Re:creators used to be the highest rated and most hyped series of the season it aired in, after the obvious three 99% of viewers were watching (Attack on Titan s2, My Hero Academia s2, Boruto). Gradually, the interest in the series kept dropping to the point more people were talking about garbage tier light novel adaptations (Akashic Records, Eromanga Sensei) which were nowhere near the catchy premise of Re:creators.
This is extra strange when said premise is basically Fate/Stay Night all over again. No, seriously, they are the exact same story.
A bunch of famous personalities, each one using superpowers, are brought into modern Japan, where they are having a battle royale, with the winner getting a reality warping wish. Most of the plot is short skirmishes, followed by ridiculously long monologues where they are infodumping rules, discuss philosophies, and have cockteasing moments regarding a bland self insert lead being surrounded by pretty chicks.
On paper, Re:creators should have been regarded as a thought provoking masterpiece, just like that porn game adaptation. And yet it wasn’t. In fact, it was being mocked for being exactly that. What happened? The answer is, Re:creators was not tapping into as many layers of pandering as Fate/Stay Night did. It followed the same formula, but didn’t have the same ingredients. And by ingredients, I mean:
1) The pretty colors
Studio Troyca was nowhere near the level of Ufotable. Without jaw dropping animation, the sakuga audience didn’t care about it, and thus found reasons not to like it. Meaning, Re:creators didn’t have the illusion of making itself seem way better than what it actually was.
2) The source material
It didn’t have one. Unlike Type Moon which had a huge fanbase of porn gamers overhyping its bullshit for over a decade, Re:creators was an original work. Nobody was blowing out of proportion what it was all about, it had no fanatic fanbase attacking anyone who dares to speak against it, and thus it was open to all forms of criticism. As it should be the case for any title.
3) The archetypes
The fighters of Re:creators were essentially representations of typical heroes and villains from well known genres. This made them monolithic, dry, predictable, and one dimensional. The heroic spirits of Fate/Stay Night were based on historical figures, which were giving off the illusion of being multilayered and with a rich backdrop story, even if we didn’t see it and it was all implied. Meaning, the fan fiction nerds didn’t care about the cast of Re:creators, because they were just bland archetypes. In Fate/Stay Night, when they were hearing characters talking about ideologies and philosophy, their imagination was having an orgasm by seeing people across history coming together to have a fight with cool superpowers. In Re:creators, when characters talked about ideologies and philosophy, they just saw a typical magical girl talking to a typical medieval knight.
4) The competition
It came out at the worst possible moment, since the other 3 shows 99% of anime fans were watching, already had everything Re:creators failed to tap into. Pretty colors, a fanbase from the source material, and characters who did not feel like bland archetypes, because of how they were fleshed out from previous seasons.
5) The pacing and the infodumps
The above reasons explain why Re:creators fell from grace, in comparison to other shows of that time. They don’t explain why as a stand-alone show it was still not a very good watch despite sounding really amazing at first; so lets clarify that as well. Most of the duration was comprised of really long and boring monologues about the concept of the show, instead of its execution. The audience was constantly being told what was going on instead of being allowed to see it. The characters were mostly sitting on a table and talking about what they will do, instead of doing something about it. It was a really big chore to get through the constant talking, and the pacing was snail-slow.
The final episodes were filled with the battle royale action we were promised, but even then it came down to everyone versus one, instead of an actual “all for themselves” type of deal. It was hollow and insignificant, since nobody was actually dying but was rather returning to his fictional world. There was nothing really at stake and all the blame was thrown at the person who initiated the whole fuss. Nothing was grey or thought-provoking as it seemed to be at first, since it demonized an individual and deified everybody else, thus losing the grey morality it was going for.
So yeah, it’s not nearly as good as it sounds and it makes sense why it was quickly dropped by most. Its concept was interesting, but the execution came down to a dull line of endless monologues and tensionless battles.
FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW! (Minor Spoilers: Updated as of 5-27-2017)
Now HERE is an interesting idea! "Person in a strange world" style anime, but the strange world is ours! Talk about a fun twist!
NOTE: This review is of the eight episodes that have been released as of the 27th of May.
As far as first impressions go, this one was all around amazing! The first episode kicks off the show with superb pacing! (I just wrote a review earlier for a show with terrible pacing, so this is a welcome change!). The characters are believable, are introduced well, and the action is very well animated! UPDATE: By episode 8, all the main characters (the Created) have been introduced. It is clear that there are darker intentions at work in bringing them to our world. But what are they?
Story: Conflict and mystery, filled with character development. The plot of this anime will leave you begging for more at the end of each episode.
Animation: Very well done. The fight scenes are superb. While it can seem a bit odd on occasion for what essentially amounts to numorous styles meeting in the same world, this show does a spactacular job of messing them together.
Sound: I have already decided that I'm buying the soundtrack when it comes out. Need I say more?
Characters: Okay, let me just say that I NEVER thought I'd find myself rooting for the freakin' magical girl! I mean, SERIOUSLY!?!? Usually I see a magical girl anime and often find myself cringing throughtout the whole show, with a few exceptions. But I've never encountered a magical girl from any show that I ended up cheering for! These characters are amazing. They all mesh and clash naturally. Their ideals are different in so many ways, and it's facinating watching them interact with each other.
All in all, I am definately continuing this show!
I'm now up to episode 16 (Was on hiatus due to work: better late than never!), and I am still enjoying this immensly. I will say that episode 16 was slightly annoying to me: I have made it vocal in previous reviews that I greatly dislike the use of fanservice in anime, and episode 16 was full of it. On the other hand, it was also played for laughs by poking the fourth wall, which was hilarious.
On the subject of the fourth wall, I find it very ammusing how often they poke it. There is one episode where it seriously feels like the writers themselves (the shows ACTUAL writers, not the creators), are talking directly to the audience. Even the animators have fun poking the fourth wall to complain how terrible their job is when it comes to Altair's hair.
On that note, there is a recap episode (Episode 13). Do not skip it.
I mean it, do not skip it. Asides from some fanservice (which was actually hilarious, for once), I found nothing wrong with it. It is beautifly done, and funny as can be. Might be the best recap I've ever seen.
As of the end of episode 16, the final battle is about to begin. I'll update this again once I've finished it, and possibly write a second, condensed version of this review.
To sum this anime up its a Death Parade (not trying to advertise other anime)
Broken character that needs a nerf 2017 ^
Well for this year the theme was "another world" not going to address any anime cause I will get a ban for advertising, but ay you know what animes I'm talking about, while those animes got released Re: Creators came out and it was the opposite of "another world genre". This time the anime characters come into our world and does what anime characters do. Basically its Bakuman with some really good action anime.
Story - Um its all good but the ending was a bit ... meh
Animation - every animation is good when waifus are drawn perfectly every slide.
Sound -SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] has done it again
Characters - This anime is all about the characters
Um basically it's a great fresh anime, in my opinion, everything is fresh except for the title but at the end, it explains why it has that title and now that I think about it "everything was original".
AND BY THE FUCKING WAY ALTER IS TOO FUCKING OP, LEGIT EVEN ONE PUNCH MAN CANT BEAT IT (RECKON IT NEEDS A NERF)
Best guy character 2017 ^
An anime with a huge 'cool' factor and some unique ideas, but major flaws in execution cause Re:Creators to blow its shot at greatness and leave me with mixed opinions.
Re:Creators opens with a bang, one of the best opening episodes I've seen in a long while, a creative and well-animated action-fest that immediately hooks the viewer. It then promptly follows this great start with an exposition heavy second episode, and that sets the stage for what you'll be getting for the remaining 20 episodes.
This show is very uneven, jolting between fast-paced battle sequences and long stretches of dialogue (often expository). The pacing feels like sitting in a car with a driver who alternatively accelerates so quickly you are pinned to your seat, then slams on the breaks nearly throwing you through the windshield. For all its interesting world-building concepts and thoughts on the nature of storytelling, Re:Creators is in some ways too clever for its own good. It feels like the writers were so intent on making their big ideas known that plot and characters became subservient to those ideas and suffered as a result.
