How can you witness a story like this and not feel lucky for being an anime fan? In the abundance of titles and genres that we are bombarded with every season, there are a few productions that remind us what anime is first and foremost: a medium for creators to surrender their heart to us. Episode 21 of Re:CREATORSbrought the touching story of its heroes to a proper ending. Who are these heroes you ask? But, of course, all of us, the creators.
Japanese Title: 世界は二人のために
Re:CREATORS is not a perfect story. There are no perfect stories. In our endless quest to derive meaning out of anything and everything, we sometimes forget that the most important aspect of a story lies in what it wants to convey, not in its scenario issues. A plausible scenario certainly helps. We are most likely to ingest stories that seem possible than stories that make no sense. This is not, however, the place to discuss narrative structure. Episode 21 was this story’s dramatic climax and the resolution its undeniable protagonist was looking from the beginning. This was the tragic story of a character who sought revenge and eventually found peace in the hands of a creator she never met, but through a miracle will spend an eternity with.
If the names of the creators were not enough, what gave me the necessary push in the first episode was Setsuna’s suicide. ‘That’s harsh,’ I first thought, but themes of isolation, self-doubt, creative struggles, and online bullying are rarely touched in such a harsh way in anime. If we want to take this story a step further, it is about a girl who committed suicide. It is about the reasons she ended her life and about what we can do to prevent other people from meeting the same fate, be it suicide, depression, feelings of isolation, and so much more. While the anime doesn’t allow Setsuna to further elaborate on her feelings, it doesn’t hide her hate. She despised a world that lacked empathy. And in turn, her last creation, the one she intended to show to her most important fan, took all that hate and turned it into a revengeful quest.
A few episodes before, as soon as Altair painted herself the protagonist of this story, I started thinking that this is not a story about good and evil. And Setsuna makes that sentiment clear when she tells Altair that the labels of hero and villain do not apply here. This is not that kind of story. Re:CREATORS is not that kind of story. Altair was not the villain and Sota was not the hero. Setsuna’s death was much more humble and hurtful, mostly to Sota.
I died before being able to call your name
Setsuna, a miracle or a creation, have it as you want, is not there to prevent Altair from destroying the world, however. She is there to make a confession. Altair was her creation, but she grew past that. Without a story of her own, she was an amalgam of all the hopes and desires of those who gave her the extra powers. She is a collaborative creation. She is empathy and kindness and love and passion. She is what could have saved Setsuna from dying if only more people understood what ‘create’ means. We are too quick to judge and hate, but it is in characters like Altair that true love for creation exists. Altair was the ‘queen of the weak’. And a queen needs to embrace those who serve her. Setsuna was not able to embrace her creation or the feelings, both positive and negative, that come with the process. At least Altair has a choice.
The world was too strong… Too automatic and too cruel… That’s why (you took your life)… That’s why I hate this world…
I am still not sure if this miracle implies that this is the real Setsuna (I highly doubt it) but being a recreation of her suicide moment, the train is well on its way and Setsuna needs to die once again, this time in front of her creation. With the power of Holopsicon and the audience’s acceptance she saves Sota’s creation from a second pixelized death and creates a world just for them, a world where Setsuna can write the story and Altair make that story into matter. If the star-glad world reminds you of something, that’s because we have been seeing the place in the second opener!
And there, while Setsuna and Altair are discussing their new reality and how they become gods, we have a scene that involves the two people, very real and very contemporary people, this show wanted and did focus on, albeit indirectly, Sota and Setsuna. Since this version of Setsuna is Sota’s creation, she is wearing his glasses, the glasses she borrowed at the otaku event. If my memory serves me right, that moment was the cliffhanger of Episode 10 and it was explained in Episode 11. This is the moment where miracle and creation blend in a unique scene, as we learn that Altair was created with Sota in mind. She was a testament to a friend and partner who eventually chose jealousy over empathy. Amidst tears, Sota remembers how he felt then, small and talentless. He believed that he couldn’t possibly be compared to Setsuna. Has he caught up with her by creating Setsuna?
Themes & Trivia
Music: Kudos to Sawano Hiroyuki and his amazing music compositions. The success of an OST lies not only in the tracks, but also on the right combination of scenes and tunes. You can have an amazing and nostalgic piano piece go unnoticed in a heavy action scene. On the other hand, you can destroy an emotional moment by playing an upbeat song. Music sets the tone, and in Re:CREATORS, it hits all the right spots.
I am still puzzled about Setsuna. Although she is Sota’s creation, the reveal that she created Altair for him was something that Sota could not possibly add to her drawing/description. Maybe Magane’s powers allowed for a small portion of her spirit to cross the realm of dead and meet with Sota’s creation? This is a fantasy story, after all, and in a world where creations can cross their world with giant robots, a ghost or two are possibly allowed. After all, it served the story and as much as the creators in the mission room are clinging to the laws of the world, ‘bringing back the dead is not possible,’ they already did with Blitz’s daughter. Or is Setsuna not bound to the same laws as creations now that she became a creation herself?
The Show Must Go On
I don’t mind it when shows sacrifice on action to be a bit more talkative. Re:CREATORS had its share of action scenes, but they were never the focus. Now, the only thing that remains to be done in the last episode is to wrap up what happened and give us something nice and thoughtful to ponder on.