I’m actually stunned. Of course, I was fully aware from the very first episode that salvation would most likely happen, and that humanity would (for all intents and purposes) be completely exterminated. Hoping for anything different would be far too optimistic. But I don’t think that made it any less shocking to see it actually happen in animated form. As profound a story as visual novels can tell, they often lack the sheer visual impact that motion pictures have. In particular, I actually found it really haunting to see Kotarou turning into a tree this time. From the moment he overwrote himself to match up to Esaka and his wound turned into bark, I had a feeling it was inevitable, but it was pretty gruesome watching it actually happen. In the game, we mostly got descriptions and not his anguished cries as he turned into what was essentially a familiar.
In fact, it’s a bit strange that this ending was as despair-filled as it was. A lot of it was subtlety, but it was made clear that many of the characters died before the final stage to salvation even happened. Imamiya died before the episode even started. Esaka and Nishikujou were clearly corpses when they turned into light – Nishikujou had a sword stuck through her. All the Bayern Knights most likely died fighting against Sakuya. From the fact that Chihaya mentioned Sakuya being really heavy, Sakuya was no longer granting her super strength and so he too was already dead by the time Chihaya was carrying him through the ruins. And why did Lucia and Shizuru have their minds broken before they disappeared? What the fuck, this is too depressing! I know each character route ending (arguably apart from Chihaya’s) is supposed to be a bad end, but did they really need to make it so tragic?
Who else was surprised by Kotarou’s decision? Any Gaian would argue that he chose the planet’s future over humanity’s present, but really it looked like he chose to be with Kagari and sacrifice all of humanity in the process. Salvation was still avoidable at that point, and it was the whole reason as to why Esaka fought him – the natural disasters may have already happened, but it’s not like everyone was dead yet. I was initially rather shocked, but in the end I guess it’s a Kagari route and it wouldn’t be strange if he did really fall in love with Kagari as various events occurred. It might have all been skipped in the adaptation due to time constraints, so maybe Rewrite+ goes into more depth on this. I was really sad though! Seeing Kotori cry is the worst thing ever, I love her so much. I mean, I love Akane the most, but… I want to protect Kotori’s smile the most? Is that allowed? I’m not sure how to explain it, I’m still reeling from the episode. For all the shitty quality throughout the season, I have to say 8-bit did pretty well with the finale. The Rewrite anime has never felt more Key-like than it has here.
I want to mention a bit on salvation, as an important thing I paid attention to during all of the character routes was to see exactly what happened during salvation and how it was triggered. It was really interesting that they subtly told us that Akane shot both Kashima Sakura and Nagai to death, but was then fully brainwashed and became the next holy woman. I presume that’s why the song of destruction stopped before continuing again. If that’s the case, Akane should have killed both Shimako and herself, but she’s probably too kind to kill a cute loli in cold blood. I would have started questioning my devotion to her if that’s what she chose to do. I seem to recall that in some routes, salvation consisted of the disappearance of humanity, but in others that disappearance wasn’t magical and instead occurred due to natural disasters killing everyone. What we got in this Kagari route was both, which is slightly strange. I wonder whether it’s because those disasters weren’t enough, and the second time salvation started up Kagari decided to go with another method? It’s also really cool seeing salvation happen all over the world, instead of just in Kazamatsuri. The entire thing felt really biblical actually, although I’ve never really thought about it in that way before.
Most of all, this final episode was a massive hype train for Moon and Terra. The last few seconds of the episode featured Moon Kagari and her blueprint, in an anime rendition of what is probably Moon’s most famous CG, whilst the entire episode was filled with references to Terra. Bond made a final appearance in a Kotori flashback as she narrated how she saved Kotarou’s life, and Chibimoth turning back into Pero was pretty heartbreaking. Yoshino fighting the familiars was similar to what he did during Moon, and you could tell that, just like what was going through the minds of everyone who’s played the game, Esaka was thinking about his Guardian training with Kotarou all those years ago, that the current Kotarou in his ‘half-baked condition’ has forgotten all about, although his ‘body seems to have remembered’. In the state he’s in now, he’s forgotten his youth. At 27 years old, he has no idea what youth is, and he wants to set out on a journey to discover what it is. His true youth happens during the events of Terra, and that’s what we’re getting next.
Rewrite is actually such a fantastic story. It’s been my favourite VN ever since I finished it exactly two years ago now, and although it has many flaws, this adaptation has made me remember many of the reasons why that is. I’ve talked about those flaws countless times since the anime began, so there’s no point in me beating a dead horse any further – I’m still unsure as to whether it should have existed at all, but it has served its purpose as fanservice really well. From the point of view of a visual novel reader, it’s extremely interesting to explore another one of the dead end routes that Moon Kagari has spent so long studying within her blueprint.
Remember this post? In the end, the anime chose to opt out of dealing with the potentially very messy consequences of adapting multiple routes and chose to go with an original one to be properly fleshed out as an individual Rewrite+ route. Come to think of it, I’m not actually sure whether the route was first envisaged through the anime and was later expanded in Rewrite+, or whether it was vice versa. As you probably know, Moon and Terra are next, and thus they’ve decided to adopt the latter part of how I originally thought an ideal adaptation of Rewrite would play out. I predicted that the common route, all the character routes and Moon and Terra could be accomplished within three cours, whereas 8-bit have decided to go with a Kagari route as the first season, followed by another cour consisting of Moon and Terra. And I’m sure Moon and Terra can be finished in a single season, Moon isn’t very long at all. In retrospect, three cours for everything might have been a little ambitious actually.
I’m looking forward to it. It’s slated for Winter 2017 (i.e. Rewrite has ended up being a split-cour adaptation) and so it won’t be too long a wait. 8-bit will be around to make things worse as usual, but the times during which I felt the most excitement about their work on this was during the opening scene of the hour-long first episode, featuring the start to Moon, and the anime rendition of Philosophyz during which Bond faces off with Kagari. It’s fucking Kazamatsuri Bond, fighting Middle Eastern terrorists and shooting little girls’ parents in the heads in front of them, how much can they mess up? And I just realised, we’ll get to see young Nishikujou. With short hair. I love short hair. Not to mention loli Akane and Kotori. That being said, I’m more excited about Moon as a whole. It was extremely surreal when I first played through it, but in retrospect I really enjoyed it. It’ll be interesting to see what the Kotarou formed by the culmination of all Kotarous is like on screen, and as I’ve said before I believe that there’s more intimacy between Kotarou and Moon Kagari during Moon than there ever was between him and Earth Kagari in Terra. The rooftop dancing scene, that time when he ascends to a higher plane of existence and has to be brought down by Kagari, even the three cups of coffee scene – it’ll all be really good. Hopefully.
Finally, if you’ve reading this post about Rewrite for the first time, or if you’re an anime-only who even vaguely liked the story that you’ve seen thus far, please play the visual novel. It’s extremely long (>50 hours) but it’s well worth your time. That I can promise you. It’s at least as good a work as the rest of what Key and Visual Arts have produced, trust me when I say that their prestige and name brand means something in the industry they compete in. Just like with Little Busters, don’t let the relative lack of money thrown at its anime project dictate the quality you perceive either the original work or the story to have.