On his way home from the convenience store, Natsuki Subaru mysteriously finds himself in a strange new world. He meets a half-elf and tries to help her recover an item from a thief but is killed, only to return to a point from before.
What did you watch?
At the moment, I’m still on track to finish my A to Z Anime Challenge reviews by the end of the year, so that’s exciting. Anyhow, this is one of those shows that everyone seems to know about and for whatever reason, I had not got around to watching. Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World is widely regarded as one of the best Isekai series and as a fan of the genre, I was excited to get into it, especially as I had managed to avoid pretty much everything about it. You know how I hate spoilers. So, if you’re like me then you’ll want to know that his review will contain spoilers, although I feel like everyone else has seen it.
Having arrived in this strange new world, Subaru met a half-elf who introduced herself as Satella. She had just been robbed and was trying to get the item back. Subaru offered to help, no doubt swayed by her beauty, but when they got to the point where they may have found it, they were both killed! Seconds later, Subaru found himself back at the point before he met Satella. Confused, he decided to try and recover the item on his own, but things didn’t go quite to plan and he was killed again, waking moments later back at the same point again. This continued as Subaru tried different paths. Eventually, he managed to recover the item and survive, well, almost!
Subaru woke in a strange bed with two maids staring back at him. He was in the house where the half-elf lived. She revealed that her real name was Emilia and thanked him for his help. With nowhere else to go, Subaru asked to be taken on at the house as an employee. He began to work and things seemed to be going well, but then he woke up back in the bed with the two maids staring back at him. Subaru attempted to work out what had happened to him and ended up getting killed in a different way, returning to the same point again.
The worst thing was that he was unable to tell anyone that he was returning by death as every time he tried, something cold and sinister stopped him. Subaru was alone and still trying to progress beyond that point. When Emilia was called to the capital as one of the potential successors to the throne, Subaru went with her and sought a way to put his skill to good use.
What did you think?
I absolutely loved this series and am so glad I went in knowing nothing other than who Rem is. The one thing that I’d imagine puts most people off is Subaru. He is not your typical dark fantasy protagonist, at least not at first. He is a loud-mouthed, belligerent fool, all while not being particularly strong or dangerous. As the series progresses, he grows as a character realising his faults and flaws, even attempting to change and use them to the best of his ability. I think that’s one of the strengths of this series. That and the incredibly detailed world that it takes place in. I love a good fantasy world.
What was your favourite moment?
The battle with the White Whale was excellent, but I also loved all of the development leading to it where we first encounter the whale and its mysterious powers. I loved how Subaru convinced Crusch to mobilize her army and then they were all sitting by the colossal Flugel tree. It was so well done and the tension was insane. They continued to wait, but there was nothing. Doubts were starting to set in and then Subaru’s alarm on his phone went off and the whale appeared.
The battle itself was epic and I loved the side story with Wilhelm and his wife as he thought to end the monster that took her from him. There was just so much at stake and the White Whale seemed impossible to beat. Then, Subaru had the idea to drop the Flugel tree on it, which was also insane, but it worked. This is how a fantasy battle should go. It was compelling and I had to keep watching the next episode to find out what happened next.
What was your least favourite moment?
This was an episode that shouldn’t have worked. Having failed to save Emilia, Subaru returned by death to the vendors stall in the capital. He was distraught and unable to hide it. Rem noticed his sudden change, but before she could do anything he ran off, dragging her along with him. They stopped in a secluded place where Subaru asked her to run away with him. Rem refused. Subaru went on a rant about how useless he was and how he’d wasted his life, but Rem then told him that she loved him. She painted a detailed picture of how their life could be if they ran away together and how she would be happy, but it wasn’t what the Subaru she knew would want. Subaru then amazingly turned down Rem’s love, insisting that his heart belonged to Emilia. Rem’s words had, however, given him the strength to do what needed to be done.
This was pretty much the entire episode. It was almost just Rem and Subaru talking, but it was captivating. You couldn’t look away or miss a single word that was said. It told me there and then that I was so invested in the characters that they could do anything and I would have watched. It was incredible. So, why is this my least favourite moment? Well, it’s because Rem is a treasure and Subaru is a complete idiot for turning her down. What the hell was he thinking and after what she just said? It was unforgivable.
Who was your favourite character?
There were a lot of very bizarre and varied characters in Re:Zero and it certainly kept things interesting. I particularly enjoyed the interactions with Beatrice, but Rem is without a doubt the best character in the series. Her story was awesome and I loved how she went from being determined to kill Subaru to falling completely in love with him, although I can’t work out exactly why. The progress did feel natural and it helped to tone down Subaru and make him more bearable.
Who was your least favourite character?
You would think it would be Subaru, but it was actually Emilia. She was a very bland and boring character who didn’t really do much to progress her own storyline. There were times where she tried, but she also seemed to give up all too easily. I still can’t believe Subaru turned down Rem for Emilia and at that time, Emilia had no feelings for him. If anything she was angry and annoyed at him. I feel like there is so much more to her story that needs to be told, however.
Would you like some more?
I will take everything you have and keep it coming. As I said earlier, I loved the fantasy world and the lore involved. This series covered a number of things, but it’s quite clear that there is a lot more to it. Thankfully, a second season has just finished and I’m waiting for a good moment to binge the whole thing. It’s probably a good thing that I waited to see this series as it originally aired in 2016 and waiting four years for the next part would have been too hard.
What have you learnt?
As much as you may want your characters to be perfect from the beginning, it’s best to give them flaws. It gives you something to develop and overcome, or not, as the story progresses. Readers like to see growth and experience it as the character learns to deal with their shortcomings. It’s also possible to make those flaws too overpowering and that was almost the case with Subaru. We definitely went on an adventure and experienced real character growth, but I’ll bet there were some that gave up on him. It almost took until the eighteenth episode where Rem confessed her love for him to really become the person that we saw in the end.
Other Posts in the Series
- A to Z Anime Challenge
- Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero
- Blood-C / Blood-C: The Last Dark
- Cat Planet Cuties
- Dragonar Academy
- El Cazador de la Bruja
- Freezing / Freezing Vibrations
- Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions
- Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens
- Is It Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon?
- Jormungand / Jormungand: Perfect Order
- Knight’s & Magic
- Lord Marksman and Vanadis
- My First Girlfriend is a Gal
- No Game No Life
- Outbreak Company
- Punch Line
- Qualidea Code
- Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World
- Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
- The Testament of Sister New Devil
- Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle