Re:Zero truly wanted to be something. It shoots for the stars, it tries new things and throws the characters through so much torture and misery that the fantasy-world they are living in resembles more a hell. They boil in this hell, fuming with anger and regret, any shred of happiness they find fading almost immediately to nothing.
But Re:Zero isn't something. It reaches for its dear, dear life, but remains in the end wholly unremarkable shounen fare interested more in shocking the viewer with gore and theatrics than in telling a genuinely meaningful story. Re:Zero may not be terrible and irredeemable, but it certainly struggles
throughout most of its twenty-five episodes to demonstrate that there is more to it than this. What is there in Subaru's tragic story that the audience can take with them at the end? What does it want to say? Not a whole lot, to be sure. Re:Zero is ambitious in mediocrity, notable only for its perverted sense of drama.
(Minor spoilers will follow from here, as it is near-impossible to discuss an anime like this without revealing anything.)
I have seen many people compare Re:Zero to Steins;Gate in the months since its airing. This is a great disservice to Steins;Gate. Where Steins;Gate spent nearly half its runtime developing the setting and its characters before asking the audience to empathise with and feel for them, Re:Zero does so immediately and does not ever ask for consent. It never develops its setting in any meaningful way-- about all you know for the duration of the story is that it is generic fantasy-land where people hate witches and bad things happen all the time-- and it throws death and gore at the viewer from the very first episode, when nobody even knows or cares about who Subaru is. It is shocking to see major characters die within the first episode, to be fair, but it no longer feels shocking the second, third or eleventh time.
If there was any consequence to these events, it is immediately brought to nothing by the show's contrived gimmick of rebirth and time-travel. It doesn't really matter if someone does die, as time will conveniently bend backwards for Subaru's sake-- never to the beginning, and always to the last major event in the story. There is no cost and no meaning to anything that happens. Subaru's mistakes are immediately erased upon rebirth, and he can go on about his day with nothing but his own guilt holding him back. He is the God of his story and the world is his playground.
What Re:Zero does to compensate for this is killing its characters off in increasingly brutal ways. They will lose their limbs, be hacked to death by chains or tortured to the point where they no longer resemble a human being. It is violence without meaning, as artificial as can be, extreme and over-the-top to the point that it can almost at times resemble satire. Everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong for Subaru and friends, long before you are given any reason to care about their fates in the first place. The fifteenth episode is easily the biggest offender in this regard as it is nothing more than one massive slaughterfest, intent on making you feel bad for Subaru and his many waifus, him screaming in rage and gurgling on blood like it is some sort of torture porn. It is entirely possible for fiction to contain elements of death and gore without it negatively affecting the story, and in some cases it is even necessary, as it is for stories focused on issues such as war. Death is an entirely natural phenomenon, and humans are evidently not above committing acts such as murder. The issue with Re:Zero is that its death and gore exists for itself. It exists to shock and enrage the viewer, rather than serving as a product of the setting or as a vehicle for more substantial themes. For some people, this works, and throwing a character through a hurricane of awfulness is enough to instil sympathy. That's great, and I don't hold any ill will against these people. If anything, I am envious of how easily they can feel emotion. What actually bothers me is how effortless this method of storytelling truly is, and the audacity Re:Zero has to pretend it is something profound and on-par with film, as it did in the credits of the fifteenth episode. Re:Zero is visceral and sensually striking, and yet ever so empty.
"Empty" can easily be used to describe the characters as well. Emilia, for example, exists as little more than a personification of the average anime fan's ideal woman, similar in many ways to Asuna from Sword Art Online, and lacking in any meaningful characterisation besides her occasionally getting upset at Subaru. It's even more baffling that Subaru chooses her in the world of romance when she has done very little to win over his affection or help him, aside from giving him a place to stay for a couple days. She may as well not even exist-- the only reason she even does is to create more senseless tragedy for Subaru.
Rem and Ram are much better characters, as they actually have legitimate characterisation, backstory and development over the course of the story. The issue with them, particularly Rem, is that this development occurs so suddenly that it feels more like a complete change in character than an extension of who they really are. Rem goes from hating Subaru's guts to being so completely in-love with him that she is willing to follow him to the ends of the Earth and sacrifice anything for his sake. To be fair, there is reason for this abrupt change in personality: Subaru is one of the only people who has ever shown her kindness, and he did so selflessly, on several occasions, without regard for his own safety. He does a great deal to win over her trust and respect. But the extent to which she loves him, especially when she was still cursing his name just a couple short episodes before, is so extreme that it feels less like a natural progression of her feelings and more a way to instil feelings of love in the viewer, to make her palatable to otaku, an ideal girlfriend of sorts, a "waifu" much as Emilia is. It is very hard to convince me that her feelings are anything more than a fleeting puppy-love when merely showing her a bit of kindness is enough to immediately turn Subaru from her most-hated person in the world to her most-cherished one. It feels fake-- it feels like a lie, as many things in Re:Zero are revealed to be.
Betelguese, as creepy a bastard as he is, is by far one of the most obnoxious presences in the entire show. He is there, presumably, to create a sense of horror, as he will bend his body in unnatural ways, chew off his fingers in anger and bleed from his creepy little eyeballs, among other things. In reality, he is so loony and ridiculous that anything he says or does feels immediately silly, destroying any of the supposed horror he was supposed to generate. See, the thing most anime get wrong with horror (and indeed even most fiction in general) is that a truly terrifying character is not a raging lunatic, but rather someone totally ordinary and conscious of their actions. Hannibal Lecter is scary. Betelguese is anything but. If you want me to feel scared, do so in a way that resembles a reality humans can actually relate to, rather than a fantasy made of the likes of ghosts and goblins and bowl-cutted priests who eat their fingers for no reason.
Most of the side characters are weak and one-dimensional as well, as they either serve as more empty harem material (with flat-out catgirls and lolis), are defined by a single-trait or catchphrase (as Beatrice and Roswaal are), or are there as a weak attempt to instil more horror, like the stupid kid on the carriage (whose name I forget because I was too busy being angry at his annoying voice and how dumb the scene was) who completely breaks character and turns into a raging lunatic in another shallow attempt to push the story in a dark direction. The one main exception is Wilhelm, whose backstory and motivations truly do feel meaningful and justified. It is just a shame that he is immediately thrown to the benches again once this backstory reaches its quick end, serving afterwards as little more than some old dude who is skilled with the sword.
This leaves our buddy Subaru. I think, without exception, he is the factor that determines one's enjoyment of Re:Zero. If you can put up with his utter stupidity, you will find it possible to empathise with the trauma he goes through and his mental breakdowns that follow. If you are annoyed and disgusted with his presence (as I regularly was), it will be virtually impossible to care about most of what occurs. Subaru is the difference between being a fan of Re:Zero and being someone who actively dislikes it.
In many ways, he resembles a typical shounen hero. He is hot-headed, makes frequent out-of-place jokes (which I never once found funny, by the way), and refuses to ever think things through in a logical process, preferring instead to jump into battles he cannot win or to lash out at innocent people merely because his pride and fragile ego are called into question by his own mistakes. He thinks he is the coolest dude in the world, that he can save everyone through his own power, and the mere presence of someone with more skill than him offends him right to the very core. He yells and cries on a regular basis and seems incapable of having a normal conversation with anyone. Subaru is a child, and without any doubt one of the more infuriating characters I have witnessed in perhaps ever. There were points in the story where his characterisation legitimately made me angry and made me want to stop watching the show. Some moments were honestly baffling, too, such as how he switches from being completely mind-broken during the events of the fifteenth episode to being totally normal (albeit with a desire for revenge) in the next.
I say all this, but the eighteenth episode is actually one of the best episodes of anime I have seen in quite some time.
Let me explain.
Where the first two thirds of the anime spent its time showcasing unnecessary gore, Subaru's stupidity and empty characters who exist for little more than space on hug pillows and other creepy merchandise, the eighteenth episode redeems the anime and gives meaning to all that has happened, even if it doesn't erase its mistakes. It is an episode dedicated entirely to characterisation. It is a single conversation where Subaru shows remorse for his actions, recognising all the mistakes he has made and why he kept making them. He understands that he is a deeply flawed, broken person incapable of saving anyone or indeed even himself. It is at this moment that Subaru becomes aware of who he is. And you know what? I stopped hating him as a result, even if I still fundamentally disagreed with his actions and his character. He showed himself to be a human being for the first time in the entire story.
I have great respect for scenes such as these. It's not often we get entire episodes dedicated to something as ordinary as a conversation. Re:Zero didn't need to use gore and death to identify its characters or make us care - it did so merely by giving Subaru a stage to speak. This leaves just one question: why didn't Re:Zero do this from the very beginning?
It's a bummer, as there was actually potential for a great anime. The pieces were there, and the writer and the staff behind the anime demonstrated that they had the talent to execute things in an effective and honest way. The music is excellent, complimenting Subaru's struggles without ever going overboard in sappy piano pieces and cacophonous orchestral pieces as many shows of its type tend to. Its visuals look totally fine, maintaining a consistent quality despite the longer-than-average episode count and abundant battle scenes, while the facial expressions, if occasionally a bit excessive, are undeniably effective at demonstrating the characters' pain and anguish. Re:Zero is very much a well-produced anime; you can tell that the people at White Fox truly wanted to create something special.
I think this is why, even if I was bothered by most of the things I witnessed during my viewing of Re:Zero, I don't think it is a truly awful anime. It may not be a good one, not by any means-- its mistakes cannot be so easily erased-- but I do think its consistent effort and its eighteenth episode do at least redeem it to the extent of being a passable anime. It's why you see me giving Re:Zero a mediocre rating in my review rather than a poor one. I dislike much about Re:Zero, but for that one episode, I was a fan.
I have a feeling I am in the minority here, as opinions on Re:Zero almost seem to be split into a dichotomy. It is the best anime ever made for some, a life-changing adventure packed with emotion, and for the rest, it is a pile of irredeemable refuse aimed at the lowest-common denominator. To be perfectly fair, I am far more critical of Re:Zero than I am supportive of it. Its issues are certainly more numerous than its good points, and having one great episode can only take things so far when the other twenty-four vary from terrible to merely OK. But I'll be damned if I said it wasn't worth putting up with all the nonsense to get to that one point in the story. I just don't know if others are nearly as patient as I am, and I do have my doubts that future material will ever come close to that level of quality again.
Chances are, you'll have a better time with Re:Zero than I did. Many anime fans aren't looking for anything especially profound or complex in their entertainment, and I do not say that to be arrogant or dismissive. It is perfectly valid to watch anime for its entertainment value-- I do it as well, and so does just about anyone who is honest with themselves.
But this is a review and not a fan-piece. I am here to share my opinions and to judge the anime with a critical, yet fair eye. Re:Zero has a great deal of issues when viewed under these lenses, and none of them are insignificant. No matter how emotional its copious amounts of death and suffering made you, it would be quite hard to argue there is much more value to Re:Zero than its spectacle. It is a master at manipulating the audience's feelings, and while it succeeds at entertainment and has one special little moment, Re:Zero fails at making the case that it is anything more than lavishly produced, yet cheap theatre.
From my perspective, we are living in a time where well crafted anime with a myriad of originality and detail are unfortunately being released at a frequently declining rate. Because of this, many in the anime community are constantly on the lookout for something new and creative. So naturally, when an anime like Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu airs, a show that boasts morbidly unique twists on the popular but overused fantasy/game world genre, it gains a lot of popularity and is generally well received in the anime community. However just because something is innovative doesn't mean that it is a
good show overall. No, there are other characteristics, such as a detailed plot and a well developed cast, that can elevate a show from being simply different to something great. So is Re:Zero a great anime? I honestly believe that it is.
And not just because there's a totally badass adorable maid in it who fulfills the desires of every man's heart (besides the romantically challenged main character who blatantly rejects her feelings for him. What a heartless monster).
I never thought that any anime would be able to effectively combine dark psychological elements with an upbeat fantasy setting. However the genius behind Re:Zero, Tappei Nagatsuki, was able to expertly mix the two seemingly incompatible genres together, and the results are quite impressive. The show begins with our protagonist Natsuki Subaru getting suddenly transported to a fantasy world after leaving a convenience store. Being an otaku who has probably dreamed about something like this happening to him for years, Subaru is naturally excited to be in this new world. However, to his dismay, Subaru quickly learns that he doesn't have any special abilities or powers. Or so he thinks...anyway, he encounters the beautiful half elf Emilia when she saves him from a group of thugs. Thus the two of them start their adventure. This beginning seems quite clichéd, however everything changes dramatically when Subaru soon finds himself dead.
Well, that was unexpected. The protagonist dies before the first episode even ends? Really? Well we soon learn that Subaru actually does possess a magical ability, called return from death. However this power only works when Subaru dies. When this skill activates, Subaru essentially travels back in time to a certain checkpoint to relive that part of his life in order to change it to a future in which he successfully completes a certain objective and lives. Being a fan of shows involving time traveling, I was excited to see where Nagatsuki was going with this, and I wasn't disappointed with the result.
I was initially worried that Re:Zero would end up getting boring with the protagonist constantly failing and traveling back in time to relive the exact same scenarios over and over again. However with each new life, the progression of the story alters, sometimes dramatically, and many new elements are revealed to Subaru which were previously unknown that help him to solve the problems he faces and move on. This kept the anime fresh and exciting since something different happened with each life. Also, with every passing arc, Subaru's situation seemed to become substantially more dire, which lead to an increased intensity in the anime that kept me constantly entertained.
One negative aspect of the show that I've noticed is that Re:Zero seems to rely and focus on Subaru's ability a bit too heavily. This consistent emphasis on return from death takes away from other things, such as the detail revolving around the royal selection. This is seemingly an important plot point, but it is significantly overshadowed by the constant focus on Subaru and his continuous retakes at life. The anime spends an episode or two describing the royal selection and emphasizing its importance in relation to the characters only to practically drop it and hardly mention anything about it throughout the rest of the anime. There are some other similar occurrences present in Re:Zero as well. This resulted in the loss of plot points that could have made the anime more well rounded.
The character designs are very lovely. They are usually rather detailed, especially their facial expressions and features during moments when their faces are zoomed in on. Vibrant colors also help to bring the characters and scenery to life. Unfortunately, like many other shows in the industry, the animation dipped in quality as the anime progressed. The most notable example would be the fight scenes. Those showcased in the anime's initial episodes were highly detailed and well executed. However some of the later battles seemed more sloppy and not as well animated. Also, the CGI used on some background characters was utterly appalling. Luckily the use of CGI is very limited in this show. But hey, at least the female characters still maintained their lovely features throughout the entirety of the anime, and that's what really counts, right?
I was excited when I learned that Konomi Suzuki and Myth&Roid would be performing the theme songs for this anime since I enjoy music produced by both of them. Overall, I think that the theme songs are rather good, with my personal favorite being the first ending, Styx Helix, by Myth&Roid. The soundtrack was successful; it played upbeat and relaxing songs during lighthearted scenes and transitioned to dark and distorted themes during psychological moments. Subaru's seiyuu, Kobayashi Yuusuke, does an excellent job at vocally expressing the character's utter pain and misery through his voice acting talents.
At first glance, many of the characters in Re:Zero appear to fall into generic character categories. However as the anime progresses, the cast seems to evolve from their seemingly average state into much more dynamic, unique, and sometimes even lovable characters.
