Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

Altair, the Military Uniform Princess, wants to destroy our world, but whether that makes her hero or villain is entirely based upon how much you sympathize with her.

[This article contains major spoilers for Re:Creators]

Altair, is a woman created from within sorrow—literally. Setsuna, her creator, was a talented young artist who simply loved drawing. However, talent breeds envy. As her star began to rise, she found herself more and more isolated and hated—with even her one true friend, Sota, rejecting her due to his own jealousy. On the edge, she put all of her emotional turmoil into her art, created one last character, Altair, and shared her with the world.

Setsuna then threw herself in front of a train.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

Soon after her “birth,” Altair discovered she had the power to travel between worlds—to leave her fictional world, and to come into our own (and others). Upon doing so, and realizing that she was in the “world of gods,” she did what anyone would do: try to find her creator.

Of course, it wasn’t long before she found the truth. Her creator had been a pure and kind soul—a girl who only wanted to create and have others enjoy her creations. And what was her reward? Bullying and slander that drove her to suicide.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

What’s more, Altair learned all this by literally seeing what had happened through Setsuna’s eyes, even hearing her thoughts. She experienced everything that Setsuna had—up to and including the last few moments of her life.

To Altair, Setsuna’s life was a story and Altair was the audience. But more than that, it was an unfair story with a horribly tragic ending. The bad guys won, the innocent hero was killed, and no one really seemed to care what had been lost.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

Unlike some of the other Creations we meet in Re:Creators, Altair is one who truly loves her creator; she loves being alive and the powers she has been granted. So when she sees what has become of her god—what Setsuna was driven to—Altair sets upon her revenge: to destroy the gods and the very reality that would allow such a horrible “story” to take place.

While the destruction of our reality—and all fictional realities connected to our own—is obviously a horrendous act, it’s not hard to see why Altair feels justified in her actions. After all, people are often horrible to each other.

We are selfish, envious, and take joy in harming each other—especially in the online age. Altair’s punishment for how we treat each other may be extreme but she isn’t wrong about the unfairness of it all and the lack of consequences.

In the beginning, Altair’s source material was a single short video by Setsuna. A cool looking character, she spread as a meme across the doujin-obsessed section of the net, with people making their own fan art and videos of her. These gave her new powers and enough recognition to exist in the real world.

But in the lead up to the Elimination Chamber Festival, the various writers of the event needed to give her a backstory—a reason why she was the big bad villain of the event. So they went with her actual motivation: the death of Setsuna and her wanting revenge on existence itself for what happened to her.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

This spread her backstory and motivations to a much wider audience—an audience that identified with her and thus added even more to her powers with their own fan reimaginings of her.

And of course, the weaker you are, the more you’re abused, bullied or picked on, the more you’re going to sympathise with Altair—despite her being the “villain” of the Elimination Chamber Festival. In a very real way, she is a champion of the weak, getting revenge for anyone who has ever been unfairly treated by society at large.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

Then, when the Festival starts, she plays into her role as the villain and plays to the audience’s expectations. Sure, she should be able to win instantly with her insane amount of powers, but that’s not what the audience wants: they want a close fight with twists and turns. So that’s what she gives them.

By making it exciting—and by connecting with a large portion of the audience on an emotional level—Altair wins them completely over. The viewers go from wondering how their favorite anime/manga/light novel heroes will defeat Altair, to hoping that Altair will overcome the heroes and win—despite what that means for the world. (Of course, the audience has no idea that the world they’re living in is actually at stake instead of a fictional one.)

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

That’s why even when she is overwritten by Sirius in what is clearly meant to be her final defeat in the logic of the story, she is able to come back from nothing to instead take over Sirius. With the audience so empathizing with her, she has become the hero of the Elimination Chamber Festival story. After all, to any of them who have drawn her fanart, she is—at least in part—their own creation. Of course they want their own creation to win.

As Hikayu points out after Altair’s victory over Sirius, Altair has overcome all the obstacles before her: a cage meant to contain her and a coalition of heroes meant to stop her. She’s even defeated her own mirror self—a creation imagined briefly in the moments before Setsuna’s death. There really is no doubt that, in the mind of the audience, Altair is the actual hero of the story. They have decided that her cause is right and just.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

At this point, only one thing can make her give up her revenge: the possibility of saving Setsuna.

Thanks to the combination of Shota including Setsuna in Altair’s backstory and Magane’s reality twisting powers, they are able to bring a recreated version of Setsuna into the pocket reality of the Elimination Chamber Festival. This is where we see who Altair is underneath. She is capable of doing horrible things in the name of revenge, but it all comes from a pure core—her love for her creator.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

While she knows that this Setsuna is “fake,” Altair can’t bring herself to hurt her creator. Altair would have done anything to save the original Setsuna, but by the time she made it to our world, Setsuna was already dead. There was nothing she could do to change that—even with her great powers, our reality would never accept something like bringing back the dead. Trying would likely just get Altair expelled from our reality. Thus, all she could do was punish the world for what it had done to Setsuna.

However, with Setsuna standing before her—a Setsuna created by the one other person to know Setsuna as well as Altair does—Altair stands at a crossroads. She has the choice between doubling down on revenge and being consumed by her rage or letting go of it all and saving Setsuna.

But to Altair, there is no choice at all.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

She will do anything to save Setsuna, even a fake Setsuna. She will let go of her hate and embrace the reality she so despises—using her powers not to destroy realities, but to create a new one for her and Setsuna alone: one where the pair can write each other’s stories in peace for eternity.  

Over the course of Re:Creators, Altair fought “gods,” “heroes,” and the very world itself for the sake of the one person she loved. In the end, Altair even did the impossible and brought that innocent young woman back to life.

Of course, without her quest for revenge, this could never have happened.

Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式‏‏ on Twitter

Whether Altair is the hero of the story or not all comes down to a single question: When you look at her motives, actions, and the results, do you sympathize with her more than the other characters?

If you do, then like the audience watching the Elimination Chamber, she is a hero. But if you find her actions irredeemable and her motivations irrelevant, then she really is the villain she made herself out to be.

Re:Creators can be viewed with English subtitles on Amazon Anime Strike.

Comments (3)
  1. As a writer and lover of meta fiction, I really love this anime. It’s bold, it’s smart, and it sticks to its premise.

    The fandom (at least in the US) is really divided on whether the ending was brilliant and satisfying or trite and dumbly sympathetic to the villain.

    I can’t wait for the final episode, and I can’t wait to watch the series again to see all the character development change with perspective.

    Thanks for the article and the great insight!

    • Thanks for the kind words. It was set up very early that Setsuna would return (you’ll see in your re-watch, no doubt). My hope while watching was that Altair had purposely done everything over the course of the series just so she would have enough power (and a flexible enough reality) to bring Setsuna back. Sadly, it didn’t turn out this way, but what we got was in no way bad.

  2. It was definitely an interesting journey. The fact that Altair is a mirror to Setsuna in her explosive and angsty attitude and the demeanor of a teenager that was apparent from the moment she lashed out to Mamika made me realize how much she needs someone in her life to teach her what is more important.

    I’m glad it has gotten to be Setsuna. It was an interesting payoff to the rules set and an emotional moment, since I was dead scared at the fact that her glasses were wrong and Altair would react very negatively to it and undermine her position in the process coming from the episode prior.

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