This is how Subaru’s Return by Death works
Re: Zero guides fans through an ambitious story full of dead ends and terrible fate for its cast of characters. But unlike most series, the devastation of these tragedies is lessened by the incorporation of Subaru’s incredibly useful Return by Death ability. Strength serves as Subaru’s greatest tool in dealing with various dangers and challenges he would otherwise be prepared to face on his own.
The mysterious time travel powers serve as an integral part of the story, allowing the story to progress the way it has unfolded through multiple timelines and changes. Return by Death is a fairly simple ability, but has various complications that may go unnoticed.
How is it used?
Unlike most possibilities, Return by Death is not a power over which Subaru has complete control. Instead of using it to his liking, Subaru must instead go with the flow and work with what he is assigned. The power will activate after Subaru’s death, sending him back to a predetermined point in time with his memories still intact. For Subaru, the jump was instantaneous, giving him very little time to process whatever he was going through. Since it was given to him by Satella, there are a number of caveats when Death returns that Subaru must keep in mind.
Return by Death’s biggest drawback is that Subaru cannot reveal its existence. Its anonymity is guaranteed by Satella, who seems to have set up some sort of backup safety measure in case Subaru tries to reveal his powers. There seem to be three main consequences pointed out throughout the series so far.
In the event that he begins to acknowledge the existence of the Return of the Dead, Subaru feels an intense, foreboding pain and will die in some cases. The Witch will also amplify Subaru’s Witch element, and thus will attract power and creatures dangerous to him. The final punishment seems to be exclusive to Emilia. If Subaru should tell her about Return by Death, she would die instantly from having her heart crushed by the witch’s hand.
Since Return of the Dead allows Subaru to carry with him memories of different timelines whenever things are reset, he has the benefit of knowing the things that he wouldn’t. This is invaluable in navigating through the various catastrophic events and tragedies that he and his companions frequently face. This benefit seems to be something the Witch of Envy intentionally included in Return by Death. So while her motives are still unclear, it looks like she’s in Subaru’s corner.
As a narration device
The nature of Return by Death allows Re: Zero do some very interesting things with its story. The ability to rely on repetition allows fans to experience different events and series over and over again, learning and absorbing something new each time. It comes as a consolation for fans to know that no matter how dire things get, Subaru can always reset things and try again. Of course, his inability to choose a starting point adds to the tension.
The Return of Death has been shown to have a rather severe effect on Subaru’s mental state at various points in the series, due to the devastating events that often occur prior to its activation. This is a consistent source of stress and personality development in Re: Zero, with Subaru constantly having to find a way to endure and overcome the piling up difficulties he regularly faces.
Despite this ability having an effect on him, Return by Death remains invaluable throughout Subaru’s adventures. The mental and emotional strain that comes as a trade-off for allowing Subaru to work towards his ideal future, while keeping the story interesting and allowing fans to see some very interesting hypothetical scenarios play out in the series’ rulebook.
THAN: Isekai Anime to watch now that Re: Zero Season 2 has been completed
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