Subaru surprisingly isn't some overpowered MC who can unexplainably beat every other character at practically everything. In fact, his only ability worth noting is return from death, which, while being extremely useful since it gives Subaru multiple chances at life, is the main source of his psychological trauma. Although he initially acts positive, Subaru slowly cracks and falls further into despair and insanity as the anime progresses. He is one of the few characters I've seen that, for the most part, actually acts like a real life human would in the dark situations that he finds himself in. Of course, this may mean that you'll want to punch him in the face sometimes when he acts all cowardly, stupid, and obnoxious, but you have to understand what the poor guy is going through. Plus he redeems himself in the later portion of the anime.
Emilia is a beautiful, kind, and lovable girl; in other words, the type that many view as great waifu material. However the thing that I like most about her is the fact that she, unlike so many other female characters like her, can actually live WITHOUT the male lead. During one point she actually decides that it's best for her and Subaru to go there separate ways. I find this to be rather admirable, since it shows that Emilia can be an independent person who doesn't need to rely on others. There's not much else to say about her since she hardly gets any screen time in the second half of the anime.
Rem surprised me the most out of all of the characters. In fact, I believe that she's much more developed than the "main girl," Emilia, and is simply a superior character. The first few times that we see Rem, she humorously makes fun of Subaru with the assistance of her sister Ram. However as the story progresses, we get to learn so much more about Rem. I don't want to spoil any particular moments, but I will say that she has a badass yandere mode where she slaughters practically everything with her spiked mace in an epic fashion. Rem also develops feelings for Subaru, who she becomes admirably loyal to and saves numerous times, that lead to some really adorable moments between the two. Rem is also super cute and she just looks stunning, especially when she smiles. The sexy maid outfit is also a plus. Re:Zero really showcases a rare gem in Rem, who is the best anime character that I've seen in awhile.
Re:Zero also boasts a strong supporting cast. This group of characters includes the cute and sarcastic maid Ram, the adorable and magical loli Beatrice, and the utterly insane and slothful antagonist Petelgeuse. While obviously not as much as the lead cast, many of these characters receive adequate development and possess unique personality traits that make them more likable and entertaining to watch.
This show combines the best aspects of different genres to create something that is very entertaining to watch. It has fun characters and settings that kept me entertained. I was constantly on the edge of my seat in excitement hoping for Subaru to succeed and tensely waiting to see the repercussions of his failures. Cliffhangers were effectively used at the end of multiple episodes that left me craving more, though they were a bit excessive. While some episodes focused on dialogue and lacked any "excitement," I still enjoyed watching them because they helped to flesh out the characters and gave me valuable insight on the characters' emotions, thoughts, etcetera. My main issue is that I feel like the anime peeked at around episode 15, and while the latter half of Re:Zero remained pretty good, it didn't quite reach the level of greatness that the mid episodes had. Nonetheless, this was definitely an entertaining anime from beginning to end.
Re:Zero impressed me. This anime wasn't afraid to take an overused idea and combine it with a myriad of originality that resulted in a very well produced show. While there are some minor errors (then again, what show doesn't have any flaws?), Re:zero managed to succeed at being both an unique and a well executed anime. This is a show that I would most certainly recommend watching.
Ahh, the reviewer. The first line of defense to quell the flames of irrational thought and often the bearer of bad news for those of the general public. They're the Buzz Killingtons that take it upon themselves to blow the "no fun" whistle and send the partygoers back on the hype-train that they rode in on. It's a thankless job, one that doesn't reward anyone besides the smug satisfaction of the man with the whistle, tipping his top hat and waving "adieu" at the fanbase, outraged that someone had the audacity to bring an analytical lens to the "totally bitchin party, bruh!"
And as the seasonal
lineup ends and the hype-train chugs on to the next destination to start the cycle all over again, the reviewer, Mr. Buzz Killington, slaps his final verdict in the form of a nasty wall of diatribes, as he carries on his endless crusade to educate would-be viewers, one party foul at a time.
Now, before I go any further, I'd like to put all my chips on the table. I don't plan to campaign for Re:Zero's public standing, nor will I bastardize its name for the sake of winning the appeal of dissenters. What will be written from here on out is simply one man stating his viewpoint. If that means dispensing the full-range of my vocabulary like a snobby know-it-all, then so be it. As long as my assessment is clearly understood, whether you choose to sling mud at my remarks or practice diplomacy is of no concern to me.
And without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, weeaboos and pseudo-elites, I, ZephSilver, will serve as your Buzz Killington for the evening, as we take a tour through anime's latest mistake, Re:Zero, or as I like to call it, Re:packaged goods.
Writhing in pain it doesn't understand, with paint-by-number personalities that desperately try to express it, Re:Zero is a gaudy, yet entertaining, blowhard that stumbles upon an ingenious formula for mainstream success. In a cynically calculated ruse, Re:Zero combines snippets of set-pieces from other works to create a Frankenstein that's built to be a surefire hit, regardless of how much manipulation is required to keep the circus act up. By capitalizing on the ever-increasing demand for MMORPG inspired settings, time-travel narratives and well... a gratuitous amount of shock value, it captures the general populace's attention with ease. And really, who could fault it? The anime industry has within its grasp a foolproof method to gain the public's ear. A method that's figured out, down to a science, thanks to countless trial and error. It just so happens that this 'foolproof' method is predicated on sales and popularity, and whether it receives critical acclaim or not is secondary. Dangling its bait right after the success of works with similar setups, it was inevitable that many would bite. Re:Zero offered many fan favorite arrangements all in a convenient, one-stop package: a smorgasbord of goodies to satisfy a wide range of palates. And if that wasn't enough to seal the deal, it marketed a premise that potentially subverted the MMORPG formula into something dark and decrepit, capturing any stragglers that might have avoided the bait in disinterest with the promise of something "re:freshing."
The rest was simply a matter of word of mouth. The match was lit, and all that was left was to sit back and watch the wildfire burn. With viewers exalting Re:Zero as "smart," "bold," and "enthralling," ignoring this show's existence became nigh impossible. An anime that was built to be popular. An anime that was predestined to become the centerpiece discussion of every anime-related thread during its run. A wonderful monstrosity concocted in a lab by a board of executives, perfecting their latest endeavor to siphon money out of people's pockets, without so much as making the intent noticeable. I know we all want to hold an optimistic view on this situation but I advise that we take a step back before purchasing the snake oil.
Re:Zero is to White Fox what Kabaneri was to Wit studio: a proven investment, disingenuous or not.
Seriously, think about it for a moment. What were White Fox's most successful outings so far? Akame Ga Kill, a show about gruesome deaths in a medieval fantasy world, riddled with the underpinnings of political intrigue, a setup that deviated from typical shounen fodder, and a broad range of colorful personalities that inhabited its universe. And Steins;Gate, a show about time-travel being used to save your loved ones after a conspiracy was discovered, forcing the protagonist to revisit key events to find the best path to save everyone. Putting aside how you may feel about those shows individually, the fact remains that Re:Zero meshes these two appeals in a fashion that seems far too perfect to be simply a case of coincidence.
When you look back at the shows that garnered the most attention in the last handful of years, how could you not feel that Re:Zero is a product of the machine? There's being at the right place at the right time, and then there's simply casting your fishing line after analytical charts and focus groups indicate that the waters are ripe with hungry prey.
So after stating all this, it may surprise you to know that I fully recommend this show to anyone that confronts me about it. Why may you ask? Well, to be honest, it's pretty entertaining. Whatever my stance may be regarding the title, it cannot be denied that the show is easily digestible. With plot twists at every turn, bloody fatalities being dished out at a moments notice, and cliffhangers guaranteeing your return for more, Re:Zero is a binge-worthy viewing experience. However, my reasons for full-heartedly endorsing the show are probably not the reasons that the creators would probably like. For now, just hold on to that thought, we'll discuss why later.
And with that long-winded preface out of the way, it's time to continue our tour.
Stepping out of a convenience store in modern day Japan and being transported to a medieval fantasy world for no more reason than the writers saying, "We need to start the story somehow," our main protagonist, Suburu, enters Capital City; the epicenter of commerce for this foreign land of Lugunica and the place that would mark his burial ground on several occasions to come. After he comes in contact with a mysterious silver-haired girl named Emilia, he finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, hidden mysteries behind every corner and a bad case of groundhogs day that's marked with the end of his life.
And so goes the rest of his journey, constantly being respawned at key locations similar to game save checkpoints until he conquers a life-threatening obstacle. Death, birth, repeat. A rat churning cream to avoid drowning and hoping its efforts would create butter, allowing for solid ground to escape its entrapment. Some might refer to this as "torture porn" or a snuff film in animated form. And while I might find these sentiments to be a bit overstated, I still can't help but feel like there's an underlying truth to that way of thinking.
There's always a feeling that gnaws away at your subconscious when you watch the show. Something that many viewers may not be able to pinpoint but that they know is there, like the nuisance of a small object stuck in the sole of your shoe or a lingering thought that's just out of reach. I believe this feeling derives from the way the show presents its ideas. Themes that are supposed to be profound but end up taking on a whole new meaning when highlighted in neon lights and announced over a loudspeaker.
Suburu doesn't just die; he's butchered in the most gratuitous way imaginable. A newly gained tactical advantage isn't just implemented; instead, it's buffered through excessive expository dialogue. Character arcs don't just happen naturally; they're highlighted with drastic presentation changes and streams of confetti. In the words of Urban Dictionary, Re:Zero has no chill.
Re:Zero falls victim to sensationalizing things that it thinks would be considered poignant, as is the case with most shows that are said to 'subvert' the formula they're a part of. And by doing so, it indirectly counteracts that notion. A narcissistic protagonist being humbled by the realization that life doesn't revolve around him isn't a great revelation if the show goes out of its way to constantly point it out. Being mentally exhausted from the toll of dying constantly isn't eye-opening if the show literally has to tell you it is. Subtext ceases to hold meaning if the creators have a habit of making its intent obvious. This is the problem that many high-strung shows have, where they don't trust the viewer to pick up on the clues themselves. 2001: A Space Odyssey wouldn't be praised as a sci-fi classic if it had its ideas being pointed out with Blue's Clues paw prints. Se7en wouldn't be a great mystery/thriller had Dora the Explorer show up as a movie guide. Point being, good subtextual content is only good if the creators don't over-extend their control over how easy it's discovered.
Like Erased from winter 2016, Re:Zero's attempts at something far beyond it only backfires when this issue plagues every facet of its existence. It's trying to be symbolic; it's trying to interweave motifs; it's trying to create intrigue; it's trying to tinker with psychology... but, it's doing so in the most ham-fisted way possible. It fully rejects the idea of subtlety in every aspect imaginable, instead choosing to holler everything in an ostentatious display that's borderline masturbatory. A premature celebration of its accomplishments that's mired in the stench of hubris.
Setting tone and forcing tone aren't the same thing. You can't give birth to natural reactions by simply pumping your content full of steroids to make it blossom faster. Anything worth having should come to fruition on its own merits through the course of the narrative. Re:Zero is simply too impatient for proper grooming, and as a result, we get villains that are essentially godforsaken hybrids of the Joker, Batman V Superman's Lex Luther, and the wacky waving inflatable tube men located outside of used car dealerships, snacking on their fingers like crispy chicken tenders. We get characters that deviate from common anime tropes to simply fall victim to yet another trope instead. Re:Zero's biggest enemy is itself, a show that can't be subdued even if it comes at the cost of its own integrity.
But what about the people that don't see these issues? What about those who are genuinely enthralled by Re:Zero's efforts? Those who, despite the obvious blare of ‘trying-too-hard’ fireworks, don't pick up on the show's underlying meaning until further inspection? What about the people who push the agenda of the show being "smart," "bold," and "enthralling?" The foot soldiers that perpetuate the show's self-worth, finding depth where others see beyond it? Surely they're not mistaken. What do they see that others don't? As it turns out, the real question isn't what they see, but what they choose to give the show credit for.
It's the interesting themes that Re:Zero flirts with throughout its narrative. The outer shell that masquerades as in-depth concepts. If there's no prior contact with the ideas that Re:Zero presents, this kind of perception is easy to understand. First exposure to something that insinuates a deeper layer could cause any viewer to wax philosophical. And there lies the difference: those that have seen the laminated copy, as well as the genuine article. When the same concepts are seen done right, suddenly that laminated copy starts to become all the more noticeable. And so is the case with Suburu's supposedly "broken psyche."
Like the case for Gakkougurashi of summer 2015, another show proclaimed as a 'deconstruction' of its genre, Re:Zero also takes pleasure in tinkering with delirium, but refuses to dive truly into it. It glorifies the main character's mental breakdown, turning it on and off at the whims of the script writers. With something as easy as a pep talk and hug from LoveInterest#2 being all that's needed to make things better, it's really hard to justify the "psychology" that Re:Zero boasts about.
Want to truly show a mentally broken state? Then have the line between past existence and current life be obscured with each reincarnation, and don't fix it. Just imagine how amazing it would be if the memories of all respawned events were compressed upon each rebirth, to the point where Suburu is no longer aware of the difference between them. It would truly demonstrate the anguish that Suburu suffers through by making the consequence something that's not only visual for the viewer but also something that implies that deeper layer that the show so desperately seeks to obtain. Instead of simply being the laminated copy, it could have been like other animated works that truly dive deep into this concept, such as Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress and Perfect Blue. Both featured films containing women who slowly lose their minds and grips on reality as they descend further into a fever dream of delirium and jumbled memory. It didn't just carry around psychology like some fashion accessory, but it made it a very real thing for the viewers looking on and the characters that took the plunge into the never-ending spiral of irrational flatlining.
See that the protagonist suffers a loss that he can't simply fix with a jump off a cliff. Have stakes. If respawning to checkpoints is the only way to advance the narrative, the very least the creators could do would be to place Suburu at the crossroad of a decision that would allow advancement only if someone else were to perish. Let there be permanent blood on his hands, not just a never-ending clean slate. Don't resolve psychological trauma like it's just some phase people get over after a few days. Don't just wave around psychology like it's a toy. People don't simply undo damage because the plot demands a rational mind in a given scenario. This shouldn't change even for Suburu. Embrace it fully. Let go of safety nets if you truly want something that's "deep" and not just another copy of something other creators (Satoshi Kon) have proven is possible to achieve.
And really, this is just covering one aspect the show chooses to claim as its own. The same level of commitment is expected for every aspect of Re:Zero, not just some half-assed effort. With these nebulous concepts about redefining a protagonist's importance and exposing inner truths that felt entirely too heady for something as simple-minded as Re:Zero to muster up in any meaningful way, the only chance that the other half that doesn't see the show as "smart," "bold," and "enthralling" could buy into it, is if the show stops trying to find compromise that's easy to live with. It may seem "smart," but it does so with an air of smarminess while also over-pronouncing its efforts. It may seem "bold," but it never takes any risks that could be seen as irreversible. It may seem "enthralling" for advocates, but for everyone else on the other side of the aisle, it's just dumb schlock-entertainment.
And if there was anything that made this half-ass commitment more apparent, it would have to be the presentation that it was given.
Re:Zero is that kid that just learned a new 3-syllable word and just spews it out at every opportune moment in a sad attempt to appear intellectual. There're some elements here that demonstrate some semblance of writing chops, I would give the show that, but the way the writers flaunt their ability to come up with said ideas comes off as conceited, especially when these moments wallow in content that's tantamount to idiotic orchestral displays. It's a proud peacock, flaunting its ideas, while strutting around with toilet paper stuck to its ass. As it navel-gazes, everyone else looks on in amusement.
