Re: Zero Anime Review

“False tears bring pain to those around you. A false smile brings pain to one self.” – CC from Code Geass

 

I will say this, this is not some super cutesy show, you need some tolerance for messed up things, but it’s no Berserk.

Re:Zero is an anime adaptation of a web novel that became a light novel series of the same named written by Nagatsuki Tappei and drawn by Otsuka Shinichirou. The anime adaptation was made by studio White Fox. The series is 25 episodes long and aired from April to September of 2016.

Characters

Image result for Natsuki Subaru

Natsuki Subaru is a hikkikomori, an otaku that does not leave his house. For some reason, he is teleported to this fantasy world. He is very persistent to achieve his goals but sometimes steps over his boundaries, especially when they concern his loved ones.

 

Image result for emilia re zero

Emillia is a half elf that in in the royal selection, therefore potential queen. She is nice to a fault, that being harm to herself. She is a classic heroine, she is pretty, nice, responsible and a potential royalty.

 

Image result for ram rem

Rem (blue) is battle maid that has some serious inferiority complex. She puts her sister, Ram, on a pedestal and is absolutely sure that Ram is superior to her in every way imaginable. Rem tries her absolute best in everything to make her sister proud.

Ram (pink) is also a battle maid, but her specs are less than Rem. Ram is very honest, a little too honest. She feel comfortable not giving a fuck and neglecting duties in front of guests. Being the older sister, she is extremely protective of Rem and will go any lengths to protect her sister.

 

Story

This is if KonoSuba and Edge of Tomorrow had a baby. I say Edge of Tomorrow and not Groundhog Day because this is darker and sadder than the Bill Murray movie. At first I had no expectation about this show since going to another world or real x fantasy genre is too abundant these days, but this one actual had me gripped.

 

the Bad

Image result for re zero felt

As the latter half of the show starts, you realize that a lot of the characters from the first half of the show are… forgotten. There is the whole deal with people of the mansion and who they really are… but Beako and Roswal are not seen for like the like third of the show. What happened to Felt and the chill old man? Did the show forget they exist? They latter part of the show completely abandons this. If there is a season 2, the show has to play a lot of catch up for the audience on how the Princess Selection is going and what the other characters have been doing.

Apart from the characters, there are a lot of story lines that just didn’t get a mention. Like why is Roswal groping Ram’s horn? Is that assassin lady going to come back? Are we going to see other members of the Witch Cult? From what I’ve read, the anime has caught up with the ligh novels, which consists of 8 volumes. So either we will not see season 2 for a very long time, or there won’t be a second season, which would be a damn shame. If I am wrong about this, please let me know.

 

Image result for re zero funny

The show makes clear distinction of its 2 types of episodes: the funny ones and the serious one. And you quickly tell which is which by seeing whether or not there is the OP song. If OP song is there, it is very likely to be light hearted episode, and when it isn’t there, it is a serious one. And showing this distinction is puzzling to me…. do you want the viewers to know what mood is going to displayed? Or is this issue of timing? I found myself watching this and seeing that there is no OP, and said “oh, this is a serious/ messed up episode.” And when the serious/messed up part happened, I was “mildly surprise, but wish there wasn’t the indication upfront.”

 

Image result for re zero witch cult

The show draws a lot of visuals from the real world, I am talking about the Witch Cult. Visually, they are inspired by the real life Ku Klux Klan. And one of the antagonists, Betelgeuse is wearing what only could be described as Yamaka, drawing attention to Judaism. I get the KKK part, but why the hat? Is the show trying to tell me something? Something that is horrible in design is unintended design, accidentally weighing in on a topic, is this what it is?

 

Image result for re zero witch cult

And since were talking, let’s discuss Betelgeuse, holy hell he is annoying. I get that he’s a villain we’re not suppose to like. But does he have to be this annoying? He is powerful and even scary at times, but when he isn’t being evil, he sounds like really high sportscaster trying to relate to the young folks by using media references.

 

Image result for re zero ep 1

The start of the show was actually really boring for me, it was the set up that repeated four times I believe, sure it had different interactions each time, but it was the same set up, the same characters, and obvious bad guy. But after that it was great! So I will say hat the show had a slow start.

 

The stakes are… not too high. Yes, lives are at risk, but Subaru can literally go back in time if he desires. Compare this to let’s say No Game No Life, where one loss means total ruination of a specie that cannot be reverted. While I feel Subaru’s struggle, knowing it can be taken back is reassuring, and I don’t think its a good thing. Even during some of the later episodes when the tensions are much higher, I still did not feel the risk I was hoping for.

