Twenty Perfect Minutes is an irregular column series where I take a look at single specific anime that shaped my experience with the medium, were important to me in some other way, or that I just really, really like.
“You made this crazy world. I’m stuck between the two….”
Re:CREATORS was a weird little blip in mainstream seasonal TV anime. I’m fond of the show–more than many other people are, from what I’ve gathered–but it’s definitely an odd and sideways take on the action anime genre. The “reverse isekai” is arguably more of a part with fellow ’10s genre subversion work like Rolling Girls and Anime-Gataris than it is other action series. It’s not a flawless series to be certain: the writing is an acquired taste to put it mildly and the pacing is downright bizarre. But it didn’t always seem that way, before 21 more episodes stretched out its hyper-meta story, its very first was one of the strongest action-anime debuts in recent memory. Even if Re:Creators itself never became the “story to surpass all stories” glibly dropped in Sota’s opening monologue here, it’s an incredible effort for other reasons.
The first two minutes of the episode are quite quiet and subdued for what follows. We get a context-free collage of shots of popular in-universe media which serve as foreshadowing for later in the series, but more important is the silent suicide of a character who, at this point in the story, we knew nothing about. A girl calmly walking in front of a train; that’s how Re:Creators begins. It’s perhaps the one and only sign in this episode of what the show would eventually become, because what follows is frankly nothing like it at all.
Instead, after his opening voiceover we see Sota sit down on his computer. Pop open ClipStudio Paint, get bored, look at Pixiv. Usual Nerd Stuff. It’s when he goes to watch anime on his tablet that he’s promptly–albeit only briefly–teleported to another world, and it is here where the episode promptly kicks into high gear. The fight scene that comprises the following three minutes might be the single most iconic thing about Re:Creators. It’s not hard to see why. You have Selesia’s Vision of Escaflowne-style fantasy-mech throwing down against one of the downright coolest villains of all time. Altair, though she was nameless at this point in the series.
This scene is honestly amazing. It’s so burned into my mind that on the rewatch for this column I was astounded at how short it is (not even quite three minutes total). In that short time though, we get the Vogelchevalier thrashing about, the delightful digital CGI blue cubes that represent worlds crossing over and breaking apart, Altair tossing swords upon swords at Silesia, and of course, the first appearance of the infamous Holopsicon. A machine gun that she plays like a violin to activate its reality-bending powers. I maintain, and will until the day I die, that if you don’t find something ridiculously cool about that, then your sense of wonder needs a jumpstart.
Also great here? The soundtrack. Re:CREATORS developed a reputation for running this specific piece of music–called “Layers”–into the ground, as the show had few pieces of battle music, but having not heard it in its proper context in quite some time, I was immediately delighted to hear it again. It really is one of my favorite battle themes ever.
The following scene, which serves as something of a cooldown, has Selisia and Sota, shall we say, conversing.
Sota’s panicked half-rambling explanation to Silesia that she’s a fictional character from a light novel series is occasionally pointed out as a weak spot of this episode, and while it’s not as strong as what surrounds it I honestly think it’s pretty fun. It does strike me as something a panicking nerd would do in such a situation, even if Sota’s reassurance to Silesia that she’s, you know, super popular is not as comforting as he seems to think it is.
Altair follows them to the real world before much else can be hashed out. Selesia puts her sword through the window to sort of flick it open, in one of this episode’s best-remembered shots.
She and Altair have a little back-and-forth here. With Altair making the classic “join me” offer as she cryptically monologues.
….and Selesia riposting with what is among my favorite instances of anime logic ever.
The escape that Selesia pulls off here–using her magic to jump off the balcony, Sota in tow, and land on and promptly carjack some poor sap’s brand-new wheels–is silly in a way I really appreciate. My favorite moment of the whole thing comes when Selesia, who really does an astonishingly good job of driving a car for someone who’s never seen one before, assumes she’s found the “weapon” button, and promptly pushes it, which turns on the windshield wipers. Quote me: Comedy. Gold.
Another battle scene follows, because Altair is not really the sort of villain you can outrun in a compact car.
I might actually like this fight scene a little better than the already-great first. It’s a bit longer and is more dynamic, with a couple changes of scenery and some great up-close locked-blades action between Selesia and Altair while the latter continues to exposit (as much for our benefit as Selesia’s) about her plans and the nature of the world they now both inhabit.
What breaks the tie is the mortar-fire-first introduction of Meteora, who appears here for the first time toting some artillery which we’ll learn in an episode or two that she stole from a nearby JSDF stockpile.
The episode winds down here. In his closing voiceover, Sota, among other things, says of these events that the beginning was “haphazard”. He (of course) is not actually talking about the episode, but were he, I’d actually argue the opposite. Anime that plunge you head-first into their stories and worlds as fast as this one does are pretty rare. He also says that it only takes “one minute” for the world to change.
There, I must also disagree. If we’re speaking of our own personal worlds, Re:CREATORS had a big hand in shaping my eventual desire to become an anime blogger. The show in general, and this episode in particular, were one of several that convinced me that there was value in following seasonal weeklies, as opposed to just cherrypicking things that were recommended to me by friends after they were over. This, in turn, lead me to where I am today. I would say, then, with all this in mind, and if you’ll pardon the title drop, that it takes about twenty.