The episode begins with Subaru declaring to not recognize the ceiling in reference that made me smack my own head. He then enters a hallway, declaring that he is in a looping hallway, before going into the room of a little (or small-looking) girl who attacks him. This leads to the first scene after the OP, where he states to recognize the ceiling while beginning to sexually harass the two maids in the room who were commenting on his weirdness.
In short, the beginning of this episode reminds me more of an old adventure game that runs on weird logic like Maniac Mansion than the light novel tone the preceding episodes exuded. It stood out as a weird beginning to an arc, especially since it doesn’t really mesh with the rest of the episode tonally.
After that opening, the episode is more of an info dump. Granted, it’s not useless information being dumped here, but it isn’t handled particularly well. We finally find out who Emilia is, why that badge was so important, and whose mansion this is. Unfortunately, it’s all in a conversation that is clumsily trying to incorporate as much information as possible, including not only that, but who those maids are (you know, for those who don’t follow Pixiv or anime fan art, where those maids, Rem in particular, have become omnipresent), the world’s political situation, Subaru’s place within it, and that the mansion’s owner is highly influential.
Luckily, we don’t get as clumsy in the rest of the episode. The episode mostly follow Subaru trying to endear himself to the inhabitants of the mansion by working there, which acts as a showcase for his dorky tendencies. If there was a character who comes off well in this episode, it is him, who actually shows many embarrassing and endearing traits within the episode (you know, sexual harassment aside). Actually, the same can be said about Emilia, whose personality is coming through in an oddly organic manner for a light novel adaptation. Given her curiosity about him, as well as the way she both humors and brushes him off, she actually comes across more human and likable than most light novel heroines. It’s a pleasant surprise from a series that spent the first arc laughing in the face of characterizing her as anything other than Subaru’s savior and angel.
Also, special mention to the scene where Roswaal L. Mathers (oh God, that name), the owner of the mansion, is discussing Subaru’s usefulness with Ram. It is clearly framed to show him as evil (as did his appearance in the OP being similar to the last arc villain), but it actually does a good job of establishing his presence in the world. I actually look forward to what his machinations for this story will be.
With a final twist as the episode ends (yet another time loop despite not dying), it looks like Subaru must try to find out what’s happening in a situation where no bad things are happening. I’m intrigued by where this could go, but am still concerned by the show’s awkward pacing and tone shifts. Still, while flawed, the elements of a really good series are there.
FINAL GRADE: A-
Re:Zero -Starting Life In Another World- is available for streaming at crunchyroll.com