The low point of the pacing runs from episodes 11-16, where the show suffers from a badly 'sagging middle'. The middle act feels very much like TROYCA had a great ideas for a premise and a great finale, but little clue on how to link them. The most memorable episode of this bunch is actually the recap episode, where Meteora unexpectedly breaks the fourth wall to roast the other characters, blatantly twists the story to make herself look better, and even goes so far as to take verbal shots at TROYCA staff members. All this to say that while Re:Creators has a lot of cool and interesting ideas, the execution is very rough around the edges.
ANIMATION & SOUND
I have less to say here. I love the character designs, particularly Alicetaria February, and battle sequences are well animated with interesting fight choreography (Altair's dozens of flying cavalry sabers are particularly good). In quieter moments the visuals look nice but a lot more industry standard, this show is best in motion, not with still images.
Sound is excellent, with Hiroyuki Sawano showing why he is the master of hype. The OST shines in action scenes (although if you pay attention to some of the English lyrics you won't be able to find much logical structure). Both OPs are particularly great, highly loopable and never failing to get me excited for the upcoming episode. Voice acting is also quite good.
A mixed bag of great designs and cool ideas whose development is often undermined by the needs of the plot. A recurring theme is how the various 'Creations' (characters summoned to the real world from various manga, anime, books, and video games) interact with their Creators and these interactions range from great (Suruga throws some serious shade on Blitz by being able to predict his lines verbatim, while Yuya causes his Creator to freak out by publicly revealing a massive plot spoiler from his manga) to the merely serviceable (Selesia and Meteora make peace with their own Creators fairly quickly and easily). Alicetaria and Mamika have two of the best character arcs as they struggle to make sense of the real world for vastly different reasons (Mamika coming from a vapid and fluffy kids show designed for mass marketability, Alicetaria coming from a brutal fantasy manga world that looks like Game of Thrones crossed with Berserk). Side note, if you think any attack named 'Magical Splash Flare' is a childish joke, Mamika will prove you wrong. I just wish time had been taken from the long expository dialogues and theoretical discussions to help this cast truly go beyond their archetypes.
I've pointed out a lot of flaws in Re:Creators, but for all that I've still watched the show in its entirety twice. For me at least, the cool and fun parts are good enough to deal with the rough, unpolished parts. I can see how this show wouldn't be for everyone, however. It has great high points that will win it a fair share of fans, but some bad low points -particularly in the pacing- that will invite detractors. This one's a toss-up folks.
I believe I mentioned this before, but I find it consistently harder to write in praise of an anime than to bash it, to the point that the only manner in which I could be satisfied on doing so, would be to break down each episode while highlighting while I believe certain scenes or bits of dialogue are so great and important to the big picture. As you can imagine, the highest I value something, the harder it feels to explain, so let it be known right from the start: I do see Re:Creators in VERY high regard!
Story and Characters
To begin to understand why the show works so well, the first good hint would be the original writer, Rei Hiroe, who wrote the story that led to the anime. For those unfortunate enough to not know who Hiroe is, he’s the author of the Black Lagoon manga and the responsible for the dynamic between Rock and Revy, two of the finest characters crafted in the media. In Black Lagoon, he demonstrated his strength at crafting witty and meaningful character studies, while in Re:C he displays, with some aid from Ei Aoki (director of Fate/Zero), his efficiency at developing cohesive, effective and strong plot.
