Overall I would say 2017 has been a good year for anime. KonoSuba season 2, Boku no Hero Academia season 2, Little Witch Academia, Youjo Senki, etc. Overall a good year so far. That being said it would be remiss of me not to include Re:Creators as one of the top 5 or so anime of the year. I’ve already made 3 posts on Re:Creators here, here and here if you want more details before going ahead on this post. There will be spoilers ahead you’ve been warned.
Let’s start by addressing the show’s biggest weaknesses. Sota, the male lead, is widely hated. The mid-section of the show is considerably slower than early and later parts of the show, with only one or two noteworthy action scenes to break up long stretches of exposition. Altair is OP as fuck and especially in the later episodes this detracts from the show. I’ve already made a post concerning Sota so I won’t go into detail here but suffice to say he is, I think, unfairly maligned. Many people called him the new Shinji Ikari and that was a good comparison, Shinji and Sota both have severe weaknesses which are only integral to their actions, or lack thereof. The biggest difference between the two is the severity of the weaknesses and that Sota does overcome his shortcomings roughly halfway through the show. Both characters suffer from issues we easily understand and they’ve both been thrown into conflicts they neither have the training to handle or ever wanted to sign up for. I think Sota is a well written character, however I also find that I sympathized with Shinji and his weakness a lot more than I did with Sota. Well written or not, Sota is annoying before he grows a pair – but once he does he becomes one of the most important factors in the overall conflict and is not in any way an annoying character.
Concerning the pacing, Re:Creators is mostly good. Given the amount of set they had to do for the Birdcage Re:Creators could never have kept up the frequent combat and chaos of the early episodes and even during a lot of the “slow episodes” there is a lot going on to keep people engaged. For example the episode which was dedicated to all the author’s originally collaborating on the Elimination Chamber Festival was a great way to study the Creators’ character more, something which was mostly untouched before that point. The exposition-heavy episodes were by far the slowest but even they had a modicum of technical skill. To the best of my memory all of the major exposition dumps took place in settings and contexts which naturally call for exposition – like government briefings or strategy sessions between the main characters. Likewise the concepts being discussed were fairly complicated and meta and did require quite a bit of explaining. That doesn’t really keep these episodes from feeling slow but at least I can appreciate they are just doing bullshit exposition in a cafe because the writers weren’t creative enough to weave the details in elsewhere.
Altair is one of the greatest weaknesses of Re:Creators. She’s okay up through the middle section of the show, though the dichotomy between her utterly childish tantrums when she discussed her goals with Mamika and her usual gloating, cryptic lines was jarring. But by the time she enters the Birdcage she’s just out of control. She blocks almost every attack with no effort. For basic attacks that’s fine but it’s stupid as shit when say Silesia uses a special dimensional cage move – a new power given to her as part of the preparations for the Elimination Chamber Festival – and Altair literally breaks out of it in less time than it took Silesia to cast the spell. I mean come the fuck on, you have to have some kind of gap to make the move seem meaningful. I think the problem is that the writers went in counting on Altair’s overwhelming power to provide all the tension for the battles in the Birdcage, and that’s not a bad plan as she is monstrously strong, but in my case it made me stop caring about Altair because she was never in any danger. I would’ve been far more invested in the final battle against Altair, if for example, Aliceteria’s final blow left her with a gaping wound but she continued to fight on anyway after killing Aliceteria. But having Aliceteria have all this build-up and delivering a great hit only for the damage to be sent to Aliceteria was a major disappointment – not the OMG moment I assume it was intended to be.
In fact Altair was so OP both solutions the heroes used to defeat her were extremely meta rather than conventional. First the included a sort of alternate version of Altair and attempted to have the alternate replace the original and thus remove the threat of Altair. And when that didn’t work they convinced Altair to leave this world, and possibly universe, to create a new one where Setsuna survives. Why exactly she is able to do this is not explained though I assume it’s the same reason Altair emerged in our world in the first place and could drag other characters out of their stories as well. All that being said I do appreciate how much planning and effort the heroes put in to defeating Altair both by more conventional, i.e. buffing the characters on their side, and meta, as discussed above, means. In fact the only thing I’m surprised they didn’t try was to have someone write an official Altair story in an attempt to limit her ridiculous powers – but then again what do I know about strategy?
Despite the past few paragraphs of mostly whining I think Re:Creators has a lot of strengths to make for it’s few flaws. The characters are excellent. As I said above, even though Sota is annoying early on, he’s still well-written, and he does a great job of redeeming himself by standing up to and eventually converting Aliceteria, and recreating Setsuna in the Birdcage to ultimately get Altair out of the picture. How the Creations evolve by engaging with the world is something I’ve touched on before and I think they did a great job with it. Taking fairly generic characters drawing stereotypically popular genres and media and then having them grow into more complex characters by confronting them with a more nuanced world was a great idea and one which the series uses to great effect. Even characters like Hikayu, one of weakest examples of this, get to grow and show interesting sides to their personality and becoming more endearing to the audience. Which given the importance of audience acceptance in the narrative is not only appropriate but a great example of the story concepts in action in real life – which seems pretty meta to me.
And I love all the details they put into the Creators and the scenes where they talk about being creative people. Suruga’s rant to Blitz when he’s about to kill her, where’s she going on about the struggles of being a creative are pure fucking gold and I agree with everything she said. Likewise the set of scenes where Marine sees Suruga bust out a great sketch in like 30 sec and runs out of the room to cry because she takes a long time to do her own artwork and thus losses confidence, and the part of the aforementioned rant where Suruga admits she thinks Marine’s art is way better than her own was one of my favorite moments in the show because it is so reflective of how a lot of creative people I know well and how I think as well. They seriously nailed the Creators in this show and offered keen insight into the minds and behaviors of creative people.
The action scenes were also mostly fantastic. They were actually what convinced me to watch the show. I had originally skipped it but when the AMVs came out and I saw mechs vs magic and Personas fighting magical girls I knew this was worth my time. Barring the examples I mentioned above the fights were a total blast to watch and some, like Silesia & Kanoya vs Charon were not just good fights but ended with immense dramatic payoffs. Honestly I’m still amazed they had the balls to kill Silesia off 3 episodes before the finale.
Speaking of the finale, I thought it was a very nice touch. Having Tanaka and Matsubara have talks about how they were busting their asses like never before because they weren’t sure if their stories were good enough for Aliceteria and Silesia after having met their respective princesses was a nice moment and making Meteroa stay in our world to attempt becoming a Creator herself was an interesting move as well. The only thing which the finale lacked a scene where Magane, who is totally still in our world, shows up to troll Sota again out of the blue. I don’t think such a scene would have fit the tone of the episode that much but it would have been a great addition in my book because Magane is Best Girl hands down.
That’s about all I have to say. Re:Creators has a few notable flaws which hold it back but it was ultimately a very positive viewing experience and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone even mildly interested. And if you’re a creative type yourself I think seeing this anime is a must. Seriously that aspect of the show was really well done and I can only think of it as a treat and a tip of the hat to creatives everywhere. Watch it. I hope you enjoyed this fairly broad and general review – sorry about that but since I already did 3 more detailed posts I figured more of a general send off of piece would be a good way to go for this one – and I’ll see you in the next one.