When I said it points things out with neon lights, this is what I mean.
“Hey, the camera is shaking excessively. Hey, we're giving Suburu a manic expression, one step away from having him foaming at the mouth. Hey, we literally added a 10% darkness opacity filter to Suburu's color scheme. Hey, all of these scene compositions literally bathe Suburu in a constant shadow. Hey, his eyes are big and bulgy. HEY, HEY, HEY!! Do you get it yet!? Hey, are our actions to paint him in an obscure light after a big altercation with Emilia not made clear yet? Please reward us. Please tell us we're smart. I learned a 3-syllable word today! Please applaud my efforts!”
Evil can't be expressed without outlandishly warped expressions. Happiness can't be felt without copious amounts of animated tears, a gust of wind, and painted on blushes. Insanity can't be expressed without darkened eye bags, manic expressions, and rape faces. Everything is calculated. A stage play executed with no blemishes. A play that remains a play. Art that imitates the art of others. Re:Zero wants to be a real boy, but its growing wooden nose tells the truth it doesn't want to admit to itself. If the warped face of anger looks forced, then guess what: it's forced. If the happy moments felt a bit too inflated with random rose peddles flying around and kawaii-level faces, then guess what: it's inflated. If sadness felt unauthentic with instantaneous water works and elastic expressions at the drop of a hat, then guess what: it's unauthentic. You're not interpreting it wrong. That pang in the back of your head that tell you this is kinda overkill isn't "just you." Deep down you know what you're seeing is over exaggerated, and after time has settled and you reminisce about key events, that would become clearer than ever. Re:Zero is a novelty act that blinds you with flurries of action and plot twists, but the moments the spectacle is over, what would remain is the realization that what you held dear was nothing more than snake oil sold by a quick-witted businessman.
Even things like auditory cues can't help but feel like the show signaling excessively to get your attention, an example being a high pitched hum, like angelic beings from a choir taking a laxative-laced shit. It could be seen as "chilling" to some, or you could be like me and think it's the angels of heaven passing a kidney stone in orchestic unison. Point being it's played only to signal a disturbance. And seeing that the show is all about disturbances, it just ends up exacerbating a problem that didn't need any more highlighting than it was already getting.
What needed more attention, however, were the characters and environment that the story took place in. For a show that's supposed to be genre defining, it does very little to prove it.
We get characters whose defining personality trait is being a loli with a speaking habit, I suppose. Beatrice and the rest of the loli cast could fuck off, I suppose. But I suppose since half of Re:Zero's main cast is lolis, getting rid of them would leave very little, I suppose. Stereotypical roles don't suddenly become better by simply switching them to another stereotypical role. A visual novel maid character doesn't gain depth by making her “waifu-bait” contestants. And this extends to every other character Suburu comes across on his journey. They're all just there to fill in expected roles, like a bunch of NPCs that are brought to life.
There's no sense of culture. No ethos to pull from. Nothing that defines the world that Suburu is tossed into. Just snippets of ideas cobbled together to serve as yet another medieval fantasy world that draws from the same well as any other. Were Re:Zero the only anime to tackle high fantasy, this wouldn't be a problem, but sadly for it, Escaflowne exists. Rage of the Bahamut exists. Berserk(1997) exists. Moribito exists. There's nothing here that defines Re:Zero. Even trainwrecks like Akame Ga Kill had a better-thought-out universe. And for whatever it does try to establish, it's either extremely overbearing or missing things that could be attributed to half-assed resolve. To go into specific cases would require spoiling some events, so join me in the spoiler section to go over them if you've already seen the show. As for everyone else, skip past for final thoughts.
**** brief spoilers****
(scroll down to avoid)
Naita Aka Oni (The Red Ogre who Cried), is a popular Japanese children tale that teaches kids the cost of assimilation and what it means for love ones left behind to gain it. This is shown with a red and a blue ogre. Re:Zero attempted to use this story to insinuate the relationship shared between Ram and Rem. But like everything else that the show highlights unnecessarily, this parallel drawn was also made blatantly obvious, with Ram and Rem's hair color being pink and blue, which obviously alluded to the red and blue ogres, respectively. This wouldn't have been a big deal had they kept it at just that, but like I've already stated, the show doesn't trust its audience to pick up on the subtext implied. Instead, we get the arc with the inclusion of both sisters being superimposed with a symmetrical balance of pink and blue at every turn. It beats you over the head with the symbolism it's trying to present. This also included Suburu stating to the sisters that they're “fanatical like demons” with their reactions indicative to their origin as literal demons. It's this kind of obviousness that shows like Erased demonstrate when they highlighted everything in red to insinuate danger. Attempts at cleverness that's just painfully juvenile. And now this same kind of forcefulness is being carried over to Re:Zero.
And 17-minutes into episode 11, Suburu states, "You know, Rem, you keep putting Ram on a pedestal and undermining yourself—," while the camera unapologetically focuses on blue and pink flowers, both literally sitting in a vase (pedestal) of equal height. These are the kinds of things that Re:Zero does repeatedly that demonstrate its lack of restraint. Constantly drawing attention to your symbolism only defeats the purpose of it to begin with. Symbolism and motifs alike are supposed to be discovered, not spoon-fed. And this is the problem with this show: it can't simply let things be without intervening with forceful resolve.
And then you have ideas that are used only to add detail to the universe or serve as a new plot reveal to keep the story exciting, but that are never properly thought out.
Like the battle against Moby Dick, a beast with the ability to erase the memory of people's existence consumed by its fog. We get an example of this when Rem sacrifices herself to save Suburu and is immediately forgotten by everyone who knows her. But yet, when this incident occurs again during the heat of battle against a battalion in episode 20, the powers don't work the same way. Where in the case of Rem her very presence and existence was erased, in the battle, soldiers only forgot the names of the soldiers lost in the mist but are still aware of that people are missing. So how do people remember a whole platoon going missing during battle when they're consumed when prior cases of the whale's mist made it clear that you wouldn't even be aware of the lack of anything missing? This is just one of many small plotting issues littered across the show, and the only conclusion is that the creator needed another plot twist to hook viewers, but fell victim to a plot hole later on when it no longer served a purpose.
Suburu is said to smell like the witch to a few people, yet, from all accounts, no one has ever encountered the witch face to face, so how do they know this assessment to be accurate? So the statement:
"Do I smell like the witch?"
is no better than saying:
"Do I smell like the thing you've never seen or come in contact with in your life?"
The entire show is just built on one unanswered question after another. How did he arrive in this world? How does his respawning ability work like a save point? In episode 24, he was shown to restart after getting past the whale and into the mansion, but then he could conveniently go back to the point where he defeated the whale as a save point after he dies at the village? It's obvious that this was done only to bypass having to reset the progression he made with Rem in episode 18. A moment where the show bends its own rules by going beyond simple retconning, instead, rewriting the very nature in which the resets work. How could he speak their language and be understood but not write their assigned text? It's minor things like this that demonstrated that they wanted to appear insightful, but in actuality had only half-baked ideas… half-baked ideas that gave way to a show riddled with plot inconsistencies.
And then there're just scenes that are supposed to be tragic but just come across as ludicrous. Episode 15 contains the biggest culprit that comes to mind. This is where we met joker-inflatable-tube-man, who proceeded to break Rem's neck and limbs, and yet, somehow, she crawls over to Suburu and uses magic to free him… and this is supposed to be tragic? Nothing about this moment makes any sense whatsoever. And to top it off, it also demonstrates a moment where the writers switch Suburu's mental breakdown on and off whenever it suits the story. This isn't some "deep" moment; it's bullshit.
Re:Zero doesn't know the difference between mental anguish and parading characters around for personal amusement, nor does it understand that tossing ideas and lifting entire passages from other folktales don't mean it would work as a cohesive piece. There's a reason there's no cohesiveness between arcs; all it does is pattern storylines from works that proceeded it. A fairy tale whose identity can't exist without leaching off of others, and whose attempts at something different result in the aforementioned problems.
*******end of spoilers*******
When Hayao Miyazaki said that people "don't spend time watching real people" with industry, in-house anime creators being "humans who can't stand looking at other humans,” this is what he's referring to: shows that can't find inspiration outside of their own anime tropes because the people working on them don't see anything beyond anime. Re:Zero is a self-indulging anime with no worldly influence to speak of. Shinichirō Watanabe, Satoshi Kon, Mamoru Oshii, Yoko Kanno. What made these industry giants well-known was their ability to draw inspiration from influences outside of anime. They brought something new to the table, a claim that shows like Re:Zero can't prove. It's a product of its environment. Anime feeding into anime. It's Ouroboros incarnate.
Remember that thought I told you to hold on to, as to why I still suggest this show, regardless of how I feel about it? Well, this is the reason why. This is what it all boils down to. Re:Zero is an embarrassingly pompous try-hard that's fun to gawk at. It's a show that has proven to be a source of entertainment for those unconcerned with the finer details and who simply want to be amused for 20-minute intervals, as well as a comical mess for those who do see beyond the smoke and mirrors and enjoy dissecting silly shows for purposes of discussion. It's a show that takes itself dead serious while being oblivious to the fact that it's anything but. It's the Elfen Lied, the Mirai Nikki, the Akame Ga Kill, the [insert your own example here] of 2016. A show that could appeal to everyone, regardless of how they view their entertainment or how much thought they place into the pixelated images flooding their peripheral. It's the "M. Night Shyamalan" of animated works, a name big enough to fill in seats on opening night, but consistently funny enough for critical thinkers to jump in knowing they'll experience something amusing, even if unintentional.
Everyone wins. The studio heads make their profit; the majority get to be entertained; and the critics get a new punching bag for their inner circles. The world needs titles like Re:Zero. Titles that everyone will see. Cynical cash grabs will always come and go, but if I'm given a choice in the matter, I at least want my price of admission to be a show that's still entertaining. And with Re:Zero, that's what I got, a good ole dumb time (with a huge emphasis on DUMB).
Re:Zero is a great show if you don't care for subtlety, think 2-D waifus are laifu and are impressed by characters emoting in boisterous ways. But in terms of actual quality, this is an anime that puffs its chest out, holding its breath for as long as it can, with the slightest release exposing it for what it truly is: hot air.
I could count on one hand the amount of shows I've ever used the forbidden "pretentious" word on without so much as second guessing my stance and I would unequivocally state here and now that Re:Zero became one of them. A show that strong-armed me into using a buzzword that I promised myself I would use only as a final ultimatum. And in a way, I guess that could be seen as an achievement. So congratulations Re:Zero, a show where only the cheapest blow every self-respecting critic dare not to resort to, could be the only appropriate response left available. But in this case, it's worth it. No other shows I've seen in recent years deserve the rare honor more than this. Take the mantle Re:Zero. You’ve officially become the most conceited MMORPG-inspired anime to date.
Re:Zero is spray-on tan psychology with peel-off sticker-tattoo themes. It's the kid on internet forums who’s constantly saying "90's Baby," with a 1999 birth certificate. Its out-of-touch executives googling anime-related search results in an attempt to assure their product is "totally dope.” It's an anime that's rallied in on a stage sponsored by corporate suits, with "best waifu" pillows and other merchandise already pre-made upon launch date. Re:Zero is shallow, plain and simple. A skim off the surface of whatever topical events stick their noses out far enough to be noticed by those too busy counting the zeros in their bank account to dig any deeper.
But you know what? That's fine. I watched it, laughed and had a good time. And if people could cherish the laminated copy with the same vigor that others do the genuine article, who am I to stop them? Shows like Re:Zero will always come and go; you could either fight it or say "fuck it" and simply kick back and enjoy the nonsense on screen.
"The only thing worse than dying once is having to die again."
That was the title of a wonderful email from Crunchyroll I received about a month and a half ago to advertise "Re: Zero - Starting Life in another World -". I ignored it at first, and simply carried on with my two shows of the season, Jojo Part 4 and Mob Psycho 100 (both of which I heartily recommend you watch). However, after a little while of my friends pestering me to watch this series, I sat down and put the first half of the first episode onto my TV.
Re: Zero starts off somewhat
stereotypically. A somewhat clueless teenager is mysteriously dragged into a parallel world through means unexplained whilst browsing a convenience store. My initial thoughts were similar to that of Sword Art Online, which made me immediately assume that this series may go in the same direction, with pointless character arcs and questionable writing.
Oh my was I completely wrong.
Our main lead is the endearing Natsuki Subaru, a teenage shut-in with initially very little character. Upon arriving in this new world, he comes to meet the silver-haired girl "Satella", who claims she is looking for something she recently had stolen from her. After Subaru agrees to help her, they wind up at the city slums... Where they are both brutally murdered.
It is at this point, Subaru returns back where he started. Initially believing he dreamt up the scenario, he runs back towards the slums to meet with Satella, where after certain events... He is murdered again.
Here is where Re: Zero starts to really shine. Subaru has the power to, as he names it, "Return by Death", where upon dying he returns back to a previous point in his time where he is safe to try things over again. Everyone he met during his last "life" forgets him, and only what he has achieved before he "resets" remains. However, Subaru remembers. He remembers all the times he's been killed, everything he may have experienced and everything that everyone he's met has no memory of.
Re: Zero looks in-depth at the effect this has on his mental state, which can lead it into the realms of being a psychological thriller. And it achieves representing Subaru's mind absolutely perfectly, in such a way that it's hard to sum up in words. The viewer feels everything Subaru feels, his shock and awe, his confusion, his sudden realisations, as well as his happiness when eventually, everything turns out just OK.
The show presents Subaru as more than anything else, being very human. He reacts to situations in a way you'd expect, and to some viewers, in that way that they would. That's not to say Subaru is the only character that gets developed. Other characters that are met later in the story have their own short arcs that link in with their backstory, even if it's one moreso than any of the others.
Re: Zero absolutely nails it's presentation of each episode. Each episode flows naturally, sometimes not including the show's OP and ED for extra effect (which on a side note helps to make the show very nice to marathon). Each episode ends with a "title screen" as such, of the episode's title, and why this may not seem like a big deal, it's small things like this that help to keep the show's atmosphere working, whether it's a happy sigh of relief, or a grim potential future rearing its head.
The show has two Openings and two Endings, all of which work well with the arc they air in. The first OP "Redo" by Konomi Suzuki is a visual spectacle, with flashy effects and hidden meanings that become more obvious as the show continues, all while giving a good grasp on what exactly Re: Zero may contain for people going in with no prior knowledge of the show's events. The second OP, "Paradisus - Paradoxum" by MYTH&ROID, while not as visually stunning as the first OP, has a chaotic nature to it that perfectly captures the feel of the arc it airs in. The first ED, "STYX HELIX", also by MYTH&ROID works well when played during an ending scene, however has little effect for the viewer when played by itself (though it's still a great song). The final ED, "Stay Alive" is performed by Rei Takahashi, the VA for "Satella", and like the ED before it, works far better when played during an ending scene. The show's two insert songs, "STRAIGHT BET" and "theater D" (both my MYTH&ROID) both work FABULOUSLY with the scenes they play in for bonus points.
If there is anywhere to fault the show, it is on it's character development "priorities" so to speak. A few of the side characters introduced appear to be getting developed at some stages, however never seem to get the equal treatment that some of the other side characters do. Aside from this, at times the character animation can seem somewhat sloppy, however thankfully this is very rare and never during prominent moments.
