Re: ZERO ~Starting Life in Another World~, Vol. 14

By Tappei Nagatsuki and Shinichirou Otsuka. Released in Japan by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jeremiah Borque.

I’ve always been a fan of Emilia, so have been inclined to cut her more slack than she possibly deserved, as those who’ve seen my other reviews know. That said, I get the feeling that for most Re: Zero fans, reading Emilia has sort of been like me reading Subaru in the first six books – screaming at her and wondering why she’s so bad at everything. This has only been underlined in this fourth Arc, which supposedly was going to give far more focus to Emilia – to the point of writing the other main love interest out of the story entirely – and then she spends the first three books sobbing on the ground, unable to get past a test that Subaru sails through. Of course, Subaru’s ‘overcome your past’ was, let’s be honest here, not the hardest test in the world. And at least he remembered it. Emilia’s past has a tragic centerpiece, and she’s also had her memories erased to boot – learning all of this with no emotional support would break a lot of people. Luckily, she now has that emotional support.

As you can see by the cover art, we get most of Emilia’s backstory here, though some elements (who her birth parents are) are still left clouded. Her aunt Fortuna, though, who raises Emilia as a daughter, is 100% pure awesome, and also… has Subaru eyes, something that causes me concern but I’m not going to dwell on it too much. And next to them on the cover is… yeah, that’s Petelgeuse, known mostly as Geuse here. He’s not quite what I was expecting, being fairly overdramatic and self-loathing even before said tragic events. I am grateful we got a lot of Emilia being cute here, showing her as a typical curious kid who does not enjoy being locked in a tree all day. This is balanced out by the present-day Emilia and Echidna watching the events as they happen, with Echidna being very irritated at how well Emilia is taking everything. They have the best dialogue in the book.

Meanwhile, while waiting for Emilia’s test to finish, Subaru, Garfiel and Otto confront Roswaal, who is still not willing to give an inch, despite some things happening that his book does not talk about. As long as the book ENDS the same way, he says, that’s enough. There’s some funny stuff here, mostly involving Roswaal’s reaction to Otto, but it’s clear that if they’re going to stop Elsa and her fellow animal-tamer assassin from killing everyone at the mansion, they’re going to have to do it themselves. Fortunately, Garfiel much better at fighting than Subaru is. We also got more backstory here, provided by Shima and the Ryuzus (which sounds like a girl group; from the 60s) showing the backstory of the Sanctuary, Echidna’s past with Roswaal, and most importantly Beatrice’s relationship to all of them. If Subaru is going to succeed, he has to get Beatrice away from her library, and given that’s the cliffhanger ending to this book, it’s a tall order.

The arc ends with the next book, but there’s still a lot to solve. Can Subaru end this with no deaths? Can Emilia pass the 2nd and 3rd Trials? Will the reader even see the 2nd and 3rd trials? (Signs point to no.) And will Roswaal finally be forced to give in and support Emilia for real? Can’t wait to find out.

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