thinking you’re a bad person. This is Subaru’s reality. He is hard on himself. While he doesn’t scrutinize over tiny details, he recognizes every negative action he makes as such and basks in the full depth of its consequences and mental anguish. He has a superhuman awareness of everything happening in the world around him and his effect on all of it, and thus, must suffer immensely in the full recognition of all of his mistakes multiple times more than anyone else except for a witch reasonably could comprehend. This is part of what makes his character so interesting, he is granted with the knowledge of a witch yet must reside on Earth alongside the rest of humanity.
This post was a little out of the ordinary for me. Even though I’ve never been a stickler for the actual quality of my writing as my intentions are to just improve and to have an outlet, I was never a fan of posting anything that I was unsure about. I’d rather only publicly point out things that are as close to objective as you can get, things that would naturally be easy to understand and thus require less technically proficient writing to convey effectively. This post just disregarded that and was a quick ramble I slapped onto the page cause I thought it would be fun. Again, I’d love to hear other thoughts in the comments.