To end things off, Re: Zero - Starting Life in another World - is very much a spectacle - one that will keep you on your toes, make you smile, make you cry in despair and most certainly, one not to miss. Special mention for the show's main villain, who while being animated perfectly for his kind of character, also has an undoubtedly wonderful VA (that being the wonderful voice of Yoshitsugu Matsoka) who really nails the "insane" feel around the character.
Imagine a show that repackages some of the most recurring themes in anime today and make it into a fantasy thriller. That’s what Re:Zero essentially is. Adapted from the novels of the same name, the show is more of a darker fantasy story than most people may be familiar with. It’s not exactly like a show where a character is stuck in a world and they try to find a way out. Or is it making a parody of the show itself. Rather, Re:Zero (Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu) is a fantasy thriller that has some delirious complexity.
Early impressions of Re:Zero may trigger viewers’ comparison
to series such Steins;Gate, Erased, or even the live-action movie, Edge of Tomorrow. What do all these have in similarity? It’s the idea of time travel. The ability to loop back from the present to the past is a fictional theme we’ve all heard of before. It’s nothing new and Re:Zero essentially portrays that with Subaru, the main male protagonist and his reset ability. The ability “Returns by Death” allows return to a “save point” after death with all memories intact of the original user. Basically, Subaru gets a chance to fix mistakes so that consequences can be avoided. The key word here is ‘chance’ as it’s not always guaranteed that Subaru can change the future. By adapting this idea, Re:Zero’s early plot developments shows how Subaru uses his ability to make a difference while trying to live his new life in this unfamiliar world.
From that world, we meet a variety of characters. One of the most recognizable character in the show is Emilia, a half-elf who has a mysterious origin. Her identity is similar to another infamous character in the series so others sometimes mistaken her for that. In the meantime, Emilia is a friendly girl although can be commanding and sometimes childish. The relationship between her and Subaru is important as they grow to understand more of each other. One of the important dynamics about their relationship is that Subaru acknowledges her as a good person. This feeling coupled with Emilia’s growing trust of Subaru establishes a bond between the two. Two other characters in the series (Rem and Ram) are also introduced whom Subaru gets acquainted with. In the later stages of the series, Rem shows obvious feelings towards Subaru that grows into love. Similar to Emilia, Subaru acknowledges Rem despite her shady past. And because of that, Rem grows to care Subaru as one of her closest friends.
It’s hard to really ignore the relationship principles of the show. Subaru forges many important relationships including a contractor, a female knight, and even a guy that once humiliated him in front of everyone. From the get-go, Subaru really isn’t a guy that is afraid to take risks. This sometimes leads to irrational decisions with disastrous consequences but he is also able to learn from his mistakes. In addition, Subaru is an idealist and firmly loyal to those he cares about. He is also clever and uses trickery (possibly from his real life skills) to get what he wants. On paper, Subaru is generally portrayed as a kind man but not afraid to show his tough side either. In essence, Subaru is the most “human” character in the show. He makes mistakes like humans do and tries to correct them. What I do find irritating about Subaru though is what motivates him for his decisions. This can also lead to other fans of certain characters they’ve grown attached to. Because let’s face it, Subaru has flaws and the writing of the series shows those flaws.
On the other hand, Emilia is a character that I find less appealing. Quite frankly, we just don’t know her enough and it’s hard to understand her in general. Her relationship with Puck and the other characters aren’t fully explored. Furthermore, her personality is hard to get attached to even as they are shown from pieces to pieces. To be honest, the female character that stands out the most in the show would be Rem. She has a background story that is explored including with her twin sister, Ram. The relationship development between her and Subaru is quite memorable as they risk their lives for each other. And furthermore, Rem has her own reasons to help others (in particular Subaru) that viewers will easily understand. Anyway, I think the point I’m trying to make is that between some characters, some just stand out than others. For instance, a breakout character in the show would be Wilheim as we learn in depth of his motivations to fight a giant whale. On the other hand, there are other characters that is just plain replusive such as Petelgeuse from the Witch’s Cult.
Despite the dark fantasy style of Re:Zero, the show still remains lighthearted on many occasions. As a light novel adaptation, you’ll probably find many standard tropes ranging from the generic jealousy of certain girls to childish antics of Beatrice. Subaru also tends to make himself look like a fool in front of others which can be irritating to watch. Still, the comedy of the show on most occasions is properly timed to balance out the darker themes. The fan service comes mostly from violence rather than the skin. In retrospect, Re:Zero deconstructs its fantasy themes and twist them into a darker direction. From an adaptation perspective, the show is faithful to adapt some of the most important elements. However, the series is considered incomplete as there are certain plot elements that are unresolved. The way the director adapted the series seems to focus as much as content from the source as possible while keeping the story credible and on point.
White Fox adapts the animation style and Re:Zero is mostly well crafted. The character designs gives the feel like they are from a fantasy world. Characters such as Emilia, Beatrice, the twin sisters, Felt, etc has their own unique presence. The monsters in the series such as the White Whale and Mabeasts also look intimidating. In fact, the Re:Zero world is something you’ll find in any fantasy tale with the lustrous landscapes, dense forests, or medieval-like castles. As you probably know by now, the series has a lot of violence so expect characters such as Petelgeuse and Elsa to showcase that. Most of is censored as White Fox goes out in attempt to make it credible. However, it’s still perfect although I heard the BD/DVD releases will feature more violence.
If there’s also something else that deserves recognition, it would be the soundtrack. The thrilling OST portrays well for a show that has such an eerie feel. The heroic moments and climatic segments are also made memorable with the show’s instrumental choreography. OP and ED theme songs are well crafted with the talent of the singers and producers. In the meantime, I think character voice mannerism also deserves some praise especially for characters like Rem (who can express human emotions quite) and Puck. And while Petelgeuse is quite an unlikeable character, one has to admit that his voice stands out as a villain.
By the time you’ve finished watching Re:Zero, you’re probably asking yourself if the journey is worth it. The deconstruction of a typical fantasy show is evident as each episode progresses. We get quite an adequate amount of characterization on the main cast. And many times, I think it’s easy to find yourself anticipating what may happen next with the numerous cliffhangers the show offers. Indeed, Re:Zero is less of a ‘trapped in game’ style story but more of a fantasy thriller. Every episode offers something the fans will hunger for. And if that’s not enough, then you’re watching it wrong.
Hi all, this is my first review on MAL. Please bare with me, but I feel like I should share my opinion on this and why I gave it the score I did. I wouldn't say I'm the most hardcore anime fan, but I have definitely seen my fair share of shows and am pretty much a typical anime viewer. I review anime in my mind pretty differently than others. Note, there may be a lot of extra information that is unneeded for this review, but I really want to put my perspective on this as much as possible. If you don't care, just scroll
down to the three hyphens.
Just to get things out of the way: this score deserves a 10 not necessarily for its metrics per se, but for the fact that for people who like anime in general it is a show that needs to be seen.
What I'm sick and tired of lately, which will probably never be stopped, is reviewers or fans comparing shows to other shows. It's a huge anime circlejerk that people are really adamant about. Honestly, it could be said about a lot of things. Video games are a very good example, but that's for another time.
Let's start off with my initial reaction. I usually pick a few shows to watch each season and continue from there. When I watched the trailer, I was immediately reminded of KonoSuba. It wasn't off putting, but I was just surprised to see an almost identical setting so soon. Of course, people are using 'isekai' as a description, but I never really heard of that until recently. Where a character gets transported into a world, etc...
I ended up only watching the first half of the hour long opening due to time constraints and it was kind of a "whatever" show to me. Big mistake. I took this for granted and ended up with friends on social media blabbering about the show weeks later. Around episode 14 or so.
I asked one of my good friends, who I'd actually say is pretty hardcore into anime (he's been using MAL for years and has a very strict rating guideline and watches almost every show that releases), what the concept of the show was. Remember, I didn't bother to look into this show at all. He basically just told me what happened at the end of the second half of the season premiere and I totally regretted my decision that night. I'm a sucker for that device- being able to start again or go into the past. I may have a bias on that genre (please don't look at my favorite shows... :) ), but this show executes it very well. I ended up binge watching until 15 and it was totally worth it. Since then, I've been trying to make the first thing I do every Sunday morning is watch Re:Zero.
Beginning with the story; it is wide and vast, but at its core a very deep, and emotional heart string puller. I'll say it here: I read a bit of the web novel a few weeks ago because my mind could not wait. I do like to spoil myself sometimes, but that's exactly what this show made me do. I did the same with Erased, and Shingeki no Kyojin. Why? Because there was so much information I wanted to know that I feel like the show could not explain with a few episodes left. And albeit it is disheartening that they exclude some crucial information regarding characters or story, it does not take it away from the show at all. That's why I said it is wide and vast.
At initial glance, it seems as a very typical "otaku/neet character gets transported into a different world..." (as mentioned earlier), but it gives it a twist with strong character development along the way, which I will explain later. Being able to "start again from zero" is a common trend recently, but I honestly will never get tired of it. We all wish to be able to time travel or start things over, and it fills my need by watching these shows. This executes the concept incredibly well. It's hard to talk about the story without the characters, because they really are the backbone than the story rather than the lore of the world.
The main protagonist is Natsuki Subaru, and it's very much his story. I hate him. I hate him a lot. Many people actually do, but it's not a bad thing. Why do we hate him? Because he makes horrible decisions and does things we do not want, at all. He is...very real. Many viewers and other anime fans like characters who have crazy magic powers, look super cool, wields some badass sort, or something along those lines.
There's nothing special about Subaru. He's definitely no Sora from No Game No Life. He also didn't have the luxury Kazuma Satou (KonoSuba) had being able take Aqua with him and join a guild/get a job.
We hate this guy. He's a crybaby and practically useless. However, that is what drives this show. We get to see him evolve into a better person. He treats his adventure like a game, and gets punished for it. We realize the struggle he goes through, and that is what we would go through if we were transported into a world like that. We play it off like a game that we see or know, but it's not a game, it's very real.
Subaru doesn't start off as some overpowered character that can trump the bad guys or continuously one-up them. He literally dies- over and over again. And he still doesn't learn his lesson until he deals with love. The love for Emilia. When it gets that deep, we're already attached. He'll do anything for her, and makes us feel the same way. Also, he doesn't automatically attract this "harem" that people seem to think he has. He earns it. He gave up blood and sanity to learn these people and they became a part of his life in this world.
For 25 episodes, we don't see the finish line straight ahead, but we wish we could see the course from above. Obstacles have been overcome, but there are a more to come, and some block in the roads as well.
There are many characters to love in this show, hell, Rem is already tons of people's waifu. What makes her that though? Her personality and determination is what all of us want, but not Subaru. She is everything to him, yet he stays faithful to Emilia. A lot of fans also have this as a reason to hate him; rejecting the perfect girl for someone who doesn't even feel the same way for him.
What is the fun if everything went the way you wanted? Of course- that's what we want in our heads, but not doing what we want creates tension, which is completely fine for this kind of genre. The last thing you want to think about is that it is a silly harem/comedy. It really isn't. It has twists, turns, loops, you shouldn't be wanting something, you should be wanting to know what direction is coming ahead.
Let's talk about the cast in general. It's great, just like I rated it. It's hard to find a perfect set, but they're close to being one. Everyone that gets air time, for the most part, has a developed background and importance in the show. They all mesh well together and have some sort of connection to Subaru. Characters that simply might be thought of "side characters", may have more than a meaning than you think. The feeling this show makes when Subaru gets so close to someone and have them dying off, and seeing them in a different timeline alive again is eerie as hell. You feel the realization that they were just dead- you became really close to them, and now you are back at the point where you just met them. There are some characters who get a decent amount, but are still unexplained in the show, but will be eventually...hopefully.
You want to look through the eyes of Subaru when looking at the cast, since this is his story. There are people you are going to hate and it's perfectly acceptable, because Subaru hates them as well. The same goes for being attached. That's why this is such a great cast. And People hating Subaru? That is fine too, because he shows that he truly hates himself throughout the entirety of the show. He wants to do better and you want him to do better, but keeps doing worse, and worse. He then realizes his faults, and so do we. When he develops, we develop.
People would say, why wouldn't he just do or say this? We need to realize that he portrays a neet or otaku and thinks it's a game. He thinks he can get away with what he knows about that culture, but is completely wrong. His method and thinking is not the same as ours watching. Being there is entirely different and that's the way he went through with it. He thinks he's Kirito, but obviously he's just a random neet stuck in a fantasy world. He doesn't have good social skills. He's awkward and cringey.
But his willingness to learn and his determination he promised since episode 1 is what makes him strong. He does get it over his head, way over his head, but he learns and realizes his mistakes, which makes him an amazing character. Not many characters these days accept their faults and mistakes. They're just already the best person in the universe and can overcome anything. We see why Subaru is able to do that in the end.
I can go over the other main characters or lead support characters just as much as Subaru, but I'm just going to shorten it here and say that Emilia is the X-Factor of the show. She pretty much preemptively decided Subaru's fate. I mean, she IS the main female protagonist. Rem and Ram help build his character, and I say this in the least descriptive way possible to keep this review shorter so I don't bore you with reading. They are the main support characters. And to make it generic, they support him pretty damn well.
The other characters, they beat him up (both mentally and physically), but he learns and builds from it. Every character he has a moment with is important to him. He learns to use his past knowledge about people to help him get through the world. They're not just people to him. As mentioned, at first, he completely naive, and we hate it, but we should stay in our seat and watch as his flaws become traits.
No need to get into too much detail about this. The design and visuals great, but the random CG background characters really take it away from me to be honest. Like especially when there are drawn background characters mixed in with CG background characters.
The character designs aren't anything to be in awe about. I mean, Subaru is in a track suit for Christ's sake. Emilia's outfit is cute, Rem and Ram are just in kind of skimpy maid outfits. I do like the outfits the knights have.
The settings and locations are incredible though, like the city, mansion, forest, and open fields. Great variety colors. I'm not too keen on art, but in the end, it's all great except the super obvious CG.
The background, fighting, and setting music aren't really memorable to me, but they're not bad whatsoever. There wasn't a time where I felt as if the music was off or anything, so it was just fitting.
However, the openings and endings I really enjoyed. At first I thought the second opening song was a little odd, but it really grew on me and I actually ended up wanting to watch the opening every time it came on, so that's good new. Myth & Roid is cool.
The second ending is fantastic. Like, when the episode would end and that song would play without the actual ending being played. It's kind of a slow and sad sounding song, so during intense moments it really brought out my emotions even more.
The voice acting, oh let me get started on the voice acting. So there's this bad guy named Petelgeuse/Betelgeuse. Just look up some clip and try to guess who the voice actor without looking him up.
-Yeah, it's Matsuoka. The guy who voices Sora, Soma, and Kirito. He does an AMAZING job differentiating his normal tone and voice. Even Subaru's voice actor does a breathtaking job. You can feel the anger, angst, and struggle with his voice. He's portraying an insane villain and has some crazy lines and phrases that are unforgettable.
Uh, maybe by this review and its score you can tell if I enjoyed it or not. :) I binged this show like 15 episodes straight and was wanting more every week. I could probably say I enjoyed it, a little. It's a ride that I want to keep staying on. Ups, downs, loops, turns, jumps, you name it.
With the individual scores, it comes to about a 95%, which I rounded up to a 10/10. So in actuality, this show is a 9.5. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
However, the only thing I would have to say is that I'd only recommend this show for people who have already watched a few shows already. I wouldn't say it's a good first show to watch if you're just new into anime, as good as it is. You kind of need to have background knowledge of other shows. Even though I say not to compare, but to just be aware and see the difference it really has to other shows, or that it takes in different aspects and genres to create this wonderful show.
