Who Would Like this Anime?
Characters look cute, fantasy, lots of girls. Sounds like a fun fantasy adventure, right? No. Half the anime consists of psychological mindbreaks, despair, gore, and drama. To extreme degrees. So if you’re here looking for the former, then you probably won’t like half the anime. You’ve been warned.
I’m kinda sure I watched the DameDesuYo BD release in 1080p. The translation is A-OK, just like two typos altogether and very few lines I would’ve done differently. I recommend watching this one.
Out of nowhere, Subaru finds himself in a world unknown to him. It’s filled with all kinds of fantasy stuff. Unfamiliar with his new surroundings and trotting around without a plan, he soon finds himself in trouble facing a group of thugs. A silver-haired girl comes to his aid, and to make up for it, he promises to help her find the item she’s looking for. That, however, gets him killed, and he finds himself back in the spot of this unknown world where he originally awoke.
It’s a high-budget production and it shows. I’m no expert, but it looked like a native 1080p production to me, so it pays off to get the hi-res release. The animations are well done, backgrounds sharp and detailed, the characters look just slightly sketchy in a few high-speed scenes, but are, overall, great too. ReZero even utilizes 3D models to animate extras in the streets, making city scenes appear more lively and detailed.
ReZero is an anime of extremes. It’s extremely good in some aspects, extremely bad in others. It really knows no moderation, you get either sh*t or gold. Let’s start with the gold.
I’ve seen quite a bunch of fantasy stuff, but the fantasy world introduced in ReZero with it’s outset, intrigues, and complications is easily the best and most interesting world I’ve ever seen. The big idea of a country in need of a new queen, trying to pick the best from a selection of “princesses” that are favored by their patron, a dragon, while in the shadows a witch cult operates to ressurect an ancient evil and even the princesses themselves aren’t necessarily in favor of the current state of the kingdom with its corruption, racism, and slums. It’s believable, feasable, consistent. I’m highly interested in how things play out.
The characters are diverse and in great number. You’ve got proud, yet awkward girls, the energetic loli with that fang tooth thingy, a verbally abusive maid, a deredere maid, proud knights, kind knights, haughty nobels with a God complex, moody lolis, friendly cat girls (?); just lots of characters. It’s flatout impossible to give all of them depth in 26 episodes. However, the “core” cast does get their fair share of depth, sometimes only hinted at in a “loop,” sometimes thoroughly explained in a coherent segment.
There are two aspects I’d judge as “neutral.” The comedy and character behavior/development. ReZero does have its funny moments, but you really don’t wanna watch it for the comedy. They’re scarce and won’t make your top 10 of the funniest anime moments ever. ReZero is not comedy. As for the character development, it’s another matter of extremes. Characters either hate and abuse Subaru or love and respect him. Sometimes they’re even by the same characters in different loops. The actions he performs are, in my oppinion, too little for the reactions they result in. They kill him in cold blood in one loop, then love him unconditionally after the next, they mentally abuse and let him down in one loop, then support and swear their eternal respect in the other. Literally every character kills, hurts, abuses, or exploits Subaru at one point, yet actions that I deem relatively small in comparison to the hate he originally faces net him the other side of the extreme in treatment. It’s just weird how there seem to be no shades of grey. It appears to be very possible that nearly all characters would turn on him and kill Subaru if he oversteps.
But there’s also some sh*t in ReZero. That’s Subaru himself, for one. In my top worst (hehe) anime protagonists list, he doesn’t take the cake, but damn he’s trying. 80% of the whole anime he’s a useless waste of skin. The moment you think he got his sh*t together and will from now on behave more like some sort of protagonist, he puts borderline retarded behavior on display and does his best to crush what he’s built up so far. He sabotages himself and his allies and pushes them away with almost intend. On top of being slow on the uptake – it takes him dying a few times before he realizes the obvious that he can return from death, for instance – he sometimes does less in loops than he did in former. When he doesn’t break down mentally from dying over and over again and wallows in self-pity, his false pride leads him to overstep, ultimately causing trouble for his “friends.” It can get really frustrating watching him being his pathetic self, accomplishing nothing while all those cute girls and whatnot get ripped apart, slaughtered, beheaded, crushed, their eyeballs ripped out, frozen to death, etc. (I’m not making this list up). Especially the arc in the middle of the anime really drags on. The whole dilemma originates from Subaru bringing shame to Emilia by trying to oversell his pathetic self and belittling the knighthood ’cause of his pathetic ego and jealousy. Painful to watch. If at one point you, as a viewer, hope the arrogant knight will literally kick the protagonist’s stupid ass to death, then he’s probably not the most likable. I get that it’s, to an extend, realistic to lose your mind after experiencing the pain of dying over and over again, but Jesus Christ, at the end of the day this is an anime, it doesn’t have to drag on for almost two hours. I do understand that the point of Subaru is that he’s powerless, but powerless doesn’t have to mean useless. He does get his shit together in the end, but before that, you’ll have to watch his pathetic self for literally hours. I just don’t see how that’s fun. It’s too much. Even thought 26 episodes long, with regards to Subaru’s development, the anime feels like a prologue at the end of which he reaches “protagonisthood.”
