When Subaru Natsuki leaves the convenience store, the last thing he expects is to be wrenched from his everyday life and dropped into a fantasy world. Things aren't looking good for the bewildered teenager; however, not long after his arrival, he is attacked by some thugs. Armed with only a bag of groceries and a now useless cell phone, he is quickly beaten to a pulp. Fortunately, a mysterious beauty named Satella, in hot pursuit after the one who stole her insignia, happens upon Subaru and saves him. In order to thank the honest and kindhearted girl, Subaru offers to help in her search, and later that night, he even finds the whereabouts of that which she seeks. But unbeknownst to them, a much darker force stalks the pair from the shadows, and just minutes after locating the insignia, Subaru and Satella are brutally murdered.
However, Subaru immediately reawakens to a familiar scene—confronted by the same group of thugs, meeting Satella all over again—the enigma deepens as history inexplicably repeats itself.
An edited version of the series received a rebroadcast starting January 1, 2020. 25 episodes of the original series were combined into thirteen 49-minute long episodes with some scenes being slightly extended.
Re:Zero adapts the first 9 volumes of Tappei Nagatsuki's light novel series of the same title.
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.
"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.
Overall, I give Re: Zero a rating of 9.8 out of 10, with my own guideline of to watch it immediately if you haven't already. The series is available for legal streaming on Crunchyroll.
If you enjoy a series that likes to play with your heart and mind like a fiddle, this may be the perfect series for you. Enjoy.
WOAH, EDIT TIME!
Hey, this review's kinda on the old side now, and while I don't think R:Z is a perfect 10/10 show now, it's still a very solid watch for those that love Isekai or anime with darker themes.
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.