And that's a wrap! After all their hard-fought battles, our characters finally get their happy ending (for now). After 24 extended episodes of suffering and drama, it sure was satisfying to see these kids smile.
There were some stumbles along the way to get there, though. The episode opened by finishing off the battle against the Great Rabbit in a rather unceremonious fashion. It was also the weakest part of the episode in terms of animation and visual direction. Apart from the establishing scene in cour 1, the anime has struggled to convey the savageness and mindless ferocity of the Great Rabbit. They politely sit in a field waiting for characters to finish greeting each other, and they're not shown having much impact at all on the environment. It's one thing for them to be creatures that move only on instinct, and quite another for them to arrange themselves in a perfect square to get taken out within seconds. I was disappointed in how this part of the climax was handled.
The rest of the episode was an improvement, fortunately, as it focused more on resolving the character drama than the action. I especially liked how Roswaal's subplot got wrapped up. Every character in the Emilia camp got the chance to punch him in the face – even Otto and Petra! – and they all had their own conflicting ideas about whether he should remain a part of their alliance. Roswaal, for his part, reveals that although he is physically incapable of betraying Subaru now that he has lost, he hasn't given up on reuniting with Echidna. Even so, he has come to dimly realize that people like Beatrice and Ram have cared about him all along. His change in attitude is reflected in how he now speaks without the overly affected speech patterns anymore. After 400 years, it's still possible in the end for people to change bit-by-bit, even if their entire worldview doesn't change completely.
But the highlight of this episode was Subaru and Emilia's blossoming relationship, and boy was that a joy to see. Subaru's love for Emilia has always been his motivating factor, but I'd never thought of the romance as Re:Zero's strongest point. It felt inevitable that Emilia would continue to miss the point of Subaru's feelings, either due to his over-the-top fawning, her innocence, her low-esteem, or all of the above. Going through all those trials, however, has helped Emilia get in touch not just with her past, but with the emotions she feels in general – the good as well as the bad. She still doesn't quite understand love and relationships, and that's evident in how she misunderstands that a kiss leads to pregnancy, but she's willing to talk with Subaru every day in order to learn. Those two still have a long way to go, but they're facing each other squarely instead of looking in different directions.
The episode caps off with Subaru getting knighted. After he arrogantly declared himself Emilia's knight back in season 1, it's wonderful to see his character arc finally come full circle. Even if his character development wasn't the primary focus of season 2, it was pivotal in forming him into the kind of person who truly deserves the title of Emilia's knight. In this season, he fully let go of his hero complex; instead of bearing all the pain by himself in order to save others, he learned to lean on others and acknowledge that they want to save him too. He renounced Return By Death and picked up new abilities, like his own twist on the Unseen Hands and his contract with Beatrice. He's no longer the weak and powerless boy he was at the start, whose only role was to die again and again and again.
It's a nice place to end the Re:Zero anime for now, even if it does mean little progress to the overarching Royal Selection and Witch Cult plots. Looking back, this arc had its ups and downs – it had too many subplots for its own good and a tendency to go off-track – but it managed to bring its story back to Subaru and Emilia in the end. Just as the first season ended with the two of them together, the second season affirms the emotional core that beats at the heart of this fantasy "boy meets girl" epic. Now, just like then, "That's All This Story Is About."