Some comparisons I’ve seen be made about the nature of Re:C in regards to other anime vary from a knock-off of Fate/Zero’s concept, for those who see the combination of colorful fighters of multiple origins as somehow related to F/Z and nothing else, to a shallow piece of propaganda fellating the Japanese government and military, in the same fashion as GATE, for people who are too obtuse to notice the obvious differences and like to make asinine comparisons (you know who you are!). The closest I’ve seen to actually hit the mark was to Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, since both works are commentaries on the media they’re a part of. This comparison doesn’t adequately prepare you to get into Re:C, but it is a better assessment of the nature of the show. While Haruhi is purely a dissection (or you might even say a “deconstruction”, if you can believe it) of the tropes that are to this day prevalent in anime, that made itself brilliant by twisting the role of the protagonist and titular character, along with the ones that personify those tropes, Re:C is a commentary on our relationship with fiction, both from the perspective of the creators as well as the audience, and it makes itself brilliant by making what would be natural parts of that relation into integral, tangible elements of the plot. I’ll discuss the perspective a bit more when we get to the characters, but for now let’s talk about the strength of the narrative
Besides characters, which I consider to be the most important thing in a story, something I also find of great importance when analyzing is how well structured is the narrative. That takes into consideration things like pacing, as in the rate in which the story progresses or new information is introduced, the role different characters play and how meaningful they are on that role and, specially, when things happen for a reason. Re:Creators shines in that regard, among other reasons, because it wastes almost no time. Every episode in this show is there for a reason (yes, even the hot-spring episode) and nearly EVERY scene has something to help bring out new information, develop the numerous figures of the cast or reinforce what is already known, character and narrative-wise, through a new method or situation. Want an example? The events of episodes 9 and 10, for once, might seem to have no effect in the rest of the plot, at first glance, but looking closely you might notice that they made for the perfect set-up for the main characters to confirm a plot point that would prove itself vital for their future plans, as well as kick into motion Aliceteria’s character-arc. Take this episode out of the equation and you’ll have that plan turn into a complete ass-pull and have Aliceteria’s change of heart be completely unwarranted.
If you are reading this review, I’d assume you already know the premise of Re:C, so I’ll not waste much time explaining it. So, a feeble mind would predict the main villains of a story with such premise to be those who were already villains in their original stories, but this is one of the instances where this anime subverts expectations in the best way: the real villain of the story is a character that originally had no purpose, while the one who was originally a villain turns into a wild card. The series tackles motivations and work ethics of the different artists, ranging from those who do that simply to make a living to those who see on the act of crafting a story as their way of expressing themselves in the way that is the most fulfilling. That said, let’s talk about the characters, starting with the main antagonist
Altair, or the Princess in Military Uniform, was an original character, created based on one of a preexisting fictional game called Eternal Wars Megalosphere and is noted from the beginning to be connected to Souta, one of the main characters, and Setsuna, a former friend of Souta who, and I don’t think I’m spoiling much about the first minute of the show, committed suicide a few months earlier. Do you want another example of how finelly crafted is the structure in this anime? Since not much is shown from Setsuna’s perspective prior to her suicide, some viewers might get frustrated at first, feeling that they missed on something important, but that turns out to be a necessary decision, given what we see from her on episode 21, in which her avatar plays a decisive role in the conclusion. This decision is a great factor into making the experience of this episode as meaningful and effective as it is, besides the excellent writing, of course. Altair was a character created without a set purpose, carrying only the emotions of her creator, to whom she feels a strong connection with. Therefore, she takes upon herself the task of avenging her creator, who she feels was wronged by the world. That lack of a reason to exist, coupled with the angst carried by the one she held the dearest led her to see the real world as a cruel story, and what better way to enact her revenge than by causing the world to implode on itself?
Mizushino Souta, a highschool-age student, is part of the main cast, but regards himself and is treated by the narrative more as a narrator-type figure. He’s an aspiring illustrator who’s a bit shy about his art and holds a guilt complex in regards to Setsuna’s death, who he believes to have betrayed. He considers himself partially culpable for her suicide, for not coming to her aid when it was needed, and that feeling of guilt is what motivates him to take action during the second half of the story. The conclusion to his is arc is not one of overcoming the guilt, but of learning to shoulder the pain of his mistake and making something positive out of it, through his creations. Episode 21 (seriously, folks, it’s a very important episode) is where that is displayed at full force and he ultimately comes to peace with Setsuna. Souta also provides insight about the perspective of people who enjoy and avidly consume fiction, like on his argument with Aliceteria, where he tells her how characters like her are loved because they motivate people with an ideal, a model of how to act, to be honest and never let themselves be brought down by hardship. He also comments later how the passion for anime, manga and other media gives the viewer the opportunity to see the world through someone else’s perspective
Starting the hoster of creations with the heroes, we have Selesia, a character from the light novel and anime series Elemental Symphony of Vogelchevalier, an Escaflowne looking, magitech inspired Mecha that I like imagining to be set in phantasy 1920s. In her world, she was the partner of the main male lead, Charon, fighting against the forces of the Avalon Brigade, which gave her a resolute, quick to action personality, but still calm when among friends. In an interaction with Souta, she advises him to take his time and not try to rush his artistic development, because that way he would be able to grow appropriately along with his work. That interaction reflects the experience she had fighting in her universe, experience that also makes for amusing banter between her and her creator, Takashi Matsubara. Initially, she complains to him about why he didn’t make her stronger, not understanding his perspective as the writer. Their relation eventually becomes mildly like father and daughter, and Matsubara comes to be protective of her, cherishing her as his creation. He comments, during a conversation, how writing is his way of telling the world that he has been there, of leaving a mark on other people. He comes off as an experienced writer, who understands what he can and cannot do in order to keep the audience invested on his work.