Every now and then, we, the anime community, are blessed with a gem. A gem, shining ever so brightly in the sea of mediocrity that are the seasonal anime manages to blind the majority of the community with its seemingly endless blister into thinking that the title at hand is somehow special and praiseworthy. After a rather short period of time, the bright light the gem once used to vividly emulate begins to flicker, until eventually fading away into eternal darkness and being forgotten. It's nothing new; rather just a byproduct of hype culture and the negative effect it has on entertainment media.
The implementation of various anime databases and platforms like MAL in recent years make the anime medium in particular all the more susceptible to this horrible disease that seemingly spreads like wildfire. And for that reason, I will gladly presume the role of a firefighter. This one'll go in-depth.
Adapted from a rather lacklustre source material, the story revolves around our protagonist, Subaru. When Subaru one day decides to venture out into the wilderness that is the grocery store next door, he is out of nowhere magically transported into an unfamiliar fantasy world. Why / how / who / what was it that teleported him there? He doesn't know. We don't know. No one knows. Literally 2 minutes into the show we are presented with a plot device that sets the entire anime into motion. While definitely a negative, I don't particularly mind too much as it is a problem on a far lesser scale than in say Erased, where the plot device is something integral to the narrative. The rest of the plot is fairly straight-forward. In essence, the main character explores the setting, goes through various scenarios, meets a shit load of cute girls while going through individual arcs, etc. So obviously, it possesses all of the shitty traits that plague each and every light novel in existence, and if there was one thing that all of the people who share my general consensus on the show agree on, it would be on how generic it is.
As if to counteract its' generic nature, the story constantly puts in a conscious effort to be as unpredictable as possible. It serves as a mostly-consistent source of entertainment and I truly do commend the author for that one. But.. where exactly is the line drawn? While plot twists can do wonders in the heat of the moment, Re:Zero tends to gradually overdose on them, often resulting in a faint sense of redundancy. No series is supposed to be this reliant on shock factor to keep the audience seated but apparently going in with the mentality that each respectful viewer suffers from extreme ADHD is the only way to make it big nowadays. The "dark" in the "dark fantasy" is emphasized on quite a lot, if not a little too much later on. This seems to be what most fans consider to be the driving force of the show, ultimately setting it apart from the typical light novel adaptation. However, a wise man once said "A different approach does not guarantee a quality outcome". The wise man in question happens to be your humble writer, of course.
Various anime in the past have thrived off of their dark element, but it is extremely important that you, as a viewer, are able to differentiate between shows that are completely reliant on constant edge and shows that are able to stand on their own two feet without it. I'm not implying that Re:Zero is completely reliant on its edge.. But yeah, I am. While most of the community seems to find it intensely gripping for some odd reason or another, I found most of the "dark" scenes to be outright laughable. This is not because I'm some kind of despicable shounen antagonist who has a preconcieved notion against the very fundamentals of fun, but rather the execution of said scenes being far too comical for their own good. Once in a blue moon I really was able to get invested in some of the grimdark stuff, but for the overwhelming majority it was just me laughing my ass off at the sight of villains that resembled an inflatable tube man outside a used car lot that would wiggle their arms and body around while being EVILLL.
Something that constantly kept pissing me off is how the anime goes about presenting itself. The rough transitioning between dark and goofy makes it extremely hard to ever get fully immersed into the story as it is both completely off-putting and can easily ruin the mood that was in place just a minute ago. I know not every show can have the godsend that is Puck (the elf, not the furby) to ease things out in dire times but really, they could have tried a bit harder. You've got instances where one second the protagonist is casually talking with someone and not even a full minute afterwards he is frantically running for his life. Or even better, while participating in a deathmatch against one of the deadliest assassins in the land, the characters randomly start throwing jokes and snarky remarks at each other like their current life or death situation is a family picnic. It should be obvious to virtually anyone how something that feels so out of place singlehandedly ruins the tension and intense atmosphere that the show was trying to build up just a mere second ago.
Moving on, I'd like to cover what I consider to easily be the biggest problem of Re:Zero. While I could hardly fault a show for having crazy powers in a setting that is entirely reliant on the supernatural, time resets are one of the absolute worst writing tricks in history. "Return by Death", ignoring the lack of creativity within the name itself, is by no means an exception - Granting Subaru the ability to go back in time whenever he is killed AKA basically giving him a free checkpoint, returning him to the moment that suits him the most before the time of his death. In Re:Zero, it feels like this trick is implemented whenever the writer comes to the realization that the story is incredibly reliant and dry without it, and so time is reset. It's not a bad thing to spice things up every once in a while but chances are that it's either going to be Subaru constantly going back in time before everything was fucked and starting all over again from step 1 or have the said conflict be resolved by sleazy plot conveniences. "Oh Roswaal-sama, I didn't see you there! How mighty convenient it is that you have arrived at just the perfect time to evaporate the gigantic demon-dog from the underworld that was about to devour my flesh in the span of two seconds!" It kinda makes you wonder if the concept of good writing is really such a mysterious term to the people who write light novels.
Return by Death also works as a double-edged sword in the case of Re:Zero. I am taking into consideration the fact that when executed properly, it allows for a fair number of interesting scenarios to play out throughout the series which is something that shouldn't be dismissed. Putting that aside, it is almost guaranteed that the implementation of time resets will deal a heavy blow to any cast of characters that are unaffected by this phenomenon. By having the protagonist and the protagonist only be able to utilize this ability renders the development of the rest of the cast completely null and void, seeing as he will be the only person to retain his memories from the previous iterations. It sacrifices the very fundamentals of characterization while completely throwing the concept of development out of the window for anyone besides him and is the sole reason that stories which rely on time resets have difficulty reaching critical acclaim. I can literally think of a single instance in anime in which time resets are utilized successfully but I don't see Yuasa Masaaki's name under the staff section.
Lastly, it brings up several plot threads for a brief period of time before lightly shrugging them under the rug whenever it so pleases, as if they had never existed. While not inherently plotholes, they almost feel like inconsistencies within the overarching narrative and I'm not sure if they are ever explained in the novel, but briefly covering them in the anime and never touching upon them ever again is completely pointless and a waste of time. Stuff like: Does Return by Death have the ability to take effect on others around Subaru or did Emilia just suffocate to death from the peer pressure of his hug? There are also huge inconsitincies within the world's functions, which have no backbone to sit on as the theory behind them is completely amiss. Stuff like: What was it that triggered Subaru's transportation? Will we ever be given proper information on Return by Death? - "But is explained in da light novEL! ! !" is not a valid argument, sorry. It's also worth noting how inconsistent the story is in terms of quality between its individual arcs, namely with the final act of the series being utterly ludicrous in the worst way possible.
Through a long and careful process of deduction, I have come to the conclusion that to be a character of Re:Zero, you must poses at least one of the three mandatory traits. The traits in question are as follows:
Be able to appeal to the otaku audience in one way or another ✔
Be an easy to hate, psychopathic piece of shit ✔
Lean towards borderline insanity ✔
This lot can be applied to absolutely any character in the series, from Subaru to Puck with few and far in between. And what better way to start this section off than with the man who encompasses all three?
Subaru is the very definition of a hit or miss main character. It’s not hard to decipher that at his very core, he is a self-insert who was brought into existence solely as a means of identification with your average basement-dweller, which is hardly surprising considering that this is a light novel adaptation. But while he does seem to inherit the “Nihilistic shut-in protagonist who’s actually a really nice guy on the inside” trait, he surprisingly has a few quirks of his own. In my eyes, he started off as the most hateable cunt in the known universe (Orange still hadn’t aired at this point) but as the series progressed, I was to my bewilderment able to actually empathize with his character. With that in mind, it still took all I had in order to watch most of his normal interactions with the rest of the cast when he was in his right mind so it really was a breath of fresh air when he went absolutely bonkers and stopped talking altogether. Of course this only lasted for a single episode because as we know, anime protagonists are immune to petty mental disorders. It took Kirito a year to overcome PTSD yet it only took Subaru an episode to recover his sanity. Talk about a hero!
Emilia, while supposedly being the main heroine of the story as well as Subaru’s primary love interest is a fairly mysterious figure throughout pretty much the entirety of the show. For some reason, she physically embodies the appearance of the Jealous Witch that is known and feared by citizens all across the land and unbeknownst to Subaru also happens to be one of the candidates for the throne. Her other attributes consist of being strangely sympathetic towards people she has never met before, having a pet furby and being fairly cute. That right there about fully sums up her character which is quite unfortunate as she's supposed to be the main heroine as opposed to being a side hoe, completely overshadowed by Rem.
"Only I'm allowed to sniff Subaru-kun!" Rem is first introduced as one of the 2 maids that govern Roswaal’s mansion. When Subaru is hurt and taken to the mansion, she’s appointed as his caretaker along with her older sister, Ram. She initially seems like a cute and innocent girl up until her psychopathic tendencies come rocking in and she brutally murders Subaru in cold blood without giving it a second thought. No one really seems to take that into consideration when labeling her to be the best gurl of da century but it is what it is. Unfortunately, she’s probably the character on which the time resets took the biggest toll on as a huge chunk of her development was constantly being thrown out the window during the entirety of the mansion arc. This takes effect up until the premise of her entire character shifts to being Subaru's lovey-dovey, 2nd-rate love interest during the latter half of the series. Despite that, she still manages to take the cake for the best girl of the series due to an extreme lack of competition.
Art & Animation
Produced by studio White Fox, the art and animation really don't present anything new to the table. Although, one thing that sticks out in my mind is how well they were able to handle the tonal shifts the show makes regularly, most notably by effectively switching up the color palette from the usual bright and cheery NGNL-ish style to a more dark and brooding one. The character designs don't have a distinct style but do include a lot of variety between the individual characters. Subaru is noticeably plain-looking and dull, while the citizens that inhabit the fantasy world come off as flashy, with bright clothes and hair in every color imaginable, almost serving as to further alienate Subaru from the norm.
If Re:Zero had a strong suit, it certainly wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it lies within its music department. Despite the fact that like any other sensible man on this god-forsaken Earth, I proudly despise pop music with every fiber of my being, both of Re:Zero's ending and opening songs are admittedly catchy with a handful of decent OSTs to the side. While varied, the voice acting was pretty consistent throughout and most of the seiyuu were able to kick their game up a notch whenever shit hit the fan. Nonetheless, there are still some performances that either managed to evoke mixed feelings or just left a lot to be desired, with Petelguese being the prime example. Episode 15 felt like a comedy skit due to his constant laughter and overly-exaggerated mannerisms, killing any possible tension. Additionally, there's a scene in particular where he is just frantically laughing while the camera slowly zooms-in on Subaru's depraved expression as he screams and drools all over himself.. What? I realize that scene alone tops 95% of comedy anime out there but was that really all it took to boost it into the top 30? Not to mention how all of his lackeys from the Witch Cult also share his exaggerated tone, making the so-called "antagonists" of the show practically intolerable.
Re:Zero to me is one of those series you can't help but enjoy no matter which side of the spectrum you've landed on. Even if you don't genuinely like the show, you can still get somewhat of a kick out of it for a variety of reasons. Because the paragraph I wrote looked extremely messy, I've summarized it in good ol' Rkpandey fashion (vote-bots are still in development, though):
+ Subaru offing himself
+ Subaru getting killed
+ Overblown scenes and performances (enjoyable for all the wrong reasons)
+ Inflatable tube man
Nothing is worse than an over-inflated sense of self-importance.
I don't expect nor want any diehard fans of this show to agree with me. The sole reason behind this review's existence is that you lot can hopefully understand where me and many others are coming from when thinking that Re:Zero is in fact not the second coming of Christ, as that is the best I can hope for when going against the norm like this. So in conclusion: Re:Zero is a torture-porn, flavor of the month show with an uninteresting cast and a bland, oversaturated premise far too reliant on constant plot twists in order to keep the viewer seated even after long passing the point of redundancy. It does a few things right and does try to deviate from the typical light novel adaptation by adding heavy emphasis on the dark fantasy setting it establishes early on. Unfortunately, most of these scenes are either too comical or far too overblown to be taken seriously and it holds no merit when compared to other dark fantasy anime like Berserk. On the other hand, the thriller appeal is still somewhat there until it goes off the rails during the last act and even then I'd be lying by saying I wasn't entertained while marathoning through the whole ordeal, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
A final review of Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
(RE-UPDATED; it may contain some SPOILERS, so be aware of it):
"If you are suddenly summoned to another fantasy world without any kind of preparation, what will you do?" A usual reaction or some of the reaction of other people is that some of them would really panic and do not know what to do... but on Subaru's case (the main character of the story), he is trying to rationalize his situation even though he experienced different kinds of despair and other negative emotions about his current situation and he is trying to adapt to his new
environment. At first, he is trying to stabilize his mental state and desperate about what happened on his current situation, and after that he gradually gained some information about his current situation. On the later scenes, he met a beautiful half-elf-half-human girl who saved him on a unexpected pinch situation; more like a boy-meets-girl situation, and then... the wicked-like fantasy adventure of Subaru begins and how the lives of other important people who he met throughout the story could affect his decision-making, despite of his unfortunate situation.
This show, Re:Zero is one of the great anime shows premiered on Spring 2016 that exemplifies the life of a certain boy named Subaru in a fantasy world and how he could adapt to his new environment. It would surely enjoy most of the viewers who like fantasy-themed anime shows to watch this kind of show because it seems not usual to other regular fantasy-themed anime; it is filled with action, comedy, drama, and some thrilling and unexpected time-traveling and dark-themed scenarios... Wait? Time-traveling? Dark-themed?! How is it possible? Well, he noticed that he can not use any kind of magical powers but later on, he realized that he gained an ability called "returns by death" when he was on a pinch situation. As the skill name itself, he can go back to a certain time and place where he could start again his adventure. Later on, he discovered that he has this kind of "shadow(?)" magical attribute. Those mysterious ability and magical attribute are really helpful in his situation but also somewhat makes his situation more complicated or pain-in-the-ass because of its unknown(?) origin. At first, the story-line seems confusing, depending on the viewer's perspective but it really gives dark/mysterious-vibe and cliffhanger scenes which surely gives us viewers more hype and thrills in this show! Generally-speaking, this anime is not the best but it is DEFINITELY ONE OF THE BEST ANIME OF SPRING 2016!
Moving on, the multimedia and other aspects of this anime show are very good, specially the character designs that really emphasized the unique traits of each characters in the story. If you know about the animation studio called White Fox (the animation studio of this anime show), it would really show that it has similarities on their animation style and forte on making their own style. If you know those similar anime shows they created, it would really increase the impact towards the entertainment of the show. In my opinion, there are some quality flaws in other animation stuffs like CGI and other designs on some episodes that are not really well-fitted or blended to the show. Nevertheless, those are not really a big negative factor to the show and does not really affect the quality and the development of the story-line. On the positive-side, I really like the animation stuffs like the point-of-view angles they emphasized on some scenarios on some episodes and it really follows the concept of the story.
