Re:Zero quickly became my favorite anime of 2016. And since the year is now drawing to a close, I don’t see another anime contending for that title. Ever since the first episode, I’ve pretty much been hooked on this show. Whether it’s the beautiful artwork, kawaii cute girls, fantasy races such as neko (cat) people, wolf people, lizard/dragon people, the amazing soundtrack, the acting, or the story itself which is a great blend of comedy, horror, action, drama, and romance. This show stands out to me, with characters that pull me in more and more with each episode. Now that it’s almost all over, I thought I’d write a review.
When I first began watching Re:Zero which was when Crunchyroll began simulcasting it several months ago, I had just recently finished watching Erased (which I reviewed here by the way). Re:Zero reminds me of like a mashup between Erased and the .Hack or Sword Art Online anime. The main premise is that a young man is trapped in a fantasy world (with lots of geeky cultural references taken from games/anime). When things go wrong, instead of “game over” he’s returned back to the start of the day. Each time he is defeated, he returns with memories of everything that’s happened so far, but no one else around him has any memory of the previous events. He is able to use his knowledge from previous “lifetimes” to outwit his opponents bringing him closer to his goals.
The main character constantly breaks the 4th wall by talking (mostly to the audience) about things that don’t exist in this fantasy world, but which exist back in his home of Japan. In this way, the series could also be said to borrow from Deadpool. Other people have compared this anime to Konosuba – upon hearing about that, I checked out Konosuba but only made it into the first few episodes so I can neither confirm nor deny the similarities. Another anime that Re:Zero reminds me of is “Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls In Dungeons?” If you like any of these, then you will probably like Re:Zero too.
Now on to the review!
Studio: White Fox
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Length: 25 Episodes
Related Media: Re:Zero is based on a series of Light Novels of the same name by Tappei Nagatsuki. These novels are still ongoing so who knows how closely the anime will follow the novels or at what point they will begin to diverge or how their endings may differ.
Interested in the Light Novels? Volume 1 is on sale on Amazon as of the writing of this article, almost 50% off for the paperback or the always low price of $7.99 for the kindle edition. There’s also a manga that’s also still currently running which is based upon the light novel. And very soon there will be a Playstation visual novel game as well. Although there’s still no word of an English release yet for said game. *Crosses fingers for an English Release*
Check out the links to the Light Novel and Manga in the widget below and enjoy a free preview of each!
Geeky: 5/5 – The geeky cultural references, high quality animation, amazing soundtrack, and fantasy setting make this anime a must watch for “geeks”.
Sweetie: 4/5 – Girls will appreciate the beautiful artwork, soundtrack, characters, and love story throughout this series. However, many girls may be turned off by the huge amount of gore in Re:Zero.
Overall: 53/55 96% A “Excellent Anime for Girls”
Concept: 10/10 Re:Zero has a lot going on. It could equally be considered a fantasy adventure, as well as a comedy, or even a love story. The huge amount of gore could also land it into the horror genre. Overall, it’s a hard anime to pin down. While it might seem impossible, somehow Re:Zero is able to blend all of these genres into something that fits well together and never feels out of place. The overarching concept of “Return by Death”, allows viewers to truly feel Subaru’s pain and frustration, and of course his love for his friends; it’s oddly grotesque, heartwarming, and hilarious all at once.
Story: 10/10 Our story begins when Subaru hears a faint voice while at a convenience store in Japan. The voice tries to tell Subaru to get out and run away, but Subaru chooses to ignore the voice, thinking he’s hearing things. As he eventually exits the convenience store with his purchase, he’s assaulted by a strong dizzy spell that knocks him to his knees. When he comes to, he finds himself in a strange fantasy world, still holding the bag from the convenience store he thought he was just at moments ago. All Subaru has are the clothes on his back, some ramen, potato chips, and his cellphone, which of course doesn’t get any signal in the new world.
It’s not long before he inadvertently gets mixed up in a bid for the throne of the kingdom. He chooses to back Emilia as he feels indebted (and attracted) to her. Emilia is the least favorite candidate currently because she is a half elf. In this fantasy world, it is believed that half elves are evil, and Emilia bears a striking resemblance to one half elf in particular known as “The Jealous Witch” who is believed to have been sealed away, but not destroyed, in a war eons ago that almost led to the total destruction of their kingdom.