Next in the roster is Meteora, also known as Best Girl, originally a NPC from the RPG game AVALKEN of Reminisce, where she takes the role of a powerful mage and the responsible for the library at the End of the World, right before the final boss. This is a very important detail about her, because it influences the way Meteora relates to the real world and other creations, as well as fiction. She states early on that her world is deeply detailed and fleshed out, having even fiction of its own, therefore she has better appreciation and understanding than other creations have about art, its mechanics and the influence it has over people. Interestingly, in one of the early episodes, she and Selesia contemplate a graffiti, and while Selesia has an amazed look on her face, Meteora displays a colder, more analytical expression, denoting the difference in impact for both of them. Lacking social interaction but being remarkably intelligent, she doesn’t have an easy time expressing her emotions properly, which she tries to mitigate by pulling off horrible puns. We see more of that restrained playful soul in episode 13, the greatest recap episode in the history of anime. A nice, detail about her character is how initially her speech is notoriously long-winded, but over time it’s possible to notice it becoming less prolix and more personable. Her knowledge of fiction allows her to read effectively into other characters and she quickly learns to understand what goes through the heart and mind of people from the real world, making her the one to give Souta the emotional support he needs to come clean about his mistakes and deal with the guilt that torments him. She is definitely the one the boy feels to most confortable to talk to, and their friendly chemistry persists throughout the series.
Hell, I ship them!
Since she becomes the brain of the group, fact amusingly displayed when nobody knows what to do and quickly turn to look at her, Meteora also develops a professional friendship with Kikuchihara, the government official responsible for dealing with the situation of the fictional characters. Both recognize and grow to respect each other as the one from both groups who knows best how to deal with the situation
Mirokuji Yuuya is every anti-hero/rival voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto: impetuous, self-reliant, prideful, hedonistic and occasionally clever. Funny enough, his rival from his original story, Sho, is himself voiced by Okamoto, which might be the most amazingly subtle reference ever. Both come from Yatoji Ryou’s manga Lockout Ward Underground: Dark Night, with Yuuya being laid-back and uninterested in doing what others tell him, hanging out with the heroes simply for the fun of fighting the villains, while Sho is obsessed with killing Yuuya, whom he believes to be his sister and best friend’s killer. Perhaps mirroring Yuuya’s personality, Yatoji is arrogant and a bit difficult to deal with, but softens up fast due to their dire situation. He and Matsubara worked together in the past and don’t go very well with each other, but it’s hinted that Matsubara appreciates Yatoji’s work and still worries about him being able to continue, as shown when Yuuya decides to beat up his own creator.
By now we had the light novel female warrior lead, the RPG kuudere, the adolescent power phantasy and fujoshi bait, it’s time for our Gundam boy. Yes, Kanoya is the “Gundam” representative; he went looking for some young poon-tang on his first week in the real world, so he cannot possibly be the Shinji look-alike. His author, Nakanogane-san, wrote him to be someone who gets easily defensive, but also quite heated-up in battle, but as soon as he comes to the real world, the kid decides he doesn’t want to fight anymore. What? Did you expect the Gundam kid to not have his “get in the robot” moment? Silly you!
