Hello and welcome, after a long time to Anime Chop Block, today we will be looking at the original anime: Re:Creators
The premise of Re:Creators is that fictional characters from games, manga, anime and light novels are appearing in the real world and their materialization revolves around the existence of a military uniform princess.
At some points, in a critic’s career, one comes across shows that are confusing in terms of how to evaluate them. Does a critic evaluate a show’s quality based on it as a form of entertainment or the quality of the show based on it as a form of artistic expression of themes? Most of the time, the show is very clearly either entertainment or art and the shows that try to do both typically succeed on both fronts.
Re:Creators is a show that tries to be both art and entertainment but sadly falters at the latter. That’s not to say the show can’t be entertaining, just that it’s not as good as entertainment than as art.
I will get to that later but I would like to get the positives out of the way first. In terms of visuals, the show has a good aesthetic going on with no real issues with lines or colors though there was one episode that made me wonder if the faces have been distorted or if the bodies are too thin. Character design is distinct between the characters however with each character having been informed by their respective genre and medium to form easy visual shorthands for their personalities and origins. In terms of audio, the voice work is all right, there are no real outstanding performances or monologues to capture the attention of the audience but there are no voices that feel out of place or tone. However, music, while it does set the mood of the scene well, ultimately feels repetitive due to Hiroyuki Suwano’s habit of reusing specific beats and melodies.
And now we get to the contentious part but before I talk about it, I would have to talk about what the director said about Re:Creators. According to director Ei Aoki, the show is meant to comment on the creative process. Given this comment, it puts a lot of my own personal discontent and confusion of the show into context. The show’s characters are the focal point of this; as symbols of how the creative process work or how they embody parts of a story, they function perfectly well with the military uniform princess in particular being an interesting and in depth commentary on the nature of secondary creations. As characters that evolve and change as the story goes, that’s where issues arise. Despite claims that “the characters are evolving past their story”, they really don’t seem to evolve all that much.
As symbols of the creative process and how a story works, the characters work well. Both the creations and the creators would often talk about both their roles in the story and how the story comes to fruition in terms of creativity and business. This is most illustrated on the creator side which often talks about the reasons for why they create media, how they work to create media and the emotions behind their reasons. In addition, the show talks about how the audience is the determiner of if something exists in media or not and how the audience iterates of given media. This desire to comment on the nature of creation however comes at the cost of the development of characters in the story itself.
The main four: Selesia, Meteora, Kanoya and Yuya all have personalities that don’t change with the events of the series. If anything, the antagonists have the most development due to them initially wanting the creators to change their world but they come around due to circumstances to fight the military uniform princess. The fact that they resolve the reason for being antagonistic in the first place makes them interesting to watch on some level but once they switch sides, they become static like the main four. Most of the creator side is also underdeveloped with them mostly dealing with the revelation of what they have done to their characters in a short time frame. The most development we get in terms of a character evolving is from the viewpoint character, Mizushino Sota. Sota goes through development where he goes from having a massive guilt complex over someone’s death, forsaking creating as a result, to becoming a person confident enough to create what he wants without the feeling of guilt. This arc of Sota’s while interesting, does cause issues as we only get insight to why he stopped creating a quarter through the story and he doesn’t start down the path to resolution until the half way point of the story. This drags out the arc in such a way that he can irritate the audience.
In addition, the need to comment on media makes it hard to get invested in the last few episodes as while they foreshadow some of what happens in the last few episodes well, it feels like they pull some of it out of their collective backsides. One example would be one of the new creations introduced in the second half of the show. She had no foreshadowing or involvement with the other characters in the series and was only introduced to enable commentary on visual novel development and the creation of fan discs. In addition, a plot device used in the final fight, while a valid tactic, is not shown to us beforehand with no mention of this possibly being a thing before it happened; this results in the plot device feeling like a deus ex machina. Another issue is with the military uniform princess; while her powers and existence are excellent commentary on the nature of secondary creation, they also make her seem overpowered to the point that the only way to beat her is through admittedly very good emotional resolution. The main issue is that we really don’t have much insight into the emotional issues of the military uniform princess at all.
In the end, I would say that I don’t mind my time with Re:Creators but I’m not overly ecstatic about it either. The show still has entertaining momments and interesting commentary but the characters and plot pay the price for the need to make commentary.
Re:Creators can be watched on Amazon’s Anime Strike