I was a little late to the Re:ZERO game, avoiding the series until after the white whale arc ended, so I wasn’t able to participate in all the hubbub regarding Rem’s confession and Subaru’s mystifying response to her. But even without watching, I quickly became familiar with that scene that brought so many emotional reactions (and lots of funny memes).
For those that don’t remember, said scene happens during the white whale arc. Subaru, in constant despair as he sees the choices he makes leading to death of loved ones, reaches the point of self-loathing, screaming about how he hates himself multiple times while talking to Rem in episode 18. By this point, Rem has perhaps already achieved “best waifu” status already through her earnestness, painful backstory, and willingness to sacrifice for Subaru’s sake, but cements it when she gives one of the most beautiful confessions of love in all anime, one that isn’t just about her feelings, but which also helps Subaru see his self worth (episode 18 is basically one episode-long confession and it is absolutely worth watching and rewatching). But Subaru’s response is surprising and even upsetting.
Of all the crazy things that happened in Re:ZERO, Subaru’s response (“I love Emilia”) was perhaps the craziest. It took just those three words to cement Rem as best girl, make Subaru public enemy number one, and associate Emilia-tan with that negative side of the equation, too.
But give credit to Re:ZERO; despite the simple reaction (pro-Rem v. pro-Emilia) across the fandom, the characters and situations are complex, and I think that scene, besides being brilliant, was absolutely authentic to Rem and Subaru. The latter does a rotten thing, but as he himself says over and over, he is rotten and selfish. Subaru makes a lot of good choices in the series, but does so, seemingly, despite himself, as he also frequently falls back into self-loathing and selfishness. To totally ignore Rem’s heart and tell her what must be the most painful thing of all is entirely kin to his character. The grace with which Rem handles that confession is within hers.
Which all led me to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter which ship I liked better, Subaru x Rem or Subaru x Emilia, because ultimately, Suburu didn’t deserve Rem. If they don’t end up together, then great! Rem can find someone much, much better.
To totally ignore Rem’s heart and tell her what must be the most painful thing of all is entirely in his character. The grace with which Rem handles that confession is within hers.
But then again, I’m not sure that’s exactly the mentality I want to have. You see, I want to see people have grace with Subaru—Rem, Emilia, and the fandom especially—because I’m uncomfortably familiar with him—Subaru is a little too much like me. I’m also selfish, inconsistent, petty, prone to strange outbursts (I blame this on my natural awkwardness), and, worst of all, do inconceivable things sometimes that bring hurt to loved ones. And because of all my flaws, I need those in my life who will say, “I understand completely and I love you anyway.”
So maybe Rem isn’t the girl Subaru deserves. Maybe none of us deserve her! But she’s the girl (and the grace) we need—and maybe ultimately that’s more important than who ships whom.
featured illustration by 白丝少年(´・ω・`) | reprinted w/permission