As the title suggest, this review is about the anime Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World. Normally I don’t like reviewing shows that have yet to conclude. This is especially true with anime. That’s because within the first few episodes of a pretty okay anime EVERYBODY loses their minds and they say it is one of the greatest anime ever made. Only after it concludes are people like: “Oh wait. No, it was just okay.”
Re:Zero is an anime I feel comfortable reviewing the first season. This is because the first season concluded, and it ends in such a way that it could be its own self-contained series. Besides it will likely be a while before the second season premieres. It is a recent show, so it is only subbed and only available (legitimately) on Crunchyroll.
The start of the anime is the most cliché start to any anime ever. The protagonist, Subaru Natsuki, is a shut-in videogamer without much of a social life. Suddenly some mystical force transports him to another world, one of medieval and fantastical elements. Despite this being Subaru’s dream, he is totally helpless. He keeps attempting to be hero, and fails miserably at every turn. Eventually a cute girl named Emilia saves him. He immediately falls in love with her, because of course he does. He decides to stick with her to help her get back a stolen possession and win her heart or whatever.
Then some crazy shit goes down! In their search, an unknown assailant strikes Emilia and Subaru down. Emilia dies instantly while Subaru bleeds out on the floor. He suddenly awakes to where he started upon entering the world with both he and Emilia alive and well, as if the events never happened. In truth, they didn’t. Every time Subaru dies he must restart from a save point of sorts, fix what went wrong, and try not to die in this dangerous world.
As a main character Subaru is very likable. As aforementioned he is very happy to be transported to this world he can relate to. I like how he applies a video game context to everything, and ultimately makes a fool of himself. For example, three muggers approach him and he assumes they are just weaklings meant only as experience points for him. He starts fighting back barehanded and then quickly begs for forgiveness after the leader pulls a knife on him. He has no strength himself, and the magic he gains can only cause the equivalent of status ailments to his enemies. So rather than muscle his way through, Subaru must pay close attention every time he restarts and befriend strong allies to make sure he and all of his friends survive.
Even though Subaru cannot die permanently (as far as we know), there are still plenty of risks. After experiencing mental trauma from dying multiple times it starts affecting Subaru’s mind to the point where he finds it difficult to function. His death also wipes clean all of the close relationships he formed. It is all Subaru can do to keep himself sane, and never give up no matter how many times he dies.
There are a few arcs where Subaru is annoying and unreasonably cocky. In fact he acts like a little punk sometimes. But these moments are necessary to his character development. Subaru changes immensely in the 25 episodes. He hits plenty of low points that he cannot undo with his ability to restart. But these low points actually make him twice as awesome once he regains control of situations and leads the charge to create a better outcome.
All of the supporting characters are also good. These characters also develop, and never appear to be what they seem on the surface. Characters that are adorable and charming on the surface turn out to be cunning and crafty. Likewise characters that come across as huge assholes turn out to be loyal and trustworthy. There is also a pair of twins in the series, and instead of making them exactly alike the way any show does, they are extremely different from one another when it comes to skills and personality. At the end of season one I cannot think of any character I dislike for lack of character.
There are some great antagonists and villains too. Each arc gets darker than the last and has perfectly fitting villains for each. The villains differ from dangerous charismatic to downright insane, and have entirely different abilities that Subaru must learn how to overcome. It leads to some awesome showdowns between them and Subaru’s party.
The animation is also top-notch. This is animated by White Fox the same studio that worked on Steins;Gate (also a terrific anime). All the characters look detailed; the animation is always smooth and rarely suffers, even during intense fight scenes. I don’t really know enough about the subject to go into it at length, but anyone who is picky about their animation won’t be disappointed.
I truly enjoyed this anime. It was able to emotionally affect me in a way other anime’s haven’t. I would put it up there among my personal favorites with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Hunter X Hunter. I would strongly suggest any anime fan to check this out and try to get through the cliché first episode. Also season one doesn’t end on a dumb cliffhanger that leaves you craving more. Parts of the plot have yet to be fully explored, but they will surely become more apparent assuming the show is renewed for season 2. Once again, you can find this series on Crunchyroll and all the episodes are now free. Hope you give Re:Zero a chance.