Kanoya’s small but charming character arc involves him realizing that the obligations he shoulders in his original world are not arbitrary, but something that only he as the protagonist can fulfill, which gives the kid newfound sense of responsibility. His conversation with Souta in episode 11, while superficially seeming like just a fine motivational moment, also highlights an important part of creating effective stories: that characters need to have a purpose to guide their development and actions, creating a sound narrative. Nakanogane-san doesn’t have trouble finding his place, though. The creators here don’t just sit around while their characters fight to save the world: they take initiative on putting together the pieces of Altair’s past and goals to find the best course of action.
Lastly, there’s Hikayu, the visual novel heroin created by Nishio Ohnishi (har har!), who’s a pervert. A good-hearted one, don’t be too harsh on the guy, he means well. Since her game of origin was primarily an eroge, Hykayu is disheartened to learn how exposed she’s to the world, which makes for some of the best comedic moments on the show, like when she does her badass entry during the heat of the combat, shouts her passionate entry lines, while feverishly blushing in shame of her outfit. Surprisingly, or maybe not, her game is not exclusively made of fap material and contains emotional moments that she carries over to her experience in the real world. Could this be a tangential commentary about the tastes of the stereotypically perverted otaku, who can accept a story having blatant smut as well as heartstring-pulling narrative? Perhaps a jab at how we feel the need to justify liking questionable material with the argument that it has a serious and emotionally gripping story? Who knows, but it does add more substance and weight to the notion that the writers and staff do know the ins, outs and running trends of the media they are representing in the anime, instead of simply crafting half-assed references.
Chikujouin Magane (creator not important) is the one creation to have been a villain in her story, but like Yuuya, prefers to act by herself and have fun with people’s suffering. She takes quite the liking or the real world and for Souta’s emotional struggle, taking him and the creations as her main source of enjoyment for the first half of the show. She doesn’t seem to like Meteora very much, though, since the girl doesn’t fall easily for Magane’s mind tricks.
On Altair’s side, the first ones to appear are Aliceteria, the idealistic knight, and Mamika, the unlucky Magical Girl.
Mamika comes from a show for kids, where the morality is black & white, villains are recognizable at first glance, good people who don’t immediately side with the heroin just need to be beaten into agreement and violence is bloodless, so for her it’s a shock to learn that in this new reality her powers might inflict serious harm on people. Kind-hearted and naïve, she doesn’t so much change her nature as the series goes on, but instead learns about the complexities of the new world and takes different methods to bring end to conflict. Aliceteria, in the other hand, comes from an equally black & white reality, but one severely more violent, bloody and harsh than that of Mamika. Aliceteria is stubbornly idealistic, to a point where the anime makes it clear she fooled herself into believing the real world is really a home of sadistic, cynical gods, who created her reality just to amuse themselves with the suffering of the people in it, so it’s her duty to force her god, Takarada-san, to fix her world and free it from evil. Takarada himself looks like a young, emergent author who still hasn’t mastered the creation of layered and complex characters, relying on the archetypical noble hero to focus his work on. It’s partially through Souta’s intervention and passionate speech about why figures like Aliceteria are beloved on his world that she begins to realize how disconnected she is from the true motivations of her fans.
Mamika and Aliceteria form a strong bond in their short time together, despite the difference in mentality. For once, when going to recruit a new creation, Mamika hopes it’s a good person, while Alice hopes it’s someone trustworthy and strong (to their dismay it’s neither), and it’s the similarity in values, despite the difference in priority, coupled with the courage and backbone that warms the knight to the young magical girl.
These two characters, among others, help put into perspective one of the brilliant ideas applied on Re:Creators: the anime purposefully built one-dimensional characters into the narrative because in context they come from stories that aren’t as well fleshed out or detailed. Selesia and Meteora, were created by authors who intricately crafted their personalities, worldviews or universe, so when they come to the real world they act more human, but also can better understand the morality of their creators, while Mamika and Alice were shallow characters, created to be good and righteous, but lacking understanding of complex notions of right and wrong, so they become easy prey for a villain who can spout ideas that sound good and presents easy solutions to their problem. That shallowness is not the final state for them either, but a jumping point from where they develop into layered and intelligent individuals capable of understanding the new reality and taking the best decisions based on their own morals.