Going back to the villains, they can be menacing. But seeing them over and over again can lower the impact they have. Every time you see Betelgeuse, he gets less and less mysterious.

One thing that bothers me is how arbitrary the time resetting feels. The rules of resetting and new save points are not explained at all, and this I feel like is a problem. In No Game No Life and even Sword Art Online, the rules of the world is stated very clearly and viewers can follow along, and when those rules are broken, the viewers know something is not right. But in Re:Zero save points seem to be very conveniently to be between arcs.

 

the Good

Image result for rem ram nendoroid

As I said in New Game, I love cute things and damn, the characters in this show are adorable! On impulse, I preordered Rem Nendoroid, and I have not even started the show at that point…. this happened. She was that cute.

 

Image result for re zero subaru

At first, I hated Subaru. He was so haughty regarding his situation. But once the shit hit the fan, things got real and I immediately started to emphasize with him. Every deaths and life he repeats, he carries that with him, and he never wanes in pursuit of the best route. He wants everyone he cares about to end up happy and he will go to any lengths to do that.

 

Image result for re zero subaru

While Subaru’s health is not much of an issue as his body goes back in time, his mental state is whole another issue. The events of the series, although reverted, take a tremendous toll on him. He has seen his own guts, he has witnessed incomprehensible Lovecraftian nightmares, he witnessed his loved ones die and die and die over and over again. There is only so much a mind can take, and Subaru’s, naturally, breaks from time to time. I would say it seems like him being bitchy, but can you blame him? He died for everyone’s sake and no one knows, he seen people die only to have them be alive, he’s seen his friends tortured and executed. Worse yet, he knows that certain people are heading straight to their deaths and those people refuse to listen to him despite how much he tries to prevent this. Mind is fragile and so precious, Subaru’s is strong and it makes him keep pushing forward.

 

The show captures the concept of gaming very well, and I am not talking about the setting. The death and restart mechanic is classic save system from pretty much any game. Subaru even says to clear this section of the story, he has to meet 2 conditions, that is classic gaming right there! With save points and multiple endings, and room for experimentation, I think this did gaming better than most similar stories. And I have done similar things with gaming. With certain story driven games, I’ve loaded previous saves to get a better ending or replay a certain section just to see a beloved character one more time, a cheer for Mordin Solus.

 

Image result for re zero princess candidates

Emilia gets a lot of hate, but I like her. But when it comes to Best Girl, Rem definitely steals the show, but can you blame her, she has the most screen time with Subaru. Sure, her love for Subaru feels tad rushed, but her unshakable and unconditional affection for Subaru is quite beautiful. And this is important, as Subaru, and the audience, realize that within this ever changing world and timelines, the only thing that is stable is the fact that Rem still loves you and has your back, and that means a lot.

 

I have to say, when I saw the princess candidates, I was disappointed as they seemed like generic cute girls, very cute, but that is about it. Then when Subaru meets them one by one, I found out that I judged too quickly. I won’t say they are deep, but they aren’t that shallow. One girl is an economic genius and wants to expand her corporate power everywhere, meaning doing businesses with the right people. One girl is very adapt with military skills and seems to want to make a military state.

 

Verdict

  • Will I watch it again? I think so, I liked it a lot. I actually bought the Light Novels so I will be reading that in the future, and may comment on it later.
  • Do I recommend it? Yes, this is genuinely good show. Sure the cute design might get in the way of seriousness at times, but it is a darn good attempt at breathing new life into already over populated genre.

 

Final Thoughts

I honestly went into this series thinking it will be another moe filled throw-away anime. But I saw the love surrounding it and gave it a shot, and boy, it was a treat. These days, things gain hate for just being popular, and I saw some of that with this show. It is not perfect, but it is good. This show balances lighthearted slice-of life with dark messed up gore, with hint of love.

If you got a chance to try this one out, let me know what you think!

Gihoon

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4 thoughts on “Re: Zero Anime Review

  1. Nice post – rather than get in the way of the seriousness though, I thought the cuteness just made the dark parts of the show darker when they were contrasted against each other. After finishing reading this, I had a look at the light novels and it looks like there might be twelve out in Japan so there might be hope of a second season yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you reading! I loved the cute aspect of the show, but something like Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica felt more intentional in the contrast. I think it worked to a degree, but it could have been utilized more effectively. God, I hope there will be a second season.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hm, yeah I see what you mean – the contrast in Madoka Magica was very prominent! Something for them to improve on then when we get the second season right?! (Best to be optimistic?)

        Liked by 1 person

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