Another sh*tty extreme of ReZero is the extensive gore. I understand it’s a bloody world in conflict, but the sheer amount of girls having their arms, legs, necks, everything broken and ripped apart is disgusting, I don’t get off on that. You’ll even see a little girl in preschool/elementary school range dead, with her eyes scratched out. Why? I don’t know, it’s just in bad taste. I don’t criticize the gore, I criticize the amount and extend. Half of the gore present could’ve just been hinted at, but no, the shocker value was seemingly irresistable.
All in all, to me ReZero is a masterpiece and garbage at the same time. I skipped through portions of Subaru’s, let’s call it, second pathetic arc since I was just tired of watching him being a pathetic loser hours on end. The anime does repay you with an incredible world, setting, story, and characters, but does drag itself down with overdoing the despair, drama, and gore. Spice adds flavor to your meal, too much spice ruins it. ReZero is too spicy for my taste and drags itself down from a masterpiece-ish 9 to a good 7. It’s unique but overrated.
5 thoughts on “Anime Review: Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu”
Yup, basically the anime comes down to that it’s good with great world, but Subaru is annoying af for hours on end.
I notice the lack of Rem in this review which makes me a little sad that you’ve not seen the light.
I didn’t mention her specifically, but she’s between the lines. In my opinion, Rem’s one of the characters that experience a swing in personality too huge for what changes. She goes from killing Subaru in cold blood to unconditionally devoting herself to him and actually being more of a main heroine and ally than Emilia. That’s not a bad thing, but still weird.
She goes from being one of the biggest problems in the second arc to playing the biggest part in the solution of the final arc, basically being the only one who doesn’t forsake Subaru’s sorry ass. Rem’s probably the best character in the anime also receiving the most depth, which makes it all the more frustrating to see her get killed, tortured, and sacrificed for Subaru’s uselessness.
However, I’ll be damned if Rem won’t be a hotspot for fatal drama in later arcs. She explicitely tells Subaru that she loves him, and Subaru explitely tells Emilia that he loves her. Maybe they’ll all go for a boat ride, if you know what I mean. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Anyway, sorry for neglecting best girl (?), I’ll probably edit a paragraph in there in her honor.
Well, the initial uselessness (thus the room for growth in later arcs) of Subaru is perhaps what separates Re: Zero apart from other “feel-good” fictions in which protagonists are just brilliant, solve problems and conquer worlds.
It’s more like “what if” an ordinary teenager with all his vanity, stupidity, and cringeyness were dropped into an ikesekai. Or even a “less-than-ordinary” teenager, since he was a hikikomori shortly beforehand after all.
Fair enough. I assume you mean his uselessness throughout the whole first season of the anime? Personally, I’m looking for something less insufferable in my anime, though. It’s also debatable whether using an ordinary teenager in this exact manner makes the story better or worse. E.g., would Re:Zero be a lesser story if the amount and intensity of violence and psychological torture of its protagonist were toned down?
If I remember correctly, there was a six episode stretch of torturing of either him or the girls. How much does doing it to this extent enhance the viewer experience? A supercut of his struggles compressed into one episode would’ve carried the point across perfectly fine for me.
Re:Zero way too often just comes across as torture porn for me, which is sad because I’d absolutely love the series if you’d cut a large potion of that aspect out of it. A more or less made my own supercut by skipping through the extensive gore sections.
If you mean his uselessness in the first few episodes then scrap all I said. I basically agree at the core but disagree at the extent. It becomes obvious he’s in a time loop fairly quickly, and it shouldn’t be a stretch for him either.
*isekai (stupdi typo)