Lastly, because going further would be spoiler, there’s Blitz Talker, the hard-boiled supporting character from the manga Code-Babylon, written and drawn by Suruga Shunma. Blitz clearly knows of Altair’s true intentions from the beginning, but stays with her because of his desire to protect her, whom he sees as weaker than she lets transpire. Suruga is an intriguing character because she keeps a low profile most of the time, not showing much of her personality and mindset. Most of the time she comes off as an aloof workaholic, constantly drawing, barely taking her eyes off the paper, only to look woefully uninterested when she did, but in her confrontation with her Blitz, she delivers plenty of substance. She makes for a great parallel to Setsuna. The girl had a sudden boost in notoriety, but didn’t have the time to grow up and learn to deal with the hate that comes with the spotlight and that negativity was too much for her young mind to deal with. Suruga, on the other hand, had to struggle with competition and criticism, suffered with the negativity, finally reaching enough success to be able to sustain herself with her art. Many viewers might think her outlook on fiction or her creative process is cynical, but it’s better to describe it as pragmatic and she shows to genuinely love and take pride on her work.
On episode 03 the anime introduces the concept around which the entire plot revolves: audience acceptance. They first note that the characters to appear in the real world tend to be those who had the largest impact among the public, so after Matsubara fails to alter the description of Selesia, it becomes obvious that the creators can’t simply change their characters as they go along. They soon began to theorize that what can really affect their status is if they manage to get enough of the general public to empathize with the changes made to them, idea that is solidly proven in the events of episode 10. It’s based on that concept that the heroes elaborate their plan to defeat Altair, by crafting a story that would be able to gather acceptance from the public to the point where they are able to bait and trap Altair on the Bird Cage, a scenario located within the real and fictional words, where they’d be able to defeat her for good, with the approval of the public. Fun fact: Bird Cage is a reference to Altair’s name coming from the Arab word for bird.
Looking at the contextual level it’s not hard to see that the idea of acceptance is a method of commenting on the common fictional elements that have the most success with the public on our own universe, as well as the difficulties faced by writers of popular works, who need to keep constantly in mind what the audience wants from them. Fiction is manipulation by nature, it’s designed to engage the audience in an illusion where the artist pulls the necessary strings to make us feel or think a certain way in relation to what happens to the characters. Bad fiction happens when the illusion is not convincing enough or when the trick is so poorly conveyed that we can see the strings in the background, and no character in Re:C exposes that better than Altair herself in the last few episodes. Not only are her powers the ability to manipulate the fabric of fiction (reason why she can’t simply nuke the world into oblivion), but her speech is constantly centered on the idea of what exactly pleases the audience and gets their acceptance. Her originally neutral condition also contributes to that concept: Altair is a character without cannon beyond the original powers given to her by her creator, so there’s little restraint for other artists to invent new abilities for her, as those new powers can just as easily get approval from the wider audience, contributing to her continuous growth in power and number of tricks up her sleeve. Part of me wonders if this is not a paradoxical trick the writer crafts with the audience. As the viewer, we are conditioned to expect the main villain to not go down until the very last moment, and only against a worthy hero that can pull off the strongest emotional reaction from the audience, therefore, the writers are fooling us into expecting Altair to pull off something new to aid her in battle, knowing that the nature of her powers allows for that.
Across the multitude of designs presented the anime displays excellence in keeping verisimilitude and coherence. In fact, that might be the most valuable quality of the work’s presentation, beyond the technical aspects, which are not shabby by any means: the directing is excellent, packed with clever transitions and enthralling shot composition (special shout out to that one camera movement in episode 06 that tells us with no effort that Magane just gets it).
