In honour of Patrasche

Guess whose birthday I missed last week…? April 15th, the day to celebrate the birth of Re:Zero’s best girl, Rem Patrasche! I’ve recently been watching the newest season of Re:Zero and I have to say it’s up there amongst the most enjoyable isekai/time-loop series for me. There’s something viscerally thrilling seeing the gruesome and maddening situations the decidedly unheroic protagonist, Subaru, gets into as he attempts (and usually fails) to orchestrate a happy end in a fantasy world that wants to kill him via disemboweling / freezing / snow bunnies – did I mention it’s gruesome? 

Re:Zero is full of appealing characters and does a decent job of developing the majority of them. One of my personal favourites is Patrasche, Subaru’s loyal draconic steed who, despite possessing no lines besides ‘GWAHHHH!!!’, is a fully fledged (or rather, fully scaled) character in her own right. Anyway, just for fun I decided to explain why Patrasche has a special place in my heart amongst Re:Zero’s loveable cast. So, kick back and let me tell you why you need to redo your best girl list.

Obligatory spoiler warning:
I’m covering my favourite moments with Patrasche (i.e basically all of them), so take care if you haven’t finished the anime/light novels… 

She’s a beaut 

Sleek body. Glossy black coat. Beautiful sharp eyes. Patrasche is an Earth Dragon with both beauty and brawn. In Re:Zero, Earth Dragons are essentially dragon horses and if that isn’t cool enough for you, I humbly ask you to reevaluate why you wouldn’t want to ride a  fleet-footed 400kg dinosaur. Possessing the Divine Protection of Wind Evasion, rest assured that Patrasche would swiftly convey you to your destination with minimal wind resistance whether travelling saddleback or by carriage. Oh, and did I mention she’s a veritable war dragon-horse? Crusch, one of the Royal Candidates, gave Patrasche to Subaru as support in the White Whale battle and our black beauty was a beast in that arc. Never mind that a colossal people-gobbling flying demon beast was trying to snatch up Subaru (and Rem, who was tagging along for the ride). Patrasche never buckled under pressure and ran right into the fire as if she were the death-defying protagonist! This isn’t the only time Patrasche showed off how awesome and reliable she is but it was a hell of a start. 

Run, Patrasche, run!

Dragon-horses are man’s best (new) friend

Whether it’s Pikachu, Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service, Nyanko-sensei from Natsume’s Book of Friends, or any dog shoved into recent games, animals make the best partners. There’s a pleasant simplicity – purity even – to an animal’s affection. Sometimes they talk and act more like a friend, other times they communicate their feelings wordlessly. Either way, the bond between animal and man is often presented as special in that it’s free from the complicated navigation and negotiation of human relationships.

Patrasche took an instant liking to Subaru. This is significant because the hostile world of Re:Zero likes to thrash him whenever he gets too comfortable. It was and remains exceedingly rare for our hapless hero to be treated kindly and Subaru typically had to work hard to gain the trust of his allies, most of whom were actively aggressive or disdainful towards him initially. Not Patrasche. Patrasche’s immediate, without frills affection is a breath of fresh air in this OTT schadenfreude fest. More than that, she’s unconditionally fond of Subaru. An anchor in the chaos of his life. Regardless of how many times Subaru goes through a time loop, he can trust in Patrasche when his relationship with others is far less consistent. In fact, her name alludes to this aspect of her unwavering character, being a reference to A Dog of Flanders, a story about an impoverished boy and his travelling canine, Patrasche, who live and die together. Likewise, the mutual affection between Subaru and his Earth Dragon is the epitome of wholesome.

Nello and dog-Patrasche in Antwerp, where the two finally pass away

And, yes, that’s precisely the reason why writers kill off their sweet darlings – because it will make you cry. It’s a trope going back to classical literature – who doesn’t cry when Odysseus’ old dog, Argos, who after waiting a ridiculously long time for him to return, wags his tail at the ‘beggar’ (note: Argos is the only one to instantly recognise Odysseus) and promptly dies, satisfied he saw his master one last time? If you haven’t read Homer’s Odyssey, go read it – especially Book 17.290-352. Anyway, Patrasche is a victim of sacrificial steed syndrome. Time and again she recklessly endangers herself to save Subaru of her own volition. Sometimes she wasn’t even in the same area but she came running, even when it’s impossible to save the day. Whether that meant diving into a witch’s graveyard at risk of electrocution or hauling Subaru to safety when they were being chased by beast-mode Garfiel. The latter is a particularly galling scene, especially for how graphic it is in the light novel. Garfiel rips her tail right off and yet she still runs as far as she can! 

Not a drama llama 

Thankfully Patrasche later gets her own back at Garfiel by straight up stampeding him into submission. She roars triumphantly before settling down to nuzzle Subaru. To call this an extremely cathartic moment is putting it lightly and, though it’s an abrupt dragon-ex-machina, it works. Patrasche’s presence is immediately reassuring. The tension dissolves and the tone shifts from unease to a palpable sense of relief. After making plans to ensure his victory in this loop, Subaru mustered some confidence facing off Garfiel but it still felt like blustering – that is, until Patrasche arrives and cements his victory. This moment signalled a turning point in the Sanctuary Arc, since Subaru manages to recruit Garfiel into their alliance afterwards, and you can see his fortunes have finally taken a turn for the better (at least for now). So not only is Patrasche a steadfast companion, she’s instrumental to Subaru’s success as well. 

Otto, Subaru’s merchant buddy with the beast-tongue, also has an important role here. He pulls a total ‘nakama!’ moment, literally slapping some sense into Subaru, and convinces him that he isn’t alone and shouldn’t go alone, which is ultimately the wake-up call he needs to get his shit in gear. At another point, Otto also interprets for Patrasche with his nifty ability. Subaru should’ve already known that Patrasche has his back but it takes Otto spelling out her thoughts for him to realise she *gasp* cares for him – you know, because she saves him all the time 🙄. It’s a nice moment because you realise that just because Patrasche doesn’t convey her feelings in words, she’s ultimately a proud individual with her own motivations and desires. I fell for her all over again. In other words, Patrasche is the ultimate support animal. Fierce, protective, always ready to break Subaru’s fall (sometimes with a carriage) but, most importantly, happy to cuddle once the job’s done. 

She’s not a tsundere, he’s just dense

…but she’s still metal

Alright, so this might seem like a contradiction to my last point, because SPOILER – Patrasche actually eats Subaru alive in the sixth arc. But, as horrifying as this death is, it’s also kind of crazy-cool? To set the scene: Subaru, Ram, Anastasia, and Patrasche get lost in a miasma-ridden desert and everyone goes mad. It ends up with Subaru being on the wrong side of his beloved dragon’s jaws. In her defense, she’s the last to go. The others resort to violent in-fighting beforehand and Patrasche even saves Subaru from an attack from Ram that would surely have killed him before succumbing to madness herself. It’s not quite a mercy-kill but nevertheless fitting that Subaru is released from an even more devastating, isolated end by his most faithful companion. The scene is a brutal reminder that Patrasche is like nature herself: wild, powerful, and should be respected as such. After all, you don’t get to be best girl, unless you kill Subaru at least once!

Thanks for reading

Published by nonplayergirl

Long-time lurker turned blogging newb. Lover of all things otaku but especially JRPGs, anime and manga. Always adding something to the backlog. Probably descending into K-Pop hell right now.

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