Subaru quickly learns he has a mysterious power, unique only to him, that no one else in this world possesses – the ability to “Return by Death”. In the beginning Subaru dies many, many times through his various trials and encounters. But each death brings him closer to success because he is able to “respawn” back to a “check point” from the start of each day. Similar to an RPG game.
He vows to use this power to help Emilia claim the throne, as well as to protect all of the new friends he’s made in this fantasy world. However his power is not without a price, and it takes a great toll on Subaru both mentally and physically. What’s worse, he can’t talk about his unique ability, or it causes dire consequences for Subaru and/or the people he loves. This creates misunderstandings among his friends that Subaru must navigate through which become increasingly challenging on his spirit as he witnesses and experiences more death and devastation throughout the series.
Characters: 10/10 – The characters in this anime are amazing. Subaru himself is an unlikely hero, a shut-in in his own world, who suddenly finds himself caught up in a dangerous fantasy world. Emilia and her spirit companion, Puck, are adorable. The maid twins, Ram and Rem grow on you too, especially Rem who gets considerable screentime in the second half of the series. Emilia is my pick for the best girl, but the more episodes I watch, the more I begin to really like Rem to where she’s an extremely close 2nd favorite of mine. The other minor characters are also charming; there’s a kawaii lolita girl with a tsundere temper nicknamed Betti for short. She provides a lot of comic relief, and is of course, adorable. Among other characters there’s a super kawaii cross-dressing Neko boy with healing powers, a thief-princess, an old drunk giant, and a butler who’s also a master swordsman.
Not only are the characters unique and kawaii, but the character interaction and growth in this series is top notch. Whether it’s watching Subaru’s transformation from weak, helpless, and confused, to his determination and courage as he vows to protect those he loves, or watching the shy maid twins begin to trust and grow closer to Subaru, or Felt’s transformation from a dirty street-rat to would-be princess.
The characters are also fleshed out with rich back stories that are often revealed through flashbacks throughout the series. And occasionally some characters can throw a few surprises our way in who they really are and where their loyalties lie.
The characters really drive the story and make it a rich and rewarding anime to watch each week.
Artwork: 4/5 – The gore is a bit much at times, but there’s no arguing that this is a simply breathtaking anime to watch. The characters are cute. (I personally want to create a dollfie dream modeled after Emilia.) In fact, the very style of the characters, reminds me of a dollfie dream doll. My favorite trait is their reflective bright eyes that brim with emotion. Their skin is almost “glowing” with the blush around the character’s eyes. Their hair is beautiful and “soft” looking. The animation quality is high, bringing the characters to life. The backgrounds are also beautiful and vivid with lots of details. Even the minor characters are stylized well and represent a wide range of fantasy races, including lots of cute furies. This series definitely is “cute” – which is oddly juxtaposed by a huge amount of gore. I deducted 1 point for all the gore, but I agree that the gore can serve a point, to make the audience feel the same discomfort as the characters, I just think it’s a bit extreme at times here.
Music: 5/5 – Crunchyroll recently had a really good article about the music in Re:Zero (which I sadly can’t find a link to right now). The title of the article was something like: “Why does Re:Zero Have Such Dramatic Music?” and it was an interview with the composer who said he was a fan of the light novels, and how the light novels made him cry, and when he saw the concept art for the manga, and the anime, that also made him cry, and he wanted to create a music score which conveyed his emotional connection to the series and the characters to the audience. I would say that his musical work in Re:Zero definitely accomplishes this goal. There are some chilling and haunting pieces, as well as some beautiful melodic pieces, but on the other hand, there are lots of “dis-harmonious” tracks, which really convey the mental turmoil and pain Subaru is suffering from. The intentional “unpleasant” music and sound effects playing against the otherwise typical more calming fantasy music creates just that experience with the audience.
Voice Acting: 5/5 – The casting and the talent of each actor really brings out each character’s charm and personality. There are some truly memorable performances in this anime. Roswaal is very eccentric sounding, and one of my favorite voice actors in this series. Cute little Puck sounds mischievous and playful. Rem sounds so soft spoken and shy and fragile. Emilia sounds strong and determined. Felt sounds like the tomboy that she is. Beatrice sounds spoiled and prissy. And Betelguese just sounds absolutely batshit crazy lol.
Overall: 53/55 96% A “Excellent Anime for Girls”