The opening & ending songs are so great and also fitted to the theme of the show (e.g. the lyrics and the style of the songs), which I also like in this anime show. I did not expect that pop punk-ish(?) OP theme song was performed by Konomi Suzuki, and I do not know what would be my reaction towards that since her usual J-pop anime song styles are really not like that. In my opinion, the new anisong artist MYTH & ROID's mysterious-and-futuristic-style J-pop theme songs of this anime is better in this anime show compared to Konomi Suzuki's opening song. In addition, there are no really obvious and noticeable errors on the multimedia aspects of the show like audio timing etc. The voice actors and actresses are also very talented that they really portray to their specific character roles. Some of them are newly popular with the anime fans like the CV of Emilia (Rie Takahashi) and the CV of Rem (Inori Minase), which can contribute more to the audience impact of the show. In addition to that, she also performed one of the ending song, therefore it really shows her professionalism towards the show. The BGMs are really great and it and fitted to the action and other scenes of this show, which also mainly contribute to the impact of the show.
The story-line of this anime show is on of the greatest factor that mostly contributes to the impact of the show, including those amazing plot twists in every episode. Even though the story was rushed, I really like how this anime show would try to show some important plot contents from Re:Zero's light novel, which the animators/creator(s) of this anime really want us to fully enjoy the every 20-min episodes. The characters are also great because they gave great character designs that could somehow adds to the entertainment value of the show.
In terms of the character traits, it was somewhat contributed to the audience impact on the show that later on it creates that 'waifu' war between cute and loyal demon/maid girl named Rem the beautiful elf girl named Emilia or called EMT by Subaru and the fans. Furthermore, most of those characters have their specific development throughout the story like Subaru who has really unique traits and personality compared to the other main characters out there because his unique mindset could somehow help him on his decision-making to help other people who is really important to him. Even though it is really hard to help other people when he has his own problems, it is also to help himself to survive in that cruel fantasy world. The supporting characters like Rem & Ram, Puck, Beatrice, and others are also very important to the development of the story; they have their own character developments and big involvement throughout the story, therefore they are also somewhat popular to the audience.
In terms of the show's entertainment value, some people would not really enjoy/appreciate the concept of 'moe' characters, un-emphasized development of other important characters because of limited time, some cliché elements like the concept of 'isekai' or other world with fantasy setting, and the unusual main character's behavior that were integrated in Re:Zero's story because it ruins the seriousness of the story or it somehow deviates the concept of a common fantasy or other related genre to the theme of Re:Zero.
Overall, this show's story-line is very interesting and breath-taking in each episodes which is a big proof that this anime show is one-of-the-best anime of Spring 2016. You can see it for yourself to confirm that this show is really one-of-a-kind! I really hope that this review would encourage someone who does not any or little idea about this show to watch this! For those who knows this show, encourage them to watch this because this anime is really one of the kind!
(P.S.: If you have really no idea about this anime, there are Part A and B in Episode 1, so do not forget to watch those to fully understand the story's synopsis!)
There are two types of haters of this show. One group is made up of elitists who overanalyze the show, and the other group consists of people who can't even understand the show and call it edgy. What both groups do not understand is the purpose of the anime.
The anime is about the development of Subaru's character, and it is executed brilliantly.
What makes a show good? A good show should be easy to follow while still challenging the audience to think. It should appeal to the audience's emotions, and most importantly, it should be entertaining. Re:Zero does all of these things excellently.
argue that there are several plot holes in the story, but it really depends on their definition of plot holes. There are only a few trivial attributes of the world that are left unexplained as the excess of worldbuilding would detract from the flow of the show. Re:Zero builds suspense not only with every failure of Subaru's but also with every success of his. It is an emotional roller coaster from start to end, be it frustration with or sympathy and empathy for the main character.
The story is brilliantly written. Yes, symbolism and references are shoved blatantly in front of the audience. Why? Because normal people do not watch a TV show and thoroughly analyze it. One example of the brilliant writing in the anime is the allusion to a Japanese folktale. It is used to foreshadow or subtly hint at the backstory of a character. How often does something like this happen in other TV shows and movies? The show forces the audience to think, but it doesn't confuse the audience with obscure and unexplained references.
Some argue that too many of the characters are flat and generic. However, the show also dives into the minds of other characters, Rem and Emilia. Although most of the minor characters are one-dimensional, it makes sense that these two are developed as they are also main characters of the show. The addition of development on minor characters would simply blur the show's focus and turn it into a mess.
The development of Subaru's character is logical. It may be too realistic for some, but watching his human nature is enthralling.
White Fox used the facial expressions and movements of the characters to capture their emotions, which was extremely captivating. The art is beautiful, but some CG was also used. The fight scenes are average.
Everything sounds great from the OST to the openings, endings, and insert songs. Insert songs throughout the anime are especially powerful, expressing the mood of each episode at the perfect time.
It is interesting to see that so many elitists hate the show. After all, the show is a deconstruction of the generic overpowered main character, similar to Evangelion. Perhaps elitists simply hate new, popular anime.
Thankfully, elitists do not represent the majority of anime watchers. Everyone should still watch this show and decide for themselves whether it is good or bad.
Will this review ever get noticeable enough to be featured in the top of all the other reviews? No. I like expressing my opinions on all of the shit I watch. Sometimes there are times where an anime comes by and I need to make a full review instead of adding my opinions on the "tags" section. This review is directed for those who found my profile and are interested on reading my full opinions on this series. Minor spoilers ahead. I hope anyone who reads this enjoys my rambling review of the hottest show of Spring and Summer seasons, Re:Zero.
WHAT'S UP WITH ALL THE
I'm confident when I say Re:Zero was the surprise of Spring 2016. When Winter was ending and we got a look of all the shows that were debuting, no one was talking about this. Everyone was too caught up with Boku no Hero Academia, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Kiznaiver, Bungou Stray Dogs and Joker Game. As soon as the first hour-long episode aired, the community was divided on those who thought it had the strongest start of the season, and those who thought it was another "stuck in another world" show trying to be edgy and having cute girls falling for the main guy. I didn't get into the hype train until approximately Episode 6 or so and damn, this was an incredible experience. I've always hated Sundays because I knew I had to study study study, and the thought of having to go to school/get shit done was a pain. After I found Re:Zero, Sundays became my favorite day of the week.
A thing that bothers me is that many people tend to hate on really popular shows BECAUSE they are popular. I know there are some who have a valid reason for not liking a show like this, but it pisses me off when people hate on a show because it's becoming mainstream. A trend I started noticing is that people flew to compare it to a certain show that is is known for dividing the community between those who think it's "THE BEST ANIMU EVA" and those who think it's the lowest piece of trash ever, Sword Art Online. At first glance you could probably say their are some similarities. A guy gets transported to another world, meets a bunch of new people and ultimately meets a girl that changes his life. However, go deeper into the story and you'll soon realize it is nothing like SAO. From the "time travel" elements, to the complex rules regarding the world and far more interesting characters, Re:Zero far exceeds SAO as far as I'm concerned. Not really worth mentioning because it's very obvious if you actually watch the thing, but this comparison of these two completely different shows with a completely different set of ideas bothered me to death.
Man this show is painful to watch, in the best possible way. Since I started paying attention to seasonal anime, I have never seen an anime that moved me as much as Re:Zero has. It is the first show (including TV series) that had me on the edge of my seat, desperately waiting for the next epsiode to come out. Instead of "Re:Zero", a more appropriate title for this show would be "Re:Cliffhanger". I have to admit that at one point I thought that this show was over-reliant on cliffhangers. It uses cliffhangers on situations where it's not necessary, raising your expectations to later find out that it wasn't anything all that special. It may sound like a bad thing, but this method is extremely effective at making the viewer watch "one more episode to find out what this cliffhanger was about", later to realize it's already midnight and you just binge watched the whole thing in one sitting.
The visuals on this are pretty solid. Does it have 10/10 animation? Not really. It has its down times (especially during fight scenes), but other times it has really amazing visuals. What I can say is that it has good enough animation to make it work. Where I think shines the brightest is the sound. All the openings and ending songs are catchy as hell and the show knows when to use what track to peek the drama. The best word I would use to describe the soundtrack is memorable. When I listen to certain songs, it takes me back to an important scene and that is the best part about it.
A complaint I heard is people complaining that the MC is abnoxious making the show unwatchable, but doesn't some of the most highly acclaimed shows have annoying characters that make stupid decisions? Look at Neon Genesis Evangelion as an example. I personally haven't seen it as of the creation of this review, but I've heard Shinji is a huge pain in the ass. People need to have in mind that these characters are created this way for a reason, either to progress the plot or make things a bit more interesting. I'm not saying you need to like Subaru as a person, but keep in mind that he is supposed to be an unlikable character at times.
Another thing that I wanted to talk about is that people were calling this a "harem". From what I understand, a show is considered a "harem" when 3 or more girls are romantically interested in the main guy. During the whole season, only two characters are shown being romantically involved with Subaru: Rem (best girl) and Emilia (she's alright). It doesn't bother me personally, but I found it funny how people quickly threw the "it's a harem" card before most of the characters and character dynamics were even introduced. Is it because it has a bunch of cute girls, or is it because people want to call it a harem as an insult? The reasons are beyond me, but I digress.
Re:Zero is the type of anime where your judgment will solely be based on enjoyment factor. This is not a series where you can point out how "objectively good" it is (which is a term I don't agree with). If you take a step back and critique Re:Zero without bias, you will find that it lacks originality at times, and "techincally" doesn't have a proper plot or main goal. This will be major turn off to some since the anime never tells us why or how he gets transported to the parallel world, what's his purpose or what he needs to do in this world. The "story" of Re:Zero is basically this: the main protagonist is presented with various problems and he needs to find a way around them, whether it is survival or saving someone. In every arc, a new problem is presented and Subaru needs to find a way, using the knowledge he gains throughout his various lives with the help of his "Return by Death" ability, to solve it. I would say Re:Zero is more about the journey rather than solving or accomplishing something. This is taken as a fact considering that not even the source material has answered many of these questions. For the time being, light novel readers and anime watchers will have to wait until all our questions are answered.
Re:Zero also suffers with contradictions, like how one episode Subaru is super idiotic and can't figure out what's going on (even if it's super obvious what's going on), and then later in other episodes comes up with smart and complex plans to save the day, making you wonder if he's supposed to be smart or dumb. An example where the opposite happens (an anime where people judge it not by how much entertainment they got from it, but by how well directed or how great is the story) is Legend of the Galactic Heroes. There's plenty of scenes that I would say are really good directed, but Re:Zero will have a greater impact if you care for the world and characters like I cared for them. If you don't care for the characters or for what's going on, you will not like Re:Zero (especially when the dramatic moments come).
I'm going to be very subjective in this statement, but Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- is the complete package in terms of what I'm looking for in an anime. It has the mystery of "what will happen next", the characters are interesting and you care about them and want them to succeed, the world Tappei Nagatsuki (original creator) created is so massive and so open to possibilities that you can't help but make your own theories and wonder what new concept will be introduced next. It has the drama, the romance, the action, the comedy, just everything I'm looking.
From what I'm seeing in the upcoming season, it is safe to say Re:Zero will be the most talked about show of the year (tied with probably Erased). I found this series one day when I was bored scrolling through my Crunchyroll. I watched the first hour-long episode and thought it was pretty good, but never I imagined it would be probably my favorite series ever. A few weeks in and I was completely obssessed with this show. It quickly earned a spot on my favorites list, even before it was finished. It never bothered me that the ending could turn out to be shit, because what it did during my whole viewing experience was enough. Nowhere I had seen a series where an entire episode (Ep. 18) could literally be two characters talking and be my favorite out of 25 episodes to choose from. I may sound like a 13-year-old fanboying for his favorite show, but I just wanted to make this rambling review to get my thoughts out there so I can go to bed at peace.
As expected from such a popular series, people from both sides of the coin (those who love it and those who hate it) have rushed to give their opinions now that the show is over. Re:Zero is truly the perfect example of an anime you will either love or hate. I can't tell you if Re:Zero is great, it all depends on you. Trust me, my lack of experience with other anime compared to other people and my bias makes me far from the guy to make a truly objective review. All I can do is tell you what it did to me. Reading all the reviews destroying the show and truly analyzing all its flaws with facts is a bit heartbreaking to read and made me see Re:Zero for what it is, but I can't deny the fact that I cried, I laughed, I rolled my eyes from how cringy the situation was, I got excited for the big reveals, I got chills when the drama peeked, and this "piece of trash" had me thinking more than any other anime I have seen.
In the end, this isn't for everyone. This review is very subjective and you have the right to disagree. What you can't disagree on is this: with all the hype behind this show, you can love Re:Zero, you can hate Re:Zero, but you can't ignore Re:Zero.
Interesting ideas with a poor presentation makes for best comedy anime of the year.
What do you believe originality is? What comes to your mind? Is it making something that has never been made before? Maybe doing something that has never been done before? Well, Originality is the ability to think independently and creatively. An often occurrence in the community is fans complaining about the lack of originality and inventiveness in titles. And when a show like Re:Zero comes along, people begin to shout certain words.. While I disagree with the idea that something can be truly 'original' since everything in one way or another draws
inspiration from something else. To watch purely because it's different shouldn't be a reason to watch. What should be looked out for is how well the ideas of the story are shown; the presentation. Because even the simplest of stories are only hindered by how well the writer can execute the story, the idea. Proper execution and presentation will make or break a show depending on what it's trying to accomplish.
Re:Zero is a show that eats the inspirational manure of its favourite MMO anime counterparts and yells that he can make a better meal.
Praised by fans as a refreshing take on the overdone trapped in a world concept. Subverting cliches while deconstructing popular anime story tropes. Re:Zero is certainly neither of those things in the slightest but something I'd like to tackle is 'deconstruction'. As this is the common mindset of most fans, you may have heard an interesting quote by Re:Zero author Nagatsuki, Tappei saying that Re:Zero is a "critique on light novel trends". Keep this in mind for now as I'll address it later.
For such an original story what kind of man would we have for our lead. Meet Subaru. He isn't your typical fantasy protagonist and goes against popular tropes, on first glance that is. While he is a NEET, this makes him genre savvy about the situation he's in. He's familiar knowledge on anime, he isn't dense when it comes to love with him even risking his life for the one he loves, weak minded & even self righteous. But that's the problem, it's only first glance that you think he's a wonderful character since sadly the ideas that make his character aren't executed well which makes his character unbearable. It seems the author puts interesting thoughts for a cool main character into a blender on maximum power which ends up to an amalgamation of thoughts without rhyme or reason. His character becomes inconsistent, irrational and changes when the story needs him to. When you're making a cake, you need the bare essentials to make a cake before you start throwing oreos and nutella everywhere. And that is exactly what Re:Zero forgets the bare essentials. Subaru has to be one of the most insufferable, inconsistent, irritating main characters I've seen in a long time.
His abilities of being genre savvy are borderline pretentious (there I said it) since he goes through two time resets before he even realises he can time reset, he's a NEET but has "grip strength over 70 kilograms", loses resolve to fight after a couple of resets because of weak mindedness but gains his resolve instantly again, goes insane for several loops and regains sanity in the next one then outsmarts two political leaders he couldn't do before, scared of death one episode and stares it right in the face in the next with a cigar is in his mouth saying a badass one liner. The ideas of his character act in ways that the story needs him to act in order for him to get to the next checkpoint and not in a way that he should have acted.
We must remember that Subaru is a NEET. Re:Zero tries to portray to its audience his terrible behaviour. While he does stupid things in the story, it's to portray his carelessness and when he's stupid, oh boy is he dumb. So much so that most of the fanbase has been quoted to not being able to watch the show at times because it's that unbearable. While some may say that's the point of his character, to make you feel embarrassed for him. There's a difference between second hand embarrassment because the character is doing something really silly, like when Jim super glues his hand to his penis in American Pie and the character being such a insufferable idiot that you can't even watch the show! I actually had to take a breather and lie down on my bed reassuring myself that it'd be alright as if I was going to war. Now some will say that he's more relate-able because of these annoying actions. And to them I ask you, see a doctor.
