Management: This essay is meant to be less of a review and more of analysis of the show being examined. It contains plot spoilers for the Re:Creators anime.
Suppose you grew up knowing nothing but war. Savages run amok in your homeland, burning villages to the ground, putting innocents to the sword, and committing all manner of vile crimes. You enlist in the armed forces and fight your hardest to drive them out and protect what what parts of your homeland that you can. You witness friends and family die. On more than one occasion, you despair at the recurring thought that everything you’re doing is meaningless. The suffering of your people never seems to end. What creator, what god would allow these evils to exist and persist if he/she were not cruel or callous? And then it turns out that your world is the manga creation of some person from another universe meant to entertain people. Protagonists like Aliceteria February agonizes over the destitution of her beloved country, a destitution willed into her universe by a creator for the purpose of making a living. Aliceteria’s god sounds an awful lot of like a merchant of death.
Re:Creators has many things to say about the creative process in storytelling, but it also makes a few comments about the audiences who engage with these creative works. What exactly are we getting out of stories that make their characters gratuitously suffer — stories like Aliceteria of the Scarlet or Code Babylon or even Berserk? There’s obviously a market for this kind of material, which is why these stories keep getting reproduced for mass consumption. In Re:Creators, the first two aforementioned stories are popular. If, hypothetically, a character from one of these stories came to life and demanded to know why their lives were so shitty, what answer could we truthfully give them? Re:Creators realizes this scenario and offers two answers, the first by Shunma Suruga (who created Code Babylon) and the last by Gai Takarada (who created Aliceteria of the Scarlet). One answer is mundanely cynical. The other is meant to be inspiring.