FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

With the cathartic conclusion to the second arc, Re:ZERO is diving head-first into the newest segment of the story by nearly doubling the cast of the series and introducing a number of new developments. We now find ourselves poised at the beginning of a trial to determine who will become the new Dragon Priestess and claim Lugunicia’s throne. The stage seems set for the series to shift gears and head into some major intrigue. The five candidates and their supporting casts have already encountered one another in a number of interesting ways which indicate that there are moves being made behind the scenes. A few of the newer characters may already be taking action, but a few events all the way back in the very beginning of the series now carry some curious connotations.

 

Today we shall finally decide who is Lugunica’s best girl

 

What follows is an examination of a few key players as well as some personal theories about what their actions may indicate regarding their role and their goals in the approaching conflict. If you aren’t already interested in the potential for some foul play, hopefully this will encourage a little interest. The newest part of this story could have some major twists with far-reaching implications for Subaru and the kingdom of Lugunica. Some of them may even contribute toward revealing the origin and intent behind Subaru’s transportation to this world and his ability to return by death.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

One mystery at a time

 

First a foremost is a suspicious character who has been hovering around the periphery of the story for quite some time, none other than Emilia’s benefactor, Roswaal. Now that we have learned a bit more about what Emilia’s claim to the throne actually means, Roswaal’s previous comments carry some serious weight. In his most recent private conversation with Ram, he mentioned an inevitable mortal conflict with “the dragon”. If there is one talent Subaru has, it’s an excellent gut instinct about people. His original suspicions indicate that Roswaal’s sponsorship of Emilia may not be entirely altruistic.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

Roswaal didn’t do himself any favors 

 

Although the specifics of being a Dragon Priestess have yet to be revealed, it seems safe to assume that one would have easier access to a dragon than most people. It’s not a great leap to suspect Roswaal may be using Emilia as a means to the end of killing this dragon. Evidence of Roswaal’s willingness to work behind Emilia’s back is, unfortunately, rather overwhelming. He all but said he would have to kill Subaru if he ever got too close to Emilia and Roswaal’s respect for Emilia’s personal autonomy is all but absent, repeatedly ordering Ram and Rem to protect Emilia by keeping her ignorant of problems she might put herself at risk to solve personally. Doesn’t exactly set a good precedent for how he would act as a royal advisor.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

What did the dragon ever do to you?

 

As a rider to Roswaal’s potential schemes is the visit of one Felix Argyle to the Roswaal estate. The simplest explanation for the house call would be to deliver summons for the approaching selection, but a few details don’t exactly gel. By all indications, he is a knight working for for green-haired Crusch Karsten, but he provides her with some embarrassingly incorrect information about the nature of the ceremony before it occurs. If he was sent to Roswaal’s to let them know about the meeting, you would figure he might have more details. Or, he could just be really dumb.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

Machiavelli meets his match

 

The final reveal was, of course, Felt as the fifth and final candidate for Dragon Priestess. During Subaru’s mansion troubles, Felt seems to have gone through her own Disney movie rags to riches experience and enters the hall with a gown, matching attendants, and a sponsorship by the legendary swordsman Reinhardt Van Astrea. While Felt is the face of confusion over the entire ordeal, Reinhardt’s actions after his battle with Elsa have become clear. The specifics of his sponsorship of Felt, however, have not. Although we have limited information about the what and why of backing various candidates, one detail stands out. Wilhelm Van Astrea seems to be with Crusch. Although Reindhart has come across as the honest type, the division between these famous family members is definitely something to keep track of.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

I wonder if her twin maids have some sort of backstory…

 

Perhaps the most interesting part of the new developments is how they reflect backward upon the first arc of the story and our favorite villainess. Although Felt has now been revealed as a candidate for Dragon Priestess, we must remember how she was first discovered. Although Reinhardt was the one to recognize her lineage, Felt, and the entire cast of early characters, ended up together as a result of Elsa’s mysterious benefactor ordering the theft of Emilia’s insignia. This could have a number of possible meanings revealed by Elsa’s attitude during the meeting and subsequent negotiations. Assuming she was being somewhat truthful, Elsa was willing to buy the insignia, but did not seem overly concerned about whether or not she was outbid by Subaru. This could be explained if she was planning to simply kill Subaru and take the insignia later, but when she found out he was trying to get it back she attacked immediately with the intent of killing Felt, Rom, and Subaru.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

There may be some personal involvement…

 

Although it seems like a messy plan, it can’t be ignored that Felt was the individual hired to steal the insignia and there seems to be some importance to the fact that she was able to touch it. This obviously didn’t work out as we discovered the result of Subaru’s failure to reach Felt in his first life was her and Rom dead on the floorboards. Similarly, Emilia, without the aid of Subaru actually discovered the house faster and would have likely been on the scene during the conflict. Evidence from a combination of lives indicates that none of them would have walked away from a fight against the Bowel Hunter. It took a great deal of guilt tripping by Subaru to get Felt to abandon Rom and seek out help, so it seems unlikely Reinhardt would have made it to the scene in time even if Emilia was there to delay their inevitable deaths.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

Ok, I’m wrapping it up!

 

Now we see a possible reason Subaru was called in as an unwitting spoiler in this world’s events. His actions saved not one, but two of the candidates for Dragon Priestess. A psychological–or perhaps even magical–element is obviously part of the scheme which draws Subaru into the political sphere because of his immediate attraction to Emilia, but what if he was simply there to make sure Felt survived the encounter and was subsequently discovered by Reinhardt? Attaching himself to Emilia afterward would remove suspicion of Satella’s tampering to push forward Felt’s candidacy and, let’s be honest, may have been done because Subaru seems about as likely to bungle things up as help out.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

For example…

 

Whether Subaru’s position in this growing web of intrigue is to benefit Emilia or Felt and whether it is expansive enough to include characters the magnitude of Elsa and Reinhardt as pawns depends on how much credit you’re willing to give the spider. If we are to believe Satella is Subaru’s manipulator then it isn’t too much to say the could all be unwitting pieces in some greater machinations. For now, we can only speculate what may be planned or simple coincidence. There is definitely more going on than meets the eye and just who emerges as the new ruler of Lugunica from the coming ceremony may hint at the intentions of the those at work behind the scenes.

 

FEATURE: Re:ZERO and Where Plot Meets Politics

Lugunica’s elections seem like serious business…

 

That wraps up this speculative piece on the second half of Re:ZERO, but I want to hear your theories! What role do you think Subaru is meant to play in election? Who is really working for who? What exactly is Roswaal up to? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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Peter Fobian is an Associate Features Editor for Crunchyroll, author of Monthly Mangaka Spotlight, and streams on Crunchyroll’s official Twitch channel. You can follow him on Twitter at @PeterFobian.