We've been talking about execution of ideas a lot and what is better than time travel for a concept to be explored. Re:Zero sadly makes use of this concept in a lousy way, basically an A to B point for Subaru to get to places faster. When Subaru dies, he resets to a checkpoint. He's a disguised gary stu if you will. While he's shown on the outside to be a weak, he still has a get out of jail free card meaning that even if he fails, he can still do it again. You might say "What if he goes insane before he succeeds?" He never loses anything from the time resets and when he goes crazy it happens for a loop and he quickly regains his sanity in the next one. But what are the time resets used for exactly, what is the point of the story?
You might have heard the word 'edge' thrown at this shown various times to describe the scenes and how it "subverts tropes". That, it's more "Gory and mature than other high fantasy shows". The subversion of the story is that there is blood, guts and even cracked limbs! But the story revolves around making every event and plot point torture Subaru, as if I'm suppose to reach a euphoric reaction from seeing a character brutally dismembered. It's isn't fun to see and with the melodramatic presentation of adding an inception sfx ("wahhhh") is extremely laughable. How am I suppose to take your villain seriously when he's trying to crack jokes while cracking a dear friend of your main character? When you add some crazy kkk member torturing people in the most gruesome ways possible without any sensible reason. All it does is make the scene less meaningful. The character doesn't feel human anymore and as such, people like me feel disconnected from the situation and everything does become "MUH EDGE FOR THE SAKE OF EDGE". It's the glorification of insanity and torture for a cheap emotional reaction out of the audience. There is no payoff to make any of these scenes meaningful because there is no message or point I'm suppose to gather in the entire show.
Okay so the main character is annoying and unbearable & the story has lots of shock factor without any noteworthy substance. But there is a positive in all of this, because after all of that I still wouldn't mind recommending Re:Zero to someone not being able to look at problems from afar. Re:Zero is just another show that will be long forgotten because of it's anime only appeal. It'll be the new punching bag for critics and the new body pillow for casuals because of it's hard to analyse, disgusting features.
Re:Zero will flash you with bright lights, fast cars, waifus and crazazay plot twists but overall doesn't have anything insightful or intelligent to show you and will only masquerade as something meaningful. You'll watch it purely for entertainment and shouldn't ask for anything more. Hell, why do you think zero is in the title?
Well, I told myself I wouldn't review this, but I felt so disgusted while reading through the reviews of Re:Zero on MAL that I had to address the glaringly obvious issues with it. I binged 23 of its 25 episodes while sick at home with the flu, and by the end of it I'm not sure if that or the vomiting I did was worse. I know a lot of people aren't going to agree with this review, but I plead for you to take off your fan service blinders and tune in while I break down the psychological disaster
Re:Zero truly is.
In essence, Re:Zero is a deconstruction of the fantasy/stuck in game genre, one I've never particularly been a fan of. Our "noble" protagonist, Subaru is magically transported to a mystical world where time travel is commonplace, the MC activates God Mode and chicks are all over his nether regions. Sound familiar? I decided to start the series based on a friend's recommendation that it was like Steins;Gate. I will tell you from personal experience that the biggest similarity between the two is the existence of a punctuation mark in their two titles. That or the fact they're the same amount of episodes. For the remaining episodes, writers cater to the libidos of pathetic teenagers by combining the worst elements of shows like Sword Art Online and other overpowered harem titles and do a fantastic job evading any responsibility developing intelligent plot lines. Non-cohesive potholes are disguised as "psychological" or "edgy" and the main character whines continuously like a three year old who lost his balloon.
One of the most notorious blemishes on Re:Zero's resume is the messy shifts its tone makes. It's one thing for a show to be edgy, but when there's no legitimate segway between a slapstick joke and an emotional gut punch, it leaves the viewer confused. Bunguo Stray Dogs has this same issue, which ends up making neither the comedy funny or the shocks effective. It's like watching someone comically slip on a banana peel cut short by an image of puppies being boiled in acid. That's not edgy, it's just a fucking disaster. It's feasible for a show to contain multiple genres, but they must be developed with finesse or else the viewer is left watching the equivalent of a bipolar teen not knowing what they want to be in life. The unfortunate part is how the majority of viewers are so desensitized to this streamlined method of script writing that it seems normal and acceptable. The writers could've benefitted from watching shows like Steins;Gate and HunterXHunter in order to learn how to effectively balance humor with serious or cerebral scenes.
The rest of the story seems as though it's being written week to week. Instead of taking the time to carve out an effective story, writers use sporadic shock value to trick the viewer into thinking what they're watching is good. Their adrenaline is pumping, and it almost creates a sense of tunnel vision in order to distract them from the real issues the anime has. Shows like Game of Thrones have shock value as well, but the superb writing, effective timing and added characterization separates it from phonies like Re:Zero. Unfortunately, unlike other shock and awe disasters like Akame ga Kill, Re:Zero fans will defend these contrived elements because of the time resets and other excusable aspects of the series. In that respect, the director achieved his goal of pure entertainment value. It appeals to the masses. I, like anyone enjoys a good cliffhanger from time to time. However, Re:Zero gives The Walking Dead a run for its money in the sheer amount of forced close-calls in its episode conclusions. It gets incredibly annoying if you're bingeing it, just like one of my few issues with Kaiji.
Initially I thought the time-resetting element could be incorporated effectively into the already entertaining first 3 episodes of the series. I was dead wrong. This aspect ends up existing as little more than a plot device to excuse weak writing and character development. Subaru screws up, doesn't atone for his mistakes and tries again a different way. I get that this takes place in a fantasy world, but what is the viewer learning from a kid that cries about "they didn't do what I wanted them to do! Wahhhhh!" He shows little to no respect for the world he gets transported to, and instead of learning from his errors, repeats them with somebody or something else. Since he's still a kid, this exists again as a cop out for writing legitimate character growth throughout the series. However, he probably acts close to how many other people his age would if they were thrown into a supposed "game-like" world... With blatant disregard to everything around them. In some ways, the writers really put off a pretentious vibe for the lack of responsibility Subaru has in his actions. It left a bad taste in my mouth and seemed as though they were sticking their tongues out at critics everywhere like "I'm writing this and there's nothing you can do about it, nah!"
Of course, Re:Zero offers a plethora of eligible waifus to choose from. There's the emotional shy one, the lolli, the yandere and everything in between. Not to mention, they all end up falling for Subaru in the end. It IS 2016 people, recycling the same harem formula with duplicated generic tropes for characters got old about 20 years ago. No character in the entire show, sans our antagonist, is unforgettable, unless you're speaking from purely lusting reasons. Every time a new female character was introduced it felt like another nail in Re:Zero's coffin of legitimacy. Character development isn't formed from generating multiple cardboard-cutouts and assigning them to becoming romantically involved with our MC. Regardless of what you think you're interpreting as development, it all exists as a facade to promote its narrative... whatever that may be.
But what about our Lord and Savior, Subaru???
One important piece of a television series that can make or break a viewer's experience, is the ability for us to relate to facets of a character's personality or their cause for actions in the world. Unfortunately, Subaru exhibits neither of these. Throughout Re:Zero's painstaking 25 episodes he learns virtually nothing about his previous mistakes, and his actions towards other characters are unjustifiable or entirely belligerent. He disrespects others in the world, and thinks the best way to fix his blunders is to just rewind time again. If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, not enough intelligence exists on this planet for anyone to call him out for being an idiot. Everyone just goes along with his irritating behavior because he's an "outsider". Some would be quick to call Subaru a selfless "hero", but he blindly helps strangers he's known for about five minutes. This clearly isn't a reflection of his personality, but is out of character and exists to propel the story forward. He's helping people because "he's supposed to" and continuously bites the hand that feeds him, and always seems to come out scott free. He's an oblivious moron lacking any bit of hindsight, but it's alright because he ultimately gets all the chicks, and that's all that matters right?
Whew, now that I'm completely out of breath I can mention the few positives I can take from Re:Zero. In no particular order:
1. The animation is pretty damn good. It reminds me a lot of No Game No Life with regard to the vivid, bright colored environments and attractive character models. White Fox at its finest
2. The premise is great. Execution is abysmal, but at least I can ponder about what could've been.
3. It's oddly entertaining at times, if for no other reason than to watch a train wreck in progress.
4. The laundry list of waifus ensure that all plebs can be satisfied. Most of the female characters are oddly sexy in their own way.
5. The soundtrack is consistent, pleasant and well mixed. I mean, it damn well better be based on the composer's credentials.
There, I did it. Parts of me are baffled as to how this is the 35th highest rated show on MAL as this review is completed, but after the giant Erased debacle from a few seasons ago nothing really surprises me anymore. I hope at least those individuals deliberating on whether or not to watch Re:Zero have gained some valuable information in this review. Don't be so easily deceived, use your head when you watch it.
All in all, while I'm disappointed that this is the same studio that put out gems like Steins;Gate and Katanagatari, I'm not that surprised. The director and writers successfully catered to the mass appeal of shock and awe as well as shameless fan service when they wrote Re:Zero. The writing is shit and the characters suck, but I guess if you're looking for a cheap thrill or to be hip with your fellow weeaboos, you might consider watching this pompous piece of fiction. Thanks for those who pushed me to write this review, I had a lot of (cough) "fun" reliving my sickness in order to produce this critical analysis. Be sure to check out the rest of my Summer '16 reviews!
Re: Zero was an anime that I thought wouldn't be very good. I started watching the episode expecting to be dissapointed that it would be a generic "other world" anime. I thought this up until the last scene were the main character is murdered. Soon afterward he "respawns" at a fruit stand in the market, this is what hooked me. I realized that this anime is doing something no anime has done before. It made me care about the characters, and even become sad when they died even though I knew it would just be reset when Subaru dies.
The story wasn't just a love
story, it was a journey of drama, loss, friendship, and enemies.
The art was beautiful. I wasn't dissapointed with it at any point. It gave a great atmosphere for each situation and made sure you could take in each detail that was presented.
The openings and endings both fit the anime very well. The music playing in the background set the atmosphere very well, but there wasn't very much variety.
The characters were amazing. They all had some amount of importance and are built up so you care about them a certain amount.
I was kept in the edge of my seat throughout the whole anime. There were times of calm between "respawns" that were used to build the characters, but that didn't take anything away from my enjoyment.
This anime wasn't prefect, no anime is. Any part that might've been disappointing was made up for the next episode.
Before I start my review, let me just say one thing - FUCKING WATCH THIS SHIT! You will never expect what's coming if you just base your opinion on its premise or art style.
Moving on, if there is just one thing that I had to choose to say why Re:Zero stands among the best of the best, it is the realistic take on a fantasy world MC (Subaru)... and the character growth (read suffering) that he goes through. Some arcs were just plain depressing and disgusting to watch. How pathetic can the main character get? Well, that's where this anime outshines most others. This makes
the final redemption arc all the more satisfying to watch. And it's not just Subaru, there's Rem! Right from her initial reaction to Subaru to the culmination of everything beautiful in episode 18, it was perfect. Same goes for Emilia. From the kinda uptight girl that saves Subaru in EP1 to the conclusive finale where she goes through an emotional release (in a good way), her character, while it didn't develop much, grew to be more open. I can keep on talking about the other characters, but I think Tappei (the author) did a wonderful job here. So characters? 10/10.
Animation - 9/10
Kudos to White Fox for doing such an amazing job. Lots of wallpaper worthy shots.
OST - 9/10
Again, White Fox did an amazing job here plugging in the songs at very appropriate times. Not a big fan of any of the OPs. But the endings, goddamn. Episode 18 stands out as one of the best use of a song ever ~ (Wishing by Rem). And that title drop gave me goosebumps.
Story - 10/10
Ever watched an anime that just the perfect mix of action, adventure, comedy, romance, mystery, drama, tragedy, etc? You haven't yet, if you have not watched Re:Zero. Right from the delightfully comedic interactions between Rem/Ram and Subaru at the start to Subaru's distressing and pitiful redemption arc, it was just so wholesome and complete. However, the story was not perfect. Some decisions the MC makes, make no sense whatsoever. But they can be overlooked when you think how good it integrates the different genres.
And finally, I'm going to add one more category for the rating - Community. 10/10.
Watching an anime episode after episode on the day it airs might be frustrating sometimes. But in the case of Re:Zero it just made the anime all the more enjoyable. Thanks mostly in part to r/anime, r/Re_Zero, twitter, MAL and also /a/. Having a community to share the meltdowns and good moments with, is something that cannot be put in words.
So, just go ahead and marvel in the glorious suffering anime that is Re:Zero, while I sit here wishing I can start this anime, again, from Zero.
Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu.
Contain so many similar elements from several anime, adapted, and executed perfectly. Even with so many similar elements from different anime mixed there, Re: Zero is still very original series in a sense of taste.
There's been some kind of weird mocking to some of the heroine in this anime in several forums, and that's been driving people straight to disinterest with the series. I hope there's nothing like that happening again in the future. Re:Zero is a great series, and people shouldn't be so disinterested with it because of cancerous community.
There's some aspects that I love about this anime:
Main Protagonist's change of character.
People tend to hate a character with unsightly attitude in some event in anime or manga. But for me, it's something beautiful to see. It's stronger than seeing character that found new power. Some good character attitude development is really hard to pull since writer have to know, feel, or even experience some event that can trigger ones character. In this series, Subaru is one that have solid characteristic development in attitude.
2) Literally got one set of attractive Heroines.
I can't deny that I'm really attracted to Rem after watched Episode 18. Emotions flows like roller coaster from hate to love. I really like the strong toddler magician that stays in her mansion to keep it safe. There's less of Ram involvement in that series so I can't make out any good impression of her so far. And of course, Emilia is one charming main heroine, but I hope there's more of her if there's ever a 2nd season, cuz I still enchanted to Rem more than Emilia.
3) Interesting Story (of course it is but I just have to point it out)
There's been some anime that has same kind of setting where the main protagonist trapped or goes to another world or dimension, the main protagonist can go back in time to change things better, set in kind of a medieval time. But Re:Zero really meshed all of that into one beautiful romantic fantasy.
I really recommend this anime to you who loves series like Stein's Gate, Guilty Crown or GATE.
This is quite though anime to give insights on. There are a lot of part from this anime that I really like, as much as parts that I didn't really like. But I did enjoy this anime a lot and it is worth for overall 9.
What I dislike:
- Story coming in and out without proper prologue and ending. Why Subaru got suddenly sent to the fantasy world, what is his relation with the Witch, and so on. It will be exciting turnouts if audience got explained those things. I am truly expecting a longer series instead of 25 episodes. Something like HxH where in the
end (perhaps) Emilia became the Queen and Subaru getting strong and defeat the Witch which is in the he became the King. Nice End.
- Second! This is the one of the worst part is Subaru. Yes, for me his one of the worst main hero, he acting over-stupid & childish almost the entire series, not to mention he is weak af. He stayed too many episodes with that kinds of character and it really frustrating and exhausting to watch him doing stupid thing, acting irresponsibility, and helpless all the time. Seriously...when I start watching this anime I was REALLY expecting he is somehow awaken a specialised strong skill (other than keep on dying and repeat) but as the episodes gone one by one, he is truly not moving up in terms of strength (only got that stupid shumac). Although he did getting strong mentally, for Godsake...that was after die at least 3 times for the same events. I have seen a long anime series like HunterXHunter which is the character developed very well the entire series. They have up and down, but they are progressing in all kinds of way which Subaru doesn't have.