Every element of character design was conceived in a way that the experienced anime fan could safely note what they make reference to: Selesia and Charon dress in the angular and colorful style that has become a trend among light novel characters, clearly made to please cosplayers instead of having practical combat utility; Meteora sports the distinguishable attire of an RPG mage from works like the Tales franchise, cuz the design is clearly too confortable to be Final Fantasy; Kanoya uses the slick, futuristic uniform of robot pilots across the Mecha genre. All of this is important because it says something about the characters, not only from what kind of story they come from, but also their personalities. Even when in civilian outfits, the choice of clothing tells something about them: Meteora dresses with cute and childlike attire, because she’s a petit woman and is tired of constantly using a thick uniform, while Selesia’s adorably modest choices help flesh out her personality as reserved, possibly chaste.
The same care extends to all the fictional websites, products that appear on the show as well as the different magic symbols used by the characters. The designers commented in interviews how there was an entire creative process behind the elaboration of the multiple logos, focused on creating an internally consistent scenario. There’s no “Gaagle” search engine or “PZP” console in this story, all the fictional products, social medias or websites presented here were designed to look and sound believable to the extent that one could easily think that Mauchly, Piclive or Songbird are a real thing, or that SONY might actually create a console called Play Portal, which I imagine would be a portable with meager first and third-party support.
The sound department continues the effort in verisimilitude by featuring performances consistent with the universe and genre each character comes from. I’ve already mentioned Nobuhiko Okamoto previously, brilliantly cast as Sho, not just because of the irony but also because he’s can skillfully express Sho’s devoted and naïve mannerisms. Other clever choices are Suzumura Kenichi as Yuuya, fitting since this voice actor has experience with characters who speak in mischievous tone, and Minase Inoue, as Meteora, who previously worked as Rem in Re:Zero and is capable of pulling off a character who speaks stoically without falling into blandness. Now, voice actors are a fun subject and all, but that’s not even the most exciting aspect of how Re:Creators sounds. That would be Sawano Hiroyuki’s amazing soundtrack, tailor made for this anime. Permeated with intense electronic beat and bombastic energy, these songs are never misplaced; the same track can mark the intensity of action sequences but also play to great effect in comedic beats, adding more points to the directorial work. Just look at Selesia trying her new power or Hikayu doing her badass entry and you’ll know what I mean. The lyrics, off course, in songs like Here I Am (Mamika’s theme), God of ink, Layers, Brave the Ocean and World Etude are perfect mirrors for the characters inner thoughts and their goals.
I first thought about talking about this in the story breakdown, but I decided to leave it for this section, as it is the main reason Meteora became my favorite character in the show and why I began to see this anime with higher appreciation. In episode 04, after learning about the passing of her creator, Meteora decides to play her game on its entirety. Later, she confesses her main grievance from when she came to the real world and talked about her experience with her own game: it was fun, and that’s all that matters, because all she needed was to known if her creator loved her world the same way she did. This moment was particularly relatable to me because it reminds me of a book I’ve read long ago, The Hour of the Star, where the narrator talks about the protagonist of his story, and about how he loved her. Later is that I came to realize that such love was not a traditional sentiment, but the love of the artist for his creation. Meteora’s confession displays the inverse route, from creation to the artist, but to me it emulates the sentiment of the audience, the feeling of experiencing a work that had love put into it, where the people involved were truly invested in created something that would resonate with the player, the reader or the viewer.
Re:Creators is an anime I never knew I wanted, but now that I have it I wonder if there’ll ever be something else like it. The way multiple aspects of artistic creation are talked about and analyzed, the portrayal of the audience and Souta’s mindset as a passionate consumer were all relatable and the show frequently would surprise me by doing something I already expected, but in a way that I did not imagine. Rei Hiroe’s writing tends to do that.
I sure hope there’s more originated from it, off course. The many works mentioned in the story might as well spawn new franchises in the future, now that they had the perfect introduction. I sure would love to see what they could make out of Elemental Symphony of Vogelchevalier, since those who saw Re:C already know of some spoilers for it, or how they could conceive Mamika’s anime; perhaps as something initially childish-looking that progressively gets more serious and multifaceted. I know Mecha is in life-support nowadays, but it would be nice to see Infinite Divine Machine Mono Magia get its own anime too. The possibilities are not endless, but they sure are plentiful and can be fruitful as long as those works continue to have comparable quality of writing, directing and care put into them as much as it was put in Re:Creators.