Anime Observations: Re: Creators
I said this show was going to be either excellent or complete trash with little in between, and so far I'm not too far off on my prediction. Re:Creators is a dark horse favorite for me this season.
Re: Creators starts off with a young boy named Sota suddenly merging into another world where he witnesses a strange battle between two powerful women, Sota believes he's dreaming at first...until he's confronted by one of the women he was just watching battle that's somehow been transported inside of his room.
Her name is Selesia, and she's one of the two main characters of the series Elemental Symphony of Vogelchevalier, a fantasy mecha manga that's recently been adapted into an anime. Confused from suddenly being transferred over to a world that's almost nothing like her own, they try to work out what's happened to her when she's suddenly attacked again by the woman from Sota's "dream", who asks Selesia to join her so they can get their revenge on the "world of the gods". Outpowered, Selesia is only able to fend her off when another character, Meteora, joins her side of things to fight her off. At the end of the episode, Sota manages to escape the chaos of the battle to find his way home...only to learn that Selesia and Meteora have already beaten him there.
From there, the three characters pool their information together to try and figure out the truth: that Selesia, Meteora, and others have all come from distant worlds, created by the people of this Earth. It's an inversion of the classic idea of someone from the "real" world being sent to a fantasy realm. Just flipping the trope on its head would be enough of a hook for an anime, but Re: Creators fortunately takes things much further: how would the characters of a world react if placed in front of their creators?
It's an idea I've given much thought to over the past few years. It's one thing for our characters to go through trials--we go through some of our own all the time--but it just seems as if we've grown more cruel and more sadistic the more we continue to create. Grant Morrison referred to it in comics as the idea that the world is constantly ending. Batman rarely goes out and just punches the Riddler in the face anymore because he was being a nuisance, he has to hunt the Riddler down because he's kidnapped half of his friends in a dangerous war with the Joker and if things go wrong Gotham's going to erupt in its fifth gang war. Oh, and as soon as Batman figures out how to take down Riddler and the Joker, Gotham has another earthquake. They say Batman doesn't kill but I'm pretty sure if he had the opportunity to meet some of the people who've written him over the years he just might.
It's crazy how we're able to create stories about literally whatever we want and yet more often than not our stories just reflect the same suffering and pain that we deal with in real life. It rarely ever makes anything better either, so if art is imitating life and life is imitating art we're just creating this terrifying feedback loop of horrible-ness.
Re:Creators has played around with all of this just a little, but they haven't gone full-on with it just yet. Still episode two has a very cool bit where Mamika, a magical girl from a third universe, has a showdown with Selesia. It's a tense, yet kind of hilarious battle as Selesia is clearly from a more serious universe while Mamika's attacks all have some sort of whimsical sound effects, and while you wouldn't think so Mamika wins almost the entire time, pleading with Selesia to work with her and the woman who brought them there (referred to currently as "Military Uniform Princess" because...she has to be called something I guess) to force their creators to change their worlds. But eventually she realizes that she's actually injured Selesia quite heavily, causing her to notice that she's caused no small amount of destruction. In her world, no one ever bleeds or gets severely hurt from her battles and so it's never occurred to her that anything different would happen here. The fact that there's a contrast between each individual world at all is fascinating, and shows that the authors of this story line are really interested in exploring the actual implications of the idea their show is presenting.
Even better is when Selesia finally comes face to face with her "god" in episodes two and three. It takes the classic "What if God was one of us?" idea and plays it brutally straight. Selesia's "God" is literally just a schlub with an unkempt beard, near-sightedness and is going bald. They play it for laughs, but I really hope we get into the idea of some creations hating their creators. The series has been really good about setting up rules through Meteora, and with this most recent episode we've already established that the creators can't actually alter things in real time, and these anime characters were brought to life more by how ingrained they are into popular culture than any individual whim a creator had. Combine that with how all these characters have been transferred into our world with their original powersets and most creators are helpless to fight back against any creation of theirs if any of them wanted to kill the person responsible for their misery.
The only question I have now is just how far this series is willing to go with its ideas. The possibilities are nigh endless. How did Ms. Military Uniform Princess (or MUP, as I'll call her from now on) figure out how to break free from her world, and collide the real world with the fiction omniverse? Is it possible for more than one character from a single universe to make it to our world? Are there going to be any creations that see their creators as literal gods and try worshipping them for more power? And what happens if the wider world discovers what's going on right now with the world of fiction crossing over into reality? What does that do to society? The battles that have happened so far have already caused a lot of trouble, risked lives, and property damage.
The end credits of Re: Creators is all happy and carefree, filled with the kind of useless scenes at beaches and exploring the city that I figured this show would originally be about. And though watching Meteora eat a hamburger melted my heart for a sec, I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't concerned with the possibility of this series taking a hard right into fanservice town rather than instead exploring the very concept of fanservice. (I picture a large chested woman explaining in vivid detail how much trouble she has to go through just because he "loves" girls with DDD cups....) But for now, this series is definitely one I recommend to anyone looking for a good series for this season. Let's hope it stays that way.