- Betelgeuse Romanee Conti. Really the most annoying antagonis in anime. He just simply a psychotic and to make it worst, he out-powered the main character (Subaru) by far. Seriously, why it so hard just to give him death. I prefer character like him die once and then Subaru met the witch. Conti really psychotic and an antagonis without charisma.
- Last! The series is again...TOO SHORT. I am really expecting for second season with a proper finishing episodes. Not hanging like this. When the story start we have TONS of characters introduced on each arch. Not to mention Felt! She is suddenly brought up from slump to the kingdom but then that's it. She doesn't make any difference in the story at all in the end. It will be nice also that each candidate have their own arch story (just like Wilhem got for himself, his romance story when he was young, a background story to be precise)
What I like:
- Rem. Yes Rem. And maybe most of other audience does. Rem is one of those character that progressing REALLY WELL in the story. You can see how she change throughout the episodes. how and why her relationship and feelings for Subaru growing strong. She is strong and yet you can find a soft spot in her character.
- The romance conflict. I might say the romance conflict is really nice. Emilia is loveable, Rem also loveable, Subaru have a strong will and he is really expressive (too much most of the time) and all the romance conflict is relevant to each individual background (Emilia being a half elf silver haired witch, Rem being a half devil, Subaru being stupid and helpless but strong will) Not to mention that Subaru forbidden to mention his Reset ability which is make the case even harder. But what I think audience need to get is that love romance doesn't developing faster than the series and ended up hanging (as I said before it need a longer series to make it a complete story and finish)
- Wilhelm arc story. It is beautiful imo and it gives a different wind to the story. I was hoping if there will be the next season for Re Zero, they will come up with more background story (just like Wilhelm story) like the story of each kingdom ruler candidate history and side story. (We don't even know Emilia and Subaru background story for Godsake! We don't know who they are, why Puck tagging along with Emilia and kept on saying Emilia as her daughter etc, where they come from, how do they got into their current character they are) I am seriously have no idea why the author doesn't make it an agenda to make proper introduction on each character. Which is will help to make a greater emotional connection for the audience with each character.
- Emotional connection. I got pretty nice emotional connection with Rem since she got introduced quite a lot to the audience. But somehow I despise Subaru and technically don't care with him, which is actually bad thing since he is the main character. I just hope he doesn't hurt Emilia and Rem more than he does.
The art is cool. I love the coloring, the face construction. Art always been kinda priority for me before continuing the series and Re Zero doing great. Emilia is so loveable, Rem, and most any girl in the series. The man varies from bishounen to shounen. The environment really rich in colour and details. But I have seen better in Kabaneri, Inari konkon, bakemonogatari series, so I will settle with Score 9 here in arts.
I love the ending and opening which I find it suited with the anime theme and all. I just hope they make instrumental soundtrack during the scenes instead of the full voice music. Styx Helix really bring a strong atmosphere of romance and battle, Paradisus Paradoxium also. Myth & Roid really fit into the anime so well, and the way the music mixed really match with the weird theme of Subaru got summoned to another world with reset ability (or curse). 'Stay Alive' in contrast is a soft spot in the series that really fit all Emilia x Subaru x Rem in term of romance. But for 'Redo' I don't particularly find it fit with the anime but still I like this anyway (don't know if it because I love the anime that I then love the theme song or vice versa)
As I said in the start, I have like and dislike but in the end I enjoy the anime a lot. I enjoy and quite hopeful with the next episodes since the first episode. But then they leave me hanging with that episode no.25.
I DEMAND 2ND SEASON! I DEMAND EXPLANATION & I DEMAND A PROPER ENDING!
This anime doesn't make sense at all. I can agree that the show has an interesting premise and tries it best to be something original but in most episodes it seems like the writer itself doesn't really know where to take the story. Subaru is just transported into this fantasy world and immediately accepts it without ever questioning where or how he got here or even try to at least get back to his own world. The characters are simply one-dimensional and have no personality at all and just seem like lifeless robots who are simply their to complete the harem circle. The reasons
Subaru does things is simply illogical. The two maids are simply there for fan service and serve nothing to the plot at all except being "waifu" material. The relationship between Subaru and Emilia felt fake and forced to be honest and in my eyes don't really see why he even likes her as it doesn't feel genuine .This series could have had great potential but after the ending it was pure trash and i don't understand how anyone calls this a masterpiece. The last episode felt disappointing and felt like many things were missing like some characters were completely tossed on the side. Overall this show is a mess with a cast of bland characters and a weird main character with no intelligence.
This review of Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu is solely based on my personal views and overall enjoyment watching the show.
Story: With the influx of all these anime shows about a protagonist being transported into a fantasy world/game, this specific show, Re:Zero, certainly doesn’t sound like anything special. In fact, when I first heard about the anime announcement for this show, I was pleasantly surprised but not at all hoping for anything that would blow me away. To me, I was hovering around the idea that if anything, I would enjoy watching the show because – while not original – it might end up being
something fun. This is coming from someone who only briefly skimmed through the manga and had no true prior experience with this series from the light novel or web novel before watching this anime.
After finishing this show, I really had a hard time figuring out how I wanted to say what I wanted to say about all the things that happened, all the things that I felt while watching Re:Zero. One thing was sure, Re:Zero’s story was anything but special. But I feel like the point was, that while it was only average in terms of bare story, how the author developed the story – and characters (which I’ll get to later on) truly made Re:Zero something special to me.
Characters: Where do I even begin? This show has some better character development I’ve seen in a long time. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me, but that’s just how I felt. I’m not saying I’m right, but I’ll go into a little detail as to why I think so. One particular character that receives a lot of hate for what he does and how he acts is Subaru, the protagonist of Re:Zero. I can understand how people feel, but the self-reflection and growth that Subaru had by the end of this series was truly something unique.
I know, I know - this is a fantasy setting, but how realistically portrayed the feelings of each of the characters is depicted really sold it for me. Obviously not every character had the same “god-tier” character development as, let’s say Subaru or Rem (I won’t go into them anymore than I already have, I don’t want major spoilers), but something that I found myself doing was actually caring about characters - characters that weren’t necessarily the main focus. I actually was interested in characters like Wilhelm and his quest, and cared about him enough to hope he was successful. From the friendship of Subaru and Julius, to how Felis felt doing something he didn’t want to do, I actually cared about the characters and how they felt. All these moments were what made this show much more than I could have ever asked for.
Art: There really isn’t much for me to say about the art. It fit the show. There were certainly moments that I thought the CG looked off, but for the most part, they did a good job with consistency. And I have to give them props for not using CG for some major scenes with big creatures flying around in the sky. (I’m sure you guys know/will know what I’m talking about after watching the show).
Sound: Oh man, this category. What can I say? White Fox did an outstanding job setting a mood with the right music. I felt so many emotions that I probably wouldn’t have felt if they hadn’t went the extra mile with the right background music, or the right ringtone in a scene. The amount of effort that White Fox put into each and every detail in the sound department was award winning in my honest opinion. They made the scenes that were already great, exponentially better because of how they used the score/OST. Also, props to the voice actors/actresses. Some of the VAs must have worked their asses off to pull off the voices we heard in the show. I honestly have nothing but praise for the VAs and sound department working on this show. They did one hell of a job.
Enjoyment: Obviously, as enjoyment is subjective from person to person, I won’t expect you all to agree with me on liking this show. Some people are more critical. Some people want to hate because they didn’t like how the show’s direction went. It could be because two characters didn’t end up together that you really “shipped” together. Or it could be because you didn’t like the main character and how they acted. But in the end, my personal enjoyment is pretty important as to how I rate a show. And while there were moments I didn’t like as much as others, it wasn’t like I didn’t like the show. Those moments, where I didn’t like a character, or direction, honestly was just a byproduct of how invested I was in Re:Zero and its characters.
Re:Zero is a deconstruction of your every-day, generic transported-to-a-fantasy-world-esque show, and I certainly think the show does a pretty solid job at what it set out to do. It defied my expectations and went the extra mile in so many categories - especially the sound department (which I can't stop emphasizing). It made me feel connected to not just the main characters, but to many of the side characters, and I don’t think I’ve felt this invested in a show and its characters for a long time. Now, after reading this far I'm sure you know where I stand at least in terms of recommendation. Would I recommend Re:Zero? Yes. I really would. Do I expect everyone to like it as much as I did? No. Definitely not - after all, this show wasn't perfect - it's far from it. But I personally feel like it’s worth giving a watch.
Hey! I'm that Review who used to have over 1300 upvotes*, but due to the stupid rule that MAL has, that they remove all reviews that were made before the anime ended, which to a review like me is plain ridiculus, anyway here we go again.
Can I just tell you how awesome this anime is, here it is; IT IS SO FUCKING AWESOME THAT IT'S BEYOND YOUR IMAGINATION!
Yeah, you got it right, I had to write it in caps because YOU CAN NOT COMPREHEND IT'S AWESOMENESS!!!
I'm actually done with my review, but there are some of you few out there who aren't convinced as of
yet, because you don't have enough information, anything beyond this point is for you losers who aren't satisfied with a review that's two rows long, even though that's all you need.
To be fair, I wish every episode would've been ten minutes longer, because that would mean ten more minutes of awesomeness and each episode just flashes by in an instant any way.
This is a very manly anime, that is why it's totally badass and awesome!
This is an anime that have everything I ask for, it's tense, it's packed to the ceiling with intense moments, one after another, it's a non-stop flow of everything, everything is just amazing the conversations are amazing, and the soundtrack is totally fucking awesome, the story is impactful, there's constantly things happening, and you get everything explained as you go, the pacing is never weird and it just doesn't break.
While that might sound stressfull to watch, it's actually not, thought it is pulse raising, and you will probably be on edge from start to finish, I know I am, and that's an awesome feeling, you get an adrenaline rush from just watching, because it's so intense that you just want ot watch more and more and then, the episode just suddenly ends, and you're like "woah".
If you're only going to watch one thing from Q2 2016, then choose to watch Re:Zero, because you won't be dissatisfied with this, because it's too amazing to ignore!
*Picture proof of that can be found if you send me a PM about it.
Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World (ゼロから始める異世界生活, Re:Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu), is one of the brightest gems of the Summer 2016 season. While it is not something flawless, as one might think, this series is definitely doing its best to be enjoyable and interesting for its viewer. In my opinion, the fact that the creator of the series actually cares is very commendable. However, it is an open secret that trying to be fascinating and being fascinating is not the same thing. Thankfully, it is not one of these cases. Allow me to share my opinion on Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World, on
the anime that is able to leave one speechless, on the anime that bullies you, and on the anime that shows you many events, which are absolutely impossible to foresee.
Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World is a Japanese light novel series written by Tappei Nagatsuki and illustrated by Shinichirou Otsuka that also has three manga adaptations and an anime television series adaptation by White Fox, which began airing on April 4, 2016. The series tells us a story of Natsuki Subaru, a normal young man that lives his normal life in the modern Japan. However, one day, he is summoned to another world. Without knowing the person that summoned him, or the reason for being summoned in the new world, he soon befriends a silver-haired-half-elf girl, Emilia. Due to some unknown circumstances, the girl is being targeted by an unknown assassin. The assassin manages to kill the two and everything seems to be over. Yet, a second later, Natsuki Subaru awakens and discovers his new ability that he names "Return by Death." That new ability gives him the power to reverse time by dying; however, only he remembers the events of the previous timeline. Why was Natsuki Subaru summoned in this mysterious world, who gave him the power to reverse time? Find the answer by watching Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World now.
The first thing that might come to your mind after reading the description of Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World’s story-line is that this anime is a mix of Steins;Gate, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, and Boku dake ga Inai Machi. And I must say that you will be right to think so. Of course, this anime has nothing to do with comedy, but all these four anime do have a few things in common. Anyway, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World reworks all mistakes of its predecessors doing its best to be entertaining and I must say that Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World manages to do it. It is an open secret that the most important thing for all story-lines is to be complex: one should never be able to foresee more than thirty percent of events that will happen in the next episodes. In case of the anime we are talking about, you might have theories on first, on second, …, on thirteenth episodes, but all your theories will be destroyed in an instant. That is, in my opinion, the best part about the story-line of this anime.
The animation of Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World is mostly top notch. There are many characters, they have sometimes unusual and sometimes very beautiful outfits, monsters, demons, some unknown creatures, and magic spells and they all are beautiful. At the same time, when this anime should become dark, it becomes dark. It is so amazing that it helps you to dive in the universe of Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World. Without a doubt, it is not flawless, but it is on the level, which is very important for all anime that have such a setting.
The OST is on the level, as well. From pop music to amazing orchestral pieces, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World even focuses on music, which some anime tend to not do. Of course, it is not that important, but the amount of attention this anime pays to its music only helps you to dive into the universe of Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World and to understand it better. I will not hide the fact that sometimes the music should have been more epic: when you see a good battle, the music should be epic very, but it is still able to make you have gooseflesh. Another part of this section, which is also worth mentioning, is the cast of this anime. All voice actors did one hell of a job making their characters vivid and lively. If it is a villain, you hate them with all of your heart, if it is one of the main heroes, you just wish that they succeed in everything they do and you cannot even imagine what you will do if something bad happens to them.
The cast of Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World consists of the main characters, Rem and Natsuki Subaru, supporting characters, and villains. While I would argue that the main characters do not receive enough development, I completely agree with the fact that supporting characters should have received more development. However, I believe that the main characters and the villains compensate for it well, since Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World has the edgiest villains that you have ever seen in your life. Anyway, let us talk about the main characters: Rem and Natsuki Subaru.
Natsuki Subaru is the male protagonist of the series. On the way home from the convenience store, he is suddenly summoned to another world. He later discovers an ability that he names "Return by Death" that allows him to go back in time, if he dies. And the most interesting part about it is that only he remembers what happened and he cannot tell anyone about this ability. Natsuki used to be a hikimori, being absolutely useless, he has never done anything in his life. However, in this new world he should not only try to become more powerful, but also to use his wit. He will not be granted with the power to destroy the whole world, he does not have a guardian angel, or a harem of cute girls that will help him in every situation. He just has no other choice but to do everything alone, which makes him change himself. His character development is amazing and you just want to not see him suffer. Rem is the second main character of the series. She has a younger sister and both of them work at Emilia’s mansion. When Subaru meets her, she shows absolutely no signs of being interesting; however, as the story progresses, Rem stops being a doll and becomes a very interesting character.
The supporting characters of Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World do not receive enough development; however, as I have already mentioned, the villains compensate well for it. You just want to see their death, you just want to see their sufferings, and you hate them with all of your heart. While I understand that it is impossible to grant enough screen time for all characters, I still think that all characters are very interesting to follow and it should be more than enough for you.
All in all, I cannot guarantee you that you will like this series and I am not going to do it. Personally, I like the fact that this anime tries to rework mistakes of its ancestors in order to not make them again, I like the fact that the characters of this series are realistic and not overpowered like in some other series, I like the fact that it is never possible to guess what will be shown in the next episodes, which is very important, as well. With every episode, you are trying to prolong your enjoyment and to watch this series little by little; however, it is simply not possible. You just want to know what will happen in the next episodes. It is, of course, not flawless, nothing is, but if you want to see something very dark, I would highly recommend you to give Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World a try. I hope that you will enjoy watching Re:Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu!